Around the World 6 Bangkok to Chiang Mai


A photo of Sacre Coeur which sits atop Montmartre overlooking Paris. This photo was taken in the summer. If I had taken it today, the skies would have been gray.

Bangkok to Chiang Mai

We flew Thai Asia Air while in Thailand which is rather like the Southwest Airlines of this country, cheaper, lots of flights and packed with people carrying hand luggage. After paying for over-weight luggage each time, we understood why. Sometimes we were charged full price for over weight bags, sometimes part, once nothing. It just depended on the people checking us in.
While waiting for our flight-which would only take an hour-I jotted down some opinions about Bangkok.
It is almost impossible to get a taxi driver to turn on the meter. Even the one from the airport wouldn’t do it, he just gave us a flat fee. By the time we realized it wasn’t on we were out of the airport. The airport is supposed to be the one place the taxi will use the meter. The driver just laughed, gave us his fee and kept going. It wasn’t alot of money, just irritating. We couldn’t get the driver to turn on the meter on the way back to the airport either. I think part of it was lack of understanding of our English. We also had to pay a small fee to use the toll road which saves at least an hour of travel time.
Many people approached us, as warned, that a temple was closed when, in fact, it wasn’t. They wanted to take us to another temple or entry, for a fee. We also passed the many hawkers when getting on the river boat selling boat tours, making you think you had to buy tickets from them but, thanks to Trip Advisor, we walked right past them down to the boat and paid there.
Hint: Wear shoes easily removed and put back on as you will have to remove them anytime you enter a temple. My socks, btw, became filthy this way. I also had to remove my hat along with the men.
Not many people spoke English except in hotels or restaurants.
There are turkish toilets in public areas, usually without any toilet paper.
There were many american places to eat such as, McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Dairy Queen, 7-11 and more.
Our hotel, the Chiang Mai Plaze, had that “wow!” factor when you walked in the front door into the enormous lobby with a long rug leading up to the front desk, marble everywehre, silk covered couches and chairs and Tahi archetecture everywhere. Our room was fairly large and clean with a regular bathroom. The people working there were very nice and helpful.
Maurice made an interesting remark comparing the Chinese language that we saw and heard in Hong Kong with that in Thailand. The Chinese language sounds much harsher and the writing is sharp and angular while the Thai language sounded softer and rounder and their alphabet reflected this. The hard part is that the alphabet isn’t based on Latin so there was no way to guess what a word was as I can with French.
After lunch at the hotel we walked to the old walled city section of Chiang Mai. It was much larger than I expected. There are as many Wats here as there are in the much larger Bangkok. Chiang Mai is 700 years old and they know not only the day and year it was founded by a former ruler but the time of day. There were many huge photos around of the King looking age 30, not his real age of 76. The photos often had offerings of flowers and food in front of them. Chiang Mai semmed to be the “Austin” of Thailand, very funky with a college town feel. One million people live here and it seemed like everyone of them was on the roads roaring by on motorbikes, car or in the tuktuks, small 3 wheeled open vehicles. There were internet cafes everywhere and with very low rates. In Bangkok we couldn’t get into an internet cafe at night as they were all taken by young men playing computer video type games. We enjoyed walking around the city and then by night, the famous night market was open full of any type of item you could think of. It is huge and packed with people. It turned out to have the best buys of any place we would visit in the weeks to come-wish I had known that before.


Here is Maurice entering one of the gates into the old city of Chiang Mai.


A dragon guarding one of the stairways into a temple. I imagine it is similar to gargoyles on churches, keeping out evil spirits.


The King of Thailand.


A tuktuk. There were fun to ride in and very reasonable but I wouldn’t want to be stuck in traffic in one in the heavy afternoon heat. We only took one once in the cooler morning.

Back in Paris Soon

I am writing this from NYC, a city I truly love. We are on the last leg of our around the world trip, tired of living out of a suitcase and ready to go home tomorrow. We are seeing a Broadway play tonight, having a last taste of New York steak and getting that last taste of the States that will have to last me until I return, probably around Thanksgiving.


I like the shadows being cast as this man walks through Place des Vosges.


A Victory Angel in the Marais.


Love this door!

Segway Tours


Here is a Segway with a crowd of people surrounding it wanting to know everything about it.

One of the most fun ways to do a tour is by Segway. Tours are offered in Paris and I tried one. There is a short lesson beforehand but it is amazing how you can turn on a dime, stop and speed along passing all of the other tourists on foot. I think it was initally made for older folk unable to get around well but it is so much fun, tours are now done on it. We started are tour near the Eiffel Tower and a college student led us on a tour of the area. We attracted so much attention that it was like being a movie star. As soon as we would stop somewhere, other tourists would surround us wanting to know what it was, how it worked, and where it could be rented. I often felt like what I’m sure Madonna must feel like when she gets out on the streets somewhere. One guy on the tour turned to me and said, “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever done!” And it was. Towards the end of the tour my legs and feet ached from standing still in one spot for so long. There is a weight limit-you can’t be too light or too heavy and its not as cheap as a bike tour or walking tour, but it sure is fun.


Here was our guide. They are all American college students. The rental place was Mike’s Bike Tours.

Segway Tours


Here is a Segway with a crowd of people surrounding it wanting to know everything about it.

One of the most fun ways to do a tour is by Segway. Tours are offered in Paris and I tried one. There is a short lesson beforehand but it is amazing how you can turn on a dime, stop and speed along passing all of the other tourists on foot. I think it was initally made for older folk unable to get around well but it is so much fun, tours are now done on it. We started are tour near the Eiffel Tower and a college student led us on a tour of the area. We attracted so much attention that it was like being a movie star. As soon as we would stop somewhere, other tourists would surround us wanting to know what it was, how it worked, and where it could be rented. I often felt like what I’m sure Madonna must feel like when she gets out on the streets somewhere. One guy on the tour turned to me and said, “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever done!” And it was. Towards the end of the tour my legs and feet ached from standing still in one spot for so long. There is a weight limit-you can’t be too light or too heavy and its not as cheap as a bike tour or walking tour, but it sure is fun.


Here was our guide. They are all American college students. The rental place was Mike’s Bike Tours.

Mariages Freres


This photo is taken through the window so not too clear. This wonderful tea shop is selling special tea for the Japanese. The Japanese love this tea.
Mariages Freres is a sublime tea shop found in two great locations in Paris. They have been selling tea for centuries, often to French royalty.I always take guest inside just to inhale the fabulous fragrance of the teas and to see the old French ambience. Loose tea is sold in large containers and they let you take a wiff of any tea you would like to get an idea of the taste. You can also buy tea bags there, candles, incense and tea pots. My favorite tea sold there is Marco Polo and their Christmas tea. They also have a tea shop in each location but I find them very crowded and noisy although it is worth it all to get a taste of their desserts, especially their creme brule-the stuff of heaven.


A nearby painting on a wall looking like a waiter in a window.

Around The World 5 More Bangkok


Last year the Eiffel Tower was lit up in red for a week as part of a celebration with China. It was spectacular to see.


Here is another reflection in water that I like, taken at Palais Royal.

Around the World

January 9th

Off to the Siam district by metro. We were told it was lively. What it seemed to be was mostly department stores in giant malls. I had read on the Internet raves about shopping at the MBK mall which turned out to be just another ordinary mall although it felt great because it had a/c. A lady had stopped us in the street to ask us what we were looking for-we obviously stand out as tourists-and told us not to bother with MBK as it was over-priced and full of teen-agers–and it was. According to the map that we picked up at the air-conditioned information booth, Jim Thompson’s Museum was nearby. He was an American who came to
Thailand by chance, fell in love with it, stayed, and restarted the dying Thailand silk industry. He built a beautiful home which is now a museum. The guide we had on the tour we took there said that his Chinese astrology sign is the horse and it is said that the 61st year can be dangerous. He was 61 when he disappeared without a trace on a walk in Malaysia. We found his home on a canal. His home is all of wood, six old Thai buildings fitted together and very chaming. Afterwards, we walked down the little canal and saw a boat pass by. It stopped on the other side of the canal so we missed it and walked past primitive shacks and little places selling food. We crossed back and forth on a few bridges when the sidwalk ended. At one point we came to a wall, a dead-end, and someone had left a wooden ladder which we climbed ending up onto a busy street. We found a busy market which seemed to sell wholesale in packages of twelve. We finally got a boat which only went one stop where we walked to the Golden Mount, another temple, up many stairs. Great view but not that impressive. We saw a monk in orange robes who looked like an American. Then we caught the canal boat back. The boats are very long and low as they have to pass under bridges and at one point even lower the roofs until it almost touched our heads. It was an athletic feat to get aboard stepping on a little rim on the outside of the boat, over the side onto low seat while ducking under the roof holding onto a rope to get inside. Sometimes the boat barely came to a stop and people were quickly getting on board, some being women in heels. There were two guys who collected the money-8 bat-clinging to the side, holding on to the rope and, somehow, not dropping any money. They wore helmets, probably because I’m sure one of them occasionally hit their heads on the low bridges. Two plastic curtains were on either side of the boat that could be raised to keep out sun or water spray. It was a fun experience. Then back to the hotel for a cool bath. We had a pizza in Siam-a late lunch or early dinner. Too tired to do anything else, then back to our room.


The boat we rode on the canal. It was used mainly by natives, not tourists.


Along side the canal were homes with flowers and laundry outside. Life started in Bangkok on the waters of the city.


Inside the boat.


Part of the museum of Jim Thompson’s Home.


I think the monk on the left was an American, now a monk.