THAILAND ADVENTURE

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Thailand, Cambodia & Hong Kong

January 2006

 

From:                       Scott & Katie

To:                           friends and family

Subject:                   the road from hell

Sent:                       Saturday, January 21, 2006 4:56 AM


Hi everyone,
We are at
Pattaya Beach, along the Gulf of Thailand. Unfortunately, we ran into a problem yesterday. I had signed up Katie to try parasailing from a platform out in the ocean.  We were taken out on a motorboat. While she was being attached to the parachute she gave me her money case to safeguard. I thought I had put it around my neck, but in my rush to take photos of her as she went aloft, I think I set it down. While my back was turned somebody swiped it. We searched everywhere for it but it was gone. :-(
Our tour guide was appropriately concerned and had them search the entire platform which was not all that large, but it was definitely gone. He also brought us back later to look again, hoping that someone had turned it in, but no luck. The money case only had about $50 in cash, but it also had her passport.

When we got to the hotel, we left our bags, and a woman from the tour agency that booked us accompanied us to the police station to file a report. I wanted her to contact the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok to find out what to do, but she said it was too late in the day (after 5 PM) and they would be closed.  I insisted that she try since they are supposed to be open to U.S. citizens in an emergency.  She called and I was right!  They told us we needed to come in first thing in the morning.

After discussing it at length, Katie and I decided to book a private car to take us back to Bangkok. The tour agency arranged for us to be picked up and escorted to the embassy. We left at 8 AM this morning and got there around 10:30 AM. They were extremely helpful and efficient. We filled out paperwork and submitted the police report along with the photocopy of Katie's passport, then they sent us to get a new passport photo taken. While we went for lunch, they processed a replacement passport. After lunch we waited and at about 2:00, they called Katie in and had her sign for her new passport! What a relief. Our driver then took us to Thai immigration to obtain a replacement visa. It only took another half hour--very efficient. When that was done our driver took us back to Pattaya and we got back to the hotel at about 5 PM.
All in all, it was quite a grueling experience, but it is now looked after. We relaxed and recuperated in our room until we went out this evening for dinner.
Everyone was amazingly helpful and sympathetic. The staff at the tour agency that helped us even wanted to see the new passport!!
Saturday, we will hang out at the beach or hotel pool and try to recover from the passport trauma.
In the evening, we will head back to the airport on the outskirts of
Bangkok where we have a hotel booked, so that we can catch our flight back to Macau and Hong Kong.
Everything is OK now and we are back on track.
That's it for now.
P.S. -Katie had great fun parasailing and we both got sunburned on the beach! :-)

 

From:                       Teresa (aka Mom)

To:                           Scott & Katie

Subject:                   facial

Sent:                       Saturday, January 21, 2006 2:37 PM

 

Katie, thank goodness you just had a facial since you had to have your picture taken!

 

 

From:                       Scott & Katie

To:                           friends and family

Subject:                   barbecued pork in tomato sauce

Sent:                       Tuesday, January 24, 2006 4:35 AM

 

Hi everyone,
We are now in
Hong Kong, at the tail end of our adventure.  On Sunday, the trip from Bangkok to Macau went smoothly, although our flight was cancelled and we were rebooked on a later flight.  Air Asia consoled us with free pizza and blizzards!!  Later, while in a rush, I forgot the map of Thailand on the airplane, and Katie forgot her new book, The Kite Runner, in the restroom.  At least it wasn't our passports!  We are getting used to losing things.
Yesterday we took a tram ride to the top of the Peak overlooking
Victoria Harbor.  Very steep, then we walked down to the bottom.  Took about 90 minutes.  At the top we were interviewed by a bunch of kids doing a field trip/tourist treasure hunt to practice their English.  We were embarrassed to admit that we had not yet eaten Chinese food here yet, so afterward, we went to an authentic Chinese restaurant (no other Caucasians) and had an early dinner of pork chops/barbecued pork in tomato sauce and wonton soup.  Excellent!  Last night we went out to the Temple Street night market.  It was interesting how everything for sale was totally different than in Bangkok.  We are staying at the BP International Hotel, which is owned by the Boy Scouts and has a huge photo of Scout founder Sir Robert Baden-Powell in the lobby.
We will talk to you when we get home.  See you soon.




From:                       Scott & Katie
To:                           friends and family
Subject:                   another adventure
Sent:                       Sunday, January 8 2006 3:27 AM


Hi everyone,
Katie and I are off on another adventure.
We began our 24 hour journey from
San Francisco, passing through Hong Kong, Macau and finally Bangkok, and are now in transit to Chiang-Mai in northern Thailand where we will be going on a jungle trek and visiting several northern Thai villages.  Then we will head to Cambodia to see the great temples of Angkor Wat. Will keep you posted as to our progress.

From:                       Scott & Katie

To:                           friends and family

Subject:                   elephant snacks

Sent:                       Thursday, January 12, 2006 12:51 PM

 

Hi everyone,

We just got back from our jungle trek north of Chiang-Mai.  (It was the middle of nowhere and there was no Internet access.)  We hiked through the wilderness to a Ka-Ren village and stayed with the locals.  We swam under a waterfall, and slept on bamboo mats they provided under a thatched hut surrounded by mosquito netting. We slept communally with about a dozen members of our tour group.  The next day when we were crossing a small stream, Katie slipped and fell into the icy water.  No danger and fortunately she was wearing the proper wicking material and dried out quickly!  They also took us on a river trip on floating bamboo rafts and we took turns steering the raft. Katie was trying to navigate the raft through rapids and an overhead branch nearly took her out.  Fortunately she kept her balance and stayed out of the water. 

We also rode elephants today. I bought some sugar cane to feed them, but my elephant tried to snatch my camera and eat it.  He nearly caught me from behind with his snake-like trunk! I didn't notice it come up behind me. Yikes!

Last night we just about froze after it got dark because we were so high up in the mountains.

When we got back to the hotel this evening, we got cleaned up after three days with no showers and our dirty bathwater was gross!  We had to send our filthy clothes out to be washed. 

Tomorrow we are visiting an elephant training camp and also some Buddhist temples that are built from underground caves, then Saturday we move on to Cambodia.

 

From:                       Christine

To:                           Scott & Katie

Subject:                   Re: elephant snacks

Sent:                       Thursday, January 12, 2006 6:11 PM

 

Hi guys,
It is just so terrific to hear about your experiences.  Someday we will have to go on that adventure ourselves!  The girls recently learned that
Thailand still has a king and they found that fascinating!  There is always something magical to kids about kings and queens  :o)  Enjoy your trip!

THE ELEPHANT TRAIL

 

From:                       Scott & Katie

To:                           friends and family

Subject:                   one last trauma

Sent:                       Tuesday, January 26, 2006 2:48 PM

 

Hi everyone,
We made it back!
We got up Wednesday morning at 5:45 AM in Hong Kong to catch the train to the airport.  Its way out on an island in the ocean in the middle of nowhere.  We went to the street market one last time on Tuesday—wall-to-wall people.  It must have been the most crowded square mile on earth.  You could hardly take a step without bumping into someone.  Everyone was out shopping for Chinese New Year which is only a few days from now (the 29th).
Our airport check-in was relatively uneventful although I was taken aside because I was carrying my miniature luggage weight scale that has a hook on it for weighing.  (They tried to confiscate it but I was able to pry the hook off and toss it.)  The airplane had video-on-demand so we both watched a bunch of movies which made the time pass quickly.
One last trauma though: in San Francisco, Dollar refused to rent us the car we had booked because I did not have my drivers license, so we had to take BART to Richmond then catch Amtrak to Sacramento, but we made it back OK, stopping for some real food at the new Luis's near the train station.
After 24 straight hours of travel (with no sleep) we finally got home and crashed!
We will be telling you our stories first-hand from now on.  See you soon!

Love, Scott & Katie


 

From:                       Scott & Katie

To:                           Christine  

Subject:                   Re: elephant snacks

Sent:                       Thursday, January 12, 2006 4:35 AM

 

Hi Christine,
You and the girls would love it here! Lots of Thai food and elephants and great handicrafts to buy at the night bazaar.  We went rafting on the river today and are heading to an elephant training camp tomorrow.
Scott and Katie

 

From:                       Scott & Katie

To:                           friends and family

Subject:                   land mines, etc.

Sent:                       Tuesday, January 17, 2006 9:47 AM

 

Hi everyone,
We stayed overnight in
Kuala Lumpur en route to Cambodia. We just got done with Angkor Wat today. It took nearly 3 days to see it all!  Internet access has not been that easy in Cambodia.  They are so poor!  Poorer than Vietnam.  We hired a driver to take us around in a carriage (moto) for three days and paid him a total of 28 dollars for all three days and that is considered generous, as most get less.  The archaeological stuff was amazing! I felt like Indiana Jones.  (Katie was Lara Croft.) Temples buried in the jungle and overgrown with trees! We are exhausted from climbing up so many steps.  It has been hot as hell and we have had to shower twice per day.   The bathwater turns black.  We are eating well, authentic Khmer food.  There are land mine warnings everywhere and lots of beggars with no legs!  :-( 

Tonight we are going to a buffet and cultural show that our driver arranged.  Tomorrow we are heading back to the border.  I hear its a rough ride on a bad road.  Then we take the train back to Bangkok and the next day we are heading to Pattaya Beach to rest.
That's it for now.
Indiana and Lara

 

From:                       Teresa (aka Mom)

To:                           Scott & Katie

Subject:                   land mines, etc.

Sent:                       Tuesday, January 17, 2006 8:47 PM

 

Oh great! I thought the "land mines" were elephant dung!  Hope Indiana and Lara enjoy the beach. Love you-

 

From:                       Scott & Katie

To:                           friends and family

Subject:                   the road from hell

Sent:                       Wednesday, January 18, 2006 3:00 PM

 


Hi everyone!
We are back in the heart of
Bangkok at Kao San Road. Katie decided to get a facial which is next door to an Internet cafe and I thought I would grab a chance to tell about the day.  We bought tickets for the bus to the border of Cambodia and Thailand and were told we would be picked up at 7:40 AM.  The "bus" arrived 15 minutes early and of course we were still packing up and not ready.  We ran down with our bags and the bus turned out to be an ancient Toyota Previa minivan that looked like a junkyard reject.  They took our bags and threw them up on the roof so that when we got them back later, they were unrecognizable and covered with dirt and debris. (Later on, we found that everything inside them was OK.)  The paved portion of the road ended after about 15 minutes.  It was actually pretty good with only a few potholes and I started to think that this isn't so bad.  But the rest was gravel for five!! hours more, with potholes the size of moon craters.  I never thought we would make it.  Then, at about noon, the driver decided to have lunch for an hour!!  He just stopped in the middle of nowhere and that was it.  By the time we resumed the ride, we were afraid we would miss our train connection at 1:40 PM.  At the border we encountered the dirtiest, poorest town one could ever imagine and there were no signs or directions to anywhere.  What confusion! What aggravation!  We ran around asking for directions, dragging our bags, and finally made it across the border moments after the train to Bangkok left the station.  We were so pissed off!!  (Katie said she would never be my partner in the Amazing Race because I didn't handle it well.)  A tuk-tuk driver then offered to take us to the bus station for 50 baht about $1.25, but when we got there he wanted 80 baht, about 2 dollars.  Katie just about took him out!  We paid him off because the bus was leaving for Bangkok in 2 minutes, so we tossed our stuff in and got on board.   Fortunately the ride was uneventful although we stopped at every town between the border and Bangkok and finally arrived at 7 PM.  We were beat!  We checked into the hotel and had dinner.  It seems like it is a giant raucous party perpetually here on Khao San Road.  I can hear the music pounding in the background.  Tomorrow we have to get up at 5:30 AM for the bus?? that will take us to Pattaya Beach.  We are not sure how far away it is.  We booked the bus and hotel and some sort of swimming tour on an island about ten days ago, so we don't really know what to expect.
That’s it for now.
Talk to you soon.
Indiana and Lara

KHAO SAN ROAD AT NIGHT

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