Thailand

Our ride to Noi Bai International airport was scheduled at 6h and I wondered if the driver would arrive on time. My apprehension came to a halt when the car arrived 5 minutes before. Then, there was traffic but fortunately our driver carefully and easily maneuvered us on the road.

Our plane for Bangkok was at 10h35 and we arrived in Suvarnabhumi Airport after 1h50 hours. From the arrival area,we went down the ground floor where we bought our tickets for  a shuttle bus for Khao San Road. The staff provided us with bottled water and then dropped us off by the road near our accommodation.

We stayed two nights in La Rivetta  before heading to Ko Pha-ngan and on the first night we bought our tickets (train, bus & boat combined).  Our train for Surat Thani was at 19h30.

Night time in Khao San road is so busy and animated. Walking around gave me an exciting vibe plus the fact that we’re few hours away from my country. We’d be seeing more of this, having Bangkok as our stop during our stay in Asia.

Our family met with James, my friend’s son and who is currently staying near Khao San road. We had dinner near our guesthouse, by the street where we were welcomed by an enthusiastic man. Their food was so good and really affordable.

Are we ready?

Our things are always arranged the night before our departure. I make sure that everything’s pack but sometimes there were little things left behind like a cap and this time it was my phone.

I charged it while waiting for our time to take a taxi and kept telling myself that my phone was charging.

Then it was time to go, fortunately there was no traffic and we arrived at  the Hua Lamphong station before 19h. 5 minutes later I have realized that my phone was still charging in the hostel. Panicked then Karen and I took a taxi (150 bht) to get my phone. I asked the taxi to wait for us and would pay him later but he kept telling me “money, money”. After paying him and making sure he understood to wait for us, we hurried out the taxi and recuperate my phone. Then we went back to the station. All along, praying that there would be no traffic. 15 minutes before our train departs, we arrived at the station. Grateful.

Trip to Ko Pha-ngan

Ours were combined tickets (bought from an agency in Khao San road) to Koh Phangan. The train from Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok left at 19h30. After a few minutes the staff started converting our seats to beds. Our girls were excited of the transformation. We had dinner in the train’s dining area, where the windows were all open and bringing in some breeze with the night scenery of the life outside.Then we found out that my husband had made an error on the reservation date for our bungalow in Ko Pha-ngan . He reserved for the following week.


The night in the train was fine though it was so chilly. I have asked the staff if he could lower the AC’s temperature but he might have forgotten about it. Luckily, we have our malong with us and leggings in our backpack, except of course for Carlo.

We arrived early morning in Surat Thani, someone asked we if needed help, our destination and pointed the bus we should take to the pier. It was almost 2 hours of bus ride and at the pier there was a restaurant where they served pad thai and fried rice. (Don’t hesitate to ask for some nam pla pric). Then,we were told to walk up to where the ferry boat for Ko Pha-ngan was docked.

Arriving at Ko Pha-ngan , we were approached by a guy and showed us some flyers. As my husband made an error on our reservation(remember, he made the reservation for the following week), we agreed to see the guesthouse and our taxi cost us 300 bht from the pier to Baan Haad Yao guesthouse. We stayed there for a week and have enjoyed the beach which  is only away from us. The mistake turned out to be a blessing.

A week later, we transferred to our new bungalow in Haad Gruad. There would be intermittent rain during the week,nevertheless, we have enjoyed our stay.

While in Haad Gruad, we went to a nearby beach resort called Salad Beach where we had massage, swam and relaxed. I was able also to exchange one book and we ate in Prung Tip restaurant which is not far from the beach just behind Jack’s bar.

27.11.18  7 minutes before 10h and the car has not arrived yet.  It should be here at 9h and we were supposed to be out and exploring the island. The moral of the story is: Do the business with the main man.

Anyway, after an hour the car arrived and we were able to drive around. We did not take lots of pictures though we had a great time going to a bookshop and eating in the market.

28.11.18 It rained last night. The waves are making their presence felt in front of our bungalow. Erin is reading her book found in a 2nd hand book shop yesterday while Carlo and Karen went to get the laundry. They might pass by 7-11, I was told. Lucie is in her post. Lazily lounging, seems to enjoy the cool morning breeze.

30.11.2018 The car came at 10h45 which left us ample time for our 12h30 departure from Ko Pha-ngan . By 17h30 we were at the pier where a bus would take us to Surat Thani train station.

While the others were boarding the bus, I have told the driver that we’d go to the toilet and he answered: “hurry, hurry.” So with my daughter Karen, we hurried to the toilet but when we get back our bus was nowhere in sight. They left us….We were told to go to the other waiting area, we ran then I hailed the other bus coming our way. Once in the waiting area, a lady told us to take another bus. This one took us and drove for 5 minutes where our bus was waiting for us by the roadside.

While in Bangkok, we stayed again in La Rivetta for two nights and there was a meet up with some families who are also travelling like us. We had a lovely time with the families of Poly,Celine (we met them in Bolivia) and Maxime.

The following day, we decided to go to Lumphini park with Celine and family but taxis would not take us with our proposed fare. Finally one came and our family took it. At the park while waiting for them, we walked around and came upon an activity called “Knowledge in the Park” in the Lumphini Youth Center.

Afterwards, we took the MRT and went to Siam.

Celine’s family was not able to join us that Sunday afternoon, we later found out that they were not able to get any taxi.

03.12.2018 We took the bus for Cambodia.

On nems, motorbike and birthday in Hanoi

The drive from the hotel to Haneda airport is less than 20 minutes and before 6h30 we were queuing for check-in. At exactly 6h30 the staff of ANA  had their little ceremony before opening the counter and then the check-in started. The staff in general were really nice and helpful.

We arrived in Hanoi on the 8th of November after 6 hours or so flight from Tokyo. Exiting the airport, I  saw right away the man holding the sign with my husband’s name on it. Our hotel has sent someone to pick us up from the airport.

The hotel is located at the old quarter, where every nook and corner has shops and restaurant. The alley to our hotel is lined with vendors where everything looks so delicious.

It was rare that I take pictures of what we eat and when I wanted to, my phone would be no where in sight. Hence, no picture of the first lunch of Karen which was evidently, a plate of nems.


A Vietnamese story

We became Vietnam dish lovers because of my friend, Jenna. A Vietnamese -American who is married to Tony, an Italian-Swiss. Both are in Geneva and we are their absent quasi neighbor for some weeks now. They moved into our neighborhood. Yey! Anyway, she introduced us to Pho and nems.

Her mom, who visited them, some years ago, taught me how to prepare summer rolls and its peanut sauce. And up to this day, I am so grateful to her for sharing that knowledge.

This is Us

After Japan, my husband and I decided to take it really easy. And as Karen’s birthday approach, we let her decide what to do. So, no boats or anymore bus for the time being. Just nems, mangoes and dim sum.Great!

I have never seen so many motorbikes in my life. The street here is filled with them and parked in front of of restos and shops. Crossing the street with my girls, was not an easy task.

We arrived the week when there was a festival called #INSPIREme Festival 2018. Everyday, there was a program and live music.

After two nights in this hotel, we booked another one in the french quarter.

We were able to watch the the water puppet show and bought our tickets the day before to avoid long queuing. Yet, there was a tourist group before us and the line was in state of complete disorder and confusion. Hats off to the cashier.

Our eldest daughter, Karen turned 11 (11.11.18) while here in Hanoi. We went to a restaurant for her bday dinner and later have the cake at the apartment.

She didn’t want to blow the cake in the resto and preferred to have it quiet with only her family .

As we prepared her cake, she got a WhatsApp call from her friends. I was really glad and thankful to Alessia, the mother of her friend, Diana,who initiated the call. Karen was able to talk to her other two friends as well. That made her day.

On our way to the airport, amidst the passing vehicles this wall captured my interest.

This long wall could take your mind away from the traffic for a few minutes and that’s a good thing.

Our flight for Bangkok was at 10h35. We were glad for the chance to visit Hanoi and would have wanted to stay longer, to be able to explore more. See you again, Hanoi!

A week later…

Seems like eternity since we left our home to start this family adventure. My youngest daughter, Erin, expressed how she misses her bed and her stuff toys. I miss everything in Grand Lancy but the thought of visiting countries as a family truly excites me.

We have reserved our accommodations till the end of the month thru AirBnB and two hotels. Three down and 3 to go.

breakfast
Breakfast in the Pousada Pouso Feliz consisted of bread, tapioca pancake, cheese, ham, cakes, guava juice and coffee.

Issues

Our main concern is the phone. Before departure, I have cancelled my phone subscription. Carlo read about TextNow and using WhatsApp in a blog here. Perhaps I have got too excited and didn’t read everything well. TextNow didn’t function well in my phone, lost half of my chats/messages in WhatsApp trying to reinstall it so that I can use both application. Thankfully, Carlo’s attempt didn’t work out and he was able to keep all his chats/msg. His phone subscription is until the end of the month.

Phoning  our two hosts is kinda tricky, not adding them in our WhatsApp contact made us  used Carlo’s phone 4g and incurred charges along the way. Yes, I should have done that at home.

Uber is not in our phone app. We were already in Brazil when I decided to download it.

Aside from bom dia and obrigado, our portuguese knowledge is nul. Nevertheless, this did not hinder the people whom we asked directions. Once, a man said “perigoso” as I asked him how to go to a grocery store. I took it that walking alone is dangerous because afterwards he made a hand gesture but seeing Carlo afterwards he said it would be okay to walk. Glad to be with our main man.

Our baggages survived the first two destinations. Aside from the missing name tags of the adults’ luggages and Erin’s stomach trouble, everyone and everything’s doing alright.

pousada
Keep calm and smile.

Lessons learned

  • I should have taken a pre-paid sim card not relying on wifi alone.
  • Download Uber before leaving home.
  • Add hosts’ number in WhatsApp
  • Ask. There’s no harm in trying.

It made me feel bad not being able to prevent these things from happening, however these are situations which might have cost us yet lessons learned.

❤ Mayet