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The Blind Foot Massage

Chiang Mai Style

sunny 85 °F

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Student monks outside one of the many many Wats in Chiang Mai

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You've never seen so many Wats in one place!

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Chiang Mai shop near Night Market

Since I was still hurting from excessive walking (and falling) on Thursday, I decided what I needed was a good foot massage, and such a place was steps away from Tri Gong. Down past the Prego Restaurant (good pizza) was a licensed Blind Massage place, and this is where I spent the last hour. The 1 hour foot massage was 150 Baht and well worth it too, since it not only was a foot massage, but also the full leg, neck and shoulders too. I will be back - perhaps on Sunday before my train. The location of the blind massage is Sribhum Road, Soi 1 in the NE inside corner of the Old City Moat. Perhaps, I'll try putting on shoes and see if I can walk a little more today? For breakfast today, I wandered out to the main street and had an open air plate of tropical fruits with yogurt, toast, pineapple jam and black coffee for 130 Baht. The Thai Iced Tea I had later at Black Canyon Coffee was sensational! Tomorrow I've booked an all day tour of the highlands (think waterfalls) - comes with lunch for 900THB.

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Chiang Mai Night Market

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An artist at work - Chiang Mai Night Market

Posted by Daawgon 19:46 Archived in Thailand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Doi Inthanon National Park

2 hours west of Chiang Mai

sunny 90 °F

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Ben, our tour guide

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You can see how much I enjoy Thai food

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The Karen Village - a weaver

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Karen Village automatic alarm clock

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Lunch at Doi Inthanon HQ

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The Dutch amazon posing with Thai tourists

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The King's Pagoda

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Inside the Queen's Pagoda

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A German friend from Cologne, and I at the highest point in Thailand

Yesterday I toured Doi Inthanon N.P., it's waterfalls, a Karen Village, and the King's and Queen's Pagodas. It was about a 2 hour drive by 11 passenger Toyota van with our Thai guide, Ben (F), and Dutch and German tourists. The waterfalls were spectacular even though N. Thailand is experiencing drought at the moment ("Extreme Danger" fire warnings posted). We had a 5 course, curry and fish, lunch at park headquarters, saw the spectacular pagodas of the King and Queen of Thailand, and went to the highest peak in all of Thailand as well. It was quite a full day, and my fellow tour mates were a jolly group - I believe that I was the oldest in the group by at least 12 years! We returned to town about 5, and I showered, had a beer, and went down to Aroon Rai Restaurant, again, for a rather wonderful N. Thai dinner of spring rolls, shrimp salad, spicy fish soup with ginger, green chicken curry with rice, Chang beer over ice, and homemade coconut ice cream (to say that I was stuffed was an understatement!)

This morning I walked down to the Montri Hotel for muesli with fruit and yogurt, an apple and carrot muffin, orange juice and coffee. A few minutes ago I had my second Thai Foot Massage (by the blind, next door), and checked out of the Tri Gong (surprise, my bill for 3 nights came to only 1800THB - I was actually quoted 700THB a night!) Now it's time to go around the corner and use a more modern internet connection to upload a few photos, walk down to the Sunday Market, down to Black Canyon Coffee, again, for a final Thai Iced Tea, and make my way to the train station for my 17:55 train to Bangkok (and on to Hanoi and Hoi An the following morning - Tuesday).

Posted by Daawgon 20:49 Archived in Thailand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Eating too well in Hoi An

second time around

sunny 0 °F

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Diep of Vietnamtour Travel, Hanoi

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Coffee being delivered aboard the Reunification Express - Livitrans

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Cheapest coffee in Vietnam - 10,000VND

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Hoi An, Vietnam - one of many beautiful buildings

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Hoi An's favorite vehicle

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Hoi An - "You buy nice gift? - Buy me, buy me!"

Monday I flew into Hanoi to a surprise, royal welcome from my old friend, Diep. He sent a car to meet me at the airport, hosted me at lunch, saw to it that I got a shower, and sent me off by private car to the station to board the Reunification Express (First Class Livitrans carriage). Next morning we were on the Central Coast at Hue by 07:00, and into Danang at 10:30 - early by 40 minutes. My hotel in Hoi An (The Hai Au) sent a car, and I was checking in by 11:00. Hoi An was quite warmer (think hot and humid) than drizzly Hanoi, and I wasted no time in searching down an old favorite - Shree Ganeesh, Hoi An's wonderful Indian restaurant (boy do those people know spices - not the harsh kind we have in the States).

As if that wasn't enough food to last me, I went out in the early evening to Miss Ly's Cafeteria for dinner. I've never had a better looking inexpensive dinner in my life. Today was just for looking around town, a little shopping, a swim in the hotel pool, and now just waiting until 17:30 when my friend from Hanoikids (2008 trip) arrives - her name is Thuong, and she works in Foreign Relations now - in Danang City.

The Hai Au is just fair, the buffet breakfast was lacking in quantity, but the staff at reception is outstanding. The pool is on the small side, but super clean, cool, and not overpowered with chemicals (1/4 mile walk into town). This town is nice because of the lack of cars - just a few cabs, but plenty motorbikes! I sleep with the AC on low because I don't want mozzie bites (the Hai Au does have mozzie nets) like I got last time around. Tourist here rent push bikes to get around town, and the beach is 1/2 mile down the road, and it's totally flat. I get "Hello" about 1,000 times an hour as I walk down the street (from hawkers, tourism is down quite a bit here and these people are hungry for you to buy anything!)

On to Hanoi first thing Saturday (Jetstar changed my flight time from 17:30 to 09:30!)

Posted by Daawgon 00:17 Archived in Vietnam Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Dinner with the lovely Miss Thuong

sunny 90 °F

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My former Hanoikids guide, Miss Thuong, after dinner in Hoi An

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My companion at morning coffee

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Miss Ly's Cafeteria - her spring roll plate was too beautiful to eat

I had called my old friend, Thuong, as soon as I arrived in Hoi An, and we arranged to meet last evening for dinner. She arrived by scooter, and we walked into Hoi An town and reminisced about good times last year in Hanoi. Thuong now has a job in Foreign Relations in Danang City. I had not been feeling too well that day since getting sunstroke, but I felt a little better as the day progressed - just wasn't my usual famished self! Thuong took me to a friend's restaurant on Bach Dang by the Japanese Bridge - we ate on the patio with lanterns and views of the island across the canal. It was so good to see Thuong again, and we had plenty to talk about. Thuong insisted on treating me to dinner, and also insisted on seeing me off at the airport when I leave for Hanoi on Sunday morning.

Posted by Daawgon 23:08 Archived in Vietnam Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Cua Dai Beach

Hoi An's paradise of a beach

sunny 88 °F

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Cua Dai Beach, Hoi An

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A verty tasty coconut - Cua Dai Beach

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A personable chopstick vendor

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My $15. Nhi Trung Hotel balcony

Took a cyclo ride down to Cua Dai this morning for the cool breeze - what a nice beach. It would have been a lot nicer without all the hawkers, but I certainly think Hoi An's beach must be one of the nicer beaches in country. The stretch I was on was across from expensive beach hotels, but the beach side was totally open to the public, and was lined with beautiful coconut palms. I sat down in one of those red plastic chairs and ordered a fresh coconut for 20,000VND.

I have to go into Hoi An town now to pay the balance on a purchase of a set of carved figures to be shipped home - I thought it was quite a bargain at $25. (plus $26. shipping to the States). From there, I think I'll try the Mango Rooms Restaurant - it gets very high marks from certain Portland foodies. Thank God for the pool at my hotel - I've been in it 3 times already - a really nice cool down after a hot day, and especially at night.

Ate at the fancy Mango Rooms last night, and my advice is to "save your dong"! Mango Rooms is an Asian Fusian place that has a name creator (no name chef in sight) with respectable food, but I fear that it caters toward the upper crust customer with more dong than brains. The first course of tempura-style fried veggies was very tasty with an unusual sauce (mango was the secret ingredient, I believe), but the main course of beef-wrapped shrimp marinated in soy, ginger, cloves and pepper just did not work for this spaghetti-head - the marinade was so powerful as to totally mask the flavor of the prawns. It did make a beautiful statement with banana leaf, wrapped rice noodles and a tomato rose. The mango lasse had no salt rim, and had far too little mango to suit this perfectionist. The cost of 375,000VND was over 3 times the cost of a more enjoyable meal at Miss Ly's. So much for fancy food in Vietnam!

I realized, later in the evening, that I was dissatisfied with my accommodation at the Hai Au (don't want to totally bore you with details - read all about it on my review at Tripadvisor), and took a walk down to my old stomping ground at the Dai Long (March '08), but they were full. A few doors down I found the very acceptable little Nhi Trung Hotel for the grand total of $15. a night for a cozy room, comfortable balcony with outdoor table already set for tea, AC and breakfast included. I move in first thing this morning, Friday. I just walked down to the daily market, and along the way had a brunch of fried banana, tropical fruit plate and iced white coffee. Every time you order coffee in this country, it comes in a slightly different form - this time it was sweetened condensed milk at the bottom of a glass, with crushed ice and topped with the Viet filter coffee rig so the hot coffee can drip down onto the ice, and it all melted into cold perfection, but it sure looked like an attempt to make coffee granita instead of iced coffee. A German tourist from Nuremburg thought so too, and took a picture of the coffee drink in the making.

This computer at the Nhi Trung seems to be light years younger than those at Hai Au, and the location of this hotel is so much more convenient. I have to stock my own fridge here, and came back from market with fruit drinks and a Pepsi + mini tangerines. I also stopped along the way to watch a young wood carver, and bought a small tortoise for 90,000VND.

I had felt a little self conscious walking around in a sweat soaked t-shirt, but noticed this morning that many other tourists + at least one Vietnamese man had the very same problem,

Posted by Daawgon 23:19 Archived in Vietnam Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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