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Old 30th September 2008, 15:09   #1
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Smile My Vacation in the Land of Smiles

It’s 2 weeks since I got back from our vacation in Thailand and Singapore and after reading so many travelogues lately, finally mustered up the courage to take a shot at one. This one’s dedicated to my sweetheart who’s always encouraged me to do some writing of my own (and after 8 years I’ve finally decided to start someplace). Also many thanks to Sam, he's certainly inspired me.

And I’ve got to warn you guys that this one’s going to take some time, so do excuse the delays in between.

Sep 2nd:

We’re finally on our way to Chennai to catch our Thai Air flight to Bangkok. It all started two months back when we started planning for a vacation and finally decided on Thailand and later added Singapore to the itinerary. Since we’d decided to fly from Chennai after meeting up with our friend Ashwin (and I needed just another excuse to take to the road), we drive down in the Bumble Bee (which has since been Pete’d – my wife’s b’day gift [FONT=Wingdings][FONT=Wingdings]J[/FONT][/FONT] ). We have an early dinner at my friend’s and he drops us at the airport. It’s a 12:30 AM flight so I’ve got quite some time to kill. I walk around and peer through the glass looking at the Thai Air flight being readied for boarding while my wife sleeps. I say a short prayer of thanks for bringing us this far and pray that the next 11 days would be one etched in memory.

Sep 3rd: We board the flight and while I keep fidgeting around, my wife’s gone back to sleep having had enough of my wisecracks. After a pretty tasty dinner (where I successfully steal my wife’s chicken and dessert) we finally land at Suvarnabhumi Airport at 5:30 AM. Pretty impressively designed airport. Immigration is a breeze and after collecting our luggage we’re on our way. I can’t wait to get a taste of the local cuisine, so we enter a food court and I get busy. We walk around taking in the sights and while my wife decides to play it safe, I pile on some pork leg stew on steamed rice and here I am at 6 AM having one of my best breakfast’s ever. However, in between gulping down my food, I notice this weird look on her face as she stares at me, it’s a look which says ‘Please God, let me not have made a mistake with this guy’ … I wonder why!

We then take the Airport Express to Sukhumvit Soi 11 where we check into the ‘Swiss Park Hotel’. We’d also booked a half day tour (at the airport) of the Golden Palace complex, for the afternoon. I assume it’s going to be a boring sight seeing trip but was I surprised.

Our guide (Mr. Tick) is at our hotel right on time. And since this travelogue is hosted on an automobile forum, let me throw in the first mention of an automobile, the cab’s a Merc S 280 . Regret not taking a pic of the interiors, the driver had a lot of these nice red things hanging from the front but I didn’t know how much of it was personal.

Will leave you now with pics of the Grand Palace Complex. Look out for the pic which is supposed to be an exact model of Ankor Wat (Cambodia).
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Old 30th September 2008, 15:20   #2
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You have a flair for writing. Nice pictures!!

Waiting for the rest. Thanks!!
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Old 30th September 2008, 16:09   #3
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@PatienceWins: Thank you. It's encouraging for a first timer like me.

Rest of the Pics, coming up.
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Old 30th September 2008, 16:22   #4
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Nice writeup & nice pictures. Especially liked this one "However, in between gulping down my food, I notice this weird look on her face as she stares at me, it’s a look which says ‘Please God, let me not have made a mistake with this guy’ … I wonder why!"

Eagerly waiting for the rest of the trip. Which camera you used?

Ranjith
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Old 30th September 2008, 16:31   #5
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Must say that as Patiencewins mentioned you do have a flair for writing and more so good photographic skills to boot too. Waiting in anticipation for the rest of your travelogues, for am sure it's going to be one helluva read / ride, whatever...
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Old 30th September 2008, 17:33   #6
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Nice short report of the trip and good pictures too. Hope lot more pictures are on the way.

I am contemplating a trip to Thailand during december. Would like to know a bit more in detail. Maybe, i can PM you with my queries?
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Old 30th September 2008, 18:06   #7
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Sawasdee Khrup!!

Great pics.... Thailand & Cambodia are amazing places. I spent about 6 weeks in the region this year and still couldnt get enpugh.

You've got a keen eye rufroc
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Old 30th September 2008, 18:10   #8
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Good pictures, my visit to Thailand was not penned into a travelogue, pls keep writing and posting the pictures, looking forward to more.
Regards,
Hari.
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Old 30th September 2008, 20:01   #9
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Wonderful writeup and pictures Please do keep updating regularly
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Old 30th September 2008, 20:11   #10
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Good writeup and nice pics. Is this all? Keep the pics coming atleast.
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Old 30th September 2008, 20:47   #11
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Nice crisp photos... looking forward the whole thing.
Will be very helpful if you can include a small brief about each pic.
Everything is so neat and clean, and hygenic looking.. as if it was cleaned up so people could get a nice picture. (not a sarcastic remark)

Why is it called the land of smiles?
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Old 1st October 2008, 12:46   #12
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@Nutty Nair: It's a Nikon S10, nothing fancy.

@suren181: Thanks but I wouldn't want to take all the credit for the pics, almost half of them were by my wife.

@mobike008: Would be more than willing to help but got to mention that I only strayed as far as Bangkok, Phuket and Phi Phi Islands ... but PM me anytime. I wonder how Thailand would feel in the peak season (the time you're going). I missed the water sports, the sea was too rough at most times but I'm sure you'll have a blast in Dec/Jan.

@s0uljah: We seem to dig the same places, Gokarna and now Thailand . I just loved Thailand ... the place, the people and the atmosphere.

@jaysmokesleaves: Will try writing a brief for some pics, going forward. Actually, everythings is indeed very clean and hygienic, will write more on that later.

Land of Smiles ? hmm ... I had to look this one up and there's an whole lot about it in Land of Smiles: Thailand - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia but for me it's just that maybe everything's so sunny and everyone's so smiley (just my simple way of thinking)

@snaronikar, @srijit & @Lukeskywalker: Thanks and I've just started with the next part. Will update that in a couple of hours.
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Old 1st October 2008, 13:26   #13
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Great pics.. nicely written too. Waiting for more..
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Old 1st October 2008, 15:24   #14
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… contd Sep 3rd:

Since we’d planned to spend just a day in Bangkok, we decided to spend the evening shopping for clothes and trinkets. Got some Starbucks coffee into our system before walking down the bylanes of Sukhumvit. Was a nice experience and apart from some cool clothes, also found some nice wall hangings, table lamps etc. Though shopping isn’t really my kinda thing, we ended the day with a very nice warm feeling. And we realised that it wasn’t just coz of the stuff we picked up … it’s the people you interact with. Let’s not get into the point of it’s all over priced and you’ve got to bargain to within half of the mentioned cost, afterall that’s part of the experience and it’s anyway their livelihood. It’s the mood, the pace at which you’re allowed to shop, the sometimes genuine interest in something that fascinates them about you or your country or a custom. Some of them do get pushy but never aggressive. You can cut a guy’s price to half and still be met with a smiling ‘No do’ and when that’s compared to a surly guy who just turns around and ignores you … I think that’s what I take away from the evening.

The neighborhood can be seedy at times especially the bylanes of Sukhumvit but it’s proximity to the sky train and places nearby is convenient. Had ourselves some chicken liver and chicken heart on sticks from a roadside stall for dinner. We bought some and moved ahead and later really regretted not getting ourselves some more … Delicious and so very hygienic. We had decided at the beginning that we were going to do our bit of sampling the local food, so it was a start though not really Thai cuisine … it was just barbequed chicken but then I was happy that I was doing my bit in balancing the chicken population on two different countries.

Completed packing and getting things ready because we had to check out in the morning by 7:30 AM. I set an alarm on my phone and go to sleep. We would be visiting the Damnoen Saduakh Floating Market and Sampran Elephant Park and Zoo before catching an evening bus to Phuket, tomorrow.

Sep 4th:

I wake up with a start at 6:45 AM and wonder why my alarm didn’t go off. Well, rookie traveller mistake … had only changed my watch to local time. Well, everything’s a blur after that so lets skip the ‘getting ready’ part and move on to familiar territory … it’s that time of the day again, BREAKFAST! It’s a nice spread and we’re 15 minutes late (I had to stay true to my roots), our guide’s already waiting in the lobby wondering which part of ‘7:30 AM’ we didn’t understand, while we dig (notice my mention of ‘we’ coz I feel I’m being unjustly singled out here and would like my wife to share in it too … for better or for worse, remember) into a sumptous spread of English and Japanese cuisine. Well, I just dig into the sausages and croissants (lovely) out there and please don’t ask me what the Japanses cuisine consisted of, I just remember seeing large groups of Japanese tourists going ‘Ummm … Yummm’ and assumed that gooey stuff on their plate was apparently what’s causing them that pleasure.

Finally … we’re off and surprisingly our guide doesn’t show any displeasure. I tell him a long story about how we forgot to change our time to local time and that’s why we’re late. I conveniently leave the part about us hogging our breakfast while he waited downstairs and I’m just hoping I don’t have noodles sticking out of the sides of my mouth.

Well, here are a few pics of the floating market … will continue after that.
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Last edited by RufRoc : 1st October 2008 at 15:43. Reason: Removed formatting
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Old 1st October 2008, 15:41   #15
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A few more pics of the Floating Market ...

Btw, I'm unable to attach 10 pics at one shot, it always errors out and I end up uploading each one individually. Any idea, guys?
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