Burma Trip–Mong Yawng

Sawadee Khrap

On the second day we left Keng Tung and headed back to Mong Hpayak IMG_3700where the monks could get their lunch.  The tiny market there had all kinds of bugs for sale , but I opted just for some fried rice and cauliflower and then we went on to Mong Yawng where we would spend the next 2 nights.  This would be the most rugged part of out trip – and I mean rugged.  From Hpayak to Mong Yawng is 80 KM of which 1/3 was just single wide crushed rock roads – the rest was under some kind of construction.  Not too far up the road we lost the right IMG_3724mirror on our van  – hit by a passing truck on the narrow road it ripped off the mirror but did not damage the side of the van.   The dust and bumps were amazing – we had to cross over a mountain range where we came to a full stop because they were widening the road by cutting the hillside away –  but we did get through and ultimately got to IMG_3743our newly opened  “Nant Khat Guest House” in Mong Yawng.  Sparse but adequate.   The next morning, 5AM, we all headed to the local area market – still dark, but it was a full moon which was the biggest market day of the month – there must have been over 300 people there – go early get the best deals – all vendors were gone and the market was closed by 7:30.


 IMG_3926Next we headed to a temple high on a hill overlooking the valley, here as with all the temples we visited,  they did the usual blessing and chanting.   Back to town for lunch and then on to a temple which had a original India Bodhi Tree under which Buddha achieved enlightenment.  From here we headed to a “forest” temple and a dedication and then back that evening to deliver a full IMG_3779set of “Buddha Bibles” to the local Mong Yawng Temple.   All the roads we were on this day were just dirt and extremely bumpy making travel speed about 5-10 KM/hr.  Quite a day.   The next morning up again at 5AM for market – Here the lady offered IMG_3798to sell me some “Shwe le maw” very strong Shan alcohol.  then breakfast and on the road back.  Got hung-up once in a new rock road area – the roller crusher hadn’t gotten there yet – but we made it through that area and on to the the major construction site where we IMG_4250were stopped coming in.  It was passable but slow and then on to Hpayak for lunch.   Here is where we spotted the deer heads, I had never seen any wild animals in all my travels in Thailand so this was a great surprise – we did pass several Burmese with homemade long barrel rifles  but with my slow camera I couldn’t get a shot.  Next time.    Time to go home now. And I did get my passport back at the border crossing, all stamped and ready to go.


All in all great trip – meat is scarce and expensive so most Burmese meals are rice,fish and vegetables.  I am amazed that although I ate very little each time, how much better I felt when I got back, tired but much more energy – in addition, all the rough roads and bouncing around actually massaged my back and all my back pain was gone. I was also worried about having to use the squat toilets but at all our major stops there were western sit toilets so that worked out ok too.   Great group of people on the trip, although most spoke very limited English and I limited Thai, we did manage to communicate and actually they took special pains to see I was ok.  I am looking forward to the next trip and will bring my high speed camera and opt for a front seat in a van so I can get more specific images.

Ciao

Doi Mae Salong and Mae Sot trips

Sawadee Khrap

Sorry for not posting faster – last week we went to Doi Mae Salong for a quick 2 day trip to test my new camera and get some needed relaxation. Here are some random shots.  We stayed at the Mae Salong Flower Hills Resort – excellent.  Actually we were the only ones there besides the staff.DSC00098DSC00190 

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DSC00254DSC00234And then the next week a short tip to Mae Sot and then to Tak and back to Chiang Mai.  It was really rainy and bad weather so very few shots were taken – her are a couple of them.  I will try to do a better job on outing. DSC00359-PanoDSC00363

Ciao

MaeSai Trip–Jaiand

Sawadee Khrap

Sorry for the late posting but 2 weeks ago I took a quick trip to Maesai to visit my friend – Jaiand.  We had met in Pattaya and he was at home helping his mother.  Jaiand showed me this great cozy guesthouse in Maesai – Patcharaporn resort located in town on Pa Meuad  soi just off Hwy 1.20160519_15013520160519_150130  500 Baht a night including breakfast for 2 –  what a great deal and a wonderful place to stay – Don’t  miss it if you visit Maesai for your VISA run.  And we had wonderful dinner at HueanHimDoi rstaurant    just off Hwy 1 at the Hwy 123 junction.   Great food – Thai style – and this spread cost only 800 Baht.20160518_18091020160518_182221     We visited  Wat Phara That Doi Wao overlooking the bridge to Myanmar (Burma) and the border city Tachileik.IMG_4540IMG_4543IMG_4570-Pano   What a view from here.   The next day we headed for Doi MaeSalong – now the tea capital of Thailand – but it used to be the poppy and opium growing area  for the Maesai’s Golden Triangle opium dens.IMG_4627-PanoIMG_4642IMG_4657-Pano    From here, we made it to Wat ThaTon (Phra Aram Luang)  on Hwy 107 going to Fang but started to have a bad vibrations in the car.  Something was really going wrong so we headed back for the 2 hr. drive back to Maesai.  The car was really getting bad – felt like either failing motor mounts or the drive shaft universals were acting up – so I cut my visit short and limped slowly back to Chiang Mai – made it and did have to have new universals  installed – so the car was again in the shop for 3 days – but I also had new front shocks put in so now I should be worry free for quite a while.  Wish I would have had more time to visit with Jaiand but after my  upcoming operation – which was rescheduled  for June 11th – I should have time to visit him again.  I promise more photos next time.

Ciao

Back Pattaya– 1 st Operation done

Sawadee Khrap

Just got back to Chiang Mai from Bangkok and Pattaya – 1st operation at Siriraj Hospital completed – placed a stent in the right kidney artery and scheduled the operation for the left side on June 4th.   After getting on the table it was discovered that both kidney arteries were blocked and the medicine I was taking was actually making things worse.  In addition, because of the deterioration of the kidneys, the doctor decided the safest thing to do was one side at a time thereby reducing the use of the defining dye as it is not good for the kidneys either.  So we did just the right side this time.

  • Private hospital room and operation  ( 1 stent)                 
  • Air fare return trip from Chiang Mai to Bangkok
  • Longstay hotel – Pattaya  – 5 days  (included breakfast)
  • 4 – taxi trips from Pattaya Longstay hotel to Siriraj hospital 

Total cost 106,000 Baht       roughly $ 3,000

Next month I’ll have the left side done and the total cost will still be within the 250,000 Baht estimate the hospital gave me.   Remember when this all started Bangkok Hospital wanted 800,00 Baht for just one stent and 200,00 for each additional if needed.  I will also discuss with the doctor if it would be necessary to stent the artery to my left side which has resulted in different BP readings in both arms – maybe not needed – I hope so – but even if it is recommended the total cost will hover near 300,000 Baht     $8,300    3 – STENTS

I have already noticed a great improvement – As I mentioned above we did have to change the BP medicine but it has really dropped now and I feel normal again.  My right groin area is really heavily bruised right now – really black. but little or no pain – just a little sore.   The operation was painless and quick – 20 min. But I had to lay with my leg straight for 12 hours after the operation to make sure the artery was closed properly.   My back hurt more than my groin area –  All in all – great success so far and it should be a piece of cake to get the left side done in June.

Something’s fucked up with my phone and I can’t get the photos to d/l  – I’ll figure this out later and post them.

Ciao

Back from Pattaya–Operation set

Sawadee Khrap

Took a trip to Pattaya with a Chiang Mai friend  – Jack  –  so I could go to the doctor in BKK  Siriraj Hospital and see about setting up the  dual stent operation. – I thought I would have at least 2-3 months waiting period but they booked it in 2 weeks  – May 7th. not even time for me to get all worked up.    Don, who lives in Pattaya, said he will go with me Saturday and Charlie will visit me in the hospital on Sunday – booked a private room in the hospital for the operation – it has a TV and sleeping room for guests.  Estimated maximum cost expected is only 300,000 Baht.  $8,500

IMG_4453we drove down in the Vitara and it performed beautifully, at IMG_4452Pattaya we booked into the “Longstay Hotel” – in the heart of  the Jomtien Beach area – very nice accommodations – 750 night and extremely convenient to everything here. 

IMG_4444HPIM1858-2We arrived on the last day of Songkran and drove into the thick of the water throwing along the Sukhumvit Hwy.   I did get to show Jack some of the local sites but he had no problem IMG_4448finding his own way and I think he is now planning one moving there – LOL.      The Gay Candy Store.     We took time to visited  Khao Chee Chan and surrounding area and very close  new attraction they are building – some kind of upside down and other cartoonish houses.

On the way back home we stopped at Sukhothai Historical Park and got some new shots of that area. We got there about 9AM and missed the tourist – great to almost have the place to ourselves to walk around.IMG_4470-PanoIMG_4463IMG_4479

Not too many photos – worried about the operation – will post after next week and see how everything is going.

Ciao

Chiang Rai trip

Sawadee Khrap

Feeling restless and just getting the car back working – had to replace the rear axel, bad bearing race  –  so I headed for a short trip to Chiang Rai.  Left about 7:30 and arrived in Chiang Rai at 10:00 AM – checked in the WangCome Hotel.   I had “Grinder” running and by that time I had received  5 messages from local guys and made arrangement for “Lan” to meet me and be my guide for the day.  First we headed for Wat Huay Plakang  9 Tier Temple at Mae Yao, just Northwest from Chiang RaiIMG_4335IMG_4339.     You can see more of the temple area in the slideshow below.  It also has a very large live-in school area for local students – really nice.    From there we IMG_4397-Panoheaded South along Hwy 1211 to Singha Park at Mae Kon.  Hugh park with roaming manicured hills, numerous lakes, flowers, and commercial green tea fields and of course the Singha product pavilion. A great place to have IMG_4408an afternoon picnic  –   they also put on many concerts here.    From here, traveling further south to Khun Kon Forest Park Area and the Mae Kon river.IMG_4427  Although only a stream now it still was a great place to go.  All along the river were small dams providing play areas and people enjoying the afternoon.  although very close , we didn’t go to Khun Kon Waterfall at Tat Mok – purported to be the highest waterfall in Thailand – I wasn’t feeling that great from some new meds I have been given for my BP, so we headed back to the Hotel.  Later that evening I had a great Greek salad dinner at Da Vinci’s restaurant.  When you go there by sure and say hello to “Maek” your very cute waiter.  IMG_4431I did manage to get a fairly good sleep but still decide to head back to Chiang Mai  the next morning and see how the BP was holding up.   About halfway back to Chiang Mai, along Hwy 118 is   Cabbages and Condoms at Wiang Pa Pao.   I didn’t stop for food but I bet it’s just as good as in the main facility in Pattaya – one of the best restaurants there – and like Pattaya IMG_4438everything is devoted to Rural Development.  Next time on the way up , I’ll be sure and make this my coffee break stop.


Ciao

Day 4 Nong Khai Trip– on the way back

Sawadee Khrap

Now the last leg of the trip – leaving Loei we were very tired and took the faster side roads back to Uttaradit  – First about half-way from Loei along Highway 21 in Phu Ruea District IMG_4301IMG_4300is Wat Pa Non At and a interesting structure there. The “Monkey temple”.  Further down the road at the small town of Dan Sai , is home to the Phi Ta Khon (ghost mask) festival – held, I think, sometime in late June – that’s one IMG_4308festival and parade that I plan to go back and see.  Costumes and masks are beautiful. 

Approaching Den Chai is Wat Phra That Suthon Mongkol Kiree IMG_2875IMG_4316and across the highway a great place where they make wooden horse statues.   Coming into Lampang we stopped at Duo Mo Restaurant for a quick lunchIMG_4323IMG_4317.  Good food – seemed to be the local gay female hangout judging from the people there and the staff.

Back home at 2:30 PM and ready for a nap – Great trip, good images – but next time need to spend more time at each location – at least a day in each major city is needed to have time to take in more sites.  4 days and 3 nights did not allow sufficient time to visit all the attractions – but then there’s always another trip on the horizon.

Ciao

Day 3 Nong Kai Trip 2/23

Sawadee Khrap

IMG_4152Before we left the Paradise – Kay wanted to get some shots at the pool.IMG_3032   Next we headed for Nong Khai and  made our first stop at Sala Keoku – Wow – huge statues and displays – quite impressive – and then on to the crocodile farm, next door, for a quick visit.   It wasn’t open but Kay was invited in and took some photos of the tanks –   Then on to the IMG_3026Friendship Bridge – Nong Khai , I think there are 3 such bridges to Lao along the Mekong River boundary.  Here the river looked quite wide but further up the way, going to our next destination, Chiang Khan, we were shocked to see how low it actually was.IMG_4254-PanoIMG_3105IMG_4257  I’ve been reading about the furor over the Chinese blocking the river with their dams and causing many problems down stream.  The sign above, not too far out of Nong Khai,  is one of the places where Mekong Naga Fireballs can be seen.  Next we visited Chiang Khan, a historic little town that the Thai’s love.  Lots of Teak buildings – nice, quiet, rustic and friendly place – IMG_4276IMG_3109and then on to Loei where we stayed at the Loei Palace Hotel for the night –  I stayed here 8 years ago on my first trip to Nong Khai – nothing changed but they did replace the carpet with tile – much better.


P.S.  Couldn’t do anything because I was with Kay –  But on my phone I have Grinder and Hornet, the 2 most popular gay chat sites, from Khon Kaen to Loei, I received calls from more than 28 local guys – maybe next trip I’ll go alone – meet some new friends.  Devil 

Ciao

Day 2 Nong Kai Trip 2/22

Sawadee Khrap

Great breakfast at Anothai Hotel, on the road at 7AM – first stop – The IMG_2926 IMG_3792 Ancient City at Chum Phae – Interesting but leaves a lot to your imagination – they really don’t look like real bones,  I thought they looked IMG_3811-Panomore like reproductions but you can’t get close enough to really find out. The local area has no indication that any thing exist here and it’s hard to figure out how they knew how where to dig. –  you decide for yourself.

From here we headed to the King Cobra Village of Thailand past Khon Kaen on the way to Udon Thani.  Here’s where the Google Maps really helped – IMG_4111asked several locals for directions to the place and each sent us on a wild goose chase – they just didn’t know their own neighborhood.  They had IMG_4002IMG_4016boas and cobras and put on a hour free show, just asking for donations – nice.  Finally we stopped at the Paradise Hotel in Udon Thani.  We have been IMG_2998covering a lot of territory and so only stopped at a couple of venues – going off the main highways to get to these places takes a lot of time and I didn’t  want to drive at night but still make it fully around in the 4 days allotted.


Ciao

Day 1 Nong Kai Trip 2/21

Sawadee Khrap

We started out at 7 AM passing  Lampang, Den Chai, Uttaradit, Si Satchanalai on the way to Sukhotai.   Didn’t stop for any photos until we IMG_2882got into the Sukhotai area –  Had lunch at The Legendha Resort – Great place , good food.   This is also a nice shot of Kay at the resort.

Before we left on the trip I had bought over 700 Baht of Atlas, and road maps and we also stopped at a TAT office ( Tourism Authority of Thailand) and got their maps.  They all were terrible – The only safe way to travel in Thailand is with GOOGLE IMG_3164MAPS running on your cell phone, here is my setup in the car, a LIFESAVER.  I also run a APP called TRACKS, it keeps a record of our path marked as the blue dot at the lead of the red line  – center right.  This photo was taken much later in our trip but It does shows the program working.   This also let me GPS the photos as my cameras don’t have GPS capabilities – Lightroom and Track’s GPX tracklogs did the trick, synchronizing with the camera’s date stamps when I get back home.       Side note:   They wanted 25,000 Baht to install an auto Garmin GPS system and it was SLOW – I mean slow – my 16,000 Baht Samsung Galaxy A5 was at least 5 times faster and I can take it from the car when I leave.  With DTAC I have full internet and phone capabilities.         Several times the maps showed road or highway numbers that were completely wrong and many times there were no roadside markers or signs to indicate what road you were on – leaving the main highways and trying to use shortcuts on lesser side roads would be impossible using the maps or looking for signs and at night – forget it.  With Google maps we drove right to each location – No Problem . 

Here are shots taken during the day – not in actual order as we were using 2 cameras I didn’t take the time to sort them out.  We did visit the Sukhotai Historical Park, Phara Buddha Chinaraj National Museum, and a small Wat next door with boys honoring  – Muay Thai.


That evening we stayed at the Anothai Hotel  in Phitsanulok  –  small but actually the best place we stayed for the entire trip – Amazing 600 Baht for IMG_3747IMG_3743the room, including breakfast – quite, clean and everyone very friendly   – I highly recommend it.

Ciao

Issan Trip

Sawadee Khrap

Khon-Kaen-Trip-webJust got back from my Issan trip with Kay, getting photos and testing the new car.  Total mileage  1,685 KM,     4days-3 nights  Best place we stayed was at the Anothai Hotel – Phitsanulok – our 1st night  – 600 Baht/night, included breakfast, and the food and hotel was excellent.  I am working on all the trip photos and will post them soon – Vitara preformed excellently.  Roads were great and little traffic. 

The most unexpected, and we were amazed, was the low level of the “Mekong River”, the boundary between Lao and Thailand,  which we drove along from Nong Kai to Chiang Khan before we headed inland to Loei.  Also all of upper Thailand is covered in smoke, but not as bad as the Chiang Mai area.  Main cities we visited were  Lampang, Den Chai, Uttaradit, Si Satchanalai, Sukhotai, Phitsanulok, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, Nong Kai, Chiang Khan, Loei, then back to Uttaradit and  Chiang Mai.       Took about 1000 photos in all.

Ciao

Trip to Chiang Muan to visit Narin

Sawadee Khrap

Last weekend I took a 2 day trip to visit Narin in Chiang Muan – almost to Nan in the upper North above Lampang.  Beautiful country and sites.  Narin had made accommodations for me at the “Ma See Ma’l”  – extremely quiet, clean and nice.  500 Baht night.  reasonable too.IMG_2138IMG_2137

First thing we did was to go see the local waterfall at the Doi Phu Nang National Park

IMG_2197-EditIMG_2143That is Narin on the right and several of his friends who went with us.    The above panoramic was created using 30 full size shots to capture the whole scene – making this almost a 2Gb file – almost a  6ft x 3ft mural when printed at 300 dpi -look closely and you can see Narin and friends in the center on the far left side of the image.

After the waterfall and on the way back we stopped at a temple on a hill with a commanding view of the Chiang Maun valley – which I am told the locals are fighting to stop the Gov’t’s IMG_2256plans to dam the area and turn this into a water reservoir  running all the people out  – present population is about 18,000.  The Monk here has been working   -making statues to go around the outside of the temple grounds – he can pour one a day – so he’s half done now and thinks it will take another year to complete  –  he uses a concrete mold and pours each day – 

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Then to Chiang Muan’s  Grand Canyon for outside dinner in the evening – They bought a lot of food and set up at the table in the park – this huge cliff face is really high  – look closely you can see the monks on the top right side – close up shows them better – Several new friends joined us and we had a cozy dinner and drinks –  amazing – this is the first time I saw stars in the night sky – milky way – dark enough here to get a great view.  then off to bed.IMG_2334

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That’s Narin in the center right – If you would like to join Narin for a weekend visit to Chiang Muan you can reach him at 098-782-5939 – you can contact him as Narinrat Khamlue  In Facebook for more info’. 

The next morning we got up and the boys started to prepare for a Ladyboy dance they would preform for a small village festival, close by – Narin is the leader of the troupe.   I stayed with 4 of IMG_2452them as they prepared – Narin and another 3 were at a different beauty shop getting dressed so my photos are limited – but before the show could go on it was cancelled –

I had to leave to get back to Chiang Mai and wanted to make sure I did not have to drive in the evening – so I took my leave.    Maybe I’ll be able to catch all the excitement on the next visit.   It’s a nice relaxing 3.5 hr drive from Chiang Mai to Chiang Muan. 

Check it out when you visit Chiang Mai.

Ciao

Fang Lagoon Homestay for Men — Update

Sawadee Khrap

Recently I have gotten a lot of requests and inquires as to the status of “Fang lagoon Homestay for Men” that I featured posted several years ago.  So I tried to contact them to find out.

I just got off the phone with “May” , owner of Fang lagoon Homestay, he told me that he has been completely remodeling the farm  – going to a fully organic farm ( plants, herbs, spices and so on) and will hopefully re-open with a brand new facility next year.   He is waiting until the new plants and trees have grown up a bit before he constructs a new lodge ( huts)  for visitors.  He said he will keep in contact with the blog and I will post any new information about the new-opening as soon as he releases it.   You can also do a search for “Fang” or “Homestay” on this blog for earlier posts.

If you would like to personally stay in contact with May – send me a comment on this post with your email address and I will forward it to him.

Update from May Dated 4/25/15 Thank you very much for interesting in Fang Lagoon Homestay and Organic Farm,
Hope we can re-open again before Christmas 2015..
All detail about us will inform you again..
or you can contact us via
email:chayouden@hotmai.com , or ID line raijamay
Regards,
Mr.May Fang lagoon

Ciao