Time To Mosey Journal

*NEW* January 15, 2020 (Wednesday Morning)
We made it back to Bangkok yesterday morning (Tue, 14). Another great flight on Air Asia - we arrived to Don Mueang Airport around 10:30am. We were back at our condo eating Thailand noodle soup by Noon. 🙂 After being gone for close to 3 weeks, It felt really good to be back in Thailand again!

We only have around 10 days before our next trip to southern Thailand (with Kanchana's family). Until then, be on the lookout for posts from our China trip.

January 12, 2020 (Sunday Morning)
We had a very nice river cruise yesterday from Guilin to Yangshuo. Today we head back to Guilin to visit a few places before we board our flight to Shanghai this evening. We just visit Shanghai one day (Mon, 13th) then we fly back to Bangkok early Tuesday morning (14th).

Our trip in China has been great but we are now starting to feel the duration of this long trip. I'll do an official travel stats post about our trip later, but real quick over the last 18 days we will have visited 9 cities, stayed in 10 different hotels, 7 domestic flights (counting to and from Bangkok) and one bullet train. We are ready for the finish line! 🙂

Until next time... probably Thailand

January 09, 2020 (Thursday Morning)
A good morning to everyone on this cold and icy Thursday the 9th in the mountains of Zhangjiajie, China. Strange weather here last night - we had numerus thunderstorms with an icy / sleet mix falling (could hear it pinging off the hotel windows). As related to touring and sightseeing - the weather has not been kind to us here in Zhangjiajie.

On this past Tue (7th), we were able to go visit Yellow Dragon Cave and the Glass Bridge at Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon. The cave part went well as it was all indoors but the weather wasn't great for the glass bridge - cloudy, cold, foggy. We made to best of it.

However, since Tuesday afternoon (7th) we have been staying in at the hotel. Over the last week or so Kanchana has had the beginnings of a cold coming on and it got much worse on Wednesday morning (8th). So, since the bad weather has not let up (still cold and rainy / icy mix) we decided it would be best to stay in and get caught up on our rest at the hotel. We would have not been able to see much anyway so actually the timing worked out for us. As of this morning (Thu, 9th), Kanchana is feeling much better so hopefully the worst of it is over now.

We switch hotels today (Thu, 9th) to one closer to the Zhangjiajie airport as we fly out tomorrow (Fri, 10th) to Guilin. Other than the few things we saw on this past Tuesday, we have pretty much scrapped the touring portion of Zhangjiajie (missing Yuanjiajie, Tianzi Mountain and Tianmen Mountain). We are okay with this, things like this will and can happen when travelling. You just have to take it as it comes and make the best out of it.

As already mentioned, we fly to Guilin tomorrow (Fri, 10th) for two nights (two different hotels). On Sunday (12th) we fly to Shanghai to spend our last two nights in China. We'll be returning to Bangkok bright and early on the Tuesday, 14th – we should get back to our condo before Noon (and our favorite Thai noodle soup – yum!)

Once back in Bangkok we’ll have 12 days free before our next big trip in warm and sunny Thailand with Kanchana’s family (covering most of the month of February) - with a week-long trip to southern Thailand (Hat Yai, Surat Thani, island of Koh Samui and Hua Hin), a week or so in Kanchanaburi and then finish up a week or so of site seeing in Bangkok.

A Few Random Thoughts...

Wi-Fi: None of the hotels we have stayed in have Wi-Fi. They all say they have Wi-Fi but when you go to sign on they are so weak that they do not work. Thank goodness for our Google Fi Phones and service which has worked very well in China. The only problem using this is after you reach a certain amount of data (15gb) they throttle the speed to 256 kbps which we are getting close to. We should be able to hang on for a few more days though.

Smoking in China: Oh my gosh the cigarette smoking in China is unbelievable! I am not exaggerating when I say – from the moment you enter China to the moment you leave China - you will smell cigarette smoke! No matter where you are – inside and outside buildings, parks and natural areas, inside airports (yes, even in airports), public bathrooms, hotels (lobbies, hallways, your room), inside all vehicles, etc. We thought we would be free from it when we visited the Yellow Dragon Cave (huge 4 level, 120-acre cave) – nope, full of smoke! It’s amazing! There is zero enforcement in their designated “No Smoking Areas”. There is even a Wikipedia on “Smoking in China” quoting such facts as there are 350 million Chinese smokers, China produces 42% of the world's cigarettes and 60% of male Chinese doctors are smokers. China does not have laws to punish health care facilities, medical workers and health officials who violate smoking bans.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoking_in_China

Cigarette smoking and terrible air quality throughout China are two large items to think about when planning a trip to China!

*NEW* January 07, 2020 (Tuesday Morning)
Chugging right along in our China marathon... Yesterday evening (Mon, 6th) we finished up our visit in Xian and took a flight to our next destination of Zhangjiajie (the famous mountains and natural beauty portion of our trip). For this flight we flew China Eastern Airlines - it was okay, not great. It's a no frills, low cost carrier - plus we had terrible air turbulence (flying through bad weather) but we made it just fine. We got to our hotel late - around 11pm.

We had concerns about today's weather (Tues, 7th) as it looked to be rainy and cold but we might get lucky - today's forecast now shows partly cloudy with high around 50F. Looking outside this morning, its cloudy and a bit fogged in - hopefully it will burn off later. We probably will not be so lucky tomorrow and beyond though (more rain forecasted) - we are keeping our fingers crossed that the weather will turn out okay.

Until next time...

January 05, 2020 (Sunday Evening)
Just added some photo highlights from current trip in China:
...Click HERE for the latest photos from China

January 05, 2020 (Sunday Morning)
Good morning (5th, Jan)! Yesterday evening we arrived to Xian, China – by a bullet train! It wasn’t the fastest train in China (over 400 km/h or over 248.5 mile per hour) but we did average around 200 mph. It was a very enjoyable, nice smooth ride. The Luoyang to Xian route by car (estimated by Google) takes 4 h 41 min but by G Train is takes 1 h 36 min! That’s pretty doggone fast!

Going back a few days, we finished up our visit to Harbin on the 2nd with a nice flight (China Southern Airlines) to Zhengzhou / Luoyang. In this region we had a wonderful time visiting the Shaolin Temple, Pagoda Forest, White Horse Temple (Luoyang), Tianzi Jialiu Museum, Luoyang Old Town and the Longmen Grottoes.

We had a surprise at the White Horse Temple in Luoyang. Along with being the first Buddhist temple in China, there are other temples from other countries such as India, Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand. At the Thailand temple we got to visit and chat with the head monk, which was a very nice surprise. Currently the Thailand temple is the only one who has monks (during the winter months).

After a couple days in Xian, we will be heading to next destination of Zhangjiajie. The weather does not look promising during this time (hopefully the forecast will be wrong) – it looks to be cold (upper 30’s) and rainy. We decided to take this extended trip in the winter due to being the low tourist season (and dry weather season). A few of our guides mentioned that we made to right choice because it can be so crowded during other times (by Chinese tourists). Hopefully the weather will cooperate for the remaining portion of our trip. If not we’ll just have to go with the flow and take it as it comes! 🎈🙂🎈

Until next time...

January 02, 2020 (Thursday Morning)
Sorry for the lack of posts, we had been very busy plus our hotels have not had very good WiFi. So far, so good. We made it to Harbin (Dec 31st - New Year's Eve) and have had a great time here. Yesterday (Jan 01st - New Years Day) we visited the Unit 731 Museum (sad and scary what the Japanese did here during WWII) and Ice & Snow Festival (last night) - which was truly amazing!!!. Today we finish up in Harbin then catch a flight to our next destination - Zhengzhou/Luoyang.

New Year's Eve - Nothing special - we ended up just having a quiet evening in our hotel.

I have to go for now as we have to meet our guide. I'll be posting more as time goes.

December 29, 2019
We made it to Beijing, China (yesterday, 28th). Everything went well, we had a great flight on Thai Airways. After arriving around 4 pm we got to our hotel around 6:30 (terrible but common Beijing traffic).

For some reason the hotel (thank you New World Beijing!) upgraded us to their top of the line room (I think its called Executive Premier Room). All I know is its the biggest room we have ever stayed in - its at least 4 times larger than our Bangkok condo! It has two entrances, two foyers, kitchen, living room, large master bath, bedroom area (king size bed), office and sitting area. Counting last night, we will be here 3 nights. Unfortunately, the internet here is not great so I cannot upload any of our pictures to Google Photos.

I have to go for now (a busy day ahead of us) and its time to go meet our tour guide. I'll post more when I have time.

December 27, 2019
It's Friday night (27th), we are packed and ready for China. We flight out tomorrow morning at 10:10 am. We have a full schedule planned over the next 18 days. You can see our itinerary plus future China posts at the link listed below.

See you all in China!

...Click HERE for the latest China updates
 

🎄 🕯️ 🎅 🎁 ⛄ Merry Christmas! ⛄ 🎁 🎅 🕯️ 🎄

December 24, 2019 (Christmas Eve)
Wow, we can't believe Christmas Eve is here! Of course when its in the mid 90's everyday its hard to get into the Christmas spirit. 🌞

I've been busy posting updates from Tokyo along with planning a trip to Southern Thailand for Jan-Feb 2020 (with Kanchana's parents). We leave for China on this coming Saturday (28th).

Looking at the weather on our arrival to Harbin, China (Dec 31st), the temperature is forecast to be a high of -2°F and a low of -12°F! The previous day (30th) is forecast a high of -7°F and low of -20°F!!! Over the last few days the temperature in Bangkok has been averaging around 93°F so once we get to Harbin we could be experiencing a 95-105°F difference in temperature!

China Updates - We have a very busy schedule planned for China (Beijing, Harbin, Zhengzhou, Luoyang, Xian, Zhangjiajie, Guilin, Yangshuo and Shanghai) so I'm not sure how much posting we we be able to do. However, I should be able to post text updates (as we go along) here in the Journal page.

December 20, 2019
Just added the last four posts from our trip to Tokyo, Japan (20 posts in total!):
...Click HERE for the latest Japan updates

Up next...
- 4 days to Christmas Eve 🎅
- 5 days to Christmas 🎄
- 8 days until we leave for China! 🐼
- 11 days to New Year's Eve 🕛🥂🎆
- 12 days to 2020!

December 19, 2019
Just added six new posts from Tokyo, Japan:
...Click HERE for the latest Japan updates

*NEW* December 18, 2019
Just added three new posts from Tokyo, Japan:
...Click HERE for the latest Japan updates

December 17, 2019
Just added five new posts from Tokyo, Japan:
...Click HERE for the latest Japan updates

December 15, 2019
Just added two new posts from Tokyo, Japan:
...Click HERE for the latest Japan updates

December 13, 2019
We made it back to Bangkok last night. Our flight back was a bit long (7 hours) but it went very well. We got back to our condo around 9:45pm.

We had a wonderful time in Tokyo! Its an amazing city with so much to see and do there. But its also good to be back home in Bangkok where we missed our favorite Thai food. 🙂

I hope to post updates from our trip over the next few days.

Up next... China in 15 days!

December 11, 2019
- Visited Sensō-ji (Asakusa Kannon Temple) - the oldest temple in Tokyo - founded in 645 AD.
- During this trip we hoped to find a really good sushi restaurant. Because of the scale of Tokyo this is a overwhelming task. Over the last few days we had looked and look but nothing jumped out at us (most places very touristy and expensive).

Usually how things go for us is that we point ourselves in a direction and what ever we seek will eventually find us. We don't force things we just let it naturally happen. Well today the kind of sushi restaurant we've been looking for found us. Tsune Sushi is located near Sensō-ji Temple. Its owned and operated by a third generation family - originally started by the grandfather over 80 years ago! It was such a pleasure to meet the father, mother and son (now running the business) of this wonderful sushi restaurant. The son spoke great English so it made it easy to have conversation with them. It was an amazing experience - could end up being the highlight of our trip!

And yes - the sushi was out of this world good! 😄

- From the Sensō-ji Temple area we walked over to Tokyo Skytree. This actual broadcasting and observation tower in Sumida,Tokyo, is the tallest tower in the world (634 m/2,080 ft), and the second tallest structure in the world after the Burj Khalifa (829 m/2,722 ft).

It was a bit cloudy so we did not go up in the tower. We did walk around the huge shopping complex (Tokyo Solamachi) at the base of the tower.

Today - Dec 11, 2019
*** Last Day in Tokyo ***
- Visiting Sengakuji Temple (Grave Site of 47 Ronin)
- Visiting Tokyo Imperial Palace - primary residence of the Emperor of Japan

Tomorrow - Dec 12, 2019
- Return to Bangkok

*NEW* December 10, 2019
Sorry for the lack of updates. we've just been too busy checking out all of the sites and sounds of amazing Tokyo! This place is incredible! So much to see and do here on a scale unlike anything we have ever seen before. We love being able to walk to see everything (ranging from 7-12 miles walking daily). We have learned to use the subway system here - which is a bit overwhelming but phone apps such as the "Tokyo Subway Navigation" and "Google Maps" have been a life saver!

We now fully understand why Anthony Bourdain once quoted about Tokyo, “If I had to agree to live in one country, or even one city, for the rest of my life, never leaving it, I’d pick Tokyo in a second,”. We total agree!

What We've Done So far:

Dec 6th, 2019
- Checked into our hotel (Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel Tokyo)
- Checked out Ginza, Tokyo

Dec 07, 2019
- Due to weather (cold and rainy) we didn't get to venture until the evening
- Tokyo Midtown Winter Illumination 2019 - Starlight Garden (I posted a video below showing this)
- Roppongi Hills Winter Illumination and German Christmas Market (where we had some German sausages, sauerkraut and Gaffel Kolsch (Hmm, hmm good!)

Dec 08, 2019
- Toured and tried out Tokyo's famous Tsukiji fish market - food vendors. The wholesale fish market recently moved to another location (now called Toyosu Fish Market) but the awesome restaurants and food vendors stayed behind.
- Took a nice walk down to see skyline along Sumida River
- Walked all over the shopping district of Ginza (overwhelming shopping options)
- Had dinner at a cool little hole in the wall (basement - below street) Kushiyaki Bistro Fukumimi Ginza.

Dec 09, 2019
- Visited Meiji Shrine (and Yoyogi Park) - a Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken.
- Walked through Meiji Jingu Garden
- Takeshita Street (Takeshita Dori) - a pedestrian shopping street lined with fashion boutiques, cafes and restaurants in Harajuku in Tokyo, Japan. World famous for setting current and future popular fads. This type of shops are know "antenna shops," which manufacturers seed with prototypes for test-marketing. Very popular with young teenagers, particularly those visiting Tokyo on school trips, or local young people shopping for small "cute" goods at weekends.
- Had awesome burger at GOKU Burger Tokyo
- Checked out Omotesando Illumination 2019 (sponsored by Google Pixel)
- Checked out the Shibuya "Blue Cave" Winter Illumination 2019
- Experienced the famous "Scramble" at Shibuya Crossing

Today - Dec 10, 2019
- Plan to visit Sensō-ji (Asakusa Kannon Temple) - one of Tokyo's most colorful and popular Buddhist temples, located in located in Asakusa. Is the oldest temple in Tokyo - founded in 645 AD.

After this I'm not sure where we'll end up. We've just been going with the flow on this trip. Our routine has been - take the subway to an popular area and just walk and explore. We are not really worried about seeing all of the typical tourist things (aka bucket list) - if we see it then great if not, its okay - we'll see it the next time we come back 😄.

We are enjoying the journey of living our bucket list!

I probably will not be able to post full updates from this trip until we get back to Bangkok.

*NEW* December 08, 2019
Check out our new video from "Tokyo Midtown | Winter Illumination 2019 | Starlight Garden | Christmas Light Show | Tokyo Japan":


 
*NEW* December 07, 2019
We made it to Tokyo!
I was not able to post an update yesterday but we did make it to Toyko. The overnight red eye flight took a toll on us once we arrived to Tokyo. We got a little bit of sleep on the plane but probably not enough.

We had a great flight and arrived to Tokyo around 10:30am (8:30am Bangkok time). After we arrived we were able to quickly buy tickets for the JR Narita Express (NEX) - a 1 hour train service from Narita into the city to Tokyo Station (within walking distance to our hotel). After grabbing a quick bite to eat we checked into our hotel (Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel Tokyo).

After getting some rest we ventured out into the city for a few hours. The first thing we noticed is how vibrant and full of life the city is. Everything is so clean and organized. Feels very safe - like you can walk anywhere, anytime of day or night. Its a bit on the cool side with the daytime temps in the low 50's and nighttime in 30's (but feels good to us).

So far so good - we really like what we see here. I'll try to post updates as we go along.
 

*NEW* December 05, 2019 (6:11pm)
Tokyo Update
Its around 6:20pm on Thursday afternoon (5th) - we've packed our two backpacks and just waiting to leave for the airport. We'll probably head out around 10:30pm tonight - taking the BTS Sky Train to the end of the line then get a 15 min taxi ride to the airport (Don Mueang).

As always, the more reasonable priced flights to Tokyo did not offer the best flight times - its either you arrive early in the morning or very late in the afternoon/evening. We picked the Friday morning arrival of 10:45am, which forces us to depart Bangkok at 2:30am in the morning (6hr 15min flight). I think we'll be fine, we should be able to get a little rest on our flight over.

When researching for this trip, I quickly found out just how overwhelming Tokyo is. Made up of 23 special wards, 26 cities, 5 towns and 8 villages, the Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world (38 million people). So when planning for that "first trip" to Tokyo, it's literately impossible to figure out where to begin!

We'll be staying in the Ginza district of Chūō, Tokyo. Our hotel is within walking distance to Tokyo Station (one of main railway stations). We have nothing planned, other than keeping it simple. As I mentioned before, we hope to check out some of the "Winter Illuminations" light displays and European themed Christmas Markets around the city. We are taking our walking shoes! 😄

See you all in Tokyo!

*NEW* We are going to Tokyo, Japan!
Tuesday, 03 Dec

After Bhutan we thought we would just take it easy and rest up before our trip to China (now 25 days away). For years we've been wanting to visit some of the Christmas Markets in Europe but it would just not be very feasible to visit them this year.

So I started researching other destinations with Christmas Markets, especially in our region of the world. Believe it or not, Christmas Markets have become very popular in Tokyo, Japan. Some of them are even officially backed by the German Tourism Association and German Embassy!

On top of this, Tokyo has also become quite famous for their "Winter Illuminations", where millions of colorful LED lights are displayed in trees as well as on and around buildings, turning Tokyo into a sparkling wonderland!

So today we decided to take a quick week trip to Tokyo, Japan. We leave on this Friday 6th and return on Thursday 12th. Getting back on the 12th gives up 16 days before we leave for China. Plenty of time! 😄

Tuesday, 26 Nov
Just added posts (with pictures) for days 7, 8 and 9 Bhutan:
...Click HERE for the latest Bhutan updates

More posts to come soon...

Sunday, 24 Nov
Just added posts (with pictures) for days 4, 5 and 6 in Bhutan:
...Click HERE for the latest Bhutan updates

More posts to come soon...

Saturday, 23 Nov
Just added posts (with pictures) for the first 3 days in Bhutan:
...Click HERE for the latest Bhutan updates

More to come soon...

Wednesday, 20 Nov
We made it back to Bangkok yesterday afternoon (Tue, 19 Nov). We had a wonderful time in Bhutan. As I had mentioned before, because of being very busy along with no WiFi, I was not able to post updates as we went along. I will be trying to catch up and post pictures and maybe a few videos over the few weeks

The best part of Bhutan was our guide Tashi (and his team - Jigme (Driver), Karma and Tashi). If its possible to define someone as exceeding the "going above and beyond the call of duty", Tashi would be this person. His wonderful personality along with his knowledge of Bhutan's history and culture was all truly amazing. So much that when someone asked us the question, what was the best thing we liked about Bhutan? - we replied... Tashi!

After 13 full days of traveling across Bhutan (sightseeing, visiting historical sites (such as ancient fortresses / dzongs), Buddhist temples, up and over Himalayan mountain passes (over 11,000 feet high), a full day hike up to Tiger's Nest, along with incredible natural beauty every inch of the way) we now look forward to getting caught up on our rest! 😄

Saturday, 16 Nov (6:50am)
Sorry for the lack of updates - all of the areas we have visited (over the last week) has had no to very limited internet (Bhutan is still a developing country). Our trip has gone well so far - with each day being very busy. Even if we had internet, I would not have had any time to post updates. Bhutan's natural beauty along with its amazing culture is so amazing its hard to put into words. Pictures and a few videos will be coming over the next few weeks.

Over the next two days we will be traveling (drive) back to Paro (using the same route as we came as its the only east west route in the country). Our final day will be hiking up to the famous Tigers Nest (on Monday). Tuesday we fly back to Bangkok.

I better go for now, its time to load up the van for today's journey! 😄

Sunday, 10 Nov
Due to limited Wi-Fi, I will not be able to post any updates for a few days.

Saturday, 09 Nov
Very busy day today:

- Morning - started our journey (driving) to Punakha (4,450 feet
- Dochu La Pass (10,230 ft.) - the views here were breathtaking (and this is the first of many Passes). We were very lucky to have perfect weather.
- 108 Druk Wangyal Chortens/Stupas (at Dochu La Pass)
- Had tea/coffee at the Cafe (at Dochu La Pass)
- Arrived to Punakha
- Lunch at local restaurant - was very good
- From the restaurant we took a short walk/trek up to visit the famous Chimi Lhakhang. Its one of the most unusual temples/places we have even visited. This temple is dedicated to the famous and unorthodox 15th century Buddhist master, Drukpa Kunley or popularly known as the ‘Divine Madman’ in the west, who is associated with the phallic symbols you would have seen on your travels in Bhutan so far. It is believed that this temple blesses women who seek fertility. A popular pilgrimage spot for the Bhutanese, it is frequented by childless couples and parents who have difficulty raising children.
- Short drive to visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” and “a masterpiece of Bhutanese Architecture”, built in 1637 by Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel, the saint who unified Bhutan. The size and beauty of this place is remarkable.
- Checked into our hotel - Drubchhu Resort, Punakha
- Dinner at hotel

Friday, 08 Nov
We had a full day today (shown below) – which I’ll cover more later as we are now getting ready for bed.

- National Memorial Chorten (Tibetan style Stupa)
- Institute of Traditional Medicine
- Gross National Happiness (GNH) Centre
- Lunch
- Royal Textile Academy
- Takin Preserve
- Farmers Market
- Lecture/Question & answer session… with Mr. Kuenzang Dechen

Thursday, 07 Nov
We had a wonderful flight to Paro, Bhutan. The landing definitely lived up to the hype! As you approach the airport the pilots have to fly in between narrow mountainous terrain. This was no problem - it was going around the last mountain that was the most fun! From what I've read online, the pilots use a particular red cliff-side home as a focal point to align their approach. Once they reach this point, the pilots make a sharp left-hand 45-degree angle bank while aligning themselves to the runway (feels like a sharp turn in a rollercoaster). Definitely the most exhilarating landing we've ever experienced!

We arrived late in the day (around 3:30pm). After going through customs and getting our bags it was time to take a one-hour drive to Thimphu. Along the way we got to experience the beauty of Bhutan (before it got dark on us).

We checked in to our hotel "Norkhil Boutique Hotel & Spa" (very nice place!). We were greeted by several hotel staff that gave us a cup of Bhutan's famous buttered tea (made from churning tea, salt and yak butter). It's an acquired taste but we enjoyed it very much. We checked into our room then then quickly returned downstairs for a wonderful performance by Mr. Jigme Drukpa (Bhutanese Folk performer / Songwriter / Ethnomusicologist). After this we had a very nice dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Wednesday, 06 Nov)
We arrived to Abloom Exclusive Serviced Apartments in Bangkok. Coming here allows us to meet up with our travel group (15 people) on the evening before we fly to Bhutan.

Last night we had a very nice "meet and greet" dinner (Abloom Restaurant) where everyone got a chance to introduce themselves, allowing us to get to know one another better.

Trip Itinerary
For more on our trip you can check out our full trip itinerary here: Link

*NEW* October 31, 2019
Check our our new post "Our Life – Halloween 2019 Update" (click on image below:)
 
*NEW* October 22, 2019
Check our our new post and video covering the Light & Sound Show from Surat Thani's 2019 Chak Phra Festival (click on image below):


*NEW* October 22, 2019
Check our our new post covering the Surat Thani's 2019 Chak Phra Festival - Calendar of Events (click on image below):


*NEW* October 21, 2019 (Monday)
Latest Update from Bangkok...

Stay tuned for more posts on Surat Thani's Chak Phra Festival - I hope to get some out over the next week or so.

A lot of my time lately has been spent planning a big trip to China (Dec 28th, 2019 - Jan 14th, 2020). Working with a tour company in China, here's what we've come up with so far:

Beijing - Dec 28th-31th, 2019
- Tiananmen Square - city square in the center of Beijing
- Forbidden City - was the former Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty (the years 1420 to 1912)
- Great Wall (Mutianyu) - section of the Great Wall of China located in Huairou District
- Beijing Olympic Village - Bird’s Nest and Water Cube
- Temple of Heaven - imperial complex of religious buildings - visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties
- Visit Beijing's "Hutongs" - a narrow lane, alley, or small street between rows of single-storey Siheyuan dwelled by Beijingers in the past.
- Summer Palace - imperial garden in the Qing Dynasty (vast ensemble of lakes, gardens and palaces)

Harbin - Dec 31th, 2019-Jan 02nd, 2020 - Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival 2020
- Unit 731 Museum - covers horrible experiments on humans by Imperial Japanese Army’s Unit 731 (World War II). Long denied and covered up by Japanese until 1984, this is the actual site where these experiments took place.
- Sun Island Scenic Resort Area (Festival) - Harbin's main park and recreation area and site for Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival
- International Snow Sculpture Art Fair (Festival) - snow sculpture display area
- Ice and Snow World (Festival) - largest ice and snow festival in the world
- Sophia Square - Square and site of Saint Sophia Cathedral
- St. Sophia Cathedral - former Russian Orthodox church built in 1907, now a museum
- Zhongyang Pedestrian Street (Central Avenue) - currently the longest pedestrian street in China and the only cobbled street in Harbin (built in 1898 by Russian constructors)
- Lao Daowai - Older part of town, considered birthplace of Harbin
- Jiuzhan Park - popular park in Harbin

Dengfeng, Zhengzhou & Luoyang - Jan 02nd-Jan 04th, 2020
- Shaolin Temple (Dengfeng) - the birthplace of Zen Buddhism and the cradle of Kung Fu
- Pagoda Forest (Shaolin Temple) - hundreds of stone or brick pagodas built in Henan province, China from 791 AD
- White Horse Temple (Luoyang) - first Buddhist temple in China
- Luoyang Tianzi Jialiu Museum - burial of the royal horse and chariots that were sacrificed during Eastern Zhou Dynasty
- Luoyang Old Town - includes some ancient ruins and remains along with old architecture and old narrow streets
- Longmen Grottoes - UNESCO World Heritage Site Longmen Grottoes contain the largest and most impressive collection of Chinese art of the late Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties (316-907)

Xian - Jan 04th-Jan 06th, 2020
- Terracotta Warriors - collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China (with the purpose of protecting the emperor in his afterlife)
- Ancient City Wall - largest and best preserved ancient city wall in China
- Muslim Quarter - known as Huimin Jie in Pingyin, is the hub of the Muslim community in Xi'an City
- Da Cien Temple - famous Buddhist sutra translation site during the Tang Dynasty
- Big Wild Goose Pagoda - one of the most famous Buddhist pagodas in China (inside Da Cien Temple)
- Shaanxi History Museum - known as “ancient capital pearl, Chinese treasure house”, is an artistic hall which displays Shaanxi history, culture and Chinese ancient civilization.

Zhangjiajie - Jan 06th-Jan 10th, 2020
- Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon - famous for world's longest & highest glass bridge
- Yellow Dragon Cave - underground-lost palace with two underground rivers, four waterfalls, 13 caverns and 10,000 stalagmites and stalactites
- Yuanjiajie - situated in the north of Zhangjiajie National Park, this scenic area is world famous as the mountains here inspired the floating mountains in the Hollywood movie Avatar
- Tianzi Mountain - four wonders in Tianzi Mountain: the Sea of Clouds, the Radiance of the Moonlight, Rays of Sunshine and the Snow in winter.
- Tianmen Mountain - standing 1,500 meters above sea level, boasts miraculous and unique geographic landform, unparalleled natural landscape, profound cultural connotations. Also includes: Avenue toward Heaven, Cliff-Hanging Walkway, Glass Sky Walk and Tianmen Cave

Guilin - Jan 10th-Jan 12th, 2020
- Sightseeing Cruise along the Li River - winding river, green limestone karst mountains, fascinating countryside views
- Yangshuo Town - stunning countryside views
- West Street - mix of western and Chinese cultures
- Elephant Trunk Hill - giant rock hill shaped like an elephant
- Reed Flute Cave - natural limestone cave with multicolored lighting

Shanghai - Jan 12th-Jan 14th, 2020
- Shanghai Museum - a museum of ancient Chinese art
- Yu Garden - ancient Chinese gardens in Jiangnan
- Yuyuan Bazaar - traditional Chinese handicrafts and art works
- Shanghai World Financial Center. - visit 100th floor (474m) of “the Eye of Shanghai”
- Nanjing Road - shopping paradise
- the Bund - perfect fusion of Chinese and Western cultures while at the same time taking in the stunning Shanghai skyline
- Huangpu River Night Cruise


*NEW* October 15, 2019 (Tuesday)
Latest Update from Surat Thani...

From Friday's walk around town (and Night Market) to Saturday's Mini Parade Spectacular to Sunday's Boat Races & the "Gathering of the Floats" to the grand finale "14.5 Hour Super Parade" on Monday - it has been an amazing 4 days! We have tons of pictures and videos to cull through - I look forward to posting more about these events soon.

With the main events here winding down (through last night) we've decided to head back to Bangkok tomorrow (Wednesday 16th).


*NEW* October 12, 2019
What is the Chak Phra Festival in Surat Thani all about?...

Check out our new post/video "Chak Phra Festival 2019 – Surat Thani, Thailand" (click on image below)


*NEW* October 11, 2019
So, How Adventurous Are You Today?...

Check out our new post/video "So, How Adventurous Are You Today? ...Last Minute Trip to Surat Thani, Thailand" (click on image below)


October 03, 2019
Bangkok Street Food | Chinatown Vegetarian Festival 2019 | Tesagan Gin Je เทศกาลกินเจ...

Check out our new post/video "Bangkok Chinatown Vegetarian Festival 2019" (click on image below)


October 03, 2019
BANGKOK FLOODING | SAMRONG BTS STATION | SUKHUMVIT ROAD | 05 OCT 2019...

Check out our new post/video "Bangkok Flooding - Samrong BTS Station - 05 Oct 2019" (click on image below)



 
October 03, 2019
WHAT'S UP WITH THE NO UPDATES OR POSTS? - INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW...

All of this can be found in our latest post "Our Life – October 2019 Update" (click on image below)



 
September 26, 2019
VISITING FAMILY IN KANCHANABURI!...

Today we are taking the train to visit family in Kanchanaburi, Thailand (through the weekend). We have found this to be the easiest method to get to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok.

Bangkok to Kanchanaburi - Train 257

Its not air conditioned but its not too bad due to traveling in the morning hours (cool oncoming breeze).

September 19, 2019
POSTED NEW YOUTUBE VIDEO...

Be sure and check out my new video "Bangkok Condo Tour | The Metropolis Samrong BTS | $440 Per Month" on YouTube.

Over the next few days I should be able to post website updates on our condo at The Metropolis Samrong and food costs over the first few weeks of living in Thailand.

September 18, 2019
GOOD MORNING FROM BANGKOK...

This past Monday (16th) we did get our internet setup at our condo so I am now able to post updates to our website. Example of our internet costs here - we got 80Mbps (download) / 25Mbps (upload) for 399 baht per month ($13.06)! No contracts or strings attached - pay as you go!

The Metropolis Samrong

A few things in the works - I plan to do a video about our new condo along with showing the amazing facilities at "The Metropolis Samrong". Please bear with me as I'm learning to use a new video editing software.

I'm also looking to put together a post about our food options (and costs) during the short time we've been living here.

So stay tuned, more to come soon.

September 13, 2019
WE FOUND A CONDO!...

Unfortunately can't really post much about it right now as we are processing paperwork and getting moved in. Over the last week or so we've had to juggle multiple things at once, looking and getting a condo and checking off boxes for my retirement visa (setting up Thai bank account, cell phone and checking in at Thai Immigration Office). Its been a hectic time but so far everything has gone very smooth. We've met some wonderful Thai people who have helped us out along the way.

We are kind of "internet-less" at the moment so until we get officially moved in and internet service turned on at our condo, it may be awhile before I can post updates again. Currently I'm posting this update from the condos provided "Co-Working Space" in main lobby (and its internet is very slow).

But once we get everything taking care of, I'll definitely be posting more updates about our new home soon (covering our condo, its location and its amazing amenities). It "way" over exceeds what we were hoping to find, especially for the amenities it offers. All for a price we can not believe!

Hint of Condo's Name - Name of mega-city where Clark Kent works as a reporter?

Stay tuned for more to come...

September 8, 2019
SORRY FOR THE LACK OF UPDATES!...

Our first week in Thailand has been a busy one. Between looking at condos and getting my retirement visa in order we have not had much time for anything else. One of the more exciting challenges we have faced this week is learning about the different rules, guidelines and procedures on how they do things here. We've found that having an open mind and a "go with the flow" mentality works best for these types of things. Plus a little chaos is good for the soul! So far so good, we have set up a Thai bank account and got a cell phone - both requirements for my visa.

So far, we have stayed at our Shangri-La Hotel (our favorite hotel in Bangkok) and Chatrium Riverside (our first time staying here) which are both on the Chao Phraya River. Our plan was to treat the first two weeks as our "splurge" vacation period. There's nothing wrong with taking a vacation before settling into retirement, right? 😀

Our Room - Chatrium Riverside

I'll try to post updates every few days or so. Once we get settled into a condo, we will have more time to venture out into the city.

September 3, 2019
WELCOME TO THE FIRST DAY OF OUR NEW LIFE!...

Do we look tired? We are recovering from our long day and half of flying. The long and grueling flight(s) is the worst part of coming to Thailand. But within a few days we should be back to normal.

We have been so busy getting things in order to come here that we have not had a lot of time to process our overall journey here. We woke up this morning (with the typical jet-lag hangover) to the realization that we are in Bangkok! We made it! In a lot of ways, we cannot believe it. Our 3 year journey to get here all went by so fast. But that is the speed that life travels and much of the reason why we decided to get out in front of it.

What's next? Where do we begin? During the first week or so, I (Dean) will be getting my retirement visa in order. After this we will be looking for a condo to rent in Bangkok. We've decided to make Bangkok our home base for the first year or so. This will give us time to settle in to a retirement lifestyle and living abroad in Thailand.

September 1, 2019
UP, UP AND AWAY - to THAILAND!... We are off to the airport this morning so I leave you the following video 😀

Everyone sing along...
Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon?
Would you like to glide in my beautiful balloon?
We could float among the stars together, you and I

For we can fly, we can fly
Up, up and away
My beautiful, my beautiful balloon

The world's a nicer place in my beautiful balloon
It wears a nicer face in my beautiful balloon
We can sing a song and sail along the silver sky

For we can fly, we can fly
Up, up and away
My beautiful, my beautiful balloon

Suspended under a twilight canopy
We'll search the clouds for a star to guide us
If by some chance you find yourself loving me
We'll find a cloud to hid us, keep the moon beside us

Love is waiting there in my beautiful balloon
Way up in the air in my beautiful balloon
If you'll hold my hand we'll chase your dream across the sky
For we can fly, we can fly
Up, up and away
My beautiful, my beautiful balloon
😀


See you all in Thailand!

August 26, 2019
WE MADE IT TO FLORIDA!... Today we flew to Florida to finish out our last week in America (for a while). We fly to Thailand this coming Sunday, September 1, 2019

August 26, 2019
OUR LIFE CONTAINED TO A FEW BAGS!... This is our new life! - its taken 3 years to get here but everything we own is now held in these bags!

August 26, 2019
SELLING OUR CAR... Over the last week or so we sold our car to a co-worker of mine (Steve). He was gracious enough to let us keep it up until the point we left Raleigh.

So Today we stopped by our work to pick him up (and one last visit with a few co-workers) then headed to the airport. Steve dropped us off, we said our goodbyes, I handed him the keys and he returned home with his car. Love it when a plan comes together! 😀

August 26, 2019
CLOSED OUT OF APARTMENT - TURNED IN OUR KEYS!

August 26, 2019
NOTE ABOUT KEYS!... After all of the events that took place today it dawned on me that we no longer have any keys! Think about that for a minute - from an early age, throughout most of our lives we all have to have and use keys for something (our homes, our vehicles, our work, etc.). Having keys normally is a part of our daily life but today we have no keys to keep up with, which is a strange feeling! This will change once we get to Thailand as we'll have apartment/condo keys (in the form of a key card) and maybe one day keys for a vehicle.

August - September 2019
Sorry for the lack of updates over the last month. Getting our business affairs in order has been a tough, time consuming task! Starting the day after we retired we have been busy every day trying to get everything taking care of (business affairs, switching addresses, buying airline tickets, arranging accommodations in Thailand, meeting with family, friends and co-workers for lunch or dinner to just name a few).

We close out of our apartment on Aug 26th then fly to Tampa to spend our last week before flying to Thailand on September 1st.

July 4th
Busch Gardens - Williamsburg, Virginia!

July 1st
Spend the day visiting Brookgreen Gardens south of Murrells Inlet. Amazing 9,100-acres of themed botanical gardens, American sculptures and Lowcountry Zoo. A little pricey ($18 per person) but your ticket is good for 7 days!

Sunday, June 30, 2019
Normally on Sunday's we are busy preparing for the week ahead - doing laundry, going to grocery store, preparing lunch meals, etc. - then finish the day resting (watching Netflix).

Today, on this Sunday the 30th, we are packing and getting ready to head out on a last minute 4 day trip to Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island, South Carolina!

How do we define this last minute change of plans?

em·brac·ing·re·tire·ment! 😊