Thailand and Laos, 4. November to 10 December 2005

On November 4th we left for Thailand, after a most spectacular fall in Switzerland. After d day at the Airport hotel in Bangkok, we first went to Chiang Mai, staying a week with visits to the Night Market, Doi Suthep Temple high above that Northern City, and other sights in the vicinity, and of course our yearly check ups with our dentist.

Doi Suthep Temple high above Chiang Mai Doi Suthep – another aspect Doi Suthep – another aspect
Doi Suthep – another aspect Doi Suthep – another aspect Doi Suthep:Wonderful flower on huge tee

Then we flew over to Phuket for another week. We stayed at the Amari Coral Reef at one end of Patong Beach and we could observe that there were virtually no scars left from the disastrous 2004 tsunami. The were some works still on-going, such as the construction of a new post office and some other infrastructural work but the hospitality industry is fully operational again. We did find it strange that we would have nightly thunder showers that late in the year, and also that we could not go out for some sailing as the tides were very low and our ketch had too big a draft.

Later, we spent a week in the elegant and very comfortable Santiburi Resort on Koh Samui on the Gulf of Siam. We were most unlucky as it rained continuously 6 out 7 days, like in the monsoon season! We had only one overcast day, Wednesday, and as luck would have it, that was their weekly fantastic outside buffet around the pool with Floating Market style vendors peddling freshly grilled skewers of exquisite taste from their little boats in the enormous pool.

Welcome back a the Santiburi
in Koh Samui
“Floating Market Vendor”
in Santiburi pool
His delicacies

We left the next morning to Chiang Rai via Bangkok. From there, 40 km north into the Golden Triangle, to the Phu Chaisai Resort on 600 m altitude. It was beautifully sunny during the day but night temperatures dropped unseasonably to 12 C. The resort supplied us with sleeping caps and warm water bottles but that was not enough for the ladies who also got a Japanese electric stove made in China.

We could not partake of the resorts fine food (Thai and Italian) offerings as we were all there for a one week detox course. The large and heavy teak board shown below will show you in how much “style” our twice a day “Board Meetings” were held.

I think we may very well return there one day as the place is very quiet, romantic and so different from similar places we have been. Their spa is also very nice though rather on the expensive side. Their owner, a member of the Royal family, is a very nice lady, very active and also trying to make clients feel happy and at their ease.

The resort car took us back to Chaing Rai where we spent a night at The Legend, run by Marc Dumur (ex Amari Rincome). We did that to surprise two friends from Hong Kong Guido Furrer and Beat Runser arriving the same afternoon; they had business in the area and also wanted to see the detox place. Our surprise was complete, we had dinner together and lots of impressions and jokes were exchanged.

Phu Chaisai in the Golden
Triangle-common area
Biotop between the villas Heavy teak “detox” Board
View from the entrance door: pool
and mountains
Yours truly in the public transport
of the Resort (Spa, restaurants)
Khun Da, the genial owner

After a 250 km drive in a very comfortable van to Chiang Mai, we stayed another few days in that large City before flying for a 4 day visit to Luang Prabang in Laos. The 3 times a week flight in a Laos Airways ATR72 is just a hour and very interesting, especially the approach over the Mekong running very slow and brown.

When one travels to countries not touched by much tourism, it is apparent that the few that come are subjected to a lot of bureaucracy. It started already with acquiring the flight tickets, a most complicated procedure. At the check-in, it took a lot of time as the flight was full. As in the good old times, your seat was not printed by the computer, but they stuck a seat number onto the boarding card, like in our longitudes some 20 or more years ago. But we did get an Arrival and a separate Departure form that asked so many questions you wonder what it is for. Also, you get a visa application form – that is new: you can apply for your $30 visa upon arrival, but to complete that form, you need at least an MBA education. As they say: they small the countries, the bigger the filing cabinets.

We stayed in the recently renovated Maison Souvannaphoum, the guest villa of former Prince Souvannahpouma. It is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and very special renovation procedures had to be followed at all times. They have done a very nice job indeed. Again, the weather played us a trick as it was rainy or heavily overcast…

Wat Xieng Thong, the main
attraction in Luang Prabang
Treasure house of Xieng Thong Tree of Life
Buddha in the main Hall Another view of the Buddha Another view of the Buddha
South entrance of Xieng Thong Panel of the treasure house
the case of Adam & Eve?
Another view of the compound
Wat Pra Maha Thai in Luang Prabang Another side of Wat Maha Thai Another Wat in Luang Prabang
Old Lao woman eating tangerines Another old Lao woman Mandarine oranges galore at the Market

The return was via Chiang Mai (where we left 4 pieces of baggage not needed in Laos at Temporary Storage in the airport). We picked them up and checked it all in at Thai Airlines for our Bangkok flight. This time, we stayed at the Amari Watergate, a well appointed hotel in the Center where we had wonderful accommodation on the 34th floors. The 11:20 PM flight home via Munich was easy and painless as we both slept comfortably.

Here are some links of a places I have mentioned: (Resort Hotel) (Resort Hotel) (Resort Hotel) (Resort Hotel) (City Resort Hotel)

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