Living Tranquil in Chiang Mai – July and August 2018; A Personal BLOG

Every moment in life is a choice; so choose with wisdom for the highest good and the greatest outcome

You have few choices when it come to the “rainy season” and your mind may imagine day after day of non-stop torrential downpours bringing nothing but wetness and dampness, but this isn’t really how Thailand’s green season actually works.  It is from June/July to October that the southwest monsoon brings warm humid air from the Indian Ocean. Highs in the 30’s C range. Air is clear with great visibility and sunny and/or cloudy skies mixed with short periods of heavy rain.

It doesn’t rain every day during the rainy season. Moreover, when it does rain, usually it’s for a brief period, maybe 30 minutes to 1-2 hours often in the afternoon or evening.  We have had a few days like that and as I am writing this blog the skies opened up to deliver on our tropical rainy season – but for only about 40 minutes.

Over the past two months retirement life has been engaging on two fronts. We took a couple of weeks off from the Consulate work & life in Chiang Mai and during that time we travelled south to Bangkok for medical reasons, took in the resort town of Hua Hin for a beach break. The rest of the time has been spent around Chiang Mai doing medical follow ups and hosting Ace’s mother who has been visiting recently for her own medical needs.

It has also offered time to be home, when we can, and enjoy our house, garden and lovely outlook.

Trip to Hua Hin

“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.” – Earl Wilson

So with this thought in mind we took a break from Chiang Mai and went southward, through Bangkok to Hua Hin, a seaside resort on the Gulf of Thailand, in the southern Thai province of Prachuap Khiri Khan. Once a quiet fishing village, it grew into a fashionable escape for residents of Bangkok after the 1920s, when the Thai royal family built summer palaces here. Hua Hin Beach, popular for kite surfing and other water sports, is the main stretch of sand, lined with high-end hotels and seafood shacks.

It was simple journey south to Bangkok, just a matter of getting on the correct Bangkok elevated expressways, following google maps and not missing exits or turns. Bangkok, it’s a big city to cross but we made it with a successful trip to our accommodation after a lunch stop at a little roadside spot. It was something booked over the internet, just out of the main town area but was a very nice apartment and enjoyable pool, quiet and views to the hills and golf course. Bargin price! Beach is very close, a short walk – and lots of seafood on offer.

Thanks to a restaurant recommendation in Hua Hin we tried out Madames Green seafood place, not far from where we were staying. Great choice, lots on the menu with a great beach view table and reasonable prices. Ate a lot and enjoyed the beach breezes.

The next day we visited the popular railway station as it is one of the oldest & most historic in Thailand. According to information the original station building was built-in 1910, and rebuilt in 1926. One of its main features is the Royal Waiting Room that used to welcome King and his court when they were visiting the town. Originally, it was apparently situated at Sanamchan Palace in Nakom Pathom and was eventually transported to Hua Hin. It is designed in the same style as Maruekkhathayawan Palace and is an attraction in Hua Hin. On the premises, there is an old 305 Unit Baldwin steam locomotive on display. Hua Hin train station has been considered the most beautiful old station in Thailand, that is still used and active today.

The days were as usual, very warm but once the sun was down it was wonderfully pleasant so we went out strolling some of the Hua Hin markets, browsing and feasting on lots of yummy food.  There were options from food trucks, stalls and unique offerings to satisfy some hungry cravings. Nice evening to check out some good markets and shops. Eating too much but enjoying.

The following day we visited Rajabhakti Park in Hua Hin – an historically themed venue honouring past Thai kings from the Sukhothai period to the current royal house of Chakri. It was built by the Royal Thai Army, on Thai Army property. The name “Rajabhakti Park”, apparently means “the park that has been built with people’s loyalty to the monarchs”. The park occupies an area of land involving 222 rai and has 7 very large bronze statues of previous Thai Kings. It is fairly open and exposed to the sun so an early in the day visit is recommended.

Easy Sunday – we decided to explore more of the area by car today so drove around and then stopped for simple noodles for lunch at Cha-am beach with a nice sea breeze and later in the afternoon we enjoyed coffee and treats at the Chocolate factory. Leisurely day of motoring around, exploring and enjoying. Then Hua Hin view-point – drive up to this hill-top today checking out the scenery and the monkeys. The monkeys were very amusing and didn’t bother us.

For our last day in Hua Hin we moved our accommodation to this wonderful spot, Laksasubha Hua Hin. The lady that owns this place is an Australian Alumni and is a board member of Austcham. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the hotels, Rim Talay restaurant overlooking the beach, with amazing hosts M.L. Lak and her mother.  After lunch we visited the family home on the resort property and her mother explained the family history and associations with the Royal family. We then spent a relaxing day chilling out by the beach and making use of the pool facilities. A great time – thanks to ML Lak for the wonderful hospitality.

What to do for a dinner option? A short wander from our resort, up a few narrow soi’s (streets) we came upon this nice seafood restaurant. Lovely breeze, great outlook and yummy food. Great for our last night by the sea. A relaxing foot massage after dinner was most welcome ahead of a good nights rest before heading off to Bangkok.

Out & About – Hanging and Eating

Volunteer Thank You

After returning from our trips away we joined a fun night at the Downunder Pub Chiang Mai with many of the volunteers who helped out at our recent Australia Pavilion. It was a get together organised by one of our supporters, Mary, to say thanks to all the helpers and to have a few tales and laughs. You can see what we did at the Australian Pavilion at this website.

Family Visitor

During August it is mothersday in Thailand – Ace’s mother came to visit with us so he got to celebrate the day with her and enjoy a nice lunch at Narittaya Resport and Spa. After lunch, we took a drive up into the hills for a visit to the Royal Rose Garden along the Samong Rd. Always a nice outing.

Getting Out and About

During the family visit we made a small trip to visit Mae Kham Pong, a small village in Mae On District, Chiang Mai Province, approx. 55km north of the city of Chiang Mai. It has a population about 300 with traditional agriculture, teas, coffees, rice and a site of a Thai Royal Projects where plants are grown for market.

It is a home-stay and eco tourist village where tourists are welcome to stay with a family as a guest and to partake in daily life such as growing crops, looking after animals, cutting bamboo etc. It was a fun drive with great scenery and some good food.

On the way home we took a detour up a hilly country road to visit The Giant, Cafe Treehouse. A windy narrow and steep road that makes its way up a mountain to this unique venue was what we encountered – my passengers were a bit nervous. You walk out over a suspension bridge to the very large tree house in this enormous old tree. Overlooking a misty mountainside and nice outlook was a wonderful reward that was also accompanied with coffee and cakes.

After the narrow, windy road drives today, in the misty rain, we decided that another stop to relax would be good. So it was off to soak our feet at these San Khampaeng hot springs. It was a full day of fun touring so a great way to relax – oh the water can be sooo-hot.

The “tribal life festival” was another outing this period that saw us enjoy the event. It was being held on the grounds of the highland people discovery museum. Was very surprised at the well presented museum and learned a lot about the various ethnic hill tribes found around Chiang Mai. While the festival was small in nature the museum was most interesting and can be visited at any time, with hill tribe products on sale.

The Cave Doi Khum – Lunch choices are so varied and plentiful but today we took to the hills again, not far from home. This great Issan food with country band with guitars and banjo roaming around tables entertaining the diners – really good music.

Wat Ban Den temple just past Mae Taeng, about about 30 km north of Chiang Mai, is both unique and impressive. It is hardly ancient but it is built Lanna Style, with a main structure of teak hardwood and granite planks in the center, surrounded by multiple structures. 12 Chedi were built on site to represent the 12 animals of the Thai Zodiac (which resembles the Chinese); you’ll find the impressive statues scattered throughout the place. Most of the renovation was completed by 2009, and the place became famous among Thai citizens; as of late, tourists after hearing about the wonderful experience that awaits them. It is really very impressive place to visit.

Lanna Rock Garden – this place had been recommended for a good spot to take the dog and enjoy coffee and cake. After many missed attempts an outing for lunch with friends saw us stop by for afternoon coffee to check it out. Up the Samoeng Road you can find this lovely spot, with new owners, a full restaurant menu and nice drinks and cakes.  Will be back with our dog Lex to enjoy the space.

Trip to Bangkok

One of the reasons for going to Bangkok during this period was for a medical follow-up. It involved a very long day at a cancer hospital facility for a special PSMA PET scan procedure to try to locate my prostate cancer recurrence. Parking on the day was the biggest challenge due to a Thai Royal Princess who was visiting on the same day – a story for another time. The staff and hospital were very caring and professional in how they dealt with this patient. After returning from Hua Hin I received the results of the scan that showed that unfortunately the prostate cancer had not been cured by surgery and that it had now spread to the pelvic lymph node system. A diagnosis of stage 4 cancer – time for further treatment options to be explored with consultations with a few urologist and radiation oncologists in Bangkok and in Chiang Mai. What is going on for me is covered on my prostate cancer update page.

While in Bangkok during July we also spent some leisure time, doing some shopping at a few large malls, visiting the Embassy and enjoying dinner with the Embassy Consular Service section crew.  Late one evening we went out Zpell Future Park in the Rangsit area for some browsing and dinner. Big place to wander and lots of food on offer but ribs and wings looked inviting for a change of taste and a treat – and comes with gloves to eat with to avoid the mess. Really tender and yummy. Bangkok is such a busy and hectic place but always lots to do.

Around the House

The gardens have also been really green and colourful during this rainy season – as always everything grows with little effort. Just maintaining it is some form of neat appearance is the challenge. Cutting and trimming is an ongoing chore. Here are some of the orchids that provided colour in our garden. We will be spending lots of time in the next couple of months close to home

So that about sums up the last couple of months for these tranquil-in-Thailand guys. Life is always enjoyable with things to do, see and experience – some wanted and some unwanted. But it’s all good.  Now onward for the next two months of September and October – with a slightly different focus.

Constructive feedback or comments most welcome

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