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Photo by Michael Jordan, enjoying a meal at sunset, Zangskar Valley, India

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Michael Jordan
enjoying a meal at sunset,
Zangskar Valley, India



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  #1036  
Old 25 May 2016
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Phanom Rung sits on the summit of an extinct volcano

Maybe I'm getting tired of all the lotus blossom temples in Thailand, but Phanom Rung was a great change and a seriously impressive complex. I'm looking forward to seeing the larger Khmer temples in Cambodia, like Angkor Watt. However, by the time we arrived, the temperatures had already started to rise and the grounds were so extensive we had to find shade several times to escape the heat. And yet, we saw monks walking around with woolen caps!


Beautiful dragon motifs


Even the temple dogs were hogging all the shade at Phanom Rung to escape the heat


A bunch of school kids on a field trip. Some of them were wearing jackets. *SMH*
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  #1037  
Old 25 May 2016
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Water lilies on the temple grounds





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  #1038  
Old 25 May 2016
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Tons of bats inside the temple! Stuck to the wall ready to fly out at you and get stuck in your hair!





Monks checking out the view. Pretty Phehom-enal, isn't it?

After a couple of hours at Phenom Rung, we walked back to our motorcycles. We should have parked under some shade because the seats were blisteringly hot from the overhead sun. On our BMWs, there's a game we like to play called, "Hey, who turned on my heated grips?" when the bikes are parked. Actually, it's only me who likes to play that game. When I touched the grips on the CRFs, I thought Neda was getting me back. Then I remembered. We don't have heated grips on the CRFs.

So hot out here....!
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  #1039  
Old 25 May 2016
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There's not a lot of good motorcycling in the province of Issan. It's flat and the roads go through either urban sprawl or uninteresting farmland. However as we near the Cambodian border, we hit the Ta Phraya National Park.


It's like an oasis of greenery and we soak it up


But it's short-lived and we find ourselves back on the boring highway again, headed westwards


We are stopping for gas so often. I hate the teeny tiny tanks on these CRFs!

There are some curious habits that the Thai drivers have when they're parked at gas stations. We see them lift up their hoods when they're stopped, presumably to cool the engines faster? Does that really work? Also, when they're parked for a long time, they lift their windshield wipers off the glass. I've read that it stops the rubber from sticking to the glass or warping because it's so hot. Kind of like what Canadians do in the wintertime for the exact opposite reason! 555!
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  #1040  
Old 25 May 2016
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At another gas stop we stop and chat to these two farang bikers!

We saw these guys as we were heading into Bangkok, we were all riding in formation at one point and then we all turned into the same gas station to fill up. Neda and I sat down to have a drink under the shade to cool down and I saw the tall guy looking over at us, so I walked over to say hi.

It turns out they recognized us from the WSBK races on the weekend! They were Turkish and their English wasn't very good, but we were still able to communicate a little bit. The taller guy has been touring around Thailand for a few weeks on his CBR250, and the shorter guy was his friend visiting from Turkey. They were so open and super friendly. When I told them about our trip, the taller guy beamed and told me that was his dream, just to live on his bike all the time. Then he hugged me in joy. That was funny. Two grown, sweaty men celebrating motorcycle freedom in a gas station in rural Thailand!

The tall guy was very proud of his friend who was visiting him. He bragged that the shorter guy was very rich and owned several race bikes that he took out on the track. Then we started talking about racing and I asked them if they were cheering for Kenan Sofuoglu, the Turkish rider in the lower World Supersport class.

Their eyes bugged: "You know about Kenan Sofuoglu? He is #1! Kenan Sofuoglu!"

I replied, "Yes, Kenan Superglue!" His last name rhymes with Superglue so people call him that. They looked at me with confusion and corrected me: "Kenan Sofuoglu". I guess people in Turkey don't call him "Superglue"...

The shorter guy took out his smartphone and showed me a picture of him and Kenan taken at some black-tie event. "Kenan is very nice. Very nice man".

I smiled and said, "Maybe he is a nice guy off the track, but on the track he's not very nice..." Superglue has a bad reputation for unsportsman-like behaviour when racing.

When I said that, both Turkish men grew silent and glared at me. Uh oh... Then a couple of seconds later they both broke out in huge laughs and clapped me on the back. "Yes, Kenan not so nice on the track!!! That's why he's #1! HAHAHA!!!"

*Phew*

These guys were so nice and friendly. If they're representative of all Turkish people, I can't wait to visit Turkey! They were headed for the beaches in Pattaya, so after another round of sweaty man-hugs (haha, so awesome!), we wished each other well and continued on our separate ways.

Looking back, the Phenom Rung temples were nice and all, but what stuck out in my mind for the day was chatting to these two enthusiastic Turkish bikers.


Battling the terrible congestion in Bangkok. But not for our bikes!

It's so nice to have tiny motorcycles. We weaved in and out of stopped traffic as if it was a metal labyrinthe of cars and trucks. I may have smacked a couple of SUV mirrors while doing so... Oh well.

We parked our bikes and grabbed our stuff off of them and hailed a taxi to Bangkok International Airport. Our trip is going to take yet another tangent...
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  #1041  
Old 1 Jun 2016
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Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua

Some info to consider about Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua.

Thailand Tiger Temple: Forty dead cubs found in freezer - BBC News
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  #1042  
Old 3 Jun 2016
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Wow, that's terrible.

We have no plans to visit Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua, but that's good info for people to know!
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  #1043  
Old 6 Jun 2016
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/292.html



It was bound to happen. After 18 years together, 12 years married and almost 4 years on the road joined at the hip for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week...

Neda and I hardly talk to each other any more.

At least not in any language that resembles English! There's lots of of communication. How can you not, when there are border crossings, accommodations, groceries, laundromats to seek out in new and foreign places. How can you not convey to each other the wonder, the beauty... and yes, even the frustrations of roaming the earth, free-form style on motorcycles?

But in all that time, we've developed a kind of marital shorthand between us, which involves dropping pronouns (and a lot of nouns and verbs as well), using made up words, which in our case is a mix of Croatian, Spanish and half-made up words. Sometimes I grunt and wave my hands. No, not sometimes. I actually do that a lot. It's like we're little kids that have our own secret language that nobody else eavesdropping would understand.

We even complete each other's sentences, or just leave out the second half, trailing off after the first few words - relying mainly on telepathy. Which works most of the time. And when it doesn't... Well, that's how the fight started, your honour...

Sure, we can fake speaking English when we're out for the evening with other people. But at the end of the night, our minds and tongues relax and we revert back into the gibberish-spouting infants that we really are.

It's gotten even worse in Thailand. For the last four months we don't even put our English-speaking skills to use in public anymore. Instead we speak the simplified, pigeon English so the locals can understand us, and we pepper it with the only two Thai phrases we know:

"Sawatdee khrap. Pad Thai. One. Kob khun khrap."

So it's with a mixture of anticipation and dread that we're going to spend a couple of weeks with our friends from Canada who are flying in to Thailand to visit us!

Can we pretend to be literate human beings for that long? On top of this, Neda also reminds me that we have to watch our behaviour, and not do the things that we normally do when we're only in each other's company. For me, that's making sure I wear pants inside the house.

OMG, so much pressure not to screw up!


We're going to visit the Islands!

Ordinarily, we would have ridden anywhere in Thailand to meet up with Anton and Mel. But because we had to be in Buriram for the motorcycle race last weekend, it didn't give us enough time to ride all the way down to the islands, where we were planning to meet up.

We greeted our friends at Bangkok International. It was so good to see familiar faces again! But I warned them almost immediately, "English not good. No speak good. No practice. So sorry, okay?"

Anton smirked and replied, "Dude, I'm Tamil. I speak Immigrant real good".

I grunted in relief and waved my hands a little bit. And then I looked down. I'm wearing pants. The trip is going very well so far.


Getting all Namaste in the lobby of our very swanky resort/hotel

It's a short one hour flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui, but when we stepped out of the airplane, we were greeted with a warm, pleasant island breeze. It's the same temperature as Bangkok, but because of the constant airflow, there's very little humidity and it's so comfortable. The air is a lot less hazy than Northern Thailand as well. So nice to have escaped the clutches of the Burning Season.
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  #1044  
Old 6 Jun 2016
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Anton and Mel are treating us to a few days stay at the Renaissance Hotel and when we pulled up in the taxi, Neda and I were wowed by the opulence and luxury. After living in tents, hostels, friends couches and AirBnBs for the last four years, our eyes bugged at how nice everything was!


This was our room! I cried when I saw that the nightlights that lit up the path to the bathroom were little tea candles...


Hmmm, shall we hang out at this pool just outside our rooms....?


Or head down to the beach and drink some s while sitting in the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand?


Even with my lack of verbal skills, I was able to make a new friend down at the second pool
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  #1045  
Old 6 Jun 2016
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The beach by our hotel


Sun, sand and suds. This is the life!

This is what Thailand is famous for and after four months, we've finally experienced it. What a difference from the mountains in the north. We love it here!

Screw Chiang Mai. We're going to live here instead!

We just have to figure out how we're going to be able to afford this very lavish lifestyle...


Vendors sell gasoline by the bottle. Are there no gas stations here?

For the evening, we decide to head down to Lamai Beach to check out the action. It's about a couple of kms away from the resort and we took our time and walked all the way there, chatting about all the peculiarities of Thai culture that Anton and Mel had discovered in their short time here. Although we're definitely not old hands here yet, it was still interesting seeing Thailand from a brand new set of eyes!

Also, it was nice speaking English again. And joking around in English. I really miss that. A lot.


The main strip of Lamai Beach. So touristy!


The strip is littered with restaurants, pubs and of course, go-go bars. This one was called The Sexy Sex. I wonder what goes on in there...?

After seeing so much of Thailand, it's unfortunate that this is what farangs know about the country.
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  #1046  
Old 6 Jun 2016
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We head down to the beach for a seafood dinner. Anton is picking out the crabs and fish we'll be eating. I sense that Neda is hungry...


We gorge on so much crab and red snapper! SOOO GOOOD!

Good food with great company! It's so nice when friends visit us while we're on the road. This is Mel's second time coming to see us. She rode out to Nova Scotia way back at the beginning of our trip to ride the east coast of Canada with us!


Another beautiful day hanging out at our hotel


They had a mixer at the hotel bar. With free massages and cocktails!
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  #1047  
Old 6 Jun 2016
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The next day, we booked a kayak tour of the Ang Thong National Marine Park. The Park is actually an archipelago of 42 islands, some of them very small, so the actual number varies by how you define an island. We spend two hours by boat getting there, enjoying the tropical weather and salt-water breeze on our faces. This felt like such a vacation. Then it struck me that coming to Thailand in the first place was a vacation from our vacation. So really, this short trip to the islands was a vacation from our vacation from our vacation.... 555!


The boat anchors off one of the bigger islands and we're off to do some kayaking!


Some of the interestingly shaped islands in the Ang Thong Park

The park is about 50 square kms and the islands are really these huge limestone formations that jut out of the water. Time, weather and erosion have carved amazing nooks and crannies in the rock above the waterline, and kayaking into these naturally-formed grottos, shelves and hidden lagoons is a popular tourist activity.


Neda paddles out of one of the caves while I take a picture of her strange hat. I made her paddle in and out until I got the shot just right...


Neda paddles our kayak under these neat shelves that the tides have cut into the limestone while I take more pictures


Neda paddles out to one of the more unusual rock formations. I take a picture of the cool sharp jagged edges right at the top.
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  #1048  
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Neda paddles our kayak into a small lagoon inside one of the caves. I take a picture of our fellow kayakers


The boat takes us to a couple of different islands and we can stop and walk around some of the secluded beaches.


Neda and Mel getting some girl-time in. I think Neda really misses female company.


Back out on the kayaks, Neda paddles us out through some narrow canyons. I take more pictures.

By the end of the day, Neda is asleep on the boat ride back to the Koh Samui. That girl is so lazy.
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  #1049  
Old 12 Jun 2016
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Clear blue skies, golden sandy beaches within walking distance and friends to share it with. These warm island winds have a way of washing away all thoughts and concerns about yesterdays and tomorrows. Every morning we congregate over the bountiful and delicious breakfast at the luxury hotel where we're staying.

"What do you want to do today?" Shrugs all round. We take the path of least resistance: Hang out at the beach. Hang out at the pool. So easy and relaxing.

Every evening we head down to the Lamai Beach to our favorite seafood place that we found the first night. A nightly ritual develops, involving devouring copious amounts of crab and red snapper to the soundtrack of the dark waters of the sea lapping at the coast beside us. It's so idyllic here, but compared to Chiang Mai, the prices are outrageous! Every evening, I rankle at how much we're being charged to catch a tuk tuk into town and back to the hotel. Over double what we're used to paying in the north!


Sick of haggling with the tuk tuk drivers so...

For the price of a couple of tuk tuk rides, we rent scooters instead! We're mobile again!

Just like we're taking a vacation from our vacation from our vacation, we're now leaving behind a string of bikes every time we pick up and take off, scoring smaller and smaller wheels every new place we land. I feel very recursive, like a Mandelbrot drawing zooming in on itself.


Armed with our 125cc scoots, we set off to discover the island during the days


Through city streets and jungle roads, we roam around all of Koh Samui
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  #1050  
Old 12 Jun 2016
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Stop to visit some touristy stuff. Like the Secret Buddha Garden.

We dive into the middle of Koh Samui. Our lawnmower-engined scoots complaining loudly as we climb broken dirt roads, overtaking Jeeps and Land Rovers to reach the peaks of the hills. Neda and I race Anton and Mel's scooter but we're hopelessly outmatched on the steep hill climbs as their scooter has a better engine. Either that or I ate too much at breakfast...

At the top of one of the hills, we find the Secret Buddha Gardens. So touristy!!!


A durian farmer named Khun Nim started decorating his land with all sorts of stone statues back in 1976

The large property now contains hundreds of stone tigers, dragons, musicians, warriors, etc. It's a nice place to go for a little hike, there's a stream, some stone houses you can go exploring inside.

But so touristy though!!!


Anton being a tourist


"Does it move or do something?"
"Dunno. Maybe you have to put a coin in somewhere..."
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