Hard Road to Travel

I’ve got a hard road to travel and a rough, rough way to go
Said, it’s a hard road to travel and a rough, rough way to go
But I can’t turn back, my heart is fixed
My mind’s made up, I’ll never stop, my faith will see, see me through

 

I set out in February of 2013, after a Christmas present from my then wife Kim, of enough cash to start a Travel Blog. I have loved to travel for over forty years and began as a buyer for Six Flags amusement parks in the early 70’s. I would spend two months a year in SE Asia and dealt with family manufactures, in many countries. Our days were usually long (over 12 hours) and we really only took one day off our first trip. We hit fourteen cities in nine countries and I was hooked. In addition, my Father was a journalist (a real one not the pre-fab attention getting farces of today). I am sure he is rolling over in his grave at the ridiculous charade called journalism today. I learned to write through his guidance.

 

I was surfing the Internet in regard to somewhere I might be able to afford to retire, as there have been a couple of financial fiascoes in my life and I wound up with no Golden parachute or nest egg after 50 years of laboring away. One day I came across a video from Barbara Weibel of “Hole in The Donut Cultural Travels“, in regard to Ecuador and I instantly thought “I could do that”! I became mesmerized and started making contact with travel bloggers and two stood out as Texas friendly and were amiable to this old man. They actually responded to me, when I posed a question and both became my mentors in design, name and advice about my Travel Blog to be. I cannot thank these two enough for giving me the courage and aid needed to launch the Nomadic Texan. Thank you kindly Lauren DiMarco and Leah Walker Puckett from the bottom of my heart! Of course it didn’t hurt they both were from Texas.

 

Lauren DiMarco of "Where in The World is Lola"?

Lauren DiMarco of “Where in The World is Lola“?

 

 

Leah Walker Puckett of "Leah Travels"!

Leah Walker Puckett of “Leah Travels“!

 

 

After setting up my Blog I cam across a very intelligent young man, with a big heart and a great mind! In addition, he always tells it like it is, regardless of your position or if it might slight your opinion or feelings. My type of man. He graduated from The University of Texas, served in our country’s Air Force and has started a charity for inner city kids that he asked me to help with. Does this young man really know me (I know you are asking that)? I of course said yes immediately and will help Erick Prince Heaggans, The Minority Nomad walk through fire if I have to. He has become a true friend and confidante, ever since I was an hour late to eat Thai food with him in Austin and conduct my first interview. I was highly embarrassed and he just laughed it off. One of my closest friends in social media for sure! Hook ’em Horns Prince!

 

 

Erick Prince Heaggans, The Minority Nomad

Erick Prince Heaggans, The Minority Nomad

 

Let me tell you, I’m all alone, this lonesome road, I roam
I’ve got no love to call my very own
Oh, the river gets deeper, the hills get steeper
And the pain gets deeper every day, yeah

 

After two weeks in Cuenca Ecuador and a three day weekend in Tijuana building a house for an indigent Mexican family in Tijuana last year, I headed off to my first Travel Blogger Conference in Toronto and was completely blown away from the networking and Speed Dating processes. Because of my Panama Hat and apparently my overall brand, created in just under two months. A multitude of bloggers introduced themselves and strolled across the room at parties and functions just because they recognized my hat. Of course at my age I was only able to identify a few and tried valiantly to observe their name tags, without alerting the bloggers to the fact I had no idea what their name was. I recognized faces, as I have always been able to do, but names escaped me in many cases. At the conference I also made contact with a man who was destined to help me enormously and fast became a confidante and mentor, Stephen Oddo of Walks of Italy. I can’t thank Stephen enough for his help, his mentoring and his friendship. He is a class act!

 

Stephen Oddo giving a speech at #TBEX Toronto.

Stephen Oddo giving a speech at #TBEX Toronto.

 

As I left the first night’s event I had to use the facilities and was accosted by Ted Nelson of Traveling Ted from Chicago. He was one of those people whose face I immediately recognized, but I struggled to recall his name. I had no alcohol either! We hit it off immediately as we both have a sick sense of humor and love the outdoors. I more so in my younger days! At one of my Speed Dates in Toronto, SATW had asked to meet with me. They told me I had to have 10, 000 followers on Twitter to qualify. I had around 2, 000 at that time and I asked why the appointment. They told me with 2,000 I could qualify as a photographer. I just laughed and thanked them. I did make it a personal goal to attain this number as soon as humanly possible, but I wanted to do it legitimately and not “purchase” followers, which some people do.

 

Traveling Ted (Ted Nelson from Chicago)

Traveling Ted (Ted Nelson from Chicago) Friend and Mentor

 

I’ve got a hard road to travel and a rough, rough way to go
Said, it’s a hard road to travel and a rough, rough way to go
But I can’t turn back, my heart is fixed
My mind’s made up, I’ll never stop, my faith will see, see me through

 

The months rolled by and I was asked to visit Palestine Texas for a weekend and produce a post that covered the city’s attributes. I wound up writing eight posts in total and fell in love with this charming small community. I still broadcast on social media for the town and this has led me into a couple more visits next spring of Tyler and Nacogdoches, both historic and beautiful Texas Towns. I can’t wait to visit each and cover their sites, via my Nomadic Texan blog.

 

Breezy Lake-Wolfe of Palestine My Hostess

Breezy Lake-Wolfe of Palestine, My Hostess

 

One more thing, I dream of a home, far beyond the sea
Where there is love and peace and joy for me
Oh, in my eyes, I see troubles and danger for me
But destiny where it leads me, I must go, hey

 

One day about a month after I finished my obligations with Palestine, a post went up in a Facebook travel group, announcing a FAM/Press trip to Thailand and Malaysia. I was drooling and couldn’t submit my application fast enough. It was to be a 12 day adventure aimed at 5-star hotels, restaurants and spa activities. Anyone that reeally knows me understands this was my cup of tea and I hit the send button within seconds after finishing my application. It was announced that there was going to be a quick turnaround and they were going to choose the travel bloggers quickly. I couldn’t sleep.

 

The stars must have been aligned and God was in my corner. Bingo I was very fortunate and became one of three travel bloggers chosen along with three freelance writers. I had died and gone to heaven! I have loved SE Asia every since my youth and the first time I set foot on this continent’s soil way back in 1973, as a buyer with Six Flags amusement parks. In addition this trip established friendships that I cherish to this day, not to mention the social media benefits I received from starting my Instagram and Pinterest accounts, which have become fantastic platforms for my blog. Had no idea what I was missing.

 

James Bond Island in Phang Nga Bay Thailand

James Bond Island in Phang Nga Bay Thailand

 

I’ve got a hard road to travel and a rough, rough way to go
Said, it’s a hard road to travel and a rough, rough way to go
But I can’t turn back, my heart is fixed
My mind’s made up, I’ll never stop, my faith will see, see me through

 

Upon my return I went to work and produced somewhere between 25 to 30 posts even though a significant less amount was all that was required. I genuinely cared for the sponsors representatives and made what I what I hope to be lifelong friends. These four individuals are some of the funniest people I have ever traveled with and were a joy to be around on a daily basis. Can’t wait to travel with them again! Thank you kindly #Tourism Authority of Thailand, #Thai Airways and #Tourism Malaysia USA. You are all wonderful human beings!

 

Help me somebody, somebody please

 

I returned generated my posts and my life unraveled. After 36 years of marriage my wife and I decided that we could no longer live in a toxic situation and it would be better for the both of us to divorce. I was devastated and still am. I can find no way to unravel the mental anguish I go through on a daily basis. It is like a fog that surrounds my body and never disappears. Thank God that I have social media and my blog, or I am fairly certain I would not be here. Of special note is a Facebook and Travel friend Talon Windwalker of 1 Dad 1 Kid who through the divorce and through my growth as a travel blogger, has always been there and helped this old man immensely. I finally had the opportunity to meet him in person recently in Austin prior to moving to Dallas. I was thrilled to say the least!

 

Talon Windwalker of 1 Dada 1 Kid

Talon Windwalker of 1 Dad 1 Kid

 

Through it all I have struggled and worked to attain that magic number! I can remember a little less than a year ago how elated I felt when I hit 5,000 followers on Twitter. I knew with a little help and perseverance, eventually I would hit that magic number and qualify for the SATW! It has not been easy and I have worked until the middle of the early morning more times than I can count, but my efforts finally paid off and on November 24, 2014, @VacaRentalz of Vacation Bargains became my 10,000 follower on Twitter! Thank you kindly, to all the young women and young men who follow this old man on Twitter!

 

CLIFF, JIMMY

*** Lyrics By Jimmy Cliff from 

 

Jimmy Cliff – Hard Road To Travel Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Photo of The Day #77, You Think You Have Obstacles in Your Life???

When I was in Thailand this last November one of the tours we ventured out on, as guests of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Thai Airways, was the James Bond Island tour. We wound up back at the Koy Panyee Sea Gypsy Village in Phang Nga Bay for lunch. After a wonderful meal of lobster, fish, shrimp and a dessert of fresh pineapple, we were allowed to walk through the complex of various gift shops, food outlets and an elementary school for the village children.

 

Panyee Village Elementary School

Panyee Village Elementary School

 

Near the school was a structure floating in the ocean and at first I couldn’t figure out what it was. As I walked nearer I recognized nets and soon discovered it was actually a soccer field for the kids to use, as the amount of raw land wasn’t sufficient to have a normal soccer field. I thought this was a wonderful and amazing idea. Little did I know the real story behind this pitch!

 

Panyee Floating Soccer Field

Koh Panyee Floating Soccer Field

 

Yesterday I shared a photo of this field on Instagram and Facebook. A fellow travel blogger and friend Vanessa Workman attached the video below, from TMBbrand’s channel. They have launched a new brand vision “Make THE Difference”, by making films that would inspire people to start thinking differently. I sincerely hope you take away as much as I did from this video.

 

My Amazing Life-Chapter 12, Thalang Road Phuket Old Town

As I sit here this morning writing this post, I feel pensive and have a deep concern for my friends in Thailand. It appears that the Thai Army, unknown to the Thai Government, has declared Martial Law and is imposing curfews and roadblocks around the perimeter of Bangkok. I love Thailand, its culture, its fabulous food and most of all its gentle people, who appear to smile 100% of the time.

 

I am worried this will escalate into a coup. Hopefully the assorted media campaigns are just being sensational as usual and have blown this completely out of proportion. The civil protests were just beginning when I was there in November and I can’t help but be apprehensive for my friends that reside in Thailand.

 

We flew from Bangkok to Phuket, a short flight and as we were approaching, I could see islands faintly out the plane’s window from Phang Nga Bay. I had no idea how wonderful our stay in Phuket would be.  We left the airport on a bus operated by the Sweetland Travel & Tours Company in Phuket Thailand and Old Town. At one  time Old Town Phuket was the center of gambling, prostitution and opium trades. This was centered around the flourishing tin-mining industry, maintained by labor from the Siamese, Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians and various sea gypsies.

 

 

The tsunami of 2004 stopped the aggressive upgrade to this gorgeous city on the Andaman Sea,started in the eighties. There remain, many wonderful beaches and the shops are in varying stages of refurbishing. This video is all about the historical Thalang Road with it’s century old “Shophouse” architecture. We parked the bus a street away and had “10 minutes” to shop and see the area. Of course that was impossible and we wound up staying there for 30 minutes.

 

Side Street off Thalang Road

Side Street off Thalang Road

 

As we sauntered down the side street we came upon this barber plying his trade and giving a local his haircut. Notice the sparse accommodations in this shop and the fact that only a fan spins above the client’s head.

 

A Local Barber Cuts Haif

A Local Barber Cuts Hair

 

Another shop we walked by, had this chart in four languages; Thai, English, French and German. It illustrates the various pressure points of Reflexology on the foot,  an alternative medicine or pseudoscience involving the physical act of applying pressure to the feet.

 

Pressure Points on a Reflexology Sign for the Foot

Pressure Points on a Reflexology Sign for the Foot

 

We found this refurbished wonderful house on the side street, the balcony  loaded with plants. Notice the TV satellite dish matches the base color pink.

 

Old Architecture

Old Architecture on a Side Street

 

As we turned onto Thalang Road, we found the architecture outstanding and a majority of the antique homes had been remodeled. This was along with the shops which sold a plethora of goods.

 

Bolts of Silk Material in a Shop on Thalang Road

Bolts of Silk Material in a Shop on Thalang Road

 

Shop after shop offered their silk wares and although we had mostly secured our silk needs in Bangkok, we did stop, chat and discuss things with the shopkeepers. They were all friendly and were all asking if we needed anything. Thankfully it wasn’t a heavy sell approach.

 

Old Architecture on Thalang Road

Old Architecture on Thalang Road

 

We continued along Thalang Road, the main thoroughfare and home of all the historic buildings and original center of commerce. I must have taken 50 to 75 photos of the houses and balcony areas

 

 

Old Architecture on Thalang Road with Character

Old Architecture on Thalang Road with Character

 

The “Shophouses”, named this a result of the fact that the front portion is an actual retail establishment of one kind or another and the remainder is their home. Some have intricate gardens and patios that are not visible from the main street. An interesting detail, is that all the “Shophouses” have a “five-footway” front, that provides shade and protection from the in-climate weather.

 

Colorful Old Architecture on Thalang Road

Colorful Old Architecture on Thalang Road

 

This shop was an illustration of the various clothing and Burkas worn by Muslim women. A  Niqaab or face cover, is not required of most in Thailand and this portion of Asia. Additionally you can see rugs, packaged scarves and other clothing.

 

Clothing Shop on Thalang Road

Clothing Shop on Thalang Road

 

Before we knew it they were calling us back to the bus, to continue on to our resort and get checked in. As stated in the video, the shops were closed on the following day and I felt lucky to have this experience even though it was brief in nature.

 

I highly recommend you stay at the Keemala resort, located in the rainforest of Kamala Phuket and close to Patong Beach for those seeking a fun time. It is a great resort for a romantic get away and has a spectacular spa. The resort has numerous holistic activities and one can feast on an assortment of foods that will satisfy your wholesome needs. Whether you desire a villa, pool cottage, or pool house Keemala will placate your thirst for personal treatment.

 

 

*** My trip to Thailand and Malaysia was sponsored by Thai Airways, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Tourism Malaysia USA. All opinions are solely mine and as always, generated without any influence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Amazing Life-Chapter 11, Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket Review

My recent  excursion to Thailand and Malaysia was a trip of a lifetime and I owe a great deal of gratitude to the Tourism Authority of ThailandThai Airways  and Tourism Malaysia USA. The trip was full of 5-Star hotels, restaurants and some of the most fabulous tours I have ever been on, but staying at this hotel was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. The Centara Grand Beach Resort was one of the top five hotels I have stayed at in my entire life, including my many trips to Asia, as a buyer for Six Flags amusement parks in the seventies.

 

Centara Grand Beach Resort in Phuket

Centara Grand Beach Resort in Phuket

 

Flying in from Bangkok we saw a view of Phang Nga Bay and all the wonderful islands. We had a bus waiting and drove through old town Phuket for a quick shopping spree and drove up to this entrance. It made a statement and everything had been prepared for us and we immediately were prepared to be taken to our rooms. Before I go any farther I will tell you this post will have more photos, than any post I have published. I think I took around 200 total of just the hotel, spa, beach and grounds.

 

Centara Entrance

Centara Entrance

 

If you know me, you know I have a very weak bladder, so before the tram took us to our rooms, I used the facilities. My word it was like I was outdoors and we even had a waterfall, just in case we needed any coaxing. Not an issue with me!

 

Mens Restroom Waterfall

Mens Restroom Waterfall

 

I walked out and one of the ladies was coming out of their restroom and asked if I would like to see it. She assured me it was vacant. Well of course I said yes. Their view was similar except their sinks looked out over the waterfalls. I was so blown away that it is included in my video later on in the post.

 

Ladies Restroom Sinks

Ladies Restroom Sinks 

 

We had our luggage loaded on trams and were taken to our “rooms”, passing several buildings on the way. This section appeared to be similar to the area we were staying in, but not as secluded. You can see the rooms on the bottom floor had pools or Jacuzzi’s by the tile.

 

Rooms with Pools (Bottom Rooms)

Typical Centara Rooms

 

Every morning when we came down to eat breakfast at The Cove Restaurant, we roamed along this lovely courtyard and glimpsed the beach. The view was magnificent and literally took your breath away! It was a short hike from the room, so each of us really worked up an appetite, as we strolled daily.

 

Courtyard to Dining at The Cove

Courtyard to Dining at The Cove

 

This photo is of the Omelet station and of course I ate my share while we were there. This gentleman had the preparation down to an art and never made any mistakes. He had a lot of satisfied customers.

 

Omelet Station

Omelet Station at The Cove

 

They make a crepe like item that is sparsely spread on the large griddle in the middle and cooks very quickly. It can be topped off with jams or have products inserted while cooking. It was a daily ritual for me and tasted so good. I hope I am not getting the name wrong, but it reminded of me and was similar to a product we ate, named Roti Canai, later in our trip. If I am incorrect I apologize to my readers. If you know the true name please leave a comment below the post and share with my readers.

 

Fresh Roti (Bread) Station

Fresh Roti Canai or Crepes (Bread Stuffed with Sweets) Station at The Cove

 

Inside there were so many stations with fruits, breads, various traditional Thai breakfast soups served over or with rice and just about anything you can imagine that one would eat at breakfast whether normal or not to you.

 

Carious Local Broths and Rice

Various Local Broths and Rice at The Cove

 

My room was very spacious and had a coffee area with refrigerator stocked to the limit. The work area or desk was phenomenal and had enough electric outlets to charge every piece of equipment I had at one time. The view out the sliding glass doors was tremendous and inspiring. It may not look like it but this King size bed was huge and very comfy.

 

Desk Area in Room Behind King Size Bed

Desk Area in Room Behind King Size Bed

 

How many photos can one take of their room? I knew it would be hard, but I had to include the glorious shower with a high pressure rain head. It was spectacular and really had an aggressive spray. My tired and aching body loved it for sure, every day I jumped in.

 

In Room Shower with a Great Rain Head

In Room Shower with a Great Rain Head

 

What’s this? I walked out my sliding glass doors and found a unimaginable patio setup complete with a huge swimming pool and Jacuzzi. I was blown away that they would have this type of arrangement and I found out we all had a similar room. The privacy curtain could be raised at your discretion to keep nosy passers by from observing your activity. My only regret is I didn’t take a photo at night with the pool lit up. It was stunning.

 

In Room Swimming Pool

In Room Swimming Pool

 

The Centara’s spa was named Cenvaree. It is out of this world, with first class amenities and options that one could use the entire day. Again, my issue was how many photos do I share? I decided I would let you see what the waiting area looked like. We were served water prior to our wonderful massages and a warm tea afterwards. I truly love having my body beat up and my muscles dug into. It is so relaxing. I had a traditional Thai massage, in which they use their elbows and get deep into the tissue. It hurt substantially at first, but as it progressed I grew used to it and had all my stress and sore muscles relaxed afterwards.

 

 

Spa Waiting area

Spa Cenvaree Waiting area

 

This is what the pedicure room looked like, but I only had so much time and couldn’t take advantage of the therapy. I did later at another hotel. There is nothing like having your feet massaged to relieve your body’s stress. Okay go ahead call me a Metro-Sexual. I really don’t care. I love spas.

 

Pedicure Station

Spa Cenvaree Pedicure Station

 

The Centara is located right on the water and you just have to walk just across the entry road to reach their fantastic beach. On my first visit I was totally surprised at the size, the beauty and all the normal chairs, umbrellas and beach lounges. I had no idea it was so large. Of course I took around 30 to 40 photos and had a dickens of a time trying to decide which to keep. So I decided on these three with the first one showing just the beach and a great wave.

 

Centara Beach

Karon Beach

 

This one show you what the chair and umbrella arrangement looked like looking to the south and kind of back towards the hotel entrance. I could have stayed on this beach all day for our entire visit, but we had tours and restaurants and shopping to participate with.

 

Beach Lounge Chairs with Umbrellas

Karon Beach Lounge Chairs with Umbrellas

 

The last photo, yes I said last, was of the beach facing north and giving you a taste of the cove we were located in. In addition you can see the view that a few locals had from their wonderful villas up the side of the hill.

 

Beach Lounge Chairs with Umbrellas

Karon Beach Chaise Lounge Chairs with Umbrellas

 

All good things must come to an end, but I cannot rave enough about this hotel. A friend ask recently about what accommodations were available in Phuket, as she had a friend getting married and they wanted it to be on the beach. They had broken it down to Phuket and an island area in Thailand. I couldn’t type fast enough. I recommend the Centara Grand Beach Resort and told her that her friend would remember her wedding forever, just like I will remember my stay at this luxurious establishment forever.

 

 

 

 

*** My trip to Thailand and Malaysia was sponsored by Thai Airways, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Tourism Malaysia USA. All opinions are solely mine and as always, generated without any influence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of The Day #55

Our visit to James Bond Island or Khao Phing Kan, in Phang Nga Bay Thailand was both exhilarating and educational. The ride over in the Long Boat was stimulating and was an experience I shall never forget. It was a proper end to the ride, when we wound up at the restaurant in Sea Gypsy Village for lunch. The village is elevated above the ocean on stilts to account for the tides and storm surges.

 

The majority of its income base is centered around tourism and visitors that stop off on the way back from James Bond Island. In addition to a rather large restaurant there is a maze of shops and retail outlets, which sell fresh water pearls, all kinds of clothing, authentic regional food items and various traditional souvenir goods. It is well worth the stop and one can wonder endlessly for hours just investigating the wares the vendors offer.

Koy Panyee Sea Gypsy Village

Koy Panyee Sea Gypsy Village

 

Photo of The Day #54

As we headed out of Phuket Thailand, to take the Long Boat to James Bond Island or Khao Phing Kan in the Phang Nga Bay,  I knew I couldn’t make the entire trip without a potty break. I have a bad bladder and holding is not an option ordinarily, as my wife Kim will tell you. Her on the other hand, she can hold it for days.

 

It pisses me off. Pun intended! Luckily our guide had a stop planned for beverages and the sampling of some of the best Dim Sum I had ever tasted! I was so glad when they offered us a taste. I wanted to eat the whole pot!

 

Very Tasty Dim Sum

Very Tasty Dim Sum

 

I caught the name of the restaurant. It was Phing Nga Restaurant right before the Sarasin Bridge. I captured a few photos of the magnificent orchid presentation on the wall separating the dining rooms, along the path to the restrooms. I was very surprised at how clean and well stocked the restrooms were. Very nice! I was much more taken back though by this array of orchids.

 

Wall of Orchids

Wall of Orchids

 

Obviously I had to choose one as my favorite and it literally jumped out and caught my attention. What do you think did I get it right?

 

An Amazing Purple Orchid

An Amazing Purple Orchid

 

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