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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Amazing Life-Chapter 10, Bangkok’s Best Shopping Center for Haggling #Asiatique

I am sure if you travel very much you are enamored as I am with visiting markets and haggling over prices. Its expected in a large majority of the world and when we were in Thailand recently they took us to Asiatique, a shopping center located at Charoen Krun Soi 72 in Bangkok and on the Chao Phraya river. It is located around an enhanced rebuilt pier originally constructed in the early 1900’s and has an entertainment park atmosphere, complete with a Ferris wheel.

 

Asiatique Ferris Wheel

Asiatique Ferris Wheel

 

Asiatique has many stalls and offers a myriad of shops with clothing, shoes, bags, luggage and a large amount of silk items. Additionally, it has  food court is like the old Night Market and one can find great inexpensive Thai food. If you are in the mood for a higher end menu with air conditioning there are a couple of upper end restaurants like the one we ate at. In addition to a fabulous meal, we had entertainment with dinner at the Joe Louis Puppet Theatre, which I will write about in another post.

 

We were driven in vans to the shopping complex, but one can take the Skytrain an above ground rail system in Bangkok to Saphan Taksin and catch one of Asiatique’s free ferries across the river. The ferries run from 5:00 pm until 11:00pm every night. As we pulled into the parking lot it was lit up and very beautiful.

 

Parking Lot at Asiatique

Parking Lot at Asiatique

 

As we approached the entrance to the restaurant it seemed a little like Christmas at home with this green tree lit up and displayed in the center of the mall.

 

Entry to Asistique

Entry to Asistique

 

We watched the show at Joe Louis Puppet Theatre and gathered to begin shopping. It appeared that all were very exited, as we separated into groups and hit the booths. It must have taken all of about 10 seconds for the various groups to break away and start shopping. I was amazed at the speed of my tour group!

 

Abha Wangpaichitr (Thai Airways) by the Large Elephant

Abha Wangpaichitr (Thai Airways) by the Large Elephant

 

I caught Abha Wangpaichitr, a Marketing Coordinator for Thai Airways, posing at the large golden elephant outside the restaurant. Elephants are considered very lucky in Thailand and one can purchase various souvenirs from T-Shirts to wood carvings to porcelain statues of elephants and take a little luck home with you.

 

Ladyboy Posters

Ladyboy Posters

 

Entertainment at Asiatique has a varied approach and includes a long running Transvestite show,  the Calypso Cabaret. Having seen these “ladyboys” up close in Phuket I was astonished at how much some of them resemble beautiful women. A few of the women on our tour were taken back at how pretty some of them were. The show is a bit expensive at around 1000 baht. I did not see it, so I cannot review the show.

 

Fish That Eat The Dead Skin Off Your Feet

Fish That Eat The Dead Skin Off Your Feet

 

In addition the shopping center has spa options, which include these small fish that eat the dead skin from your feet. I tried it at a resort and spa in Malaysia and it tickles like crazy. It is kind of freaky at first, but you get used to it. Our fish at the spa, were in a large pool and not contained in a small aquarium like this. I feel this, besides maybe being a little unsanitary possibly, is not exactly good for the fish.

 

Silk Scarves

Silk Scarves

 

I intended to purchase a few silk items for Kim and looked at many a scarf and wrap and became more and more confused as the night wore on. I was taken back by the quantity and choices affordeded us. We could have shopped all night for just the silk scarves.

 

Various Silk Items

Various Silk Items

 

Not only were silk scarves an option, the selection of silk pillow covers were massive and thank goodness I only was looking at scarves. I might have had to come back the next night and resume my shopping. A couple of the ladies I ventured out with did purchase the pillow covers. There was booth after booth of just silk products.

 

A Young Band Performing

A Young Band Performing

 

As we came upon a crossroad in the shopping center and began a new lane, we came across this young and very talented small band. I was blown away by their talent and laughed at some of their laid back dress style!

 

Various Bags

Various Bags

 

If you were in the market for a bag for yourself or your wife you could look at buying a small assortment for a very cheap price. I think these groups ran like $3.00, $5.00 and $7.00 US dollars, after translating value from the baht amount. I was amazed.

 

Various Coin Purses

Various Coin Purses

 

I did wind up buying Kim a new coin purse that was the size of these clutches and I think, if memory serves me correctly it was a whopping $.85 US dollars. I just bought a black single with an elephant on it of course.

 

Asiatique Stand

Asiatique Stand Commemorating 1945

 

This little stand commemorated the original pier built in the early 1900’s and was associated with the train system and somehow a passport stamp, as shown at the bottom of the sign. My apologies for not studying enough on the meaning and significance of this stand. I did research the stand, but couldn’t locate anything. I wrote the shopping center so we will see if they respond. If they explain its significance I will post it on a later date.

 

Prada Lookalike Bags

Prada Lookalike Bags

 

The ladies in the group I shopped with told me the Prada bags were very good copies, but had small fatal flaws that could be detected, if viewed up close. I wouldn’t have known one from the other! One of the ladies was told first price was $80.oo US Dollars. I told her under my breath to come back with $40.00 US Dollars. The vendor just laughed and said “No way could he afford that price as the bags cost him more than that”. So we asked how much he could come down. He told us about $10.00 US Dollars to $70.00 US. I told her let’s walk away.

 

He came running after us and said okay for you a “special price” $60.00 US. I laughed and grabbed her arm and we started to walk away. He asked “What you pay”? I said , for the second time, $40.00 US. He grimaced and sold her the bag. I am guessing we were at his bottom limit. We were told ahead of time to pay about 50% of what they originally quoted and we found that to be true, throughout most of the market.

 

Colorful Candles

Colorful Votive Candles

 

These candles were fascinating and so colorful. I liked that the actual votive candle could be switched out for new scents, or if the wax had burned off. Really almost bought a couple for Kim, but I had to leave room for the silk items, bag and the huge assortments of Batek material for her to sew with, I would purchase in Kuala Lampur.

 

Carvings, etc.

Carvings, etc.

 

This was also very tempting and I wanted to purchase an item or two for my sons, but down deep I knew they would appreciate a T-Shirt more and the item from this selection would just sit and collect dust in their homes!

 

Wonderful Elephant

Wonderful Elephant with Brass Hands 

 

I turned a corner and looked down a booth to the other end. These elephants and brass hands were staring back at me. I think someone or something was trying to tell me I was very “lucky” to be on this trip. No worries I was already very aware of that!

 

 

Various Flip Flops

Various Flip Flops

 

Okay who doesn’t like flip flops or sandals. I couldn’t get a photo of the entire stall, but this booth was filled with every color and style of flip flop you could imagine. They were being offered at a reasonable price, but again I had limited space so I passed!

 

Dog Sleeping with Sunglasses

Dog Sleeping with Sunglasses

 

Okay this was just too funny to pass up. This dog was sound asleep with people walking all around it by his owners stall and he was wearing a pair of sunglasses. It cracked me up and brought a round of laughter to us all. This was definitely a first for me and the rest of the group!

 

Small Convenience Store

Small Convenience Store

 

After 30 years in this industry, as a retail exec what do I run into in the shopping center, but a slimmed down version of a convenience store and my gosh was it busy. The line to get in was regulated and very long. Maybe I should open up a second one and see if it would be profitable? Ha!

 

Another Young Group of Musicians

Another Young Group of Musicians

 

We were on our way out and ran into a second band of young teens playing what looked like harpsichords, drum box and a guitar. Great music and we stopped and listened, as we had a few minutes left before our meetup at the front to catch our van back to the hotel.

I love seeing local markets and haggling with the vendors and do this in every city I visit. This particular shopping center was opened in 2012 and took the place of a few night markets. It is clean and well operated and I recommend you visit #Asiatique, but make sure you have several hours to shop and roam, as it is a very large complex. I guarantee you will have a blast!

 

 

*** 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.

 

>> http://www.pingmylink.com

My Amazing Life-Chapter 7, The Royal Chulan Hotel Review

As one enters the Royal Chulan Hotel in Kuala Lampur Malaysia, you are reminded that it is a 5-Star accommodation, as the various views overload you with affluence. The winding staircase, the sitting area and this magnificent atrium of tropical plants all bombard you with opulence. You are temporarily memorized and seduced by its charm.

 

Entry Way

Entry Way Atrium

 

As I entered my room the first thing I noticed was that even though it was 90 plus degrees Fahrenheit outside, the air conditioner was not turned on. I gasped at the heat. I immediately turned it on and waited to no avail. I called downstairs and they stated they would be sending someone up to repair the A/C. The room accommodations, including this King Size bed were very nice and as expected high end.

 

King Size Bed

King Size Bed

 

Traveling through Thailand and Malaysia one thing that struck me was the amount of space and luxury they devoted to the bathrooms. This one was no different and had a glassed in large shower, glassed in toilet and this wonderful spacious sink.

 

Shower and Sink Area

Shower and Sink Area

 

This bathroom, as in one other hotel bathroom, had a view from the tub area to the bedroom. I would venture it made it easier to roll out of bed and climb directly into a warm bath. Sorry I am not going where you are surely thinking right now!

 

Bath With View from Bedroom

Bath With View from Bedroom

 

We had a hotel tour scheduled and I left the room to partake in the tour. We saw several rooms that were similar in nature to mine, but the other side of the hotel had a spectacular view of the pool and spa entrance area. Definitely request a fourth floor or higher room to secure this view and your private balcony.

 

Pool Area from Balcony of Fourth Floor

Pool Area from Balcony of Fourth Floor

 

The walkway beside the pool at ground level was filled with fountains, plants and various flowering bushes and trees. It was simply stated, gorgeous!

 

Walkway Beside Pool with Fountains

Walkway Beside Pool with Fountains

 

We walked around the pools, as there are three. The large swimming pool, a children’s pool and a massive Jacuzzi. As we turned the final corner we faced the Telaga Bunga Spa entrance and I found the spa very enchanting. and unique in some ways.

 

Telaga Bunga Spa

Telaga Bunga Spa

 

The spa has your normal massage areas and pedicure/manicure stations along with facial applications. The most unique experience we were shown was the couples massage area. It was equipped with dual tables, a tub sink and just about anything you could think of for using after a massage. It was huge and I was blown away. I want to do this!

 

Couples Massage Room

Couples Massage Room

 

The couples massage room included this huge shower. I am sure it could have held our entire group. Just to be clear we did not all walk into the shower to validate this. It was just an observation by yours truly.

 

Huge Shower in Private Spa Room for Couples

Huge Shower in Private Spa Room for Couples 

 

We then went to the restaurant for dinner. I was starving and did not take photos of all the elaborate stations. They had Italian, Japanese, American, French and many more types of food in their buffet. I had sushi that was out of this world and a few other various items. Of course as always, I had to try their desserts. Funny how I remembered to photograph this area.

 

Dessert Box

Dessert Box

 

Tired and full I retreated to my room and was very surprised. My air conditioner had not been repaired and the technician had left a mess in my room. I was still perspiring profusely. Luckily they have a hose system that is like a bidet and they have men come by to validate the toilet area is clean every night.

 

When he knocked on my door and saw my issue with the air conditioner he immediately had me transferred to another room and waited to see if the A/C worked in my new room, along with securing me another adapter for my laptop. The service this young man gave was outstanding and indicative of what I visualize the hotel’s desire to please is.

 

The hotel is superior and it is unfortunate that I had the air conditioning issue, but I would certainly go back and would recommend the Royal Chulan to all tourists and businessmen spending time in Kuala Lampur. Next time I will take my wife and we can let you know how the Couples Massage is!

 

 

 

 

*** 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 2, The Beginning

After 22 hours of flying and an additional 5 hours of layovers I was more than ready to get in bed and try and grab a little sleep. We landed in Bangkok at around midnight and we had two vans take us directly to the hotel. That was my first experience on being in the van with all the representatives of the Tourism Boards, Thai Airways and the Saeshe SVP, the PR/advertising company that coordinated the trip.

 

I am not sure how it wound up that way, but I will tell you I was a lucky man to be in their van. They made me feel right at home and kept me laughing the entire trip to the Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok. The hotel had everything ready when we arrived and we were each given our keys and shown the way to the elevator within a few moments. I was very impressed with their organization and the manner they handled the group.

 

My Bed at the Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok

My Bed at the Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok

 

The first thing I noticed was that I was very fortunate I brought an adapter for electricity. Without it my breathing machine would have been useless. Always check ahead and determine your needs. Plus its a wise idea to always carry adapters just in case. I have sleep apnea and travel with a machine that helps me breathe.

 

The next afternoon prior to our inspection at the Chatrium I ran down to the 7-11 convenience store on the end of the block and bought an additional 4-way adapter for about $5.00 USD. I really didn’t sleep that good as it was the middle of the afternoon back home. My room was fantastic and had all the convenience’s expected in a 5-star hotel, but the time difference was hard to adjust to.

 

My Desk and Dresser Area

My Desk and Dresser Area

 

I was not able to eat breakfast the first morning, as I finally got a little sleep and wanted to stay in bed a while longer. I dawdled and met everyone downstairs for our first event. We were taking the hotel shuttle across the Chao Phraya River to see the Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun).

 

My biggest challenge of the morning was figuring out how the shower operated. One had to turn the knob backwards and leave it for a while. Being the impatient person I am I obviously did not leave it long enough and wound up taking a cold shower. Boy that will wake you up regardless of how hot it is outside!

 

Chantrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok shuttle

Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok shuttle

 

We rode the shuttle down and back up the river so that we could capture images and get a feel of how large the river is and what all transpires on the Chao Phraya. It is a highly industrialized body of water and has major operations mixed in with resorts, temples and shipping companies. I had no idea of the river was so busy and large.

 

I captured many photos of the river traffic and objects along the river. One of my favorite was of the Ferris Wheel on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. It appeared to be some sort of amusement park adjacent to a Temple with many long boats in the marina.

 

Ferris Wheel and Long Boats

Ferris Wheel and Long Boats 

 

The river not only has a multitude of temples along it shores but has large barges carrying who knows what up and down. We were dwarfed by this one.

 

The Barges Were Huge and Dwarfed us as They Flowed By

The Barges Were Huge and Dwarfed us as They Floated By

 

One of the more elaborate Temples alongside the river. My favorite was the Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) and I will write on it later. In addition of the 400 Temples in Bangkok I would recommend seeing Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and Wat Pho (Temple of the reclining Buddha).

 

Temples Galore Abound on the River

Temples Galore Abound on the River

 

A fascinating factoid was that many boats carry fresh flowers hanging from their bows whether you are on the river or on the canals in the back water. We encountered such a diverse plethora of boats, barges and ships it was hard to choose just one for display.

 

Colorful Flowers Decorate all the Various Boats

Colorful Flowers Decorate all the Various Boats

 

Thanks to our Tourism Thailand host Lert Narongchaisakun for giving all of us the opportunity to be guests of Thailand and for creating a fascinating and wonderful schedule that kept us busy and helped us get to know Bangkok. Lert is smiling and if you know your cultural trivia you are aware that Thailand is the country of smiles. He exemplifies the tradition.

 

Lert Narongchaisakun

Lert Narongchaisakun

 

 

 

 

 

 

*** 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 1, Thai Airways

I recently participated in a FAM/Press trip to Thailand and Malaysia. I have been to Thailand many years ago, but never to Malaysia and I always get excited when my destination is SE Asia or that part of the world. I love the people, the food and the culture in this part of the world and was profoundly enthusiastic over the impending trip. I received my itinerary and saw that we would be visiting many 5-star hotels, one of the world’s top 50 restaurants. The basic theme was culinary and spa events. My cup of tea for sure! Our Airline of choice would be Thai Airways. Its slogan is “Smooth as Silk”. Little did I know that this airline would soon capture my heart!

 

Thai Airways Logo

Thai Airways Logo

 

I flew my old stand-by American Airlines from Austin to Los Angeles and the service was typical and fairly unremarkable. One does not fly this airline to be impressed. If you live in Texas as I do, then you more than likely fly American, as many cities are hubs for American and American Eagle in smaller towns. Such is the case in Austin. The majority of the flights out of Austin are on American Airlines.

 

I landed at LAX, gathered my bags and started to walk out the door towards Tom Bradley Terminal, which houses the International flights and bumped into Mary Jo Manzanares, one of the other Travel Bloggers going on the trip. She is an elite blogger, director of #TBEX and a stewardess in her spare time. We walked together and made contact inside the terminal with our group.

 

The Group Outside of The Star Alliance Lounge

The Group Outside of The Star Alliance Lounge

 

I learned the group would be three travel bloggers, three print media writers and a representative from Thai Airways, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Tourism Malaysia USA and Saeshe the advertising company that put the trip together and organized the itinerary. We were quickly whisked upstairs to the Star Alliance Lounge. Having visited many Admirals Club locations I was knocked over by the offerings and easy access to WiFi at the Star Alliance Lounge. This was my wonderful Thai lunch with my choice of noodles, veggies and chicken.

 

Lunch at the Star Alliance Lounge in LAX

Lunch at the Star Alliance Lounge in LAX

 

I boarded in Economy for the first leg of our flight to Seoul from LAX. I was surprised, as the width of the seat was comfortable and had to be at least three to four inches wider that my usual seat in economy in American. All seats had video screens for viewing movies, playing games, etc. The seats leaned back with hardly any intrusion into the seat behind. I love that aspect of the plane.

 

I absolutely hate it when the passenger in front leans so far back that you cannot get out of your seat to move around. Given the 12.5 hour flight to Seoul South Korea; we had the opportunity to eat three different meals, but I could only handle two. Prior to the meal the stewardesses and stewards hand you a very warm washcloth to clean your hands and face with. It is very stimulating I must say. This was my first meal in economy, a curry pork dish with a shrimp appetizer.

 

My Economy meal on Thai Airways

My Economy meal on Thai Airways

 

Remember this is in Economy. It was fantastic and I ate every bite, as if I hadn’t eaten just before boarding at the Star Alliance Lounge. One of the first things I noticed on Thai Airways is the smiles of their people. I am not used to this on my domestic flights with airlines in the US. The majority of the stewardesses and stewards are just going through the motion and appear to be waiting for retirement in most cases. Not only do you visualize the smiles on Thai Airways, but you get the idea they are genuine and the employees really want to help you.

 

An Ever Present Smiling Face on Thai Airways

An Ever Present Smiling Face on Thai Airways

 

They continually walk the aisles and ask for your needs, unless you are sleeping and they respectfully leave you alone if that is the case. Another factor to consider is that all alcohol is no charge if you are 18 or older, regardless of seating class. I couldn’t believe this given what my old stand by airlines charges for one beer. Many passengers took advantage of this, but I did not see any that became inebriated, so I am guessing they “control” the flow to a certain degree.

 

One’s drink service (mine was water and Coca-Cola) is continuous and non stop as long as you desire. Its not like my normal American service where you get your one drink and the airlines personnel sit for the remainder of the trip, consuming first class meals and all the beverages they can ingest. The Thai Airways people work their rear ends off the entire flight. We landed in Seoul. South Korea has a strange policy and all passengers have to deplane and go through customs and security. I don’t get it but it is what it is!

 

Our Thai Airways Plane in Seoul Korea

Our Thai Airways Plane in Seoul Korea

 

On the first leg of our flight from LAX to Seoul I got the short straw. I rode as stated previously, in the Economy section. On the second leg from Seoul to Bangkok we all traded out, as there were several spots in Business class, that we used on both legs. This leg I flew in Business Class. Thank you Thai Airways for this experience. Business class is a drastic difference and the seats are wonderful. You can get a massage with one of the seat settings or adjust the seat to your liking and lean back as far as you like, without intruding on the people behind you. This is a photo of the controls. Notice the very front icon states bed. They really mean it, as your seat folds down completely and turns into a flat bed. Oh so good on long flights with major time zone variances.

 

The Seat Controls with a Massage and Bed Icon

The Seat Controls with a Massage and Bed Icon

 

So what were the meals like in business class you ask? Each passenger had an appetizer, an entree, a cheese and fruit tray and a desert. Not just once but twice on the longer legs. I was fortunate and received the Business class allocation for the return trip from Seoul to LAX. It was heaven. This is just an example of my dishes and courses served.

 

My appetizer in Business Class

My appetizer in Business Class

 

My Entree (Shrimp Curry) in Business Class

My Entree (Shrimp Curry) in Business Class

 

A Cheese and Fruit Plate

A Cheese and Fruit Plate

 

Desert in Business Class

Desert in Business Class

 

As the flights transpired I noticed that the Thai Airways personnel remained very active and were always there to pick up your empty glass or food tray. You didn’t have to wait for 45 minutes like on domestic airlines, to have someone retrieve your finished product. They never stopped working and passengers were all treated like royalty, regardless of the seating class I was in. This wasn’t my expectation, given normal transgressions on domestic flights in the US.

 

I have saved my finest point until last intentionally and one that may or may not effect you personally. Traveling frequently and consuming as much as I do with drinks and food, its only natural that I have to use the facilities. The good news is there are ample amounts of facilities, regardless of seating class on Thai Airways. As you know on domestic flights one has to literally wade through the swamp, referred to as a bathroom on flights. You know what I am talking about and how bad they get on flights over let’s say 3 hours long. What did the Thai Airways personnel do you ask?

 

I will gladly tell you as I saw this with my own eyes. They literally clean the restrooms from top to bottom on a regular basis. I am not talking every four hours or so. I am talking like almost between every passenger or as quickly as possible. They take a sanitizer and clean the walls, the toilet seat, the sink and yes even the floor. I was blown away when I turned the corner and saw a stewardess with plastic disposable gloves wiping down the floor of a restroom. They even fold the toilet paper just like in hotels.

 

Thai Airways may charge a little more than other airlines, but if you consider their service, their warm friendly personnel, the amazing food in all seating classes and the free alcohol, I think that their premium is not that much to ask. It is offset with your comfort and well being. I know this, I have found a new airline that I will go out of my way to fly from now on. They are far superior to any other airline I have ever flown in my forty plus years of flying. Thank you Abha Wangpaichitr for allowing me to experience your wonderful airline and for showing me that good old fashioned customer service, is still alive in the airline Industry! I will fly you again and again, when the opportunity arises.

 

Abha Wangpaichitr Thai Airways Representative

Abha Wangpaichitr Thai Airways Representative

 

 

 

 

*** 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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