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The Winter of 2023 – 2024 in Thailand

  • We ✈️ from Victoria to Bangkok on Oct 25th. We have a condo in Bangkok for 4 weeks.
  • November 23rd we ✈️ to Chiang Mai where we have a condo for 4 weeks.
  • December 20th, we are doing a road trip north of Chiang Mai into Laos 🇱🇦 to renew our Thai visa.
  • Back to Chiang Mai for Christmas. 🎄
  • December 27, ✈️ to Krabi and make our way to Siboya.
  • January 29th, we are ✈️ to Bangkok, a quick overnight then, taxi tO Hua Hin for 18 nights.
  • February 18th we ✈️ from Bangkok to Victoria.
2023-11-10 – TUANG DIM SUM
2023-11-13 – LOCAL MARKET
2023-11-14 – LOCAL DINNER
2023-11-21 – SUNSET AT JACK’S BAR
2023-11-23 – MOVIN’ TO CHIANG MAI

October 25, 2023

Victoria ✈️ Vancouver ✈️ Tokyo ✈️ Bangkok

Departing Victoria on a sunny Wednesday morning, our anticipation for warmer destinations quickly turned into frustration right at YYJ gate 8. Our Dash 400 aircraft had landed, passengers had disembarked, but then a perplexing sight unfolded before us… they closed all the plane doors and all the luggage was left on the trolly. Yikes, what’s up. Then the dreaded announcement soon followed – our flight was delayed due to a maintenance issue. Stress anyone? We had a tight connecting flight in Vancouver with only 3 hours to spare. Talk about a nail-biting situation to start the winter away.

Fortunately, in a mere 10 minutes, our worries were put to rest, and we were cleared for takeoff. We let out a collective sigh of relief.

Our next leg of the journey was a brisk 14-minute flight across the pond to Vancouver YVR, where we settled into our Business Class pods for the 10.5-hour voyage to Narita NRT, just outside of Tokyo. The comfortable seats, delectable food, and impeccable service made the long haul more bearable. Yet, despite these comforts, we still found ourselves somewhat fatigued as we waited for our connecting flight to Bangkok BKK – a five-hour layover in seats seemingly designed for smaller travelers.

For this final stretch, we were in economy class on the reliable All Nippon Airlines (ANA). While the service was top-notch, the six-hour duration felt quite extended.

Arrival at Bangkok BKK went smoothly, even though we were amongst the hoards of the many flights always landing  just before or after midnight. Immigration was a breeze, thanks to the new eVisa system. With our luggage in tow, we hopped in a taxi and made our way to our condo. It was a warm and familiar feeling – returning to Thailand always feels like coming home. We couldn’t wait to collapse and catch some much-needed rest! 💤

This time around, we had booked our condo (The Room Sukhumvit 69) for an extended stay of four weeks through Airbnb. This was quite a departure from our usual routine of quick 3 to 4-day transits in Bangkok before embarking on another adventures in different locales.

(Just ran this through ChatGPT… hence some flowery language)


October 27, 2023

Bangkok (just near the BTS Phra Khanong)

We conducted extensive research to determine the ideal location in Bangkok for our four-week stay. Initially, we booked a couple of different places but eventually settled on this one. Our primary goal was to have easy access to authentic local cuisine, but with a more moderate level of tourism.

Our condo is conveniently located just a 5-minute walk from the BTS Skytrain station, which was also a top priority for us. In the opposite direction, also a 5-minute walk away, we discovered W District – an open-air food court and beer garden. This spot is a hit among both local Thais and expats. It offers a wide array of Thai culinary choices, alongside various Western options. The area is characterized by around 20 semi-permanent structures, creating a cozy atmosphere at the base of four high-rise condo buildings.

We’ve been frequenting the W District quite often, and it hasn’t disappointed us yet. For Halloween, all the servers made great effort, and dressed up for the occasion, adding a delightful touch of spookiness to our dining experience. 😱

November 6, 2023

Let’s Have Brunch at the ICONSIAM Mall

For the day’s unfolding adventure led us towards ICONSIAM, a colossal emporium nestled on the banks of the serene Chao Phraya River in bustling Bangkok, where our intent was to partake in a hearty mid-morning repast. (An intriguing note of fact: ICONSIAM, a veritable titan, boasts a staggering expanse encompassing 5,650,000 square feet of retail space. And, in close company, one beholds two towering residential monoliths – the Magnolia Waterfront Residences, soaring to a formidable 70 floors and sheltering 300 abodes, and The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, a stately edifice rising 52 stories high, its noble chambers numbering 146.) It is whispered in hushed tones that within its labyrinthine walls resides the grandest of food courts, a culinary mecca, said to be the most extensive in all of Bangkok. This notion had piqued our curiosity, and we set forth to investigate.

As the clock hands marked the hour of ten in the forenoon, we ventured out, weaving our way through the bustling congregation of motorcycle-taxi drivers, each vying for the favour of passing traveller’s. In their midst, we encountered itinerant fruit sellers, offering nature’s bounty in the form of ripe guavas, succulent mangoes, and sweet pineapples, neatly prepared for immediate consumption, accompanied by the customary wooden skewer and a sachet of that ever-present amalgam of chili, sugar, and salt – a triumvirate of flavours. Amidst this urban symphony, beggars bowed in hope, their poignant entreaties casting a shadow on our passage.

Our expedition unfolded as we ascended the steps to the SkyTrain, which bore us through eight stations in a northerly direction. At the juncture of lines, we made a transfer, proceeding along the Silom line, traversing seven additional stations. A final transition brought us onto the Gold line, where we embarked on a brief two-station journey. The expense of this sojourn amounted to roughly 73 Thai Baht per traveler, or in the neighbourhood of CA$3, and it claimed the passage of an hour.

Upon our arrival at ICONSIAM, we engaged in an exchange with a vigilant security officer charged with inspecting bags. It was through this interaction that we uncovered an intriguing revelation – the food court in the adjacent annex across the street offered more agreeable prices. We chose the path that seemed prudent, and this led us to an array of fare, with each dish presenting a customary trio of selections, comprised of vegetables or meats served atop a bed of rice. Each dish bore a price tag of approximately 65 Thai Baht, equivalent to CA$2.50.

Having sated our appetites, we traversed a path that took us past an opulent display of splendid BMWs and majestic Mercedes-Benz vehicles. We proceeded onwards to the heart of the main mall, and the moment we set foot on the six-foot square marble tiles, we were enveloped by the prominent establishments of Versace, Dior, Gucci, Cartier, and a cavalcade of other illustrious names. Descending an escalator, we found ourselves immersed in a labyrinth of alleyways and canals, collectively constituting the vast food court. As we strolled past an abundance of food stalls, their activity mirrored that of a bustling floating market. To call it ‘busy’ would be a gross understatement. Finally, we emerged on the opposite side, both of us reaching a tacit consensus that, while the grandeur of it all was undeniably striking, it did not wholly align with our personal vision of Thailand. With that realization, we retraced our steps to our cherished haven, returning by the stroke of 2 in the afternoon. A sigh of relief passed between us, for such an excursion, indeed, demanded a measure of fortitude.

November 11, 2023

Dim Sum in Bangkok

Praised as one of the best—and most affordable dim sum restaurants in Bangkok, Tuang is run by Hong Kong-born chef Yip, who was behind the success of Shangri-La Bangkok’s Shang Palace restaurant.

So, of course we have to go.

Glenn arrived in Bangkok yesterday, bunking with us for 2 nights. He came in from his month “hanging out” in Siem Reap, Cambodia. He said that the tail end of the monsoon season transforms all the temples in the Angkor Complex into a mossy magic. Fantastic. Maybe we’ll do that next year.??

Tuang Dim Sum is 14km from our condo. Normally this would be a SkyTrain/Bus voyage, but with 3 passengers, the luxury of an AC Grab is cost effective. (Grab is SEAsia’s version of Uber) We ordered the Grab and watched on the app as our assigned driver wormed his way towards our pickup point. He arrived and we all loaded into the convenience. The driver proceeded to shift into drive and immediately, with a loud grind the transmission broke. He was beside himself with apology. Bowing and cowing trying to aleave our disappointment and inconvenience, very animated. Fast forward… ordered another car and off we went.

Just recently Mr Yip’s hugely popular dim sum required a move to a new facility. From a literal hole in the wall to a bespoke open air building with seating for hundreds a kilometre or so down the same road. No Hong Kong style carts, just mark your dim sum choices from the menu on a check sheet. Choices typically have 3 pieces per dish for about 50-70 baht. (CA$2-3) It’s hard to be conservative when ordering… more always seems better.

It was very good. We will be back.

November 13, 2023

Local Market at Phra Khanong

We love to get up early and head for the local morning market wherever we are in SEAsia. It’s where the locals start their day. Whether they’re just stocking up their home or shopping for what they need to run their own small business. Fresh produce, meat and fish of all descriptions and dry goods right in your face on the street. It’s always a potpourri of eye candy that often takes you aback.

Today was no exception. Narrow alleys chock-a-block with all sorts. It took a while but we also found a hole in the wall restaurant. There were 3 or 4 tables inside the shop house ground floor and the kitchen was basically a stall with a caldron of steaming broth, various veggies strewn about a various meats hanging in a glass enclosure.

The chef was the mom of the household and spoke no english. So we tried to convey veg soup with noodles for Joann and same for me with addition of one of the aforementioned hanging chicken legs. What arrived were 2 large bowls of broth with noodles, both had a chicken leg not to mention a slab of congealed beef blood and a chickens foot.😱 No complaints, just chin up and carry on. Mystery food is often a work around. It was delicious not withstanding the blood left to languish.

November 13, 2023

Dinner on the river at the Royal Thai Navy Club and Dim Sum again the next morning.

Today, Tuesday and we’re meeting Glenn and a couple of his friends from USA, Jimmy and Carol. Carol and Glenn were room mates 45’ish years ago at Physiotherapist school. After many years of suggesting/cajoling, J&C have finally coerced Glenn into being a tour guide for a 26 day visit to SEAsia. They’ve traveled to Europe, but never Asia.

One of the many great things to do in Bangkok is to have a riverside dinner. The Chao Phraya River really is the life blood of Bangkok, so we sussed out potential… the Khrua Khun Kung Restaurant. It overhangs the Chao Phraya River and is attached to the Royal Thai Navy Club. (same kitchen) It was a delight. The food was very Thai, very good and very reasonable. It’s a definite keeper.

Also, they’ve never had dim sum. Huh? Who has never had dim sum? So next morning we were back at Tuang Dim Sum. They are very game for all, and very wide eyed too. Seeing any and everything through their eyes takes us back 30 years ago when we were also agog. I said we’d be back.

November 14, 2023

Local dinner at the W District

We headed next door to the W District. Task, where to have dinner? We stood in the centre and did a spin to all that was on offer. Hmmm… let’s go a little further a field. Adjacent to the W District is Sukhumvit Soi 71, a quite busy thoroughfare with many local restaurant options. We strolled for a bit and came across Sea Sweet (Halal) & Rawabina Lebanese Foods. The window was full of more Baclava than I have ever seen in one place… and they also had tables in the next room.. and it was air-conditioned. Who doesn’t enjoy a Lebanese/Mediterranean feast. I was very good.

November 17, 2023

Adventure to the PakNam Observation Tower

Today’s adventure took us a little further afield… we headed 20km south of Bangkok via the BTS Skytrain, to the PakNam Observation Tower. The total height of the tower is 54 stories. The observation deck is at the 23rd floor level and gave a 360° view of downtown Bangkok to the north and the mouth of the Chao Phrya opening into the Gulf of Siam to the south.

From here we headed back to Udon Suk, to a local market for brunch.

November 21, 2023

Sunset at Jack’s Bar, hanging over the Chao Phraya River

It’s our 2nd to last night in Bangkok, so we’re off to Jack’s Bar to catch the sunset, hanging over the Chao Phraya River. 🌇

Jack’s Bar is an old school, rickety riverside perch on wood posts stretching out over the river. It’s been here for eons and is probably the only one of its kind left. It has become a go-to hot spot for tourist looking for local flavour. We arrived at 5:30 without a rez and sweet talked our way to be seated at the front counter right at the rivers edge. That was lucky.

Ice cold Chang beer and curried squid and veg for dinner. Yum. 😋

November 22, 2023

Final days in Bangkok

Total indulgence, a 1 hour foot massage finished off with a great scalp massage. At CA$10 + $2 tip, these were a common self indulgent occurrence.

A trip to Terminal 21’s famously good food court for brunch. VERY good Thai food, air-conditioned, comfortable and super low cost. What’s not to like? Terminal 21 is a HUGE mall in central Bangkok themed as if an airport terminal. Each floor themed as a different world city.

A final cappuccino at Mom’s Cafe, goodbye to the gracious ladies. This was our local go-to for an afternoon break and the odd breakfast or dinner.

November 23, 2023

Movin’ to Chiang Mai

Off we go to our favourite city in Thailand, Chiang Mai. A 70 minutOff we go to our favourite city in Thailand, Chiang Mai. A 70 minute flight on AirAsia, 15 minute taxi, and we’re here. Our Airbnb condo was a great find. Just off the top end of Nimman Road, it is an easy stroll to a huge choice of restaurants and artisan coffee shops. 😋

The Nimman district of Chiang Mai is a very trendy area half way between the old walled city and the Chiang Mai University. An amazing array of great restaurants and artisan coffee shops. Our Airbnb condo was fabulous and we found some truly fabulous eateries. The down side to this locale is the twice daily traffic snarl. The intersection of Nimman and Huey Kaew (Maya Mall corner) can literally take 30 minutes to traverse. And it’s usually just when you want to head out to a restaurant by taxi.

Chiang Mai has Thailand’s best climate, size, food choices and vibe. Going to love the next 4 weeks here. 😎

December 20, 2023

Road Trip to Northern Thailand – Visa Run to Laos 🇱🇦

We rented a car for a 5 day road trip to the north up near the Golden Triangle. This was a necessity to renew our Thai visa so we could stay till February 18th. (Tourist visas only have a max duration of 60 days. Ours was a “Multiple entry” 60 day version. This means we had to exit the country and re-enter ether by land or air to activate the next 60 day)

First stop was at Chiang Khong, a small town overlooking the Mekong. It is also an entry point connecting Laos with Thailand and the main port of entry for any heavy trucks making their way from China through Laos to Thailand.
We spent 2 nights a a small delightful family run hotel with a fabulous view of the Mekong and the small Lao town on the other side. This is also a very popular starting point for anyone wanting to take the popular 2 day 1 night river-boat trip to Luang Prabang in central Laos.

We accomplished our 1.5 hour mission to exit Thailand, go across the bridge to Laos by shuttle bus, Get stamped into Laos on a (CA$45) 30 day visa. Then we pivoted to exit Laos, back on the shuttle bus back to Thailand immigration and activate our prepaid 2nd, 60 day visa for Thailand. This will be just enough time before we fly home.

Next we headed to Chiang Rai for 1 night. Checked out the Blue Temple and the Goddess of Mercy Temple and then went south to Phayao on the lake for 1 night before crossing back to Chiang Mai for 3 days over Christmas.
We survived the infamously bad Thai traffic. Yay!

December 26, 2023

Wrapping Up 5 Weeks – Christmas in Chiang Mai

Just before we were packing up for the Visa run Road Trip, we realized that even though we had been here 4 weeks, we were just getting our mojo on. Could have stayed another month easy.

Enjoyed time with Ross and Joyce at numerous gatherings for Tequila etc and fabulous meals around town. They generously treated us at their Resort (Tamarind Village) and we went out several other times before they headed back to Victoria for the winter. 🥶

Spent many hours exploring Warorot Market in China Town. This the real Thailand in a microcosm of food and clothing stalls, such eye candy. Usually hotter than the Hubs of Hades requiring a stop at an air-conditioned coffee shop for an ice cappuccino.

Because we’ve seen all the sights around here over many years, we find that maybe the most important part of the day is sussing out new restaurants. Luckily Chiang Mai is a treasure-trove of culinary delights. Including Thai and others… (Western, South Asian, Japanese and very creative Fusion) and we found some beauties, mate!!

Our Christmas luncheon was at GoodSouls Vegan Kitchen, in fact we went here 3 times and had delivery from here once. Sooooo Good. 😋

It ended all too suddenly, but there is more to come in the south…

December 29, 2023

Back to Siboya Bungalows

Our 5 weeks in Chiang Mai has just seemed to evaporate. And now so has Christmas… wow, time is flying.

Enjoyed the new non-stop Chiang Mai to Krabi (CNX-KBV) flight. Not traversing Don Mueang Airport (DMK) and humping baggage around makes life so much easier.

2 nights in Krabi, checking out old haunts and friends, and provisioning for a month at Siboya. New pillow for Joann, Tequila, Campari, Gin, Mary Jane and numerous sundries that just tweak the solitude of the island.

January 12, 2024

Children’s Day on Koh Siboya

We’re here again during National Children’s Day.

Mr Chai delivers us the 5 kilometres into Ban Siboya. This is one the two villages with a primary school. The festivities were already under way and the gymnasium (and I use the term very loosely) was packed with a couple hundred or so students, teachers and parents (mostly moms, like 95% moms… dads are working). As soon as we arrived the organizers were advised that The Patchett’s (legendary royalty almost) had arrived. The crowd parted like the Red Sea and we were ushered to the only table in the room to be seated with the local VIPs. Very humbling to be treated this way.

There are mountains of colourfully wrapped gifts at the ready. No child leaves without a gift. There are games with winners, there are talent skits, dancing to disco music blasting out. This year there was even a troop of young lads dressed in ladies dresses, sporting day-glo curly wigs (shades of Lady Boys) doing a dance routine that include some serious twerking!! It always strikes us as such a juxtaposition being on an island that is 99.9% Muslim and seeing everyone having a great laugh at kids preforming vaguely risqué sessions.

We were treated to coffee and some kannum (sweet snacks wrapped in banana leaves). These people are Soooo generous.
After an hour of mayhem, we excused ourselves and headed back to the Bungalows.

January 27, 2024

Back to Krabi – Travel to Hua Hin via Bangkok

Everyone at Siboya Bungalows always treats us like Royalty. It’s always sad to say adieu to everyone… See you next year, hope!

Two nights in Krabi, back to sweet aircon at the Lada Residence. Since it is the weekend, the Friday-Saturday-Sunday Walking Street will be in full swing. Great fun, amazing street food, Yum 😋

Flew to Bangkok for one night near the airport then were collected by our private car for the 3 hour drive south to Hua Hin. We’ve never been here before.

Hua Hin is also a much-loved weekend-getaway destination for both local Thais and expats living in Bangkok. It has all the modern luxuries and a cosmopolitan feel but retains the charm of a tranquil seaside village. We have noticed that HH is a haven for expat senior couples, either living full time or visiting long term. As well there are many single expat men on the prowl. Not in a creepy way though… mostly. 😉

Our **** Hotel is in the centre of Old Town, so a huge array of restaurants and local businesses are at our door-step.