January 29, 2009

We are on the island of Koh Chang - Mark and I nearly cancelled our trip as Mark injured his knee and could hardly walk. We decided to carry on as it would cost us to cancel the car and driver we'd scheduled to take us to the ferry at Trat. Mark wasn't up for the minivan ride with 12 backpackers to save a little money. We had a nice trip from Jomtien Beach to the ferry and for 100 baht (a little over $3) we had a ferry ride. Our hotel is the Chang Buri which has accommodations on the beach and accross the road from the beach. We are in the hotel part across from the beach and is a very nice. The part of our hotel that is on the beach is very exclusive and very expensive.
At the other end of White Sands Beach are some colorful accommodations welcoming backpackers. Next time maybe we will stay there. Koh Chang (koh means island) is the second largest island in Thailand. Puket is the largest island and Koh Samui is the third largest. Koh Chang is part of a large island chain. We hope to get to Koh Mak which was voted to have one of the 100 best beaches in the world.
Day two: Mark is hanging out in the exclusive area of our hotel and sunbathing there by the pool overlooking the sea. Because of his knee pain he is not up for scuba diving and island hopping. I took him to eat at the Texas Steakhouse tonight. It is owned by a man from Switzerland who was interested in our Texas connections. The food and drink were outstanding.
I now know a whole sentence in Thai. I can ask where the toilet is. This is an essential thing to learn.
Saturday Jan. 31 I can now ask for ice and lemon for my drink in Thai. We have eaten so much seafood. The best are the scallops with garlic pepper sauce. We have rented a car for tomorrow to go see all of this island.

I noticed that Mark still has a string bracelet one of about 30 put on his arm when we made a visit to Jin's family near Korat in his chemo and radiation days. This particular string has 33 knots each tied by a different monk from the village temple. Mark has worn this for 4 years through showers, scuba diving, skiing and all the things he does.

Sunday Feb. 1 Mark drove us all over the island. You can't drive all the way around. The roads don't go through. We went down one side and then backtracked and went down the other side which is much less populated and none the less beautiful. Our first stop today was an elephant camp where we fed the elephants. For 900 baht you can ride one to a watering hole and swim with the elephants.
We went to several beaches and to a Fisherman's village where the shops and restaurants and homes are built over the water. We saw a little dog in a dog house built over the water. Continuing our trip up winding mountainous roads and hairpin turns, we had to stop for a monkey sitting in the road. We meant to get home before dark but we didn't and it was stressful for Mark driving on narrow hairpin mountainous turns coming back. I offered to drive but for some reason he turned me down. We had dinner close to the hotel at Paddy's Irish Pub and watched Newcastle play soccer against a team whose name I have forgotten.
Monday Feb. 2 - We took another drive, turned in the car, sunbathed, and walked on the beach. The restaurant was out of scallops so we had mussels and two kinds of shrimp. We have found no Americans on Koh Chang...lots of Canadians, Englishmen, Germans, Russians and French. Some of these European ladies even go topless on the beach.
Tuesday Feb. 3 - Leaving Koh Chang We hate to leave and I wish I had scheduled the car for two days later. A car came from Pattaya to pick us up at the hotel, take us on the ferry and all the way back to the guest house. It was about a six or seven hour trip. We stopped for late lunch at a Thai restaurant for Thai people and ate duck soup: a dark broth with yellow noodles and a duck leg and pieces of duck. This was the first duck soup I had ever eaten and it was good.
Wed. Feb.4 - Mark, George Richardson who owns the guest house we are staying in and I went to the Pattaya Jomtien Rotary Club at the most fabulous hotel, The Royal Cliff Grand Hotel,where the Rotary club has their own room. The man who built this gated hotel complex was a Rotarian and built a room especially for the Rotary Club. On the right is the President of the club,Brenden Kelly. Instead of the 4 way test, the national anthem is played while everyone faces a portrait of the king. Mark is thinking about joining this Rotary club.
Sunday Jan 8 Lot's of beach time since last note. Sorry about cold weather in other parts of the world, but if any consolation it is really really hot here right now. We are headed for Bangkok today. We wanted to do some banking tomorrow as well as for Mark to get an x-ray and check in with Dr. Theera Umsawadee and take him all the records from the VA in Houston where Dr. Theera used to work. It seems that tomorrow is a big Budha day and all bars will be closed which is a clue that the banks might be closed as well. We may have to stay two days in Bangkok. We will stay at the Ambassador Hotel which is nice and I will try to take Mark to the Oriental Hotel which is so posh there are fashion police in the lobby to prevent people in shorts from entering. Only guests going from pool directly to rooms may cross the lobby in shorts but they can not linger there. Mark has not seen the Oriental or some other places in Bangkok due to being so sick for so long while living in Bangkok for two years.

January 17, 2009

Watch for new post soon. Mom is going to a Thai Rotary meeting Wed. evening and Mark and Mom take off for some Thai islands on Thursday

Mark and Mom are Now Both in Thailand: Welcome to the Land of Smiles

I (Mom) arrived in Bangkok at 2:30 am January 15 after long flights. A delayed flight in Japan made the trip longer. Mark sent a taxi to the airport for me. I slept on the ride to Jontiem Beach. When I arrived at the guest house, I found an orchid plant from Mark in my room and a note to warm a mother's heart. It started with "Welcome to the land of smiles and the biggest smile is mine since you are here."
Up at 9 am and to the beach day one. Day two we took a motor scooter ride to explore the area looking at beaches, hotels, temples and monuments. The excitement of riding on the back of a motor scooter in Thailand with Mark driving is similar to accidently skiing the black slopes. It brought back memories of when he was in high school and had a motorcycle. He would tell me: "Get on mom. I'll take it easy this time" and then he would go like a bat out of hell through the woods and scare me to death.
We had a heart to heart talk about what his doctor in Bangkok told him. The doctor thinks this fight with cancer isn't over even though Mark seems in remission. We are enjoying our adventures and making ready for the battle. Thanks to all who are praying for Mark and we are praying for you.
Addendum: Day 3 in Thailand. We have a routine : I walk an hour then we have breakfast at Yorkies, a British place on the beach. We get the same thing each day: egg, bacon, sausage. a hot canned tomato, and toast. One day I got the "baked beans" too but it was just pork and beans out of the can. Between 12 and 2 we get a bowl of soup at a Thai kitchen. Today we went to the beach. I stayed all day. Mark came and went. He has adopted a beach dog and he reads and plays with his dog. We are thinking of going to Hua Hin for a couple of days. We will go see his doctor again too.
Mark Thinks Mom takes too many pictures This is Mark hiding under a book with his adopted beach dog in the background.
Lost track of time. We went to eat with friends then to an Austin Texas type open mike bar. Foreigners can't play music or do any work without a big fine so this was a charity event and that makes it ok. George, our Host at the guest house was fined 80,000 baht for working on his own house. I was sick in bed 30 hours, lost track of time . I'm just creeping out to take a cup of tea. I think it is early on day 5. Sidetracked now thinking about whether to go to a Thai wedding or not and how to get transportation and a hotel in Koh Chang. In the meantime we went to eat at King seafood. Mark is holding a two pound lobster and a one pound shrimp