Even in Paradise, There Are Bills to be Paid.

Breakfast by the pool at 8,

to say goodbye to Tony and Graeme. Tony has stopped in Phuket on his way home from a business trip to Europe, and today he heads to Singapore for a couple more days R&R. Graeme will stay in Phuket until Monday, when he heads to Bangkok. We hope to see him in Bangkok when we return next week. And this afternoon we are off to Chiang Mai, in Thailand’s north. Both Tony and Graeme donate a novel to our sadly depleted library. Thank you, boys!

After breakfast, I grab a Tuk Tuk down to town to the internet café, to pick up email and pay some bills. Yes, sad but true, even in Paradise there are bills to be paid.

Greg and I have lunch by the pool at the Club Bamboo. This little hotel, maybe 35 or 40 rooms and bungalows, has been a wonderful oasis of civilization over the last 5 days. It is built on many levels up the side of the hill above Patong Beach, slightly away from the craziness, but still close enough that 100 baht ($3) in a Tuk Tuk, or 40 baht on the back of a motorcycle, gets you up or down the hill. As I look around, I realize that we have, without question, had the best service here that we have had so far on the trip. It has been quietly efficient, generously given, always knowing what you need before you know it yourself. I will always remember the smile of the woman who made up our room, and I will miss Club Bamboo!

No Non-Stops to Chiang Mai

At 1, we leave for the airport. Because of Songkran, the Thai New Year, which starts this weekend, we could not get a non-stop flight to Chiang Mai, so we will fly to Bangkok and connect to Chiang Mai. Which is still better than the alternative, a 24 hour bus ride. We have an amazing view of Bangkok as we arrive (in part because we spend an hour circling, waiting for permission to land). We make our connection without problem. As we approach our destination, the captain makes his standard pre-landing announcement, telling us that the temperature is 30 degrees Celsius in Chiang Mai. We wonder if we will find it cold – we have not experienced temperatures this low since we left Sydney a month ago.

We get to the hotel, unpack quickly, and head out for dinner. Just up the street is a beautiful looking restaurant, The Whole Earth Restaurant, and we go in. It appears to float slightly above ground. The restaurant is situated in a traditional Lanna Thai pavilion. We are asked to remove our shoes before we go up the stairs, and of course the sensation of wood on our feet immediately grounds us. We sit on a long open-air veranda with beautiful views of the gardens. It is a very peaceful place. Our meal is delicious – I have Tom Yum Soup, and the tastes of lemongrass, ginger and chilli are divine on my tongue and Greg’s sweet and sour vegetables are lovely – not too sweet.

The night market is just around the corner, and we spend 30 minutes exploring before we head back to the hotel, and crash, exhausted.

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