Saturday, September 29, 2012

Thailand (Wednesday Shopping)

We had to hurry back to the resort by 3pm so that we could shop at the Artisan Bizarre that Lewis' company set up for us. They bring in local people to sell items that they make. This is the second year that they have had the shopping and people seem to love it. I like getting to pick out what I like instead of having someone pick out something that they like for us. We only had a few moments to shop as we got there just in time for it to end.

We get play money to trade for items and then the shop keeps trade the play money in for real money from Infor. Here are some of the items that we got:

I picked out these wooden vases. The are painted and then the flowers are carved into the paint so that the wood can show through. I love them.

Lewis picked these guys out. It was the first thing that he saw and he loved them. I like them too but once I picked them up I walked away. They were kinda pricey plus they weigh a ton. I could not figure out how we were going to get them home with the weight limit. Well Lewis liked them so much that he decided I could figure it out, and he bought two. I really do like them now that we have them at home, they will look amazing on his desk.

I also bought the girls bracelets and hair bows. I got myself a necklace and earring set, a dress (as I was running out of clothes), and a table runner and matching vases for my parents. We bought the boys small Buddha statues that matched their personalities. They also had lots of rugs, bed coverings, and pearls but I really did not want to spend the money. Now, I wish I had spent more and brought more back with me.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thailand (Wednesday Tour)

Wednesday was another free day. We got up early (5am for me and 7am for Lewis), and got ready for the day. We were heading out early because I had talked Lewis into a side tour that was being offered for the low price of $20. For the money they were going to take us to The Big Buddha (brand new being built), the shopping district, the old town district to see the old buildings, and to a Chinese temple.

We set out for our early morning breakfast of croissants, eggs, and juice. We had to meet at the front of the hotel by 9am to get picked up. Right on time we head out to the van and there is another couple there who totally remembered us from the trip the day before to ride the elephants. Apparently we spoke on the ride and they were so glad that we were going to be on this trip with them too. Lewis and I were speechless. Neither one of us could remember their names. We didn't even remember introducing ourselves to them. Oops. Well they ended up being fabulous tour buddies for sure. There were only 8 of us total on the trip.

First up we went to a local Chinese Buddhist Temple. It was very cool. We were able to ask any questions that we could think of. The guide was very helpful and informative. This is the outside of the temple:

Inside the temple were hundreds of Buddhas. When I heard the word Buddha, I always thought of the chubby, happy Buddha. Well Buddha really means 'God'. So there are actually hundreds of different Buddhas. 

 There is a month once a year where the Thai people have a cleansing time. They eat only fruits and vegetables. This cleanses their bodies of all of the non organic things and helps them to become closer with their gods. During this time they go to the temples and light firecrackers and throw them into this:

It represents the letting go of problems and conflict in their daily lives.

When we left we headed through old town for a short walking tour of the old buildings. For some reason I did not take even one picture. I don't know why but they were almost like the rows of town-homes in Georgetown, Washington DC but with a very southern feel. Almost like a plantation town-home. Anyway we were swooped up pretty quickly to drive all the way up to the top of the island to see this guy:

I was very excited because this is the reason that I wanted to go on the trip in the first place. I wanted to see The Big Buddha. When we got there I was given a shawl to cover my shoulders. I happened to be wearing a strapless dress that day. Since the whole area where the Big Buddha sits is considered a Temple I had to cover my shoulders. Men can go in shirtless but for women the shoulders are just an extension of the breasts. Showing your shoulders is like walking around with your breasts hanging out. Interesting huh? Nobody was judging though. Most of the people, including the Thai women, were wearing the shawls because of tank tops or strapless shirts.
The whole place was open air. The "building" was actually a 3 sided building with a material roof. Very open. The windows and doors were just holes in the building. Monkeys wandered around everywhere and have "Funkytown" (you get it if you watch Parenthood) all over the Temple. They are welcome to come and go as they please.

While all of the other people were busy watching the monkeys, Lewis and I sat on the mat with the Monks and looked around.

When we were done we got back into the van and headed down the mountain. We were all set for a shopping trip. They took us into the parking downtown and we were told that we had an hour and a half. As soon as we headed upstairs we knew we were in trouble. We saw a Gymboree and an Office Depot. They had taken us to the MALL!!!!! 2 people from the group had disappeared so the rest of us walked and got more and more irritated as the time went on. When the time was up we went back to meet our guide and we were told that the missing 2 people had split the second we got there. They went back to the hotel! We told him that we wanted to go to shop in town where the Thai people shop and he kept insisting that we were at the best shopping in town. What he didn't get was that we wanted the crappy shopping in town. We wanted the dollar store equivalent. We wanted souvenirs and crap to take home to the kids! So he told us that the van was on the way back and that it would be taking us to the Gem store so that we could shop there. The Gem what? I am not going to go to any gem store where they try and sucker me out of $5000 worth of jewelry. No way. The other couples wanted nothing to do with it either so I was elected to tell the guy that we weren't going. That was fun. He kept arguing and telling me that we had to go. I finally convinced him that the only thing I had to do was get back to the resort for a 3pm appointment. He finally agreed and we got into the van. The guide and the driver would not speak to any of us the whole ride back. They were pissed because they get a commission based on the amount of people that they bring into the shop. Little did they know that they were dealing with me and I am not going anywhere that I do not want to be. Especially in another country with strange men, who may or may not be Sawatay-Ha's (men that dress as women at night and perform shows for tourists).

Here I am after the tour. I had a good time despite the short argument with the guide. We had good company and finally found Diet Coke at the mall of all places :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Thailand (Tuesday Night)

After we got back from the elephant ride Lewis needed another nap. Some people just like to nap on vacation. We did not have long to hang out before we had to shower and get ready for dinner. Tuesday night was a free night to do whatever we wanted. We chose to go to an Italian restaurant in town. The company had vans to take us there and had given us the $$. Here is Lew looking either confused or bored, and maybe a little of each:

The classic Kendra picture:

When we got to the restaurant we were given a complimentary appetizer. It was a muscle, I think. I am not big into seafood (I actually hate most fish) but I ate it and it was delicious:

About half way through dinner a couple left that was sitting right on the rails over looking the sea. The waiter asked if we would like to move over and I said yes. Instead of moving our food 2 men walked over and picked up our whole table and switched it with the one at the water's edge. Genius.
It was gorgeous. There was a breeze and the tide was coming in. We watched the crabs fight for food and scurry as the waves crashed below us:

We were literally sitting over the water so as the tide came in the waves crashed and sprayed us with water. I had a thought right before dinner was over about my kids. My kids happen to be in California at the time. It was neat to feel connected to them from so far away. Same ocean, different sides.
Dinner was delicious and I ate everything. It was the first time I felt satisfied the whole trip. I just had pasta with red sauce but it was so good.

These are the steps that you have to walk down to get to the restaurant. Very steep:

Once back in the room I found our gift was a silk pillow with sage stuffing. It smelled heavenly. The note said that when the smell fades to put the pillow in the sun and it will come back. Along with the pillow we got an invitation to an artisan bazaar that was to be held the next day at the resort. We would be given play money to spend to buy locally made items. I love this because we could choose what we wanted:

Up next is Big Buddha and the shopping bizarre bazaar.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Thailand (Tuesday)

Oh I was so excited for this day. We got up early, had breakfast, and headed out to the bus. The bus drove us into town and the tour guide told us lots of interesting facts about Thailand. After about 20 minutes we got to a base camp and we were transferred into Range Rovers that took us up the mountain to the elephant camp in the jungle at the top. The roads were seriously more steep than any street that I have ever been on. Once we got to the base camp we had a tour of the rubber plantation. They showed us how rubber is harvested and turned into sheets that are sent to companies to make shoes, floor mats for cars, and toys. Here is the lady harvesting the rubber:

Here is the rubber flowing out of the tree:

After the rubber tour we got to see a baby elephant show. There were two of them that were about 5 years old. This one likes to paint so he painted us a picture:

Then they did a dance around the arena. Look how cute, the one behind holds the tail of the lead elephant:

After the show we had our pictures taken with the baby elephants:

Next we got on our elephant for a ride:

The scenery was beautiful. We were on top of the mountain and could see all the way down to the town and out into the ocean:

Inside this tree was a family of lizards. If you look closely you can see the little heads:

Here we are with the view behind us. I had a blast riding the elephant and was pleasantly surprised that they did not stink!

After the ride we got back into the Rovers and headed down the mountain. They took us to a very nice restaurant where we were giving lunch out on the patio. I was able to eat a little rice and some fruit. Again, it was a buffet and the meat was spicy and the noodles and veggies were full of onions. As we ate we overlooked the dock with all of the fishing boats. It was amazing to see these old boats and people out making their living catching fish:

Here is a lobster in the tank at the restaurant:

On the way back to the resort I wanted to take some pictures of the local homes and transportation. Most of the homes looked like this, and most of the people travel on mopeds:

These are Chinese temples that Buddhist families set outside their homes for protection:

We had a great day. I have always wanted to ride an elephant through the jungle. I know it is silly but I was finally able to do it. I totally recommend it if you ever get a chance :)

Up next: Dinner on the sea and gifts from Infor

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thailand (Monday Night Gifts)

After dinner on Monday we walked through the resort and found a little lounge area to hang out. There was a cool fountain that was lit up from the bottom. It was very cool.

Walking around at night you see thousands (yes, thousands) of these guys:

They were really cool. They do not come out during the day because their skin in translucent. If you look closely at the feet there are little suction cups as toes. They would climb on the walls and ceiling all over the resort. When we left our room at night the ceiling and walls looked like they were moving because the lizards ran all over. 
When we got back to our room we had this waiting for us:

A one strap backpack (which as we were walking to our room we were talking about buying one because we forgot to bring one for the excursion days) with all of the necessities needed for a day out in town. It had snacks (which we did not eat because they looked questionable), nuts, sunscreen, aloe lotion, bug spray, Tylenol,  and hangover medicine. Perfect because the next day we were heading out to cross something off of my bucket list...

Next up is Tuesday with the elephants!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thailand (Monday)

Monday was the first official day of the trip. Monday was a free day to do whatever we wanted. Breakfast was at the resort again. I has eggs, croissant, and fruit again. It was safe. The company gave us money to pay for lunch (and all other meals that they did not provide for us). During the day we went to the gym, hung out at the resort and went to the pool. Lewis got a nap in and I watched the Olympics. Dinner was the first official event of the COE (Circle of Excellence). The baby elephant that stays at the resort, Suri, came out for pictures. So cute!! If you did not know, the main reason that I wanted to go to Thailand was to see the elephants and ride one. 

Before dinner while most of the people were getting drunk the resort had demonstrations of local martial arts for us to watch:

They also had a live "shadow puppet" dancing for us. This was really neat to see.

We watched the employees at the resort make this Infor sign during the day. They made the letters out of wire and then threaded live flowers all around to make the letters. It was floating in the lagoon on a raft. Really cool.

  During dinner (we ate with Lewis' boss's boss) there were "monkeys" walking around. These monkeys cause mischief by poking someone or pinching them and then turning around and pretending to not know what is going on: 

After dinner we walked back to the room because I wanted to hurry up and see what gift was left on the bed from the company Lewis was getting tired. 

Next Post: Gifts 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Thailand (Sunday) Gifts and Thoughts

Sunday night after dinner I went into the room and I saw this:

We got a gift basket with locally made bath items like shampoo, body wash and a really cool bamboo tray. It also had gift certificates for new Maui Jim sunglasses. We received some of these 2 years ago when we went to Mexico with his company. Lewis needed a new pair and I LOVE mine so of course I was happy to accept another pair. To get the sunglasses we take the certificates to the office and trade them in for a pair of our choosing. Of course I always choose the most expensive pair :)

Our gift from the resort was a shadow puppet. After reading the information that came with the puppet we found out that shadow puppets are how kids keep busy in Thailand at night. Can you imagine, no t.v. and just a puppet to play with? I think my kids would die:

At this point my thoughts about Thailand were that it was really hot and humid. We had to shower twice a day (at least). The second that we left the air conditioning we were dripping with sweat. I was trying to find a way to be comfortable while wearing clothes but I was finding it very difficult to do. 

Up next was Monday. It was the first official day of the COE.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thailand (Sunday)

In case you missed the last loooong installment of my brag blog we had just arrived at our beautiful resort in Thailand.

I woke up at 5ish and couldn't sleep anymore so I played on my I-Pad and let Lewis sleep for another hour or so. We decided to go to the gym and lift and then walk on the beach before breakfast. We wore flip flops to lift so that we could go straight out to the beach afterward. Unfortunately in Thailand you must wear tennis shoes to lift so we skipped the gym and headed straight out to the beach. It was fairly early and there was nobody around. We walked down the beach quite a ways. The water was amazing. It was a beautiful blue, and the beach was more pebble and shells than sand. The rip tide was really bad so red flags were up warning not to swim. We walked and looked at the devastation from the tsunami. Buildings with prime water front real estate sat empty and pretty much destroyed. It was very sad. The people either walked away from their stores (lack of money to rebuild) or were living in the devastation. It was very real.

After our walk we went back to shower and get ready for the day. Here is a picture of me on the balcony off of our room. It is so humid outside that whenever I oped the camera it would fog right up:

We walked to breakfast and I had fruit, chocolate croissants, and eggs cooked to order. I wanted a Diet Coke but none could be found so after we ate we were on a mission to find a D.C. for me. After searching the huge resort looking for D.C. I was told that we would need to ride the ferry across the lagoon to the shops to get the soda. Here is a picture of our hotel from the lagoon:

And a picture of a hot guy waiting for the ferry to take us across the lagoon:

After walking around the (most expensive touristy stores ever) shops and finding zero DCs we decided to walk back around the lagoon. It is pretty small and I wanted to look at the resort. Here is the Thai restaurant on the resort. Baht Talay was the name, and no, we did not eat there. Most of the group ate there one night or another but I am not big on Thai food so we did not. It is a gorgeous building anyway. Built out on the water and overlooking the lagoon.

Here is the wedding chapel on the resort. Inside there was a rehearsal going on. We were lucky enough to see the actual wedding the next day with the bride and groom coming in on elephants.

Here are some of the local trees. The roots grow individually above ground. Strange.

This is the path into the resort. The lanterns are about 4-5 feet tall (helps you put the picture into perspective).

When we got back we headed out to the pool to eat lunch and relax. Most of the company was not there yet so we almost had the place to ourselves. We met a few couples and chatted but mostly I sat in the sun and relaxed. And as all of you know sitting at the pool is just about my favorite past time :)

After the pool, Lewis took a nap and then we got ready for dinner. We ate dinner on the property that night. It was a buffet style dinner (which is how the breakfast is served as well) and it was clean and in an air conditioned building. I was able to eat fruit, bread, and salad. There were lots of choices to choose from but it was all questionable in my eyes. Lewis tried quite a few things and like a couple of them.

Oh Btw, lunch and dinner were covered by his company even though we were there a day early. Sometimes it is the little things people :)

Next up will be Monday...