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Continuing with our multi-multi-course dinner at this one-star Michelin restaurant – Kiin Kiin in Copenhagen (København, Danemark).


In our previous post (here), we showed pictures of 8 amuse bouches which were served to us. Then we went to the dining room upstairs .. the service here was more reliable.


There was no menu for the evening – it was all omakese – the only written materials were a deck of cards which explained the concept of the restaurant, its history, and some of its famous dishes, including what inspired the chef, his musings and even poetry.


Obviously, much thoughts have been expended on the construction and presentation of each dish. It was very much appreciated.


The chef is quite fond of the idea of modern cuisine and so we were offered syringes filled with a white substance …



The menu was theatrical and fun …


We cannot remember what the white foam was …


but the server poured a sauce on it and the white foam collapsed into the bowl … resulting in a refreshing salad, sprinkled on top were some peanuts and dried shrimp.


There must be tanks of liquid nitrogen in the kitchen, because several dishes were served with a frozen sauce.


Lobster was served with a frozen red curry sauce which melted slowly … notice the utensil they used to serve the salad (above) and the curry here … if our guesses are correct, the giant bowl was insulating and keeping the foam cold while it was brought into the dining room …


But the shallow metal dish was meant to conduct heat efficiently so that the curry sauce would melt quickly. Below is another example of the use of frozen soup …


Mushroom in coconut soup. The frozen soup was dished out from a thermos at the table.


We wondered whether the kitchen can prepare a large batch of soups and sauces and stored them as frozen solids under liquid nitrogen and use them directly in the dining room over several days. This approach would allow the kitchen time and space to create more dishes, as we had enjoyed throughout the evening.


Perhaps, being worried that we had not eaten enough, we were served meat in a more traditional format. I (Chris) have not seen bone which had been stripped so cleanly of any flesh or marrow – there is trade secret behind it.


Even our dessert came in multiples …


there were two … one on each half of the bowl


Taste and Scent of Koh Samui (an island in Thailand, we went in 2014) … the bowl of sand, shells and rock were not edible.


Finally, they served the last course on a piece of drift wood.


We must have eaten another 10 or 11 courses at this table. Counting the amuse bouches, the grand total of the number of different dishes we tasted here is at least 18 !


The chef really pushed the boundary of thai food and created a very crowd-pleasing dining experience. Highly recommended.








Before we finish our run of photos of Thailand, here is another set of paired snapshots from Thailand.  The idea is that the paired snapshots, while taken at different occasions, share a common theme. Part 1 is here.

Recap: two weeks in Thailand at the end of 2012, from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and then Ko Samui.

Views from the stern of our boats

Speedboat tour, Ang Thong Marine National Park (see our posts here and here)


Chao Phraya tour, River city, Bangkok


Sunnyside Ups

Breakfast buffet at H-bistro, Ko Samui  (see our post on Hansar resort)


Quail eggs – different degrees of doneness,  street market in Chiang Mai


Paint jobs

Nok air, with a fleet of  planes each decorated as a smiling cartoon bird.


Our taxi in Chiang Mai was “bullet-ridden”


Things on stick

Assorted mystery-meat balls and sausages in spicy sauce, Chiang Mai night market


Any idea of what this is ?


Herb balls for massage at the Asia Herb Association, Bangkok. They were stored under refrigeration to keep fresh and can be purchased for home use. They were used on our backs.

Dress codes

Hilariously practical sign outside the Grand Palace, Bangkok (see our post here).   According to the label below each of the figures, top row: sleeveless shirts, vest, short tops, see-through tops; bottom row: shorts, torn pants, tight pants, culottes and miniskirts are prohibited. Tourists can rent (even it says “borrow”) the appropriate attire – essentially giant shirts and baggy yoga pants – before being allowed to enter.


Moulin Rouge on Ko Samui – from “Brittney Spear” to “Madonna”, from “Lady Marmalade” to “In the Navy”.


Getting from A to B

Our tuk-tuk in Chiang Mai was equipped with fan for passengers, stereo system and black light.


Tourist “bus” service on Chao Phraya that run between about 12 numbered stops from Saphan Taksin to the Kao San Road area, Bangkok


Assemble-It-Yourself plastic lamp shades

They are very compact (when sold), practical, and colorful, but are really 3D jigsaw puzzles in disguise and an advanced degree in geometry may be needed to assemble them.


There are as many variants as there are stalls selling them in the night markets of Chiang Mai and Bangkok.


Wat Pho is a temple located adjacent to the Grand Palace in Bangkok, and is very popular with tourists. See our earlier post about the Grand Palace complex here. We visited the temple after our tour of the Grand Palace.

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It is famous for its gigantic reclining gold buddha.

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The temple, being a historic place for the learning of religion and science, is also recognized as the birthplace of Thai massage.

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The statue of reclining Buddha is 15 m high and 43 m long with his right arm supporting the head.

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Much more information about Wat Pho can be found on Wikipedia, here.

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The foot of the buddha statue is 3 m high and 4.5 m long and are inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

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The panels are divided into 108 panels, each displaying one of the auspicious symbols by which Buddha can be identified, like flowers, dancers, white elephants, tigers and altar accessories.

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Except the head, the statute’s body is smooth and metallic – it reminds me more of a robot than a religious figure. And I already remarked here about the resemblance of C3PO and Thai statues.

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We went on two speedboat tours in the Gulf of Thailand on two consecutive days – the first day to see Ko Tao and Ko Nang Yuan and the second day to visit the Ang Thong Marine National Park (Ang Thong = “Golden Bowl”, see part 1 here). We were lucky because as you can see in the photos the sea was very calm.  Many visitors on Tripadvisor complained about seasick and getting drenched in a speedboat on the rough sea.

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After cruising around the Gulf to see the various islands, we went to lunch at a simple restaurant on Ko Paluay, one of the bigger islands. We had some really fresh tasting all-you-can-eat shrimp tempura.

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Although the islands are part of the marine park, only some are owned by the government. The islands on the southern end of the park are inhabited by families of fishermen who continue to make a living on the fishing grounds in the Gulf of Thailand (and run tourist restaurants on the islands).
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The islands in the park are made of limestone with steep cliffs, hidden lagoons, beaches and caves. This must be the most iconic rock in the Gulf of Thailand. Looks like it is hovering above the water.

Nat park-15Same rock as above, view from another side.

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After lunch, our boat cruised to a beach to swim, kayak, and relax. We were the first boat to arrive after lunch, hence the tranquility. A few more boats came later. An impromptu game of takraw (or sepak takraw) was started on the beach by the crews of several boats (hollow rattan ball kept aloft and passed between players by using only feet, chest and head, essentially kick volleyball).

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I(Chris) walked parallel to the coastline, around an outcrop of rocks in shallow water (towards the left side of the photo above), and found a secluded beach.  The water in the channels between the rocks was just knee deep and calm enough to allow me to use the camera while wading through.

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I could have continued walking in shallow water parallel to the coastline and would probably find more beaches like this one.  The beach front and the rocks behind it were full of small white butterflies, usually a chain of them, one chasing the other. A swing hangs from a leaning branch.

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Launching point for kayaks.

ang thong-42We borrowed this one picture of the islands  from Wikipedia. It was taken from a viewpoint high on Ko Paluay which we did not have time to ascend.


On our way back, we had a chance to see the north shore of Ko Samui where the most exclusive and remotely located resorts are hidden.

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The bungalows and facilities are scattered on a headland and hidden from view by the trees on land but not from the sea.

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A sand spit extends into the Gulf.

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At the end, we were dropped off from the boat at the beach in front of our resort, Hansar (see our post here). The beach is steep enough to allow the front of the boat to go all the way up to where we could hop off onto dry sand.

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We hope to go back and spend more time on the islands – however, we would charter our own boat (surprisingly inexpensive if you organize a small group) to discover the hidden caves and hard-to-reach beaches, which can be your private beach for a few hours.

During our stay on Ko Samui, we went on two speedboat tours of some of the neighboring islands. On the first tour, the highlight was snorkeling in the clearest waters around Ko Tao and Ko Nang Yuan (see earlier post here). On the second tour, the Ang Thong marine national park was our destination.
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The national park consists of 42 small islands covering a total area of about 102 km². The park was established on November 12, 1980.
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These islands were made famous by the movie – The Beach – made in 2000 starring Leonardo di Caprio who

“while at a hotel in Bangkok, finds a map left by his strange, whacked-out neighbor, who just committed suicide. The map supposedly leads to a legendary island paradise where some other wayward souls have settled.”

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While the map used in the movie indicated that the Beach is located on one of these islands, the movie was not actually shot here. It was made on Ko Phi Phi Le on the other side of the peninsula. Nevertheless, the islands are stunningly beautiful.
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The day we went on the tour, the sea was relatively calm. We wandered how much empty space there is back there. One can kayak into that arch and get through to the other side.
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Our itinerary of the day consisted of cruising between the islands in the Gulf of Thailand, snorkeling at Ko Wao, visiting a lagoon on Koh Mae Koh, lunch at Ko Paluay, and swimming/kayaking at Song Nee Pong beach also on Ko Paluay.

The speedboat circled some of the islands allowing us to see them up close.
This was our snorkeling site for the day. There were a lot of fishes around that little piece of rock in the middle. But of the three snorkeling sites we visited the day before, the best was the one at Ko Tao, both in terms of the variety and density of viewable marine life.
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To see the lagoon on Koh Mae Koh, we disembarked at a beach and climbed up a series of metal stairs. At the top is a viewing platform perched on the rim of the lagoon.
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This lagoon is more like an inland lake surrounded by cliffs and jungle. It is clearly visible on Google map (above).
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We then went down another series of stairs to reach the surface of the lagoon.
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According to the guide, the lagoon is connected to the Gulf as the water level fluctuates similarly and it is full of sea urchins.
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We only saw these long-nosed fish.
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The stairs to get to the lagoon were so steep and shallow that they were essentially ladders. The area is now relatively accessible  to tourists but it has forever lost the mysterious allure suggested by the movie.
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More stunning sights of the islands in part 2 to follow.

While touring Wat Phra Kaew (วัดพระแก้ว, Temple of Emerald Buddha, see earlier post here) in the Grand Palace complex in Bangkok, we came across a series of murals on the walls of the surrounding cloisters.


The murals depict the legend of Ramakian or Ramakien, a big part of the Thai mythology.  The Ramakian is a Thai adaptation of a popular Indian tale, Ramayana written by Valmiki in the fifth century B.C. Much of what we say below comes from this very scholarly website maintained by Northern Illinois University.


Apparently, there were 178 murals painted in the late 1700’s by King Rama I’s men and they have been repainted regularly up to now.


The Grand Palace appears in many of the murals, including the white perimeter wall.


Basically, the Ramakian is a story of a demon king, Tosakanth (Ravanna in the Indian version), who abducts Rama’s wife Sita. Rama is an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. Rama gathers the support of a monkey army, led by Hanuman,  in order to rescue Sita.


Thailand was not the only country to which the epic appeared; many countries in Southeast Asia, e.g., Malaysia, Indonesia, adopted the tale. The Thai version appears to be a combination of several versions.


The demon king Tosakanth does not appear totally bad in the Thai version. His emotions towards Sita are genuine even if they cause him to do bad things.

Paklan the giant (I think).


The Thais have changed the story to suit their taste. Since they are Buddhists, they have stripped the story of its Hindu religious elements. The closest it comes to having religious significance lies in the fact that Rama is viewed as Buddha in a previous life.


There are many characters, superheros and monsters. This giant monkey(?) allow others to use its tail as a bridge to cross a river.


A massive curtain emerges from the mouth of this character to cover or protect the palace.


Every country has at least one such epic, saga or legend, which permeates its popular culture.  This might be applicable even for the modern US. Many of those who grew up with Star Wars would consider it a story which is shared and enjoyed by many, and the story is told in different media, though I do not see murals of Darth Vader being installed in the White House anytime soon.


Gold paint is used liberally to highlight certain groups of individuals and many of the buildings. In the darkened gallery, it creates a pleasing effect on the murals.


On each pillar of the gallery is hung a poem which presumably describe one of the neighboring  murals. Some of the poems are translated into English on this webpage.


Many puppet shows and dances (especially, Khon) in Thailand and in Southeast Asia are based on episodes from this tale. I found this Khon on youtube – I think it shows the recruitment of the most important monkey, Hanuman.


A must-do sightseeing spot in Bangkok – the Grand Palace.


Built in 1782 at the same time Bangkok was made the capital of Siam by King Rama I.

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Although the King does not live here anymore, armed guards patrol the grounds. This garrison is located next to the entrance where people that are inappropriately dressed are stopped and asked to turn around or rent some conservative outfits. See the sign illustrating unacceptable clothing in an earlier post here.

grand palace-2There are several hundreds similar-looking buildings – so I will not do much annotation of the pictures. Much has been written up in Wikipedia here.

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Many of the buildings have skyward pointing spires. When they are lined up in a row, they look somewhat like hi-tech antennae.

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They are all incredibly ornate, all laden with history and religious significance.

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There are many gold statutes here and I cannot help but conclude that they inspired the creation of C3PO of Star Wars – and it is not just the gold body but also some hand gestures as well.

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A close up of the little supporters.

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A mini-replica of Angkor Wat in Cambodia which was for a number of years under Siamese control.

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The Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew (วัดพระแก้ว)) is the royal chapel inside the palace. Entrance to the chapel’s grounds is separate from the residential complex. It has even more ornate buildings than the residential palace.

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The emerald buddha is 26 inches tall carved from a single piece of jade with a rich history dating back to the 15th century. The King changes the cloak around the statue three times a year, corresponding to the summer, winter, and rainy seasons, an important ritual performed to usher good fortune to the country during each season.

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While we were in Ko Samui, we went to see a traditional Thai sport – Muay Thai. Sue was not keen but came along reluctantly. The event was held at Chaweng beach which is the main commercial area on the island.
We were picked up at the hotel and were the first to arrive at the Chaweng stadium, a small venue that also stages concerts and DJ appearances. Seb Fontaine (a DJ who made a few popular remix back in early 2000) was to play there some time later in January.
We were seated at one of the reserved tables at the front row. I was trying to remember a movie (possibly a James Bond movie from the 70’s – yes, just looked it up, it is “The Man with the Golden Gun”) that depicts Muay Thai as a deadly blood sport. The villain/henchman and our hero would meet at such a venue and either one or both of them would each have a female companion who salivates at the violence. In the background is a raucous crowd shouting and leaning into the ring with a handful of bills.
That night, the crowd was less energetic, smoking was not allowed but sitting along the front row not far from us was a blond young woman who was  snapping pictures with great enthusiasm (outdoing me) while the boyfriend looked on.
Before the match starts, the fighters walk around the ring and perform a series of solemn ceremonies, such as praying, bowing, etc.
The sport is extremely popular in Thailand, like football. Gambling is legal and we saw crowds watching it on a giant LED screen in a street of Bangkok, cheering for their fighters when they entered.
It is a full contact fight – a regulated form of kickboxing. The rules are complicated and allow attacks made with 8 parts of the body (fists, elbows, knees, feet, left and right sides). Head butt is not allowed.
There were a total of seven matches, the first and the last were matches between junior trainers. They look shockingly young and we could not help but think that they were fighting because of the money.
Each match has 5 rounds and each round lasting 3 minutes. This was the main fight of the evening.
This is a video of one of the late rounds when the fighters were visibly tired. Three and a half minutes long of action accompanied by traditional Thai music.
Two Hungarians were in the line up. They were probably trained in mixed martial arts. We think they were visiting a local Muay Thai camp to learn this form of  martial arts. Their friends and  families were sitting behind us and were really supportive, i.e., loud.


The first Hungarian won by KO.
Posters advertising the event were all over town. There was going to be another one next week. It was high tourist season after all.
When this video was shot, I was focusing on the fight. It was the last round and both fighters were cut and bleeding. On playback, I noticed how excited the girlfriend/wife was in the blue corner. See her go at 00:12. In the end, the Thai fighter (gold pants) beat the second Hungarian (black pants) on points.
In another fight, the wife/girlfriend of one of the fighters (red shorts) brought their child to the corner. The mother brought him around to give us high fives – very cute. I will not be surprised if this child will grow up wanting to fight like his father.
We spent the last week of our Thailand trip on Ko Samui (or Koh Samui).  The choice was between Ko Samui or Phuket.
Hansar resort on Bophut beach (lying on the northern shore of the island) was our home for the week.
The lobby area (if you can call it that) is open, a library on one side and a reception on the other.
In the middle is a small atrium-like space dominated by a set of wooden pillars standing on top of a small stone fountain. The hotel was apparently a finalist of the 2012 best beach hotel according to Boutique Hotel Awards. Never heard of this award before.
Surrounding the atrium is a massive wooden sculpture/structure. Its irregular block pattern (a motif repeated throughout the property) was casting all kinds of shadows and bright spots onto the lobby area.
An unusual feature of the rooms of the hotel is the size and location of the shower.  The shower is really designed for exhibitionists as there is no privacy whatsoever, glass walls on two sides.
 There was no door, except a stone ledge on one side where one can sit while showering.
It cannot be any easier to take a shower.
One evening a lizard (the kind that loses its tail when threatened) visited our room and hung onto the glass wall of the shower. It was not on our bed as this picture may suggest. If it were on our bed and scaled according to the length of the bed, it would have been 2-3 feet long!  It was actually about 6-8 inches before the tail came off.
Another notable feature is an alcove/balcony that is designed for lounging – a daybed is built onto the balcony. For the first few days when we were nursing our cold (yes we were both sick for a couple of days), we spent quite a few hours there reading and napping.
Views from our balcony. In the morning
At dusk.
Happy hour.

A little bit later.




H-bistro is the hotel restaurant – the chef was apparently the ex-personal chef of the king of Jordan.

We had breakfast there daily. We  tried dinner one evening and it was indeed very good – European and Thai dishes alike.
The beach in front of the Hansar resort is more suitable for water sports because the water was not the clearest and the beach was steep. The sand was yellow and coarse. After one of our tours of the nearby islands (see later posts), the speedboat dropped us off on the beach right in front of the hotel. We just hopped off at the nose of the boat onto the beach and did not even get our feet wet!
Before the tourists came, coconut export was the major business of the island. We watched a tree caretaker climbed up these three coconut trees on his hands and feet without any safety equipment, up to the top and down all within five minutes.
 The pool was nice – it had a couple of “seats” with jacuzzi jets.
Overall, a recommendable resort.

Sue loves spicy food and I like mine spicy as well as sour – we are manifestly fans of Thai food. One of the things we wanted to do in Thailand was to attend a cookery school. So we booked ourselves a full-day cooking course.

The Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School claims to be the first such school to open in Chiang Mai in 1993. Although the school’s office where we were registered was in the old city, the cooking school was located almost 20 minutes from the city center. We were taken in a passenger van to a gated compound where the chef/instructor lives and teaches. The first thing we saw was the open kitchen which, from a distance, resembled a stereotypical heroine processing facility in the jungle as depicted in many movies. The infamous Golden Triangle (No.2 opium growing region in the world after Afghanistan) is not far from where we

The class was taught in an air-conditioned class room with a mirror installed at an angle on the ceiling . It allowed us to see more clearly what the chef was demonstrating. Here, he was showing us how to make Penang curry chicken, starting from scratch.


Neither one of us had been to Thailand before and never knew the authentic taste of Thai curry. When we were cooking ourselves at home, we did not know how intense should the flavors be – always wondering what is normally done in Thailand. Well, we started learning by making our own curry paste with a mortar and pestle.


Each of the students had his/her own restaurant-strength, gas-powered wok station.


Our first dish was Penang curry chicken – here we were frying  the curry paste with basil and kafir lime leaves, the volatile  fragrances in the spices just burst into our faces, it was rather intense causing some of us to

While we lived in NYC, we went to some good Thai restaurants, e.g., SriPraPhai in Woodside, Queens.

cooking-10But for some of the other Thai restaurants, e.g., Pongsri in the Theatre district, we were sometimes wandering about the authenticity. Did they cut corners on spices or adapt a dish to accommodate American taste buds (making it sweet)?


The school is owned and run by Sompon Nabnian who taught the second half of the course. Among other main courses, we learned Spicy glass noodle salad and black sticky rice pudding.


I.T. was displaying some knife skills here. Very finely and evenly chopped chilis.

cooking-11Sue, stir-frying the onions, chilis, and vegetables to make a sauce to go with a piece of deep-fried fish.


Next to the open kitchen is the dining area where we all sat to eat our own freshly-cooked piping hot dish. Everything was so flavorful, there was no MSG and no salt (except some that might be present in the fish sauce).


My Penang Curry Chicken tasted good but it was too runny. An attempt to garnish with the chili and coconut milk did not work, evidently. By the end of the day, we ate so much curries, noodle, salad and rice pudding that dinner was not necessary.


Another school, named Baan Thai was recommended to us by our friend A.W. and it  was also recommended by our hotel concierge. Apparently, attending a cookery school is a popular touristy thing to do in Thailand.

Wikipedia describes zipline as a pulley suspended on a cable, usually made of stainless steel, mounted on an incline. It is designed to enable a user propelled by gravity to travel from the top to the bottom of the inclined cable by holding onto, or attaching to, the freely moving pulley.

We have never done a zipline before, only saw it on the Discovery channel.  So when our taxi driver was offering us a menu of activities, ranging from handicraft workshop (yawn) to visiting the long neck tribe (no thanks), flying through the jungle hanging on a wire was compelling.


The Zipline Chiangmai site consists of 27 platforms, a total of about 2,200 meters of wires,varying in length from 20 meters to the “truly amazing” 400 meters. The route also included tree abseiling (rappelling) and walks at the canopy level.

CaptureTwo guides gave us a 15-minute tutorial about the equipment and the setup. After we tried it a couple of times on a hammock-sized line between two tree trunks, off we went into the jungle. First we had a short canopy walk over a rickety “sky” bridge, presumably designed to test our nerves or to familiarize us with the elevation.

zipline-2Then action !


Sue was screaming due to excitement not terror. Towards the end although she is no longer visible, we knew she was stilling zipping due to the “whistling” sound from the cable.

None of us seemed afraid of the heights. We were quite happy jumping off  treetops into the air. Here’s I.T. zipping along calmly down a rather steep section.

Sue zipping through the same section which traverses the Mae Taeng river.


One of the launch pads where we zipped off. One guide always zipped ahead first while the other guide unhooked us from the guard cable (usually tied around a tree) and hooked us up to the zipline.


This is me (Chris) going over the 180 m between platform 21-22. As you will see, it was hard to stop myself from spinning while filming the flight and I ended up braking too early. As a result, I was slipping backwards along the wire causing the guide to be rather concerned. But it really was no big deal as I quickly pulled myself back up to the platform. Wished I had a head-mounted camera.

Truth to tell, when the jungle is so thick, one can hardly see the ground. We really did not register our distance from the bottom, except when we were zipping across the road or the river.


We also rappelled down a couple of trees (with assistance).


We were so psyched about the zipping part and totally forgot to enjoy the sights from the treetops.


It was really a lot of fun. Like rollercoaster rides, it finished too soon.

Bangkok was the second stop in our recent trip to Thailand. The Erawan museum is located in Samut Prakan, about an hour by train and taxi  from central Bangkok. We went to see its renowned giant three-headed elephant statute.


Many of the explanations below came from Wikipedia.

The Elephant of the Universe. This three-headed elephant (Airavata) was the result of the millionaire founder Khun Lek Viriyapant’s ideas and imagination. It was inspired by his wish to preserve his collection of antiques as a contribution to Thai cultural heritage. The founder died in 2000 before the museum was completed.

It is hard to appreciate the scale of this structure without being there.


The interior of the museum (the pink rounded base under the elephant’s feet), is richly and intricately decorated. Our eyes were constantly zooming in to admire the ornamental details and zooming out to take in the spaces.


The museum’s three separate floors symbolise the universe and are designed in accordance with the three-tiered cosmology of the Hindu-Thai Buddhist concept.


The basement level represents the underworld.


Except the floor, every surface is decorated to the utmost with humanoid and beastly figures as well as abstract patterns.

Moving up to the next level is the human domain which includes a stained glass ceiling depicting a world map.


Detailed stucco works were  installed over the sweeping staircases and arches, all decorated with whole as well as fragmented ceramic bowls and spoons.


An example of the Bencharong ceramics that were used to decorate the stucco figures.


There were four embossed tin pillars on which are depicted religious tales portraying the four Buddhist principles that sustain the world.


At the top of the second level looking down at the entrance.


A narrow spiral staircase passing through the right hind leg of the elephant leads to Tavatimsa Heaven, deep inside the elephant’s belly.

erawan-12The ceiling is painted with motifs, symbols and constellations. While this is not a temple, people came to worship.

erawan-13A very ornate table where people left their offerings (coins) and tried to keep it standing on its edge.


There are many sculptures scattered around a small pond and around the grounds of the museum. This looks like an upright-standing elephant fighting a big snake (Naga).


The museum also had an exhibit about the founder’s family which was quite interesting.erawan-16

Another look at the magnificent three-headed elephant.


On the third leg of our Thailand trip, we went south to the third largest island of Thailand, Ko Samui (or Koh Samui).   Ko or Koh means island in Thai. Ko Samui is located on the “east” coast in the Gulf of Thailand. The better known island in Thailand, Phuket is on the “west” coast in the Anderman sea. While we were staying on Ko Samui, we took two speedboat trips to some of the nearby islands. We went to Ko Tao and Ko Nang Yuan on the first day, and the Ang Thong marine national park on the second day (see later post).

A van came to pick us up at the hotel and took us to the departure point –  it was just a short stretch of beach front and a pontoon. Our speedboat was equipped with 3 outboard motors producing a total of 750 hp.

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On our way in the Gulf, we passed the island of Ko Pha Ngan – it is famous for its full moon beach party. Notice the beach on the bottom left ?

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Our first stop was Ko Nang Yuan. The journey took about 1 hour 45 minutes from Ko Samui.

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Ko Nang Yuan is a privately owned island and it charges each visitor an entrance fee of about $7 and prohibits anyone from bringing plastic bottle onto the island.

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I think Ko Nang Yuan has the most beautiful beach I have ever set foot on. It is mesmerizing to watch the water.

The beach is essentially one idyllic sand bar connecting two small islands.

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A big clump of rocks (almost a tiny island) in the middle of the sandbar serves as the landing site.

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One side of the sand bars was just below water. Waves lap at your feet from both sides as you walk across it.There were a few bungalows by the beach.

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We suspected that it was mid to low tide at the time when we crossed over.

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A wooden walkway and concrete steps led me (Chris) up to a rock at the top where one can see all two and a half islands.

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It was so hot and humid that within minutes I was soaking wet with sweat. Wisely, Sue did not climb and stayed in the shade.

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The view from the top was worth the sweat and sunstroke.

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Loved it.

Ko tao-11

We had lunch at Ao Mae (the main village) on Ko Tao  – about 10 minutes boat ride from Ko Nang Yuan.

Ko tao-12Leaving Ao Mae to snorkeling.

Ko tao-13

The focus of the trip was snorkeling as Ko Tao is very well known for the clarity of its water and the coral reef. And I had never seen such a variety of fishes as well as coral and other invertebrate marine life. This is the snorkeling site near Ao Mamuang – nothing to see up here.

Ko tao-14

For a while, I was swimming/drifting inside a school of colorful fishes. We could have rented an underwater camera but decided against it since we only had an hour at each location. So there won’t be pictures of fishes here. This place was definitely better than those locales we snorkeled in Cancun and Grand Cayman island. Ko Tao is supposedly one of the best and cheapest places to get scuba diving certification – we might return to try it on another trip.

This is the itinerary of our speedboat tour  – In Sea.

We started 2013 in Chiang mai, having arrived there as our first stop on December 29. We hosted many countdown parties in our apartment near Times Square New York in the past. But now living in Switzerland, we really do miss the crowds and the celebratory atmosphere.  So we had to find a decent place  to spend the new year’s eve.


Before leaving home, Sue had got from an acquaintance a list of local restaurants and hotels which were offering a New Year’s Eve dinner party. Among the many choices, we chose the party at The Rachamankha largely because their menu included both local and international fare. Here is the description that sold us:

Enjoy buffets of Tai, Lanna, Myanmar and Thai delicacies served in a traditional market setting and a rich spread of seasonal European delights in the restaurant dining room. Free flowing wines, beers and soft drinks to the accompaniment of both traditional and modern entertainment set in and around Rachamankha’s restaurant courtyards throughout the night from 7p.m. til late on the 31st December 2012.


Despite the red carpet, the maitre ‘d wanted us to share a small square table with a lone diner, telling us every body has to share. When we asked for an alternative, he blamed us for making a late reservation. While I feel sorry for the lone diner, we wanted to enjoy our family reunion (my sister from Hong Kong joined us). We got angry with the maitre ‘d, he relented and gave us our own table.


Many of the locals came to dinner in black tie and cocktail dresses. There was another seating area in the inner courtyard with different entertainment. The hotel managed to get just the right number of guests as the place was not too crowded and it felt cozy.


There were simply too many different kinds of local foods to sample here. This part of the dinner was served outdoor and a bit dark, so it was hard to recognize what was on offer even with a English note next to it.


Every thing was delicious but we could not possibly remember, let alone distinguish and appreciate the differences in Tai versus Thai cuisine, or Lanna versus Burmese. Very cute street market style presentation.


Pennywort salad in a banana leaf boat.


Deep fried fish, lightly salted, the perfect munchies to go with beer. We had several dishes of it by the end of the evening.


Sticky rice-based dessert. Blue was obviously not a popular food color, but brown should be even less popular given the shape but …


Inside the hotel dining room was the carving table.  I(Chris) loved these seafood appetizers – though somewhat European in appearance, they are best described as cerviche oriental style – spicy, citrus-y, and briny.


The hotel is tastfully decorated and the layout is based on the traditional Chinese four-sided courtyard house. The hotel  used to belong to the marketing association of Relais & Châteaux.


The live entertainment were imaginatively programmed and mixed the cultures and arts of the East and West as well as the traditional and new. The live band that played till the countdown attempted every thing from local hits to YMCA to Opa Gangnam Style (in mangled Korean). A DJ took over after the countdown.


Yes, that was a chandelier on his head.


The countdown was accompanied by the release of giant sky lanterns (komloy) by the guests into a moonlit sky.


Happy New Year !


This was how we started the new year.

We spent the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 in Thailand.  It was our first time in Thailand and we were eager to try everything. So, there are lots of images and stories to share. Our first stop was Chiang Mai in the north, then we went to Bangkok, and then south to the island of Samui.

I(Chris) thought it might be fun to present some of the following photos in pairs. Although the two pictures were taken at different times or places, there is a common theme.

Our rooms with views

From our balcony at Hansar resort, Hat Bophut, Ko Samui


From our balcony at Marriot, office buildings in Silom, Bangkok


Elephants, in Thailand, are working animals as well as religious and cultural symbols.

Maetaman elephant camp, near Chiang Mai


Erawan museum, Samut Prackan, near Bangkok


Noodle soups

This little jungle of greens arrived after we ordered just two bowls of pho.


Our taxi driver took us to this restaurant which specializes in Northern Thai curry noodles. We were the only non-locals. 300 bahts (about US$10) for 2 appetizers, 4 noodles and soft drinks.



At a cafe in the artsy Nimmahaemin area, just outside the old city, Chiang Mai


One of many gilded murals depicting the Ramakian in the Grand Palace, Bangkok


Foot massage to suit all budgets

Rarinjinda spa, Chiang Mai


Outside a temple in the evening of December 30, a street of Chiang Mai. Head, neck, back, shoulder and foot massages were on offer.



The shop at the Thailand Creative & Design Center (TCDC), 7th floor of the Emporium in Sukhumvit, Bangkok


Anusan night market, Night Bazzar, Chiang Mai



We flew from Geneva to Paris, then overnight from Paris to Bangkok. Then we were to catch a domestic flight to Chiang Mai within a two-hour window. Unfortunately our flight was slightly delay in France and we missed our scheduled domestic Bangkok Airways flight. So we waited at the Suvarnabhumi international airport, signed up at these counters as stand-by passengers and waited around for our names to be called. It was very stressful as the departure area was packed (bags and babies), after all it was the last Saturday of the year, December 29. My sister, I.T., was to join us in Chiang Mai from Hong Kong but she found us waiting at the airport. We eventually caught a flight about 5 hours later.


Bangkok’s notorious traffic jam, as far as the eye can see, near Sathorn

Thailand-11Part 2 will be posted soon.