Sunday, May 20, 2018

Strange Songkran part 2, Soaked to the bone :-)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADear Matt and Mar,

We made it back to BKK rather late on the 12th, and the 13th was the start of the public holiday. The 13th and the 14th was spent with my parents as well as just roaming around BKK, it was fun to be sniping your water pistols whist we drove, haa haa haa, but I wanted you to enjoy a proper Songkran... and I have a cunning plan... haa ha haa.

On the 15th (Sunday) we drove your mother to the airport, and by noon we were... honest I can not remember what we did :-) But my plan was for the Monday... haa haa haa. Highlight for Songkran festival are the organised water fights all around BKK, one of the famous water fight area is at Silom, which is literally eight minutes walk away.

Came Monday morning, just to warm things up a little, I had wanted to visit Central Rama 3 after it had gone through a major renovation, there is an amusement arcade on the top floor so it wasn’t difficult to convince you two to pay this place a quick visit. After that it was time to prepare... and you two were so dedicated, I was thinking along the line of getting the water pistols ready and perhaps a change of shirt, but you two were all in. Matt wanted to get change into the customary Songkran Flowery shirt, whilst Mar wanted to change fully into traditional Thai costume, haa haa haa.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe level of excitement started to grow, the backpack water tanks were full, we limbered up with a few simple stretches, haa haa haa haa haa, we were psyched to go...

Leaving the apartment brought so many smiles from all the passer by, to see you two beaming from ear to ear, holding your water pistol so tightly ready to soak everyone they see, haa haa haa. I had to teach you the etiquette, don’t soak anyone who doesn’t have a water pistol, don’t soak anyone if they are riding on bicycle or motorcycle, don’t soak anyone in the face, don’t soak any street food hawkers, and most importantly, don’t soak me, lol.

As we walked closer and closer to Silom, the atmosphere was amazing, you could hear the laughter from 2 blocks away, haa haa haa.

The only mistake I’d made was not taking your goggles, close to the end, Mar was hit in the eye, and it took a while before all was smile again.

It was absolutely amazing, I’d almost faint from laughing so much! It made me so happy when half way you turned to me and said ‘this is the best day ever Papa’, haa haa haa. Before we started I was thinking on where we could top up the water, it was absolutely pointless to worry about that, there were water filling stations literally every ten steps (ten baht per refill).

I don’t know how they came up with this, but most refill stations put huge ice blocks in the water, so the water was icy cold. To be shot with that ice cold water was shocking, haa haa haa, literally I found myself shouting and hearing so many people shouting ‘ouch’ every time we/they were shot with the icy water, haa haa haa.

It would have been so much better if your mother was here too, she was very upset with missing out all the fun we had, so next year will be epic!

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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Strange Songkran Part 1, Ramayana Water Park Pattaya

Dear Matt and Mar,

[11.04.18] What a strange Songkran (Thai New Year) we have had this year, the public holiday for this year ran from 13th to the 17th, during this time the amount of travellers travelling outside of BKK can be overwhelming, so our family would stay in BKK and enjoy the serenity of the city without people and traffic, haa haa haa. But this year, as your mother would be working overseas during Songkran, we had decided to take you on a short break (somewhere) prior to the Songkran festival (avoiding the Songkran mega rush).

Ramayana D2-4111920[7]So the original plan was for all of us to take a short trip from the 9th to the 12th (Mon. - Thu.), but that ran into some serious trouble, when on the 9th I had a couple of very important meetings, whilst your mother had important meetings on the 11th and 12th. However it was very important for us, that you have some fun, so on a whim it was decided that I would take you by myself from the evening of the 9th to the 12th.

For the longest time I had wanted to take you to Ramayana, the latest (and probably the greatest) Water Park  in Thailand (so they say, haa haa haa), by some miracles I’d found an available hotel in Pattaya and had immediately booked it. After my ‘fun’ meetings on Monday, I came home around 18:00, finished packing up, and soon us three were off to Pattaya, you both promised not to fall asleep (failed), haa haa haa. Your mother felt a little left out, but she wanted you to have fun.

On the first full day in Pattaya, I’d left it in your hands to decide on what you wanted to do, as we were staying at Mercure where the small water park was always one of your favourite, so the morning was spent there, and in the afternoon we moved to Harborland, which is a mandatory visit for all family with children (Harborland is simply a Shopping Mall come Playgrounds, it has everything from Laser, RollerBlade, Rock climb, Trampoline Park, Playland and so much more.).

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That night whilst you were fast asleep, I’d went online and reserved the tickets for our highlight of the trip, Ramayana Water Park, and I think I went a little overboard, pretty much ticked all of the available extras, from the Cabana to VIP access, haa haa haa.

Came the morning, breakfast was taken rather quickly, and soon we were on our forty minutes drive towards the Water Park, arriving about an hour after it had opened. I was over the moon that the Songkran rush had not yet started here, the queue was sparse but not too quiet for it to be boring, lol.

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For once, all of the extra options were the right decision, the VIP access allowed us to have a private changing room and towels, not to mention a cooler full of drinks, after we all got change a staff walked us to the cabana that we had reserved, all was ready for maximum fun!

The only thing was, I was coming down with a heavy flu, so I was tanked up on Tylenol, haa haa haa. Now for a child to be able to enjoy all the rides one had to be 110 cms tall, and guess what... Mar was 105 cms, haa haa haa, and that had meant a logistical nightmare for me, haa haa haa.

Both of you were superb, as sometimes Mar had to sit all alone and wait (with concession ice cream or lollypop, haa haa haa), then sometimes Matt had to go on the rides that he didn’t really want to do. For the first adult ride, Matt had to go by himself, after a long wait I saw that Matt had to join another group because he wasn’t allowed to ride alone, haa haa haa, and that was the only time I’d allowed Matt to go alone.

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It was super lucky Ramayana also have a ‘fish spa’, Mar’s absolute favourite... that had allowed Matt and I to gallivant off for a while, haa haa haa.

By the end both of you have virtually tried all the rides that were available to you both, and ended up with the ride that you both enjoy, I still think it was too fast though, haa haa haa, after six hours, to be honest I have had enough.

The day have been superb, the water park was never overwhelming busy, I think the longest we had to wait for a ride was ten minutes (if that), the food was ok (nothing to shout home about), the staff were super nice and the facilities and rides were fantastic, the only thing missing to make this day perfect, was your mother... :-)

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Ubon in Feb. :-)

IMG_20180222_145934Dear Matt and Mar,

[22.02.18] I think I have mentioned this before, since I have joined BlueScope, the amount of travelling I have to do have increased a gazillion times (not an exaggeration either) haa haa haa. And most of the time the schedule would be so tight, down time was almost non existence.

One of the latest trip was to Ubon Ratchathani (most eastern province, neighbouring Laos), usually after the meeting we would fly back to BKK, but this time we had to catch quite a unique (and late) flight from Ubon to Chiangmai (to the very North of Thailand), and for the first time in a very long time, we had around five hours of free time.

Instead of hanging out at some coffee shop, we’d decided to pay homage to one of the main temple in Ubon (Wat Nong Bua), and it was worth every second, and of course my phone ran out of juice, at least got off a few shots before that happening...

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Seoul Day 7, Time to come home :-)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADear Matt and Mar,

[01.01.18] I remembered thinking that seven days had absolutely flown by, this time our flight was more manageable as it was in the afternoon. Instead of coming up with some elaborate trip for the morning, your mother had decided it was time to do some shopping, haa haa haa. I don’t know what Korea will be famous for in your time, but for now (in my time) they are well known for a bunch of thing, Samsung, K-Pop, TV shows, Cosmetics and Plastic Surgery, so your caring mother’s plan was to spend the morning shopping for gifts.

Once again we leisurely walked over to Seoul Station, then we split into two team, you two and I were the ‘don’t really know what to do’ team and your mother was off my her own. Soon enough it was time to get back to the hotel... and it seemed like we were carrying half of the shops inventory back, haa haa haa.

Packing all the stuff became a challenge, it was like trying to fit a Blue Whale into a Ford Focus, but by some Jedi miracles we managed to fit it all in, haa haa haa haa haa, that is until we’d reached the airport, lol.

collageThe plan was to catch the same super bus from the Hotel back to the Airport, but it was first come first serve, whilst we were waiting at the hotel we could see that there was already another family waiting for the bus, and they made the first move, standing outside in the cold and waiting... haa haa haa. Well, they got on and we couldn’t, lol.

Luckily, I thought that this would happen, but we had plenty of time, but just to make sure I’d decided to queue up way before the next bus came, but in the end the next bus was virtually empty and soon we were on our way back to the airport :-)

A quick lunch was taken at the airport and eventually we boarded the plane bound for BKK. What a fantastic time we all had full marks once again to your mother :-)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Seoul Day 6, The Perfect End.

Seoul Day 6 Superb-03174Dear Matt and Mar,

[31.12.18] To be honest, the previous night your mother and I were struggling to decide on what to do (today), although the War Memorial was superb for all of us, but the National Museum was a bit of a miss for you two (as well as your mother), only to be redeemed by a superb supper, haa haa haa.

So the intention for today was to go for something with a little more fun, going back to the ‘Master Sheet’, ‘Seoul Children’s Grand Park’ didn’t jump off the page, but when compared to the rest it best fit our intention for today. However, my expectation was low, I mean really low, as it was New Year’s Eve and being in midst of winter I wasn’t even sure if the attractions would be open. In my mind we were just going to walk around the park and then find something else better to do, oh boy I could not have been more wrong! It was super-fantastic!

I was bored with walking to Seoul Underground Station, instead we caught the Hotel’s bus which dropped us at Myeong-Dong, and from there we caught a taxi which took us to the east of Seoul.

Once again, the weather was perfect, open blue sky, so the air was cold and crisp the perfect weather to be strolling around a park... I could already hear you two moaning (from the lack of excitement, haa haa haa).

It started quite bland, the park was virtually empty, but we could tell that this was a huge park! Once we made it to the main map, we now realised why they call it Children’s Grand Park, with Zoo, Amusement Park and so many other attractions for children.

The amusement park was to the rear of the park, I be grudgingly lead all of us there, not even know if it was going to be open. Once we made it over the hill, the view of the amusement park came into view, and my heart sank... it was empty... but we ventured on, then we began to notice a few skeleton crew opening up the park! I didn’t even know if all the rides would be open, so I bought the fixed tickets (5 rides each).

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Slowly, more and more rides start to come online, and more and more children were coming to the park (but it was never busy), but I still wasn’t convinced, so I went back to buy more of the fixed tickets. Haa haa haa, after about the third time going back to the ticketing office, it was time to buy the unlimited tickets... haa haa haa.

Our fun-o-meter grew exponentially, haa haa haa, it was fantastic, Mar was just tall enough to go on most of the rides and that made her super happy. We ended up having our quick lunch here, and didn’t leave the amusement park until mid afternoon. Finally our fun-tank was full to the brim... haa haa haa.

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The evening was even better! We caught the taxi back to Myeong-Dong to take a stroll at their famous night market (also your mother had chosen a restaurant nearby). As the evening rolled in, the streets of Myeong-Dong became alive (as well as being freezing), the unbelievable food hawkers were absolutely amazing and beautiful.

After doing a couple of laps, it was time for supper, it was so nice to be in the warmth again... haa haa haa, the Chinese food was amazing, today was the perfect day to end our first visit to Seoul. Tomorrow was going to be another challenging flight back to BKK :-).

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Seoul Day 5, My turn :-)

Seoul Day 5 Museums-02859Dear Matt and Mar,

Yesterday, after such an exciting and nerve wrecking day, I had decided to take it down a notch, and today was going to be (in a way) my day, haa haa haa, so off to the Museums we went... In particular I had wanted to at least cover 2 Museums, the War Memorial of Korea and National Museum of Korea, and we had just managed to do that, haa haa haa.

Compared to yesterday the pace was totally different, decided to firstly visit the War Memorial of Korea, I do have very limited knowledge of the terrible war, and was looking forward to be less ignorant on this important event.

The Memorial was worth every second, the quality of the display and the layout was brilliant, the original intention was to perhaps spend two hours here (and I thought that would be a stretch), we ended up spending very close to four hours here, and to show the quality of this Memorial, it kept you two (monkeys) totally engaged for the entire time.

The content was pretty somber in part, but that just reflected the truth of war, the repercussions of that war are still being felt today.

The day was closing in fast, and I’d really wanted to visit the National Museum of Korea, luckily it was only a few stations down the road, and we were there in no time. Even the walk to the museum was breathtaking, the architecture was stunning, even your mother was impressed. Once inside, to me it was like going into Mr. Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, but after a few minutes it was obvious that you three did not share the same enthusiasm, haa haa haa, so I found you all a lovely bench whilst I was off to explore, and it was glorious.

I had totally lost time among the wonderful artifacts and displays to the point that your mother had to call, to remind me that it was time to eat, haa haa haa. While I was away your mother had spent her time wisely, and found a Korean BBQ place that is very popular with Thai visitors.

The sun had totally gone and the wind had picked up, with slight drizzle in the air which was very crisps and cold, haa haa haa, I have never been so glad to be jumping into a warm taxi. Communicating to the taxi driver have always been something I look forward to, they are super helpful but overcoming the language barrier was kind of fun, haa haa haa.

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Namaejip was where your mother wanted to have our late supper, it was rather hidden away in a small alley, but it was fairly packed so it looked like we had made the right choice, haa haa haa, and we did make the right choice, lol, it was so good I never wanted to leave and said a long goodbye to my feeding plan, haa haa haa haa haa.

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Unexpected bonus points, I was looking at the map, trying to find the best way back to the hotel, only to see that we could walk it, haa haa haa, and we did.... we were tipsy enough to make walking fun, haa haa haa.

Tomorrow as it turned out, unexpectedly, was an absolute gem of a day! Probably the most fun yet!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Seoul Day 4, What an adventurous day

Dear Matt and Mar,

What a day this had turned out to be, we tried (let me stress the word ‘tried’) to leave the hotel early, haa haa haa, Konjiam (about 40 km (as the crow flies) was quite some distance away, oh I wished we had hire the car for the day, haa haa haa haa, but we didn’t, so it was to the Underground once more :-)

001Maybe I could have chosen better route, with less changes (sorry), but soon enough we’d found ourselves looking at the empty taxi rank, haa haa haa, and we waited (what seemed to be half an eternity), and to be honest I was slowly steaming inside, as it was getting to be quite late (noon-ish) and I wanted you two to have lots of time at the ski resort.

Suddenly a taxi turned and we found ourselves heading towards Konjiam (which was less than fifteen minutes from the Underground station), once arrived, I was totally lost on what to do, haa haa haa haa. The obvious move was to buy the tickets... haa haa haa. Wow, what a nube... I went through the motion of selecting the ticket type and so on, but then she asked if we could ski/snowboard... well, my intention was just to go take you two in and have a go (on a very shallow hill), but she wouldn’t allow that, haa haa haa (I wasn’t laughing at the time).

The thought of all that travel and not being able to let you two play, did stress me quite a bit, but we decided to take a little time out and recoup at the local cafe nearby... after a superb cup of coffee, I went back to the ticketing office, and this time I knew exactly what I was doing, bought the tickets (by the hours), rented the right equipment (decided on snowboards for the three of us), rushed back to the coffee shop and ushered us all towards the main lobby, where we were fitted out for boots, then to upstairs for the snowboards.

WOW... as soon as we saw the slopes, I was totally in awe and dumb struck by the view that was in front of us, the white mountain sides that climb and climb, they was touching the light whisper of cloud, against the endless bright blue sky, the hint of snow being blown by the high wind in the far distance, the dashes of colourful ski suits and jackets across the white glittering canvas, the smiles, the laughter, the vastness of it was all truly amazing!

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I didn’t need to snowboard or ski, I was perfectly happy in the viewing / waiting gallery, lol, but I was carrying 3 heavy snowboards, haa haa haa. So we said goodbye to your mother (all smiles) and we entered through the turn gates and headed toward the slopes... wow.

I didn’t know how to put on the snowboard, and all I can say is thank you ‘YouTube’, haa haa haa, talking about learning on the fly.

I looked for the beginners hill, haa haa haa, there was long queue at the ski lift, and so we trudged along and in no time we found ourselves being ushered into rows (people there were unbelievably lovely). The ski lift scooped in behind us, we sat down, but my hands were so full I couldn’t pull down the security bar... oh dear... our family stopped the lift... there were a bunch of Korean shouting (understandably, lol) and somehow I’d managed to pull down the security bar (using Jedi mind force) and a second later we were moving once more (I didn’t dare to look back, haa haa haa).

Now to the top of the hill... all snowboards were on and I was just sitting, it looked like I was just enjoying the view, the truth was I didn’t wanted to stand up, didn’t have enough strength for one, lol, and was afraid I was going to die for another. Matt on the other hand was willing to give it a go straight away, I never knew we were raising a maniac, lol, he stood up and whoooosh off he went down the hill. Now if that was on land I would have certainly ran after him, but we were not, we were on the slope of certain death...  haa haa haa, so I just sat there, haa haa haa.

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Let me be clear, this was the first time for snowboarding and with zero knowledge. To me there was no ‘ready, steady, go’ on one of these thing. As soon as one stood up it was ‘GO’,  and ‘ARRRRGGGHHHH’, haa haa haa. Luckily I had Mar by my side, she was like my personal ‘something to grab’ thing, haa haa haa. Eventually after looking around and copying, we managed to glide down (somewhat awkwardly), the lesson here was not to go forward (and down the hill) but to go left and right, zig zagging down the hill, still that was still too fast for an old person like me... haa haa haa haa. But I was over the moon to see you two having such a great time, that was all your mother and I wanted.

A time later, Mar have had enough, and I noticed there was a huge sledging hill, and as I didn’t want to risk my life any longer, we all moved to the sledging. Now buying a ticket was a nightmare, I’d thought we could have bought the tickets at the sledging hill, but one had to go back to the front ticketing office, as I was halfway up a mountain it was a bit of a pain, haa haa haa. Long story short, by some miracles you two managed to sledge without tickets whilst I rushed and bought what was needed, it was like one of my ‘cardio’ day, and I don’t do cardio.

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The sun had left the sky, the flood lights came on, and to me the mountain and slopes became even more beautiful, I was totally lost for words and now beginning to understand why mountain climbing can be an obsession! But for us, it was time to call it a day, instead of rushing back into the city we’d decided to just eat here, there was a very good restaurant in the main plaza, and it was perfect.

For a while I’d forgot that we had to catch the bus back to the Underground station, after our supper it was discovered that the next bus was at 23:00, haa haa haa and my little casio read 20:00 ish... haa haa haa. While you three were sitting and playing outside I’d went down to the information (absolutely great bunch of staff) who helped to call one of those moonlight taxi, as it was taking some time, your mother came and see how I was doing... The staff actually walked out into the cold with your mother and I, and the taxi was there waiting for us, but you two had disappeared!

A whirlwind of running and shouting ensue, the panic level doubled every passing minute, it was dark, cold and quiet... Suddenly I saw Matt coming out from the restaurant we had our supper, Mar needed to do a number two, haa haa haa haa haa, and her brother was just looking out for her, lol.

By the time we were all together, the taxi had left, can’t blame him... and that fantastic lady was making several calls out in the cold with us, it must have been another fifteen minutes before we found ourselves in the warm taxi.

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The Underground was quite busy, but my main concern was what to do when Mar falls asleep, haa haa haa, and she did. Instead of catching the Underground all the way to Seoul Station and walk home, we decided to jump out at one of the main Underground station (well we just jump out when most of the people left the train, an indication of arriving at one of the bigger station) to catch a taxi back to the hotel. Apart from the first taxi refusing us (I think I gave him the wrong address), we arrived home all worn out and it was a superb day!