Portland & Falls City, Oregon
Spent two days visiting the Brodehls in Portland. Leisurely time spent. Missed Dawn who was in Brooklyn doing an info. tent for Adidas at a festival at Coney Island. Who knows, maybe she had more fun. Went to the girl’s swim lessons each day after their summer camp. hiOut to dinner both nights. Always love seeing their family.
After two days we headed down to Falls City for 3 nights at Meg & Ben Willett’s 44 acre ranch. Shortly after we arrived, Ben drove up in his tractor with a culled intact goat in the scoop. They butcher a goat or lamb every 3 weeks for meat. Currently, there are 51 goat and sheep left, inc. a lot of new little ones. Ben chopped off the dead goat’s head and hooves with an ax (dog food) then split the skull in half (2 dogs). Hung the carcass high off the tractor scoop and Meg & Ben took turns skinning the goat. After degutting and keeping desired organ meats (dogs get the rest), the body was quartered.
Meg does all the chartucherie in the kitchen.
Last night we BBQed goat ribs. Everything is picked from their extensive garden. Lettuce salad with beets and rutabaga, home grown potatoes, broccoli, all seasoning is freshly picked for each meal. Literally, “farm to table”.
Dessert was merrionberry ice cream. Celeste and I picked the berries, the cows gave the milk, the well gave the ice. All eggs are from their chickens.
After all the years of visiting Bangkok we did two things this time we have never done before.
First, we stayed in a high rise hotel on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. We chose the Shangri-La Hotel because each room in the original Krungthep building has its own outdoor balcony. The Shangri-La’s newer highrise as well as the Peninsula Hotel across the river and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel next door are all in enclosed high rises. We love sitting outside till midnight in the 80 degree heat as we always have in serviced apartments during past visits.
The river boat and barge traffic is greatest during the day. However, at night the Chao Phraya River is full of restaurant-party boats. Each is brightly lit and thumping out dance techno.
Secondly, we have never been to Bangkok’s Chinatown. Where we usually stay, near Sukhumvit Rd., is to far away to walk to Chinatown. Now we are a half hour walk away.
Since we have been coming to Bangkok the skyline has changed dramatically. The development here (and all Asian cities) puts the USA to shame as far as numbers of buildings and unique architectural styles. Ours are basically all boxes because unique architecture costs more $$$ and reduces stock holders dividends. Asians are always trying to outdo each other.
Bangkok now has over 25,000 unsold condominiums. Most are over $750,000 USD. Shopping centers (mega malls) are numerous all with the same stores (Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, etc.). The most recent opened November, 2018 across the river from our hotel. Icon Siam. Whole complex is in excess of 1.5 Billion USD. Nearly 6 million square feet of retail on 11 floors, 5,000 car parking garage, two residential towers. Mandarin Oriental Residences at 52 stories and Magnolia Residences at 70 stories. The key buyers are Chinese citizens getting their money out of China.
Thailand is smart, only Thai citizens can own land. Foreigners can freely buy and sell structures/condos but never the land the structure sits on.
This phase of the party ends tomorrow. Love the return flights, leave Bangkok at 1730 on Tuesday, arrive SFO at 1930 on Tuesday. Wish it really were that quick.
The remainder of the party is 6 days in Oregon visiting our kids and grand kids.
Rayavadee, Life, Land and Animals
Rayavadee has created a true jungle like environment. A former coconut plantation turned into a jungle of vegetation, ponds, beautiful landscaping, natural wild life and the beautiful beaches of Railay and Phranang.
Our dear friend Sayan, had this beautiful floral arrangement made for our 45th anniversary night. Sayan is the longest serving Rayavadee staff member for over 35 years. When we greet Sayan, it is always with a nice American style hug. No wei for us.
Rayavadee, Krabi, Thailand
This our 10th visit to Rayavadee. Guess we like it. The gracious and familar staff treat us very well. Staff members greet me as Mr. Tom or Kuhn Tom. Celeste is called Maria (her real 1st name as in her passport). Always fun to chat it up with the staff. You can do this in the off season.
The Asian Tsunami took its toll. The wave hight was only 24″ on to the resort, on the West facing beaches, through the resort, out the East facing beach. All outdoor furniture disappeared. All fresh water ponds became salt water and full of sand. Half the plant life died due to the salt. No guests or staff were killed fortunately.
After the tsunami, the resort was closed for 6 months while the entire staff became gardners replanting the many acres of land. Today, the resort is more beautiful than ever. Animal life abounds. The chirps and croaks go on all night.
Every room is a free standing 2 story round building with a roof resembling a German WW1 helmet. Living room and half bath downstairs, bedroom and full bath upstairs.
Rachamankha, Chiang Mai
This was our 6th stay at Rachamankha. They only have 25 rooms. The owner, Rooj, built this facility from scratch with architectural designs by his famous Thai architect/step father. Rooj’s birth father was a prominent real estate developer in Bangkok. The family has $$$$.
Rooj started acquiring Thai antiquities and contempory original art early on. He and his partner live in a separate home built within the compound. In his private residence hangs original oils by Henry Moore, Picasso, Miro and on. He also has an extensive collection of contemporary prints which rotate through the public areas. Currrently in the bar hangs a very large Robert Motherwell litho.
The public areas and guest rooms are filled with limited edition prints by contemporary Thai artists as well as his collection of antique Thai prints and paintings. There are Ming Dynasty Chinese stone statues adorning the sides of stairs.
Enjoy the photos as we do. Celeste says, “This is my favorite hotel in SE Asia”.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
This is our umpteenth visit to Chiang Mai, the Northern Thai city that always pleases. The weather has been spectacular. Cooler than normal with high temperatures around 85 and lows around 75.
Staying at our favorite hotel on earth, situated within the old walled and moated city! We really have been slugs, eating, sleeping, lounging around the pool and taking short walks about town.
Last night, Sunday, the main street through the old quarter is turned into “Walking Street”. Vendors line both sides of the street and through the middle for 1.5 miles. Half cater to tourists with unique gift items and apparel and half cater to locals with food options. Everone is eating and shopping as they walk.
Today, Monday, we have a lunch date with our friend Kuhn (Mr.) Pongsak Siriphan. Pongsak goes back 20+ years to the Rayavadee Resort in Krabi, Thailand. A welcoming staff member at that time, we have stayed in touch. When the Rayavadee bought the Tamarind Village in Chiang Mai, roughly 15 years ago, Pongsak was transferred north to be the asst. manager. Now he is the manager of Tamarind Village. His business card refers to him as “Chief of the Village”. We had a wonderful lunch, discussing old and new times. Looking forward to our next visit.
A few more color shots of Chiang Mai.
Tomorrow morning we fly from Chiang Mai to Krabi in the south. Rayavadee staff will greet us at the airport and transport us to their speed boat for the 20 minute trip on the Andaman Sea to the Rayavadee resort.
Final Day in Luang Prabang
Lazy day today. Got up at 6AM. Went for a 2 hour walk before the heat sets in. Following are some sites from our walk.
Late tomorrow we Air Asia back to Bangkok, over night at airport hotel, then the next day fly up to our beloved Rachamankha in Chiang Mai.
1st Full Day in Luang Prabang, Lao (Laos)
With the time zone changes, we were both wide awake at 4:30 AM the next morning. What better time than to check out the Buddhist monks doing their morning alms run which starts at 5:30 AM. Buddhist monks are not allowed to buy or grow their own food. They live off of the offerings of the faithful who believe they will earn merit and good graces in the after life by feeding the monks.
The faithful put sticky rice into the bowls that each monk carries. The faithful must stay lower than the monks and avoid eye contact during the alms run. Women are NEVER EVER allowed to touch a monk. Businesses and individuals also drop off food items at the various monasteries. Over 200 monks process in groups as they come out from various monasteries.
Luang Prabang is the spiritual center of Theravada Buddhism in Laos. There are many monasteries. There are monks who are career monks for their entire lives but Laotian men do 1 month stints as monks at least twice in their lives to earn merit starting as early as age 10. They live in the monasteries under the guidance of the career monks. This brings great merit for the men and merit for their proud families.
The career monks are celibate and function as spiritual writers and counsellors and officiate at ceremonial functions. Unlike Christians, there are no church (temple) services but the faithful go to the temples whenever to pray and contemplate.
On a lighter, less informative note, Laos has always had a midnight curfew. All citizens must be in their houses by midnight. All restaurants/bars/stores close by 11:30 PM so employees can get home.
Now it was 6AM and breakfast isn’t served until 7:30. The weather is lovely before sun up. Everyone is out and about. We walked for about a mile and stumbled across the Morning Market. The market is along a narrow lane and its side arteries. This market is a food market for the locals not a tourist market. Enjoy the photos!
With no refrigeration until about 10 years ago (now every home has refrigerators) Lao’s have the tradition of shopping daily for FRESH meats and produce. Chickens and some fish are still alive. Ya, there are flies everywhere but cooking takes care of that. Lao’s don’t do sushi.