A well timed visit for sakura

Gosh, has it been so long since my last blog entry?  Time does fly, and I’m pretty sure it is going to take a couple of days to actually get this entry posted.  I’ve been very busy the past few weekends. 

Two weeks ago, Tomo was visiting and we visited Joel Robuchon’s La Table again.  It was very good.  Tomo took really nice pictures and I was going to do the whole foodie thing and narrate the meal.  But I realize that I am not really a foodie.  I can say that we enjoyed the meal and the wine course very much. 

On April 1, Ben and Carrie arrived from LA for a visit to Japan.  Tomo came down to Nagoya again on Thursday, I took Friday and Monday off, and I got to go sightseeing with friends.

Aichi-ken, the prefecture that Nagoya is in, is home to Toyota.  Mondays through Fridays, Toyota offers a plant tour.  I have always wanted to go, and thought this was a perfect opportunity to visit the factory.  You have to reserve months in advance, and there is only one English tour a day.  Cameras are not allowed inside the factory so I don’t have any pictures of interest.  It was interesting to see the Toyota factory in operation, especially for geeks like us who have all studied the Toyota Production System in one way or another (three engineers and Tomo worked briefly at Hino).  We were all impressed by the welding robots.  They looked like animals!  We were also impressed by the parts kit carts and their automatic delivery from the stock room to the assembly position.  The more I think about it, the more interesting it is.

We went to dinner at an Okinawan izakaya called Nanpu with a colleague from work.  She is well known at the restaurant and I am somewhat known, so we always have a good meal and a good time there.  The group picture is fuzzy, so unfortunately no picture of that as well.

Tomo had to leave on Saturday, and the weather was icky, so there’s not much to report.  I think we wandered around a little bit and watched a movie (Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist) on AppleTV.  Basically we hit department stores in the afternoon and did something in the morning that I cannot recall.

Sunday though was an absolutely gorgeous day.  The temperature was warming up, and the sky was blue.  We, or I guess more correctly, I, decided that we would go to Seto and visit a ceramics town.  Seto is still in Aichi-ken but is a little bit out in the country.  It turns out a lot of places, but not all places, are closed on Sunday.

Ben and Carrie enjoy the fine ceramics in a shop.

Ben and Carrie in Seto

 

We wandered around, and discovered an older Japan compared to Nagoya.  We found a shop where you can buy gakuran.

Gakuran shop

 

And we saw a restaurant (I think) with some precariously stacked empty crates.  This is NOT an optical illusion, the crates were nearly defying gravity.

Precarious crates

 

I saw something that I had not seen in a long time in Japan, an alcohol vending machine, jidohanbaiki ,自動販売機.  I’m not sure why the machine is so poorly framed, I promise I did not sample its wares.

Alcohol from a vending machine

 

Luckily, Ben and Carrie timed their trip just in time for さくら (sakura  – cherry blossoms).  Here’s a nice shot from a temple in Seto.

Sakura in Seto

 

We left Seto in time to go to Tsurumai park in Nagoya to see the さくら and enjoy 花見 (hanami – the tradition of enjoying the blooming of the blossoms).  People celebrate hanami mostly by putting out blue tarps, bringing in food and alcohol, and getting rippingly drunk.

Hanami in Tsurumai Park, Nagoya

 

Of course, hanami is open to all ages to enjoy, year after year after year.

Hanami in Tsurumai Park, Nagoya

 

Monday we went to Kyoto.  The weather was fantastic, and the cherry blossoms were great.  We visited Ryoanji, Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji, The Philosopher’s Walk, and Kiyomizudera.  It was a very full day.  I’d love to share some pictures from Ryoanji, but unfortunately I discovered shortly after our visit to Ryoanji that I was shooting without a CF card in my camera.  In other words, a camera with no film.  What is the biggest shame though is that it was the first day of school in Japan for the new year.   We passed a kindergarten just as the students were released when we were walking from Ryoanji to Kinkakuji.  The mothers were very dressed up as were the kids.  I took a picture of a mother in a a kimono and her child.  I was interested to see how it turned out, to I tried to review it on my camera.  At that point I realized the photo was not recorded.  That’s too bad!  Oh well.  I reconfigured my camera so it would not shoot without a card now.  What follows is a fairly traditional set of tourist pictures in Kyoto.  But since this is a blog, I see absolutely nothing wrong with tourist pictures.  After all, we were tourists.

A look at Kinkakuji, or The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.  This was the setting for a famous Yukio Mishima book titled, you guessed it, “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.”

Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Kyoto

 

We then took a taxi across town to the area of the Ginkakuji, or the silver pavilion.  We ate lunch at a famous udon restaurant named Omen (which always makes me think of the movie series).  From there, we went down Philosopher’s Walk which was surrounded by sakura.  We continued to walk to Kiyomizudera.  It was quite a haul.

The ginkakuji was also undergoing renovation, so I took more pictures of the grounds.  The gardens at the ginkakuji are beautiful.  Here are a couple of shots of the rock gardens.

Ginkakuji zen garden

 

Ginkakuji zen garden

 

Ginkakuji zen garden

 

There are also luscious moss fields on the hillsides.

Ginkakuji hillside

 

Ginkakuji hillside

 

 

What is interesting is to see the variety of clothes people will wear to the temple.  The shoe choices always get me.  I don’t think there is any such thing as “sensible shoes in Japan.  But are heels really the right idea for such a rough road?

The right shoes at the right time

 

It is always nice to see people out walking in traditional clothes, although the practicality can be debated as well (photo cropped).

Kimonos at Ginkakuji

 

The Philosopher’s Walk, or 哲学の道, is lined with cherry trees.  I have megabits of sakura photos.  That can get a little, well, boring after a few pictures of white-pink blossoms.  So I sampled just a few.

Sakura on Philosopher's Walk

 

Sakura on Philosopher's Walk

 

We finished up the evening in Higashiyama where I took a picture of a shrine near kiyomizudera.

 

Night light up on Higashiyama

 

 

Some final Thai thoughts

I had a list of topics that I wanted to cover in my Thai posting.  I got most of them covered in my entry, but there are few I didn’t get covered.

 

Gender fluidity

One thing I noticed in Thailand was gender was very fluid.  I’m not talking about sleazy bar areas where ladyboy shows are the norm.  Just in normal, every day life, sometimes gender was difficult to determine.  Was that beautiful girl and guy?  Was that odd looking man a woman?  There were definitely times where Tomo and I would ask each other, “male or female?”  It was a very interesting to see in everyday life – the group of security guards at the airport, the maid who came to turn down our room in Koh Samui, the server at Ice Monster, and any number of other places.

 

Plastic surgery

Apparently Thailand is also known for plastic surgery.  I didn’t know that.  We saw a lot of Thai women with Angelina Jolie-esque lips that didn’t quite fit.  But the icing on the cake was two women on our flight who looked like they had a little “work” done in Thailand.  I looked at them and thought, “can they really think that is sexy?”  I just don’t get it.  I understand vanity, and I certainly want to look good, but where does their perception of looking good come from?  That’s what I don’t get.  Wear funky clothes if you want, get a cool hairstyle, but don’t inject a bunch of junk in your lips to make them look like … like what?  Puffy lips?  Sigh.  I could also go on and on about bad wigs on men in Japan, but I’ll pass on that for now.

Do not trust wily strangers

Do not trust wily strangers according to the authorities at the Grand Place and Emerald Buddha Temple. They forgot to mention unscrupulous taxi drivers.

Do not trust wily strangers

I really enjoy the English message on this sign.

I am back from Thailand now, somewhat sad to no longer be on vacation and somewhat happy to be home. I am really tired, but I think it is more a case of being depressed about the end of vacation, being alone again, and having to work tomorrow. I’ll survive.

There’s so much to show and so much to tell, I hope I have the energy to write it all down in a way that is interesting to people. There’s not so much to report on Koh Samui. We were staying at a resort and we were somewhat isolated from any sort of city. The room was peaceful and we enjoyed good meals and nice massages. Unfortunately, those all came at resort prices instead of Thai prices. We were ready for that, so it was fine.

I see why everyone loves Bangkok. People refer to Japan as a place with organized chaos. Bangkok is just chaos. However, on the chaos scale, it really isn’t that high. If Tokyo has a chaos ranking of 1 and New Delhi has a chaos ranking of 10, I’d put Bangkok at only about a 4. Is it crazy? Yes. Is it packed? Yes. Does it feel impossible? Not at all.

A little crowded

I’m not sure how to organize my thoughts in this blog. I think I’ll just try to discuss in a reverse chronological order and share some general impressions.

 

Bangkok

We had a few recommendations of things to see in Bangkok. Also, Tomo had a good guide book from Japan that listed places to go. I had Time Out Bangkok. I usually love the Time Out books, but for some reason this one didn’t help me out initially. I think when you know the city the book is very helpful.

Our first night in Bangkok was really just a quick turnaround before we went to Koh Samui. We stayed at the JW Marriott, which was very nice. We got in trouble for taking pictures in the lobby, I guess they still had heightened security measures following the Jakarta bombing in 2003. I won’t post a picture of the lobby because I noted that their website did not have an image, but you can google if you want.

We didn’t explore Bangkok on our initial arrival but really enjoyed the Executive Lounge!

We returned to Bangkok Thursday (March 5) afternoon, vowing to have a plan ahead of time so that we didn’t miss out with our limited time. We stayed downtown at the brand new Centara Grand at Centralworld. The location is extremely convenient – close to public transportation and good shopping areas (ranging from exclusive shops to uniquely Bangkok). There is a ton of development in this area, and I’m sure 15 years ago it looked nothing like this, and 15 years from now it will look nothing like it does now. Bangkok still has the feeling of the business pouring out on to the sidewalk, much like Singapore did 15 years ago. The last time I was in Singapore, it didn’t feel that way. I anticipate Thailand to go through the same transition, unfortunately.

Ritzy shopping near the hotel

 

Shops spilling into the streets

 

Shops spilling onto the sidewalk

 

Our hotel was brand new, only opening in December of 2008. While I can recommend the location, I have some difficulty recommending the hotel yet. They are definitely having some growing pains associated with the hotel. For example, it took us 20 minutes to check out on an internet pre-paid room. It turns out the room wasn’t charged to my credit card ahead of time after all so we had to sort that out. I’m waiting for the double billing!

Thursday night, Tomo was determined that we were going to get a certain chicken rice meal for dinner. The restaurant is one of the typical open-to-the-street infernos of boiling water, soup, chicken, and beer. The temperature range of Bangkok is hot to hotter.

A little warm

Tomo’s guide book and his natural guidance got us to the restaurant with little difficulty. Thanks to both. Here’s Tomo waiting for the food.

Waiting for food

 

Here’s my dish with spicy sauce drizzled on top…

Dinner

 

And here’s the whole restaurant and its fabulous decor.

The epitome of style

 

I know that I would have gone back there had I stayed longer in Bangkok. Nothing like hot soup to cool you down on a hot night. It is reminiscent of Swee Kee chicken rice in Singapore (apparently a beloved but lost restaurant).

After dinner, we walked the long walk to the Suan Lum Night Bazaar. Although heavily touristed, it is still a pretty cool place. Apparently this too is headed for eventual “redevelopment.” Surprisingly, I took no pictures as we wandered around the shops even though I had at least one camera with me. Why? Here Tomo was able to buy some fisherman’s pants (or Thai pants). We also enjoyed the beer garden, food stalls, and live entertainment at the market.

Food stalls at Suan Lum Night Bazaar

Ordering food at Suan Lum Night Bazaar

 

The next day, we planned to visit The Royal Palace, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun, taking a river boat to avoid the congested streets. The river boat turned in to our first transportation rip off, but I’ll leave that for a different section. Bangkok started their Skytrain in 1999 and has been quite helpful getting out of the congested traffic. We took the Skytrain to the Central Pier to catch a river boat.

Skytrain walkway

 

Once we got to Central Pier, we boarded a river boat to go to the Grand Palace. We only spent 120 Baht (about $3.50) for an all day pass as we were told this was our only option (not true). The view from the river was interesting, and the amount of detritus in the water was remarkable. It is always scary to see dead fish floating in a river, but we certainly could along the Chao Phraya river. The boat was very convenient though.

On the ferry

 

Plying the Chao Phraya

 

The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha

We arrived at The Grand Palace and there you are first directed to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the buildings of the upper terrace.

The four main monuments are a reliquary in the shape of a golden chedi; the Mondop which is a repository for Buddhist sacred scriptures inscribed on palm leaves, contained within a beautiful mother of pearl inlaid cabinet; a miniature Angkor Wat crafted by the order of King Mongkut (Rama IV); and the Royal Pantheon in which statues of past sovereigns of the ruling Chakri dynasty are enshrined.

Scattered around the terrace are statues of elephants and mythical beings. The models of elephants are a recod of the famous white elephants acquired during the reigns of the various kings of Thailand.

– Guide to the Grand Palace

Of course, like you, I know the definition of “reliquary” and “chedi.” In case you have forgotten, a “reliquary” is, as you would surmise, a place where holy relics are kept. “Chedi” is the Thai equivalent of the Indian “stupa.” Ah, so it must be clear now. A “chedi” is “A bell shaped monument erected to house a holy statue or an object of a prominent person, such as the ashes of important monks and royalty, or relics of the Buddha. In Thailand they are called phra chedi and are most commonly used as a relic shrine. The bell shaped chedi is a copy of the Indian stupa or cetiya, in Burma known as zedi or pagode, in Vietnam as chua, in Tibet as chorten, and in Sri Lanka called dagoba.” (Source).

Of course, the minute we walked in the entrance of the terrace, the sparkling buildings, colors, and giant mythical beings required immediate photography. I was worn out by the time of the actual Grand Palace.

Here’s a mythical creature …

Mythical creatures at the Grand Palace

 

And here’s another mythical creature and a woman with matching hair. I had to get the blue hair and the blue skin together.

Separated at birth?

 

Images of the Mondop …

The Mondop

The Mondop

 

The golden chedi was previously featured …

golden chedi

 

The model of Angkor Wat, in detail. To me, it looks like the model is made of sand and a good rain would wash it all away. That’s not the case, but it sure looks that way.

Angkor Wat model

 

Some additional mythical creatures.

More mythical creatures

 

And two of the scariest things we saw – us. Yikes. That’s what happens when you take your hat on and off, wear it frontwards and backwards, and get really hot standing in the sun. Don’t we look good? What is going on with my hairline in this picture? This photo is taken outside the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

Non-mythical hot and tired creatures

 

On the backside of the temple is, I assume, a protector of the temple.

Protector of the temple

 

I learned something important as well, there is no skateboarding of roller skating around the temples. You know I was really looking forward to shredding the temples on my board, but the rules are the rules.

No skateboarding allowed

 

I took some photos of the Grand Palace, but I find them rather uninteresting so I didn’t post them here.

We were pretty exhausted and rather overheated after our time at the Grand Palace, so we splurged on a pricey tourist meal in an air-conditioned restaurant that must make a killing because it is right near the exit of the temple. Clever. It wasn’t THAT overpriced, and the AC made up for it. Then we decided to wander over to Wat Pho to check out the reclining Buddha and maybe get a massage as recommended by a friend. Before lunch, I could not imagine letting anyone touch my body. I didn’t even want to touch it, so I didn’t think a massage would be in the cards. After lunch though, I started considering the massage again.

On our way to Wat Pho, I took several photos of the area just to get the general feel of Thailand. Here’s one.

Street, Bangkok

 

Wat Pho

Inside the grounds of Wat Pho I took a few more pictures. Here’s one showing off the colors inside the temple.

Inside Wat Pho

 

And here is one of the reclining Buddha. A very chill Buddha if you ask me.

A little crowded

 

Here’s a picture of more chedis in Wat Pho
Chedis in Wat Pho

 

We did decide to get a massage inside the temple at Wat Pho. They offer several different massages including traditional Thai massage (fully clothed and focusing on kneading and pressure points), foot massage (reflexology), and other massages. I opted for a traditional Thai message for the first time while Tomo opted for the foot massage. When I got a foot massage in Hong Kong, I could barely walk for 3 days, so I decided it might be a bad idea. I felt bad for my masseuse, who had to touch my kind of wet clothes. Oh well, I guess they’ve touched worse. I got just a half hour massage, but it did help me feel revitalized. We were both ready to go home prior to the massage. Afterwards, we decided we had time to visit Wat Arun. I’ve determined that I prefer an oil based massage that doesn’t solely focus on pressure points. It is nice to have had enough variety now to be able to know which massages I like. I remember one “massage” during the AIDS Ride that actually induced shock. That is NOT the massage for me.

 

Wat Arun

Wat Arun is a single tower that you can see on the Thai coins. We hopped on the 3 baht river ferry (about 10 cents) and headed over for a look. It was not very crowded, and once we were there we noticed that you could climb stairs to a pretty high vantage point on the temple. Here’s a detail of the temple. Doesn’t everything feel like a melting candle?

Wat Arun

 

And here’s Tomo climbing the steep stairs. Of course, it is hard to capture the perspective through a camera lens.

Steep stairs at Wat Arun

 

From the heights of Wat Arun, you can look out over a lot of Bangkok. Here’s a view across the river towards the Grand Palace.

The view from Wat Arun

 

Koh Samui

You have a good idea what Koh Samui was about from my previous entry. It is always nice to be on a beach holiday, and I always get a little bored with it as well. We relaxed, went to the pool, swam, walked along the beach, and generally chilled. Here are a few more pictures of Koh Samui.

Here’s a nice advertisement style picture of our couch in our hotel room or “villa.”

Inside our room in Koh Samui

 

The rocky beach to the side of the hotel.

Hotel beach

 

Fishing boats in Lamai

Fishing boats in Lamai

 

As I child, I hated mannequins. And escalators. You can imagine I was a wreck in department stores. Perhaps the mannequins below were popular when I was a child. They were all over Thailand and were very, very scary.

Thai mannequins

 

The airport in Koh Samui, built by Bangkok Airways, was very “Fantasy Island.” It was all mostly outdoors, including the arrivals area and the luggage carousel.

Koh Samui arrivals

 

Compare that to the ultra-modern brand new Bangkok airport.

Bangkok airport

 

Bangkok airport

 

Transportation Rip Offs

I’ve got a lot more notes to cover, but I think I’ll take care of those in an additional post. However, I promised I’d describe my transportation rip-off experiences. Taxi drivers are notorious for not wanting to use the meter. I had successfully battled them for most of the time in Bangkok. However, my last night in Bangkok, I was completely discombobulated by a taxi driver. Compounded by the fact that I just wanted to take the Skytrain, the experience proved very frustrating. After dinner on Friday night, we decided to take a taxi back to the hotel to avoid getting overheated since we were leaving really early the next morning. Actually, Tomo wanted the taxi and wanted the train.  We flagged down a taxi who didn’t want to use the meter. I walked away but was called back when he agreed to use the meter. We explained where the hotel was, gave him the hotel card, and were on our way. I noticed we were going the opposite direction of our hotel. About that time, Tomo stated, “We’ve done really well here and haven’t been ripped off” or something to that effect. I said, “We, I’d wait before you say that because this taxi driver is taking us for a ride.” I was paying attention and expected a left turn soon to move a little North and get on a less congested road back to the hotel. Sure enough, we made the left turn, and then as expected we crossed a canal. I was feeling a bit more relieved. But then we crossed another canal that I was not expecting. And then after we went under the expressway, we didn’t come across Wireless Road as I expected. And then we went by the new train station which was DEFINITELY not the right direction. At that point I said, “Where are we going?” and restated the name of the hotel. I think I even gave him the card. The taxi driver mumbled back something close to the name of our hotel. We then started passing metro stations, and I had NO idea where we were. I should have stopped us at that point but I was not sure where we were. Again I asked, and he pulled over. “Oh, you wanted to go HERE?!?” He used the excuse that there are two hotels with the same name as the reason for taking us on the crazy ride. While it is true, there are two Centara Grand hotels, there is only one hotel ON THE MAP WE GAVE HIM. We got him headed the right direction and I sat there fuming. I was very preachy to Tomo, “What is the lesson learned here?” I asked. I think I wanted the answer to be, “You are right and I am wrong.” Of course that wasn’t exactly the answer I got back and I feel bad about getting angry, but the Skytrain was soooo close initially.

In my mind I had decided I would not pay over 100 Baht for the ride, regardless of what the meter said. I would stay in the taxi, complain to the doorman, and make him support our cause with the taxi driver. Once we finally got to the hotel, after about 30 kilometers, our taxi fare was 285 Baht. It is important to know that is less than 10 USD. But that wasn’t the point. I said, “I will only pay you 100 baht” and explained to the doorman what had happened. Thais are not big on confrontation and the doorman definitely didn’t want to get in the middle of it. I think he bought in to the idea that the taxi driver thought we wanted the other hotel. I told the taxi driver he was a disgrace to his people. I doubt he understood that. In the end, I gave him 140 baht for a meter of 285 baht and what should have been a 60 baht ride. Someone else was waiting to take a taxi, and I was incredulous when the doorman loaded him in the taxi. I told them. “Do not take this taxi. This man is dishonest.” The person waiting for the taxi said, “I’m Thai, I can handle it.” I was still stuck on the taxi driver disgracing all Thais and told the guy about to get in the taxi, “He’s a disgrace to your people.” In the meantime, Tomo was photographing the taxi driver’s ID in the cab and the license plate. The doorman was muttering, “Have a nice evening” to every complaint I made as I stormed in to the hotel.

Am I a little embarrassed about my reaction? I’m a lot embarrassed, especially after writing it the way I did. Did the taxi driver really get confused about the hotel? I don’t know. It is possible. But for crying out loud, we showed him the map (a little hard to read in dim light) and more than once tried to relate it to a specific shopping area. Since we at first would not agree to use the meter and then he changed his mind, I was highly skeptical of his motives. In the end we made Americans and Japanese look like raging lunatics and I have a sour taste in my mouth for all things taxi in Bangkok.

For me, the money is not a big deal and that’s what makes it a little more embarrassing. However, honesty is important to me, and I hate the idea that perhaps we were taken advantage of.

I think I was already tweaked because earlier in the day we had taken the river boats along the Chao Phraya. At the central pier, it was very confusing which boat to take and we were told the only way to take the next express boat was to buy a 120 baht single day ticket. Once on the boat, tbe ticket lady came along, selling tickets for 18 baht. How is THAT for a nice little swindle? So we paid almost 4 times more than necessary for our journey up and down the river. Again, it is only about $3.50 that I spent, but the misinformation frustrated me.

Don’t worry, the transportation frustrations didn’t ruin the trip. Hopefully next time I’ll be able to handle that kind of situation with more grace. Even better, I hope I don’t get myself in that situation again.

I still have lots of other impressions to write of, including puffy lips and gender identity. More to come in a post later, but I wanted to get the pictures up sooner rather than later.

Too much to show and tell

I’ve been working on a Thailand entry for over two hours now and I’m not even close to completing. I admire those that can blog every day. Where do they get the time? Gosh, maybe I’ll add a column of ads to see if I can supplement my work. If both of you that read this blog keep clicking through maybe I’ll make some money.

I’m still editing pictures and content and trying to organize. It isn’t like it is a spectacular blog entry, just a lot to cover. Tomorrow night I have to study for class on Tuesday night, so I’m not sure when the next post will be. I’ll try my best.

In the meantime, here’s a picture because everyone likes a picture.

Temple at the Grand Palace

Decadence in a difficult time

In this time of staggering economic troubles, I feel a little odd staying at a resort on an island in Thailand. It doesn’t feel like I should be living so extravagantly, even if my extravagant is not that outlandish. I hope I am getting the appropriate karma credits somehow and the karma police will not punish me. Monday I was reading all sorts of super scary articles in the newspaper as my vacation began.

Today was our first real day on Koh Samui. Since it is an island resort on the beach, it seemed appropriate to go to the beach and swimming pool. I don’t want the kind of tan that I sought as a youngster – and as a matter of fact I am afraid my skin shows a little of that over-exuberance. Still, I am at a beach, I do have free time, and it seems I should get a little bit of a suntan. I lathered up with sunscreen though, telling myself that SPF 20 was more than adequate. My sun block worked well in all the places that it reached. Unfortunately, I have an archipelago of sunburn running from my left armpit down towards my navel. If I had a body to die for I’d take a photo for your amusement. Unfortunately I’d have to do some photoshopping to get the body I desired so I’ll pass on posting (alternately, I could actually work for the body I desire).

We decided to go to Chaweng in the afternoon for a visit to a spa that Tomo had read about as well as dinner at a restaurant there. Transportation around the island is not easy and, quite honestly, the taxi rides are Tokyo / New York prices. All taxis are metered and no taxi uses the meter. All prices are negotiated but seemingly fixed. Since our resort is fairly isolated, it was good to get into the “city.” Chaweng reminded me of a really clean India or a little bit more rundown Greek island.

The city of Chaweng in Koh Samui

 

We went to the Is Spa where they specialize in hot stone massages. Hey, if that is their specialty then why not go for it. We ordered two hot stone massages and entered in to a peaceful world of oils and stones rubbed all over our bodies. It was definitely a good experience. I had, “hot, smooth, volcanic pebbles … placed on [my] various chakras (natural body-meridians) by two therapists who combine the use of essential oils and the movement of the stones to stimulate [my] lymphatic system, helping to detoxify [my] body.” It was moderately difficult to emerge back on to the hustle and bustle of Chaweng after the message.

The Is Spa is associated with The Library, a total boutique hotel in the middle of a mess. We wanted to eat at The Page, the restaurant associated with the hotel. The Page is right on the beach and tonight the air was comfortable and we had a nice breeze keeping us feeling good. The food was good as well, and tonight we opted for western fare instead of Thai. I felt like I was at a trendy LA restaurant.

Here’s the sign for The Page. Note all the wires running above.

The sign for The Page

 

Here’s the entrance to The Library.

Entering in to The Library compound

 

And here’s the famous red pool (is it filled with blood?) at night.

The red pool at night.

 

Our resort isn’t too shabby either and I took a few pictures this morning and when we checked in.

Renaissance Koh Samui

Renaissance Koh Samui

And the door handle in our room.

Door handle in room

 

That’s all for now. I want to relax!