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Monthly Archive: January 2018

Denver needs this technology

luggage video in airport

Screen in screen technology at the Bangkok airport. In the upper right corner, you can see luggage moving along.

We flew Bangkok Airlines to and from Koh Samui and we checked bags both ways – don’t ask!  At the Bangkok end, we waited quite a while (about 20 minutes) for our luggage to show up (and this was after a potty stop). The airport entertains passengers with ads on a big screen above the carousel.  At some point, we noticed a  little screen was added to the big screen.  Then we figured out we were seeing suitcases moving through the luggage system at the airport.  THEN, we saw our 2 suitcases fly by on the screen.  This gave us some hope that the luggage was on the way or at least was in the bowels of the airport someplace.

This is pretty cool technology. Think DIA (DEN) would ever install a few cameras in strategic locations in the luggage areas?  At least it relieves the boredom of just standing and waiting.

10 days in Koh Samui

Sawadee!  We’re back in Bangkok after 10 days on Koh Samui hanging out at the beach.  The weather was pretty warm and humid and rained more than it should have.  The Thais even complained about the heat!  The food was great tasting and cheap. Dinner was a whole $10 total when we did take-away and bought beer at the Family Mart.

 Romantic Bamboo seafood spaghetti

Romantic Bamboo was up the street from our hotel. It’s owned by an Italian guy and his Thai wife. She does all the cooking. He is perfect for a restaurant – personable, friendly, talkative, describes the food well, makes great suggestions. We ate there three nights.

Speaking of beer … Thailand has regulations on what time any alcohol can be sold and we never could remember the times!  The Family Mart and 7-11 all post the times on the refrigerated cases, thank heavens.  I know beer can’t be sold until 11 AM and, I think, it’s until 2 PM.  Then sales can start again sometime in the late afternoon.

We used some SPG points and stayed at two different properties – Sheraton and Le Meridien.  We liked them both but liked different things about each property.  The beach at the Meridien is covered with white soft sand and a reef protects it, making the water nice and calm.  The Sheraton’s water has many more waves, making it a great place if you’re into playing in the waves, but the sand is much coarser with lots of tiny shells in it.

Sheraton beach and waves

This beach is by the Sheraton Samui. The waves were pretty big while we stayed there.

rocks on beach

Soft sand by the Le Meridien hotel on Koh Samui. This beach was easy to walk on in our bare feet.

Sunset on a Koh Samui beach. Must be Happy Hour time!

Each hotel is located in the middle of a little village with restaurants and LAUNDRIES meaning we had clean clothes for about $1.25 per kilo of laundry. We’d waited awhile to do the wash so our bill was about $5.   We dropped the dirty clothes off in the morning and could pick it up the next day, clean and folded.  One day, the drying took a bit longer after the downpour we had in the middle of the night.  The lightning and thunder woke us both up about 5 AM and kept us awake for about an hour.

We took the wine glass from the air-conditioned room to the patio and it steamed up, along with my watch and the camera lens!

82 F feels like 91F

Notice the “Feels like” temp

weather report

84% humidity at 82 F. This is VERY humid!


If you need a drink or food at the pool, just push the buzzer on the table by your beach chair.

meridien do not disturb

This is the “Do not Disturb”
sign at the Le Meridien hotel in Koh Samui. It really is NOT a monkey picking his nose.

fungi on tree

We walked by this tree every morning. I have no idea what the fungi are that grow on the tree, but they’re pretty interesting.

Bangkok, Thailand

Shrimp Chips and Green curry chips in the same bag

Shrimp Chips and Green curry chips in the same bag


We don’t know what this is but the chips were really good!

Hot chili squid chips

Susan loves to hunt for different flavors of potato chips when she visits different countries. (This all started in Bhutan.)  These are ones we found in various grocery stores in Thailand.

Then there are the signs on public transport. Obviously, spending too much time looking at cell phones is a problem all over the world. These signs are posted on the SkyTrain metro system in Bangkok. And, yes,  cell phones are everywhere!

The Scotland trains aren’t the only ones who think we should talk to each other!

Don't look at your phone all the time

And look up!  Mark reached the point he doesn’t move for someone walking and looking down. He just lets them run into him.

We’ve been traveling for almost 5 months and haven’t had Mexican food the whole time.  Mark found this place, Sunrise Tacos,  that gets good reviews and it’s right near our hotel.  Why not?  The food turned out to be pretty good Mexican.  They even had spicy sauce for Mark’s burrito.  You say … but Thais know how to do spicy! That’s true but we’ve discovered they are somewhat reluctant to serve it to westerners. We don’t know if they think that all Europeans and Brits and US people don’t like spicy, but Mark has to convince most people that he actually likes HOT food!  Even Susan can eat medium spicy in restaurants for tourists.

Susan with a margarita

This was our first Mexican food in 5 months. We ate at Sunrise Mexican in Terminal 21 in Bangkok. The margs were pretty good and the glasses even better!

Mark enjoyed the margarita, too. We sat by a couple we think were from Russia and they liked the food, too.

We couldn’t take the lovely wine glasses out of the Executive Club Room so they gave us to-go cups for our wine to take to our room.  Too funny!

to go cups of wine

To go cups for wine to our room in Bangkok. The wine was almost done, anyway.

Thai Air first class!

We both have a bunch of United points saved up and we’ve been using them for many of the flights on this RTW trip on Star Alliance members. We decided a long time ago to do one splurge flight with points.  Thai Airways first class from Europe to Bangkok was the route we chose for our splurge. After our month in the UK, we headed off to Asia and routed ourselves from London to Munich (overnight) and then onto Bangkok.  We flew Lufthansa Business class from Heathrow to Munich. This flight is nothing special since Lufthansa doesn’t even have Business class seats on these short flights.  They simply block out the middle seat and call that Business Class.

The flight wasn’t crowded, though, and the flight attendant was really nice. She wanted to know all about our year of travel.  We landed on time in Munich and then waited for 40 minutes for luggage since the airport, in their infinite wisdom, posted one carousel for the luggage and then delivered it on another one!  Susan finally went to ask Customer Service. Her reply “The luggage is in on Carousel 8”.  We were all standing at 14!

After a night at the Novotel by the Munich airport, the next day was the fun flight on Thai Airways on an older 747 so no pods but super service.  Only 6 people were flying 1st class and it seemed as if we each had own flight attendant.

Dom Perignon champagne was offered as soon as we got on the plane and we readily accepted!

Thai dom champagne

Yes, this is what we drank!

Thai champagne bottle

No one else was drinking champagne. The flight attendant just put the bottle in the ice bucket and left it between our seats for us to help ourselves.

Everyone gets a pair of Thai Airways pajamas to wear during the flight and they are yours to keep.  I changed into the top while I tried to sleep just because the top was so comfie.  Not much sleep, though, because the flight leaves at 1 PM – not an ideal time for sleep.  No pics of the pj’s.

Dinner starts with caviar, followed by whatever your special request was.  We made the reservation so long ago – February, 2017 – and couldn’t remember what we’d ordered.  Somehow the Thai reservation system let Mark order TWO entrees – steak and lobster – and the check-in people were quite confused.  They had a special note for Mark to talk to the flight manager to clarify the mix-up.

Thai lobster

Lobster for dinner with more champagne

Thai caviar app

Caviar was the first course in dinner.

We landed on time in Bangkok to a downpour. The plane was rocked by wind as we landed and we could hear thunder and see lightning while we taxied to the gate.  At the gate, the crew was sort of prepared for the rain, grabbing towels and blankets before they opened the door.  They, obviously, knew that the jetway door does not match up exactly with the 747 door and, sure enough, the rain was pouring in the space between the plane and the jetrway.  They tried to use umbrellas to shield the passengers as we left the plane to not much avail!. My shirt sleeve got soaked!

Thai Airways has little electric carts meet these flights to transport the first class passengers to immigration.  Sure enough,  we saw the signs with our names on them.  They took us to immigration and then had additional guys on the other side of immigration to go with us to get our luggage and transport it for us to whatever transport we used from the airport.  Due to the rain, lightning, and thunder, the luggage was delayed but the helper guys hung out with us until it showed up.  We took the Rail Link into the city and told the helper we didn’t need him when our suitcases finally came off!

Thai delayed luggage rain

The downpour and lightning caused a ground delay and we had to wait a bit for our luggage to show up.

Summary … the use of points was totally worth it to use an Asian airlines and fly first class!  I’d never pay for the flight but use points?  Sure!  The U.S. airlines could take a few lessons in Customer Service.

Always take beer along on kayaking trips

We learned a valuable lesson from a couple we met at the hotel yesterday while having drinks.  The couple is from Illinois – one U. of Illinois grad and one U. of Michigan grad.  You can’t avoid the Big 10 people no matter where you are in the world.

They went sea kayaking and took along a bag with wallet, money, credit card, passport and 4 beers in cans.  As they kayaked, they drank the beers and returned the empty cans to the bag to be safely and responsibly disposed of at the hotel.  As they got back to the beach with the kayak, they realized the bag had fallen out of the kayak so off they went to retrace their rowing steps.

Right as they got up to a dock up the beach, what did they see?  Amazingly, his bag was floating happily in the water.  They give all the credit to the empty beer cans for keeping the bag afloat!  The contents were a bit wet, but everything was still in the bag.

See, beer and kayaks go well together!

koh samui beach Sheraton

One of the beaches on Koh Samui. This one had rough waves over the weekend.

A few days in Oxford

Our friend Tim has a position at Oxford University in the Said Business School and he graciously agreed to let us leave our winter clothes at his apartment.  Now we have to plan a trip for next summer to come retrieve the clothes we’ve left all over Europe!

Dining Hall for Harry Potter

This Oxford Dining Hall as used in the Harry Potter movie. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you can take some tours of the various locations.

divinity School

Oxford Divinity School – one of the oldest part of the university

Mark and Susan Divinity School

We’re in the Divinity School here. A hospital scene and a ballroom scene from Harry Potter were filmed here.

We spent the weekend in Oxford and Tim showed us around the University. He can take guests into many places that usually cost (Oxford has figured out they can generate income by charging people to see the various colleges and chapels.) so we visited the Library with books from the 1600’s. The library smells like old books.

A sighting of Nessie!

We just spent about 3 weeks in London, Cambridge, Fort Augustus, Oxford, and Inverness with most of the time in Fort Augustus.  It just happens to sit at the southern end of Loch Ness and we were on the search for Nessie every time we went out walking.  Finally, on a cold sunny day we decided to take the Loch Ness cruise and who did we see??

Nessie waves

Maybe this is Nessie hiding under the water!

Floating Nessie

Nessie, herself!  Isn’t she cute?? She was just floating next to the boat checking us all out.

A visit to the Highlands isn’t complete without a wee dram of whisky. Another sunny day took us driving south the Fort William for a tour of Ben Nevis Distillery.

ben nevis dist tasting

We shared 4 wee tastings. I like the whiskies that taste more like caramel than the smoky ones.

Ben Nevis sign

The distillery sits beneath Ben Nevis Mountain, the highest mountain in the UK.

Ben NEvis with snow

These distillery buildings were overlooked by Ben Nevis.

We were cold but the temps never didn’t fall below freezing during the day. That would make us way warmer than our east coast friends.  And the Gulfstream keeps snow away from the lower altitudes, most of the time. We had a bit of snow a few nights.

Mark Susan New Years Eve

Happy New Year! We bundled up for champagne and fireworks at midnight!

Highlands Club with snow

The grounds were barely covered one morning with snow – wet snow at that!

snow at night

Snowing at night

snow in the morning

Sunrise with snow. This was about 8:30 AM. Morning came late this far north and night came early – about 3:4- PM

Sink handles in the U.K. – clockwise or counter clockwise??

Have you ever thought about which way to turn the sink handle to turn on the water?  Probably not!  We just use muscle memory and turn them on.  Not so much in the U.K.!  We’ve run into sink handles everywhere – toilets, kitchen sinks,  bathroom sinks – naturally.  Some of the handles turn clockwise, some turn counter clockwise.  Some of the sinks even have the hot water handle turning one way and the cold water handle turning the opposite direction.

I’ve splashed myself a few times when turning the handle the wrong way!  It’s a mystery to me.

bathroom faucets

At least these 2 handles for HOT and COLD turn ON and OFF in the same directions.

backwards faucets

These two handles turn in opposite directions.

Hot water warning sign

Just in case you aren’t sure there’s hot water, you get a warning!

warning sign but no fixtures

A warning sign but no fixtures. This one was in a Men’s room Mark used.