This is my 100th post everyone! Thanks to all of my readers who have kept me blogging this far. I was going to plan a special post but I'm already so behind that that's not going to happen.

Sunday 

As cool as Montis Resort was, the breakfast buffet was surprisingly disappointing. So we left halfway through and made our way back to Chiang Mai. We returned the bikes without any fees for scratches (I had tipped mine over in a parking lot after it was stopped and had been dreading how many zeros would be on the fine). Maybe that's just a Koh Tao thing to charge tourists their entire savings for a scratch that wasn't even theirs. Either way we hurried away from the rental place before they could change their minds.

We walked back to the hotel we had stayed at a few nights ago to see if they had by any chance found my bracelet. I walked up to reception and asked in simple English if they had found a bracelet in room whatever it was. The lady said something to the guy standing next to her, who left and then returned holding a square of paper which he handed over to me. I tore it open and there was my bracelet. I awkwardly hugged the guy over the reception counter, happy enough to cry. Karma was on my side today.

We had the hotel call us a taxi to take us to the train station. We still had to pick up our tickets at a tourist agent across the street so Fletch ran to grab those while I watched the luggage. We still had a couple of minutes before boarding then, so I left Fletch with the luggage while I ran and grabbed lunch from a little shop next door, then ran to the very last car on the train where we had a cabin with two bunks. It was still fairly early in the evening but as was becoming routine with train travel, I promptly fell asleep.

Monday

I woke up in Bangkok after a very restful night's sleep, I won't say how long that journey is as I'm beginning to think I have a problem...

We had booked a hotel in Bangkok for the night as we were going to be spending a night while we waited for our friend Macala to arrive the next day. We would have spent the extra night in Chiang Mai or Pai but the train had been completely booked the following day due to the King's birthday.

We hopped in a taxi and gave them the name of yet another awesome hotel Fletch had found, The Okura Prestige. The taxi brought us to a high rise building and we rode up to the 25th floor where the lobby was. Welcome back to the big city. The hotel had a Japanese theme so decorations were minimal yet incredibly sleek. There was a giant Christmas tree in the lobby as well, our first reminder that Christmas was only two weeks away. As we were becoming accustomed to, our room wasn't ready yet, so we left our bags and went to check out the hotel's infinity pool, the reason we had chosen this place.


An attendant informed us that since it was winter, this corner of the hotel only got a couple hours of sunlight per day, so we left and walked down the street in search of breakfast. We found a coffee shop that resembled a Starbucks but apparently was the "first spelt & trans-fat free bakery in Thailand, since 2000." I don't particularly care one way or the other about spelt but they did have a decent quiche. They also had a soundtrack of Christmas music playing, the first Christmas music I had yet to hear all year. I could get the hang of this not having to acknowledge Christmas until two weeks before.

After breakfast we walked down the street to the block where all the embassies were located. We saw a sign for the Ukrainian embassy and I knew we would have to take a picture for my mom who is half Ukrainian. We walked into the building and up to the front desk. The lady asked for our passports and we told her we weren't Ukrainian. She didn't care, just scanned our passports and issued us two visitor's badges. We entered the elevator and rode up to the appropriate floor and waltzed right in, just long enough to snap a few photos, then rode back down and returned the badges.

We continued on our walk, down the street to the US embassy. There was a large concrete wall surrounding the entire complex, but on each panel was a different mural, painted by school children, depicting the friendship between the US and Thailand. They were really sweet to look at.


We made our way to the entrance gate, and gave the lady our passports, thinking we knew the drill by now. She asked what time our appointment was.
     "We don't have one."
     "What is the purpose of your visit?"
     "We just want to look around."
     "Sorry I cannot let you in."
Typical US government. We walked away in shock that our own embassy wouldn't let us in, and instead humored ourselves by walking up the stairs to one of the cross walks and peering over the concrete wall.

We walked farther down the street where a very elaborate gate was wide open with a security officer standing at the entrance. Beyond the gate looked like a giant park. We tried asking the security officer what this area was but he just smiled and waved us through. I guess we were going in. Sure enough, inside was a massive park, with green lawns and trees and a lake. A path ran in a large circle around it with a biking lane on one side and a jogging lane on the other. We began to walk and were startled to see what looked like some sort of komodo dragon slinking across the lawn up ahead. We crept closer for a better look. This thing was a good three or four feet long. We started walking again to find that these giant lizards were all over the place. A quick google search showed that they were water monitors, quite common around Bangkok, and could grow to be six feet long. Yikes.

A little farther down the path was a section of the lake that had swan paddle boats for rent. Fletch asked if I wanted to paddle around a swan boat and I said I did, so we paid the lady a few baht and went for a paddle around the lake. It didn't take long to make one circle, so we returned the boat and continued walking.

At the far end of the park was a workout gym. It looked like a playground but upon closer inspection it was all outdoor gym equipment. I wish we had something like that in Colorado. How nice to be able to work out in a park under the sun and not inside some stuffy gym.


We also made a friend along the way, an elderly Thai gentleman who used to be a professor. He must have been a professor of language because his English was perfect and he spent about ten minutes lecturing us on how to say basic words in about twenty different languages. Before saying farewell he handed us a piece of notebook paper with a cheat sheet for how to say some basic phrases in Thai. I guess learning a little Thai now, a week before leaving the country was better than never.

We decided that our room had to be ready by now, even though the hotel had failed to call us, so we made our way back to our building. Our room was as sleek as the rest of the hotel, and had traditional sliding Japanese doors. The toilet even had the usual buttons and a seat warmer to boot. It felt as though we had been traveling for days and so the shower felt amazing. Turning the knob in one direction turned on a handheld shower head while turning it in the other direction turned on a massive hidden head that was half the ceiling. It was glorious.

We watched TV for a while and fell asleep, then woke up and made our way to Khao San Road to book tickets south and drop off a load of laundry. We made our way back to the hotel then because we had decided to treat ourselves to the Japanese restaurant for dinner. It occurred to us on our way back up to our room though that we didn't have any shoes other than flip flops and all my clothes consisted of shorts and tank tops, hardly suitable if there was any dress code. Island living left me unprepared for the niceties of big cities and fancy hotels. We stopped at the reception desk to ask if we could walk into the restaurant dressed as we were and the girl had to call the restaurant and ask. She told us they would allow it.

Dinner was divine. There were several set menus to select from, so Fletch and I chose one each and proceeded to watch in awe as we were presented with one magnificent dish after another. First for me were fried oysters, tempura battered and fried to perfection. Then a sort of hot custard with shrimp. I was never a fan of the custards and the jellies in Japan but this little ramekin of custard was true to the questionable Japanese cuisine. Next came a bowl of sashimi, artistically arranged on a bamboo mat and carefully placed over ice. Then followed a selection of vegetable tempura, once again perfectly fried. By this point I started hoping that no more food would come out as I was getting incredibly full. But more was coming. A bowl of rice topped off with grilled shrimp and salmon fish roe. A steaming bowl of miso soup with mushrooms. I could barely touch a bite of either without bursting. When our waitress came around to ask if we were ready of dessert we asked if we could take it to go, so she brought out two little containers of fruit.


Bellies full and giant smiles on our faces, we waddled back up to the room and turned on The Hobbit. I fell asleep for a few minutes and then woke up again remembering we had wanted to check out the rooftop bar. We made it as far as the elevator and saw on the directory that the bar wasn't actually on the top floor. We decided it wasn't as exciting anymore and turned around and went back to bed.

Tuesday

We checked out the hotel's "international" restaurant the next morning for breakfast, and they weren't kidding when they said "international." I have never seen such an impressive breakfast buffet. Breakfast foods from all over the globe, you name it, they had it. The fresh made omelettes were the best I had had to date, and I had eaten them nearly every morning.

We went back to our room and took advantage of the shower again, not knowing when we would have another, and awaited Macala's arrival. Before too long the reception lady knocked on our door with her in tow, and we began showing her around the city. The three of us made our way back to Khao San Road to pick up our tickets and our laundry, then brought Macala over to Charlie's for a famous foot massage. We ended up at Is Orange again for drinks, and even ran into the same guy selling taser guns who had tasered Eric. We waved at him enthusiastically and asked if he remembered us. He didn't seem to despite his head nod, so Fletch pulled out the video of Eric and a giant smile immediately broke across his face.

We wandered around Khao San Road for a while, and stopped into a silver shop where I found a turtle charm to put on my charm bracelet. A turtle to remember turtle island by. As dusk approached we found a lady with a noodle cart and ordered dinner to bring with us on the train, then made our way to the end of Khao San Road to find a tuk tuk to bring us to the train station, passing by a little boy butt naked and peeing gleefully in the middle of the sidewalk as we ran by.

We had booked tickets in second class so we could all be together for the journey from Bangkok to Surat Thani, this time in the air/con car. The air/con proved to be so frigid that we were all wrapped in blankets and shivering. Note to future train travelers: the fan car is the way to go.