As I mentioned earlier, Jamie’s dad, Kent and stepmom, Janet came to visit us in Singapore! I have to give them credit – long travel like this was a bit out of their element. But when they arrived after the 22+ hour flight, they seemed like it was no big deal! Were happy to be here, albeit tired, of course. Thankfully the hotel let them check in early so they could unwind a bit and shower, but we wanted to keep them going as long as we could so they would acclimate to the time change a bit better. We went and had brunch at a restaurant near us, then took them on a walk around Marina Bay (our neighborhood) to show them where we lived and all that. The weather in Singapore that weekend was windy and slightly rainy, so not ideal, but we managed. That night we took them to a restaurant on the top of Marina Bay Sands hotel that overlooks nearly the entire island, called Ce La Vi. Despite the name, it was an “Asian fusion” restaurant. Since it was the weekend of Chinese New Year (the year of the Rooster!) the restaurant had a traditional lion dance that evening! None of us had ever seen one so that was fun!
The next day we walked around Singapore a little more, rode on one of the River Cruise Boats then had some chili and black pepper crab at Red House Seafood in Roberston Quay. Oh my goodness, if you ever come this way, chili crab and black pepper crab are a must! And get the Sri Lankan crab when you order it. Delicious. From there we went to the historic Raffles Hotel to the Long Bar and had a Singapore Sling! The hotel was built in 1887 and still has that colonial feel to it. The Singapore Sling is a cocktail created in 1915 there at that hotel. The Long Bar is now, most definitely, a tourist attraction, but you have to go if you come here. It’s still styled in the old, colonial, tropical design with palm leaf fans and dark wood finishings. You can even throw your peanut shells on the floor!
That night we walked through Chinatown to see all the Chinese New Year decorations. We took them to a hawker stand after, as well. Hawker stands over here are just street food vendors. The one we went to, which was by their hotel and very close to our apartment, is called Lau Pa Sat and has several different styles of Asian cuisine throughout. They have the street blocked off at night and set up picnic tables for you to enjoy whatever you got. We ordered satay and sat at a picnic table and just enjoyed the evening. It’s loud and smokey from the grill pits, but definitely something you must do if you come over here. We aren’t super huge fans of satay, but the chargrilled prawns were pretty spot on. This one vendor was wearing a shirt that said “Hey you! Not you. You over there. Behind the other guy. You there. Do you like satay?” Haha! We thought it was funny so I went and asked him if he sold those shirts and they did! So we got one for Kent! 🙂
The next morning we got up and went to Krabi, Thailand! Krabi is in south Thailand about an hour and a half from Phuket, only about an hour and a half flight from here, as well. Krabi does not mean “crab”, as we were told (even though they had crab statues and things all over the city). Our guide told us it means “monkey”, which there were several of those around – crab eating Macaque (or long-tailed Macaque) and Dusky Langur. We saw both and baby ones!
We stayed at a lodge/resort called Rayavadee which was very nice! They have individual villas scattered throughout the property. We had a 2-bedroom villa with our own pool, so it felt very private. Everyone at the hotel was very attentive and kind. They had 4 restaurants on the property to choose from, which gave us a little variety, although you’re eating mostly Asian cuisine anyway. No complaints! 🙂 The resort picked us up in a van at the airport, we then transferred to a boat, then onto what I can only describe as a covered flat-bed trailer hitched on to a tractor to drive us from the boat to the shore. Haha! They needed the tractor during low tide since the boat couldn’t go that far inland. The beach on the other side of the property was very nice. When you go to Thailand, don’t be discouraged about the beaches being public. It is very rare, if at all, that a resort will have a private beach. It was still very nice and a great place to people watch! The resort had private lounging areas, so we were in our own area.
The first full day we were there we did a tour of the town and rode on some elephants. They also took us to a Buddhist Temple in the city called “The Tiger Temple”. It is still a practicing temple so the monks were there and people were giving their prayers and donations. People of the Buddhist religion have different perceptions of what Buddha looked like, depending on the region in which they live. At this temple, it had different Buddha statues around it. Our guide, who was Buddhist, said even though this is a Thai temple, they still respect the views of other Buddhists who come here. Afterwards, they took us to a traditional Thai market, which was interesting (and a bit smelly from all the fish), but picture just a typical fresh veggie and meat market. That’s what it was. Then we went on to another market, that was more of like a local souvenir shop. I got a sarong and necklace and Janet got some family and friends back home several things there. Afterwards, we were taken to a Thai restaurant owned by a family which was so nice and quaint. They served us traditional Thai dishes and glass bottle Coca Cola! We had yellow curry with chicken, black pepper and garlic pork, sweet and sour fish, prawn cakes, veggies and fresh fruit for dessert.
After lunch we went out to the elephant riding place. I know that the elephant riding is a huge tourist attraction for Thailand and many of our friends have done it, as well, and I don’t want to make it sound like I didn’t have a good time. We had a great day that day. However, I was slightly bothered by the elephant riding. Without getting on a soapbox, just know we did our very best to both question the resort and do our own research to make sure the organization who gave us the elephant rides was ethical, but how do you really know? From what I saw, I wasn’t shocked by mistreatment at all, but I was disturbed a little by the whole outfit. We rode on the elephant for an hour or so along a riverbed. Afterwards I bought 2 baskets of bananas to give her as a “thank you”. She seemed appreciative. Asian elephants are 2-3 times smaller than African elephants! I guess I knew that from reading about them, but now that I have seen both, extremely up close, it was interesting to see the differences. The last thing I will say is a word of advice and pleading: if you go to Thailand and the elephants are something you want to do, please do your research beforehand and make sure the organization you or your resort chooses treats the animals ethically and with respect.
Ok the next day: it rained so that was a bummer. However, we had kayaking through the mangroves scheduled that day and it stopped raining almost right when we jumped in the kayaks. It was still extremely overcast, but we think that was probably a good day to kayak, otherwise it would have been very hot and steamy in those mangroves. We did that for about an hour or so and it was SUPER cool. The mangroves grow around the cliff-like islands that are in and around Thailand. In between one of them was a little river that we followed. The view was spectacular. We have video from our GoPro I am editing. I will post it on Facebook with a link to it here once I get it done. We were then supposed to go to Hong Island from there and beach it for the rest of the afternoon, but that wasn’t happening. The sun never came out. So we had lunch out on an island then headed back to the resort.
The next day we were supposed to go to the Phi Phi Islands (pronounced “pee pee” :)) which is about a 45 minute boat ride from our resort. We waited until morning to confirm since the weather had been so bad, and decided not to go. The morning was still pretty cloudy, but the afternoon turned out to be a pretty awesome day. We hung around the resort and relaxed on the beach. It ended up being a really good day. I think we all needed a little relaxation from all the go, go go from the previous days.
Jamie and Kent “hiked” up this cliff on the property to see a lagoon that was supposedly nestled inside the cliff. It was more like rock climbing, which they did barefoot. There was a rope hanging down to help guide them up. They did take some really wonderful pictures from up there once they got there. Janet and I thought they were taking too long, as we didn’t realize the magnitude of the climb, and went looking for them. Almost sent out a search party! Once we found them they were COVERED in orange mud! I’m still trying to get the mud stains out of Jamie’s clothes. Once we were all cleaned up we went to the beach where we had arranged a “beachside BBQ”. It was so lovely with the sunset. The meal was delicious, and glutinous, and the perfect way to end the trip!
We flew back to Singapore Friday and Kent and Janet left for the US Saturday morning. We took it easy Friday night and just had dinner and hung out. From what Jamie and I gathered, we think they might have been bit by the travel bug!! 🙂 Can’t wait to see where they want to go next!