Scenes from a rainy day in Phuket…Story and visit to a location of a romantic movie viewed aboard the Viking Mekong River Cruise…



Kong encouraged kissing in front of the Huynh Thuy Le Ancient House where the movie, The Lover, was filmed in Sa Dec, Vietnam in 1992.  We had no trouble cooperating!

 As I continue to improve a little each day after spending more time resting and less time bending and walking, I’m anxious to get out to take photos.  Traveling on the bumpy road from the house in the less-than-stellar rental car is an athletic event in itself, requiring I hang on for dear life even if my stability weren’t at risk.


There are numerous open air type markets and shops along the highway.  I was having a hard time in the rain taking good photos with the window open.  Thus, the rear view mirror was in the photos.

It has nothing to do with Tom’s driving skills.  He’s as careful as he can be driving the old car on the rough roads.  Once we reach the main highway the roads improve tremendously although seeing out the scratchy windows is its own challenge. 

We feel badly that we’ve yet to post many local photos hoping that today, after posting, if there’s a little sunshine, we just might give it a try and make an effort to find our way to the beach to take some photos to share.

A church or temple along the highway.

In the interim, we only have a few photos from our last trip, our on a rainy day that hardly meet the standards of what we prefer to post.  Surely, our long term readers understand the dilemma and for those of our newer readers, please bear with us…better is yet to come.

Finally, I’m beginning to feel hopeful that this injury is temporary.  Given another month of recovering and I expect to be as good as I was before the occurrence around June 1st in Bali.  No words can describe how excited I am to return to my “old self” being able to do the simplest of tasks without Tom’s help. 

Watch out!  There’s a tire in the road!

Oh, don’t get me wrong…he’s been amazing, never once complaining about waiting on me; pouring my coffee, iced tea, setting my computer on my lap atop the stack of pillows I use to keep the screen at eye level and so much more.  I’ve appreciated every bit of assistance saying thank you each and every time. 

Not once in these past two months since the injury has he been “overly grumpy” regarding my situation.  That’s not to say he doesn’t do a minute or two of “overly grumpy” for some other often peculiar reason, having absolutely nothing to do with me. 

Yikes! The less-than-stellar rental car’s windshield wipes don’t work well.

I must admit I haven’t been my usual “overly bubbly” self during these months of pain and discomfort.  Although my optimism did kick in when Tom was having angst when he was unable to find a gas station while worrying about running out of gas. 

Ms O.B. kicked in with cheerful encouragement and optimism while he fussed while driving in the rain, terrified of running out of gas and barely able to see out the windows of the less-than-stellar rental car.  Some things never change. For him, grumpiness seems to revolve around driving, traffic and transportation.


Lots of tuk tuks and motorbikes were on the highway in the rain.
Hopefully, tomorrow, we’ll be back with new photos of Rawai Beach in Phuket.  We’re hoping to head out shortly now that we have a sunny day.

Kong suggested we’d find a “happy room” (restroom) down this passageway between the house and the building next door.

In the interim, as we wind down the final few photos from the Vietnam and Cambodia cruise/tour, we’re particularly excited to share today’s story about a movie we watched during the cruise.

Interesting design in the 121 year old Huynh Thuy Le Ancient House house in Sa Dec.  See here for more details.

There was a meeting/video room in the lowest level in the Viking Mekong  where the cruise staff held meetings, cocktail parties on rainy days evenings and conducted a variety of lectures and seminars, most of which we attended.

Each room contained original furnishings.

The seating was relatively comfortable with rows of similarly heavily padded sofas and chairs grouped together.  I was able to sit for extended periods amid a bit of squirming and repositioning once I maneuvered down the steep stairway.

We were offered hot tea and a rest while inside the house.

With no elevators on the boat we had a series of three stairways, some steeper than others, to navigate during the cruise which never kept us from attending any activities on other levels such as the two levels up to the sundeck where the nightly cocktail party was held.  Our cabin was located on the same level as the dining hall and disembarking ramp which proved helpful with my injury.

View of the street and the river from inside the house.

We’d read some online reviews for this cruise/tour where a few passengers complained about the stairs aboard the ship.  During the cruise, we came to the conclusion that this cruise/tour may not be ideal for those with mobility issues which was my case due to the injury. 

Ornate ceiling and lighting fixture design.

We had no other place to be during this period and had no choice but to continue on.  Had we a permanent residence we may have decided to forego the cruise and stayed “home” to recuperate, perhaps losing the entire cruise fare.  But, that’s wasn’t us.  The small ship and three hotels were our “home” during that 17 day period.

Over a period of several days, Kong mentioned a movie he suggested we watch that was to be held after dinner on July 18th at 8:45 pm since the following day we’d be visiting the location in Sa Dec, Vietnam where the movie had been filmed and was the basis of the story. 

Elaborate Buddhist shrine in the house.

This concept particularly appealed to us when we usually make an attempt to watch a movie made in a country in which we’re living at a particular time such as when we watched (as an example) such films as “Casablanca” while living in Morocco in 2014 and “The Descendants” while living in Kauai, Hawaii in 2015. (Please click links as included here).

Watching a highly acclaimed Academy Award nominated movie made in Vietnam was especially appealing when we’d be able to experience the actual location  where the movie was made in Sa Dec, Vietnam the following day.  Watching the movie which was inspired by a true story at the location of the house, made the tour all the more exciting. 

Bedroom in the house with some updating.  The house is used as a B &B for certain events explaining the flat screen TV.

Kong had warned the passengers that the movie, The Lover, was “racy” with explicit sex scenes.  None of that phased us a bit. We’ve always enjoyed a well done sexy movie and this would be no exception.

By 8:45 pm, we made our way down the steps to the meeting room on the lowest level of the ship.  After yet another big meal, I wondered if we’d be able to stay awake for the two hour movie but as it turned out, neither of us dozed for a moment during the movie. 

Artistic design on dining table.

However, the “packed house” dwindled down throughout the movie to a total of eight of us by the end. As passengers exited as the scenes became racier, we heard some grumbling over the movie being “too explicit,” “too racy for public viewing” as many couples got up to leave during the viewing.  We looked at each other giggling as the room almost completed cleared out.  This made for interesting conversation the next day.

Table décor in main living room, most likely a modern day addition.

The movie, beautifully filmed in 1992, included excellent acting by its equally beautiful and exceptional Asian actors, cinematography (for which it won awards), an appealing musical score and an interesting story line.  Yes, it was racy which may have been daring for Vietnam at the time but the sexy scenes were done tastefully.

The next day, we embarked on an action packed tour as we’ve described in past posts with photos, a portion of the tour to Sa Dec included the tour of the historical aristocratic home for which the story, The Lover, was inspired.

A popular tourist attraction, Huynh Thuy Le Ancient House  is easily visible from the main road in Sa Dec.

Visiting the historic aristocratic house left us feeling happy we’d watched the movie in it entirety the previous evening.  Enjoy today’s photos from that visit.  We’ll be back with more tomorrow!

Have a restful and pleasant weekend!

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Photo from one year ago today, July 30, 2015:

Many of the restaurants in Port Douglas, Australia (Queensland) are huge and elaborate attracting the most finicky of diners and tourists.  For more details, please click here.
 

Exploring expenses in Phuket…Only a few more stories from our cruise/tour on the Viking Mekong River Cruise…

There was enough food here to last a week.  Check out the amazing total cost below!

As we live in many countries throughout the world its impossible not to imagine what it might be like to live permanently in the particular country as a retiree.  Are prices reasonable? 

Check out the size of the fish and steak portions.  Tom was craving peanuts adding a few packages to the stash.  The brats in the bottom right of the photo are gluten, grain and sugar free.

Is good health care available? How are food prices both at the markets and dining out? Are prices for housing and utilities affordable for those on a fixed income?  Fuel prices?  Vehicle ownership?  Insurance? Satellite or cable TV and Wi-Fi? Its goes on and on, the usual expenses for daily living for those who are settled in one location must bear on a daily basis.

 Using this app to convert the Thai baht (THB) $3,803.25, we discovered we’d only spent US $109.38.  We were shocked to say the least. (See the photos of everything we purchased).

For many seniors living in an assisted living facility, nursing homes and certain senior complexes, many of these expenses are factored into an often outrageous monthly rate.

Our cost of living observations begin the day we arrive in any new location and continue through the day we depart.  Unfortunately, the rent we pay for a vacation home is not necessarily a good barometer for rents one may pay as a permanent resident. 

We purchase so many items, it took several photos to include all of it.

Vacation homes often include all the above expenses except food and transportation and, may include some form of household help as is the case here in Rawai, Phuket with cleaners coming twice a week to clean and change the bedding and towels.

Free range eggs, beef and celery rounded out our purchases. 

In most locations, our first exposure to the cost of living is when we shop for groceries.  However, we aren’t necessarily educated on our first foray to a grocery store when on that first occasion we usually spend as much as 50% more than when we’ll shop in future weeks to replenish our food supply.

The fresh produce department is packed with locally caught treasures at reasonable prices.

That first trip includes staples such as laundry soap, sink soap, bar soap, paper products, insect repellent, cleaning supplies and other household goods we may seldom replace during the one, two or three month stay.

Looks like Sam’s or Costco, doesn’t it?

Its the second grocery shopping trip, usually a week after we’ve arrived when we’ve become more familiar with locally available products that we can shop, as you do, for weekly groceries getting a better perspective of what it would be like as an expat or retiree.

Row after row of frozen foods.  We don’t buy much in the way of frozen foods when most contain additives.

When two days ago, we walked into Makro Food Service store, located within minutes of the vacation rental, we knew we were in the right place.  As we perused the aisles, starting with the produce department, we immediately began loading up our cart. 

Little neck clams. 

Typically, Tom pushes the trolley while I select the items.  When we’ve found everything on our list in the produce department, he brings all of it to the weighing station to be priced and stickered.  Its an efficient system we’ve mastered over these past years. 

We weren’t able to determine which type of seafood this might be.

In our old lives he rarely grocery shopped with me.  When we were still eating fruit (5 years ago) he thought watermelon was US $.09 if including a page of Holiday gas station stamps.  When we started shopping together after leaving the US, he was shocked at what he thought was high prices while I was excited to see how much less groceries are in other countries.

Squid, yet to be cleaned.

Over these past almost four years, he’s become familiar with some prices but not as I have with my innate fascination with food and its pricing.  As we made our way through the Costco-like aisles and with our growing grasp of the Thai baht (THB $1000 equal US $28.75) as opposed to the US dollar, I was pleasantly surprised over the prices.

(Photos from this point are those from the Mekong River cruise/tour, although the Phuket story continues on).


The sign as we approached the brick factory by sampan boat.

We tossed every item from our lengthy weekly grocery list (on an app on my phone) into the trolley after first deciding on our meals for the week based on availability and quality of a variety of protein sources. 

Upon entering the brick factory we had to walk over planks and rough terrain.  Once inside it was an easier walk.

Generally, we don’t allow prices to dictate our purchases.  Only consuming one meal a day plus an evening cheese plate snack, we find we can choose almost anything that strikes our fancy and stay well within our monthly food budget.

Most of the employees in the brick factory are women.

We’d include the entire receipt from Makro but its written in the Thai language which uses special characters that aren’t easily translated.  Instead, for today’s purposes, we’ve included a photo of the total on the amount charged to our credit card when we checked out.

It was toasty inside the factory especially this close to a kiln.

When Tom placed all the loose items in the trunk of the car, I used my phone’s app to calculate the total bill, shocked by how little we spent for the amount  we’d purchased.  I even went as far as counting all the items when we got “home” thinking they must have not charged us for half the items. 

Rice as shown here is used in the brick making process.  It was very dusty as we toured the facility.

The receipt was indeed accurate prompting us to take photos of the items we purchased before putting everything away to share with you today. How could we not share this? This isn’t the first time we’ve done this, nor will it be the last. 

We couldn’t imagine the hard work required of these employees in such a heavy duty and hot environment.

Are we going to experience “price shock” when we visit the US in a little over nine months?  Its entirely possible when at that point we’ll have been gone for almost five years.

First the kiln is filled with the clay bricks and the kiln is sealed.  Then the fire is started to maintain the heat.  Depending on the size of the kiln, it can takes weeks for the bricks to cure.

Could a retiree or expat live comfortably in a country like Thailand?  Its too soon for us to make such an assessment but we did see many people from all over the world shopping at the market, hearing a variety of languages and dialects that indicated our presence in this village is not so unique after all.


Our guide let us enter inside a still warm kiln.

It appears the produce is pesticide free based on the insects I’m encountering when washing each item (using the bottled water only).  The steak Tom had last night definitely was grass fed (we’ve learned to detect the difference in grain fed as opposed to grass fed beef).  My salmon fillet was fresh and moist and couldn’t have tasted better. 

Tom took this photo of the vent at the center top of the kiln.

Tonight, Tom will have freshly cooked steak again and I’ll have yellow fin tuna.  Our sides will include a huge salad with homemade dressing, fresh whole sautéed portabella mushrooms, buttered green beans and hard boiled eggs, a perfect meal by our standards.  More on cost of living in Phuket as we experience more during the next month…

Neatly stacked tiles ready to be transported.

As we continue to wind down our Mekong River cruise/tour, today we’re including photos (sorry that they’re interspersed with Phuket photos above) from what proved to be an interesting visit to a brick making factory in Sa Dec.  Situated on the banks of the river, we arrived by sampan boat and walked up an easy ramp to the property. 

As much as a variety of brick making supplies were littered about the facility, it was very organized.

We still have a few more stories to share over the next several days.  Looking forward to continuing to see our loyal reader/friends here each day. 

Our sampan was waiting for us to finish the tour of the facility and moved the boat close to the shore so we could take off once again.

Enjoy the weekend as we roll into August…

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Photo from one year ago today, July 30, 2015:

This enormous Banyan Tree in Port Douglas, Australia reminded us of the tree across the street from our condo in Honolulu.  For more photos, please click here.
 

Finally, we got out with photos coming tomorrow..Tour of the Kampong Cham Temple in Cambodia…Great pics!



Us at the Kampong Cham Temple in Cambodia.

We hope our readers are still interested in the few remaining stories and photos we’ve continued to share from the Viking Mekong River cruise which ended over a week ago.

In front of the steps leading to the temple.

Each day has included a blurb on our current location in Phuket, Thailand and a second portion on tours and stories we hadn’t been able to share during the cruise/tour due to a poor Wi-Fi signal.

It was one hot day.

This morning we signed up for new more sophisticated Wi-Fi service, VOOM, which is supposedly high speed being offered by Royal Caribbean on most of their ships. 

The ornate designs of temples is fascinating.

With a 33 night (back-to-back) cruise upcoming on October 31st (a mere three months from now) on RC Radiance of the Seas, we didn’t want to experience more horrible Wi-Fi impeding our ability to post in real time, hoping to prevent the necessity of posting stories for events that occurred in the past as we’ve done over this past week.

Scary faces to ward off evil spirits.

Bear with us, we only have a few more of these “past” stories and photos and soon will be all about our current location in Rawai, Phuket, Thailand which in itself encompasses endless opportunities for both stories and photos.  Tomorrow, we’ll begin posting Phuket photos.

We entered the temple for more detailed views.

Yesterday, we had a chance to begin the photo taking process when, for the first time since our arrival a week ago, we got out of the house.  The rain never stopped all day. 

The details illustrates the joy of the Cambodian people.

By 1 pm, after the rental car had been dropped off, I suggested we go out anyway.  Who knew when it would be a sunny day? Besides, we needed photos and groceries. 

Alternate views of shrines.

The older car, a stick shift with somewhat foggy windows wasn’t the ideal vehicle for taking photos on a rainy day but we did our best.  However, the day didn’t start out as ideally as we’d have liked.

(Photo out of context with today’s other photos.  But, yesterday, we mentioned we’d post the rental car photo).  The rental car’s a little rough but will serve our purposes over the next 34 days until we leave Thailand.

The address we have for this property or any variation therein, doesn’t show on any map.  We had no SIM card in our phones and maps wouldn’t work anyway.  The owner suggested we just get ourselves to the highway and we’d figure it out.  Had it not been raining so hard, we may have been able to do so more easily.

Pagodas and shrines within the temple.

First, we had to find a gas station, next an ATM.  Based on the weather, we decided we’d find a nearby market to get us through a few days since driving across the island to the superstore, Makro didn’t make sense in the downpour.

The detail of the craftmanship is astounding.

With the fuel gauge on empty when we started off, Tom was a bit “overly grumpy” when it was impossible to look out the window when the windshield wipers didn’t work well.  The only option was for me to open my window, letting in the rain and keep looking along the highway for a fuel station. 

That wasn’t as easy as one may think.  Every so often, we’d spot a solitary fuel pump, stop and find it was unattended and/or didn’t work.  Tom’s frustration level escalated while my usual “overly bubbly” optimism kept him forging ahead.

We weren’t certain if these flags were temporary or permanent to celebrate a particular holiday.

Finally, after about 20 minutes of “driving on empty” we found a traditional fuel station which accepted credit cards since we’d yet to stop at an ATM.  As we pulled out of the fuel station with a full tank, we spotted a tiny pharmacy around the corner with an ATM machine outside their door. 

These smaller buildings are residences for the monks.

I was desperate to find some type of heating pad and we needed to get the cash to pay for the rental car, TBH $9000, US $258.  Mission accomplished!  The pharmacy had a hot-cold pack which easily heats in the microwave and we were able to get the cash we needed from the ATM.

Ornate details.

Feeling hopeful after our success, we continued down the highway with hopes of taking a few photos.  Suddenly, through the foggy windows, I spotted a huge sign for a Makro store that supposedly sells beef and more products than the prior market where we shopped. 

Young monks working at the temple.

We wouldn’t have to travel across the island to shop each week and could use this location only minutes from our house for our remaining days on the island.  We couldn’t have been more thrilled when we entered the mini-Costco/Sam’s Club type store which had every food product we could possibly use in our way of eating. 

A live monk was sitting inside the temple out of the scorching sun.

I was like a kid-in-a-candy-store.  We hadn’t seen such variety since we were in Trinity Beach, Australia a year ago with the abundance at the Woolworth Market (Woolies), farmers market and grass fed meat market.  Even the great markets in New Zealand didn’t have the variety we found at Makro.

We were happy we had a car.  Had a driver been waiting for us, it would definitely impeded our ability to scour through the aisles with ease finding everything on our list. 


Mausoleum on the property in varying sizes based on the deceased placement in the family.

Not unlike many superstores in the US, no bags or boxes were provided when checking out.  We could only imagine how cumbersome it could have been to load the trunk of a taxi with “loose” foods and produce.  Tomorrow, we’ll share the cost of our groceries with photos.  We were shocked over the final total.

The less than stellar car will serve its purpose for the upcoming month, although we realize driving far is risky.  Then again, the bumpy roads and stick shift driving would deter me from being interested in long drives at this juncture in time.

I avoided walking this stairway when the bus drove us to the garden.

On an upcoming sunny day, we’ll take off for the beach which I could see yesterday at a short distance through the fuzzy windows and pouring rain.  There won’t be any lounging in the sand on a towel (or bouncing boat rides) but surely we’ll be able to take photos of the exquisite scenery in this area.  Please stay tuned for updates.

Continuing on with a cruise/tour story….

On Thursday, July 14th, we embarked on a bus tour while still in Kampong Cham, Cambodia.  Kong had assured us it would be a relatively easy tour without hours of walking and trekking up steep and rough terrain.

Mom and baby monkey hoping tourists will offer them food.

As it turned out, the tour of the Kampon Cham Temple was manageable for me when we avoided the long steep stairway from the temple.  The bus driver drove a small group of us down to the garden area of the temple reachable by road as an alternative to walking the steps.


Off they went, when we had nothing to offer.

There’s a fascinating story about the Kampong Cham Temple at this site which is too long to share here but may be worth reading if you’re interested.  For the sake of space and time, we’re winding down today’s post with photos from this excellent experience and tour.

Someone on a tour which later visited the orphanage must have handed off a lollipop to this monkey.  We giggled when taking these photos.

Thanks to all of our readers for bearing with two-topics posts over this past week.  We only have a few more cruise/tour photos to share. 

This monkey figured out it would last longer if he licked it instead of chewing.

Be well.  Be happy.

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Photo from one year ago today, July 29, 2105:

Every beach along the way on our road trip to Port Douglas, Australia, had it own personality.  They may all look like sand, rock and water but we find each one to have it own unique scenery.  For more details, please click here.
 

Car delivery today in Phuket…Continuation of the ox cart rides for Viking Mekong River cruise passengers…Two videos and photos!

Tom’s video of the oxen along the bank of the river early in the morning.  Second video below.
 

This morning at 10 am an employee of Gregory’s (our Phuket property owner), brought us the rental car.  For the excellent price of THB $9000, US $258 for our entire stay we’re pleased with the older car.  We’re hoping the pouring rain will stop and we can end our six day stint indoors.

Tomorrow, we’ll include photos of the “used” car and photos we’ve taken while out and about proving the weather improves enough to get out.  At the moment, there’s thunder and lightening. 

The second bedroom in the Phuket house which we haven’t used.  The en suite bathroom contain the Jacuzzi tub.

We’re anxious to head across the island to purchase beef and groceries.  Beef is not popular in some parts of the world that hold the “cow” as holy based on religious beliefs and is not fit for human consumption. 

Many religions and cultures throughout the world consume a vegetarian diet.  However, many Thai people include beef in their diet although it many not be readily available in some of the local grocery stores and markets.  

Yesterday, four housecleaners appeared at the electronic gate at 9 am to clean the house.  Letting them in via a wall switch that slides the electronic security gate open, they all entered sharing their names as they graciously bowed to greet us. 

The Jacuzzi tub in the second bedroom’s en suite bathroom.

All we remember of their names as they hurriedly entered is that two of the four had the same name, not unlike the two Katuks in Bali, whom we’ll see again soon. 

Only one of the four cleaners spoke a little English but they had no trouble knowing what to do and required little coaching from us.  They maneuvered  efficiently and quickly through each room obviously with a familiar routine they’ve implemented in the past. 

Today’s pouring rain.  As soon as it stops, we’ll head out.  If it continues throughout the day, we’ll wait until tomorrow.

When the Jacuzzi tub’s water supply wasn’t working correctly they immediately contacted the maintenance guy. I believe his name is Bo. Within minutes he arrived to make the repairs and an hour later he was out the door with the task completed. 

Although using the Jacuzzi may be an excellent idea at this time, its been so hot in the past 24 hour I haven’t been motivated to use it.  With the amount of water and energy required to use the tub, I may only use it once in awhile providing I notice some added improvement from doing so.

The opening for the wide electronic sliding security gate.

We’re still remaining mindful over excess use of air con and continue to only use it only at night in the master bedroom.  During the day we’re doing fine without AC.  After becoming accustomed to heat and humidity in Bali and living in hot climates throughout the world over these past years its not different here in Phuket.

We can’t help but giggle over how, in our old lives, we’d never have tolerated this heat and humidity without turning on the whole house AC.  How much we’ve changed over this period of time!

Occasionally during the day, I rest for a few minutes in the bedroom using only the overhead fan to keep me comfortable.  We keep the bedroom door shut at all times to keep out the mozzies and flies for better comfort at night.

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Now on to our continuing Mekong River cruise posts with today’s story, a continuation of the ox cart rides.  We’d yet to share today’s two videos we are now able to post with a strong Wi-Fi signal here in Phuket.

I’d have loved to join in on the ox cart ride under different circumstances.  But after seeing the carts and the sitting positions required of the riders, we both knew there was no way I could have participated.  

I encouraged Tom to join the others but he decided to stay behind with me when the carts were intended for two passengers and he’d have to ride alone.  That wouldn’t have been that much fun for him.  Its the idle chatter and shared experiences that make such an activity memorable. 

They reminded us of the buffalos in Bali although oxen are smaller with shorter horns.
Instead, we stayed behind attempting to get online to post the day’s story and photos.  As mentioned in an earlier post, the Wi-Fi signal on the boat was extremely poor, worse than we’d experienced on any cruise in the past. 

It was only with the assistance of thoughtful cruise director Enrico who encouraged me to sit at his desk using his computer, connected to a wired network, that made it possible to upload any posts at all while on the ship.  We realized how frustrating this must have been for our worldwide readers who, at times, didn’t see a new post for days.
 
As the ox cart participants piled into the carts, many seniors older than us, we were thrilled to be able to take today’s included videos.  Of course, it would have been more exciting to be able to do a video while in a cart, but we did the best we could under the circumstances.

The staff shoveled this path the prior night to ensure passengers could make it up the river bank.

Later, many passengers explained the bumpy nature of the ride making us feel grateful we’d made the decision to stay behind.  Adding the extreme heat and humidity to my already difficult condition, always made the tours more challenging regardless of their general difficulty.

We enjoyed watching the white oxen hanging out on the bank of the river on the prior evening, early in the morning and again when they were hooked to the wagons seemingly content with their occasionally required tourist trek. 

Off they went on a 40 minute ride..

As we watched the oxen for quite awhile, we noticed the gentle interaction between the handlers and the oxen, as they were rubbed and petted as one would lovingly pet a dog or cat.  It was comforting to see.  With a cart driver for each cart carrying a pair of passengers we didn’t see any rough treatment used to get them moving.

By 11:45 am, the passengers were back on board and by noon, the ship’s anchor was raised and we cast off for Phnom Penh, Cambodia, another historically interesting stop in our journey along the Mekong River which we’ve already included in prior posts.

With more stories to share, we’ll continue along this path with a few more cruise posts as we add more and more on Phuket as soon as we get out.

Have a beautiful day!

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Photo from one year ago today, July 28, 2015:

One year ago we spotted this package of crocodile meat in Australia priced at AUD $15, USD $10.91.  Next time we’re in Australia, we need to try this.  For more details, please click here.

Part 2…Exotic foods and shopping in Cambodia and Vietnam…Street food and market…Rats?…Easy life in Rawai, Phuket…



Skinned rat.  Oh.

Lazy as we can be right now as I continue to improve in baby steps each day finds me relatively inactive  as I’m experiencing some recovery by not bending and walking more than absolutely necessary at this time.

This area is where we’ve spent most of our daylight hours.  There’s one English speaking TV news channel.

Although I gently perform familiar stretching exercises each day, I do so with the utmost of caution.  I’d considered going to a hospital for x-rays once we arrived in Phuket but what would “they” prescribe?  Rest with light exercise?  Done!  Pain meds?  No, thanks!  Surgery?  Not going to happen!  What would be the point?

The master bedroom we’re using with AC, comfortable bed and bedding, vanity desk and chair and an en suite bathroom.

If I’d been unable to walk (I am able) or having outrageous radiating nerve pain (none) I’d have checked it out.  Years ago, I had a spinal compression fracture.  This feels exactly like that, only more painful over a longer period.  Its almost been two months.  Typically, a compression fracture can heal in three months. If so, I’m right on track, progressing a little each day.

What type of fish is this?  Any comments?

Our first five days in Phuket have been low key.  Tomorrow morning at 10 Gregory delivers the rental car.  Then, we’ll head out to take photos and shop, over which we look forward to with considerable enthusiasm. 

Soft shell crab.

The Rawai, Phuket house is not on the ocean, a circumstance of which we were aware  when booking this property.  Although we love being situated directly on the ocean or with ocean views we have no problem choosing a better house over a view. 

We didn’t recognize some of these items used in Asian cooking.

Certain popular tourist areas make choosing oceanfront or ocean view properties prohibitive cost-wise.  With all the ocean views we’ve had in our travels living inland doesn’t bother us a bit.  Its not as if we’re at any given location for the long haul.  There’s always the “next one” as Tom says when asked as to his favorite location.


Chicken feet, toes, toenails.

Now, we continue with more on exotic foods and shopping while on the Viking Mekong River Cruise:

Huge produce displays.

On Tuesday, July 17th we decided to join the tour group when Kong explained there wouldn’t be many steps to climb or overly strenuous walking.  The morning’s tour would board down a steep ladder directly from the cruise ship for a ride along the Mekong Delta.

Live fish.

The tour included a stop at a brick making factory which originally we thought might be of little interest to either of us or our readers. But it proved to be fascinating after all.  Photos and story will follow soon. Today, we’re sticking with the food theme.

Crab.

After a tour of the bay with many war related historical buildings (more of those later too), the two sampans made their way to the shoreline where once we navigated a stairway we were on the street of the quaint town of Sa Dec where we had two stops of interest…one, the historic site of the aristocratic home filmed in the controversial Vietnamese made movie which we watched on the ship, The Lover (more on that later), and the fascinating Sa Dec Market.

Live eel.

No doubt, it was sweltering in the high heat and humidity which had been the case during each and every tour.  We were fine with that, having spent most of our time in hot humid climates over these past years. 

Fish heads commonly used in Asian cooking.

The time spent walking was more noticeable than the humid heat.  We’d hoped to attend the afternoon tour to visit a small factory in yet another village but after the several hours on my feet in the morning, we chose to stay behind.

Chickens and parts.

Once we arrived at the outdoor market, we were thrilled to have managed to see this amazing venue.  Expecting to see more tourists than locals, we were pleased to find that the Sa Dec market was the popular choice for the locals.  

Cleaned squid (calamari).

Tourists, who generally don’t cook, unless staying in the area for longer periods, don’t purchase much in the way of foods from a local “farmers markets.” 

Prawns are kept in ice cold water since they spoil quickly.

The biggest surprise in visiting this enormous outdoor market wasn’t necessarily the unusual foods offered but the fact that considerable amounts of meats were displayed without ice or refrigeration for long periods of time. 


Pork is more prevalent than beef in Southeast Asia.

We hadn’t arrived at the market until around 10 am and the meats could easily have been sitting out for hours when the markets open very early in the morning.  Had we been residing in that area, there’s no doubt we’d wanted to be among the first shoppers early in the morning to hoping the meats had been properly stored overnight and hadn’t sat out the prior day.


Offal…intestinal parts from animals are commonly eaten in Southeast Asia.  No part of an animal is wasted.

Local shoppers have probably figured out what works safely for them and surely us gringos would require education on what meats would be safe for human consumption based on current methods in handling.  


We wondered how long these pork would sit out in the heat.  Kong warned us about consuming street food when it was prepared from sources such as this.  He stated that locals occasionally get sick but many are able to tolerant consumption of some unrefrigerated foods compared to us westerners.

In any case, seeing this market was a significant part of the Mekong River experience and we’re grateful we were able to visit this amazing market in Sa Dec.  Here’s some information on the village with a population of 152,500 (continue below this photo):


Walking through the markets is tricky amid all the motorbikes passing through.

“Sa Đéc is a provincial city in Đồng Tháp Province in the Mekong Delta of southern Vietnam. It is a river port and agricultural and industrial trading center. During the Vietnam War in 1966 and 1967, it was the site of an American PBR (Patrol Boat, River) base. Later on, it became a Swift Boat base, as well.


We weren’t sure what was in these bags.

Before the nineteenth century, it was the capital of Dong Khau Dao, and it was known as one of the largest cities in the Mekong Delta There are three industrial zones in this city, designated by the codes A, C1, and C. They attract a large number of businessmen from the Mekong Delta region.”


Fruits, veg and flowers.

Back on the sampan by 11:00 we returned to the ship in time for lunch, yet another delicious, somewhat more traditional meal.  The other cruise passengers were as equally enthralled with the morning tours as we were.  


Produce for sale in the market in Sa Dec, Vietnam.

At that point, July 19th was the last night aboard the ship.  We all paid our final bills in the Saloon Bar, paid tips for the staff and began packing for the next part of the journey, a lengthy bus ride which would take us to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) for the final two nights in another hotel.

Western vegetables.

More stories will continue over the next several days, not necessarily in order of the journey but more in groupings based on topics.  See you soon!

Ice being delivered to some of the shopkeepers who use it.

Have a blissful day!

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Photo from one year ago today, July 27, 2015:

We’d seen these gorgeous orchids in our neighborhood in Kauai, Hawaii and found them as equally breathtaking in Australia at the Cairns Botanical Garden.  Many of the plants, trees and flowers are similar in both areas due to the tropical climate.  For more photos, please click here.


Part 1…Exotic foods and shopping in Cambodia and Vietnam…Did we eat insects? An issue in Phuket?

Kong took this photo of Tom and a tarantula!

First, we begin our post with a few points regarding our stay in Phuket.  With 37 remaining days on the island, we want to make the very best of our time here considering my current circumstances. 

After analyzing the higher cost of taxi service here, we reconsidered the possibility of renting a car.  As it turns out a short trip for shopping will cost approximately THB (Thai Baht) $700, US $20 with more for sightseeing and dining out.

The kitchen is spacious and relatively well equipped.  We certainly appreciated the size of the refrigerator, the drip coffee pot and the double sinks.

As a result, the kindly local owner of this house, well aware of high taxi fares, offered us a rental car for the balance of our stay for a total of THB $9000, US $256.  Gregory will deliver the car on Thursday morning, the first day we’ll need to use it.

Its an older car but has AC, seat belts and works well which is fine.  For our local exploration and shopping this will be fine regardless of how old or worn this car may be.

As for our past day, we were a little worried when there was no running water yesterday afternoon.  Within minutes of reporting this to Gregory, two workers arrived at the house spending several hours repairing the issue.  This reminded us of similar issues we’ve encountered without water and electricity in less developed countries throughout the world.


We dine at this table.


There’s a bottled water dispenser here which would have seen us through the night if necessary. Unfortunately, the water quit while Tom was in the shower after soaping up. 

When he appeared in the living room, covered in soap, I suggested he take some bottled water to get the soap off until we had water again.  He did so but felt dirty and sticky until hours later when the water was working and he was able to finish his shower. 

We won’t be using this sofa, preferring to spent time in the living room.  Photos will follow tomorrow.

We postponed dinner when the workers were attempting to resolve the issue right outside the dining room door.  Finally, they were done. The water was running again and we were able to quietly enjoy our meal, most of which we’d prepared earlier in the day. 

Here are a few more photos of the house taken from the listing here.  We’ll be back with Phuket photos as soon as we get out and about later this week.  Thanks for your patience.

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Back to the Mekong River Cruise:  With all the heart wrenching photos we’ve shared over the past many days, we decided to lighten it up a bit and share some food photos we’d taken over the 17 days we spent in both Cambodia and Vietnam.
 
First off, I must espouse the virtues of the popular Vietnamese soup, known as “pho” which is pronounced as “fuuuuur” in Southeast Asia not the commonly pronounce “Foe” in Vietnamese restaurants in the US and other countries throughout the world.

Delicious pho without noodles.

In my old life before my special diet, pho was a favorite Vietnamese soup which I often enjoyed with son Greg at a local Minneapolis Vietnamese Restaurant.  At that time I was able to have the wide noodles added to the delicious broth along with the vegetables and basil. 

 
In Cambodia, they don’t use basil but other types of greens.  In Vietnam, depending on the region, basil is an available option to be added to the delicious soup at one’s option. 
 
Everywhere we traveled in the 17 days, I tried the pho, (without noodles) often for breakfast instead of eggs or as a first course with dinner.  I was never disappointed although the flavor of the broth varied from region to region.  Many other passengers raved about the pho along with me anxious to try it at each new location in our journey.
The server passed this plate of appetizers…tarantulas, tiny whole frogs and crickets.
One night at dinner on the cruise, we were served insects as a first course.  Unfortunately, to add to the less than desirable taste, we discovered that such creatures are usually marinated in a sugary broth to enhance the flavor and/or dipped in flour before frying.  Had this not been the case, I’d have happily tried any of these.
 
Tom, on the other hand, took a few small bites making some awful faces after doing so.  Many passengers opted for the full experience eating some of each of the items presented. 
 
Eating a variety of insects including grasshoppers, crickets and small frogs is an inexpensive source of protein for citizens throughout the world.  Of course, it was the tarantulas that captured our attention the most.  We were only served these items on one occasion on board the ship during our travels.

I made up this plate for this photo although I never took a bite since they’re soaked in sugar to make them more palatable.

The remainder of the meals on both on the ship and at a number of restaurants included in the cruise/tour were varied and overall excellent.  Most of my meals were good, especially on the ship although, a few restaurants had a more difficult time often presenting me with overcooked steak, boiled fish and steamed bok choy for a bland and unseasoned meal. 

We had such a great time dining with our co-passengers, food became of little importance to me.  Tom, on the other hand, fully enjoyed most of his meals, especially when they included bread, potatoes and sweet desserts.

Tom took a few small bites.

Tom gained back 10 of his recently lost 20 pounds in Bali but now since our arrival in Phuket, he’s already rapidly dropping those pounds by eating homemade meals befitting my way of eating based on what we were able to find at a local market.

Even I had gained a few pounds since I wasn’t used to eating three times a day. I’m feeling good to be back to my regular intermittent fasting regime, no longer hungry all the time from eating too much, too often, although I totally stayed on track of acceptable foods during the 17 day period.  I’ve since lost the few pounds.
 
Food is a huge appeal for travelers, many who dine two to three times each day.  Most parts of the world offer their own unique style of cuisine that makes dining out irresistible. 
A tarantula leg was resting on my tooth making me look like I was missing a tooth in this goofy photo.
Being able to experience tastes of the spices and methods of cooking becomes appealing and interesting for me as well.  Southeast Asia provided a number of options that fit my criteria at times with some adjustments by conscientious chefs and cooks who made considerable efforts to enhance my dining experience.  Kong took personal responsibility for each of my meals to ensure they were properly prepared.
 
Tom ate his fair share of local meals along with “western” options found on many menus.  With warnings from Kong about street food, we stayed with the foods offered on the ship, the three hotels and the several restaurants where we dined.
 
Overall, it was a great dining experience and look forward to our readers enjoying the many photos we’ll share over the next few days.  Our list of future stories and photos will continue in days to come as an adjunct to our daily quips on life in Phuket, Thailand.
 
Be well.  Be happy.  Eat insects when available.  I guess.
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Photo from one year ago today, July 26, 2015:

A beautiful bouquet already made by nature at the Cairns Botanical Garden in Australia.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 3…final photos of Cu Chi Tunnel and more amazing Vietnam photos…

Our current private vacation home in Rawai, Phuket, Thailand.

Over these past few days since our arrival, I’ve since discovered that rest seems to be the best treatment to improve my condition.  This doesn’t mean lying in bed immobile.  But it does mean two things; one, not a lot of walking and two, not bending at the waist over short countertops and sinks. 

We’ve yet to use the pool with rain these past few days but will soon.   Interior photos will follow over the next few days.

As a result, there’s been no point in sightseeing or even taking a walk in the neighborhood. As yet, we haven’t taken any photos in Phuket or, in the house. We’ll make every effort to take photos soon. 

We’d love to be able to dine outdoors but the mozzies are fierce at dusk.

Unpacking in a less tidy manner than usual, the house in now a little cluttered with our stuff since I can’t bend over to organize and it doesn’t make sense for Tom to move everything to enable me to take the photos.  

Examples of clothing worn by the Viet Cong.

As a result, today we’ve added a few photos of the property from the listing as shown and we’ll add more as we go along.  In several days, we’ll be getting out to take photos of the area and a few of exquisite beaches in this area.  Phuket is known for its beautiful beaches, clear blue waters with hundreds of smaller islands.

Map of the vast coverage of the Cu Chi Tunnel.  In the basket in front of the map is a hand tool used to dig the miles of tunnels.

Actually, we’re enjoying it here considering our circumstances.  We’ve figured out which fans to use to keep us comfortable in the rooms where we don’t use the air con.  Plus, having screens has made a huge difference in keeping us from feeling closed in.

Booby trap. Scary.

With two English speaking news channels we’re able to remain up-to-date on US and world affairs and with a flat screen TV we can plug in the HDMI cable to watch a movie or favorite TV show at night after dinner, not unlike evening activities of many citizens throughout the world.


Tom tasted a ration used by the Viet Cong made of coconut, seeds and sugar, compressed into a crispy stick.  He said it was surprisingly palatable.

Sure, I’m chomping at the bit to get out but having angst or frustration over our current circumstances would only add stress.  As always, we’re making the best of our situation, smiling and laughing throughout the day in our usual playful lighthearted manner. 

The vent for the underground kitchen within the tunnel emitting smoke a distance from the location of the kitchen to prevent enemy attack.

We have no doubt that within a month, I’ll be fully recovered as it improves a little each day, especially now with this new less active plan.  Tom helps me with chopping, dicing and cooking along with all household tasks.

This was actually a live person in a slightly below ground bunker making uniforms and other gear used in the tourist center which also served as an example of how clothing and gear was made during the war.

We’d hope to process the Indonesian passport while here sending our passport to the US by registered mail for processing and return.  It was a flippant thought.  There’s no way we’re willing to be a foreign country without our passports in our possession, even if only for a week.  If we had an emergency and had to leave suddenly, we’d be in big trouble.

At first glance we wondered why these tired were cut into piece.  Kong explained how the old tires were used to make sandals for the Viet Cong.  See photo below.

Instead, once in Bali after the 24th day, again we’ll do the three day Lovina run (two hours of driving each way, each day) to the immigration office.  There’s simply no other option than this bothersome task other than to leave the country and re-enter.  That would require airfare for two and a round trip of the four or five hour harrowing drive to Denpasar and back. The Lovina option is the more logical decision.


These are the sandals that were made from old tires worn by the Viet Cong.

Underground area for making bombs and booby traps.
With hundreds of photos we’ve yet to share from Vietnam, our photos and stories continue.  I deliberated over posting three days of photos from Cu Chi Tunnel but based on the huge number of hits we’ve had, one more day of the remaining photos may be of interest to some readers. 
Kong illustrated a booby traps that targeted a soldier opening a door in two ways.  Horrible.
Tomorrow, we’ll continue with all new Vietnam photos, many locations we visited but have yet to describe.  We look forward to seeing you visit us here again.

More items used in booby traps, made on site by the Viet Cong.
Have a healthful and meaningful day!
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Photo from one year ago today, July 25, 2015:
The Australian Brushturkey, also called the Scrub Turkey or Bush Turkey freely roamed the Cairns Botanical Garden which we visited one year ago today. These turkeys are not closely related to American turkeys.  Click here for more details.  For more of our photos from the botanical garden tour, please click here.

Part 2…Most awe inspiring tour yet in Southeast Asia…Cu Chi Tunnel…Tom’s brave although short exposure to the tunnels…

Tom is sitting at the table in a meeting room bunker with several mannequins and two other passengers standing behind him.

As mentioned in a prior post, we’re continuing to include photos and stories (when applicable) from our cruise/tour to Vietnam.  Earlier we’d posted photos from Hanoi, Vietnam, and a few areas in Cambodia.

Two Russian MIGs which was used by the North Vietnam Air Force.

The bulk of the photos we have yet to share are from Vietnam during the roughly 11 days we spent in the exotic country.  We both agreed we could hardly jump to Phuket, Thailand now, leaving this important information behind.

US Huey helicopter.

As for Phuket, thus far we’re becoming adapted to yet another house in a foreign land.  Nuances such as finding outlets that work for our adapters, location of light switches which is very different from country to country (in other words, walk into a room and there’s no light switch nearby upon entering) figuring out TV systems and remotes, turning on the oven (never a simple turn of a dial or two) is all a part of the process.

Rocket launchers on helicopters.

This house has eight doors we need to lock at night.  Much to our delight and surprise, there are screens on the six sliding doors, causing free air to flow through the house each day. 

One can only imagine how dangerous it was flying these helicopters during the war.

Each area of the house has an air-con unit, but in an effort to be mindful of power usage, so far we’ve only used the one in the bedroom at night along with the overhead fan. It’s hot and humid here, so much so that in our old lives in the US we’d have had whole-house air-con on day and night. 

US artillery pieces and two jeeps.

Now. we sweat it out in 85% to 90% humidity which is uncomfortable at any higher temps.  With a floor fan that doesn’t quite reach us (due to lack of outlets), with an overhead fan in a vaulted ceiling, the breeze is minimal. 

Viet Cong hammock with a tarp.

Overall, we’re managing fine.  Last night we made our first meal in months, roasted chicken parts, green beans, and salad with a cheese plate for dessert.  We made enough chicken for two nights.  All we’ll need to prepare for tonight is the salad and green beans. 

US  rocket launchers and cluster bombs.

Tom will assist me in the chopping and dicing.  Bending over the short countertops in brutal at this point, but is often an issue when in most countries the population is much shorter than we are and countertops are made to accommodate their stature, not ours.

Above ground table and benches for dining or meeting.

The house is lovely, well maintained with nary a worn or old amenity.  There’s no dishwasher, clothes dryer, large pans, or mixing bowls, but we found a two-liter pitcher for our iced tea and there’s an electric drip coffee pot. 

Horrifying bamboo spikes in ground booby traps. 

There was no ground coffee at the market (only instant which we don’t like) with only ground espresso. Each day we’re testing using different amounts to correct the flavor to our taste.

Another view of a booby trap.

Included in the rent is a house cleaner every Wednesday and Saturday.  We passed on yesterday’s cleaning since we’d arrived the prior night and didn’t need it.  We’ll keep it tidy in the interim, as we always do.

Surgery bunker sign. Can we even imagine how dangerous surgery was at this location?

Today, it’s raining, which is expected to continue throughout the day.  We’ve yet to use the pool.  There are no steps leading into the water, only a ladder at the deep end.  I can’t imagine how I can manage the ladder at this point, fearful of twisting or turning the wrong way.  We’ll see how it goes.

Viet Cong surgery bunker.

We’d considered renting a car, but with my need to rest, a driver will be most logical over these remaining 39 days.  We can go shopping each week at a reasonable cost for the taxi and he’ll wait while we shop.

Notice the sweat on Tom’s shirt.  He was soaked after crawling through the narrow tunnels.  This larger opening was a welcome relief.  Some of the tunnels and openings were enlarged for the benefit of tourists.

Dining out will come once I’m feeling up to it.  In the interim, there are numerous “take away” delivery services that have roasted chickens and salads that may work for us a few times a week.

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Now, we continue with our tour of the Cu Chi Tunnel after Part 1 included photos of Tom tackling a few of the narrowest portions of the tunnel, entering at one narrow point and exiting 10 to 30 meters later at another opening.
If you missed that prior post, please click here.

Entrance to a narrow tunnel which was also enlarged.

The bus ride to the location was about an hour outside of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) requiring we backtrack to return to Saigon later in the day for the two-night hotel stay at another Sofitel Hotel, the least favorite of the three Sofitel Hotels included in the cruise tour. 

The trip from the ship to include the tour of the Cu Chi Tunnel, a stop for lunch, and the return drive extended over an eight hour period with about five hours riding on the bus.  It was a long hot day but we were excited to visit the tunnel which we entered in the Ben Dinh area.

Tom took this photo while climbing out of a narrow tunnel by turning around after he’d already crawled through this spot.

With the tunnel extending as follows:

“The 75-mile (121 km)-long complex of tunnels at Củ Chi has been preserved by the government of Vietnam,[3] and turned into a war memorial park with two different tunnel display sites, Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. The tunnels are a popular tourist attraction, and visitors are invited to crawl around in the safer parts of the tunnel system. The Ben Duoc site contains part of the original tunnel system, while the Ben Dinh site, closer to Saigon, has tunnel reconstructions and some tunnels have been made larger to accommodate the larger size of Western tourists. In both sites low-power lights have been installed in the tunnels to make traveling through them easier, and both sites have displays of the different types of booby traps that were used. Underground conference rooms where campaigns such as the Tết Offensive were planned in 1968 have been restored, and visitors may enjoy a simple meal of food that Viet Cong fighters would have eaten.”

Included today are some of the best remaining photos we’d taken during the tour of the tunnel.  Please check back tomorrow for the balance of the photos.

We’ll look forward to seeing you then!

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Photo from one year ago today, July 24, 2015:

Once inside the long, narrow Mangrove Boardwalk in Cairns, Australia we walked deeper and deeper into the marsh never encountering other visitors. For more details, please click here.

We made it to Phuket, Thailand 12 hours after we left the hotel in Saigon… Final expenses for cruise tomorrow…

Sorry loyal readers, but I’m just too exhausted to make my brain work well enough to post.

Tomorrow morning, once we’re awake with coffee in hand, we’ll be excited to share many more details of our time in Southeast Asia with all of you.

If you haven’t seen our post from Tom’s brave efforts at the Cu Chi Tunnel in Vietnam, please click here for some amazing photos.

Thanks for your patience!  See you later on!

When we arrived at the airport in Bangkok…Final cruise expenses at end of post…More cruise/tour photos…

Tom pointed out this jumble of power lines at an intersection in Saigon.

Yesterday morning, we left the hotel in Saigon at 6:45 for the 30 minute drive to the airport amid rush hour traffic. The previous evening we had our final meal together as a group at a local restaurant after which we hugged goodbye to the many new friends we’d made on the Viking Mekong River Cruise.

 Vietnam is communist society resulting in the government owning all land regardless of its location.  As a result, most structures are narrow such as this property.

Most of all, it was hard to say goodbye to Kong.  He far exceeded any of our expectations as the finest tour manager we’ve worked with since beginning our travels so long ago. 

Based on our late departing flight out of Saigon after a mass of confusion at the overly busy and somewhat disorganized airport, it was unlikely we’d arrive in Phuket at a decent time to be up to be able to post.  As a result, our last post was short.

Kong pointed out the number of motorbikes in the roundabout.  There are over 6 motorbikes in Saigon (Ho Cho Ming City) for a population of 10 million.

At the airport in Bangkok Tom found an ATM getting enough Thai Baht to last a week.  For BHT $10,000, the exchange rate is US $286.  We stopped at McDonald’s for a quick bite to eat figuring it could be late until we have a meal. I had a boring meat-less salad without dressing and Tom had a burger and fries.

Another view of the roundabout.  These photos were taken during a quiet time of the day compared to busier rush hour.

On the way to the villa we made a stop at a market in the village.  We were both exhausted from the prior poor night’s sleep and the long trip, making finding items on our list difficult if not impossible.  

Without a single English speaking person to be found in the market we encountered a kindly young employee with a translation app on his phone with little success in the translation making sense to him.

One business after another in tight spaces.

As it turned out the largest market in the area has no beef for sale.  For protein, they carry fresh chicken, pork and fish sitting atop big chilled tables.  We usually have beef a few meals a week so we’ll have to come up with another plan for those meals.  Nor did we find any roasted chickens.

Many females wear masks and are fully covered.  One would think this was to prevent illness when in act Vietnamese women vehemently avoid darkening skin from the sun.  By their standards, the whiter the skin, the better, according to Kong.

We never had dinner last night. We were so tired, food was the last thing on our minds.  By 8:30 pm, we hunkered down in the air conditioned bedroom on the comfy bed determined to stay awake until 10 pm. 

Refreshed and renewed this morning, we unpacked what we’d use here as we became familiar with our new house in Rawai, Phuket, a cozy little town which appears to be a mix of the old and new. 

Temples are interspersed among more modern areas.

Soon, we’ll get out to see what’s around us. Unfortunately, I still need time to heal my injury with a little less activity.  With all the strenuous tours during the cruise, I never really had time to rest which seems to be the most helpful at this point. 

Amid the historical buildings are skyscrapers such as this newer building.

Yesterday, after the busy travel day at two airports with tons of walking I almost reached 10,000 steps on my FitBit which was way too much.  Today, will be a relaxing day other than preparing our first meal since April 14th. Tom literally waits on me, helping with everything I need.

The house?  Its a lovely as we’d anticipated.  Please free to check out the online listing by clicking here which has some excellent photos without the clutter of our stuff scattered around the house.

Many shops include products appealing to tourists.  Many travel to Vietnam from all over the world to shop.

We’ve yet to take our first Phuket photo.  With the tinted windows on the van on the drive from the airport to the villa, we had no opportunity to take photos.  Nor did we feel up to walking right now.  In the near future we’ll get out to visit points of interest and to share many new photos with our readers.

At an intersection.

For now, as mentioned in a prior post, with hundreds of photos remaining from the cruise in Cambodia and Vietnam, we’ll continue to include photos we hope you’ll find interesting.

These huge clocks could appeal to tourist shoppers.

Here are the expenses from the Viking Mekong cruise/tour:

Expense US Dollar Vietnamese Dong
Cruise fare  $          6,597.00  $  147,068,781.00
Airfare –Singapore to Hanoi  $              830.00  $    18,503,424.00
Hotel in Hanoi  $           2,029.70  $    45,248,674.00
Taxi   $                 98.00  $       2,184,742.00
Laundry  $               140.00  $       3,121,059.00
Wifi   $                      $                   
Groceries  $                      $                 –                        
Dining Out  $                12.00  $           267,519.00
Clothing  $                22.00  $           490,452.00
Tips  $              725.00  $      16,162,629.00
Total  $        10,453.70  $    233,047,280.00
Avg Daily Cost-17 days  $              614.88  $       13,708,664.00


Tomorrow, we continue with Part 2, Cu Chi Tunnel with many more fascinating and informative photos of this historical site.  Now that we’re settled we’ll be posting consistently around the same time each day. 

Kong explained that locals have tougher stomachs to tolerate street food while tourists often become ill.

We’d like to thank all of our loyal worldwide readers for “hanging in there” with us during periods of no Wi-Fi and during my continuing mention of my current condition.  We appreciate each and every one of you, no matter where you may be.

Have a fabulous day!

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Photo from one year ago today, July 23, 2015:

One year ago, in Cairns, Australia we had no trouble finding a shopping mall with only a few turns required off the main highway into town.  For more details, please click here.