This winter (2013-2014) we are travelling to Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Koh Siboya (Thailand), Siem Reap (Cambodia), Ubud (Bali), Bunaken Island (Sulawesi), Kuching (Borneo) and Singapore

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November 19, 2013 - Back in Chiang Mai, Thailand
This is the first time since 1979, we have used Korean Air to fly to Asia. The major attraction for us to use them again is their service that flies directly from Incheon to Chiang Mai, by-passing Bangkok. They have done a great job of reinventing themselves. All new planes, so very clean and everything works. We flew in the back of the bus (economy) and were amazed that my (Bob) knees actually didn't touch the seat in front (right up at the top of the list of carriers with a seat pitch of 34). Staff were very attentive. Recommended.
As you can see by the photo, we are ensconced back in The Kantary Hills Hotel for a month. It is such an indulgence and continues to be great value at CA$ 60/N (monthly rate) The amazing buffet breakfast is always difficult to navigate without over indulging. The very well appointed A/C gym and the pool are both still first class and the entire hotel is still spotless. Daily maid service and fabbo linens are sublime.
It's already been a week, as the time just seems to evaporate. The main event to date was Loy Krathong on the 17th. The name could be translated "Floating Crown" or "Floating Decoration", and comes from the tradition of making buoyant decorations which are then floated on a river. The candle venerates the Buddha with light, while the krathong's floating symbolizes letting go of all one's hatred, anger, and defilements. People sometime cut their fingernails or hair and placed the clippings on the krathong as a symbol of letting go of negative thoughts.
Byron picks us up in the Taxi McG... off to the Chiang Mai Art Museum..??

December 12, 2013 - Mae Salong... in the mountains north of Chiang Mae

Mae Salong - Road trip to Mae Salong... 4 hours out of Chiang Mai at the police box the road turned north into the very pointy hills skirting Burma... running along the tops of the ridges for miles. Fantastic scenery. We booked 3 nights at the Mae Salong Mountain Home. Yunnan style food is everywhere and Oolong tea at every shop. Cold, fog and rain for the 3 days.

Mae Salong was settled by remnants of the former Nationalist (Kuomintang) Chinese Army 93rd Division who moved from Burma to Thai territory in 1961, after the Communist Party under Mao Zedong consolidated its hold on China. Originally a military base biding its time for an attack back, funding its arms purchases with opium production — notorious warlord Khun Sa lived a few kilometers away in Ban Hin Taek — in the 1970s the Thai government struck a deal with the renegades: the battle-hardened KMT would help them fight Thailand's own Communist insurgents, and would be granted citizenship in exchange. As part of the integration process, opium production was successfully substituted with mountain produce like mushrooms and above all Oolong tea, which is now Mae Salong's main product.

Some guidebooks wax lyrical about today's Mae Salong as a miniature Yunnanese Shangri-la, but if you come with this image in mind you may be a little disappointed: at first glance, Mae Salong looks much like the little Thai town it is. However, the crisp climate, the lingering Chinese influence, delicious native Yunnanese dishes and small hotels and guest houses catering to visitors still make this a popular getaway, accessible even on a hurried day trip but worth stopping in overnight.

December 18, 2013 - The road to Siem Reap and Angkor

Chiang Mai to Bangkok - Fly to BKK... two nights in the Banglumphu "Zoo". The area around Khao San road is getting to be crazier every year. There are now some nice hotels and restaurants right on the river.

The overland trek from Bangkok to Siem Reap Took a private minibus to the Cambodian border. 3 people in a mini bus is a great indulgence. Navigated the border DMZ into Poipet, bargained hard for another minibus to Siem Reap. We left Bangkok at 7am and arrived at our hotel in SR at 4pm.
 Ah... chicken noodle soup at the Khmer Kitchen Restaurant.
Siem Reap - Temples temples temples. Never get tired of the Angkor Complex. Nine days of indulging in the abundance of great restaurants, being pampered and chauffeured by Mr Kat our tuk-tuk pilot.
Our friend Nelson made the effort and flew in from Kuching, Borneo to celebrate Christmas with us. On Christmas eve he commandeered a small restaurant, took over the kitchen and whipped up a fabulous meal for 12. Next day, More indulgence! The Christmas buffet brunch at Raffles is always a highlight.
In the center of old town there are soooo many wonderful restaurants. Siem Reap is such a great little town to hang out in.

December 29, 2013 - Back on Siboya

Siem Reap to Kuala Lumpur to Krabi to Siboya - Flew AirAsia REP to KUL... overnight at an airport hotel then flew up to Krabi. As it was Saturday, we were able to participate in Krabi Walking Street. Scads of nick knack vendors along with an abundance of street food. All this and a beer garden and a cool evening.

 And now it's Hammock Time on Siboya!!

It's great to be back on Siboya. This year we are in Paul's house. I calle Chung a month ago to arrange for hot water to be added to the shower. Yes I'm spoiled. Mr Ya (62yrs) is still doing the gardens and the local girls are growing up to be wonderful young ladies.

Chris and Monica kindly hosted a Pétanque tournament in front of their house, well attended. Team Canada came in 4th overall.

Kris and Rachel arrived to hang with the senior citizens.

Children's day on Siboya was well turned out by the locals and attended by many farangs. Monika prompted Chris to participate... and as a good sport he did to all the Siboyan's joy.

Enjoying pre-dinner beverage is the norm. Dieter and Maggie, welcome to the Siboya community. Texas Hold'em was welcomed. The ladies bicycle club tour the island, starting with breakfast at Saw's cafe.

Mr Law came over with a bucket of squid and a grill. The rest was a feast.

Let's take a day trip to the Tuesday morning market on the mainland at Laem Kruat.

Tournament number 2. Team Canada didn't fair so well this time. The Swiss team was dominant. The Thai team is very good. Thanks again, Chris and Monika.

Our departing meal, thanks to Keow and Chung... Sail fish curry, loofah veggy.

January 29, 2014 - Haven't been to Bali for 7 years. Krabi to Kuala Lumpur to Bali - Fly KBV to KUL... one night at an airport hotel then on to DPS, Denpasar, Bali. Made ( was waiting for us at Denpasar airport. Even at 11pm it was a busy 2 hour drive up to Ubud. Wow big changes in Bali. Who knew there would be this much growth.
Checked into Narasoma Homestay
First things first... a birthday indulgence, a Javanese Lulur Massage at Verona Spa.
Narasoma continues to expand, with the addition of a performance centre. This will enhance the existing new Yoga Retreat facility.
We haven't done a tour around rural Bali for a long time. Visit to Bali's oldest temple and a ramble through the back roads is always peaceful and spectacular.
We had to move to the "Honeymoon Suite" for our last 8 nights.
Our final meal in Ubud was at Nomad's. The tuna fillet was amazing.

February 20, 2014 - Haven't been to Bunaken for 16 years. Bali to Makassar to Manado to Bunaken - Fly Bali to Makassar... one night at Hotel Pacific then on to Manado the next morning. The driver was waiting for us at the airport and whisked us away to the waiting boat to take us out to Bunaken Beach Resort. Manado is still a hole. Glad we chose the hold your hand transfer option.
Bunaken Beach Resort was a pleasant surprise. Last time we were here the accommodation choices were very simple. What we found was still simple, but clean and airy. It was still stinkin' hot here 1.6 degrees north of the equator. AND the food... we were nervous about the food as the accommodation includes full board. No choices just sit down and see what arrives. Last time, the first day was wonderful... fresh fish and veg and rice. But we soon realized that that was what it would be for EVERY meal. BBR's kitchen never repeated a dish for the entire 7 nights we were there. Good food!
The beauty of snorkelling here is that you just wade/swim about 100 meters right off the beach to the edge of the reef where it drops straigh down a kilometer. Yes we saw all of the fish pictured and millions of other reef fish.
After our 7 nights we headed back to Manado. Hopped on a Lion Air flight back to the amazingly friendly people in Makassar. Great seafood dinner and one night before heading to Kuala Lumpur.

March 1, 2014 - Time to chill in Kuching. After over-nighting at a Tune Hotel at KL airport we flew into Kuching and headed to The Ranee. Great location right on Bazaar St.