US Road Trip
• US - Northern Route
New Zealand

• Cambodia & Vietnam
• India
• Europe
• Ireland
• Sweden
• Folly Cove


Part 1 | Part 2


The Traveling Rousmanieres
World Tour 2002-2003
Installment #6 -- Thailand

Hello Friends and Family,

About time we caught up on our travel newsletters before we actually land back stateside in just a few short weeks. Sorry for the delay, but the pace picked up the last few months, and when there were slower moments, there never seemed to be an email cafe in sight (ie. on camel safari in the Thar Desert).

Since we last wrote, we've traveled through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Greece, Italy, France, and Ireland. We're currently in London, soon to be in Sweden, and then back to the U.S. for a month-long road trip back to our beloved Folly Cove. Unfortunately, we were forced to make the conservative decision to bypass a couple of our more anticipated destinations due to war (Turkey and Morocco, amongst others). But there will most definitely be a next time...

So we'll pick up the travelogue with one of our favorite stops: Thailand. (Please note that we've attempted to send along some pictures finally. However, if you use AOL, you may have difficulties viewing them.)

We spent five weeks in amazing Thailand, and already cannot wait to go back some day. The Thai people are the nicest, most gracious people we've encountered anywhere... the food is spectacular, the landscape is gorgeous, and the price of it all is enough to leave you crying in your European beer.

- Arriving in Bangkok -- And the World's Our Oyster Sauce

We landed in Bangkok, the gateway to Thailand, a city to overload every one of your senses with the sight of elephants clomping down city streets surrounded by bicycles, swarms of motorbikes, and tiny tuk-tuks (motorized tri-shaws) weaving in and out of the congested traffic; streetside food stalls selling fried grasshoppers and other incredibly large and crunchy insects(cockroaches?!); spicy smells of Thai cooking in the air mixing with wafts of sewage and exhaust fumes; bald-headed monks in bright orange robes patiently picking their way through crowds of dread-locked backpackers; families of five piled onto a single moped zooming by with the mother nursing a newborn baby while elegantly riding sidesaddle and crossing her high-heel-clad feet at the ankles...

We spent most of our time in Bangkok on the infamous Khao San Road (the backpackers' haven). A mix of pre-90's Times Square and Blade Runner, Khao San Road is crowded and dirty to the point of being stifling. But it is also the most useful place to provision for traveling on the cheap. While everyone back home was digging out of 3 feet of snow, we were sweating in oppressively hot 95 degree heat, navigating through the tuk-tuks, street vendors, backpackers and back alleys of Khao San, chasing down travel visas, used travel books, cheap clothing, and the ever-elusive quiet bar to have a Chang beer. To Dana's great dismay, we found ourselves back in Bangkok far too often in our attempts to get to more remote parts of Thailand, but this gave us plenty of time to visit such Bangkok wonders as the ornate and elegant Grand Palace and the Wat Pho, with their golden Buddhas, bejewelled, palatial marbled walls and floors, and cheap Thai massages.

* "The Beach" or Bust

- Manana – Thai Time

We left Bangkok as soon as possible, jumping on a bus headed south to explore the beaches of Southern Thailand for a couple of weeks. We learned quickly that to travel in Thailand, one has to let go of certain preconceived notions like, er... itineraries. A bus could leave you at a random roadside stop in the middle of the night for a "quick break", and before long you'd realize that you're still sitting in the dirt watching the sun come up. Worse yet, certain Rousmanieres who have a tendency to wander off to "explore," assured that the bus wouldn't be leaving until 8:30 a.m., could suddenly find themselves running to catch a bus that's inexplicably leaving at 6:30 a.m. instead. We once found ourselves on a small 8-seater boat, with 7 people already seated, stopping for "10 minutes to pick up one more passenger"... which somehow turned into 1 hour and an additional 20 people. (Yes...all 20 got aboard... maybe something got lost in the translation?!)

- Phuket - Kamala Beach

After 20 hours on our bus from Bangkok, we finally made it to the South, landing in Phuket, where we started hitting the beaches! Our first stop was Kamala Beach, just north of Phuket town on the Andaman Sea. Here, we lazed about on the quiet, slightly commercialized, beach and learned to fend off (and occassionally bargain with) sarong-sporting, watch-displaying touts. We also enjoyed the first of many incredible three dollar Thai dinners, while we watched the odd parasailer fall from the sky with Thais running around the beach trying to catch the helpless tourist (some weren’t caught). Every afternoon on our way home from the beach, a naked three-year-old Thai boy taking his bath on the rickety boardwalk would rinse our sandy feet with a hose and laugh hysterically, splashing around in his plastic bucket.

- Phuket - Boat Living

We got a spicy taste of Phuket Beach thanks to our new Kiwi friends Danny and Paula Clement, whom we met while traveling in New Zealand. Danny and Paula had been living and working in Phuket for the past two years on a beautiful yacht called 'SeaGlass', and graciously invited us to stay with them. To our great surprise, the boat was equipped with air conditioning, hot showers, a cappuccino maker, Internet access, and satellite television (and for you sailors, it sported an amazing, and expensive, Aero-Rig, sheet winches be damned)...not to mention the five-star spa and infinity pool at the marina. Yes, our days of bologna sandwiches and backpacks still eluded us.

- Phuket - Tuxedos and Transvestites

Danny and Paula gave us the locals' tour of Phuket, complete with lessons on bargaining (eg. negotiations for an end of night tuk-tuk ride home should never exceed 100 Baht and must always include a "Roadie" provision for beer stops along the way), a stop at their favorite tailor to get Will a hand-made silk tuxedo (which was put together in less than 24 hours, cost $120, and looks like a million bucks), trips to their favorite restaurants (with Danny "you can't make it spicy enough" Clement ordering in Thai for us), and an unforgettable night in Phuket at a Kathoey (Pronounced "Ka-Toy", meaning transvestite) cabaret called "Katoys-R-US", that saw the Rousmanieres dancing in the chorus line for the evening's finale. Danny and Paul have since landed back in New Zealand, and we wish them luck in their new life there. Thanks again to you both for showing us the time of our lives -- and for giving us another taste of the great and gracious Kiwi spirit (not to mention that yummy roast lamb).

- Similan Islands - Beach Birthday

Our next stop on our tour of Thai beaches were the beautiful Similan Islands, nine government-owned islands that are run as parks (read: undeveloped). After a bumpy 3-hour power boat ride, our jaws dropped when we pulled into the bay of Ko Miang (island #4): the water was the clearest and bluest we've ever seen - so clear we would have been able to count every grain of sand on the bay bottom, if only the sand weren't as fine as baby powder. Being a government-run island, there were limited accommodations: about 20 tents and 15 hill-side bungalows looking out over the bay. With our diving budget depleted by kiwi sky diving, we passed the days snorkeling in the 80 degree water and soaking up the sun. We spent Dana's 30th birthday drinking wine and watching sunset and stars on this wonderfully remote island. Many thanks again to everybody for the cyber-birthday wishes!

- Krabi - Rubber and Phalluses

Our last beach stop in the South was the Krabi province, which we reached in a truck driven by a Thai family, with their little five-year-old boy on Will's lap belting out Bon Jovi's "It's My Life," though little other English was known or spoken. So we sang Bon Jovi and rattled through the countryside, passing rubber plantations (hundreds of trees hung with buckets to catch dripping rubber from taps like collecting vermont maple sap) with their white glistening pancakes of condensed rubber drying on the roadside fences in the sun.

We stayed at Ao Nang beach,in the Krabi province. Ao Nang isn't much to write home about. It's very commercial and even has a McDonalds. But it is a convenient jumping off point for day trips to numerous dramatic limestone islands, caves and white beaches. We boarded longtail boats for day trips out to the more remote beaches like Railay and Hat Tham Phra Nang, where we encountered monkeys hanging from trees, bats hanging from enormous caves, and climbers hanging precariously from limestone cliffs 50 feet above sea-level. We stumbled into what we dubbed "the phallus palace," a limestone cave where Thai fishermen leave HUGE AND NUMEROUS hand-carved wooden penises (literal woodies) on an altar to a mythical princess who possesses the power to help them catch more fish. Another cave hid a "golden waterfall," sparkling quartz seemingly tumbling down the wall of the cave.


Continued >

Itinerary | Travelogues | Photo Gallery | Features | Top 10 | FAQ | What's New | Contact Us:
Copyright © 2003 Will and Dana Rousmaniere. All rights reserved.