Wow, I remember my Mum saying that time goes quicker as you get older but this is ridiculous! Christmas is only a few weeks away and surely it was only last week I started back at work. Well Jo has started work at a community about 3 hours drive away from me called Ampilatiwatja. I am driving there every second weekend as there is quite a bit of dirt road involved which takes it's toll on both our car and me too.
Can't seem to come up with a concrete plan workwise but the most likely event is that we will continue as is until early March as that is when our next trip is planned. We are taking Jo's mum to Bali for her eightieth birthday for a week then I'll likely start work at Ampilatiwatja as well.
I was surfing around our various loyalty program memberships when I spotted a competition from Accor Plus. Accor have Novotel, Pullman, Mecure plus a few other brands affiliated together and the Accor Plus membership is one we do keep current for a few hundred dollars per year to get a reasonable amount of use and value from. This current competition requires a 60 second video highlighting one of their hotels to be uploaded then voted via Facebook to decide the winner by December 21.
As luck would have it I just recently put a Youtube video together about one of our favourite hotels in Bangkok, the Novotel Ploenchit. It was far over the 60 second limit but with a bit of cutting back managed to trim it down and submitted it. Nothing to do now but send out messages to all I can to vote for it and just wait.
Well the wheel turns and I find myself back in Tennant Creek again at the same job as earlier in the year. Jo is staying a while on the Sunshine Coast with her Mum and will just see how things pan out as to when she will return to work herself. It just seems like yesterday I was here, nothing has changed for years in TC so a few months is a blink of the eye. Same house, same office, same clients, well some of them anyway.
Had some upsetting news this morning which has seen us calling short our holiday here and heading back to Aus. Hopefully things will not be as grim as first thought but only time will tell.
Our time in Siem Reap was most enjoyable but exceptionally hot. That aside we still managed a morning visit to Angkor Wat which was as impressive as the first time. We also went to to a large local food and homewares market, Wat Themy, the Siem Reap memorial to the thousands that died during the Pol Pot regime and of course a night visit to Pub Street. We had a few huge downpours of rain during the few days we were in Siem Reap which combined with the high temperatures and humidity was not the ideal conditions to get out and about too much. Before we knew it was time for the return flight to Bangkok so we retraced our journey and later that afternoon found ourselves overlooking the Chao Phraya River again.
Sorry, just my unusual sense of humour Jo would say, of course I meant Angkor Wat.
We had the opportunity to explore this amazing site some years ago and had no second thoughts about going back again to reacquaint ourselves with it again. Plus the Cambodian people are so welcoming and friendly it wasn't a hard decision.
Flights went reasonably painlessly as only very short hops then landed at the new Siem Reap airport which is a huge leap forward from the old one. On our last visit we had arranged our entry visa before arriving but it still seemed to take an exorbitant amount of paper shuffling and rubber stamping to enter the kingdom. This time the new eVisa allowed us to seamlessly breeze through customs in no time.
Our tariff at the Koulen included a car pick up from the airport which we were a little disappointed with actually as last time we really enjoyed cramming our bags and us into the tuk-tuk for the open-air trip into town. This time we were isolated from the real world by a/c and tinted glass. Our car deposited us at the door step of the Koulen and as expected we were welcomed in almost embarrassingly fashion by the manager and half the staff!
The Koulen had only been opened a few months prior and still smelt of new paint and our room was huge with a separate lounge room and kitchen which I hasten to add never got even near being used.
As it was late in the afternoon we soon found ourselves drawn inexplicably to the poolside bar where we spent a very enjoyable few hours chatting with the barman and ended up dining at the bar as well.
Well, pretty darn soon if the truth be known! OK, now Jo's Mum and Dad are to join us for a few weeks in a few days so by my calculations we will run out about half way through their holiday. Right then, onto Skyscanner and cheapest flight to Siem Reap found via Bangkok for $88. booking.com and decent looking hotel, Koulen Summit, found for $65 per night so reckon 3 nights should do it. Flight back direct to Bangkok $70 so total of few hundred dollars for 4 days in Cambodia and another 30 day visa-on-arrival for Thailand.
We have really enjoyed our short break in Chiang Mai and feel re-charged and ready to go again and certainly will return here for a much longer stay at some time.
Again a very sublime existence here, could get used to this easily, but we also re-visited some of the more well known Wat's and sights in the old-city. There was the occasional down-pour of rain but there always seemed to be a handy coffee shop or bar nearby to accommodate us until it had passed.
Jo had decided it was time for a "do" and having been a hair dresser in a previous life wanted to do some research into a well reviewed place. She ferreted out a place called New York, New York in Nimman which even recommended to ask for someone called Milk, yes as in what cows give.
We called them up, asked for Milk and got an appointment the next day in the morning. They even called us back the next morning to confirm we could get there and as it was a short walk away set off 10 mins before the appointment. It was easy to find so I left Jo to the tender mercies of Milk and explored numerous coffee shops in the area which were many and varied, but all very good.
To wrap up this blog, Jo was very happy with her style and although cheap by Australian standards,not dirt cheap but the result and the products used were all first class.
The next few days were very pleasant thank-you with Jo and I falling into a routine of a morning light work-out in the gym followed by a refreshing dip and all this after a little lie in as we had no where to go and all day to get there. We had also discovered a small restaurant on the corner of our side street called, Smoothy Blues which was very handy to get a quick, cheap and very tasty meal from if we didn't feel like venturing too far afield.
If the mood took us we would also try to fit in another light work-out in the gym before tea as well.....very dedicated!
It has been a few years since our last visit to Chiang Mai and this time the visit is to be a fact-finding and exploration of the city as a possible long-term place to disappear to when time permits. Chiang Mai has developed a large reputation amongst the digital-nomad crowd in recent years as a chilled place with a plethora of coffee shops and shared work spaces to choose from.
It also has a growing reputation amongst the grey-nomad crowd as a chilled place with a plethora of coffee shops and cheap rentals to choose from. Both reputations are well founded as far as we could ascertain and we have definitely added Chiang Mai to our list of places to spend a longer time in.
Chiang Mai airport is only a short drive from basically anywhere in the city. We chose to Airbnb in an area known as Nimmanheamin or just Nimman will do, less than a 10 minute tuk-tuk ride from the Old City walls. The apartment was in a complex called The Nimmana in Soi 6, enough off the main road to be quiet but an easy walk to everything.
It was a 1 bedroom condo, quite spacious and modern with a small balcony overlooking the internal courtyard which held the decent sized swimming pool and garden area. The temperature difference to Bangkok was a welcome relief so we set off to explore the immediate area.
We found the main shopping mall, Maya Mall, about a 10 min walk away and was very pleasantly surprised by the great food court in the basement. Huge variety of food, vego, vegan to carnivore tastes and very reasonably priced so we grabbed enough for tea and headed back as it was nearly that time anyway.