New Year's Day 2018
On New Year's Day morning, we woke in Bangkok at the home of our son's new in-laws. A van picked up our group and drove us to the airport. We flew south to Krabi where another van drove us a short distance, before we were picked up by 3-wheeled, tuk tuks. Then we were dropped at a dock where we headed down towards one of the traditional Thai longboats.
The boat zoomed and roared over the bay for 20 minutes, taking us towards Railay's East Beach.
Lowtide prevented us from getting close, but a sort of tractor-pulled trailer met us and we climbed on board and drove over the muddy sand.
We were met with golf carts that took us to the hotel's open air lobby. We sipped some complimentary juice and tried not to be too concerned about the rather chaotic check in and all the odd rules regarding our rooms.
Our gang was guided towards the pathway beside the walled-in bungalows. It was nice to have the seclusion, but the wall did cut us off from some scenery. Then again, there were some pretty tall mountains that were still in view!
Some Tricky Stuff
Our own Patio
Our bungalow had its own little patio area and hot tub. There were lounge chairs propped up, that we never used. It was hard to convince ourselves to lounge and soak, in our walled in space, when we could relax just a short walk away... with a gorgeous view of beach and mountains on the west side.
I adore monkeys of any kind, but these guys were kind of scary. The first evening, I got a text from my daughter next door. "We're scared to leave. The monkeys are jumping around everywhere." Especially at dusk, the critters liked to leap from roof to branch to roof. It was a little spooky, walking underneath them.
The bungalow was spacious with an extra sitting area with couch/bed. But it took a while for the hot room to cool down. We were given one room key and it went into the slot to turn on the room's power. This meant we couldn't leave a.c. running or phones charging. But hey, we were in a beautiful tropical paradise. We got used to the inconvenience.
I like to have good lighting in hotels. The bathroom was bright in the day, with its own set of glass doors to the patio. There were also some interesting built in ceiling light features. However, on our last morning the ceiling above the couch performed an interesting light show at 4 a.m. I woke to the large, circular space blinking, sporadically. I thought I'd dreamt it, until I woke 2 other times. It was as if a ghost was delivering a message in Morse code. I took a video of the last show, but totally forgot to share with our hotel staff at check out.
The hotel food was not top notch and the service was pretty slow, but the view and atmosphere couldn't be beat.
Here is our daughter-in-law, her parents and our son, lingering over breakfast. It was wonderful knowing the 9 of us, could find each other at the breakfast buffet at some point each morning.
Coffee and View
Although Railay is not actually an island, our hotel beach had a view of sunset. In the morning we could easily walk to the east beach and watch sunrise, then return to the west side for a peaceful view with our breakfast.
Enjoying the Calm
We had already been in Thailand over a week. Our group had celebrated a wedding, traveled to North Thailand, explored and celebrated. We were suddenly in a place where we were ready to have no plans. Lingering over breakfast with a glorious view, was all that I needed.
People and Boat Watching
As the day progressed, the beach became more entertaining with boats and people. The longboats made noise and the tourists took up space, but the activity was more intriguing than annoying. Some in our group rented paddle boards and kayaks, but Don and I were content just floating in the water... which felt wonderful.
We had a choice of 2 pools, which at least gave us lounge chair possibilities. But almost every chair was being "reserved" with a towel by 8 am, each day. Luckily we didn't care about that. There was beach wandering to do and shopping stalls with foot massage options. There were quirky bars and restaurants on the east side to explore.
It took us a couple days to really wind down and get to know our hotel and the small beach community. A few of us were dealing with the beginning or end of some kind of cold or bug. But by the last evening, we had all reaped the benefits of our laid back resort.
Each evening the boats and most of the crowds left the beach and all became more peaceful. Even though we were met with a lot of evening clouds, we still enjoyed gathering on the beach for sunset.
I wish I had a photo of our entire group at Railay, but that's what our stay was like. Our private bungalows gave us all good rest and the beach and dining tables gave us a place to gather and greet and make spontaneous plans. Having 4 nights gave us time to forget our initial gripes and sink into the calm of this beautiful place! Railay Bay Resort was not perfect, but it was perfectly fine for what we needed!
Boutique Hotel in Chiang Mai... with Welcoming Statues!
You have to love stone creatures that greet you from the wall and steps when you arrive!
In late December 2017, we spent a few nights in the historic city of Chiang Mai, in North Thailand. We were traveling with new family! Our group of 9 included the best tour guides and hotel pickers ever! It helped that our daughter-in-law (of one month!) and her family, have a home in Thailand. They picked the lovely Rachamankha Hotel.
And then we had our daughter and fiancee to toast, since their wedding was coming up in 3 months. What a relaxing atmosphere after all the planning and celebrating!
We left the main building and headed past 2 more welcoming statues, towards the rest of the hotel.
Flowers and Trees
Once again we passed 2 perfectly posed little critters (I couldn't always tell what these creatures were) and paused to take in all the lush growth that surrounded us. Scott posed with his now mother-in-law, in the same spot where they posed, on his first visit to Thailand five years before.
Gray and Green
The skies were a little gray during our visit, but the trees and vegetation made us forget the weather. We passed the towering palms and headed towards the open air lounging area in the center of the courtyard.
The shady space looked like it would be heavenly during Thailand's hot monsoon season.
Lovely Under the Roof
Once we stepped under the roof, it felt like we were in a grand museum. The red pillars held up the high ceiling, allowing lots of room for artwork. Cushy chairs and bright flowers helped us forget the gloomy weather.
The large garden area was surrounded by covered walkways, leading to the 24 guest rooms. I loved our hefty wooden door to our room, #6.
The raised ceilings made the room feel light and spacious. The yellow dragon rug added a little soft, to the smooth wood floor. There was some fruit to welcome us and a nice teapot with 2 elephant shaped mugs. I did have to laugh at the printed rules, though. We followed them and did not bring Thailand's stinkiest fruit into our room.
The double doors to the bathroom were impressive and the exotic design above the doorway added a nice touch. But I must admit we did have shower issues. The water went from scalding to icy cold upon 2 occasions. I'm not sure if our daughter next door heard me yelp, but she said they had the same problem one time. Of course the shower didn't act up when the maintenance man came.
We've had many curious locks and bolts with all the historic and curious hotels that I've blogged about. But the bathroom door was a new one for me, with its locking peg. The main door had 2 sturdy bolts that made me feel like I was in a castle. I was a little sad to learn our hotel was not actually an old building. But great care was made in designing the complex, to blend with the climate and culture of historic Chiang Mai.
We had no urge to swim, but the pool area did have nice seating. We could have used a towel and cozied up with a book...
Fire in the Courtyard
But we found a cozier space.
By evening, the dining courtyard with fireplace, was peaceful and cozy.
Besides the courtyard, there was a narrow dining room where complimentary breakfast was served in the morning. There was a huge display of fruits, meats, breads and sweets that would have been enough.
But we also had lovely service. Coffee and cream arrived on a silver tray and menus gave us numerous options, as well. Eggs Benedict was a treat, as well as French Toast. We ate too much.
Our last morning, I made a dash up those stairs just outside the dining room. I had heard about the hotel's museum which houses a great collection of historic treasures and art. It's tempting to add "I slept in a museum" to my odd overnights. But I guess that's stretching it a bit.
Our hotel was a peaceful oasis in a great location. The grounds were surrounded by white wall, with dragon-like stone guards... as well as real security. The location of the hotel was ideal. We were within the old walls of the Old City, which means we were in walking distance of wonderful restaurants, shops, foot massage parlors!
So I will remember the cozy, classy feel of our hotel. We were surrounded by luxury within the walls. Outside of the hotel walls, we were surrounded by history. The city's oldest temple was just steps away... if we were able to leap over the wall. I'll always remember hearing the voices of the monks chanting. That was lovely and notable!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!