Back to Thailand: Jomtien

Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st December 2023 – Luang Prabang

We explored the royal palace and the temple. Luang Prabang was the royal capital of Laos until the about 1975 with the demise of the royal family at the hands of the communists. Like the Russian tsars, no one is sure how they died but all we know is they are dead.

On the 31st, we had a really nice late lunch at a French restaurant. Not hard to find a French restaurant in Luang Prabang as every other business in town seems to be owned by a French citizen. I was surprised too!

In the evening we did not wander too late as we had an early start the next day; so we just had some rounds of domino in the hotel’s gardens.

Royal palace Luang Prabang

Monday 1st of January 2024 to Sunday 7th – Jomtien (Thailand)

Our flight was at 7:30 am so we left our hotel at 6am just to be sure. The airport is small and only has 3 or 4 departures per day so it was quiet. Our plane was full.

We arrived in Bangkok at 9:30 am and after waiting for our bags and wandering a bit we finally found the direct bus for Pattaya. The 11am was full so we bought tickets for the next one at 12.

We had booked a flat in a holiday resort, in Jomtien. After so many hotels it would be nice to have a flat, small kitchen and a separate sitting place. With a sofa instead of super hardwood chair!

We arrived at the Pattaya’s bus station mid afternoon. This being the 1st of January, it was impossible to find a ride on Grab. Taxis were like gold dust. Our flat was a good 3 or 4 miles, so impossible to walk there. Especially in the intense heat!

We soon noticed the Baht buses. The usual SUV with the back converted with 2 thin seats facing each other, and a capacity of 10 people sitting and up to 4 hanging outside for dear life! After a quick check online we decided to jump into one going in the right direction. For 10 bahts each we got dropped by the beach, about 800m from our flat. Perfect!

The resort was immense, I think at least 7 or 8 huge buildings and a swimming pool that snakes around all the buildings, with small islands in the middle instead of a courtyard. Ground floor flats had a balcony with direct exit into the pool.

One thing that surprised us was that about 80% of the people staying there were Russians. All signs were in russian and sometimes not even in English!

Apparently, in Phuket about 400,000 Russians have now moved there permanently, opening businesses and competing with the locals. I could not find the numbers for Pattaya and the area but I suspect it will be a lot. Most of them are young families. I guess many would be escaping the risk on conscription. Who wants to be canon fodder these days?

I expected the area to be full of red light districts, Pattaya and around reputation, but in fact in was fine. The rare bar with ladies but not as many as in Chiang Mai actually. The beach was full of families enjoying family stuff.

Within 24h of being back in Thailand I was already sick. After 6 weeks in Cambodia and Laos with no issues at all, I suspect that Thailand does not want me there!

Anyway, we found eventually a really nice seafood restaurant and we made the most of it. The beach was not great but we had the giant pool in our compound . It took a while to swim around the entire pool, around all the buildings, it was that huge!

During our stay we rented a scooter and went off to visit few places. One that really impressed me was the Sanctuary of Truth museum.

Construction started there in 1981 and is still on going today. It is entirely in wood, hand carved using traditional methods. No nails are used and instead the various parts interlock in many clever ways. As for the millions of carving inside and out of the sanctuary it was insane!

The sanctuary of truth museum

Monday 8th of January 2024 to Wednesday 10th 2024 – Koh Chang

It was finally time to move on. The heat in Pattaya was intense. We were surprised as it had been definitely cooler in Bangkok back in November! We eventually found out from the locals that El Niño is causing this increase in heat.

We were hoping that the weather would be a bit cooler in an island. So we got in a bus early morning and made our way to Koh Chang, the 3rd biggest island in Thailand.

We settled for 3 nights in a small guesthouse with an excentric owner. The place was inland in the jungle. Still, only 1km from the coastal town.

Every morning the owner, Mr PingPong ( honest!) would feed the local monkeys, so the place was filled with them for a bit. They were not aggressive, just looking for food. Alistair likes monkeys but I don’t really.

We quickly rented a scooter to explore the island.

Our guesthouse’s owner was constantly with a joint (of marijuana) in his mouth. Remember that now this is legal in Thailand and there are many shops selling stuff like that around. He was friendly, kind and often rather stoned I guess? Without any staff, the place was interesting but in need of some maintenance. We decided to move to another section of the island and to a more comfortable hotel.

Our initial guesthouse was near the main party spot of the island and we wanted to discover the other villages so after 3 nights we loaded the scooter and rode few miles further south.

The island is still full of Russians and they seem to buy many businesses. Must be a complete exodus from Russia at this stage!