Our epic road trip


Robert at Burial Brewery

So…a few months ago a friend of ours suggested we journey down to New Orleans to see him march in the Irish Channel parade on St. Patrick’s day.  We are always up for a trip to New Orleans so, of course, we said yes.  And then, the next thing we knew, our quick little trip to New Orleans turned into an epic 17 day road trip.  Not sure how that happened….  A road trip that took us from Illinois to Kentucky, to North Carolina, to South Carolina, to Georgia, to Florida, to Alabama, to Mississippi, to Louisiana, to Mississippi (again), to Tennessee, to Arkansas, to Missouri, and, finally, back to Illinois.  Whew!

We spent our first night in Cadiz, Kentucky visiting with Robert’s brother and sister-in-law.  It was a nice visit and they have a beautiful lake house with all kinds of wildlife.  I could have sat outside watching the birds (especially the woodpeckers) for hours if only it had been just a tiny bit warmer.


Deer in Francis Biedler Park

The next day we were off for Hot Springs, North Carolina.  I had big, big plans.  We were going to hike the Appalachian Trail.  OK, fine, we weren’t going to hike the entire trail, but we were going to hike a small stretch of it so we could say we had been on the trail.  Now, the trail goes right through town.  And we knew where to park.  And, yet, we somehow completely missed it.  Seriously, we missed it.  Once again, we have no idea how that happened…  And, ordinarily it wouldn’t have been a huge problem — just turn around and find it, right?  Except Robert was grumpy, grumpy, grumpy.  So there went my dreams of hiking the Appalachian trail.

Instead, we pushed on to Asheville, North Carolina.  Where it was cold and rainy.  Nonetheless, we made good use of our time.  You know what that means — we ate and drank our way around town.  We started by hitting a local bar and asking the bartender with a hipster mustache where he would eat.  He sent us to a place called Cucina 24.  Amazing Italian food.  The next day, we ate ourselves sick at Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack.  Fried chicken, and chicken pot pie, and pudding.  Amazing!  And, even better, it was Tattoo Tuesday, which means we got a discount after Robert showed off his tattoo.  Then, we made our way back to the main part of town where Robert tried a ton of local beers.  He was getting pretty worried because, in all honesty, he wasn’t liking anything he tried.  Were Asheville beers bad?  Was he sick and didn’t know it?  Has my love of wine finally tainted his love of beer?  He finally found success at a place called Burial Brewery.  Shocking right?  How can you not like a place with themes of death, good music, dogs galore, and beers called I Know for a Fact You Do Not Party, Consequences of Humanity, Garden of Earthly Delights, Bone Dagger, and Visions of a Valkyrie?  And right after that we wandered into a wine bar where a bunch of locals were playing blue grass.  And then we stumbled upon a champagne bar.  All in all, an excellent day.  We would have loved to spend more time in Asheville (when the weather was better and we could have done some hiking) but the road was calling our name.


Francis Biedler Park

As we drove out of Asheville, the snow was coming down.  We were a bit worried about driving through the mountains in the snow, but it cleared quickly enough.  Our first stop was a New York bagel shop.  Seriously.  In North Carolina.  I can’t say the bagels were New York quality, but they were better than anything we expected.

Out next stop was Francis Biedler park.  It is a boardwalk (1.75 miles if memory serves) through a cypress swamp.  We were there a bit early in the season, so we didn’t see a ton of critters, but we did get to see two very skittish deer, a lizard, a turtle, and a bunch of birds.  Plus, we had the place pretty much to ourselves, which made for a very nice walk around the boardwalk.  If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend it.


Rainbow Row in Charleston

Soon enough, we were pulling into our hotel in Charleston.  As I asked the bellman a question about where to park, the first thing out of his mouth was “Mam, y’all in a hurry?  Because you need to slow down.  We don’t move that fast down here.”  OK, guess I had been told!  But, he was right.  Sometimes you do really need to slow down and enjoy life.  And that is exactly what we did in Charleston.  We started our stay with a long walk to Rodney Scott’s BBQ.  Best.  BBQ.  Ever.  Seriously.  Wow!  It was so good.  And the cornbread was like candy.  And yet the locals seem to treat it like “meh” for reasons we don’t understand — several people we spoke to admitted as much but couldn’t explain why.  We also walked all around the waterfront (and got to see a dolphin!), and all around the old part of town, exploring the old houses and their placards.  Robert also tried local oysters — good, but not as good as West Coast oysters.

You know what I found most interesting about Charleston?  The houses are old.  Like built in the 1700’s and 1800’s old.  And they are still standing.  I can pretty much guarantee nothing being built in Chicago now will be standing 200 years later.  And, they were built for tradesman — carpenters and bricklayers.  I can pretty much guarantee tradesman in Chicago can’t afford such nice homes these days.


Check out these cool trees in Charleston

As we pulled out of Charleston, we had a full day planned, almost all of which turned out to be misses.  First, we decided to hit a plantation.  Drayton Hall is just a short distance from town, and in the general direction we needed to go, so that is where we went.  It was a nice stop, but an expensive visit. In all honesty, we probably should have skipped this stop when we realized just how expensive it would be ($20 per person for a one hour tour).


Drayton Hall

Our next “miss” was the Wormsloe State Historic Site.  We had simply wanted to see the driveway lined with massive oaks.  But they wanted $10 per person just to drive down the driveway.  And, it was really dusty.  And, people were having a picnic right in the middle so we wouldn’t have been able to get good photos.  So we left.

Believe it or not, we had another “miss” after that.  We had read that the Bonaventure Cemetery was cool.  And we love cemeteries.  So, off we went.  It was pretty, but boring.

We had to salvage the day somehow, so we backtracked to the Savannah Wildlife Refuge.  We were there after hours, so we couldn’t visit the visitor center, but we did drive around the refuge.  It is about a 4 mile drive with plenty of places to get out and take a walk.  We saw a ton of birds and our one and only gator on this trip.  But the real star of the show was a bobcat — it was the first time I had ever seen a bobcat in the wild.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get a photo of the bobcat, but boy was it cool to see it checking things out.

The next day was a leisurely exploration of Savannah.  Now, when we were researching where to go, there was quite a bit of debate about whether Charleston or Savannah was better.  After spending a day in Savannah, I think we have our answer.  Charleston is better, hands down.  Don’t get me wrong.  Savannah is pretty and we are glad we saw it.  The numerous squares (parks) scattered every couple of blocks around downtown are amazing, as are the beautiful old houses.


Savannah Park

But, the food we experienced in Savannah wasn’t nearly as good as the food in Charleston.  (Although if you do visit Savannah, take the long walk to Back in the Day bakery, affectionately known by at least some of the locals as “Crack of the Day.”  Trust us on this….).  And, how to put this politely?  Savannah stinks some days.  Apparently, the smell is caused by paper mills and marshes.  And it is so bad it woke us up one night.  Seriously.  So…bottom line, it was worth a day, but we wouldn’t have wanted to spend more time there.

Next it was off to my parent’s house in Ft. Myers Beach for a couple of nights.  We hit the Seven Mile Cypress Slough on one day.  This is another boardwalk through a swamp.  Things started out quietly, but we ultimately saw a ton of birds, a bunch of turtles, and — wait for it — three different snakes.  Pretty cool (especially since the snakes were not within easy striking distance — or at least that is what I’m telling myself….).

The next day we were off to Ding Darling park.  This is one of those things where you drive around and get out and hike here and there.  Once again, we saw a ton of birds.  But the absolutely highlight was the two dolphins who swam by us, not more than 10 feet away.  It was pure luck that we saw them — not sure where they were going but they were definitely on a mission somewhere.

As we pulled out of Ft. Myers, we stopped at the Manatee Park.  Florida had been having cold whether, so the manatees congregate by a hot water discharge pipe near a power plant.  Neither one of us had ever seen a manatee before and we got to see quite a few at the park.  Wish we could have gotten some photos, but no such luck.



After the manatees, we powered through to New Orleans.  Talk about a long drive!  We arrived exhausted and barely coherent.

After a good night’s sleep, we promptly found boiled crawfish.  New Orleans has a big Vietnamese population, and while researching restaurants we came across an article about Vietnamese style crawfish (which as we understand it basically means butter and herbs and lots and lots of garlic).  Well, that settled that!  Off we went to Gretna for traditional crawfish, Vietnamese style crawfish, shrimp, corn, and potatoes.  And, then because one Vietnamese meal a day apparently wasn’t enough, we had more traditional Vietnamese in Mid City later that night.  And, then we randomly wandered across a St. Patrick’s day parade in the Quarter.  (Remember that debate about whether Charleston or Savannah is better?  The real answer to that question is New Orleans.  Period.  Cool architecture, street cars, good food, and amazing people watching!)

The big day finally rolled around and we headed out to the Irish Channel parade.  You know, the whole point of this entire road trip.  And the parade turned out to be, ahem, disappointing.  It was great to see our friend and his family.  But the parade was a bit of a mess.  There were no porta potties, so I was afraid to even drink water.  We waited for hours for the parade to start.  And then, once it did start, it quickly fell apart, with big gaps between the marchers.  But we did have a quintessential New Orleans experience on the walk home — we randomly came across a second line in celebration of a wedding.  And, there were two brides!

Soon enough, the fun was now over and we faced the long drive home.  Where we quickly learned that the state of radio in this country is problematic.  You want Christian radio with its insipid music?  You can find that everywhere.  You want right wing talk radio with announcers who think guns are the solution to every problem and still can’t stop bitching about Hillary and Obama?  Yep, you can find that everywhere too.  How about “classic” rock that nobody listed to even when it was new?  (Remember The Final Countdown by Swedish rock band Europe?)  Oh yeah, that is pretty much everywhere too.  But there are broad swathes of this country where NPR must be a dirty word and where the only music being played from 2018 is country (oh, and probably western too).  But, thankfully, we were soon back in range of our beloved WBEZ and, not too long after that, home sweet home.

Next stop, Thailand in May!



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Guess who is back???

The Schneiduks have big, big news!  We have officially retired!

Well, perhaps we should be a bit more clear.  Lisa retired from the practice of law as of December 2017.  Robert, on the other hand, will likely never get to retire from the task of the care and feeding of Lisa….

But Robert can do his job from anywhere in the world.  So, after a couple of months of wrapping up our lives here in the U.S., PigFish Version 2 will officially start on May 9 when we depart for Thailand.  PigFish Version 2  will be the bigger, better, and — most importantly — much, much longer version of PigFish.  The current plan is a year in Asia, followed by a few months in Europe, and then a year in South America, followed by who knows what.

In the meantime, we have two road trips planned.  Our first trip was to Joshua Tree, where we got to see a ton of trees that look like they belong in a Dr. Seuss book.

We also got to see some cool rock formations.  And Lisa was totally shamed when a woman with 20 years on her talked her into walking up to an old abandoned mine and said “don’t worry, we will go as slow as you need to go and stop whenever you want.”  Guess all those years of sitting at a desk were not conducive to staying in shape….

And we saw some nifty bushes.


Robert even found a juniper bush.  He was quite disappointed to learn that gin doesn’t actually grow right on the bush.


Lisa’s favorite plant though was the jumping cholla.  They are pretty cool.


Robert also took some amazing night photos.  The stars in the desert are out of this world.  We’ve only seen better stars once in our lives (and that was while boating down a river in Laos).  Unfortunately, being so close to LAX and San Diego, we had to contend with quite a few plane lights as well — at least they created some fun effects in the photos.

Other than this guy, we didn’t get to see much in the way of critters.  We did have a coyote trot by our car one night and could hear coyotes the second night (we momentarily wondered how stupid we were for being outside the car in the middle of the park in the dark).

P1140509And, after leaving Joshua Tree, we drove by Palmer, where we ran into some wild burros.  They are adorable, but unfortunately have been taught that cars equal food so they come right up to all the cars begging for treats.

P1140587We are glad we saw Joshua Tree, but we both agree the desert is just not our thing.

More to come after the next road trip (which will involve BBQ and wine and New Orleans and which is much more our style….).

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Mardi Gras!

Hey, look, we are back! Sadly, no, we have not decided to chuck it all and start PigFish Round 2. But we did spend an entire week in New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras before I go back to work. We figured go out big, right? And it doesn’t get much bigger than a week in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Ok, maybe it does. We also decided to go to Bogota this weekend (yes, seriously, for the weekend) to eat ajiaco and arepas. And because our passports were feeling neglected. Yes, we are certifiably insane. But, enough about Bogota, this post is about New Orleans.


In all honesty, we were both a bit nervous about being in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. We both expected insane crowds, belligerent drunks, and a bit more “party” than we enjoy. (You all know we like a good party. But we don’t care for underage drunks vomiting on the street). And, we no doubt could have found that if we had spent more of our time on Bourbon Street. Indeed, simply setting foot on Bourbon Street during the day was more than enough for us and we can’t even imagine the mess it becomes at night. But, by avoiding Bourbon Street, what we found was an absolutely delightful weekend with plenty to see and do.


The parades, of course, were the highlight. There are parades every single night and many day parades as well. If you want to be a bit removed from the crowds, you can buy grandstand tickets on St. Charles Street – we did that and would highly recommend it for a parade or two as we had a great view and caught plenty of throws. If you want to be right smack dab in the middle of the crowds, you can watch the parades on Canal Street. We caught a day parade there and had a blast. And, if you want to catch plenty of throws, you can position yourself near the end of a route. We did that a couple of times – not as many people and the riders are trying to get rid of their throws. We did not head outside of the Quarter/CBD, but our understanding is that there are plenty of fun places outside those neighborhoods to watch as well.


Each parade was different, but we enjoyed each and every one of them. We saw some amazing floats.


And some float riders wearing some pretty scary masks.


Some of the floats carried famous people. We saw Harry Connick, Jr. (of course) and we caught beads thrown by Harry Shearer. We got to see what we presumed was a very drunk Solange Knowles (who, apparently, managed to lose her wedding ring during the parade). Plus, we got to see Nathan Fillion. That is him on this float. Sadly, we didn’t catch any of his beads even though we were the only ones screaming “Slithers” and “Firefly” when everyone else was screaming “Castle.”


By the way, we understand the riders in the big parades spend thousands of dollars on throws each year. And it is insane how crazy people get about catching beads and other throws. On the other hand, it was also nice to see people giving beads to people (not just kids) that didn’t have many yet. It is also insane how hard the riders throw the beads at the crowd. I “caught” beads more than once with my face (and ended up with a bruised eyelid) and we read a news article begging people to put their phones away so they didn’t get injured by flying beads. At the end of the parades, the streets were littered with dropped beads and plastic bags. But the streets were spotless by the next morning. Interestingly, there is also an entire industry devoted to recycling the beads for use next year – our hotel had a bin set up and some school for disabled kids sorts the beads for use next year.


Another highlight of the parades was the marching bands.   This strange-looking marching band was from (if memory serves) Switzerland. But we also saw a ton of college and high school marching bands. If you ever get a chance to see the Talladega College marching band, go. Trust us on this one.


There were also plenty of dancers. We saw people in motorized Lazy Boys. We saw middle-age guys with porn mustaches dancing in tight baby blue shorts – they call themselves the 610 Stompers.


And, we saw the Pussy Footers.


We saw plenty of people on horseback who had no business being on horseback. I’m not sure if this individual knew how to ride or not, but the vast majority of riders looked like they did not have a clue what they were doing. In fact, I truly scared one rider when I pet his horse while they were stopped right in front of me– although the horse seemed to love it and the stable hand guiding the horse was completely fine with me petting the horse and looked at me like “thank the maker, someone else who actually knows horses.”


We also saw some very small parades marching through the streets of the French Quarter. Here is the Grand Boobah at the Bosom Buddies parade.


In addition to the parades, we spent a morning watching the “greasing of the poles.” Yep, a hotel on Bourbon Street has a contest to see which young “lady” can best grease the poles of the hotel. Apparently, it is a 40 year tradition designed to stop drunks from climbing up the poles. I’m pretty sure this one was the winner, but the PA system wasn’t working well so we didn’t stick around for the results.


And, before the greasing of the poles, we saw a plushie somehow affiliated with the New Orleans Saints. (Hey, don’t laugh, we only watch “real” football and, occasionally, the Packers. We have no idea who this character is, but he was having fun.).


We also spent a ton of time just relaxing and enjoying New Orleans. We visited several of our favorite restaurants and managed to eat several beignets. Here we are visiting a bar in an unsuccessful attempt to meet up with a waitress who used to work at one of our favorite Chicago bars.   Even worse, the bar had cheese curds on their menu but it turned out they were out of them.


We saw crazy decorations on the streets.


We got our picture taken with the “big ass beer” sign. Yep, this was another one of those “now you need to give me a tip” moments, but the picture was worth a dollar.


We spent one afternoon watching a plane write messages in the sky.


We wore strange things on our heads.


And, we saw some pretty good street musicians.


Bottom line, if you have any interest in visiting New Orleans, just go. It is still one of our favorite cities in the world.

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Final, final thoughts (until next time…)

Sadly, PigFish version 1 has drawn to a close.  That is right, we said version 1.  You know what that means?  It means that someday there will be a PigFish version 2.  That is right, when we retire for good, we plan to hit the road again.  So, we will leave this blog up so it is ready and waiting when we retire.  And, we will likely post every now and then when we take a vacation so our friends and family can see some of our photos.

For the foreseeable future, we leave you with these random thoughts.


  • There is nothing quite like a J&J Q-tip.  Generic cotton swabs just aren’t the same.  You can bet on PigFish version 2 we will have a large supply of Q-tips in our bags!
  • I made it through the entire year without ever using a squat toilet.  Success!
  • When in doubt, Robert gets to test the bathroom at bars and restaurants.  If he says it is disgusting, you can guarantee I will be holding it awhile longer.
  • Speaking of bathrooms, we learned far too much about each other’s bathroom habits this year.  We never want to live in a one bathroom apartment…


  • You know that horrible song “Africa” by Toto?  We are pretty sure we heard it played in every single country we visited.  Except, oddly enough, South Africa.  People outside the U.S. must love that song.  We don’t get it…
  • There is no better drink than the ginger ale in Sri Lanka.  It was heavenly.  Not too sweet with plenty of ginger flavor.  I will crave that ginger ale for the rest of my life.


  • Why is it that when traditional clothes are worn, it is always by women?  We rarely saw men in archaic outfits….
  • Cell phones are destroying the world.  We saw far too many cell phone zombies stumbling around with their eyes glued to their phones and not paying any attention to the wonderful things happening right in front of them.
  • The income disparity in the world is heartbreaking.
  • Please, please, please, where ever you travel, learn a few phrases in the local language. We lost count of the number of times people were thrilled that we tried to speak their language.


  • The mullet hair cut is strong in Central America….
  • We were shocked at how many different types of rice exist around the world and how different they taste.  If we ever buy Uncle Ben’s (or, even worse, Rice-A-Roni) again, just shoot us.
  • Jimmy Buffet is ruining the world.  If we never hear another Jimmy Buffet song, it will be too soon.


  • Nearly every foreign air line we flew is more comfortable than the U.S. airlines.  And cheaper.  And luggage arrives faster.  And they serve meals for free in coach.  What gives with that?
  • The dumbest thing we saw this year was some stupid business school students from Philly throwing gang signs in the slums of Bogota.  Seriously?  In what world is that a good idea?


  • Query whether police having machine guns is a good or a bad thing….We never saw them use the machine guns, but can you even imagine if the U.S. cops carried around machine guns?
  • The U.S. does one thing better than anywhere else we visited:  Sunday brunch.  Boy, did we miss Sunday brunch this year.  That said, the eggs outside the U.S. are far better than any egg we have ever had in the U.S.


  • All hotels should come equipped with empty mini fridges.  They make all the difference in the world, especially in hot climates.
  • There is nothing quite as funny looking as a pelican fishing.
  • We will never understand why people feed pigeons.  Or why squares full of pigeons are a tourist attraction.  Filthy disgusting creatures.


  • I need to learn to like beer.  Not only is it the cheapest alcohol around, it is even cheaper than soda in some countries.  And, not liking beer means I didn’t get to partake in bia hoi (fresh beer) in Vietnam or street beers in Colombia.  Robert partook plenty for the two of us…
  • We want to know how come in the U.S. everyone says “gin and tonic” but pretty much everywhere else it is “gin tonic”?
  • Our palates really changed this year.  We consumed far less sugar than we would have in the U.S.  In fact, we even find Jif peanut butter too sweet now.


  • Interestingly, although we traveled to places with very diverse religions, the only people who ever inquired about our religious beliefs (or lack thereof) were Christians.  And the only people who proselytized were Christians.  And the only people who made us feel uncomfortable were Christians.
  • Selfie sticks are evil.


  • We saw far more sunsets than sunrises this year.  And we liked it.
  • In nearly every country we visited, it was a constant battle to have a sufficient supply of small bills.  You can’t believe the number of countries where most stores and restaurants can’t break a bill that is the equivalent of $20 or so.
  • One of the things we missed while traveling was building standards.  Who knew how important building standards could be.  For example, who would think places would be built where the steps were not all the same height/width?


  • We want to live somewhere where flip-flops are the only shoes we need.  Or better yet, we don’t need shoes.
  • We really don’t like most people.  Thankfully, we like each other …
  • The fact that so many people can’t afford to travel in their own country is shameful.


  • Turns out we like B&B’s.  Who knew?
  • It turns out that, in most parts of the world, the free breakfast included with your hotel is actually a pretty good perk.  We had some great breakfasts and, in many cases, they carried us right through to dinner.
  • I’m amazed at the different ways I had to ask for water.  In some countries, they only understand “sparkling water.”  In others, “soda” works.  In others, you have to ask for “club soda” because that is what is says on the bottle.  And, in still others, you have to ask for “water with gas.”


  • In all of our travels, we only spotted one famous person.  That was Rick Steves.  In Cardiff.
  • The worst American travelers have to be Texans.  Sorry about the stereotype but, seriously, we so did not enjoy sitting in Scotland listening to people bitch about how Obama clearly wasn’t born in the U.S.


  • We really shouldn’t have spent so much time in the UK and South Africa.  Not only were those among the most expensive places we went, but they are also the only places we gained weight.
  • Seeing American brands in regular grocery stores all over the world is really disheartening.
  • We really want to know who buys all the hammocks that are for sale.
  • We also really want to know who gives money to the people that paint themselves and stand on street corners.


  • We should have learned Spanish before we got to Central America.  Robert picked it up quickly, but it really was necessary.
  • Oddly, it bothered me when the red string bracelet I received from the Buddhist nun in Cambodia finally fell off.
  • The thing people from outside the U.S. seem to have the biggest problem understanding is the American health care system.  And the appeal of Donald Trump.  Nobody understands the appeal of Donald Trump….


  • Oddly, it is always the children of ex pats that are the biggest brats anywhere we go.  And not just American ex pats.
  • Four Non Blonds must be reeling in a ton of royalties.  We heard their music everywhere.
  • I so should have packed the bikini that I took out of my bag at the last possible minute to save space.  If the obese, elderly Russian ladies can wear one, so can I…I did manage to pick up a bikini on one of our flights through Chicago and I actually wore it and, to the best of my knowledge, nobody who saw me got sick.
  • We really miss Asian peanuts.  We don’t know why they taste so different, but Asian peanuts are one of the best things we have ever eaten.


  • Central America was not nearly as cheap as we expected.
  • American banks really need to improve their game.  One bank thought every airport ATM withdrawal was fraudulent even though we had notified them in advance of our travel plans.  I’m sorry, if you know we are landing in London on X date and you see we make a withdrawal at the airport on X date, why on earth would you assume that was fraudulent????  And, another bank refused to take travel notices for about half the countries we visited because of the high rate of fraud in those countries.  I’m sorry, but wouldn’t you rather know we are in that country and that the charges might be legit???


  • I’m pretty sure we saw The Simpsons on tv in every single country except Myanmar.  Generally in English, but in Central and South America it was in Spanish.
  • We really wish tipping culture was consistent throughout the world.  (Note:  And not like it is in the U.S., where tipping is an extreme sport).  We spent far too much time researching the tipping protocol in the various countries we visited.  And, yet, we never felt like we entirely understood who and how much to tip.
  • This was the absolute best year of our lives.  We simply couldn’t have asked for a better year.  If anyone has any doubts about whether PigFish was the right decision for us, we will leave you with the before (fat, pasty, stressed out) and after (tan, happy, 30 pounds lighter) pictures.
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Final thoughts on our third visit to Thailand

Our last three weeks were spent in Thailand.  We did things a bit differently.  We were in no hurry to sightsee.  We didn’t visit the big Buddha on Phuket, we didn’t go to the national park on Koh Lanta, we didn’t go visit the James Bond rocks near Ao Nang, and we didn’t visit a single wat in Bangkok.  Nope, we lounged.  We lounged by hotel pools for hours on end and read.  When that got to be a bit dull, we went snorkeling or scuba diving.  And, when we got to Bangkok, we walked slowly through Lumpini Park and wandered around shopping malls looking at Christmas decorations.  So, we don’t have that much to say about our most recent visit to Thailand.  But, you know us, we always have something to say….


  • As discussed below, the beach towns we visited each have very distinct personalities.  Don’t get me wrong — they all feel like Thailand but each in their own way.
  • On Phuket, we stayed at Kata Beach.  Nearly every single tourist was Russian.  If we ever again see an old Russian dude wearing his banana hammock (and nothing else) to the 7-11, it will be too soon.  And don’t get me started on the women who think their bikinis are appropriate attire for walking down the street (although I’m guessing Robert didn’t mind that as much as I did….).  Kata Beach is very built up and very touristy.  We would go back, but we would likely stay at a nice resort and likely only leave the grounds for dinner and snorkeling/scuba diving.  And, really, if we are going to do that, what is the point of flying all the way to Thailand???


  • Koh Lanta is much less developed than Phuket.  It was much more our speed.  Don’t get me wrong, it is touristy, but it seemed like a place where real Thai’s actually still make a life for themselves doing something other than servicing the tourist trade.  Koh Lanta is absolutely amazing for snorkeling/scuba diving and, in fact, many of the tourists are there for that sole reason — the water is clear and the sea life is amazing.  Unlike Kata Beach where everyone is Russian, a huge percentage of the tourists on Koh Lanta are Swedish.  There are even two Swedish schools on the island so Swedes can take a month off and keep their kids in school.  How crazy is that?



  • I’m pretty sure Ao Nang doesn’t exist for any reason other than tourism.  The tourists in Ao Nang are a healthy mix of different nationalities.  Oddly, the best food in Ao Nang is Indian.  Nearly all the cooks are from India and they kick out some delicious Indian food.  In fact, we ate more Indian than Thai in Ao Nang.


  • Phuket was the only place we saw “fried” ice cream…No worries, everywhere had Nutella pancakes…Bangkok was the only place we saw fried scorpions and spiders.  No worries, neither one of us tried the insect delicacies this trip….
  • Bangkok is the only place where we have ever seen chickens climb a tree.  Seriously, they looked like they were having a blast.  Four chickens, playing in the trees, and making their funny chicken noises.
  • Thai 7-11’s are like the best thing ever.  The vast majority are clean, many are open 24 hours, and they have anything and everything you might need.  Oh, and they sell these yummy snacks called fried broad beans….Robert is going to have to learn to make those back home because boy are they good.  (And, a vegetable to boot!).
  • In a relatively conservative culture, lady boys appear (at least from the outsider perspective) to be completely accepted by most Thais.  And not just in the entertainment industry.  Working at the 7-11, waiting tables at a restaurant, etc. and generally just living life.  How wonderful is that?  (No clue if behind the scenes things are worse….).



  • Some of the towns we stayed in were predominantly Muslim.  And, you know what?  You won’t find nicer, more welcoming, or more tolerant people anywhere.  We wish more Americans realized that…
  • Before this year, neither of us were huge fans of Thailand.  After this year, we plan to come back again and again…
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Christmas in Bangkok

Christmas isn’t a big deal in Thailand, where the vast majority of the population is Buddhist.  That said, Thai’s do like a good party and Christmas is a good excuse for some crazy decorations, especially at malls and hotels.  Here are some of our favorites.  No, we do not understand the fascination with Disney, nor do we know why an Easter basket was included in the Christmas decorations….



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Chilling in Thailand

Yeah, so, things have been quiet around here, haven’t they?  We are SO busy in Thailand that there just hasn’t been any time to update the blog.

You know, we spend hours and hours each day lounging by our hotel pool, surfing the internet and reading our Nook books.  No time to write a blog update while we do that.

We’ve spent some time snorkeling (both of us) and scuba diving (Robert) in crystal clear waters teeming with fish, lobsters, sea urchins, star fish, cuttlefish, and even a poisonous sea snake here and there.  Robert even managed to get his advanced open water certificate.  No time to write a blog update while we do that.


We’ve had a picnic on a beach inhabited by lizards.  No time to write a blog update while we do that.


We also spend an hour or so each night watching an amazing sunset, while drinking gin tonic (Robert – and, no, that is not a typo as nobody says the “and” here) or wine (me).  No time to write a blog update while we do that.


And, once the sun sets, it is off for delicious Thai food, or pretty decent pizza, or seafood pulled out of the ocean that very day.  Yep, no time to write a blog update while we do that.


And, after dinner, we stop and have a Nutella pancake or some “fried” ice cream.  Fried ice cream means flash freezing some ice cream batter and toppings (in the case of the photo below, Oreos) on what I can only assume is a piece of metal over a block of dry ice, then scraping the frozen ice cream into tubes.  Yum.  No time to write a blog update while we do that.


So, bottom line, we’ve just been too damn busy to update this blog, even though we have done absolutely nothing!



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