Even Backpackers Need Vacation!

Trip Start Oct 01, 2011
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9
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Trip End Dec 22, 2011


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Flag of Thailand  ,
Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hi Everyone,

After a few weeks in Burma, we were all too ready for our week off from backpacking in Thailand. Mimi, our Spanish travel friend from Burma, was generous enough to put us up in her condo in Bangkok for the night which was a great way to experience expat life in Bangkok. We were only in Bangkok for a day to do some christmas shopping in the markets and set up transport to Koh Samui to meet up with my (Steve) sister and her family.

A Royal Canadian Experience
Many of you know that one of my favorite past times is photography and that my favorite drinks always includes Crown Royal. These two aspects have merged in my life by me keeping my camera and all of my lenses in separate Crown Royal felt bags inside my actual camera bag (extra protection). While walking down Koh San Road in Bangkok, I realized I had forgot to take a picture and quickly pulled out my camera to snap a shot. A girl behind me screams "Oh my god! Did he just pull a camera out of a purple felt Crown Royal Bag?" I turn to see a girl holding up her very own purple felt Crown Royal bag and what does she pull out...a camera! These types of experiences half way around the world are the small things that make traveling just so amazing. Some other amazing Canadian rendezvous on this trip include: 
- Meeting Whistler locals on top of a temple in Bagan, Myanmar whom shared a common acquaintance with us.
- Being in Cambodia at the same time as Audrey's childhood best friend and getting to explore the temples of Angkor with them
- Being in Thailand at the same time as my sisters family's vacation and being able to spend a whole week with them!
- Meeting a young Mexican traveler who had spent time working at a manufacturing facility in Guelph!

Unfortunately our trip to Koh Samui didn't start off too well. After over two months of traveling throughout SE Asia, we had our first robbery on the bus from Bangkok to Sirathani. Although we keep our major valuables with us at all times, our big bags were on the lower level of the bus and were riffled through sometime during the ride. Basically anything we had in our bags that was jewelry, this included 100 Baht ($3) watches, was stolen. The thieves were nice enough to leave most everything else but the loss of some beautiful silver from Burma was a sting. The worst part of these experiences is the invasion of privacy and how there is nothing you can do about it. The Thai police just don't have an efficient way of dealing with these thefts and even if you could track down the bus company, they would just deny it. It's ironic that after traveling many of South East Asias more rural destinations, we get robbed on the tourist highway between Bangkok and the Thai islands.

As mentioned in our previous blog, my sister and her family are currently living in Malaysia. Lucky for us, they decided to take a vacation to Koh Samui during a time that we were also in Thailand and were generous enough to invite us to join them at their beachside villa! We arrived to a beautiful private villa on Bangrak beach which surpassed anything we could have imagined. The villa was spacious enough to house all 4 adults and 3 kids, looked out over the turquoise waters with Koh Phangan in the background, and had every amenity imaginable to those who have spent the last 2 months backpacking.

Although we had only intended to spend a few days, we enjoyed an amazing 9 days on Koh Samui with my sister, her husband Paul and their three amazing children, Ella, Gavin and Miles. At 4 years, 2 years and 3 months old, the kids are changing so quickly and it was so nice to spend a week playing with them and catching up. Our relaxing time on Samui was filled with great Thai food, many hours playing cars, sand castles, and fairy stories with the kids, Thai messages, alternating between swimming in the pool and ocean, reading in the sala (beachside cabana) and just catching up with family

Malaysia - Round 2
From Samui, we all made our way back to Ipoh, the city my sisters family live in Malaysia. The vacationers got to fly but we were stuck on a day and a half bus trip which routed throughout Hat Yai and Penang. We have been looking forward to visiting their home and seeing what expat life in Malaysia is like. Ipoh is one of Malaysia's larger cities and located in the rolling mountains of north western Malaysia. The scenery around the city is very much jungle like with mountains and beautiful limestone cliffs...and the hot and humid climate to match. 

We spent a great 3 days seeing the Nicholson highlights of Ipoh including some amazing restaurants (both local and western), walks through their community, mornings swimming with the kids, relaxing lunches at the clubhouse, pedicures (Audrey and Dawn), and of course lots of play time with Ella, Miles and Gavin.

From Ipoh we broke away from the Nicholsons for a day to head up to the Cameron highlands. The Cameron Highlands are up in the mountains on the west coast of Malaysia and was the British colonist "go to spot" to get away from the hot humid climate elsewhere in the country. It is also on the standard Nicholson Malaysia tour meaning they have been there a few too many times...and we were on our own. Our time in Tanah Rata (Cameron Highlands) was short but we managed to take a great jungle trek on our way to see a large tea plantation and factory outside of town. We didn't have the best weather but the trek was fun and the tea plantation was beautiful. Like vineyards, tea plantations are amazingly picturesque and especially so set in the rolling mountains of the Cameron Highlands

We met backup with the Nicholsons in Kuala Lumpur on route to Singapore to help out with some Nicholson Christmas shopping logistics and do a bit of our own. Dawn and Paul got some alone time for Christmas shopping and we got to spend an amazing last day with the kids. It was really hard saying goodbye to the whole family but we are so happy about the time we could spend with them in Thailand and Malaysia. Thanks for everything Dawn and Paul!

Our last stop before heading home is Singapore but I think that will have to wait for another blog.

For more photos, clickHERE or copy the following link:

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10100116360740167.2422412.122605004&type=1&l=e3085f0055

To see a video of the amazing Koh Samui villa we were treated to, click the below link:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10100106938058297&set=vb.122605004&type=2&theate

Steve and Audrey
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