Category Archives: South East Asia

Thailand, Cambodia

Bangkok – City of Angels

Orchids on display in  one of Bangkok’s markets

The City of Angels is one translation of the name Bangkok, but the reputation it has in the world today has more to do with sinners methinks.  Do not let this deter anyone from visiting this fabulous city, chock full of amazing sites from the red lacquer and gold leafed temples to the famed River of Kings, the Chao Phraya, that meanders through the city.


Add to those the Grand Palace, actually a complex of beautiful buildings, temples, wall murals, and temples:  Wat Arun the famous Temple of Dawn; Chinatown alive with noise and bustle day and night, the best shopping in Asia without a doubt, and great food, roof top bars with the Wow! factor, and the Skytrain to get you from one place to the other in comfort, and you can understand why Thailand is a top destination today.

P1030873I returned from Bangkok just a few weeks ago laden with trinkets, silks and wood carvings as usual.  My regular visits do not mean that I don’t shop as avidly as I always did.  If anything, the growth of the fashion industry in Thailand and the increase in skilled staff in the carving and gem departments, makes it more difficult to resist.


I still visit the Grand Palace to wonder at the magnificence, and Chinatown at night for fun eating and bargains as well as other favourite haunts.  And I always stroll through the infamous Patpong just to see how it expands and still welcomes families as well as single males and females.  It’s not generally known but all visitors are welcome there, and safe.  Watch this space for an article on the streets known as Patpong I and Patpong II, and the other area where the sex trade is practised openly, Soi Cowboy.

Hua Hin – Thailand’s Royal Town

People often ask what is my favourite town or city in Thailand.  The answer is easy, it is Hua Hin, a once quiet fishing village on the Gulf of Siam, two hours drive from Bangkok, and a world away from the bustle and noise of the capital city.  Mind you, Bangkok is up there with the favourites as well, but it is the capital city after all, and all capital cities are deserving of their popularity.

I have been visiting Hua Hin for about 25 years now, stopping off on every holiday to recharge my batteries in the peace and tranquillity of one of the hotels just outside the town.  For the last twenty years, that hotel has been the Dusit Thani Hua Hin, a 5-star establishment that attracts guests from far and wide, but it also pleases the Thai people because come the week-end, they flock to it for the great food (especially the Saturday night barbecue), the delightful seaside setting, and the chance to go horse-riding at dawn on the beach (the only hotel at which this is available).

Today’s Hua Hin owes much of its popularity to the fact that many people discovered it only after the tsunami that devastated the southern beaches of Phi Phi, Phuket, Kao Lak etc.  Before the tsunami it could be said that the fishing village atmosphere was very evident, but today, the little fishing harbour is being crowded by the shops, restaurants, and tailors that line the roads leading to the sea.

Most of the major hotel chains have a presence here – Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, Aleena, Sofitel, and of course, the already mentioned, Dusit Thani.  I choose The Dusit Thani because it is a purely Thai owned hotel with service and attention to detail that reflects the Thai ideal of hospitality.  All these hotels have excellent restaurants but Hua Hin itself must be one of the best towns in which to find food from every nation.  As well as Thai restaurants, of which there are many, there are Chinese, French, German, Indian, Italian, Korean, Swiss, Japanese, Vietnamese, American and European/Mediterranean fusion.

With the growth of a well-heeled retirement colony in the town, bakeries have sprung up as well as cheese and meat importers.  Fresh vegetables can be purchased daily at the local market, or there is a Tesco/Lotus supermarket for those who feel the need for packaged veggies and air-conditioned stores.

Hua Hin is one of the most popular spots to which people want to retire as the climate is never too hot or too humid, unlike say Phuket or the islands in the south.  It is also within easy reach of Bangkok, there is a good transport network, and, there are six championship golf courses in the area.

Asian Travels – Mari Nicholson

I have decided to split my travel blogging into two separate areas, one for my forays into East Asia, an area of the world in which I travel extensively, and one for Europe.  I hope it will be easy for the readers to navigate between the two, and I hope I manage to leave links where necessary.

I have decided to call this one Asian travels, and the one for my European excursions I propose calling, surprise surprise, European Travels.

This year I have spent quite a bit of time in Thailand, my all-time favourite country, during which I managed to visit Koh Samui – just avoiding the flooding which hit the island shortly after I left – and I spent some time in Hua Hin, the Thai Royals’ favourite resort on the Gulf.  I also spent time in Khao Sok National Park and in Khao Yai National Park, two quite different areas of forest land, one to the North of Bangkok and one way down South, near Krabi, Phuket, and Surat Thani.

I hope you’ll check in occasionally to read my articles, maybe to ask me some questions, or leave a comment.  This is just ‘Hello’ for today.  First blog coming up soon.