Cruising in Trang

IMG_4774Just like when we were cruising, folks ask what we do all day just anchored in one cove/town, one place, and in this case one room. ADL’s was the answer we gave so frequently when we were on the boat. Activities of Daily Living: those same goals they require in nursing homes for the institutionalized so they don’t develop lividity.

Time goes so quickly you have to remember to do “one chore a day for the boat,” and for us in Thailand, besides our ablutions and feeding (which is no less than sumptuous even when we eat at our room), that NewsWebamounts to cleaning our digs, washing clothes (major room cleaning and linens provided weekly), catching up on local home news, national and international happenings (digitally, of course with websites [Durango Herald, Huff Post, CNN, Aljazeera, FiveThirtyEight], subscriptions [Economist, New Yorker and Atlantic], and podcasts [New York Times, Science Friday, Wait Wait… and Planet Money].IMG_1458

IMG_4770Then, tg’s studying Thai (vocabulary flash cards, audio alphabet and phrases, plus translations of menus and signs photographed with later interpretation using Google Translate) Stanna working occasionally with Chalong on her ESL professional papers and presentations, to challenges us. Oh, and keeping up with friends with Chats, Messages (text) and FaceTime, not to mention a blog.

And additionally on the home front, we get to read books (Kindle app for Stanna on the iPhone and iPad – Audible on IMG_4772the iPhone for tg), watch videos of recent movies, provided by the local residents (most of the 2015 new releases) on USB flash drives, and now we can use our Netflix subscription (albeit with limited content availability) to stream movies and TV serials like Narco, Jessica Jones and Making a Murderer. Entertaining podcasts such as Serial, Undisclosed, Hidden Brain, This American Life, and Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me fill in when you feel like veggin’ out, or the latest word is “chillin’”.

We have a number of venues to relax, read and chat in. Lounging by the ponds, out at our back yard table and chairstg tea time, the front porch, our Belgian friends’ porch and we can use the social eating and gathering sala if we choose. Much like Paradox we’ve got a “big yard” and plenty of room to hang out.

This belabored dialog is simply to encourage those of you retired folks in cold, inclement and closed-in climes to consider all the advantages of coming to Thailand where the weather is warm, the people are friendly and the conveniences are plenty.

IMG_4767Is it worth reminding you that this arrangement costs us $150 a month for our apartment (Stanna reminds me another $ 9-IMG_480310 for electricity), $45 a month for a scooter with $1.40 for gas each week. Our most expensive and best dinner-sized meal costs us $6.25 for two, if Stanna doesn’t have a beer, and normally IMG_4736lunch costs about $1.20 each.

Our regular blogs should explain what we do when we leave our residence, which we have to do almost every day to forage for Thai food, whether we eat out (at least once a day), or bring it home as a take-home delight from the carts, markets and carry-out restaurants all over Trang. Or when visiting with our Thai friends and cycle touring.IMG_4738

We would never say this is better than cruising on Paradox, but it’s a very similar and far less expensive alternative. And there is no guilt for not shoveling your neighbor’s walk.


A Great 43′ Cruising Cat For Sale [Sold]

DejaVu Bahamas

Deja Vu is for sale. Update: Sold  We can’t say enough about how much we like Helen & Joe’s 43′ Kurt Hughes designed catamaran, Deja Vu.  We’ve cruised with her, on her, made several passages with her, and spent many months being around her.  She extremely well built, is well maintained, has the two Yanmar engines that I planned to put on Paradox, is comfortable, very livable and has the cruising track record that would inspire confidence in anyone wanting a cruising boat.  Especially a cat, which is the only way we’d ever cruise again.

dejaVu Nav StationShe can be viewed online at dejavu link with the standard broker photos and descriptions. DejaVu itself has a new For Sale blog site that will give you just about anything you want to know and see about this catamaran. Helen and Joe have a personal blog at Helen & Joe’s Blog which will let you see a little more about their most recent Bahama cruising life with Deja Vu.

Deja Vu salonPlease pass this info and these links on.

Dragonfly has posted information on Facebook already, but anything that might help would be appreciated.

We’d love to visit you on your new catamaran named Deja Vu.

Prosthetics from Pop-tops

IMG_4746Three times now, I’ve been part of the Pot-top presentation to the Haui Yot Hospital about 25 miles north of Trang.  The Trang Cycling Club collects pop-tops over time, off their own beverage consumption, from roadside trash, and who knows where. Maybe once a year (I’ve been three different years) they cycle as a group to present the aluminum to the doctor director of the hospital in typical Thai fashion: a speech from IMG_4745both parties and hundreds of photo shots.  On this occasion 25-plus cyclists pedaled the 45-km ride with their saddle bags and handlebars loaded with pop-tops. (The club and their various factions and splinter groups is said to be more than 350 and growing rapidly.)  So we don’t know just how many locals collect pop-tops, but it’s a dedicated group, in any case, to aggregate more than 30 pounds of those little clips.

IMG_4757As the blog title says, these pop-tops go to helping amputees.  This quality of aluminum is evidently best for forming prosthetic limbs and the Haui Yot Hospital works directly with converting this resource into helping the disabled.  Our presentation day was timed to coincide with a “eat and be healthy fair” in the hospital parking lot.  So we were pressed forward to the ever-present popup bandstand, with its rock concert speaker setup, and greeted at full volume, to the curious crowd sampling 6 kinds of blended fruit and vegetable smoothies, health remedies and fitness promotions.  (The four blends I sampled must have been responsible for the faster pace I experience on the homeward ride.)

IMG_4753Of course Thai ceremonies, fairs and festivals always include entertainment, hence the bandstands (which BTW you see daily traveling the highways, speakers bulging off the back of pickups).  We missed these dancers’ performance, but they were being interviewed as we arrived. It isn’t polite to comment on their “style”.  Surely a historic tradition of a bygone time.

IMG_4760IMG_4762For those of us wanting a little longer ride, culture or tour, half of us ventured farther north to a Karst limestone cave whose many chambers and caverns proffered its Buddhist statuary and tributes.

Just another weekend club ride. Next week we’re going further north to the island Koh LIbong for their festival.

[Here is a link to the Malaspina University Geology website with a graphic that explains how Karst’s are formed]

Bicycle Politics

tg Pak MengWith only a day’s rest, and jet lag recovery still needed, the next invitation to ride came that evening saying there was an opportunity to ride with a Bangkok representative of the Thai Office of Tourism, who wanted to see all the sights around Trang in order to promote cycling in this region.


Thinking this would be another group ride I opted in for the 6 AM start time only to find that the woman from TOT was 60 minutes late and that the only riders would be TigerSong, our inveterate cycling diplomat from Trang, myself and Chris, a visiting English tour guide who has been tour-less in Trang the last two seasons, who comes anyway for his slotted time frame.

tg FerryOnce “O” got on her bicycle she never stopped pedaling the entire 125 km ride unless it was time to photograph an attractive site or refuel. It’s not often that you see cyclists who pedal continuously, a technique I aspire to practice. All the Thai riders here coast along whenever they have an opportunity. Nevertheless, the ride took me over 10 hours and I bailed from the touring pace at the 100km mark as soon as we crossed the estuary ferry, heading home in time for dinner.


It was an interesting ride because TigerSong took us to several sites I’d never been before like the elevated Mangrove pathways on the maritime university campus parkland on the coast. Most of the day’s photos are on Facebook which is the life-blood of Thai biking culture; if you “friend” TigerSong you can see them. (I’m still avoiding that mandatory mendacious medium as much as possible.)

Yellow BikeIMG_4719

On Thursday we recovered Stanna’s “yellow bike,” the road bike she brought to Thailand 5 years ago. The rear wheel was swapped out on my Trek over the summer because it was easier than fixing the flat my bike suffered. (We encourage our friends to ride our bikes where they are stored, but they don’t use a gauge to keep the pressure up and commonly ride at 60 PSI.) Of course we had a long lunch first catching up with the local bicycle politics, which ended up being a filibuster effort to persuade me from meeting with local politicos who’ve installed a meter and a half solid green bike lane around the city at the curb beneath all the parking spots. Local opinion posits that the lane was purposely installed erroneously in an effort to get paid twice to do it correctly. (This happened 3 years earlier when they placed a motorcycle lane on one of the main roads.) “We love Thailand” is all we want to say in the political sphere.

Pak MengSo my wheel required a new tube and locating a presta value pump with a pressure gauge, which isn’t always an easy thing. Fortunately we have a back alley mechanic who specializes in higher quality bikes and has a limited inventory of parts we might need. Now our bikes have their proper wheels and the pressure up to our 100 PSI standards. Next will be getting my mountain bike back to our location, just a matter of asking to pick it up at this point. The only reason to belabor these simple matters is that it takes all day to chat and find a tool, and chat and make a trip to one bike shop and chat. For those who wonder what we do all day long this should suffice.


As we were posting this blog, our landlady surprised us with afternoon “tea and cakes.”  Another thing we do with our time.  Photo outside our back door.

Back in Trang

IMG_1445IMG_1444We’re back in Trang and it feels like our second home. Our room is changed (down three doors), the layout is the mirror image and they’ve added a table and chairs out back with the recliner we appropriated last year.  Our red plastic storage box was already in our room so we only had to unpack our meager household items (dishes and containers, utensils, hangers, exercise ball and yoga mat) to feel settled in. We brought almost the exact same clothes as last year (thanks to our lists and photos) so outside of provisioning we’re at home again.

We no sooner unpacked clothes and jumped in the shower after 48 hours of door-to-door travel (including 6 hours’ sleep in an airport hotel in Bangkok – we avoid going into downtown Bangkok at all cost) when TigerSong and Chalong pulled up with news about a 300-person ride with the governor of Trang the next morning. All I needed was my bike from SunSern and to change out pedals and saddle.  That involved contacting SunSern, a quick trip to town, faster equipment change and a 7-km ride back to our digs.

Photo with Governor

IMG_4677I made it.  Best way to postpone jet lag. I got one of the two places of honor riding on the right of the Govenor for four hours.  Slowest I’ve ever pedaled uphill (you couldn’t get a wheel ahead to embarrass him).  We rode to Ban Samran on the coast where there was a very large festival in progress. Ride home was much faster on my own, but at the end of 118 km I was toast.

More like Zonked.  Stanna stayed in Trang provisioning on our motor scooter.

Ride to Ban Samran

Breaking the Fun Barrier

IMG_4643It’s been odd hanging out into winter, having to don all that winter clothing and extra layers.   Like the Christmas decorations stored since 2000,  it’s nice to bring that stuff out of the deepest parts of the closets.  Good thing all that gear still fits.

The grandgirls were with us until Jan 2nd so we’ve been so active, multiple days we scored past the “fun barrier.”  Just since Christmas we’ve ridden the Durango & Silverton Railroad’s Polar Express, gone sledding in Silverton and did 15 miles of dog sledding near Mancos.


Not many of the evening train photos turned out (due to twinkle lighting and fidgeting kids) but we can guarantee they all had a super time.  The Polar Express leaves at dusk and by IMG_4582
the time we’ve reached the North Pole in the dark (traveling at 4,000 miles an hour), read the Polar Express book  aloud, had hot chocolate and a cookie, the kids all dressed in their pajamas are pumped beyond the giggle-zone. At the Wye turn-around a high-wattage blow-up village with Santa and his cohorts wave to us as we peer thru fogged windows at the surreal snow-covered pop-up-scape.

Each train car has it’s two Chef hosts keeping the spirit elevated and they led us in Christmas songs all the way thru the time warp back to Durango. Oh, and Santa and his elf managed to squeeze down the aisles on the homeward leg giving out reindeer bells and good cheer to all.

IMG_4629None of Daniel’s family had seen Silverton in the snowy winter, so a sledding trip up there took an entire day and provided one more sonic break thru the fun barrier.  Thanks to the George Family reunion we had four sleds, as the unusually heavy snows had sold out Durango’s supply.  Recreation in Silverton has gotten much more polished since our days.  Ski hill has a short chair lift ($20 for an all day adult), an adjacent sledding venue and a skating rink, with all the requisite gear available to rent.


IMG_6514The coup d’ grace for the week’s activities was a half-day dog sled ride on the west side of the La Plata mountains.  We arranged for 3 sleds, each with teams of eight Alaskan Huskie sled dogs and their mushers.  The “Swiss Calendar Day” was picture-perfect as we whisked along at 6-8 miles an hour, stopping occasionally to let the dogs catch their breath.

Great fun and an interesting experience.  Learned that there are quite a number of sled dogs working in our area; probably 5 or more teams working the day we enjoyed.


Next up: Thailand.