A Travellerspoint blog

The Bangkok Flower Market

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I still had never been to the Bangkok Flower Market and it was long on my list. On Monday morning I took the commuter bus boat from Si Phraya, the stop next to the hotel a few stops down to Stop #6, the Memorial Bridge.
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From the boat, walk left along the River until you see the Yellow Building with this sign:
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There’s an entry to the large wholesale Bangkok Flower Market there & the huge Market goes through and comes out on a busy street filled with more vendors and flower shops.
Flowers are an integral part of the Thai Buddhist religion and culture. Fresh flowers are prepared daily for the many Temples in Bangkok, the Hotels purchase flowers, and the Bangkokian’s incorporate them into their daily lives.
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You will see flower wreaths and necklaces hanging in cars and taxis, and used in good luck arrangements in every establishment you enter.
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The flowers were mostly all the same types, in huge quantities. Yellow mums and marigolds, orchids, roses and fragrant jasmine. The volume rather than variety was astounding and makes the market well worth a visit. I went mid-morning but I have heard that the locals are shopping here at 5:00 AM!
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There’s a vegetable market inside as well.

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Walking through the market building to the other end, it exits to a busy street with many flower shops.
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I spotted a flower shop with a sign to a Tea Shop upstairs and went up for a mid-morning cup of tea. It’s called the Floral Shop Cafe at Napasorn. What a gorgeous place! It’s an old brick shop house thats a glimpse back in time. A bride was being photographed in there. This stunning shop was such a surprise and is definitely worth seeking out!
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Bangkok often seems gritty and the streets are smelly but oh so interesting!
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And discoveries like the Floral Cafe abound and evoke the city’s spirit of creative and culinary interests. I enjoyed my refreshing air-conditioned break and treats there!

The shopping malls on the other hand are 21st century. You can’t imagine how immense and fancy they are. The new IconSiam has several automobile showrooms including Maserati. Not just for tourists, the malls are filled with Thais. And everyone seems to have a credit card and use it too. This is a change I’ve seen over the last 5 years.
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The neighborhoods evoke a different life. One can see homes without indoor plumbing or kitchens and air conditioned shopping malls with gorgeous designer bathrooms. The two are definitely intertwined as Thais rich and poor regularly move between both. Watching the changes as the years go by is fascinating. It’s reason enough to return to Bangkok over & over again.

Holiday Decorations are going up quickly. At the Sheraton the Pastry Chefs are building a huge Gingerbread House. Every piece is fragile and edible!
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I packed and headed out for one last Thai massage and foot massage before my long flights home.
I got to the airport in the early morning hours, but day or night, Bangkok is lively and noisy. This airport singer was already working.
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People ask me what’s the best way to get here from the US. I’ve tried flying through JFK, LAX and SFO via Taipei, Narita (Tokyo) and London and I think the Cathay Pacific (codeshare American) non-stop from Hong Kong to Boston is the easiest route. I’m flying Bangkok to Hong Kong, 2.5 hours to walk in the HK airport mall, then HK to Boston.
I’ll spend the night in an airport hotel in Boston and get the Dartmouth Coach bus home the next day. The trip is long 30 plus hours and the JetLag days longer. (This was pre-Coronavirus & I suspect that this unfortunate new flu episode will play itself out, I hope soon!)

But air travel to another world is amazing! How lucky I’ve been to be able to make this unhurried trip back to “The Land of Smiles” this year! #Gratefulforhealth&family
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Posted by Nsevers 09:04 Archived in Thailand Tagged markets flowers bangkok Comments (0)

What’s it Like to Live in Bangkok?

Seeing Family Means Seeing the Real Bangkok!

I’m back in Bangkok for my last 10 days of this year’s visit. I’m staying with Noah and Noah’s home is in a peaceful gated Thai neighborhood on the Thon Buri side of the river. This side of Bangkok is mostly unseen by tourists. There are similar housing developments tucked off of busy business streets. The neighborhoods are economically diverse with housing above shops on bigger streets, apartments and condominium buildings and the house communities. The residents shop at the same fresh markets, Seven/11’s and pharmacies. They go to the same neighborhood barbers or salons and massage and coffee shops. So local folks mix and get to know each other.
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Tourists and Travelers in the know stay near the Chao Praya River as from the riverside neighborhood it is easier to avoid the Bangkok street traffic which is notoriously bad. A taxi ride of a few kilometers can take between 20 minutes and an hour and a half. Sitting in Bangkok taxis can eat up your time. The street air is particularly noxious. The variety of vehicles that fill the streets, motorcycles, Tuk Tuks, automobiles, trucks, and more spew emissions that make walking toxic to your lungs, even when walking is quicker than the car ride. I don’t like to sit, I don’t like long car rides, and I hate the traffic and bad air. I carry and often wear a mask with a disposable filter. People wearing masks is a common site.

The Chao Praya River winds through the entire length of Bangkok. It is a major transportation artery. I never tire of watching the boat traffic. From early in the morning until late at night, you can see sizable barges being towed by tug boats on either end. They carry rice or palm sugar or latex rubber and the barge tenders live aboard their boats. There are long tail boats, used as private taxis for transportation, and for tourist rides. There is a network of commuter bus boats that most Thais use at one time or another to get from one area of town to the other, there are cross river ferries, hotel boats, free transportation to mall boats, and huge yachts both private and public, many all lit up for tourist dinner cruises.

By boat it is easy to get to the pier that intersects the BTS, the Bangkok overhead train. The BTS goes many places far from the river and intersects with the MRT, the underground metro system. While the air isn’t much better because the boats all spew fumes too, it’s definitely cooler on the river than on the street. If you must leave your neighborhood in Bangkok, boats and trains are the way to best way to get around.

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Except that the trains don’t stop near Noah’s neighborhood, nor near Terran’s school. Neither are walkable. It took me 30 minutes each way in a taxi afternoon to go from Noah’s to the nearest Post Office. It’s 20 minutes to the neighborhood mall with a western style grocery store and 20 minutes to the nearest train stop. I stayed at Noah’s for 6 days. I found the local open air market, and the garden shop, but much I wanted to do out of reach. II was stymied by the traffic and transportation. I quickly figured out how to call the guards for a taxi and I usually made myself understood. It just took sooo...long to go anywhere to do anything. So I moved back to the Sheraton on the river for my last few days.

I went to Terran’s school a few times. Most if not all of the kids’ parents drive. Terran takes the school van. The school was next to a Home Pro (like Home Depot) mall (with a a Starbucks to make me happy.) At the parking garage inside the mall, the security guard can call a taxi. On Thanksgiving, I made reservations for the Sheraton‘s thanksgiving buffet dinner. I arranged to pick up Terran at school, bring him to run an errand on Silom Rd., and then to the hotel for our Holiday celebration. Noah joined us for our yummy feast at Feast. He drove, and he & Terran went home.

Picking Terran up that day required 9 different conveyances. We actually used 10! It was a 4 hour adventure in Bangkok. I’ve become so used to the street and traffic culture, that often I forget to notice how exotic the journey is! But I delight in noticing the little details of this ever so interesting SE Asian city of 12 plus million people.

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To be at school at 2:30 PM, I started out on the 1:00 PM Sheraton boat (1) to the BTS. Then I took the BTS (2) to its farthest stop, Bang Wa, and then a taxi (3) (not bad, only 10 minutes) to Home Pro by the school. I got there early, had a Thai iced tea, and met Terran at school. We went back to Home Pro to get a taxi (4)to the BTS. Took the BTS (5) to Sala Daeng on Silom, and then hopped into a Tuk Tuk (6) to take us to the shop where Terran had a fitting for some needed holiday clothes.This was his very first tailoring experience. I was having a ball!

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From there we took a taxi (7) back to the BTS, and then the BTS (8) to the Saphan Taksin stop at the river. There we got the first boat (9) in the direction of the hotel. It was the IconSiam mall boat so we made a quick stop there to see the Mickey and Minnie Mouse dressed in Thai costumes for the first time in history.
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Then we caught the hotel boat (10) for the roundabout ride back to the Sheraton. we discovered that Terran is now tall enough to reach the ceiling handles on the BTS. Wow.
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Before Thanksgiving dinner, we had time for a swim at the garden pool and Terran had a bubble bath which he loves.
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The dinner buffet was lovely. It was just the three of us, Terran, Noah and me and it was festive and very delicious.
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Noah took Terran home in his car (11). That was 10 modes of transportation for me and 8 for Terran for the afternoon. It’s a perfect example of how we navigate around Bangkok.

On Saturday, November 30, I went to Noah’s in the morning.
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In the afternoon, Terran and I took a taxi to the Marriott Sukhumvit. It took 1 & 1/2 hours to go 8 kilometers. And the taxi did not have working seatbelts in the rear. I’ve found that only about 1 out of 4 have useable seatbelts. 8 years ago, I bought a car seat for baby Terran. It was unusable as the taxis didn’t have seatbelts to strap it into. Progress is visible albeit slow.

Terran enjoyed being at the hotel and we had a lovely dinner and evening with Sumalai, Danny and baby Ben. They left for the UK the next day.
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Before heading home, we went to the ice skating rink at the mall by the Ekkamai BTS stop. Terran went ice skating and he had a helpful lesson. This is Coach Gan.
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Then, we took the BTS back to the stop 20 minutes from his house and then a taxi home. It still took about an hour but We didn’t sit in Traffic for most of the way! Noah was busy all day and evening with a volunteer project with the Thon Buri chapter of The Amarion Thai Rescue Association (he’s involved with).
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I stayed home with Terran when he went to bed I said goodbye. We had a memorable family week!
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I headed back to the Sheraton on the River for my last day in Bangkok! I’m going to the Bangkok Flower Market so be sure to stay tuned to the blog!

Posted by Nsevers 15:16 Archived in Thailand Tagged traffic bangkok family Comments (0)

The Outskirts of Pai

A Scenic Relaxing Tour Day!

I skipped yoga for the tour day with Reinier, my new “ young friend” that I met in Chiang Mai.
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We met at AYA services in town at 10:00 AM. We had a plan of what we wanted to do & asked to hire a car and driver. By 10:30 AM, Lin was there with a nice car with seatbelts! And we were on our way. First stop was the Bamboo Bridge.
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It’s a kilometer long bridge over rice paddies, & ends up at a forest temple. It was so beautiful and relaxing that we stayed more than an hour! We WERE careful not to walk together as we did not want to break the bridge with our combined weight!
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Next we stopped for a quick hike to the Pam Bok waterfall. It’s a small one for this area, but it was worth the stop because we were right near the trailhead anyway. The caves formations were interesting.
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Here’s Reinier’s photo of a bigger waterfall from his Pai Canyon Bike the day before.
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The next stop was really interesting. It’s called the Land Split!
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On a farmers land not far from Pai city, the land literally split in an earthquake in 2008. The splits got larger in another quake in 2011.
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The lovely farmer shares this geological wonder with visitors and does not charge a fee. He has a donation box. His fruit and vegetable farm is lovely and it’s designed to be educational also. He has a stand with fruit shakes, pumpkin & banana chips, homemade jam, and a few other things. There’s a donation box for visitors and the prices for the delicious fresh goodies are really reasonable. It’s wonderful what this farmer has done to share the spectacle of the land split. It’s definitely worth the trip. And I encourage you to stay long enough to relax with a fresh snack.
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This month is the roselle harvest. For about a month and a half the flowers are harvested. We picked some and they were all full of ants, like peonies at home. But in Thailand the flowers are dried and they are used to make tea and jam. It’s a very powerful antioxidant, as good as mulberry and açaí, & I’ve been lucky this year in Thailand to be introduced to this healthy drink and fruit.
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Next we stopped for a few minutes at the Memorial Bridge. It’s an impressive wooden bridge built during World War II by the Japanese using prisoner of war labor, just like the bridge over the river Kwai in Kanchanaburi closer of Bangkok. The entire steep curvy road across the mountains from May Hong Son to Pai to Chiangmai was constructed by the Japanese with prison labor during the war. Many died and it’s a very sad moment in history. It’s why we have the road to Pai today.
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We capped off the day with a stop at the Hot Springs. There are a few different Hot Springs in this area to choose from. We chose the national park spot called Tha Pae Hot Springs. They charge foreigners a 300 Baht ($10) entrance fee. Thai’s pay less. It was my first time there and it was by far the best that I’ve been to. It’s well worth the fee to see the source of the spring, the beautiful clean and well maintained park setting, & to have the choice of bathing experiences there. Each area is well marked with the water temperature. As the water spreads out from the source and trickles down stream, it cools. So the pools closer to the source are the hottest and the lower pools are cooler. I stayed in a pool that was probably not more than 90°. Reinier tried the hotter ones too. The mineral water felt so good and it’s very healthy.
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We both were glad to drink our Royal D electrolyte water afterwards.

What a wonderfully relaxing and stimulating perfect Pai day. Thank you Reinier, my new friend for sharing your vacation time with me.
Be sure to follow what’s coming next...I am going back to Bangkok for my last week!
Nancie:)

Posted by Nsevers 20:44 Comments (0)

Pai, Thailand - My Favorite Town!

Keeping Busy “Doing Nothing In Pai”!

It’s late Friday afternoon and I just got to my Pai hotel. The mountains were so green on the way up, and I’m sitting st the Quarter’s peaceful garden swimming pool listening to the birds. I’ve already seen a dragonfly and a few butterflies and bumblebees. The air is clean!
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The ride up today was slow. My driver drove a stick shift Mitsubishi. He was very careful on all 762 switchbacks and on the steep grades. It took us more than 3 hours but I’m not complaining. Like the Upper Valley, Pai is difficult to get to. The bus and minivans that make the trip are cheap They race up and their safety records are far from perfect. Over the 10 years I’ve been coming to Pai I’ve seen improvements to the road. There are steel guardrails and concrete barriers on the steepest narrowest sections now. And the police and border patrol checkpoints will fine you for not wearing your seatbelt. After our stop at Coffee Hill, the last 52 kilometers seemed to take forever. But also like the Upper Valley, the places that are hard to get to, they are the ones that are worth the trip.
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The first evening I walked through the night market streets to see what’s new. I ate at Na’s. For fresh made Thai food with healthy ingredients and a sit down restaurant, you cannot go wrong. Each dish is prepared while you wait. It’s very cheap, but that’s not what we go there. Folks go there for Na’s food!
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On Saturday night I was determined to try the night market food. Everything looks so fresh and good. It was so hard to choose where to eat, but I ended up at Street Vegan 1 where I had a delicious gluten-free Vietnamese crêpe filled with fresh salad and Massaman curry. Oh my, what had I been missing not eating on the street in Pai. I picked up a Bamboo cup and have been drinking tea all week. Refills are 10 baht .30 cents US.
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The many Pai tourist night market food vendors come with their prepared food specialties. It reminds me of our local farmers markets, in Lebanon, NH and Norwich, VT where we can try prepared foods of different types from different vendors. But instead of once a week, and Pai, the local “farmers market food” happens every night. If you check the blog table of contents link at the right & scroll back to last year’s blog entry from Pai, there are lots of photos of the night market. Here are a few more.
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On Sunday night, we celebrated my friend Jay’s retirement and return to Pai at Jay and Wat’s nearby home. We’ve been friends for 10 years! It’s always so good to be together! Lucky the pup was happy to see me too. I thoroughly enjoyed Chef Wat’s delicately seasoned vegetables and squid. You can’t get that on the street in Pai! We also had dinner together one night at Ganita’s standby Mediterranean TKK restaurant. And I tried her yummy new Vegan Restaurants too!
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Monday night, I was back on the street with my friend Reinier. I had met Reinier in Chiang Mai and he was coming to Pai this week too. We had hired a driver in the morning, and had a wonderfully busy and relaxing Pai tour day. We saw beautiful scenery, ate fresh organic food, and detoxed in the hot springs. Check out my next blog entry to see wonderful photos of the interesting places we visited . We had a great day but we were famished!
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We started out at the little pan fried Gyoza stand. Yum! Then moved to the Gyoza’s with steamed dumplings too. Reinier ate his way down the street, trying satay’s and other meat dishes and I had a yummy aubergine gluten free quiche and salad back at Street Vegan 1.
The vocalist at the Pai Siam Bar on the corner almost to the Pai River Corner was phenomenal. We had drinks and listened, enjoying the unique Pai vibe for more than an hour!
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I’ve been going to Pai Yoga Shala for yoga. https://paiyogashala.com/schedule/
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The outdoor studio is underneath a 200 year old restored Thai home. It’s in a quiet location, you pass a temple and through rice fields to get there. It’s a beautiful place to practice and both teachers I’ve taken with have been terrific! It’s not far from town by car or moto. Did I mention that they will pick you up and bring you back before and after! You can tell a good studio by the props! Check out the truck!
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Tomorrow is my last day here, although I am never ready to leave Pai when I must. I’m planning a Wellness day! I’ll start with yoga class, and I’ve scheduled A self treat at SaPaiYa, the very best spa in Pai. Before I found them last year, there were never any capable, knowledgeable wellness spas in Pai. Sure you can have a massage or a foot massage and any number of street places. It’s fun to do too & good to help the local shops in business. But if you want competent advice and services, go to SaPaiYa!
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I love being home in the Upper Valley. But now you too can see why Pai is my away from home happy place during the cold and darkest season of the year at home.

Stay tuned to the blog!
Love, Nancie
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Posted by Nsevers 20:18 Archived in Thailand Tagged food springs friends hot pai yoga Comments (0)

Art in Paradise

An Interactive Illusion Art Museum

While in Chiang Mai we kept passing an impressive building with a large sign that said “Art in Paradise.” I had heard that this was an Interactive 3 D Photography Gallery but I had no idea what that meant. I love photography so I decided to check it out on my own on afternoon.

First, to avoid the bad air riding the open red Chiang Mai taxi trucks, the only taxis in Chiang Mai, I added the Grab app to my phone. Grab is like Uber, in fact it bought Uber in Thailand and there is no Uber here. It works just like Uber, one difference being that you needn’t put a credit online to use it. You can use cash to pay at the end of your trip.

It worked fine and I easily made it to he centrally located “Museum.” How far we have come since my first visit here!
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Art in Paradise is an Absolute Blast!

What is Art in Paradise?
It’s best described as a world of illusion art. The Museum is filled with wall murals & paintings that are presented on two dimensional surfaces. Then using computer technology and special techniques the ordinary murals and art works are transformed into 3-D interactive environments. It’s really extraordinary.

There’s a learning curve. First, you need a smart phone or tablet. Download the App which you use to view the flat artwork in 3-D mode. The idea is that by inserting yourself into the photos, and the exhibit becomes interactive. It took me about 15 minutes to figure it out. I’ve got a video of a shark mural that only comes alive when you activate it with the App.

With the shark video, I was supposed to be in it and get eaten by the shark. And but since I came alone, I didn’t have anyone to take the video of me getting eaten! .

So now I understand the exhibit, & I go looking for some other visitors to do the exhibit with. Traveling alone makes it easy to meet other people and make new friends. And new travel friends are always a highlight of my trips. I love my new young friends Reinier ( from Belgium) & Ophelia (from France)! Huge thanks to both of you for the most fun afternoon and photo memories.
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Reinier & Ophelia took all of the photos and videos of me in the exhibits. And I took fun ones of them when both wanted to be in a frame. We spent at least 2 hours there. How fun is this?!!
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Here you can see how we constructed this photo of Reinier kicking Ophelia off a chair.
It took 3 tries for me to get the shot!
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Afterwards, I suggested we catch a Grab and go to Woo, a pretty & yummy restaurant that Stefi & Frank had taken me to, and we had beautiful iced herbal drinks. And tons of locally sourced delicious food.
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As we got to know each other over dinner, we realized that Reinier was heading up to Pai, as was I. We connected on What’s App so that we could get together in Pai also! And we did so be sure to check the Pai entry coming next!

Love, Nancie

Tip: There are 3 locations of Art In Paradise and Thailand. There’s the one in Chiang Mai, one in Bangkok to which I must bring my grandson, and one in Pattaya. If you have a chance, don’t miss it!

Posted by Nsevers 15:58 Archived in Thailand Tagged art museum friends chiang mai photography Comments (0)

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