Not quite back to normal but back overseas after more than 2 years

henleybeach

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Sep 10, 2012
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It had been 2y2m6d since I had any alcohol. Since we were pretty much locked away and couldn't travel anywhere I wanted to see how long I could go with that achievement.

For anyone that knows me I've been borderline alcoholic at various stages of my life and I'm proud of that achievement.
Well played and well done, an excellent effort and you should be proud of your achievement.
It certainly proves, if someone really wants to achieve something, they can!
I bet the champers went to your head!
 

JohnK

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Tuesday 17 May

This was a very quiet day.

No golf today. Played yesterday and for the time being best to have a day off after each game.

There was a time when I drove to Melbourne 13 hours down the South Coast and around past Lakes Entrance on Sunday night, played 8 games of golf in 5 days and drove back to Sydney on Saturday morning. I was 30 years ago. So much energy.

I remember when I was 22-23 years old played 15 holes golf at Castle Hill, drove to Asquith and played 18 holes golf there then drove to Gordon and played another 18 holes there finishing in the dark. It was Rememberance Day.

In Thailand I used to play golf 5 days Mon-Fri as it can be very slow on weekends and then golf another 5 days Mon-Fri before heading home.

Most recently it was golf Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri.

For the time being playing golf Mon, Wed, Friday or Sun, Tue, Thu will have to suffice.

By Tuesday afternoon I was bored. This was a mistake. I don't want to be without my wife/daughter especially the little one.

Called my wife in the afternoon and asked her if they wanted to come to Pattaya tomorrow. She couldn't pack quick enough.

i booked the cheapest flight I could find the next day that arrives BKK airport and that left CNX at 3:00pm and arrived BKK 4:30pm.

Much happier now. Can't wait for them to arrive. It's been 1 day short of 2 months since I last saw them.
 

JohnK

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Wednesday 18 May

Again I woke up at 8:00am. Today was a golf day and wife and daughter were also arriving from Chiang Mai in afternoon. Off on my 10 minute walk to golf restaurant for some breakfast and relax before 10:30am departure.

Today we will be playing St. Andrews 2000. It is a nice golf course part of the Green Valley 54 hole complex. They have renamed this Barcelona Valley and have all sorts of housing construction in the area and an international school too.

St. Andrews is one of the nicer/premium golf courses although it has not been in good condition the past few years. It has a par 74 with 2 par 6's one of about 650 yard length with water carry on first 2 shots and water all down the left and the other of about 750 yards with OOB on left and water all down the right with the green tucked in behind the water.

I remember a few years ago heavy rain in first hour and I was 6 over after first 5 holes and not happy then when rain stopped I shot 1 under for the last 13 holes to finish with 79 strokes. One of my best rounds in Thailand along with 77 shots at Black Mountain at Hua Hin off the white 6500 yard tees.

Another time I was 2 under on front nine and I missed another 2-3 easy birdie chances. Double bogey on 10 followed by par on the long and difficult 11th hole only to finish 9 over for the last 7 holes. 35 + 48 for an 83 and unusual finish. That was more than likely a choke.

Anyway that was a few years ago when I thought I had some idea of what I was doing with golf club in hand.

Today forecast was hot and no rain. But the forecast did not factor JohnK presence.

Cost today was 2300 baht all inclusive.

Today we had 13 players. Off we go on the 45+ minute trip with a minibus and car as transport.

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Nice clubhouse with a few restaurants, sales office and swimming pool and hotel attached.

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We had to wait for buggies. There are 3 golf courses here and always in high demand. Pre covid they had over 400 caddies but many of them are now gone and it's hard to replace them quickly. Not uncommon now for caddies to have round in morning and another in afternoon. Good for their finances but does keep them away from family all day.

I did say the weather forecast didn't factor JohnK. Well it rained before we hit off. A few people hinted I should ask the driver to take my luck back with me to Pattaya.

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That was scene looking back from 4th hole the par 6. It remained clear for the rest of the round.

I actually played much better today but that didn't reflect on score card. 8 double bogeys with 4 pars in 7 hole stretch in the middle of round saving me a little. The highlight was clearly a pure 6 iron straight over the pin on the 175 yard 3rd hole to finish 25 feet behind pin.

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That's the 17th hole. Long uphill par 3. We play off about 170 yards and on some days a 3 wood is not enough.

They are currently giving out 100 baht food and beverage credit so we have a drink here before we go back. Large bottle of Leo beer helped take away some of the pain.

Handicap 10. Points 22. Strokes 96. GIR 22%. Putts 1.9 avg. A slight improvement on first day but still only 4 pars.

We head back to Pattaya. This was a thirsty crowd and they stayed back for a few hours drinking.

I had a beautiful surprise when I see my daughter walking towards restaurant at around 7:00pm. She grabbed everyone's attention as quite a few golfers have known her since birth. Before she was born my wife used to come to golf with me here on some occasions.

We headed off to get some dinner and 5 minute walk to beach to listen to some music before going back to hotel.
 

JohnK

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Thursday 19 May

Today was a work from home day.

As I was doing a 30 day trip I didn't want to take 20 days annual leave or some unpaid leave as I used to do in the past. I usually work from home so negotiated to work from home for 6 days and 14 days annual leave for the remainder. The other reason was that I didn't want to return to a 30 day backlog of support issues.

One of the conditions to working from home while overseas is that you need to stick to working between 7:00am and 7:00pm at the time of the destination. Something to do worker's compensation but I'm not sure. I work flexible hours anyway so time is never a restriction.

I was up at 7:00am but I think I did something wrong with Aussie sim card and internet access and it took around 90 minutes so that Global Protect and Okta could connect to our network.

My daughter went to the pool with my wife but didn't stay long as it was unusually windy and she was not comfortable. So off they went to Central Festival to give me some free time as I had a few meetings via Google meets.
 

JohnK

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Thursday 18 May cont'd

I'd finished work around 4:00am. I worked about 9 hours straight without break. Quite a few issues since I left last Friday and the person I am mentoring needed my help.

I got ready and went to meet the girls at Central Festival around 6:00pm. I'd had a few vodkas with lychee juice and bought a few beers from 7-Eleven. I was going to have a haircut and needed to sit in the chair that feels like sitting in a dentist chair.

We walked from 2nd Road along Soi 10 to Soi Buakhow. Lots of bars on this Soi with a huge complex of bars near Soi Buakhow. I still cannot believe the attention my daughter at 5 years old.

Went to have a haircut first. My usual number 1 at a cost of 100 baht. What a price hike. Gone are the 70 baht and 80 baht haircuts. I was feeling generous today and paid 130 baht. Put into context that is just over $5. The cheapest I can get in Brisbane is $10 but that's in the city otherwise I pay $15 for haircut. I much prefer $5. After all nothing much can go wrong with a number 1 right?

We were near the Soi Buakhow markets and the plan was to buy some food and make the 15-20 minute walk to beach to have our food.

Pork BBQ ribs about 160 baht

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Wife loves somtum (papaya) salad cost 50 baht

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Walking back we went past Soi Honey where this man has a hamburger stall. My daughter loves hamburger but this guy is very good. He used to be a chef. 80 baht.

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Piece of chicken for me. This is not deep fried or greasy but she does a really good job. 50 baht.

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And to top it off 1kg mussels. 80 baht 20220519_221247.jpg

Bought mussels again in the last week and I think these gave me food poisoning.

Quite a few massage parlours in zsoi Honey. Girls chatting to my daughter. Some come out to touch her for luck. Some give her a hug. Daughter loves the attention but I need to keep eye out in case something happens.

Went to beach to listen to music and eat dinner. I'd bought a few more beers from 7-Eleven.

Stayed out until 11:00pm. Some nice live bands to keep us entertained.
 

Happy Dude

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Great reading @JohnK

I've not played golf in Thailand (yet) but it does look like a fine day out. Keeping score is a hiding to nothing, for me at least. One of my oldest mates lives in Thailand (Chang Mai/Hua Hin) when not caddying on the DP World Tour.

Do you get a sense that things will re-open, tour groups come back, get back to the way it was etc, quickly now or more a slow build up?
 

JohnK

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Great reading @JohnK

I've not played golf in Thailand (yet) but it does look like a fine day out. Keeping score is a hiding to nothing, for me at least. One of my oldest mates lives in Thailand (Chang Mai/Hua Hin) when not caddying on the DP World Tour.

Do you get a sense that things will re-open, tour groups come back, get back to the way it was etc, quickly now or more a slow build up?
Yeah golf in Thailand is always a great day out. For me it's more fun with a group that I've been playing with since 2006 but I still have fun in Chiang Mai on my own.

I will get around to them shortly but I played some golf on golf courses with hardly any outside noise except for wildlife. Very relaxing and one of the main reasons I'm on a golf course.

I'm not the expert in Thailand tourism but I don't think Thailand is quite ready to get back to pre covid tourism as a lot of the workers have gone back home and they may not come back quick enough. Plus it's strange to me how Thailand is heavily targeting tourists who traditionally do not spend much money in Thailand but they want hotel occupancy up as that may bring the workers back sooner.

Some of the expats business owners are saying that come November they are expecting a bumper hi season. I hope so.

I love Thailand but it'changing and not necessarily for the better. I'd really love to know who they think are going to occupy the upper class condos/apartments they are building. Interesting to see who is buying up.

Tourism was picking up slightly in 2nd week of June. Back in August/September and we'll have a better indication then.
 

JohnK

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Friday 20 May

Again I am awake at 8:00am. Today is a golf day. Wife and daughter fast asleep so I quietly get ready and walk to Pattaya New Plaza for breakfast before golf.

Today there were only 3 names on the sign-in sheet but 1 dropped out with food poisoning. So only 2 of us and we need 6 for a daily comp but that's not a worry we'll still head out with only 2 in the minibus.

Slightly off track but I will never know how serious anyone's ailments are compared to mine. I've got severe tendonitis and in constant pain but I don't let it stop golf or my life. I know people who have 12 months off or more with tendonitis as the reason. I had food poisoning the last week of my trip but I still played golf each day. In March 2000 I fractured my ankle quite badly on the 3rd hole but finished 18 holes. I don't walk off a golf course unless it's too dangerous to play.

Anyway back to golf. Today's cost 2300 baht all inclusive but no prizes.

We head off in the minibus to Parichat International Golf links. Fairly new golf course in the last 10 years. Close to Pattaya.

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Interesting golf course. Played it when it first opened with a temporary layout while they were working on the current layout. Pre-covid work was in progress on another 9 holes or 18 holes but I see no evidence of that now.. Has had quite a few changes in a short time. I'm not a fan of the golf course. Water in play on every hole. Too gimmicky but better on a golf course than sitting in an office thinking about being out on a golf course.

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The 3rd hole is interesting. Water carry to a generous fairway but water down the right as well as a blind water trap that collects quite a few tee shots short of the small green.

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Beautiful shades of green every where you look.

One of the par 5s shapes around a lake with a two-tiered green about 30 metres above the fairway but green is long across and not deep with severe slope from right to left. I hit the edge of the green near the pin but ball spun/rolled off quite some distance to the bottom. Difficult shot uphill off tight lie.

Are mulligans part of the rules of golf?

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This is the 11th hole a difficult long par 3 with water all down the right, green surrounded by bunkers severely sloping back to front and club-house on the left.

The first hole is quite some distance from club-house in the middle of the course. The 9th and 18th greens are also in the middle of the course quite some distance from club-house.

I think the 11th hole would be a perfect finishing hole and the difficult par 5 12th hole would be a perfect start to the round.

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The JohnK factor did not let us down again today. No sooner did we get off the 14th green and about to tee off on the 15th the heavens opened up. Heavy rain and my photo above has captured some of the rain drops.

We took shelter behind 14th green. You can see the drink stop next to 14th tee in the distance and about 8 buggies that rushed for cover.

Rain eased after about 45 minutes and I said let's finish quickly and head back to Pattaya. Rain did stop and I hit the ball along the ground again for 2 holes as body was stiff.

Handicap 11. Points 24. Strokes 95. GIR 28%. Putts 2.0 avg. A slight improvement on first 2 days but still only 4 pars. I was actually playing quite well and surprised at how poorly it looked on scorecard at the finish.

Oh well.

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Quite a nice locker room and a nice relaxing shower after the game.

Headed back to Pattaya early and only a couple of drinks before heading off to find the girls at Central Festival lugging golf clubs around. I'm really not sure why I didn't drop the clubs at the hotel.

We headed to Soi Buakhow so wife can do the washing and I stayed with little one as she had her finger nails and toe nails painted. She's only 5 years old.
 

drron

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I never walked off a golf course even in a thunder storm. finished the last 15 holes in a thunder storm at Royal Beerwah several years ago. Simple I used my 1 iron from the tee and Lee trevino was right. Not even god could hit a 1 iron. I quite liked it so maybe I'm the Devil.
 

JohnK

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Saturday 21 May

Today was going to be a lazy day. Wake up late and sleep for as long as the body can handle.

For whatever reason at some point after planning trip I thought it would be a good idea to head to Bangkok Saturday night as I had early flight booked on Sunday to get to Chiang Mai early to meet wife and daughter.

Well that plan turned to custard as wife and daughter are now here with me and there's no need to get to Chiang Mai early.

Oh well too late now.

We booked private taxi for 5:00pm-5:30pm to head to Bangkok Sukhumvit area. 1500 baht + 150 baht tip. Raining heavy most of the 2 hour trip. Driver quite sensible and didn't drive too fast.

I booked a deluxe room at Royal President Bangkok in Sukhumvit Soi 15. Cost was AUD65 for what looks like a good hotel.

Very confusing when we got there. Renovations everywhere and check-in is in another building. They gave us a suite in one of their serviced apartment buildings about 200m away. A little dated but more than adequate for overnight stay.

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Actually we could stay here for some few nights. Very quiet and comfortable. Bed fit the 3 of us easily.

Daughter loved it. She could play hide and seek with her grandma in Sydney via the Line app. Lots of hiding places.

Went for a walk to McDonalds after 9:00pm as daughter was hungry. Bangkok busy but not that busy.

Tried organising meter taxi for the morning trip to Don Muang. Concierge said cannot do. Taxi drivers want fixed 800 baht. Meter would only be 250-300 baht. No way. I just paid 1650 to travel 150km and they want 800 baht for a 20km trip less than 30 minutes.

Even tried asking concierge at the hotel next to our serviced apartment. Same story.

I'm not doing this again. I'm not booking Bangkok hotel for a 1 night stay and then trying to get to airport in a meter taxi. We have a lot of bags. We need a maxi.

I'll get Bolt in the morning. Off to bed early.
 

JohnK

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Sunday 22 May

Woke up very early to have shower and get bags sorted. That wasn't much sleep!

We head downstairs with bags. We just missed a maxi taxi drive past us. Check Bolt app and "meter" taxi is 270 baht. LOL. They want fixed price to go to airport but will take any job from Bolt. More on that later.

Booked the maxi Bolt option at 474 baht. A little expensive but we don't have many options. We need the room as we have a lot of luggage.

Wife and daughter wait out the front of the service apartment and I go take the keys back to reception. There are 2 meter taxis parked nearby soliciting business. I told them booked Bolt already. Very nosy.

Bolt turned up and we loaded up and headed to Don Muang. We're not overly early but we're there around 90 minutes before flight. The trip was only 23 minutes and we paid 500 baht.

Checked in with Air Asia, got boarding passes and I notice a sign saying wait for bags to be scanned. I waited, saw bags on the closed circuit camera heading past and we went through security.

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I don't bother checking gates anymore. I just look to see the aircraft parked at the furthest gate and know that's our plane.

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There we are off in the distance. Still not time for boarding so we make our way over. Hear my wife's names paged still quite some distance from gate. I'm thinking they couldn't have started and finished boarding so quick.

Apparently there was a power bank in my bag. They paged my wife because I swapped bags around when we checked in as I also had golf clubs.

We have to go back to check-in and boarding about to start.

I don't know why I bought the cheap $30 power bank. Thought I would need it but I don't use phone that often. Took it out of my carry bag and left it in luggage and totally forgot about it. Argh.

We ran back to check-in. Actually wife and daughter ran and I waddled as best as I could. I'm obese, extremely bad left hip/knee and right hip not far behind. I don't do running.

They had our bag there waiting. Why did you wait until we got to gate to page us. Why not page as we were going through security. We're going to miss flight now and next flight is 5 hours away.

I saw the sign more clearly now. Apparently you have to wait while your bag is scanned and not leave until you get the all clear. I must have misread first time.

Grab the power bank and we rush back to security. Air Asia staff helped us get through priority security queue. And we started running to gate. Actually wife and daughter ran and I waddled quite some distance behind.

My wife wasn't happy with me but it's a mistake anyone can make. Silly mistake but easily happens.

To my surprise I can see Air Asia staff come out to greet my wife and daughter at the gate and I caught up. They waited for us. Everyone was already boarded and not happy when we walked down the aisle to our seats.

Aircraft only about 1/3rd full and I think with the next flight 5 hours away they waited for us. Thank you Air Asia. You are a low cost carrier but your customer service that day is much better than a full service airline.

We arrived in Chiang Mai around 15 minutes late so not the end of the world.

Collected our bags and I picked up the Mistubishi Xpander from Thai rent a car. This rental cost me AUD550 for 13 days from Rental cars including 10% discount. That's a good price and I can see why. Chiang Mai airport is almost empty.

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The car is not too bad. Hardly any damage for rentals in Thailand.

We head off to Mercure to drop off bags.
 

Happy Dude

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I don't bother checking gates anymore. I just look to see the aircraft parked at the furthest gate and know that's our plane.

Straight from the "Book according to Happy Dude". One of the three certainties of my travels.

The other two being the AUD plummets against whatever country I'm visiting and scaffolding on any significant structure of note.
 

JohnK

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Straight from the "Book according to Happy Dude". One of the three certainties of my travels.

The other two being the AUD plummets against whatever country I'm visiting and scaffolding on any significant structure of note.
"Book according to Happy Dude" and "Life according to JohnK".

I'd believe random was some remote possibility if things were even remotely close to 50/50. When things are constantly stacked against you then you start to wonder.
 

JohnK

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Sunday 22 May Cont'd

On the way to Mercure the GPS was giving incorrect location and we ended up circling a couple of times.

Checked in at the Mercure and dropped bags off in the room and sorted out some of the presents for the village and made our way to SanPaTong which is about 25km south of Chiang Mai.

We did stop at Makro as we do at the start of every trip to get some meat.

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Wife bought some fish and I bought some pork. What I did notice is that pork has pretty much doubled in price and seafood had also had a reasonable hike in price.

We were in the village mid-afternoon and I got my first look at my daughters block.of land since March 2020.

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Construction in the very early stages but still exciting to see them start.

The girls are staying here tonight as my wife has to take father in law to hospital tomorrow morning and I also need to work.

I head back to Chiang Mai alone.
 

JohnK

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Monday 23 May

Today was a work day. Woke early again and pretty much worked non stop until late afternoon except for short breakfast break.

A couple of months ago Accor had a promotion of 6,000 bonus points for 3 stays x 2 nights per stay. It was a no brainer to stay in Mercure, Ibis Styles and one of the Novotels for 2 nights each. The 6 nights cost less than AUD400 and from memory the 6,000 bonus points is equivalent to EUR120 so a good deal?

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The bed was huge.

We stayed here once or twice when my wife was pregnant. Lots of mosquitoes. Much improved hotel now with friendly service but hardly anyone staying here at the time.

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That's a sight for sore eyes. You'd be forgiven for thinking she was an adult. She knows more about make-up already than many adults.

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I don't usually pay for breakfast but this one wasn't too expensive. I'm a sucker for poached eggs. Rice soup, fried rice, northern style poached egg but "mai paed".

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Had same next day. Very simple buffet breakfast with not much choice. Only 1 other person at breakfast both days.

I did head down to village to bring the girls back to Chiang Mai.

We had a few boring errands to run over the next few days including getting daughters passport that has caused us so much grief.
 
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