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Leaving the Cold behind... SEA (Thailand, India, Singapore) with LH A380 in FIRST

Leaving the Cold behind... SEA (Thailand, India, Singapore) with LH A380 in FIRST

Old Mar 22, 20, 4:08 am
  #76  
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I hope it will go on like this for you in this uncertain times.
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Old Mar 22, 20, 9:11 am
  #77  
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Sunday, March 22, 2020

Our plan was to reach a beach destination before the government of Thailand one day would lock Bangkok and ban travel between the regions, a place where we could spend 2 or 3 weeks of quarantine – and today we had to drive the last 200 kilometres to reach our final destination. But let’s start the day from the beginning:

We didn’t get a very good sleep, since the mattress was quite uncomfortable, the A/C, even on the lowest level, very noisy. Therefore waking up before 8 wasn’t a problem, the shower was sufficient, packing quite fast.

Down for breakfast which was served around the pool, also here, everything stylish, clean – because new.

We had to select breakfast the evening before, I chose ‘American Breakfast’,


Valentyna some rice congee with shrimps.


In addition, there was a small buffet with salad, watermelon, toast and fresh orange juice, coffee from a machine.


The breakfast, even ‘American’, was very Thai, the eggs over-fried, the sausage artificial, but okay not to be hungry.

The luggage was loaded back into the car, we drove off, without check by a doctor.




To reach an ‘Amazon Café’ we had to drive in the opposite direction at first – but I needed a strong coffee first. In addition I stocked cigarettes, so, just in case, I would have enough for the next 3 weeks.

Highway no. 4 now changed from 4 lanes to just 2,


partly winding through the jungled mountains of southern Thailand. Traffic was okay, but the trucks creeping up the hills significantly slowed us down. But we had our music, a nice car, sunshine, nice scenery… so everything went well.

When we crossed the check-point to the Phang-Nga region (no temperature screening),


in which Khao Lak is located, we knew we’re save. Another thing that made us relaxed where the many hospitals along the way – just in case something happens.

We stopped at another of the really well built rest areas, of course with an Amazon Café for the 2nd coffee shot, nice and clean bathrooms.




Already on the way it was obvious that the religion in the south changed. On the way we saw many ladies with headscarf on motorcycles, men with the typical beard – and of course a lot of mosques.


20 kilometres before Khao we decided to check out one of the sightseeing highlights, ‘Bun Sung Iron Bridge’.

When we arrived and had a quick look, we didn’t understand what would be interesting about this bridge, why it’s an attraction.


It already was around 1300, we were hungry, refuelled the car and decided to stop at a roadside restaurant, recommended by TripAdvisor.

Valentyna parked in front of Yim-Yim restaurant, specialised in seafood.


After taking a seat we ordered ‘Morning Glory’ with chili, a spicy seafood salad and squid in curry powder.


The food arrived quickly – and was really good, spicy, not as fat as the central-Thai-food.

We paid US$ 17, drove the last 6 kilometres towards the ‘Le Meridien Khao Lak Resort & Spa’.


The luggage was unloaded, we parked the car and walked up to the entrance,


further to the reception- and bar area.




The hotel is quite new, but a bit on the cold side, not too much of atmosphere, especially for a beach-resort.

We were friendly greeted by Tony, who checked us in, explained that in our case the THB 1’000 F&B credit wouldn’t expire daily, but instead added up so we could spend it any time. He also explained, that we would get 20% on all F&B, including mini-bar and room service etc., which would mean we could spend not 1’000 but 1’250 Baht daily.

He guided us through the resort, passing the (still operational) gym and spa, towards our Pool-Villa, to which we were upgraded, even the hotel still has an occupancy of 70%.


The Villa, located near the beach, offers a huge living room,


bedroom,




guest-toilet,


spacious bathroom


and of course a terrace with our own well-sized swimming pool.




Wow, at just US$ 100 including taxes !!!

We walked around,




checked out the public pool with swim-up-bar




and the beach,




before unpacking.

Since we had to get some stock, we drove 5 kilometres to the next 7/11, located next to a local market.






Back to the hotel, where we parked the car at our private car park directly behind our Villa,


stored our emergency goods.






At least toilet paper we didn’t have to buy, because its provided by the hotel – still.


We already decided to extend our stay from 6 to 14 days. I called Tony, asked if we would get the same rate and conditions for additional 8 days, which he confirmed.

By the way, this isn’t the first time we have to stay in Thailand longer then expected. Already in winter 2013/2014, while the Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine was going on, we have been in Thailand and decided to stay until the situation would calm down. On the end we were in Thailand for more than 4 months – hope this time it will be a shorter period. But who knows?

At 1930 we left our room, watched the beautiful evening sky above the ocean.


The hotel’s beach bar was very crowded – mostly because a lot of guest booked ‘all-inclusive’, even the drinks – a concept I don’t like at all.

We walked to restaurant ‘Happy Beach’, at the beach next to the hotel, recommended by a friend.

We got a table at the second line, ordered some food – okay, but nothing fantastic, as expected at a tourist location,


watched the fire show presented by some young guys.




Paid US$ 24, walked back to the hotel, where we were laying on our terrace before moving inside.
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Old Mar 22, 20, 9:56 am
  #78  
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By the way, my friend sent me another photo of is quarantine-hotel-room:
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Old Mar 22, 20, 2:02 pm
  #79  
 
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Thanks for continuing to share your trip report. Nice to get a glimpse of someone still traveling while most of use our at home.
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Old Mar 23, 20, 8:55 am
  #80  
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Monday, March 23, 2020

After a wonderful sleep on a perfect mattress we enjoyed the huge shower, in which without problem 6 persons could fit.

Before 9 we arrived at the breakfast ‘restaurant’, which has the charm of a canteen,


just terrible. Also the crowd, the way they appear for breakfast – just underwhelming. Yes, on the end it’s an AI resort.

We were quite surprised that still so many tourists are around, families mainly from Germany and Russia, as well as older people. If I would have a job, just be on holidays, I would hurry to fly home, as long as there’s still a possibility.

The breakfast buffet offered basically everything required, fruits, cheese & cold cuts, even lye rolls, a noodle-, pancake- and egg-station.








BUT – everything is of quite low quality, for example canned orange juice, the cheapest papaya available, corn-syrup instead of maple-syrup. Of course, mangos, which cost incredible 25 Cent per piece, where not on offer. Even some Aloft hotels offer better breakfast.

I ordered my typical egg-white Thai-omelette on rice, topped with the typical chili-fishsauce.


I asked for some watermelon-juice, normally available at all Bonvoy hotels in Thailand (even Aloft in Bangkok), but I’ve been informed that they would charge approx. US$ 5 for a glass.

Back through the resort, along the pool,


to our villa, which is the first on the right.

We changed for swim-gears, went to the beach where sunbeds where available without problems. We asked ourselves ‘where are all the people ?’

About the beach I’ll write tomorrow – but we left after an hour, moved to our private pool.

When we arrived, we saw a note in the living room, telling that due to Covid-19 the gym would be closed until end of April. This destroyed our plans for the rest of the day completely.


Anyway we changed for sport dress, did a 45 minute workout in our room, using some furniture as weights.


Then it was time for lunch. We dismissed the idea visiting one of the restaurants, because there buffet for AI clients would be served, quantity over quality. Instead we decided to order room-service, to spend some of our F&B credit.

Valentyna ordered Pad Thai Goong, I selected chicken stir-fried with basil & chili, told them to prepare as they would do for Thais.

The lunch was served on our terrace – and was surprisingly tasty, at US$ 17 (including the 20% TE discount) nothing to complain about.


The afternoon we’ve spent swimming, doing photo-shootings at the pool






and walking along the beach towards the north.


The beach towards the north isn’t very appealing, full of stones and with shallow water, so quite smelly. Many locals were walking in the water, searching for something, maybe crabs ?

After 30 minutes we turned back towards the Le Meridien, also because it was extremely hot.

We saw the fishermen repairing their cages, enjoyed the scenery in the background.

At around 1745 I went to the lobby, fixed our stay to be extended to full 2 weeks with the option to stay a 3rd week, in case the situation in Bangkok would get worse.Tony told me that most Thai people outside Bangkok wait the government to close Bangkok, because they don't want to be infected by them. Already out of Bangkok, presently down south, I would agree on this (3 days ago I'd have seen it differently).

Valentyna waited with the car for me in front of the lobby, we drove the 20 kilometres south to Khao Lak, a city that runs along both sides of highway 4.

First stop, buying an air mattress with pump for our pool. This way it will be more comfortable to get tanned than laying in the burning sun. Of course I had to make some photos...


We walked around to explore the city, which is just a stretch of shops, tailors, (closed) massage salons and restaurants – of course also a Swiss/German on, offering XXL Schnitzel. Brrrrrrrrr… !!!


Further south on highway 4, where restaurant ‘Little Italy’ is located, which I visited before.

I only eat pizza when it comes out of the wood fire oven – and they do have the only one in Khao Lak.


Since the restaurant, for Thailand, is quite expensive, there’s always a nice crowd – of which at the moment isn’t too many.

Valentyna selected homemade Fettuccini Arrabiata, I chose a Pizza with Italian sausage and spicy salami. The Pizza was good, but can’t compete with the one in Bangkok.


The Pasta was just excellent. You could feel and taste right away that it was homemade and very fresh.


We paid US$ 25, went to a nearby supermarket dedicated to tourists, so quite expensive. I don’t know if people don’t read the news, that, if possible, you should keep 2 metres distance. Here everybody seems to be careless – but I tried my best to avoid any contact.

Back to the hotel, where we enjoyed the late evening poolside.
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Old Mar 23, 20, 3:39 pm
  #81  
 
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If they shut down the gym,
ask for a discount on the rate or personal trainer instead-better for U!! Bargain it!!
Stay GESUND!
BTW:
Valentina must have wurms-allways hungry and eating like a dog, but not gaining weight.A wind blow will keep her away-she is so skinny.
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Last edited by Lufthansi; Mar 23, 20 at 3:55 pm Reason: O
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Old Mar 23, 20, 8:15 pm
  #82  
 
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Thanks for providing us with interesting updates while most of us cannot travel. A beach villa must be a perfect quarantine facility, surely beats your friend's room in China!

Originally Posted by ChristianKiev View Post
stored our emergency goods.
You clearly forgot to buy a month's supply of noodles, like your compatriots in Germany do, judging from empty store shelves here

Glad you moved to flyertalk, looking forward to more updates and to future trip reports!
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Old Mar 24, 20, 9:42 am
  #83  
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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Sleeping at the Le Meridien Khao Lak Resort (forget the ‘& Spa’ -because it’s not operational due to Covid-19) is just super ! The mattress is superb and the curtains really blind out all light.

At breakfast we mentioned that there’re significantly lesser European guest, just two couples from Western Europe, the rest Russians. And one Westerner has been refused to enter the breakfast area, because she arrived in swim dress. I think it’s good to have a minimum dress code, even it’s a beach resort.

The All-Inclusive-System showed its downsides at breakfast, when two men requested a beer (at 0845 !!!), which was denied. The made a big fuss, they would have had paid for AI, which includes beer. The staff explained, that alcohol would not be served at breakfast, but they insisted loudly. On the end a waiter left and organized them some beer. No, the two men weren’t Russians. I felt very much ashamed.

After breakfast we decided to have a walk along the beach, a topic I promised to write about today.

I remember a beautiful beach at both, JW Marriott Khao Lak as well as JW Marriott Phuket: long beached, tree-lined, soft sand, well temperature water.

But the beach at the Le Meridien is a little bit different, even less than 10 km north of the JW resort.

On the first glance the hotel beach with its palm trees looks very nice, nearly perfect,


but at the second look you’ll see a concrete wall, which separates the hotel beach from the sea.


You have to climb down in order to reach the sea. And when you look north, you see that directly after the hotel beach the sandy beach ends. So you can say, the hotel beach is at the very end of the beach.

After just some seconds you’ll find out why they need this ugly concrete wall: it’s because the beach isn’t very deep, but very steep. Therefore the waves are very strong, would float the hotel beach in full depth. It’s not the best idea to stand on this wall, because the waves come up all the way, with a good strength.


We decided to walk south, where the beach looks better. After some meters we had a good view of the construction the hotel beach stands on,


including some huge waves breaking on it.


While the hotel beach has some decent (not superb) sand, the surface on the normal beach is very stony. But it’s not just stones, it’s very sharp dead corals, masses of them,


just can’t walk without wearing some sort of shoes.


After approx. 500 meters we reached the neighbouring resort, ‘Sentido Graceland Khao Lak’.

Wow, that’s an ugly resort, mainly occupied by Russian couples. Somehow the beach looks like one of the public beaches in Odessa or Kiev during the weekend, people eating but mostly drinking all day the food & drinks they prepared themselves.


Some meters further we saw this sign


– but the restaurant seemed to be deserted.

Further along the beach, where, like at the JW Marriott, big trees lined the shore, were giving a nice shade towards the water. Here, just one kilometre away from the hotel were significantly less corals laying at the beach, the sand was of nicer structure.


We decided to have a swim.


But as soon as we entered the water we felt again many sharp ‘stones’ – you need to wear swim-shoes !

Inside the water the ground decreases very fast, within 5 meters you can’t stand anymore. Now we understood why further out you can’t see waves, why they’re building up just some meters before they hit the beach. As far as I understood that’s also the reason why the Tsunami hit Phuket and Khao Lak so hard.

But, I’ve to admit, the water is of wonderful colour, very warm and soft. After having had our swim we decided to turn around, walk back to the hotel.

After some 60 minutes of tanning, 45 minutes of sport inside the Villa, we ordered lunch – surprisingly authentic for an international hotel, even I told them to prepare it ‘Thai-style’.


We moved our Bluetooth speaker out to the terrace, enjoyed sun & music while tanning on our mattress in the pool.


At 1530 my Swiss friend with his girlfriend, who I saw last time in Bangkok before leaving to India, arrived at the Le Meridien. They spent the last weeks at the Hilton in Pattaya, wanted to fly to the Maldives – but all flights had been cancelled. So instead they took an AirAsia flight from Pattaya to Phuket, a taxi to the Le Meridien.

Since he doesn’t have a status with Bonvoy the requested THB 2’499++ for a standard room with breakfast and daily THB 1’000 F&B credit – or 9’200++ for a Pool-Villa. He requested a status match from Hilton Diamond to Bonvoy Titanium, but Bonvoy denied, just offered a status run of 16 nights within 3 months in order to reach Titanium level.

Because I rented the X1 only until 30.03., but due to the actual situation will need it at least to 14.04. Honestly, we don’t need a US$ 80’000 BMW X1 to be standing behind the Villa, a much cheaper Honda Civic would also do. I offered SIXT to return the X1 at Phuket airport, take a Honda Civic instead (so to rent a Toyota VIOS, which would be upgraded to a Honda Civic), return it in Bangkok. After some time I received an E-Mail from a SIXT Thailand (Mastercar) manager, offering me to keep the X1 at the Toyota VIOS rate – from first day. I accepted, so now I’m paying US$ 27/day instead of US$ 40 (actually they made a mistake in their Email, showing me a rate of a total of US$ 2,70/day).

After the good news it was time for some bad news: the Thai government decided to call a state of emergency from Thursday, mainly to prevent people from leaving Bangkok to visit their relative’s countryside, and therefore spread the virus throughout the country. But why would you announce this Tuesday, that you’ll close down Bangkok (or the complete county) two days later ? This means people will leave Bangkok today and tomorrow… So, at this point we don’t know if we’ll be locked in, how long we would have to stay. But who cares, better here with sun, beach & pool, than in Bangkok or our apartment in Kiev.

Of course, the gym will remain closed – but after some discussions I arranged an agreement with the hotel management. After signing a letter that everything is at my own risk, I got some dumbbells and a yoga-mat delivered, for usage as long as the gym would remain closed.


At 1745 we met our friends in front of the lobby, left the hotel, picked up our laundry and drove to Khao Lak city, where we, but especially our friends, needed to stock up and buy swim-shoes.

After this had been completed, we went to a TA recommended Japanese restaurant, to find it closed, just opened for delivery, due to Covid-19. But, there’s always a way, they have set up tables in front, where you could eat your food which was passed through the window.


The food was quite nice, I would recommend ‘U-Taro’ in case you’re in Khao Lak and up for some Japanese dinner.

(US$ 33).

Valentyna brought is back to the hotel, our friends went to their room, we had some phone-calls with friends und business partners in Ukraine & Moldova.
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Old Mar 25, 20, 8:05 am
  #84  
 
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Loving these daily updates...we're all traveling vicariously through you!!
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Old Mar 25, 20, 9:23 am
  #85  
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Wednesday, March, 25, 2020

I don’t want to bore you with a daily description of how we spent our ‘normal’ days here at Le Meridien Resort – because it’ll be mainly the same, healthy breakfast,


tanning, walking along the beach, swimming, lunch, resting, in-room-sports, getting ready, driving to town for dinner. So I’ll only report about changes in situation and in case something more interesting will happen.

I found something quite interesting when cancelling the 5-night-stay in Bangkok from March, 30, to April, 4: when cancelling I also checked regular rates, for example at the Marriott Bangkok Sukhumvit, found a very interesting package deal. To stay at the hotel you would need to pay only US$ 80 plus taxes (normally around 130)


– and this package includes a F&B credit of US$ 90 plus taxes per day !!!


As Titanium Elite you would get 20% discount on F&B, so you could spend close to US$ 120 plus taxes per day… Even taking under consideration that the cost is just 30 – 35%, this means you pay below US$ 40 per night.

But who really wants to stay in Bangkok these days ? Especially since the government declared a state of emergency from midnight until end of April.

What does the state of emergency mean ? At this moment it’s still it’s still unclear, only that foreigners, except pilots, drivers, sailors and some others, can’t enter Thailand by land, sea or air, even they would have a health certificate and a health insurance covering Covid-19. This uncertainness causes restaurants and shows not to know if they can still operate from tomorrow, so they don’t stock up anymore.

Also the government of Ukraine declared a state of emergency until April, 24. Also here nobody would be allowed to enter Ukraine, not even Ukrainians, by land, sea and air until the end of it. Quarantine will be stricter, my diver and housekeeper reporting that police and National Guard controlling the streets. At least they, for now, stopped the plan to let the army control streets – because they understood that Ukrainians wouldn’t react good on this.

Even these news aren’t good once – for us they’re a bit of a relieve, because we know that before April, 24, there’s no way to return. We don’t need to think about it, because we anyway have no choice. And in case the Thai government one day would decide to close down all hotels, we would rent a Villa with Pool via AirBnB. I saw some fantastic Villas with staff, normally prices at US$ 2’100/day, now available at US$ 320/day. But I think when we would offer 160 they’ll also give it away.

That’s it for today, I’ll keep you updated.
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Old Mar 25, 20, 12:14 pm
  #86  
 
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This turned out to be an even more interesting read due to the developing situation, hope everything works out well for you, it certainly seems so thus far.
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Old Mar 26, 20, 10:24 am
  #87  
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Thursday, March 26, 2020

March, 26 – normally in the morning we would have had a flight from Phuket to Singapore. But that flight will be ‘a bit’ later.

So today I had something to do, I was prepared to spend all day on this issue.

Normally we would have flights back to Ukraine (Kiev) in the night of 28th to 29th of March, both of us from Singapore, Valentyna on SQ to Munich and further to Kiev by LH, all flights in I-class (Lufthansa Business Class Award ticket), me on LX via ZRH to KBP, in A-class (discounted First Class).

I called LH Senator Hotline in Germany by Skype, and, surprisingly, was talking to an agent within less than 10 seconds of waiting. Unfortunately the call was disconnected after I just told my booking code, which was a Wi-Fi issue. Frustrated I called again, prepared to wait – but got a German speaking lady within again less than 10 seconds. I really can’t understand why some people report of hours waiting in line.

I told her our booking codes, informed her of the booking classes. She told me not to worry, that she would handle both, the paid- and the award ticket. That was good news.

My request was ‘earliest 1st of May’ & ’both on the same flight’, so we would fly together, just in case something would go wrong.

She told me that both, A- and I-class would be available on LX, starting 1st of May every day. So I chose the 1st of May.

Both changes were handled within minutes, even seats were reserved, nothing charged at all. Perfect !

I just luckily jumped into the pool – when me phone (Thai number) rang. Valentyna picked up, called me. The same lady of Lufthansa called, told me that we would have a problem with Valentynas ticket, since I bought the original one 30th of April 2019 and therefore it would be valid only until 30th of April 2020. She told me we would have to cancel the ticket, buy a new one by miles. The problem was, the ticket was bought with the miles of my ex-wife’s account, and they would have expired 31st of December 2019. I informed the LH lady about this issue and she informed me, that this wouldn’t be a problem, because the returned miles would be valid again until the end of this quarter. So no problem, I gave her my credit card details for the fantasy charges (US$ 300) and we said ‘Good-Bye’.

Within 5 minutes she called again, informing me that on the account of my ex-wife wouldn’t be enough miles. How ? I paid for the ticket 67’500 miles, while now it costs 71’500 – and the account only had a remain of 67’500 + 2’780 miles.

So what to do ? She told me to do mileage pooling, so adding the account of my ex-wife to my account. I went to my notebook, she telling me what to do. But it didn’t work, the page she told me to open was missing. I read that mileage pooling wouldn’t be available since my ‘place of residency’ is Ukraine. The lady offered to change the ‘place of residency’ in both accounts to ‘Germany’, which she did within minutes.

Now I was able to add my ex-wife, then I had to open her account for accepting – and it was done.

The lady issued the new award ticket, the fees were charged from my credit card (who is ‘Airbus helicopters Germany’ ?)


and I received the second ticket.

What a fantastic service ! Maybe LH group doesn’t offer the best product on the market, but the service is outstanding.

What could still happen ?
1.) Ukraine could be still closed for entry on 1st of May, so I would have to change again
2.) Wen would not be able to fly via Singapore and I would have to change from SIN via ZRH to KBP to BKK – VIE – KBP, both in business class, which would cost me, even downgraded, a fee of EUR 1’200, which LH would reduce to 500.

It was time for in-room-sport, followed by lunch.

During the last days we had to learn that the housekeeping of the Le Merdien is quite lazy and inconsistent. One day they didn’t made up the bed, the next day they remove the towels but don’t put new once, same with cups and glasses. At least the Nespresso caps the give a lot, meanwhile we do have 10+. Cleaning of toilet ? Why ? So today I called the duty manager, who came after 1 ˝ hours and fixed everything. We were offered free dinner, which we denied. So a bottle of Prosecco arrived.


Swimming, tanning (as far as possible)


and a nap, before we had to get ready for dinner.

We drove into town, everything along the street quite dark. I wanted to have dinner at Phen’s next to the JW Marriott, where I ate quite well during my last visit. When we arrived everything was dark, the restaurant closed.

2nd choice was a Japanese restaurant in town, but it has been closed down, too. This isn’t because of a lockdown, just because less and less tourists around. In addition, today Russia announced to cancel all flights out and in, just evacuation flights still in operation. And when the Russians leave, it will get very lonely around here.

Further to the centre of town, where still some shops and restaurants were operational, the Italian restaurant we ate the day before, the Japanese one we ate 2 days ago, some fruit shops and a Thai restaurant, called ‘Orchid’.

After buying some mangos


we went over to ‘Orchid’,


where 3 other tables were occupied. We took a seat, ordered some dishes we wouldn’t get at the hotel.

We were a bit afraid that the food would be very tourists – but after ordering them ‘Thai spicy’ they were quite good.


To my very positive surprise, while eating, I got a message from my credit card account that my health insurance finally has transferred the money I’ve spent in Brazil at the hospital.

At 2100 we were the last guests, the city completely empty, no other people, even no cars driving, a very strange situation and feeling.


We drove back to the hotel, made some phone calls back home.
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Old Mar 26, 20, 1:00 pm
  #88  
 
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Wow Khao Lak is certainly looking very empty. I feel so bad for the Thai's who rely on tourists. We have had to cancel our month in Bali for May, but hopefully we can travel again in November
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Old Mar 26, 20, 6:18 pm
  #89  
 
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Originally Posted by ChristianKiev View Post
. . .The problem was, the ticket was bought with the miles of my ex-wife’s account, and they would have expired 31st of December 2019. . .
That is sweet justice and I would be remiss if I didn't say that I chuckled a little bit when I read that.
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Old Mar 26, 20, 6:43 pm
  #90  
 
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Great report thank you
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