About Us

We are a married couple who will be retiring in 2014 and moving to Thailand to experience life in another culture and experience adventures we could have only dreamed of a few years ago.

You are welcome to join us on our adventures through this blog. We hope you enjoy the trip as much as we do.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sun Wukong Goes To The Dentist

American Dentistry is, like other medical care, overpriced. Even though our dentist in the US was a nice man, there were many times we had to make our own choices to not have a procedure he recommended. We were not in pain, did not have cavities or gum issues and he would invariably find something wrong that, in his expert opinion needed an expensive procedure like a crown or replacing an old filling. I always felt like we were helping make the payments on his new yacht, summer home or sports car.

Due to the advice to have our teeth cleaned every 6 months along with partial x-rays and full x-rays every couple years we were diligent about our appointments. We skipped our checkup and cleaning when we moved to Chiang Mai and knew it was time to figure out how to do this in an unfamiliar country.

There are many forums with advice on where to go if you are an expat and I just became more confused and conflicted each time I read someone else's opinion. So I asked a friend from Hawaii who came to Chiang Mai for extensive medical dentistry two years ago for her opinion. She recommended Chiang Mai Dental Hospital. It was easy to make appointments in English for the next week for Vince and I and they called the day before to remind us of our appointment.

We arrived 30 minutes early in case we needed to fill out paperwork. It only took a few minutes and they took me right into the room. Just like every other dental office around the world the items were the same. What was not the same was the three assistants for the dentist! The dentist asked me what I needed today and I told him, "Examination, Consultation, X-rays and Cleaning." OK!

One of the assistants took me to a small room for x-rays. She asked me to remove my necklace, and earrings and placed a long heavy lead apron over my head and upper arms which draped to my thighs. She adjusted the machine and asked me to stand near it and place my chin on a rest and bite with my front teeth on a piece attached to the chin rest. My forehead was also resting against a support and she left the room to take the picture. My eyes were closed , but Vince said the machine makes a complete rotation around your head and takes a digital picture.

As soon as it was done they sat me in a chair in front of a monitor and showed me the pictures. The doctor pointed out places on the picture to show me what parts were what. He was happy with how things looked with both Vince's and my teeth and then I was taken into the exam room again.

The next thing that was completely different from previous experiences in the US was the dentist cleaned my teeth. He was examining at the same time and scraped a small bit of tartar from a few places, polished my teeth and I was done. He said, "I don't know what to do with you" which meant that he was pleased at how everything looked and could do nothing more to improve on how my teeth were.

I wonder if the 30 minutes of cleaning in the US is also to make the dentists more money. I have had the new and latest gadgets using sonic water pulse to clean and of course the old fashioned stainless steel tools....I kind of like the old fashioned way. I felt special as I was being completely taken care of by the dentist and his 3 assistants and his expert opinion based on what he sees daily in his practice was reassuring. There was no high pressure sales pitch to come back in 6 months or to buy fluoride gels or fancy mouthwash.

Full mouth x-rays, consultation, exam, cleaning, polishing and tons of one on one patient care all for 1,100 Baht or $34.07 USD each.

They were even kind enough to take pictures with Sun Wukong!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Curly Hair In Thailand? What's A Girl To Do?

Living in Southeast Asia, with the majority of hair any stylist works with being thick and straight, I thought I would have a hard time finding a salon to work with my fine naturally curly hair. Enter my friend Angela Scott from the blog Tieland to Thailand and her recommendation of New York New York Hair Studio in Chiang Mai.

Like Angela said in her blog post  it was very easy to call and make an appointment in English. You can also see Angela’s before and after pictures of her gorgeous hair.

I showed up a bit early and the place was packed.....always a good sign. A very nice woman brought us some cold water while we waited.

My stylist was Vera and she asked me what I wanted. I told her that I love to use the expert opinion of whoever is working on me and I would let her decide. She said she loved my curls and wanted to work with them and not go too short or I would loose them all together.

Having my hair shampooed in the US was always a chore, pretty boring and uncomfortable. Not so here. The chairs have a leg rest that lifts your legs so you are reclining and your back is not stressed. The bowl is curved for your neck but has another platform for your head to rest on so your neck is very comfortable.

I was shampooed by an assistant and part of the service here is to massage your head and neck. When I say massage, it is unlike anything I have ever felt at a hair stylist in the US. This was thumbs and fingers pressing just the right spots all over my head and temples........really getting in there and giving a proper head massage.

So this is how it went.
Shampoo and massage for two or three minutes.
Rinse and massage for another minute.
Conditioner and massage for another two or three minutes.
Rinse and another product for another two or three minutes.

Yep, I was feeling like a nap by this time.

The assistant then took me to the station and she combed out my hair while someone else stood by with a towel to catch any drips of water, which he did by quickly reaching out with a towel to gently squeeze a piece of hair. I wanted to giggle.

The chairs probably raise and lower, but the stylists have rolling stools they sit on while cutting. It is so smart. She worked on me for nearly 40 minutes while several assistants stood by watching her concentrate on my curls. After the cut, I was taken to the shampoo area again where an assistant rinsed my hair. Then two of the assistants diffused my hair and gently scrunched and twirled till they were happy. Vera came over to check and see if she wanted to do anymore snips and sure enough she found some spots she had to make perfect.

The appointment took an hour and cost 550 Baht or $17.13 USD. I gave her a tip and she told me she would be giving it to her assistants. Nice!

So, the answer is yes you can get a quality hair cut, head and neck massage and be pampered like you are royalty at a fraction of what it would cost in the US. I am very happy and will be returning to New York New York.




Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hiring Someone To Clean

I love a clean house, but I don't love to clean. In Thailand it is not unusual to hear about expats and even locals hiring cleaning women to come in once a week. But I was determined to do it myself and the thought of having someone in my home was a strange concept. Buying and figuring out how to use the cleaning products was a challenge with all the labels in Thai.  

Scrubbing the shower, bathroom and kitchen along with dusting and mopping the floor takes hours and while I can physically do the job, my time is becoming more precious to me. I would much rather exercise while hiking the streets of Chiang Mai and enjoy my workout in the pool under a beautiful blue sky! 

The condo building has women that clean units for moving in or out and also for hire as often as you like so I finally let go of the “Pinkies Up” notion that hiring a cleaning woman would make me appear a snob and made an appointment. 

Three women showed up and spent the next hour: 
Dust mop hard wood floor 
Wipe outside of kitchen cupboards and counters 
Wipe outside of refrigerator 
Clean windows 
Sweep and mop the terrace 
Wipe and dust all open shelves, chairs, end tables and coffee table 
Clean bathroom, shower, sink, floor, toilet and mirror. 
Change sheets on bed 
Remove cover on two standing fans to clean blades and the front and back wire cage 

All this while smiling, singing, laughing and enjoying their time in my home. 

Inside       200 Baht or $6.24 
Terrace    100 Baht or $3.12 
Total in US $9.36

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Life Is A Cabaret Old Chum – Come To The Cabaret

Our blog started out as a record of the steps, trials, and tribulations that we faced in being able to retire in Thailand. Now that we made it the blog is changing. There will be more posts about retirement life in Thailand and fewer of the nuts and bolts that are necessary to get here and stay here.

This post is an example of that. We went with our good friend, Sam to the ChiangMai Cabaret show last night to celebrate my upcoming birthday. The show is free but they appreciate it (expected) that you will buy at least a drink each. Even better if you buy two each.

Beer sells for 110 baht until Happy Hour about 2/3 of the way through the show and Cocktails sell for 210 baht each. The prices are high comparative to normal but we just looked at it as the entry fee to the show, in which case we easily got our moneys worth.

The ChiangMai Cabaret Show features ladyboys. Folks in the West are not as open to this lifestyle as the Thai's are. In Thailand, Ladyboys are mostly accepted as members of the Third Gender. There are all sorts of stories about Westerners not realizing that the “girl” they are hitting on really isn't a girl. Imagine their surprise.

From Wikipedia:


"Also commonly referred to as a third sex are the kathoeys (or "ladyboys") of Thailand.  They are people whose assigned sex was male who identify and live as female, a significant number of Thais perceive kathoeys as belonging to a third gender, including many kathoeys themselves, others see them as second category women.  Although they are born genetically as male, kathoeys claim to possess a female heart which is the gender they truly are. Males undergoing sex-change operations are not uncommon occurrences but they are still regarded as men on their identification documents. Despite this, the Thai society remains one of the world's most tolerant attitude towards kathoeys or the third gender.

In 2004, the Chiang Mai Technology School allocated a separate restroom for kathoeys, with an intertwined male and female symbol on the door. The 15 kathoey students are required to wear male clothing at school but are allowed to sport feminine hairdos. The restroom features four stalls, but no urinals.

Kathoeys in the work force

Although Kathoeys are still not fully respected, they are gradually gaining acceptance and have made themselves a very distinct part of the Thai society. This is especially true in the entertainment, business, and fashion industries in Thailand, where the Kathoeys play significant roles in leadership and management positions. In addition, Kathoeys or second-category-women are very sought after when businesses are hiring salespeople. In many job posts, it is common to see companies state that second-category-women are preferred as their sales force because they are generally seen as more charismatic and expressive individuals."

If you have read this far you are probably waiting for the photos and the video.
So, May I Present the Ladyboys of the Chiang Mai Cabaret.

Above photo is during her performance

This photo is at the end of her performance

As the show ended our friend Sam told Miss Chiangmai Cabaret that we were celebrating my birthday.  Then I became part of the show as the cast wished me a Happy Birthday and had a little fun with the whole birthday thing.

Now for the video.  Lin had fun putting it together so we hope you enjoy it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Oda Fire Festival......Where they light the mountain on fire!

We arrived about two hours before dark to find a good spot to sit. It was lovely right next to the river looking out across huge rice fields waving in the breeze.

Of course we had to wander around taking pictures. 

There was a large stage in the rice field with several musicians performing throughout the evening. It didn't matter where you sat you could hear the music playing.

I looked up to see several people waiving at us from across the road. I waved back and raised my camera to take a close up. I laughed and gave them the thumbs up! It was really nice!

About an hour before dusk people started showing up in the fields and on the hillside to light the thousands of oil lamps.

We spread out our picnic dinner and opened our alcohol in a can called Chuhai which comes in Peach, Cherry, Apple and Watermelon. They taste like a fizzy fruit soda with a kick!

Steve and Lisa made this delicious picnic the night before.

Vince was fanning me because it was HOT!   What a sweetheart!

We stopped to watch these performers dancing in the street.

Thousands of people show up to this festival. It is quite an event with music, food, fireworks and families lounging on their tarps chatting, eating and drinking.

The fireworks were just as spectacular as the ones in Ikazaki, but because of the lack of wind the smoke hung in the air so thick at one point we couldn't see them except lighting up behind the smoke cloud. Vince opted not to take pictures and laid his head on my lap while we watched the fireworks. There were a couple that exploded too low and shot into the woods behind the field. So they really did light the mountain on fire! It was quickly extinguished and the fireworks continued. These shots are from my little camera, not nearly as good as Vince's!

We had such a wonderful time experiencing this traditional festival. The symbols on the mountain mean “God Of The Mountain” They added Mt. Fuji and the Shinkansen this year!