Songkran getaway suggestions

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Where can I get away during the next Songkran Festival? This is a question many ask ourselves who are not willing to remain in Pattaya for the week long water throwing madness.  Some ideas were provided at the November 6 Sunday meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club. Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg introduced fellow member Gary Hacker to the members and guests assembled at the Amari’s Tavern by the Sea Restaurant.

Gary really needed no introduction. In addition to being a US Embassy Warden for Pattaya, Gary is also an ardent traveler around the region and has on several occasions presented his photos and his interesting narratives about some of these trips.  Gary said although Songkran is still some months away, now might be a good time to start planning your getaway. With the aid of many splendid pictures of these idyllic places, Gary provided his suggestions including places to dine and to stay.

‘Around the World in 80 Days’ - ok, ‘Around South East Asia in 40 minutes’ was the talk given by PCEC member Gary Hacker - about some of the many places Gary has been in Asia. ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ – ok, ‘Around South East Asia in 40 minutes’ was the talk given by PCEC member Gary Hacker – about some of the many places Gary has been in Asia.

His first suggestion was not far away. Koh Si Chang is an island that is a short drive up the coast and quick boat ride from Sriracha.  Although still in Thailand, Gary said there was not much water throwing on the island so it would make a good getaway. Gary pointed out that you could hire a Tuk Tuk (on Koh Si Chang these are powered by automobile engines) or rent a motorbike. Gary then took everyone on a pictorial visit of the island. Gary previously wrote an interesting article including pictures about his visit to Koh Si Chang, which are posted in the General Interest section of the club’s website, www.pattayacityexpatsclub.com.

Board member & newsletter editor Darrel Vaught provides an update of changes to Pattaya City Expats comprehensive website, with all kinds of information about living in Thailand.Board member & newsletter editor Darrel Vaught provides an update of changes to Pattaya City Expats comprehensive website, with all kinds of information about living in Thailand.

After Koh Si Chang, Gary took everyone to Angeles City in the Philippines.  Gary noted that while not much for daytime activity; it has a great nightlife similar to Pattaya. Not too expensive to get to and can provide a few days respite from all the water throwing in Thailand.

Another place that has much more to see and do is Borneo. Gary pointed out that this island is about 2/3 governed by Indonesia, 1/3 by Malaysia and is the home of the tiny country, Brunei.  Gary was particularly fond of Kota Kinabalu in Sabah State. He mentioned several attractions and all the activity around the boardwalk. There is also an orangutan rehabilitation center called Sepilok that is worthy of a visit.

Gary gave an interesting description of his experience renting a “brand new” car that is made in Malaysia to drive to Sepilok – seems parts kept falling off of it that they had to stop and pick up. He also explained how his daughter talked him into going into the “dangerous jungle habitat” of the orangutan instead of staying in the safer area where they are caged.

Reg Knowles of the Royal British Legion reminds PCEC members of Remembrance Day (Veterans Day in the US), held on the 11th of November each year, when returned service personnel, and those who did not return, are remembered.Reg Knowles of the Royal British Legion reminds PCEC members of Remembrance Day (Veterans Day in the US), held on the 11th of November each year, when returned service personnel, and those who did not return, are remembered.

Gary also extolled Phnom Penh, the capital of neighboring Cambodia, as another great get away location. Although there is some water throwing, he said it is not as bad as Pattaya. He said that it has built up and modernized some since his last visit. He recommended hiring a boat to take a trip along the scenic river to get the flavor of the place.

Another nearby country that is also well worth a visit is Vietnam. Gary said that he found Hoi An to be a fabulous getaway. You can fly into either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) City and take train, air, or other transport to Hoi An.  He said it is a beautiful city, especially the old town where the buildings are decked out with lanterns at night. It is on a river with bridges that cross over it and is also a short distance from the coast where there are some lovely white sand beaches.

This short article cannot do justice to Gary’s presentation.  The club hopes that he will prepare some more articles on these and maybe other locations to share on the club’s website as he did for Koh Si Chang.

Richard Silverberg then called on Pat Koester to bring everyone up to date on upcoming events and to conduct the always informative Open Forum, where questions are asked and answered on Expat living in Thailand and Pattaya in particular.