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The Winter Vacation Part 3 of 3

Day 12 Kim and I awake at 600am with the intent of going to photograph the sunrise at the beach.  It was a little cloudy but the sunrise was beautiful.
Sunrise from our beach in Koh Samui
This was the view we watched while we ate breakfast that morning.
We had an early breakfast and head off to see see Big Buddah, one of the largest Buddist shrines on the island.
We jumped in a cab and the driver who took us there asked if we would need a ride home .  We said yes and he told us he would wait for us.  We told him we might be an hour or so.  He said he didn’t mind.  There were  number of cool statues and shrines around and we enjoyed looking but we were shy to take pictures where the monks were praying.  We didn’t want to be so intrusive,
Big Buddha
An example of one of the many statues at the shrine.
There was a carving shop next to the shrine that had 100’s of religious carvings of different poses of Buddha, elephants and other religious statues.  As well it had one giant “Empire Strikes Back Storm Trooper”  (Star Wars).  He was about 8 feet tall.  All I could think of was Tim Renaud would give his eye teeth for this.  It wasn’t crazy expensive, but there was no way to get this monstrosity home.  Sorry Tim…..  You’re welcome Sue.
A groovy statue in the water.
While we were visiting we came across this fish spa.  For 500 baht ($15) we got to stick our feet in this 4 ft x 8 ft pool and these fish would come and eat all of the dead skin off of our feet.  Why would you not try this? Now I want to start out by saying that none of the fish died when I stuck my feet in the water.  We weren’t sure whether this would hurt or tickle or exactly what would happened.  The German who owned the spa assured us that it does not hurt at all and in fact, most people started to laugh when they put their feet in for the first time.  True to form, Kim and I put our feet in and started a gigglefest that lasted the whole time we were there.  The 500 baht was for a half hour, but the guy said it wasn’t busy and we could stay as long as we wanted.
About a half hour into our foot spa, our driver asked us if he could take another fare and that he would be back in 20 minutes.  We said sure.  That was pretty trusting of him as we had not paid for our ride out.  So our spa lasted just about an hour.  Our driver took us back to the resort, we swam at the beach for 3 hours and drank cold Singha Beer and had a delicious BBQ lunch including corn  on the cob and a fresh coconut to drink.  For dinner we went to our favourite Indian Restaurant called Khana Sutra for a feast.  We then enjoyed a foot massage and went home to sleep.
Tomorrow, Tuesday Feb 12th is our last full day on Koh Samui.  Wednesday we fly back to Bangkok and Thursday is our flight to Gangzhou and finally Shanghai.  We are not looking forward to going home.
The trip home was relatively painless.  We flew Bangkok Air from Samui to Bangkok.  It’s a short 1 hour flight with food service done in the true tradition of Thailand; spicy snacks and very fresh fruit.
Here is some of the vegetation at the Koh Samui Airport.
Here is the colourful plane we took, Bangkok Airways flight to Bangkok.  A one hour flight.
We spent our one day in Bangkok, relaxing at the pool on the ninth floor. What a life.  We went out for our last dinner and ordered again Thai food.  We are so addicted!  Right next to the restaurant was a massage parlor.  It was attached to a hotel so it was very clean and reputable, but also more expensive.  We actually had to pay $12 for a 1 hour massage.
Here is the pool on top of our hotel.  You can’t tell from the picture, but yes that is a 70 year old guy with his 18 year old girlfriend.  This is so common here in Bangkok.  These guys come here to reputable hotels and campout with their little Thai girls for a couple weeks then head home.  It is so common that there is a sign at the pool requesting we don’t take any pictures.  Hmmm I wonder why?
Our trip from Bangkok to Shanghai left at 8:40 in the morning so we had to get a cab at 5:30 am in order to clear customs, security and get to the airport on time.  I should explain that rush hour in Bangkok is 24/7.   There is always a traffic jam no matter what time of day.  We were  not looking forward to or final leg back to Shanghai.   We had to make a stop in Guangzhouu for an hour and a half, pick up our luggage, go thru Chinese customs, go thru security again and  board our plane.  The lay over was an hour an 40 minutes, but that isn’t a lot of time as some of those lines can be very long.   When we got to the airport, the travel Gods smiled upon us again and we were upgraded to Premium Coach, which is just below first class and is at the front of the plane. Our first flight was delayed by about 40 minutes.  Kim and I were getting a little panicky as we were sure we might not make our connecting flight.  We landed and did the “Amazing Race” marathon thru the airport, jumping lines, butting in front of others.  By the time we retrieved our luggage, we knew that our flight was boarding and we had not cleared customs or gone thru security.  Again we pleaded with folks and jumped lines and made it thru both customs and security.  We arrived at our gate to realize that we had to load at gate four and we started at gate 82.   Determined now not to miss the flight, Kim and I sprinted down the two and a half kilometres down the concourse shouting excuse me and look out.  We were cutting people off and being very pushy.  My apologies to everyone.  My only hope is that everyone thought we were Americans.  Now let me explain that when we got up that morning we knew we would arrive in a very cold, wet and rainy Shanghai of 4-5 degrees.  So we dressed warmly.  However, here we are running thru the airport at Guangzhou where is it still palm trees and 22 degrees.  So by the time we finally reached the proper gate boarding time was long gone and we expected to see our plane taxiing down the runway.  We arrived, drenched in sweat to find that our flight had been delayed so that we could make the connection.  You think they could have told us this, but no, the ticketing agents had a great deal of fun laughing at the 20 or so people who ran the Airport Marathon to make this connection.  They all arrived as sweaty as us.
We finally got on the plane and had a beautiful flight back to Shanghai.  We have been very lucky in our flights this whole vacation.  We made $120 bucks on the flight from Koh Samui to Thailand because they were overbooked and we agreed to take the next flight which was only 45 minutes later.  We also were given a free food voucher and free drinks.  The the next day  we were upgraded to premiere economy, which is almost like first class.  Not quite as much room, but right at the front of the plane and a lot more space.  We arrived safely in Shanghai and took the Maglev train again, but we had trouble finding a cab.
This is the Magnetic Levitation Train.  Mag-Lev.  Our apartment is about 55 km from the airport.  It took us 8 minutes to go the 40 km from the airport to the downtown Pudong MAg-Lev station and then another 35 minutes by taxi thru rush hour to go the last 15 km. home to our apartment.
It was rush hour and raining when we arrived at the PuDong Mag lev station.  After 20 minutes we bit the bullet and took a black taxi, paying about two and a half times what we would have normally paid for a cab ride back to our Shanghai apartment.  For dinner we ordered Sherpa, drank a bottle of wine and went to bed early.    Happy Valentines Day!  What a great vacation we had!

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