Tokyo, HuaHin & Bangkok in Feb 2019 travel blog

The day started out like every other, the breakfast buffet beckoning it's siren call to overdo the caloric intake for the day. Guilt at not resisting that final danish got us out for a walk to explore the nearby Lumphini Park.

After dodging the traffic that came too close to the narrow, treacherous apologies for sidewalks and the confusing pedestrian crossings with zebra markings that did not match the path intended, we made it to the gates at the closest entrance to the park. From ariel views on Google, we knew the park was big but had no idea of the beauty or the water features it contained. From the time we entered we were enthralled by it's vast gardens, bird life, constant maintenance and, much to our surprise, huge monitor lizards in the algae filled moats and lakes through out the park. On reading about them later, they are not a hazard to humans and survive mainly on fish and dead turtles, of which we saw a few, but look menacingly like their bigger and more dangerous Komodo Dragons. A few years ago, they had to relocate dozens of them to surrounding sanctuarys as they were over-running the park and scaring the patrons.

We decided to follow the path around the perimeter of the park and encountered many others who were doing the same, whether walking, jogging, running full tilt or cycling. There was also a local kindergarten school visiting the well equipped kids playground in the park. There were plenty of signs warning against feeding the pigeons which were obviously being ignored judging from the flocks of pigeons furiously pecking at the ground in conspicious places. All through the water features were powered water-wheels to aerate the waters to keep the algal buildup from taking over. We saw evidence of fish in the lake from the tell tale flash of their bodies and the ensuing ripple emanating from that point. We made our way around the lake and the many pavilions and buildings to get back to the the gates, on the way passing several seating places, tai-chi groups, well maintained stretching and exercise stations as well as a couple of open air gyms with trainers helping patrons through their well worn gym equipment. I wasn't sure whether there was a fee for the service and was afraid to ask owing to the language barrier that was sometimes used to feign ignorance. That wasn't the case with the clerk at the visitor information booth who gave us several recommendations for places to visit in the nearby vicinity, the most interesting of those being the local snake farm that had educational shows on venom milking and snake handling. Unfortunately, it was not Lisette's idea of a fun afternoon so we decided to head back.

We made it back to the hotel after a pit stop at the nearby 7-11 to replenish some of those calories we had so diligently sought to lose. My go-to was the cold coffee (can't go wrong for 14B!) that was sickeningly sweet but cold and refreshing. Lisette picked up a bunch of snacks to hand out to the rest of the group as 'valentines'... trying to get to their hearts through their stomachs! We caught them in the lobby heading out on a foray into the city while we were hot from our walk and wanted to get back to air-conditioned comfort and a nice cool shower. We thought we might take advantage of the pool but an hour out in the heat (I decided to write instead of swim while Lisette read) of the midday humidity saw us back indoors for a shower and preparation to go out for a valentine/anniversary special lunch. Going through the online reviews for local spots left us more confused and so, with a tip from the reception staff, we cabbed it to a local restaurant called Baan Kanitha which was adjacent to a gallery of the same name, which happened to be closed.

Entering the restaurant grounds, we knew we had lucked into a unique place serving upscale Thai food with a flair (and at an appropriately upscale price) which would not be our first choice had we not been looking for a unique experience. We were not disappointed and the great meal was complemented by a complimentary addition from the kitchen, an appetizer we had not seen before, small amounts of dry toppings placed on a sticky sauce smeared onto a (paan like) leaf and eaten whole.

I opted for a coconut rum cocktail while Lisette stayed with a thirst quenching beer and we both ordered a curried dish - mine tofu, Lisette's chicken with sticky, steamed rice - while we shared a mini-lobster billed as a grilled giant prawn but was more like a crustacean! The filling meal was pushed over the edge with a complimentary dessert from the establishment after they learned that we were celebrating our 37th wedding anniversary. It was a dessert I had my eye on... coconut icecream with sweet, sticky rice and fresh mango, probably their signature offering. It didn't disappoint and filled that gap in my sweet tooth perfectly!

We decided to walk the km or so back to the hotel to help digest some of our bloating and came back to a slew of valentines day and anniversary messages to acknowledge on Facebook, messenger and Whatsapp. One of them was from a Canadian friend and fellow Saligaokar, Lloyd, who also happened to be visiting Bangkok, due to leave for Laos the following morning, inviting us out either for dinner or drinks. Since we had overdone lunch, we opted either for a late snack or just appertifs. He was visiting a childhood friend who now lives here in Bangkok (for the last 30y) and was a band member with Tragically Hip, the well known Canadian band which recently lost their leader (Gord Downie) to brain cancer. We took him up on his offer and after recovering from a cocktail and calorie induced nap, cabbed it out to the Saxaphone Pub, a well known music lounge near Vicory Monument. The rush hour ride across the city was only 100B by the meter, which accommodates traffic jams by increasing the calculated fare if the vehicle is travelling under 6kph.

We almost missed Lloyd and friends who were sitting at the bar close to the entrance so as not to miss us as we were ushered into the cavernous facility. The main floor was already packed but we opted for the upper floor where we could converse as well as enjoy the line up of 3 jazz bands that would make up the special entertainment for this Valentine's Day special. We ordered our drinks and Lloyd joined us for almost an hour of reminiscing before he had to beg off to get an early jump on his packing for a two week private guided tour through Laos and Cambodia. We are looking forward to following his posts on FB with the intention of possibly doing the same in a year or two. After another round of drinks, and some snacks to absorb the alcohol, we decided to call it a night. After a small escapade with an errant taxi who dropped us off in the middle of nowhere having misunderstood our destination, we managed to hail a tuk-tuk who brought us back home for a reasonable fare for that time of the night.

We fell into bed exhausted looking forward to the next day of unplanned activities leading up to the river dinner cruise we had booked prior to leaving Toronto.

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