Arrived in the Land of Smiles

I am typing this from Bangkok!

My flights over were both great. The staff and plane were awesome. In all honestly, I didn’t have any expectations of the flights as I had to book them in such haste. I couldn’t be bothered to check comments or ratings for either Qantas or Emirates. I was impressed by both airlines and would recommend either. I LOVED that the Qantas flight had a usb port so I could plug my iphone to charge 🙂 I also like that they served Tip Top ice cream bars for dessert (or “pudding” as my Kiwi friends call it).
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I flew from Auckland to Sidney with Qantas and only had 1 hour to switch flights. When I checked my baggage I stupidly forgot to ask if I had to re-check my bags for my connecting flight. I was a little nervous that I would arrive in Thailand without my baggage. Luckily the clerk at the Emirates counter assured me that if was impossible for Emirates to expect me clear customs and check my baggage in under an hour. I was fortunate to receive my request of a window seat over to Australia as the airplane was only around 2/3rds full. On the way to Thailand I was sitting in the aisle in the middle row. Not ideal but not the worst situation. I was lucky to be seated beside a lovely young couple from Amsterdam.  I felt awful for then when I heard their flight route. They had just spent 3 weeks (or was it 5?) travelling Australia and were now beginning their trek home. They needed to fly 8hrs from Sidney ->  another 8 hours from Bangkok to Dubai -> then an additional 8hours home to Amsterdam. What was worse was they were obligatory to exit the plane so they could go through customs and then re-enter TO THE SAME SEATS! I thought that was brutal. When we touchdown in Thailand all three of us had had barely any sleep. Thankfully the movie/tv/music selection on our individual TVs was exceptional. I was happy with everything I watched!  They were eager to exit and re-board the plane so they could try to get more sleep where as I was excited to have reached my destination!

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IMG_9743It was after 1am when I got off the plane and felt the humid air. I loved it! Going through immigration was a bit of a wait but fairly manageable. One of the female security guards told us if we wanted to walk a few minutes down the hallway there were another whole area for passengers to go through. That handy little tip saved me quite a bit of time.  I was thrilled to discover that my luggage was WAITING for me when I found the luggage belt. It had been turned off with all the luggage lined up in a neat little row. 

As planned, I phoned my friend Pi Sangwan once I was ready to leave the airport. She told me she would head over to the airport and that Pi Loong was IMG_9745already at the airport waiting for me!!!! I phoned Pi Loong and she told me where I could meet her. I was really glad she recognized me as I haven’t seen her in years.  I was thrilled to see a friendly face as I was not really sure if I was meeting them at the airport or the next day. Pi Loong, her brother and I grabbed a drink at the airport’s food court and caught up as we haven’t seen each other in years. I was under the impression that we were grabbing a drink while we waited for Pi Sangwan to arrive. You could say that I was A LITTLE CONFUSED when around 3am (so 8am Auckland time) we were leaving in a taxi together. I had originally planned to taxi over to my Thai-Australian friend’s house but we decided to change the dates. I then decided I would stay at a hostel near Khoa San Road. I had researched a LOT of different hostels with help from my Thai friends. Lolly mentioned a hostel that she stayed at 4 years ago and it sounded quite cozy. Within walking distance,  to Khoa San Road but far enough away to get away from the party scene. The location sounded like an ideal place for travellers and expats to mingle. After  catching  up with Pi Loong I learned that the two ladies had been chatting a lot about me and were very worried about my safety. They had decided that I wouldn’t  stay anywhere near Khoa San Road. So there was a change of plans and I would be staying in a hotel near Pi Loong’s house for a few days.

On the taxi ride to The Embassy Hotel I wanted to sleep so badly. I remember not wanting to blink too long for fear of falling asleep in the car. I was EXHAUSTED and had no idea how long the car ride would be or where we were going. When we arrived at the hotel IT LOOKED massive. There was a bit of confusion when we tried to get our key. Something about them wanting us to wait until 6am to get a room…the mixture of jet lag and English-Thai translation left me in a state of confusion. I looked at my phone and it read 3:34am. I asked Pi Loong 2 questions: if there was wireless so I could message people back home so they knew I was alive, and was I allowed to sleep in their lobby? My phone kept saying it was connected but it wasn’t giving me internet. The room situation was sorted out and  I remember sleepily following Pi Loong into this massive bedroom with two beds and a huge window. She said goodbye and she would see me the next day. I put my bags down and belly flopped on one of the beds. I woke up a few hours later and realized I needed to take my contacts out and change out of my clothes!

I woke up again around 10am (Thailand time) and decided I should start the day. I showered and threw on a dress. I did not know if Pi Loong was going to walk back to the hotel or if I was going to need to call her so I left her a note to tell her I had just left for a quick walk. I think it took me 5 mins of humming and hawings as to whether or not I should wear a scarf.  (I laugh at this now! But while I was standing in my air conditioned room I really was finding it hard to decide if I needed it or not). AS SOON AS I OPENED the hotel door I smiled as to having made the decision to leave the scarf at home! IT WAS HOT. DRY hot heat. I left the house on a mission to find a sim card for my phone and a wireless internet hot spot. My iphone was easily locating the wireless spots but not being too friendly about connecting to them. I got really frustrated at how fast my battery was dying struggling to connect to a wifi source. I successfully communicated to the 7 Eleven attendant that I needed a sim card for my phone. WHAT I lacked to understand was that I needed to buy a top up card as the  sim card was simply a phone number. After sorting that out I still wasn’t able to get internet on my phone. I walked up the street for ages. I debated crossing the street but decided against it for my first day in Bangkok. Baby steps to this BIG ADVENTURE. I really did not want to be using my medical insurance on my first day!
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I was starting to get hungry but I wasn’t feeling brave enough to try any street food. 7 Eleven are like North America’s Startbucks. THEY ARE EVERYWHERE. So I went into 7 Eleven and grabbed some water and dried seaweed. YUMMERS. Solid choice, as I knew I would be eating more food with Pi Loong later that day. Loong came over to my hotel later that afternoon and we grabbed some food at BIG C. It is your everything cheap store (comparable to Wall Mart or Kmart). It has it’s own food court besides all the groceries, clothing, stationary etc. It is your one stop (cheap) shop. Their food court uses the refillable swipe card method payment. So you have to be really good at estimating how much your total meal will cost – or come back within 7 days to spend the remainder of your balance.  Pi Loong and I tried to sort out my lack of internet. I decided that if I couldn’t get it on my phone I would try to buy an internet stick. It would mean no whatsapp but at least I would email, google maps and facebook. I quickly nixed the stick idea when I learned that you buy a blank stick and have to pay extra for the internet. That seemed rather odd to me. Would pretty much be like buying a memory card?! Anyways after all that confusion I was still without internet at my finger tips. It really made me realize how much I take internet for granted. I am just so used to always having internet in the home or places to find wifi. I said goodbye to Pi Loong around 10 and got back to my hotel around 11:30ish. I love that there is such a night time atmosphere in Bangkok. Shops are open late and people are out having dinner or at the internet cafes just skyping up a storm. While I was at the internet café emailing and facebooking someone was casually skyping his friend SO LOUDLY beside me. Sure he had his headset on but I felt like I was part of his conversation. His male friend was sitting on his couch in his shorts and t just laughing and loving the catch up…
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Well that was day 1. I won’t be blogging EVERYDAY but I will try to keep the blog relatively active!
I made it to Thailand and I am excited to share my highs and lows with all of you. LOTS LOTS of highs!
Lots of love to everyone,
xoxox
Amanda Sumalee

GOoDbYe NEw ZEaLaNd HEllo THaiLaNd

ONE year ago today: Sept 16, 2012 I arrived in the Auckland Airport. I have officially lived in New Zealand for 365 days! Today I am in the departure section of the airport as my Visa has expired and my new journey begins!

This day has ARRIVED! I never knew what date it would be–> but September 16th, 2013 sounds perfect to me! I am flying back to Thailand. The place I was born. The place I have visited twice before. THIS TIME I am going alone…sort of. My family will not be joining me for the plane ride or meeting me when I land. I am going on this flight alone BUT WHEN I ARRIVE I am comforted in knowing I have so many friends ready and willing to help me. I have always dreamed of moving to Thailand and I am so overcome with emotions knowing this day is today….well technically TOMORROW with all the flying.

They are beginning to board the plane (hurray!) so I wanted to end this by thanking everyone who has helped me get to the point where I am at now. Passport in hand, smile on my face EXCITED for this journey to begin.

Special thanks to my Kiwi families that I leave behind. I am awful at goodbyes – sorry my hugs were QUICK! We will keep in touch. I LOVE SNAILMAIL almost as much as I love food and sleep 🙂

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I tried to pack the cat but she didn’t want to come 😦

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All my love to everyone-
Keep smiling and wish me LUCK
xoxoxo Amanda Sumalee

Happy 2013 Everyone!

Monday December 31st, 2012
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The Whitley’s and I spent the last day of 2012 together at Takapuna beach. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. We packed the best lunch ever (cheese and crackers) and were able to fill the day with swimming and tanning. My allergies have really been acting up lately so I chose not to wear my contacts to the beach. Unfortunately I left my eye drops at home and my eyes started to dry up so much that they started closing up. Luckily the shops were nearby for Emma and I to buy another bottle of drops.  When we thought we couldn’t take the heat anymore we paid a visit to the Whippy van 🙂 The beach was FULL of other families but there was still plenty of room for us to spread out and enjoy the afternoon.

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After a quick stop at the liquor store we all went home to shower and get ready for our evening. Emzie was wonderful at helping all the ladies with their hair and makeup. We had to run for the bus at the top of our bus — running in heels made for an impromptu workout and big laughs. The bus ride was around 40 minutes downtown. It was bumpin’ downtown and were lucky to get into The VGrill (Viaduct Grill) without any wait. O’malley and I split the stuffed duck meal and slice of cheesecake. We made incredible choices that night!! After dinner we struggled to find a place to settle down and share drinks before the midnight fireworks. Finding space that fit 5 people on New Year’s Eve was not the easiest of tasks! We went to a few places before walking across the bridge around 11pm to find seats to enjoy the fireworks. The fireworks were shot off of the Skytower. Knowing how often New Zealand has fireworks, we were a little underwhelmed by the evening’s fireworks. Not saying they were good but I was expecting amazing for the number of people that came out to share in the countdown and display. The show only lasted a handful a minutes before we were hailing a van-cab. O’malley snagged one super fast and we were back home really quickly..considering all the traffic

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Tuesday January 1st, 2013

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My 2013 began impressively. I slept in and then headed off to the beach again. Takapuna is a close drive from the house so we headed back again. We settled down by some prime seating on a grassy area. We had planned on renting a couple of paddle boards but they were closed for the day. The waves weren’t impressive but we enjoyed our boogie board time together. Emzie treated us to some yummy Starb frapps…definitely a great way to start this year. We ended off the night by enjoying delicious cesar salads and prawns.  Of course we had to end the night with a family bowling match!

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Wednesday January 2nd, 2013

It was the Whitley’s 2nd last day in New Zealand so we spent a little time in the morning cleaning the house and packing their bags. Momma Whitley had made reservations for the five of us to dine at the Skytower ‘s restaurant at 2pm. We left the house early so we could do some last minute downtown shopping. The Skytower buffet is on the 3rd floor of the tower so we weren’t given much of a view.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much food there was. What shocked me the most was the dessert bar. There was a full cheese spread and CANDY table to create your own vanilla sundae. The only SHOCKING thing was the receptionist asking me if I was over  FOURTEEN YEARS OLD. She asked everyone if they were over FOURTEEN. And then singled me out and said, “Really? You definitely don’t look it” I was completely shocking as I was dressed in a dress and had a full face of makeup!! DO I actually look fourteen?! I guess maybe I do….?

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Thursday January 3nd, 2013
Ana and Kristy arrived today!!
Emzie and I were both up and awake around 4:15am so we could scoop the lovely ladies from the airport. Their plane was supposed to arrive around 5:30 but arrived a little bit earlier. It has only been a day since their arrival but we have already spent lots of time planning our upcoming day trips.

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Whitley’s leave today
Their flight was scheduled to take off at 8pm so Em and I drove them to the airport for around 5:30.

It rained on and off all day but the rain seemed to stop in the evening. We drove down to the viaducts downtown so the girls could get a feel for driving on “the wrong side of the road” and start warming up their cameras!

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Looking forward to continue this fabulous vacation!!! Lots of beach days in our future. I will post more facebook photos when I get around to it. Thanks for staying in touch.

Buddha Blessings to everyone. Trying to make the most of my time here. The time keeps FLYING by!!!
xox Amanda

–> Happy 1 year anniversary since our beautiful blonde – lush lashed Socks came to Victoria. CFCS would not have been the same without you. Thank you for rocking those socks  and being who you are. Gorgeous inside and out 🙂 Emzie, Ana and I promise to have an amazingly relaxing and fun filled beach day on your behalf today!!! Much love babe!