My two and one-half years in Thailand will end this Thursday morning when I leave Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport for a 25+ hour journey to Nashville. As anyone who reads this blog can tell, I have had a marvelous time in the Kingdom and on my travels throughout South East Asia.
- I have visited 42 of Thailand’s 77 provinces mostly on business, but I have also vacationed in five of them — Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai in the north and the seaside cities of Phuket, Ko Samui, and Krabi — and had day trips to several others.
- I have traveled to nine other countries in the region — China, Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam (2x), Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore (2x), Brunei and, most recently, Australia. While I regret not making it to Myanmar (Burma), this just gives me another good reason, if I really need one, to return to this corner of the world.
- I have accompanied my customers on two trips to five European nations — Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary — and I have taken two trips back to the U.S..
- I have spent time with eight sets of visitors from the states, several who were friends or relatives of friends. I have fond memories of all since I enjoyed sharing travel stories and experiences with them.
- Of the more than 24,000 photographs that I have taken during the past thirty months, I have posted what I think are the absolute best ones in this blog. In case you are wondering, this is my 127th posting.
On my last full day in Australia, I took a Gray Line tour out to the Blue Mountains, a mountain range whose foothills begin about 40 miles west of downtown Sydney. The day trip began with the bus crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The bus’ first stop was at the Featherdale Wildlife Park in what was once a farming community but that is now part of suburban Sydney. The tour continued to Echo Point, which provided fabulous views of the Three Sisters rock formation, and then on to Scenic World. The day ended with a boat cruise on the Parramatta River back to Sydney Harbour from the site of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Park Wharf.
The Blue Mountains take their name from the haze, a result of dust and dirt particles within the atmosphere interacting with ultraviolet radiation from the sun, that gives the range a bluish tint. The area was named as a World Heritage Area by UNESCO in 2000.
The Three Sisters, a rock formation formed by erosion, towers above the Jamison Valley and is one of the area’s major attractions. The legend is that three sisters — Meehni, Wimlah, and Gunnedoo — were turned to stone by their father or a tribal elder to protect them. However, the person who cast the spell was killed and no one else was able to reverse it.
The highlight of the trip was Scenic World, a recreation area with a funicular railway, a cableway, a skyway gondola, and several adventure walks. Visitors can travel into and out of the Jamison valley via the railway or cable way. The gondola carries passengers between two of the mountain peaks and provides a fabulous view of Katoomba Falls along the way. The views throughout the park were spectacular.
Manly is a suburb of Sydney and a tourist destination. It is a short walk from the ferry terminal at Manly Wharf through The Corso (the downtown commercial and business district) to Manly Beach on the Pacific Ocean. Numerous restaurants, bars, and cafés line the waterfront. Even in the Australian winter, dozens of surfers, most but not all in wetsuits, were patiently waiting for a good wave.
Happy Labor Day!
Kop Khun Krab
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