Loy Krathong on Patong Beach Thailand

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Loy Krathong is one of the many holidays you can enjoy while visiting the beautiful country of Thailand. Clicking on the word will take you to a wikipedia page that will give you all of the history and details of such an event. This posting isn’t about the holiday nearly as much as it is about how my wife and I participated in this wonderful holiday.

The design team!

The design team!

 

In 2013 Loy Krathong fell on my birthday which is 17 November and since I’m not big on birthdays, my wife and I choose to go to see our friend who was selling “something” on the beach. Before we got to the beach our only plans were to go see our friend Nittaya and see what she was selling and then enjoy what ever festivities that would be taking place on Patong Beach. As soon as we arrived and my wife realized that they were hand crafting these “floating flowers” she jumped right in to learn and give a hand.  I’m not very crafty but I have no fear of selling to random strangers, language barrier or not. The majority of people on the beach were Thai followed closely by Russian tourists neither of which are known for their expansive knowladge of English. I can honestly say that my wife had was more than likely the only Mexican on the beach, not just that day but possibly that entire month. Needless to say, they don’t get many Mexican tourists here.

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Ronald showing respect in Thailand

Bangkok Thailand is Shopping Hell

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Ok so I’m sure there are only a small percentage of men that enjoy shopping so most men consider shopping to be a cruel and unusual punishment by their wife or girlfriend. Bangkok shopping is on a different level. I am married to a woman who has worked as a professional shopper and as a purchasing agent for a few companies so she has some serious experience shopping but after day two in Bangkok, she was done and suffering from shopping overload.

Impromptu dress shop, not in Bangkok! This is normal.

Impromptu dress shop, not in Bangkok! This is normal.

Bangkok is very much a business hub for no only Asia but for most of the Eastern hemisphere and no only are there a million hotels, restaurants and taxis but there are three to four times as many shops selling everything from art to zebra striped underwear. There are a few areas in which street vendors are not allowed to set up shop but honestly those are few and far between. When they do set up they are side by side and take up nearly every bit of the sidewalk, leaving just enough space for tourists to squeeze through nearly forcing each person to turn left or right and look at the wares each vendor has for sell. This isn’t limited to clothing or trinkets, no that would be to easy. They sell everything under the sun to include herbs, food, car parts, computer parts, phones, cleaning supplies, furniture and whatever they can get their hands on.

If you are the type of shopper that like to find the cheapest item in the city and refuse to stop looking until you’ve gone to every booth selling what ever item you are looking for, then Bangkok is shopping hell! Your best bet and the best advice I can give about shopping in Bangkok would be to visit two different shopping areas as far away from Khaosan (backpackers and budget travelers area) road as possible, and if the price is close between the two, haggle. If you aren’t any good at haggling, then your money will go twice as fast in Thailand. Haggling is a way of life for these people and they pretty much expect it. If you don’t haggle, you will pay to much. You will realize this when you walk around the corner and find the same item being sold by someone who’s willing to haggle for you and as you walk away you hear her drop the price as you walk away.

Ronald showing respect in Thailand

Ronald showing respect in Thailand

So what makes Bangkok shopping hell, you ask? Just the fact that there is so many shops selling so many things and if you are there in hopes to find a deal then you will have a headache in hours. From the moment you step out of your taxi you are greeted with a host of people offering their wares, services or any host of things. You will be asked a million times if you want a suit, see a ping pong show or if you need a taxi. If it wasn’t bad enough with all the booths haggling with you over price, the taxi drivers will do the same thing. I don’t know how many taxi’s I waved off because they wanted to charge a flat fee instead of using the meter. So if thinking about money gives you a headache, if haggling wears you out or if you have to know you paid the least you can pay for any given item, Bangkok will be hell.

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San Benedetto Del Tronto Italy: The perfect place for a vacation in Italy

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Ok so the title isn’t exact because after all what is “perfect?” In the event you are looking for a great place to take your family in Italy, then this is it. The travel guides you read will tell you everything you need to know about Rome, Venice, Florence and the rest but if you have seen them already or if you want to take a vacation where the Italians go then San Benedetto Del Tronto is the spot you’re looking for. This isn’t the only Italian destination but it is one of the better ones. There are many things that make this city perfect for a holiday but the simplest reason is that it was designed that way.

The lungomare or seaside is designed so that the tourist hotels and a few bars are on the road that is parallel to the beach opposite the beach of course. (The first picture is one of the many hotels, the second is the view from the front of another hotel) Just on the other side of the road is the bike path where if you’re not careful you will get run over by one of the many bicycles that are constantly taking advantage of having their own road. Just past the bike path is the sidewalk and this isn’t a narrow two and a half foot wide sidewalk, this is near twenty feet in some places, so there is plenty of room for people to walk up and down without feeling crowded and without having to dodge cyclists.

Along the sidewalk are, alternating between chalets (restaurants), bars (a bar in Italy is a place to buy an espresso and other snacks along with some alcohol but not a bar you would find in America,) parks and playgrounds for children. This is much to be said about how clean, neat and tidy this quaint seaside village is. If you were to fly above the beach in a helicopter you would see how square and organized it looks. The chalets all have umbrellas to rent on the beach and they all have different sets of colors that make the beach look colorful and festive.

I wish I could give some sort of review on a few of the restaurants but sadly, I never at on this beach. The only thing I was able to eat when I got here was a few gelatos or Italian ice cream. I spent many Euros on ice cream and the best gelatos I had in Italy were when I was in this region of Italy. It was rare to find a place that didn’t make outstanding, flavorful and inexpensive gelatos. Average cost of a small two flavored cone was €1.50, medium three flavored cone €2.00 and large three or more flavored cone was €2.50. Gelatos are well worth their weight in gold, that might be a bit redundant for those of you who have had one. Warning: The fruit flavors are made with the actual fruit instead of flavoring and they are slightly addicting. Just because they are healthier for you than standard American ice cream does not mean you won’t gain weight. Overall satisfaction of my time in San Benedetto, complete and total satisfaction! I feel in love and plan to go back one day. I actually like destinations that are full of locals and natives rather than tourists and travelers.

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Moresco Italy’s Folkloristico Festival 2013

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One of the many, and I mean MANY, festivals you will find going on in Italy during the summer is in Moresco which is in the La Marche region of Italy in the hills overlooking the Aso Valley and the Adriatic coast. In terms of scenery, this part of Italy is hard to beat.

One strange fact about Moresco is that it is home to one of the only seven sided medieval towers in Europe.

We were lucky to have been able to visit during this time of year, the Folkloristico Festival was fun and interesting to see. I love how this festival was more of a community gathering or almost what American’s would call a “block party.” Since the town of Moresco is a very old Medieval town, the way it is built, everything is connected. There are apartments all around the square and during they day you would see people opening and closing their shutters depending on the weather. We weren’t so lucky in the fact that this was the wettest start to a summer Italy has seen in a long time so we did have to wait out a rain shower here and there.

Another couple of interesting facts about Moresco is that it has a heptagonal shaped watch tower and is home to frescos (Seen Below) by the famous Italian painter Vincenzo Pagani, which we were told is worth tens of millions of dollars. The tower (seen above) is strange in the odd number of sides that it has but from the top of the tower that rises 25 meters, you can get an amazing view of the Aso Valley, Pedaso and on a clear day you can even see the coast of Albania which is approximately 70 km away.

The folkloristico festival is all about the way it used to be in Moresco. There are a few people who dress in the traditional Italian costumes, they sing and dance to old songs in Dialect. There are about close to thirty people in different groups playing the accordion and another with the a tambourine. I fell in love with an older lady who sang and danced for the entire time we were there which had to be close to 6 hours. I hope when I’m her age I have as much energy. You see her pictured below and I’ll post the video as well.

There are big reasons for coming to Italy which everyone knows and dreams about but I have learned that in Italy there are more reasons NOT to go to the over crowded, over priced and often over romanticised tourist traps. While I too went to or will go to Rome, Florence, Milan and Venice, I have found that some of the most beautiful sights have been in the small medieval towns. I learned that the only place to find Italians, is to go where the tourists aren’t. Rent a car and drive away from these cities and after an hour the first B&B you find, stop there and you will find your heaven. Festivals go on in every town all across Italy all it takes is a bit of luck and adventure. Growing up and learning about how civilization got it’s start in Italy somehow makes it very romantic in but in reality the real beauty of Italy is in the homes of Italians, in the kitchens, in the bar’s and in the center of town during these festivals. The heart of Italy beats strong off the beaten path.

The prices of food and drinks outside the tourist traps are cheap to reasonable. You can get a liter of very good wine from 2 to 4 Euro’s and rarely pay more than 2 Euro for a slice of truly Italian pizza which is very filling. But don’t stop at just the pizza because they have a pork sandwich called “porchetta” that will make your mouth water with every bite. There isn’t anything anyone should be afraid to try in Italy, they aren’t very adventurous with spices except for basil, rosemary and olive oil which you will find on most everything. So don’t be scared, go off and explore and learn what real Italy is all about.

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