No Flip-Flops Allowed in this Sandbox


Sawadee Ka and greetings from Bangkok, Thailand! 👙☀️

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Ace of Hua Hin Hotel in Cha Am

Let’s catch you up to speed on the current COVID situation here. At this point, after almost 1.5 years, we’re all just riding the wave, searching for any source of excitement in the swell. 😷 🌊

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courtesy of Google images

During this third wave, we’ve seen case numbers sky rocket and government rules steadily heighten in order to contain the spread. Alcohol is currently banned and parks are closed to discourage gatherings. 😔

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I’m Park on the left and fake restaurant flowers on the right

There is up to a 640 USD fine for not wearing a mask, and since most locals can’t afford that, they’ve made some do push-ups as punishment instead. Things seem so desperate, there’ve even been reports of health officials blasting disinfectant straight into the air! On the bright side, at least I don’t miss the amusement parks now that they’re closed. Reading the news each morning elicits more emotions than any roller coaster I’ve ever ridden! 😲🎢😭

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Time Out Bangkok’s newspaper headline summarizes things well, “Can someone please explain what’s going on?” 

Schools are also closed, but malls are open. 🤔🛍️ I am honestly unsure of the logic there, and based on this shirt I found at the mall, I think they should strongly reconsider. Hah! 

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Spelling Error Alert: “I PREFER books over people.” 🤦

Of course, my kiddos have been learning virtually this whole term, but staying focused and motivated with all these distractions can be challenging to say the least. 😂 

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pets, babies and even snacks in the Zoom room 🍼 🐈 🥐

That being said, in order to maintain my sanity through it all and find the shining star in every dark night, my partner and I have sought out almost every adventure at our disposal. We knew conditions could always worsen, so we had to seize every opportunity possible. 😊✨

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We spent three weekends on the deserted beaches of Cha Am, and a long getaway in Hua Hin.

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We tried to mix up the hotels each time, so we stayed at the Veranda Resort, Vann Resort, The Rock, and Ace of Hua Hin.

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Each had their own unique highlight, like this balcony jacuzzi at the Veranda Resort! 🤩

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Or the ability at the Vann Resort to enjoy breakfast in bed and wade right into the pool afterwards for a paddle. 👙☕

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Ace of Hua Hin also had these luxurious canopy lounge beds that made you feel like you were transported to Morocco. 🐫 🌴

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What’s great is that this beach destination is only two hours from Bangkok using the service, Hua Hin Cab. This way we were able to stay COVID safe and contribute to the local economy. 🚕 

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Just what the doctor ordered! 👨‍⚕️ 🌊

My preferred area in Hua Hin is called Khao Takiab. The beaches there are wide with fine sand, which is perfect for long walks. Getting around on scooter is easy too, since rentals are only about 6 USD per day.

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Buddha and monkeys near Khao Takiab; trying to stay cute on the scoot 🐒 🏍️

In terms of activities, and aside from swimming, the area is well-known for watersports. My partner signed up for kiteboarding lessons with the company, KBA. What’s nice is that they have locations across Thailand, so participants can slowly complete the full course as they travel. 

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KBA kiteboarding school

We also chose this area, since it was one of the few provinces with restaurants open. Dining highlights included ISEA, Brezza, Let’s Sea, Laciana by the Sea, Peppina and this hidden gem, Je Nong Kitchen, which had huge portions of flavorful and fresh seafood at bargain prices. 🦐 😋

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pork belly and green curry at ISEA
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fried rice in a pineapple with pork floss; aromatic fish cakes at Let’s Sea

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sausage and onion pizza at Peppina 🍕
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yellow curry crab at Laciana by the Sea
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gigantic squid and shrimp dishes at Je Nong Kitchen

And since my partner is German, we were more than thrilled to find a restaurant with hearty European fare from his region. 🇩🇪

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maultaschen, sauerkraut and German potatoes at Khao Tao Beach Lodge

For a local breakfast, we checked out The Baguette, Andreanna’s Bakery and Love Bread, which were all super tasty and good value. 🥐 ☕

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Indian curry with baguette at Love Bread; ham omelet on rice at The Baguette
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croissant; sandwich filled with egg, sausage, bacon and chutney at Andreanna’s Bakery

Hotel breakfasts were also delicious, although I did have a sneaky little bird steal my eggs when I went to refill my coffee. Cheeky bugger! 🐦🍳

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We also took advantage of unique Bangkok restaurants (while we were able to dine-in) and tasty takeaway options when we could not. For example, since I used to live in Barcelona, I was eager to celebrate the Catalan holiday, Sant Jordi at Barcelona Gaudi. The staff there gave all their customers roses and made everyone feel very welcome.🌹

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ous delicia (egg, potato, txistorra sausage & peas) and potato and minced pork bombas at Barcelona Gaudi
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duck ragout pappardelle at La Dotta and flautas at El Hefe filled with beef barbacoa, lengua and chicken tinga
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Montreal-style bagels at Monty’s (tomato, onion & caper and sausage, egg & cheese) ; vegan food at Carrots (pesto tofu scramble bagel with cashew cream and charcoal bread mock egg salad sandwich)
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Korean pulled pork and kimchi sandwich at H_Dining
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lemon meringue, matcha and Biscoff donuts at Drop by Dough

The dining highlight though was definitely the 10-course tasting menus we had at Haoma and Cuisine de Garden.

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fine sustainable dining at Haoma

Haoma offers Neo-Indian cuisine using sustainable practices and local Thai produce. They are Bangkok’s first urban farm restaurant, where they grow their own vegetables and produce zero waste. Here is a walk through our culinary journey. 

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spinach spheres, green mung lentil and kachori cracker; aquaponic system at Haoma
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Ossetra caviar and chickpea; roti with veggies (uttapam), spiced bread with curry (bedmi) and meat pastry with chutney (ghujia)
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Phuket lobster in tomato and fennel soup with rose water smoke; twist on dhokla, galauti, puchka and paniyaram
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duck mousse with chicken patty and radish; lamb biryani rice covered with an egg sheet and served with deep fried pepper; prawn taco with masala aioli
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mango lassi sorbet; caramel, star anise and salted praline melody; homemade chocolates

Cuisine de Garden has a menu inspired by nature that plays with modern cooking techniques and textures. The current tasting menu featured many Japanese and Thai ingredients. 🍃

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brioche with seasoned pickle and snail; sautéed prawn with tomato salsa and tom yam béchamel on rice crackers; tomato fish broth on rice berry and weaved leek; chicken with an onsen egg on vermicelli seasoned with truffle zest; blue crab salad with avocado, egg yolk and herbs
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sourdough with katsuo fish butter; fermented fish mouse with koji fungus tart; cobia fish with dill, pumpkin puree and dumplings

I love how they use real tree trunks filled with twinkling lights and artificial birds to decorate the restaurant, creating a natural ambiance that was reflected in the cuisine. 

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And Wow! Check out this dessert! Not only were four of these stones homemade chocolate, the rest were actual rocks! Talk about a dentist’s worst nightmare! 😂🍫🦷

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homemade chocolates hidden amongst stones; coconut flan, pineapple sorbet and raisin crumble

Of course, I did struggle to maintain by composure at this fine dining establishment when tasked with cracking my own onsen egg tableside. Hah! 😂

And when restaurants in Bangkok closed, we didn’t have to resort to fast food either. 🍟

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Thai favorites at fast food chains: DQ mango sticky rice blizzard, McDonald’s tom yum, and Burger King green curry

Using popular delivery apps like Lineman, Grab and Foodpanda, you can have restaurant quality meals at your doorstep in no time. 🛵🍣 

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Poke bowl from The Ohana

Just be careful with the food you select, as this garlic-laden som tum permeated every fabric in my partner’s apartment. Smelly enough to stop Dracula right in his tracks! 🧄 🧛

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som tam salad with papaya, chili, sweet sauce, fresh vegetables, and loads of garlic!

I’m very grateful too, since I wouldn’t want to attempt cooking these dishes at home. I had to chuckle when I saw the steps for preparing one of my favorite Thai foods, larb. I’m ASSuming these instructions are a misprint. 🤣

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ass shallot and saw parsley 🤔

And although parks are closed, we were able to get in some exercise at Taco Lake, a cable wake park about 40 minutes from the center of Bangkok. 🏄

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wakeboarders performing stunts at Taco Lake

There are other options for exercise, like the Happy and Healthy Bike Lane near the airport, but with 106° temps and full sun exposure, this seemed like a better option. 😅

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screenshot of the current weather conditions in Bangkok

Side note: If you do live in this sunny land of smiles, I highly recommend seeing a dermatologist to check your skin for abnormalities. Luckily, even some of the most renowned hospitals here are affordable. Enjoy a Starbucks and a posh piano recital while waiting for your appointment. Not too shabby! 🎹 👩‍⚕️

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my name in Thai at Starbucks and fancy hospital waiting room

Now one of the major hurdles right now is ability to leave and enter Thailand. If you want to come here, EVEN if you’re fully vaccinated, you need to arrange a permit with the Thai embassy in your home country, pay for multiple COVID tests and a high-priced insurance policy, and spend at least 14 days in a hotel quarantine (averaging 1,500 USD).  💸

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Google image of steps to enter Thailand

And if you test positive for COVID at any step along the way, EVEN if you have no symptoms, you have to spend 14 days in hospital. Many hospitals are now full and people are being sent to field hospitals. I think the image of it below speaks for itself, and I’m doing everything I can to avoid ending up there. Hah! 🤣

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actual image of Thai field hospital; trying to avoid a positive COVID test at all costs 🤣

Luckily, this is soon about to change. Next month, Phuket will open a sandbox for foreign visitors. They still need to have a COVID test or be fully vaccinated in order to enter, but they won’t be confined to a hotel and can freely travel around the province during their stay. This could be a major boost for the economy, which has seriously suffered in this past year and a half. 🙏

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canal homes and street kitty

The country cannot continue under these conditions. 😔 

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homelessness on the rise and tourist attractions seriously suffering

And although I have yet to receive the vaccine in Bangkok, the vaccine campaign in Phuket is ramping up in anticipation of foreign visitors. 😷💉

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vaccine street art in Bangkok

And although the rules tend to flip-flop or change here at the drop of a hat, one thing is for sure, this country is absolutely gorgeous, full of wonderful people, and they NEED tourist income to survive. 💓

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Let’s cross our fingers that we only have flip-flop sandals in this sandbox, and not a flip-flop or reversal of this idea.🤞 Anyway, if you want to learn more, I’d be happy to pass on any information I can provide. On a personal note, I’m also keen to get fully vaccinated and do some international travel as well, so I’ll see what happens in the months to come. Until then, take care and stay safe everyone! 😊

4 thoughts on “No Flip-Flops Allowed in this Sandbox

  1. Beautiful photos. We love Thailand and have visited a few times over the years. My husband’s brother and wife live in Hua Hin but we’ve yet to visit. Although they have just left to go to Portugal for a couple of months. The last few times we’ve been to Thailand have been Khao Lak and Koh Samui. We went to Khao Lak in 2000 before it was built up and before the Tsunami. Anyway it will be a long while before Australia opens its borders but I would love to get back to the UK soon to see my parents.
    A great post, makes me miss those wonderful beaches

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    1. Aww, thanks so much for the feedback! Portugal is definitely on my list as soon as travel becomes more feasible. The beaches there look gorgeous! I’d also love to revisit the UK at some point. I’ve been to London once to visit a friend, but I have yet to see the rural countryside, which looks very charming. Let’s cross our fingers that international travel becomes easier in the months to come! Take care and thanks for following along!

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  2. Don’t you think you should maybe move away from Thailand for a while? It’s not safe is many places but certainly not as bad as Thailand at the moment in most of Europe and the USA. Interesting post however. I love Khao Takiab and I remember it when it was no more than a few houses and a bar that only sold beer! Is Papa John’s still there (a German Restaurant run by not a John but a ??? Broer or something like that). Lovely man, great food. Moved to KT from Hua Hin about 14 years ago I think. I used to frequent his restaurant in both places when my stomach demanded home-cooking from my part of the world!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for the feedback! I’m not sure of the owner’s name, but he runs the restaurant at Khao Tao Beach Lodge, if that helps. He had German, Swiss and French dishes on the menu. Everything was delicious and the place was packed! Our jobs at the moment are keeping us in Thailand, but we’re optimistic that there are better days ahead! Take care and thanks again for following along!

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