We Love South and Southeast Asia!

India. Incredible India! When we embarked on our first six month-long visit to India in 2017 it was, admittedly, with some trepidation. Based on lots of feedback and reading we were doing “the hard global travel one” now while we were still ‘teen elders’ — at the time Paul was age 58; Rich was age 65. With 1.3 billion blessed citizens (going on 1.5) in an area generally about a third the size of continental North America we were prepared to be jostled around a bit. In our experience, relatively fewer North Americans seem to venture to India. The feedback we heard was mixed.

But the draw we felt to India was life-long and unstoppable. Gandhi, Buddha, E.M Forester, Ganesh, Shiva — it’s an ancient, superlative and complex culture. And the modern, 21st century descriptives are just as engaging. For example…As a foreigner, using my smartphone, I can book a train ticket to anywhere in the country up to four months in advance using my credit card with great ease. Just show the conductor the digital boarding pass.

And you are just as likely to meet a young Indian man just back from an elite university in Boston, or one who commutes many kilometers to his call-center job in a nearby city or one embarking on a better job in Dubai as you are someone in a fourth-generation run shop who has never left his home State. Much to our delight we discovered “wows!” around every corner.

Yes, we were jostled a bit on our 2017 visit but were far more often royally welcomed, warmly embraced, downright pampered and — again — wowed like no place we’ve ever been! Ever. Six months wasn’t nearly enough. (We travel slowly.) More please.

So the Fall of 2019 brings us back to India. We gave ourselves three more months exploring destinations we missed the first time. (See our 2019 India travel map.) Starting in northeast India, we spend the month of September in Darjeeling, West Bengal. The beloved UNESCO heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway runs several times a day directly in front of our house. The video below was taken from our house.

 

See our Northeast India page for more adventures, including information about our accommodations, in West Bengal, Sikkim and the “seven sister” States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.

Back to Thailand

Following our three months in India we are planning to enjoy Thailand for two months — again. Our only previous visit was in 2016. As with India, it will be some new destinations — (just north of) Phuket island in the south and the enchanting village of Pia in the north. And some old destinations — Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Pattaya.

We enjoy clothing optional resorts and beaches. We’ve stayed in a few “naturist” resorts in the US, Mexico and Thailand. Among our most watched hotel review videos on our YouTube channel is the Chan Resort in Pattaya. We know of at least three other clothing optional locations in Pattaya we have never visited. We are talking about doing a “clothing optional” tour of these other properties while in Thailand. Check out the Chan Resort video below.

We will spend the 2019-2020 Christmas/New Year’s holiday month at the brand new, swanky Oriental Beach Resort in Phuket — rack rate is $2,800/month including breakfast. We will ring in the new year with few encumbrances — and few items, if any, of clothing. We will likely need some stripped-down time to regroup and process our three months in India.

A few years ago we spent the year-end holidays in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. We stayed at the clothing-optional sister resort, Oriental Village Chiang Mai. Check out videos #4 and 4.1 on our YouTube channel for our review and commentary of that property.

Following our New Year 2020 visit in the south we plan to stay 12 nights in a standard double at Gordnuea Boutique House (property link, we paid $73 per night including tax) in central Chiang Mai.

And then a week following in nearby Pai staying at Pai Village Boutique Resort & Farm ($122/night including taxes)..

We hope to then meet friends in Bangkok and spend a few nights seeing some of the sights we missed on our Keeping It Fresh Tour in 2016-17.

More soon!

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Getting to India — The Logistics

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Before we left for six months on our “Good Life” tour to Central America in the fall of 2018, we bought one-way tickets to return to India late summer 2019. We couldn’t help it! Honestly, neither one of us has stopped talking about our first six-month trip to India — the “Real” Tour. We got home from that journey in May 2018…changed. And began reading and dreaming — day and night — about India since. We left our Portland, Oregon USA home base on August 27, 2019.

We got one-way economy class tickets on Singapore Airlines to Bangalore (PDX-SFO-SIN-BLR) for US$592 each. We then immediately purchased the exit row seat assignments, for more legroom, on all flights segments except our quick initial flight to San Francisco. That cost an additional $342 total for both of us. Each one-way economy ticket to Bangalore from Portland, OR USA cost US$763. Off to a good start!

Each one-way economy ticket to Bangalore from Portland, OR USA cost US$763. Off to a good start!

We stayed again near the Bangalore airport at Clarks’ Exotica Convention Resort and Spa (we paid $95/night including tax and breakfast) and recovered from some of our jet lag for three nights. It’s got a great pool and areas for morning and sunset walks.

Then, we flew to Darjeeling (airport: Bagdogra IXB) on the northern border of West Bengal near Sikkim. We paid $125 each one way. We had an adventure getting there…

 

We will be in India until early December 2019 also visiting Kolkata, Varanasi, Jhansi, Orchha, Khajuraho, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and more.

See our Northeast India page for more adventures in the “seven sister” States of Assam, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.

Travel Map for India 2019 here.

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