Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Wednesday 31 December, 2014

We left Brisbane at 2pm Monday, boarding Thai Airlines for our flight to Bangkok. Seats are much bigger than normal and more legroom which was nice! Can't decide how I feel about flying the day after the Jetstar plane disappeared. Things like that will never stop me flying or travelling but I really felt for all the families as we flew over part of their flight path. You just wonder what happened. Our flight was quite bumpy, the seatbelt sign on more than it was off and I must admit checking the flight plan ever so often to see where we were flying. It was a very quiet flight, not a lot of talking and chattering that you usually hear on a plane...But we arrived safely in Bangkok, the gentleman met us with our rental car and we were off to the hotel!
What a maze! Andrew did a great job of navigating the correct freeway, we paid all the tolls and he didn't make one wrong turn...roads are worse than the Los Angeles cloverleaf! We had a fruit juice in the bar and then headed for bed as it was close to 11.
We stay at the Centara Grand near the Chatachuk markets as it is on the north side of town, which means it is an easier getaway to Mae Sot.

Tuesday and the first job on the agenda, after breakfast was to get Thailand SMS cards for our iPads! (Heaven forbid we would be without the internet!) So we sorted a phone card for Andrew and Internet connections for Jan and I. First you have to buy the SMS card, then you have to buy the connection then you buy the amount of data that you want, all up $16 for 3.5G -more than we will use in a month!
Back to the hotel to check out then on the road. Should be a 5-6 hour drive. Again Andrew navigated out of the hotel and onto the correct freeway, no easy feat! 
What we thought was going to be an easy, traffic free drive did not eventuate. It seems that everyone from Bangkok goes home for New Years and they were all on the road out of the city. Such congestion! We stopped half way to have some lunch and we deemed Mc Donald's to be the safest bet. First time I ever had Mc Donald's other than pancakes for breakfast and it will surely be the last! I just can't understand how people can eat the food. 
Jan and I ordered chicken burgers and they were so spicy hot we could hardly eat them. At least I had ordered a Mc Flurry and that cooled my mouth. 

Jan went back and ordered a sundae.  163THB is equal to $6.50. 
On the busy road again, we are now about an hour behind. At least the traffic is easing somewhat. Hard to take photos driving but managed one of the typical passengers in the back of a truck.
Fancy sitting on a motorcycle in the back of a truck!
Arrived in Mae Sot about 7pm and our friends, Thant (who runs the guest house where we stay) and Maung Maung Tin (a Burmese artist) were there to greet us. The Guest house had cold cloths and fragrant flower bouquets for each of us! We settled in our rooms and then headed to a Burmese restaurant for dinner. 
I promised myself this trip I would be very adventurous with my eating so although I ordered mundane fried rice, I did try fish cake salad, eggplant curry, morning glory salad, and a mushroom dish. All quite spicy for me.
So it was about 10:30 by the time we returned to the Guest House and by the time we checked emails and Facebook it was certainly time for bed!
Wednesday morning we order breakfast from the local restaurant, Casa Mia, and they delivered our fruit platter and oatmeal that we enjoyed in the lovely garden area.

Wow! I have just had the first of what I'm sure will be a daily occurrence! A Burmese massage. We had plans for the day so Jan and I could only fit in an hour between the two of us today but what a difference a half hour can make. She used her arms to walk up and down my back, she is smaller than I am but is so strong. 30 minutes...$2.50. How does she even make a living? So will plan on an hour each day!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Tuesday 2 December / Wednesday 3, 2014

Our last full day in New Orleans and the weather put on a treat! Beautiful blue skies with the sun shining! Rob decided to go to see the World War ll War Museum and I hit the shops while Bill and Diane decided to tour the city on the bus system! An all day pass is $3 and takes you around the Garden District, French Quarter, CBD and Uptown, a great system. Rob and I took off to walk through the French Quarter to Canal St where he continued on and I went towards the river to the Outlet Centre. It didn't let me down today, picked up a beautiful black long sleeve dress shirt for Matt, half price at $30! I then walked into Coach to look at handbags, knowing I would never buy one but they were having an almighty sale, half off all bags and if they were already reduced it was another 40% off! Too much of a bargain to pass up and I found one I liked!
Off then to near Bourban St to find a cookbook on Creole cooking for Matt, some souvenir shops to find gifts for the coffee girls and even managed to buy some Christmas presents. By this time the backpack was extremely heavy!!
Headed back to the B&B for a little nana nap...I had walked for 5 1/2 hours! Great exercise but!
Rob really enjoyed the Museum. It showed a 4D movie...when the bombs fell your seat shook like you were there, several tanks and plane displays of that era and general information on the war.
Bill and Diane wanted to see the art museums but they were closed on Tuesdays so they took in some sightseeing.
Wednesday morning we had a later breakfast as our flight was leaving at 1:30 and all we had to do was pack and say goodbye to our hostess of the last few days, Nancy. Great place to stay, good food and very close to the French Quarter! 
Can't believe there are no pictures but I was trying to travel light yesterday with all the walking and didn't take my camera so I'll finish with a few photos of New Orleans that I haven't shown!
Stuff for sale at the market
Buskers everywhere!
Carriage rides all through the French Quarter.
Fountain in Louis Armstong Park.
Reflection of a building in a building!
That's all folks! Next trip Jan and I will be going to Thailand in January to visit Blah Toh, our school in Burma!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Monday 1 December, 2014

What a fantastic start to the day! We have had such wonderful weather since we've been here...in the mid 20's. It was even 28c on Sunday!
This morning we went on a photo walk with Natasha that we had booked in Brisbane. We were not disappointed! She had excellent knowledge of photography and a good eye for photos that were different!
The one we had done in Boston was much more history and not so much on the photography side where as Natasha was spot on with the photography! She really helped us further understand aperture,white balance and metering. Here are some of my favourites!
This was taking the reflection from the shutters across the road!
This was using a grill to frame a photo.
The colour of the light was due to changing the white focus!
I loved the reflection of the church and people in the sousaphone!
This is the oldest bar in New Orleans.
Siloutte of Andrew Jackson...General during the Civil War and President of the US?

After the photo walk Bill took a bicycle ride home.

Diane, Rob and I then walked to look for a restaurant that Bill had heard about on Royal St that was closed last year for remodeling...it will reopen Saturday. We then walked to Bourbon St. What a disappointment! It really needs a clean up...yes the buildings are old but it doesn't seem that anyone has really looked after them. It was great to see a few groups playing music! 
We did see some interesting things during our walk!

We had lunch at Arnaulds..Rob had Gumbo and Di and I split a Po boy sandwich. This mirror photo was interesting!
There were street artists everywhere!
The old and the new.
Rob being patient while we try our camera skills!

Sunday 30 November, 2014

TTake two. Somehow I deleted the entire day's blog. Frustrating that there is no undo button on an IPad!
Today we were up bright and early and had breakfast so that we could go on a photo walk. Just before we walked out the door, I checked the paperwork and the booking was actually for the Monday! Whoops!
As we were all ready we headed out and walked down to the waterfront to catch the "hop on hop off" bus! (I think we deserve shares in the company!) this took us for a two hour circuit through the French Quarter, CBD and Garden Quarter. We saw some interesting buildings along the way!

This sculpture was made from the debris from Cyclone Katrina that 9 years ago came through New Orleans. Although we think that the cyclone caused all the destruction, it was actually a levee that was compromised and flooded the area.

I love all the art sculptures around town.

We got off at the outlet mall to have coffee and beignets (rectangular French Donuts) at Cafe du Monde. These are a very popular treat but we were not impressed! At this shop on the waterfront you wait hours for a table or in line for take away!

We then hopped back on the bus to go to Louis Armstrong park, a great memorial to a great musician!
It was such a great park!

The B&B that we are staying in is Auld Sweet Olive, built in the 1850's for a French Creole family. During WWll it was a boarding house and later a school.
This costume was worn by a former owner of the home when he ruled as King of the Krewe of Endymion.
It is the former home of Stuart Auld an artist who painted the murals and it had a dozen sweet olive trees in the grounds. It is a lovely home!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Saturday 29 November 2014

NI woke up at 6am, looked outside my window and there were shops!! And it was 12C! We haven't had double digit weather in the morning since we left LA! So off to our last breakfast, which haven't been too shabby either...freshly made waffles to order, eggs to order, French toast, beautiful fresh fruit and Danishes. Not doing any good for the waistline!
When we got off the boat, we walked through the outlet mall -eyes straight ahead- and took a taxi to our Bed and Breakfast Auld Sweet Olive.
After we met our hostess and off loaded our luggage we headed into New Orleans. First stop, coffee at  Who Dat, a cute little place around the corner.

We walked through the French Quarter, through the markets down to the riverfront, 
Saw a statue to Joan of Arc
 Watched some kids entertain the crowds (hopping backwards down the stairs)
Bought some hot sauce for Matt then went over to Algiers on the ferry, wandered around there for awhile and then headed back on the ferry. Bought an apple in a little corner shop for $1.24 as I was hungry but $1.24!!! I couldn't believe that one apple could cost so much!
We then walked through Harrads the casino and were quit surprised that you could still smoke in the casino. I've actually noticed lots more people smoke in the US than at home.
Walked through the outlet stores but couldn't find anything as there was all winter clothes and I didn't need any! 
Headed back to the B & B and stopped at the Praline Connection for tea. Rob had Jumbalaya as he wanted to taste a local dish (sausage, rice, cheese and meat). He quite liked it and I had a very delicious baked chicken!
At the B&B Nancy, the owner, was having a tree trimming party. Having never been to a tree trimming party, we decided to pop in and see what it was all about. The idea is that each person must put at least one decoration on the tree. There were hundreds to put up! And the tree was so big!! There was wine and cheese, dips and veges, and nibbles for about 50 people. The tree looked amazing!

Friday 28 November, 2014

Last night we had a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner! There were many choices but most of us had the turkey with cornbread stuffing, mashed potato, marshmallow sweet potato, green bean almandine and cranberry relish with individual pumpkin pies! 
After dinner they had a Bonfire. I don't know if it is a tradition in the South but I have never heard 

While waiting to see the bonfire I took some night photos of the Nottoway Plantation.

This morning we boarded buses and headed to Baton Rouge. We chose to take a tour of the USS Kidd (rather than see another plantation). One of the gentlemen actually served on this destroyer (he was 87) when it went to Guam. 
The river is extremely low which is why it looks like it is out of the water.
The USS Kidd was named after Rear Admiral Kidd Sr. Who was killed aboard his flagship the Arizona during the bombing of Pearl Harbour. This was the first destroyer to be named after Kidd, two more have since been named after him, one still on active duty and based in San Diego.
This destroyer has been authentically restored and has her wartime camouflage paint as it was for the invasion of Japan.

The ship was launched in 1943, served 20 years and earned 12 battle stars.

We then did a quick city tour before heading back to the boat. 
Packed up as we had to be off early in the morning. We have has some fantastic dinners on board. Wed night we had the most delicious lobster dinner and tonight we had baked halibut. We got to know our servers quite well as we had the same table for dinner each night! They were excellent, nothing too much for them and got to know what we liked (we were always given ice cream with our desserts). It will be sad to leave them but we have invited both of them to Australia so we hope we see them!