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When I started planning our first trip to Thailand I looked on Fodor’s for advice to find a local guide while we were in Bangkok. One name kept popping up over and over…TONG! I was lucky, since I was inquiring about a trip in December in April…she was available. She has already has a request for 2009…so she books up fast!

We e-mailed back and forth with ideas of things to do. I knew we wanted to visit tong’s “secret place”- everyone who has been there has raved about it. Since it was our first time in Thailand, we wanted to go to the “must see’ sights. And we were going to be spending New Years’ Day with her; we asked what Thai’s normally do on that day. She told us it would be a day of making merit. Sounded good to us.

I saw a photo of tong on another Fodor member’s travel blog. There she was taking them around, with a pair of lighted devil horns on! I knew in an instant that we would get along perfectly! It became a running gag with us, and on our last day with her she presented me with my own pair!

Tong suggested we make the fishing village our first day’s activity, since we would arrive late the night before from the States and might be tired. We arranged to be picked up at our hotel around 11, and tong presented us each with a gift when she arrived. I got a lovely striped scarf, and Bill got a box of cookies. (She knew us already!) We then headed off for one of the nicest days we’ve ever spent. We stopped at a small temple in Chinatown first, Wat Traimit, before heading out to the fishing village. There we rode a longboat out to mangroves, fed wild Macaques, rode out to see cockle and oyster farms and even got to sample some of the freshest oysters I’ve ever eaten. Then, off to Reed’s (the fisherman) house on the water for our first real Thai meal. We were treated to a meal consisting of crab, prawns, fish and pork, with tom yam soup and sticky rice. Way too much food for the two of us…but amazingly good. Then some time to relax, have a Singha beer and take a nap, if we chose. Then we were off again (after a good laugh when I dipped my backside in the water trying to get on the boat) to another mangrove and more monkeys. Then back to shore for the rides back to Bangkok. It was the perfect first day to get adjusted to the time difference, and a fabulous way to start our trip!

The next day we spent in Kanchanaburi. We stopped first at a small but beautiful temple on our way to the Damnoen Saduak Floating market. We boarded the boat, and immediately were treated to a snack of fried bananas! It was fun, floating along looking at all the vendors selling everything from clothing to souvenirs to artwork. WE had iced coffee in baggies with handles, and even stopped at a boat that made us lunch! We then traveled past where the normal tour turns back and went through some of the klongs where the locals live. It was a great opportunity to see how the local Thai people live, a sight only tong could provide. And she has friends along the way…she had purchased food for some of the local dogs, and they seemed to come out of the woodwork to greet us! Then off to the Tiger Temple. Now, I’m sure many tours take people to the Tiger Temple. But when you’re with tong, you get the Royal treatment! First to walk with the tigers as they are led down to the canyon…first to have your picture taken with the big tiger…even have it taken more than once! And when we came back up from the canyon, we were allowed to go INSIDE the cage of tong’s favorite resident, Bam Bam, the Asiatic Black Bear. We fed her cookies and milk, and she even ate calcium tablets right out of my hand! Then one of my favorite parts of the day, I was able to feed a tiger cub a bottle of milk and have her eat calcium tablets out of my hand as well. The other tourists there wanted to do the same…but this is a privilege only tong’s clients get I believe! And tong brings her own calcium tablets…and has a couple of fans…a deer and goat that when they see her leave all others behind and follow her like she’s the Pied Piper!  Then off to the Death Railway and the Bridge on the River Kwai…making for another fabulous day in Thailand.

After a couple days away in Chiang Mai (with Sgt. Kai, who tong had recommended) we were back in Bangkok again and off on another tong adventure! This time our adventure took us to Ayutthaya. We were treated to a day of temples and ruins, fun and laughter, and most importantly- snacks of all kinds…(my favorite…paper-thin tortillas with strands of sugar you roll up and eat…like a cotton candy rollup!)  Back in time for us to watch the fireworks at our hotel…then off again at 5:30 on New Years’ Day for our day of merit making and temple! Tong’s husband, who joined us and graciously performed the duties as our driver, and made our gift bags for the monks the night before. We started out at the Royal Field, where 181 monks were gathered and throngs of Thais came to bring gifts of food and such. Then to a market, where we purchased fish to release into the Chao Phraya river, thereby sparing them from someone’s dinner table! Then we went to another temple where we presented gifts to monks, and were blessed and given a gift of a small cord tied around our wrist. We grabbed some breakfast, and headed to the Grand Palace. But not before  going to a passport photo studio, so my husband could get a replacement picture taken for our Angkor Wat passes (He washed his passport, and we had to use the photo we had to get his replacement passport!) While we were at the Grand Palace, tong’s husband went back to the studio and picked up Bill’s picture! We then headed to the river for a wonderful klong tour, and Wat Pho. It was a glorious day, made all the more so by tong and her husband sharing their merit making with us.

We will never forget our time in Thailand, thanks in large part to tong. We’ve made a new friend!

By all means…if you’re going to Bangkok…get “tonged”-you won’t regret it!

Beth & Bill Hutter
Redford, Mi.
b_bhutter@yahoo.com
Dec./Jan. 2007-08

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31|32|33|34|35|36|37|38|39|40|41|42|43|44|45|46|47|48|49|50|51|52 |53 |54 |55

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lacoste polo nike air huarache nike cortez air jordan schweiz michael kors taschen nike free run 2 ray ban clubmaster air jordan schuhe canada goose herren ralph lauren schweiz woolrich parka woolrich arctic parka tommy hilfiger poloshirt nike air presto moncler skijacke nike air max 2016 louis vuitton neverfull nike free run barbour jacken
 

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lacoste polo nike air huarache nike cortez air jordan schweiz michael kors taschen nike free run 2 ray ban clubmaster air jordan schuhe canada goose herren ralph lauren schweiz woolrich parka woolrich arctic parka tommy hilfiger poloshirt nike air presto moncler skijacke nike air max 2016 louis vuitton neverfull nike free run barbour jacken