We returned to Seoul from Andong the day before yesterday to Kim's guest house where we had left the bikes then we went out for a late dinner. Yes, we - the Old Fart and I - actually hit the night lights! Yaaay! We went into one restaurant looking for chicken which we have not yet had. This restaurant didn't have any, so the lady we talked to basically took us by the hand and walked us over the road and down a longish street with numerous brightly lit restaurants on either side until we came to the one she was aiming at. She took us inside and told the people there what we wanted (not that WE knew what it was!) and they sat us down at one of those BBQ tables again (but this time one with real chairs). They brought a customer over who spoke really good English and she helped us with ordering, then we looked around and noticed there were two guys at the end of our table. One spoke some English and the other just a few words (still better than my Korean though). Over a couple of beers we soon became fast friends and the women working in the restaurant couldn't have been more helpful. Actually I think one of them took a shine to Bruce, and she kept coming over to help us cook our food. One of the guys at our table said they don't do that for everyone. The other fellow could only (frequently!) put his hand over his heart and say "I can't, I don't know, I feel...................", totally overcome with emotion (and beer). His friend said he was very moved to be able to sit and chat to a couple of foreigners and both were very impressed with Bruce's dexterity with chopsticks. (They couldn't know he has a long history of eating anything and everything but the beak and claws.) They were also pretty impressed that I had been in the army and kept saluting me - like I said, it was over a couple of beers.................! :)
We had a full day to kill in Seoul before getting our flight to Vientiane (via Bangkok) that evening so we took the subway (there is an excellent, easy to use system in Seoul - we only had about four people insist on helping us this time) and went to the Changdeokgung Palace for a tour. Fascinating stuff - the place has been in use by a long line of kings since the 1300s until the last one who inhabited the place died there in 1923. There is still a very popular King in Thailand - he just doesn't live at Changdeokgung. And then, on exiting the Palace, what to our wondering eyes should appear........... but a hot chestnut seller right there on the street! Haven't had hot chestnuts in forever - since can't remember when and we were so cold! We bought a bag stood and scarfed the lot and the pidgeons helped us out with any bits left in the shells.
We flew to Thailand that evening arriving in the wee small hours of the morning.Now, this is really going to be tough: I want you to close your eyes (after reading this, that is) and picture our situation. We are now in Chiang Mai, Thailand and we are having a "day off" from being tourists. We got here last night about 2am and it was actually quite chilly - we thought it would be warmer and we actually needed sweaters. We were wondering where the heck we were going as our airport taxi took us further and further away from any lights and down narrow, unlit lanes. On arrival at the Baan Deva Montra Hotel, we were walked through gardens along tiny paths until we came to a lovely little cottage with a delicately-framed four-poster bed, good pillows and a comfy lightweight duvet. Also awaiting us were some sandwiches, potato chips and water. The sandwiches had a fair sized colony of tiny ants, but we didn't care. We squashed them, ate the food and fell into a wonderful sleep in our really cosy bed. On awakening this morning we looked out on extensive, beautiful tropical gardens all around us, and are now vegging on our front porch as I write. It's probably about 20 degrees, so it's just balmy enough to be comfortable. In front of me is a tree on which is growing an enormous spray of white orchids and there are frangipani, arica palms and banana leaves all around us. To add to that, wafting gently in the breeze is our laundry. Feels goooooooood!
So today we have simply vegged in this lovely, quiet, relaxing spot. We also both had (simultaneously) a one and a half-hour Thai massage. Wow! Both masseurs used hands, arms, legs, feet and some steaming-hot pummels to work us over. We're both of us still bowls of jelly. Now we just have to wait for dinner.................... mmmmmmmmmmmmm.