Thailand to Seattle, and Back Again

November 5, 2015

Well, we finally got to get away from Chiang Mai and took a vacation. Yes, retirees can go on vacation. So we thought, where to go? London, Paris, Rome, Istanbul? We decided to go to our favorite city in the world, Seattle. We’d go see our son Darin, eat lots of Dungeness crabs, check out the Seahawks (The Hawks won two games while we were there), maybe see a whale or two, and visit with old friends.  We’d get back to Chiang Mai for the beautiful cool season.

It’s been a while since we took that 17 hour in-the-air, 24 hour door-to-door flight back to the Great Pacific Northwest, and I soon remembered why we don’t do this more often.  When I first did this trip at age 22 it was more or less fun and exciting. Now it is just long, with no sleep. And jet lag lasted almost the entire trip. Getting old isn’t for sissies, as Bette Davis said.

But we finally made it to the condo where we would be staying. We have a Thai friend who spends half his time in Seattle and the other half in Thailand and when he comes up to Chiang Mai he stays in our guest bungalow. So he let us stay in his condo on Capitol Hill right in the heart of the city.

We visited Darin up on Orcas Island right on the border of Canada, Pikun got to play for a last time with her old Thai classical ensemble, saw close friends, ate some great Dungeness crabs, Taco Bell, Ivar’s creamy clam chowder, and did lots of shopping.

We did learn that although we truly miss our life in Seattle, that is all in the past. We are very happy to be back in Chiang Mai. Instead of writing about the trip here is a pictorial essay.

View from our Thai friend's condo on Capitol Hill, Seattle.

View from our Thai friend’s condo on Capitol Hill, Seattle.

Mother and son reunion going out crabbing.

On Orcas Island, mother and son reunion, going out crabbing.

We catch dinner.

Success! We catch dinner. A Dungeonesse crab like these cost about $25 in the market. We caught 7 in one day.

The Great Pacific Northwest at its best.

The Great Pacific Northwest at its best.

Where we stayed (Darin's house) on Orcas Island.

Where we stayed (Darin’s house) on Orcas Island. Had our son become a forest dwelling hermit?

We thought Darin was living the life of a hermit until we had a dinner for his friends, artists, musicians, carpenters, and builders, all living basically "off the grid".

We thought Darin was living the life of a hermit until we had a dinner for his friends, artists, musicians, carpenters, and builders, all living basically “off the grid”. They think that the only person running for president is Bernie Sanders. The friendliest group of people I have ever met. Good for Darin.

View from the top of Mount Constitution, the highest point on Orcas Island. Reminiscent of the Twilight Saga movies.

View from the top of Mount Constitution, the highest point on Orcas Island. Reminiscent of the Twilight Saga movies.

One of the last things on my "bucket list". We go whale watching and see two humpbacks.

One of the last things on my “bucket list” checked off. We go whale watching and see two humpbacks.

One of the humbacks going deep.

One of the humbacks going deep.

Getting ready to take the 4 passenger sea plane back to Seattle. There were only 2 of us today so it was like having our own private plane and pilots.

Getting ready to take the 4 passenger sea plane back to Seattle. There were only 2 of us today so it was like having our own private plane and pilots.

Marijuana is now legal in Washington with pot stores everywhere.

We had spectacular weather on Orcas but now we were back in rainy Seattle. Marijuana is now legal in Washington with pot stores everywhere.

Dinner with the Three Amigos, old computer geek friends, now called "technologists". Yeh, right.

Dinner with the Three Amigos, old computer geek friends, now called “technologists”. Yeh, right. Notice the size of the food portions, enough to feed a village here. No wonder everyone gets fat in the U.S. I gained 4 kilos on my trip. Back to the old Dr. Hugh’s Miracle Weight Loss Program for me.

It's not only the place we miss. Old friends and neighbors.

It’s not only the place we miss. Old friends and neighbors.

Pikun and the Chao Phraya Ensemble, which plays Thai classical music all over the northwest. Pikun's farewell tour with them. She plays the two-string fiddle.

Pikun and the Chao Phraya Ensemble, which plays Thai classical music all over the northwest. Pikun’s farewell tour with them. She plays the two-string fiddle.

During their gig at the University of Puget Sound.

During their gig at the University of Puget Sound.

A great trip. And as the sun set on rainy Seattle we get ready for 17 more flying hours and another week of jet lag. Our next trip will be the one-hour flight to Luang Prabang.

And to use the typical Seattle form of goodbye, “Go Hawks!”.

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10 Responses to “Thailand to Seattle, and Back Again”

  1. Nice replay, Hugh! I’m Impressed that there is a ‘touring Thai classical orchestra’ out there. Are they affiliated with a university? How do they get around?

    • They have been playing in Seattle for around 40 years. They play festivals like the Folklife Festival, cultural events like this one at universities and schools, and sometimes corporate events. Their goal is to keep Thai culture alive and well in the U.S.

  2. Kalsang ling said

    Hi Hugh,

    Thanks for the blog and glad you had such wonderful time at “home of the past”. I already found the answers about renewal of my annual visa.

    All the best, kalsang >

  3. Rhys said

    Great time…. Not sure if I would like to return to the USA.. actually can thing of other places… even if family is out there..

  4. Bruce M said

    Nice bit of nostalgia for me, Hugh. For five years I rented a condo on 13th and Roy with the same view. And lovely you got to see the whales! I understand your feeling “you can’t go home again.” I wonder if ten or so years from now I’ll geek the same about Vancouver. Wistfully yours,

  5. Bruce M said

    Feel, not geek. Sigh, autocorrect is incorrect, again.

  6. Lani said

    Looks like a fantastic trip! I never made it to Orcas Island, just the San Juan and a month long stay on Whidby. I imagine Orcas is very similar and wonderful, too. Ahhh, the good ‘ol US of A. We’re lucky.

  7. Sid Leonard said

    Hugh,

    First, thank you for all your excellent comments on so many aspects of living in Thailand. As I continue my struggle to learn Thai, I recently read all you articles in WLT and found them very helpful, and interesting. – My Thai wife and I will be moving permanently to Thailand sometime in 2016, so I will be obtaining an NON-IMMIGRANT O-A LONG-STAY visa. My understanding is that such a visa only allows single entry, so if I need to return to the US for any reason I will have to reapply for said visa to go back to my home in Thailand. When you return to the US to visit family do you have to do so, or is there a multiple-entry visa available for such visits? Thank you. Sid Leonar

    • Sid,

      Good question. Here is what you need to do. If you have a retirement visa and you leave the country then you will lose the visa and have to start the process all over again.

      But Wait!

      All you need to do is get an Exit Permit from Immigration and you will be able to leave and return and not lose your visa. If you need to leave the country more than once then you can get Multiple Entry Exit Permit.

      Good luck in your travels.

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