Tag: Chiang Mai

Ex Prisoner Massage Center

As I shared previously, I didn’t originally plan to review spas individually, but we had two such stark contrasts in experience (and price) that I felt compelled to post separately and call out the good (and the bad/ugly). The great experiences we had were at all of the massage centers in Chiang Mai. Specifically, I’d like to elaborate on our time at the Women’s Massage Center.

This chain of massage studios is actually a concept developed to provide vocational opportunity for ex-prisoners (yes, you read that right!). Given that spas are so prominent in Asia, the skill and trade of providing great spa therapies is something that is highly-coveted. Once you get past the momentary pause that you are (gasp!) about to receive a foot massage or spa treatment from an ex-prisoner – this place is absolutely magical.

One of the most intriguing parts of this chain is the price. It’s simply unbeatable. At one point, I believe we paid 200 Baht (roughly $6 US) for a one hour foot massage. Given that these are in fact ex-prisoners, they intentionally keep the cost low because it is really a win-win. #1 – you, the consumer, win because who doesn’t like the idea of a $6 hour-long foot massage? #2 – they, the therapists, receive education, training, and a vocational opportunity to make some good (by Chiang Mai standards) money while learning an extremely valuable trade that can keep them gainfully employed for a long time.

And, I would be remiss if I did not mention how professional and incredible these women were. Whatever stigma one may have about “prisoners”, I can truly say these women were energetic, kind, and extremely proficient in their trade. Seeing how they interacted and chatted with each other really showed how much they enjoy the opportunity and the “new lease on life” they have when they get to work with such strong and positive peer influences.

Such a stark contrast from Naka Island. Maybe it’s partially the fact that I could get 50 hours of foot massage for what I paid for the Naka Spa treatment. Maybe it’s because the energy and vibe were so positive. Maybe it’s because it was less stuffy, a bit more rickety, but way more charming. Maybe it’s all the above.

Either way – I cannot recommend this place highly enough!

Til Next Time,

Michael

I figured I could cover the intra-Asia legs in one post because those flights were much shorter (and, sadly, in basic economy/coach and nothing too “over the top”).

AirAsia (Hong Kong to Chiang Mai)

  • Overall, this was MUCH less of a headache than I ever imagined
  • Upon arrival to airport, we waited in a check-in line of 10 people max, and while the gate agent was slow at first, it seemed to be because he was checking a large group (~6 people) all in at once
  • The food was not good, but for the price (I pre-paid and pre-selected the meals, and they were around $2-3 apiece) it was nice to have something to have a few bites of, along with a drink
  • Interestingly, Exit Row seats are unable to drink alcohol (not sure if this is just an Asian airline thing or not, but it was definitely consistent), as well as have any luggage beneath the seat in front of them (both different quirks than FAA regulates for American travel)

ThaiSmile (Chiang Mai to Phuket)

  • Given that I paid a bit more for these fares than some of the more low-budget operator equivalents (AirAsia, Lion, etc), I did have higher expectations for these flights
  • The service itself along with the flight were both of great quality (more than meeting my expectations)
  • We ended up getting a (complimentary) Chicken Ragout Stromboli which may on the surface sound like something to stay away from – but was in fact DELICIOUS
  • The snack service is something that ThaiSmile does that, while you pay for it, is still nice to know it’s there
  • I would liken this to the Asian equivalent of Southwest airlines, with perhaps even a bit more polish and professionalism
  • Chiang Mai was a fairly easy airport to fly out of
  • Phuket on the other hand, was a bit of a disaster upon arrival; it reminded me a bit of a smaller, muggier, more chaotic Cancun
  • Deplaning happened via a passenger staircase, and then onto a quick bus shuttle over to the arrivals/baggage claim area for domestic gates

ThaiSmile (Phuket to Bangkok)

  • Same as above, but I would note that the Phuket departure experience isn’t quite as bad as our arrival experience; yes – it’s crowded and seemingly unorganized (I imagine their international terminal is better), but it got the job done
  • The snack service on this flight was actually a bit more of an odd combo than the prior leg (i.e. half of a creamed corn sandwich and half of a chicken sandwich doused in mayo); as such, neither of us really ate it and so I wouldn’t say it was a slam dunk
  • As far as arrival into Bangkok, the arrival itself was fine, and included another bus shuttle from the plane to the arrivals area

Til Next Time,

Michael

For our one year anniversary, my wife decided that we should go on a “real” honeymoon. I use quotation marks because, by all accounts, we did go on a proper honeymoon the first time around (see posts on Tulum – we spent 6 days there and had a blast!). However, since we were nearly out of paid time off at the end of 2016 when we got married, we didn’t get to do a lengthier couple week trip to really relax. So – this is why I refer to it as our “Anniversamoon”, or as you’ll see in upcoming posts – our “Asiaversary”.

Here is a brief overview of our itinerary, and I will be sure to add all the details in upcoming posts (from things like flight, hotel, food, activity, and entertainment perspectives):

Asiaversary Itinerary

As you can see, we had quite a diverse range of stops, as well as carriers (and lodging types). Our major stops were Hong Kong, Chiang Mai, Phuket (well, the islands near Phuket really), and Bangkok. We learned a lot, had a blast, and can’t wait to share more.

Hope you enjoy!

Til Next Time,

Michael

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