Most of my readers know by now that every June I head to Thailand for the Travel Trade Mart (TTM+), and this June was no exception. Once again I had the opportunity to meet with over 32 vendors over the 2 days who provide Hotel, Transportation, Food, Resorts, Tours etc etc. - There were 336 Sellers attending and 292 Buyers attending!
This year it was held in Pattaya at the beautiful Ocean Marina Yacht Club, and multiple hotels were set up for all of us participants. I chose the Movenpick Hotel/Resort to stay at during the conference which was right on the ocean, but all the official hotels were superb.
Due to the setting right on the ocean, the conference was set up in luxurious tents complete with air conditioning, water-coffee-tea-snacks stationed throughout. Lunches were under open-air tents right by the many free food booths.
The seller stations were set up for easy access by us the buyers compared to previous years, and I hope they continue this. I had signed up for appointments with 32 sellers, and as in the past also met with many more. I renewed many hotel contracts as well as many new hotel contracts thus insuring special rates for my clients all over Thailand.
The first evening there was an opening night reception held at The Cartoon Network Water Park and hosted by the the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). We were treated to amazing food prepared by 11 Michelin starred chefs - each preparing food in their own booths representing their restaurants. You could just wander from one to another sampling, tasting then 'repeat' until you were full. Of course libations were also included. There was entertainment throughout the evening as well as a short bout of rain, but the rain did not dampen our spirits nor slow us down.
The second evening we were invited to a "Chill at the Beach Party" at the Pinnacle Grand Jomtien Resort and hosted by Na Jomtien Beach Alliance. It was a very nice laid back evening with canapes and drinks being served as well as very nice entertainment and music.
The final evening of the conference the Los Angeles office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand took our representative group to Pebbles Bar & Grill at the Rennaisance Pattaya Resort & Spa for another excellent meal along with some surprising, but excellent, entertainment of Lady Boys and a pole dancer. Superb!
Our small TAT-LA group left the following morning for a fantastic tour to Koh Samui and Koh Phangan which are two beautiful islands. We flew from Bangkok to Koh Samui where we stayed for 1 day, and then took the ferry to Koh Phangang for 2 days. Most of the plans that had been made for the tour such as snorkeling and catamaran trips had to be changed due to the heavy storm that rolled through. Even small boats were not allowed to leave port for a couple of days.
A superb lunch was hosted right by the ocean at Zazen Boutique Resort when we arrived on Koh Samui. We drove around town after lunch, and then we checked in at the New Star Beach Resort Samui on Koh Samui who also hosted an excellent dinner that evening with entertainment.
The following day we took the large ferry over to Koh Phangan, and even though the storm had passed the waves were very high splashing up the sides of the ferry so we all stayed inside. Upon arrival we checked into Chantaramas Resort & Spa for 2 nights. After checking in we went to the Wellness Zone area which is a quiet relaxed zone for yoga retreats, detox and healthy meals.
We visited the Siam Healing Center where we are all treated to Thai massages, and then Yoga and Dancing classes. We followed that up by exploring Thong Sala town, and experienced the local Thai market in old town tasting the fresh fruits and deserts as we wandered through.
Lunch was a fantastic experience at "Seed to Feed" restaurant where everything they serve is organically grown or raised. For a while it didn't seem like the food servings would ever end, but then when it did we wished there was more even though we could not get another forkful into our stomachs.
Dinner was a nice BBQ meal at Loyfa Natural Resort.
We visited a very beautiful resort high on the mountain called Santhiya on Koh Phangan. This gem of a resort embraces the true meaning of Natural Beauty. Stretched over 18 acres of glorious tropical landscapes. Santhiya is an eco-chic natural hideaway with glorious teakwood accomodations and world-renowned service and hospitality. All the various accommodations we viewed had small pools or plunge pools.
We had the opportunity to either cook our own Thai lunch or take Muay Thai Boxing classes. I chose the Muay Thai class.
The following day we took the ferry back to Koh Samui to catch our flight back to Bangkok where we spent the night at the Pathuman Princess Hotel. In the evening I had dinner with a friend, Yata, who owns a tailor shop that makes custom men's and women's fashions to order.
The following day my great friend, Kossum, collected me from the hotel and we made our way to his hometown, Kanchanaburi, where I had reservations at the Felix River Kwai Resort for 4 days.
Kanchanaburi is Thailand's third largest province covering 19,486 square kilometers, most of which is forested mountains of scenic beauty.. It's landscape is characterized by several waterfalls, caves once inhabited by Neolithic man, national parks and tranquil riverside and reservoir settings.
The Felix River Kwai Resort sits right on the River Kwai's banks with almost 300 rooms, multiple pools, a huge separate event center, and amazing restaurants. Breakfast buffet was wonderful.
Many of Kanchanburi's major attractions are also connected with the Second World War - such as the Bridge on the River Kwai, The Death Railway, The JEATH Museum, World War Two Cemetery and World War Two Museum.
Although I had visited Kanchanaburi a few times, I am still finding new places that I hadn't seen in the past, thanks to my awesome Thai friends, such as Wat Tham Sua and Wat Tham Khao Noi sitting virtually side-by-side. You can either take a small tram to the top of the mountain to the temples or walk the beautifully carved stairs. To the right of the stairs is where the Tigers used to live in the caves. The views from the top of the mountain are fabulous as is the 18 meter high Buddha statue.
I came across 2 giant drums and a giant gong at the Temple. To either the delight or concern (wasn't sure which) I decided this was too good to pass up, and decided a nice drum solo finalized by a loud strike of the gong might enhance my spirituality (???). To my delight no one came to stop me!
My friend, Kossum, took me out to some new places. I was amazed as we pulled up in front of a more modern, yet subdued, temple - Tham Phu Wa Temple. The amazement took place as we walked inside to find the beautiful colored 95 steps with dragon carvings on each side leading down into a temple cave. While in the cave, I took the opportunity to have a blessing by a monk, and he showed us around giving us some information about the cave. One being a very large natural indentation on the cave wall which looks exactly like a monk holding a bowl. You will see it in the photos of myself and the monk together.
My 3 wonderful friends made my stay in Kanchanaburi one of the best. One evening another mutual friend I had not seen in many years from Chiang Mai joined us for dinner as he now lives in Kanchanaburi.
Unfortunately those 4 days went by very fast, and then it was time to return to Bangkok for my flight home. I flew both ways on Philippine Airlines in Business Class, and can wholeheartedly recommend that airline.
The following are photos from this trip:
MOVENPIK HOTEL - VIEW
MISC TRIP PHOTOS
FELIX RIVER KWAI RESORT