Thursday, October 23, 2014

I want to travel with you to Thailand.

I know, I know. You can’t go. You have too many responsibilities. It’s too much money. You don’t have enough time off work. You didn’t plan to go to Thailand. Not this year. Maybe next.

And, I understand all of that.

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine of life and not be able to stop and think the opposite. Suppose I go to Thailand? Maybe this is the year I should go. Suppose I make that my priority?

Because, as Buddha says, “The problem is that you think you’ve got time.”

And, why not?

Do you love smiling? Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles.

Do you love peace? Thailand is a Buddhist country balanced with ornate temples and monks in saffron robes.

Do you have a screen saver of someone else’s picture of the white sand beaches of Thailand? It’s about time to make your own picture your screen saver.

So, if you’d like to join me and a good group of interesting people in Thailand, let me know. We’re planning on December 7-17, 2014. The detailed itinerary is below. Or, better yet, call me and let’s talk about it.

In case you don’t know me, here’s a brief piece about me and my background:

Thank you,

This isn’t a “guided” trip. I won’t be walking along with a megaphone and expecting you to shuffle along behind me. 

This is a group of like-minded individuals who want to explore the world, and would like for someone with knowledge about the country to join them.

I am more of a pathfinder.

I will make your reservations, based on your level of budget/ accommodation expectations. I’ll suggest activities and arrange transportation. We’ll enjoy meals together and I’ll make sure that your trip is exactly what you’ve dreamed about.

I’ll do the hard work for your travel. I’ll make sure you know when to change money and what vaccinations you’ll need.

You are invited to join our interesting group of independent travelers, who want for someone else to help them with plans, but not arrange every detail of the day.

I think you’ll like traveling like this.

Approximate Itinerary:
Thailand is known as the land of smiles, and with good reason.

The people of this beautiful country offer a warm welcome and have an exquisite sense of hospitality and style.

The Buddhist country of Thailand remains one of Asia's most gratifying vacation destinations and has a long history of fiercely guarded independence. The capitol city of Bangkok is a bustling, vibrant city filled with  royal palaces, glittering temples, and chaotic markets. 

Visit the ancient Kingdom of Siam, enjoy a Thai massage or learn to make a Thai curry during a cooking class, visit ancient temples, and snorkel or scuba dive in the warm and pristine waters of the Andaman Sea.  

Thailand's beaches
The islands and beaches of the south epitomize palm-fringed beauty, with the Andaman Sea at its best through the U.S. winter and the Gulf of Thailand bright and sunny for the rest of the year. But there’s much more to discover.

History and culture
The capital, Bangkok, is Southeast Asia’s major city, a fascinating, frenetic place where life only slows in tranquil temples, quiet canals and on the river that flows through its heart. In the north, hill tribe communities still live in small wooden villages, tenaciously hanging on to an age-old culture and traditions. Ancient cities date back to earlier Siamese civilizations; national parks are rich with tropical flora and fauna; and in small provincial towns, you still find gentle Buddhist temples hazed with incense smoke and lit by candles.

Trip Highlights
·         Experience the pace of Bangkok
·         Landscapes and ethnic mosaic of the Kachanaburi province
·         Thai cuisine and a cooking class in Chiang Mai
·         Bustling markets through the river by long tailed boat
·         Bathing elephants in an elephant orphanage
·         Scuba diving or snorkeling a protected Marine Park, one of the most pristine marine           environments in the world
·         and more...

Bangkok /Krabi (to catch your international flight home)

11 days - 10 nights

Places Visited
Bangkok, Kachanaburi province, Ko Lanta


Dec 7/ Day 1: Travel to Thailand (Check your flights because you lose a day from the US to Thailand)

Dec 8/ Day 2:  Arrive Bangkok, Thailand

We’ll meet you upon arrival and transfer you to our hotel. Bangkok is an intense place of movement - picture a city-scape of high-rise buildings, expressway flyovers, colorful advertising billboards and traffic. Yet, in between the skyscrapers and sophisticated shopping centers, there is a labyrinth of stillness in the elegant temples, pagodas, spirit houses and historic sites.

Thai food is delicious. Our first dinner is sure to be extraordinary.

Overnight in Bangkok, Thailand

Dec 9/ Day 3: Bangkok

Explorations begin this morning by long-tail boat. Motor upstream to Wat Arun, a remarkable Buddhist temple constructed between 1809 and 1851. Again, notice the stillness of the peaceful surrounds amidst the hustle of the city. Continue by boat across the’ river highway’ to disembark at Ta Chang Pier. We continue on foot to the Grand Palace. One of the most spectacular palaces in Thailand, construction began in 1782, after King Rama I moved his capital from Thonburi to Bangkok. From the 18th century onwards it served as the residence of the Chakri Dynasty Kings. We also visit Wat Phra Kaew, housing the Emerald Buddha, it is considered to be the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. Our explorations continue through the bustling Bangkok streets to visit Wat Po, which houses the enormous reclining Buddha as well as the Chedis (stupas containing the ashes) of the Kings. Further on is the impressive Wat Trimitr, which houses a huge five-ton solid Gold Buddha. 

Our afternoon rounds off in Bangkok’s Chinatown, one of the oldest neighborhoods of the city. A maze of small roads and crowded Soi (alleys) overflowing with restaurants, shops, street markets and food stalls, selling virtually anything you can imagine. (Ladies should wear short-sleeved top with full-length trousers or knee-length skirts. Gentlemen should wear trousers and short-sleeved shirts for religious reasons.)

Overnight in Bangkok

Dec 10/ Day 4: Bangkok/Kachanaburi

The stunning province of Kanchanaburi lies just three hours north west of Bangkok and is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in rural Thailand.

Visitors are rewarded with a wealth of natural splendor, including lakes, jungles, waterfalls, mountains, and, of course, the majestic River Kwai.

The numerous activities on offer in the area include river rafting, cycling, elephant riding, and trekking. For those seeking less energetic pursuits, Kanchanaburi province has an abundance of historical interest because it was home to the infamous ‘death railway' constructed during World War II to link Burma and Thailand.

You will have the opportunity to walk or take a train across the bridge over the River Kwai, visit the Jeath War museum, which houses a replica of the bamboo huts used to accommodate allied prisoners of war (POWS) during the occupation, as well as Hell Fire Pass, almost 50 miles northwest of Kanchanaburi. This was the name given by the prisoners to the largest of a series of mountain cuttings through soil and rock, which were accomplished with minimal equipment. From here you can look out onto Burma as well as climbing down onto part of the famous railway.

The proximity to the Burmese border and the different indigenous tribes means the area retains a genuine identity and character much different from more developed parts of Thailand. A visit to Kanchanaburi is a rewarding and varied experience.

Overnight in Kachanaburi

Dec 11/ Day 5: Elephants with Elephant World

Overnight in Kachanaburi

Dec 12/ Day 6: Relaxation or Activity

Today is a day of your choice. You can relax in the hammocks, have a Thai massage, and read  by the hotel pool.

Or, you can book one of the many activities available in the region. You can go fishing, trekking, hiking, or for a river trip.

Today is your choice.

Dec 13/ Day 7: Kachanaburi/ Bangkok/ Krabi

Travel Day. Overland from Kachanaburi back to Bangkok and a quick flight south to Krabi. Krabi is a town on the west coast of southern Thailand at the mouth of the Krabi River where it empties in Phangnga Bay. As of 2005 the town has a population of 24,986. The town is the capital of Krabi Province and Krabi district. Tourism is an important industry.

Overnight in Krabi

Dec 14/ Day 8: Krabi/ Ko Lanta

Long and thin, and covered in bleached-blonde tresses, Ko Lanta is Krabi’s sexy beach babe. The largest of the 50-plus islands in the local archipelago, this relaxing paradise effortlessly caters to all budget types with its west-coast parade of peach sand – each beach better than the next. The northern beaches are busy but fun, and things get more and more mellow the further south you go.

Ko Lanta is relatively flat compared to the karst formations of its neighbors, so the island can be easily explored by motorbike. A quick drive around reveals a colorful crucible of cultures – fried-chicken stalls sit below slender minarets, creaking chow lair villages dangle off the island’s side, and small Thai wát hide within green-brown tangles of curling mangroves.

Ko Lanta is technically called Ko Lanta Yai, the largest of 52 islands in an archipelago protected by the Mu Ko Lanta Marine National Park. Almost all boats pull into Ban Sala Dan, a dusty two-street town at the northern tip of the island.

Overnight in Ko Lanta.

Dec 15/ Day 9: Ko Lanta

Activity day. Scuba diving/ snorkeling/ sea-kayaking in the mangroves/ quiet time on the beach
Overnight in Ko Lanta.

Dec 16/ Day 10: Ko Lanta

Activity day. Scuba diving/ snorkeling/ sea-kayaking in the mangroves/ quiet time on the beach
Overnight in Ko Lanta.

Dec 17/ Day 11: Ko Lanta
Departure home.

Optional extension of time on Ko Lanta if you would like to stay longer. Or, maybe you want to join me rock-climbing in Rai-Lay. Please let me know.

Scuba Diving:
Things to know: If you plan to try scuba diving in Thailand, plan to start your Open Water scuba course online before you go.

You can do all of the practical exams before you get to Thailand, which enables you to start your underwater adventures when you get to Thailand. In Thailand, your Instructor will make sure you have understood the key knowledge sections, and then you can move straight to the pool! You’ll save approximately 1.5 classroom days (+ evening study sessions) of valuable holiday time.

The on-line section of the course costs US$120 which is paid direct to PADI. Once you arrive in Ko Lanta, the price to complete the course is 15,300 THB ($475).

Or, if you are already certified, a day of world-class diving is $125/ day with equipment.

Scuba Diving for the First Time – What’s it like?

Enter an exciting world of adventure and take your first underwater breaths in the warm, crystal-clear waters of the Andaman Sea. Learning to dive is an experience that changes your life. Allowing yourself to breathe underwater can be strange at first, and the feeling of weightlessness is both exhilarating and freeing. Most people find the time they spend underwater is deeply relaxing and full of awe-inspiring beauty.

The price for this adventure:

$400 for your pathfinders – An amazing price for the experience of a lifetime…
$750 - $1,000 – Suggested tax-deductible donation to Great Beginnings Montessori School
You pay for all of your meals/ flights and accommodations. Depending on your preferences, the range is the following per person (additional single-supplement):

$100/ lodging per night x 10 = $1,000
$50/ food per day x 10 = $500
$50 average activities per day x 10 = $500
$20/ day transportation x 10 = $200
(Does not include scuba diving add-on = $125/ day)
Miscellaneous = $300
Total: $2,500
(Plus $400 pathfinder fee and donation)

$50/ lodging per night x 10 = $500
$30/ food per day x 10 = $300
$50 average activities per day x 10 = $500
$20/ day transportation x 10 = $200
(Scuba diving add-on = $125/ day)
Miscellaneous = $150
Total: $1,650
(Plus $400 pathfinder fee and donation)

$25/ lodging per night x 10 = $250
$25/ food per day x 10 = $250
$50 average activities per day x 10 = $500
$20/ day transportation x 10 = $200
(Scuba diving add-on = $125/ day)
Miscellaneous = $100
Total: $1,300
(Plus $400 pathfinder fee and donation)

Estimated cost of airfares - $1,500 – $2,000 international and $100 domestic flight.

Trip details:
·         Lodging: Inn- and hotel based accommodation.
·         Trip Length: 11 days/ 10 nights.
·         Group size: Minimum 6/ Maximum 14.
·         Gateway City: Inbound: Bangkok.  Outbound: Krabi, connect to Bangkok.
·         Meeting Time and Place: Upon arrival on Day 1 at the airport in Bangkok. Group meeting at 6:00pm Day 1 in Bangkok in hotel courtyard.
·         Trip Conclusion: Airport transfer on Day 11.
General Information Q & A
How difficult is this trip – really?  - No experience is required for an activity, but this is an activity-oriented trip.  We will spend three – to –six hours a day in moderately strenuous activities. During the scuba diving portion, you will be on the boat for an entire day and dive 2-3 times.

Participants: We offer this trip on a first-come, first- served basis. This journey is not appropriate for children under the age of 15, because of the minimum age to scuba dive.

What kind of trip? We welcome a mixture of couples and friends, with some family members.  Single people of both genders usually enjoy Thailand.

Contractors –Parts of this trip are contracted to local tour operators selected for their reputation, service and reliability. Also, their sense of adventure and fun.

Who else is going?
Did I mention Stacey? Here’s what she has to say…
Travel is exciting and challenging, welcoming and uncomfortable, enticing and exhausting. Being outside of one’s comfort zone can offer eye-opening experiences that could never be predicted, much less planned. Suddenly the heart opens, and an unexpected happiness or heartache is beyond explanation. Spontaneously the urge to dance, to sing, to connect or to leap into the unknown is irresistible. And occasionally loneliness, frustration and confusion erupt from the depths of unexamined origins. It’s all part of being thrust outside of one’s own culture while trying your best to flow with the scene.

After years of making my home in cultures outside of the USA, I’ve discovered travel offers a special opportunity to examine patterns, question norms, and be curious about other ways of being. Although it’s challenging to fully adapt to another’s culture, there are many tidbits that can be adopted that will enrich life, and create delight, openness, and lasting memories.
As a coach, guide and lover of travel, I am thrilled to be a part of any experience that calls people toward a more expansive experience of living and being.

I’ve been in private practice for over two years, working with individuals, couples, groups and small businesses as a coach and mentor. In this work I facilitate meaningful connection to self, to others, and to cultural norms. Prior to my private practice I filled my days as  a counselor, liaison, therapist and mother. My home is in Bozeman, and I share it with a partner of 20 years and 2 teenage daughters.  Any questions or conversations about my training, experiences, and practices are more than welcome.

The next step:
1.)    Call Great Beginnings Montessori at: 406-587-0132. Or, send me an email at:
2.)    When to pay – To confirm your limited spot for this trip of a lifetime, please contact Great Beginnings.  Your verbal confirmation is all we need to get things started.  After that, we’ll need your $400 pathfinders fee and your donation to Great Beginnings.
3.)    Travel Protection – to make your trip even more carefree, we require the purchase of a travel insurance plan. Global Rescue will help you secure comprehensive coverage and peace of mind to protect you in case of damaged or lost luggage, a sudden illness or death in the family, emergency medical expenses and transportation costs, and flight delays. Information is available at
4.)    How to book airfare? – We recommend you book your airfare online, directly with the airline or through your personal travel agent. Note: Gennifre will book regional flights to match the itinerary.

Thank you – and please join us!
Gennifre Hartman

Stacey Tompkins, MA, CIC
Sungate Integral Coaching, LLC

Great Beginnings Montessori