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Can we pull it off ? We always believe that ¡°nothing is impossible¡±.


Date: 18¡ª30/12/2009

¡°¡­...Excitement was building over the trip to come, where we would experience a new area and the mixed cultures (and food!) of the Thai, Khmer, and Laotian people. Flag off went smoothly, and soon we were winding our way northward along the Gulf of Thailand¡­¡­¡±

Charm of Isaan 2009

Can We Pull It Off?

Tensions between Thailand and Cambodia had been heating up for some time. At the core of the political unrest was the age old issue about which country ¡®owns¡¯ the famous Preah Vihear temple. As the word came in from our Cambodian sponsors advising us to cancel our upcoming Cambodia trip - due to the increasing instability - ripples began spreading among your eXpdc committee members. What should we do? If we postpone the Cambodia trip, what will we do? Time was indeed very short to come up with an alternative. In the end, the safety of our members comes above all else, so we decided to postpone the Cambodia trip.


This is when eXpdc committee members Alvin Chuah (Papa Kilo), and Daren Jenner (Delta Juliet) swung into action, so our members and club would not be left without a year end trip. After intensive research, the full committee worked late into the night and came up with an itinerary for an exciting trip to an interesting area of Thailand. But the new plan raised as many new questions as it answered old ones. We had never been to many of these places in Isaan. Where would we stay? What would we see on the way? And most importantly, could we plan this new trip in just a few short weeks and make it a great one for our members?


A few days later, Papa Kilo and Delta Juliet passed over the border and sped toward the northeast region of Thailand. They scoured the area for the best hotels and attractions, often covering nearly 1,000 km in a day. After a week of searching, checking, and hunting, we had found what we were looking for¡­.. CHARM OF ISAAN 2009.

On the evening before the opening day of CHARM OF ISAAN 2009, 15 cars with 60 members and their families assembled in Hat Yai for flag off on the following day. Excitement was building over the trip to come, where we would experience a new area and the mixed cultures (and food!) of the Thai, Khmer, and Laotian people. Flag off went smoothly, and soon we were winding our way northward along the Gulf of Thailand, under the protection and care of our convoy. First over night stop was at the spectacular five star Chumphon Novotel. Members enjoyed a delicious dinner together and the excitement was obvious as the trip was now in full swing.


Over the course of the next few days, we passed through the gateway to Isaan, Nakhon Ratchasima, visiting the well known Phimai Ruins which are older than Angkor Wat, and visited the King Cobra Village, where real life snake charmers dodged the lightning fast and potentially deadly strikes of 2 meter long King Cobras. Later, we pushed northward on to thriving Khon Kaen, staying in comfortable accommodations along the way. On Christmas Eve, Penang eXpdc members joined (overtook) the Charoen Thani hotel Christmas Party and Dinner, complete with roasted meats of all kinds, delicious local food, and a rocking party where members danced the night away. On Christmas day we headed into the northernmost regions of Isaan, on the way to Loei, dubbed ¡®The Switzerland of Thailand¡¯. Along the way, we visited the Phu Wiang Dinosaur museum and park, and stopped at the Bat cave. Then we enjoyed a relaxing 2 night stay in cool and refreshing Loei, before turning south to Ayutthaya.


On the way back along the Gulf of Thailand, we stopped once again at the Chumphon Novotel, where many members soon jumped into the luxurious pool and Jacuzzi, before enjoying our Grand Finale dinner in our private room. A rocking Karaoke session followed late into the night. The next day we had a restful morning and then headed to Nakhon Si Thammarat and stayed at the Twin Lotus hotel. The following day, we were on our way back home.


I would like to extend a sincere thank you to all our committee and club members for supporting us as we put this trip together. Looking back on our trip, I realize how fortunate we are to have experienced this lovely and authentically Thai area of Thailand. Many of the places we saw and stayed were off the beaten path, and reflected the true culture and way of life of the friendly Isaan people. I also realized, most of all, how fortunate we are to have each other as true friends, and spend a wonderful Christmas Holiday season together. As far as I am concerned, there is nowhere else better to be.

I am missing all of you already, and look forward to seeing you again on our next trip.


Respectfully Submitted, 
Daren Jenner 
Penang eXpdc Medical Officer


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