inicio mail me! sindicaci;ón

Seasquirt

The adventures of Fe & Chris

Archive for Thailand

The End is Nigh…

We’re back in Bangkok. We’ve arrived early yesterday morning after a 14 hour overnight train journey with non-functional air conditioning. Fortunately the manual air conditioning (the window) was functional, but only after the removal of a moderately-sized screw.

We’ve been shopping. Shopping in Bangkok’s malls is surprisingly pleasant compared to the UK with the one exception of signage. We got stuck in the Paragon Centre for a whole hour whist trying to find the correct exit.

bkk_night1.jpg

Bangkok by night

This afternoon we went around the clothes shops of Siam Square - there are many stalls, with little space, so twice Fiona tried on clothes with the aid of a oversized ’skirt’ to protect dignity, whereas I was aided by the assistant holding a sheet across a corner of the stall. We’ve got some trousers now, but not much else.

bkk_day11.jpg

Bangkok by day

We’ll be home in less than 24 hours. That’s it, that’s all.

Ready, Steady Cook

As we are currently in Chiang Mai, we decided to follow all the other thousands of tourists who take a cooking class here. We duly booked into a half day course and were ‘picked-up’ (read collected on foot) and taken to our cooking school (5 mins round the corner, 10 mins late).

We started with a quick tour round the local market - lots of exciting looking fruit and veg, some rank smelling meat and some fish flapping around on the concrete floor. Very intriguing. We were introduced to four types of aubergine (none purple), four gingers, and three basil - who knew such variety existed?!

Back at the school we prepared four different dishes under the instruction of two entertaining teachers. First up was Phad Thai (yummy) followed by Tom Yum Soup (hot, spicy, kind of nice), Tofu and cashew (v yummy), and Green curry, from scratch (v yummy, if a little spicy for my still-delicate taste buds!!). So, all round to ours for some nice Thai cooking when we get back (might have to find a useful shop for ingredients first though)!

Budding chefs:

cooking1.jpg

The finished product:

tomyum1.jpg

The greatest bat show on Earth

We’ve just returned to Ayutthaya after lovely couple of days in Khao Yai national park. Inside a cave that also functioned as a Buddist temple, we saw thousands of bats of three different species from an enjoyably close proximity. I was quite happy with that but when treated with the spectacle of two million Wrinkled-nosed bats leaving their cave we were blown away. Pleasingly a few were knobbled by raptors on their way out to add to the fun.

Our tour group was an eclectic bunch. A perfectly pleasant couple from Bristol with humourous accents, an Israeli chap that had a comment on every topic imagineable, and a unusual Frenchman who was prone to inappropriate spontaneous outbursts of singing or wailing. Then there was us of course.

 Next morning we saw lovely White-handed Gibbons and Pig-tailed Macques along with numerous deer and copious elephant poo. Wild Dogs caused quite some excitement amongst our guides. The Bird of the Day award was a tricky choice between the monsterous Great Hornbill and the tiny Vernal Hanging Parrot.

Ican’ttellyouanymoreasthespacebaronthiskeyboarddoesnotwork. Itisdrivingmetodistraction. And we’ve got a train to catch…

Why is an elephant large grey and wrinkly?

If it was small white and round it would be an asprin.

Fiona and elephant

Fiona is so engrossed in the Thailand manual that she is oblivious to her surroundings.

We are in the former capital city of Ayutthaya. We have had a long day that started before 0500in Bangkok. Since then we have been wrestling with train timetables and bookings for our last few days of adventure. With so much to do and see we have taken to bikes and have had a very pleasant day learning to integrate ourselves with the local road system and its occupants.

Chris on a bike (nice rucsac)

There’s lots of old stuff here (I always forget about that). Temples that have lost their grandure and now show their red brick interior. We did see a restored massive gold buddha though, then nipped outside for a coconut refreshment.

An old temple

Tomorrow we head off to Khao Yai national park for a few birds, bats and beasts before heading north to Chaing Mai.

Travelling the independent way…

…is definitely much ’simpler’ - you still get that “Are we going the right way?” feeling, but at least we are a bit more in control and not at the mercy of dodgy travel agents - we successfully escaped from Ko Lanta to the mainland and then on an overnight coach (VIP by the way!) to Bangkok, followed by an early morning train up to Ayutthya, where we are currently residing. All very satisfactory as Chris might say! And so yes, we agree with you Lachlan!

Travelling the Thai way II

This is how elephants get around in Thailand:

elejpg.JPG

“Great God, this is an awful place”

Now, I know Scott was somewhere with a rather more challenging climate than the 30 degrees Celcius we are currently experiencing, but by a slight error of judgement we have ended up in a place that can only be described as …er… a bit pants. Well, OK I could describe it otherwise, but standards of decency must be maintained.

We are on the beach of Hat Khong Nin on the island Ko Lanta. Our guidebook describes the island favourably, however thus far it has no redeeming features whatsoever. It is a hole. Even my red curry was a wet, watered down flavourless affair.

We arrived on the island having failed to book accommodation in advance (we did try, but Thai phones are somewhat taxing). A seemingly reasonable gentleman touting for business on the jetty offered us board at his establishment, the Lanta Nice Beach Resort, and offered us a lift there. His place had an OK review in the manual, so we went against all our past reservations of such touts and went with him.

On arrival he informed us there was, in fact, no room at the inn, and didn’t even offer us a stable. We searched up and down the beach and found all the other hotels to be full. To add to our annoyance, the town was not even nice. Finally we found a smelly room at the Pink House. It’s the most expensive room we’ve had in Thailand, and also the least pleasing.

We’re cutting our losses and leaving on the next ferry, 17 hours after arriving.

We found Nemo

We have just returned from a fine couple of days diving at Ko Similan, an archipelago about 60 miles off the west coast. We we’re accommodated on a small live-aboard dive boat called Linda which was very nice, but had the firmest mattresses we have yet experienced in a country that revels in the firmness of a mattress. It was run by Sign Scuba who were great fun and are proudly “Wan hundet pahcen Thai”.

The diving was fantastic; the most colourful and abundantly fishy place we have dived yet. We saw lots of Clark’s anemonefish (recently popularised in a cartoon), several hawksbill turtles (one tried to nibble my toes - not quite as dangerous as the tiger that might have chewed my leg off previously but it could have inflicted a nasty nip), a black-tipped reef shark, and a multitude of colourful and pretty fish. The coral was good too, as were the shrimpy things.

We’re back in Khao Lak now. Heading to Krabi and Ko Lanta tomorrow.

Travelling the Thai way

We have noticed over the course of our journeys through Thailand that what we expect to happen is generally not what actually occurs (we should have guessed this from our “Pick-up” in Bangkok). Take the following two examples (well actually our only two trips since arriving in Ko Tao):

1. What we wanted to do: Get from the island of Ko Tao to the mainland national park Khao Sok, 190km away.

How we thought we would do it: Ferry from Ko Tao to mainland, bus to Khao Sok.

What the travel agent said would happen: Ferry to mainland, ‘Taxi’ from ferry terminal to ferry company’s office, ‘Taxi’ to Khao Sok.

What actually happened: After a self arranged longtail boat to the ferry in Ko Tao, we got a ferry to another island (Ko Samui for those interested), where we were then driven across the island to another ferry to the mainland. We then got put on a bus to the ferry office (1.5 hrs away), where we had to phone the ‘Taxi’ company to let them know we had arrived and needed a lift (well, actually a helpful Thai ferry rep helped us). Waited long past our booked time for a little songtheaw (truck with a bench in the back) to pick us up and take us a couple of km to the ‘Taxi’ company office. Waited some more. A woman in charge finally arrived and tried to persuade us that to get taken to the national park, we would have to stay in a particular hotel. We refused as already had a place to stay (”Why you angry with me? It not me, it the driver!”). She told us that it would therefore only drop us at the main road. Got put on a (very cramped) minivan which, after some very scary driving, happily took us to our required place, the very lovely and highly recommended Morning Mist resort. In total our journey took 12 hours and 7 different modes of transport - quite an epic, especially when you consider the short(ish) distance travelled!

2. What we wanted to do: Get from Khao Sok to Khao Lak.

How we thought we would do it: A truck to the bus stop on the main road, a local bus to Khao Lak - scheduled at 11.30 and 12.00.

What actually happened: Our resort kindly droped us off at the bus stop at 11.15. We waited. Then we waited some more. At 12.15 a minivan arrived and made a small fortune taking us and four more bored Farang (tourists) to their required destination. No sign of any local bus at any point. Still not even sure what one looks like. Quite embarrassing actually!

Eyeshine, spiders and monkeys

We had a lovely couple of days around the Khao Sok National Park. We stayed in a lovely, and quite substantial shack, in a place that served up food in beautiful surroundings. For our breakfast viewing pleasure the staff hung up bananas to entice pretty birds to their flower clad dining area.

I was rather hoping to be able to provide you with a dramatic post - “A tiger chewed my leg off” or “An elephant sat on my sandwich” but the charismatic megafauna was not to be found. We did see some fluffy-headed White-crowned hornbills amongst other aves whilst Long-tailed macaques provided mammalian entertainment. We also saw more different, and impressive, species of butterfly than we have ever seen before.

After a lovely curry for tea we took a turn around some of the forest in the dark. We saw the eyes of a handful of mouse deer, chanced across a civet, some tree frogs and some very scary, but pretty, looking spiders.

Next entries »