A Travellerspoint blog

Similan Islands

As clear as it gets

sunny 36 °C

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We took a day trip to the Similan Islands. After the usual Mad Max minibus ride, we were taken out to the islands by speedboat from Thap Lamu. Our first snorkelling stop was one of those special moments - the clarity of the water was simply unbelievable - it was absolutely crystal clear. The girls are now totally confident with diving down to the reef and are ready to progress to scuba.

We had a great lunch on island 4 and could see flying foxes hanging - and fanning themselves - in the trees. A really beautiful place and one we'd love to explore further given the chance.

Posted by chaddo 01:10 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Phang Nga Islands

Shaken, not stirred

sunny 35 °C

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We went on a speedboat trip to the Phang Nga National Park.

The first view of the stunning Limetone "Hongs" was breathtaking!

We went under cliffs with overhangng stalactites, through sea caves - and, yes, visited "James Bond" island (which was very crowded). We had lunch in the floating village and motored through mangrove forests, before heading off for a refreshing swim and snorkel off Ko Khai.

This would be a fabulous place to charter a sailing boat for a week or two (as would Similan Island - see later).

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Posted by chaddo 00:52 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Shanti Lodge

our oasis

sunny 35 °C

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We booked into Shanti Lodge to give us a couple of days R & R whilst we planned the next stage of the trip, but we were so taken with the place that we had a complete rethink.......

Travelling with young kids in hot, humid conditions can be a bit of a trial, even with our little angels (hmm!). By staying here, doing trips away and then missing out Malaysia and Singapore and just flying straight from Phuket to Singapore to connect to the Australian flight, we save at least 3 days of travel - days that we can spend having fun in Thailand!!

So - Shanti Lodge - in every respect better than we expected from viewing the website. It is conveniently located near the Chalong Circle, the staff are friendly and helpful, the menu contains enough items that Rhiannon will eat (!!!) and plenty of vegetarian options for Heather, the pool is great (the kids practically lived in it) and the whole place is tastefully and thoughtfully designed and decorated, with ponds, waterfalls, carvings, plants, muted lighting, etc. And they play good music (and Dido!).

Our room is very large, airy, Thai-styled, with air-conditioning and at 750 baht per night (11 pounds) is truly resort standard at backpackers prices. We have the A/C set at 25 degrees which is seriously refreshing to walk into!

So we're staying here for the duration.

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Posted by chaddo 00:35 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Chinese New Year

but no fireworks

sunny 35 °C

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In the South East (where we are advised not to travel) there is a state of conflict with Malay Moslem, so this year fireworks may only be discharged within Temple grounds.

We visited a chinese temple where there were shrines with statues of every kind of deity you can imagine. People bring gifts and burn candles and incense and pray to their gods.

This is the Chinese Year 2550, the Year of the Pig.

As a highlight of the Chinese New Year celebrations, a visiting Chinese Dance Group put on a spectacular show of dancing and martial arts. Whilst all of the dances and outfits were fantastic, The Dance to the Godess of Mercy, was particularly memorable. The dancers, wearing long golden fingernails, lined up behind each other and used their arms to create some quite mesmorising effects. These blurry photos are poor testament to the sheer beauty of the dance.

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Posted by chaddo 00:22 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Phuket Town

A different kettle of fish

sunny 35 °C

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After a languid week on a Phi Phi beach, Phuket Town was a real eye opener for the girls. To reach Phuket Backpackers we had to navigate our way through a hot, crowded and very fragrant street market, where meat, fish, vegetables, fruit and spices of every shape, size and smell were on sale. There was even a stall selling fried bugs - grasshoppers, grubs, beetles, cockroaches (I think), you name it......

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Once settled in, we went on a Tuk Tuk to the very upmarket Central Festival Mall, where you can spend a million baht on a watch! The old 3 wheeler Tuk Tuks have now been replaced by brightly decorated Diahatsu Carry Vans with open backs and sides and bench seats. The kamikaze drivers, however, remain. There are mopeds and small motorbikes everywhere. You can rent them for 3 pounds a day but with a death toll on Phuket alone of 300 a year, you'd have to be a serious thrill seeker to try it!

The accommodation was fine. It did seem odd though, to return at night to see the same people sitting in the loumge watching TV that had been there when we'd gone out in the morning. Around the corner was an excellent second-hand book shop, South Winds, and the lovely Sino-European architecture of the streets and alleys around Thanon Thalang; all lit up with red lanterns for Chinese New Year.

Rhiannon's unadventurous taste buds found refuge in Egg and Bacon in the English Bar near the roundabout - and I was treated to the rare pleasure of watching Manchester City play live on widescreen TV - and win! (what did I say about those folks in the Backpackers lounge??).

We explored the town and took trips out to the Butterfly Farm and Cultural Centre where we watched remarkably enthuisiastic Thai Boxing demos and Thai Dancing. Rhiannon bravely accepted (and acquitted herself well in) an invitation to join in a bamboo dance, where your steps have to synchronise with the rhythm of long bamboo poles being banged together - or you'll get sore feet!

Phuket Town also has a Tescos! You could spend an hour in the fresh food section trying to work out what on earth everything is. The bakery is aweful, but the fish and seafood section is something to behold!

And bicycles start at 11 pounds.......

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Posted by chaddo 22:45 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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