Retiredish. Now 2 Wannabe Globetrotters. Message
  • Jan23

    Day 44 - No Sharks in Shark Bay

    Yesterday in Thailand ⋅ 🌧 25 °C

    Woke up with it absolutely pouring with rain, just the perfect weather for a boat trip! We packed our bags including our rain macs.

    We had just a coffee for breakfast, during which we had some entertainment, when another guest was enquiring about getting a taxi to a beach. The German owner told him that they were very expensive & he should hire a scooter. The guest told him that he couldn’t ride a scooter & instead he would walk to Sairee Beach. The guest then got up from the table & we saw that to our shock he had one of those old fashioned black boots, that had a built up sole at least 9” high. Good luck with that walk!

    At 9.40am we were picked up by taxi & driven 300 metres to Diamond Tours. We waited nearly 30 minutes before everyone had arrived & then we walked down to the pier to board the boat.

    The first stop was the islands of Koh Nang Yuan, which were 3 islands connected by sand spits. These islands were yet another National Park requiring an entrance fee of 200 baht each. We were told that we could not snorkel here, but we should climb up to the viewpoint. We did, but unfortunately we were at the back of the other trippers from our boat & when we got to near the top we were stuck in a log jam, whilst some Thai tourists took seemingly hundreds of photos of each other before moving on. We had to wait for what seemed like ages, before we took a few snaps & headed down. After wandering around the whole island we still had 30 minutes to kill so Jackie insisted on buying 2 very expensive small Changs.

    Back on the boat we were provided with lunch, spicy chicken, rice & a fried egg. I was still feeling a bit queasy & couldn’t face it, but made do with lots of watermelon & pineapple.

    We then chugged to literally about 50 yards from Koh Nang Yuan dock & were told we would now be stopping for 40 minutes for snorkelling. The crew insisted we wore life jackets which were an absolute revelation, We had always viewed them as being for wimps, but they made snorkelling so much easier.

    We both snorkelled in the clear calm waters & apart from the usual fish, it was good to see some bright coloured coral. I stayed out for the full 40 minutes.

    We then stopped off Mango Bay & Aow Leuk, each for 40 minutes, before to what promised to be the highlight, Shark Bay & it’s Black-Tip sharks. We dropped anchor & then Jackie & I set off in search of sharks in the slightly murky waters. Unfortunately we didn’t & nor did anyone else find a shark, but we did find 3 large green sea turtles. One was enormous, 4 foot in length & had 2 remora, also known as sucker fish accompanying it.

    After Jackie had seen the turtles, she returned to the boat, but I continued swimming around searching for those elusive sharks. At one point I had the fright of my life when I turned round to see a large turtle swimming just under the surface & almost bump into my leg. I desperately tried to turn my camera on as I watched him swim away. I tried to chase after him, but I couldn’t catch up.

    It was then that I realised that I was out in the bay on my own. I looked back at our boat in the distance & saw Jackie frantically waving for me to return. Keen not to hold the boat up, I swam front crawl back to the boat, which was definitely not easy with a life jacket, mask and my snorkel flapping around my head!

    We completed the clockwise circumnavigation of the island at 5.20pm. It had been an excellent boat trip all for just 500 Baht, about £12 each. Hopefully we will have some decent photos of the turtle sent to us taken by a crew member.

    We were absolutely knackered having snorkelled for nearly 3 hours & stopped for a couple of well earned Changs on the way home.

    That evening, we rode over to Sairee Beach & had dinner at the Blue Water Cafe. Jackie ordered the house burger & I ordered beef taco. Jackie’s burger was nice but the rest was pretty disappointing because it was cold. We were too hungry & tired to complain.

    Song of the Day: Island in the Rain by The Men They Couldn’t Hang.
    Ghost of a Shark by Tom McRae.
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  • Jan22

    Day 43 - Freedom Beach

    January 22 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Woke up at silly o’clock & went to breakfast at 9.30am. We stuck to our plan & had just a coffee instead of the full American. The owner was in the breakfast room & he was in quite a jovial mood relating amusing stories of the ridiculous Thai bureaucracy particularly in these Covid Times.

    After coffee we rode down to Ko Tao pier & booked our return catamaran tickets back to Ko Phangan for Tuesday, then we booked a snorkelling boat trip for Sunday. The beauty of being out in Thailand at this time is everyone is fighting for you business. The boat trip was normally 850 Baht, but at the moment it is just 500 Baht per person.

    We celebrated our bargain with a baguette from Da’s Sandwiches, which we noticed had a steady stream of customers. I ordered a best seller - a chicken, bacon & cheese baguette, whilst Jackie ordered a healthy chicken & salad baguette. What we didn’t realise was that it would each contain huge slab of chicken which was breadcrumbed & fried. Once several rashers of bacon, cheese slices & salad & mayo were added, mine was enormous & Jackie’s not much smaller.

    We drove to Sainuan Beach & tried to eat half of our respective baguettes. We couldn’t, they were way to greasy & the chicken was over fried. Absolutely gutted. Feeling rather queasy, we drove to a 7-11, ditched the remainder of our baguettes & bought a large bottle of water & a pineapple pastry to try & cleanse our greasy mouths.

    Our first proper stop was Sharks Bay, where we walked through a resort to the waterfront. We water was quite rough, which made Jackie nervous for tomorrow, because we were returning by boat.

    Next stop was Freedom Beach. We paid our 50 baht entrance fee which we felt rather aggrieved about, but that soon changed when we clapped our eyes on Freedom Beach. It was very picturesque with a row of bushy trees growing along the water’s edge. We helped ourselves to two free deckchairs & settled in for the rest of the day.

    I apprehensively tried out the new cheap ‘n’ nasty masks & snorkels & I was pleasantly surprised, they worked an absolute treat. No leakage at all. I had at least 5 snorkelling sessions & Jackie had a couple, where we saw some quite big Gar fish & a number of other species, but nothing spectacular.

    At lunch we visited the restaurant for a couple of overpriced small cans of beer, but the view made up for it. We remained at the beach until 5pm, when we started to head for home. I convinced Jackie that we must climb up to John Suwan Viewpoint.

    The climb started to get steeper & steeper clambering over big boulders & just a thick rope to cling on to. It wasn’t designed for flip flops, so Jackie abandoned half way up & I continued in my more appropriate adventure sandals. I arrived at the top puffing & panting only to discover their were 6 other people already up there. I took a few photos of the lovely view & skipped back down to Jackie like a mountain goat.

    That night we stayed local & ate in Yangs Thaifood Restaurant. The owner was a right miserable bugger, but the food was good & probably the cheapest yet. Funnily enough it was frequented by a lot of farangs.

    Song of the Day: Freedom by Christine & The Queens.
    Beach by Something Happens!
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  • Jan21

    Day 42 - Like A Bat Out Of Hell

    January 21 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    We had a decent nights sleep & I had to drag myself out of bed at 8.40am, when scooter rental man came knocking on our door. I signed my life away & was given the keys to an orange 125cc scooter.

    We got ourselves ready & went to the breakfast room for our ‘superb’ breakfast. Silly Ninny gave us a coffee & then disappeared without asking what we wanted. I had to find her to tell her I didn’t eat fried eggs. She later returned with 2 American breakfasts with scrambled eggs that were definitely not superb. At the time of writing we will probably just have coffee in future!

    The German owner, Tom, made an appearance with a baguette, which he had bought from somewhere else which probably told us all we needed to know about our free breakfast. Whilst he was present & knowing that he owned a personal laptop, I innocently enquired with him if he knew of anywhere where I could borrow (or rent) a laptop or computer for a few hours. His reply was “Impossible “. Thanks for your help mate!

    After breakfast, we hit the road on our new scooter like a ‘Bat Out Of Hell’. We zoomed over to Sairee Beach to find Bo. We walked up & down the promenade & eventually found Sairee Beach Cabana. We enquired about Longtail boat trips around the island & we were given a price of 2,300 baht, about £60. I asked if Bo was still working & the receptionist didn’t really understand what I was talking about. We did try!

    We then embarked on a tour of every beach that we could reach on our scooter. Our first planned stop was Mango Beach, but we soon discovered that it required riding for quite a few miles down a rough dirt track. We bottled it on the basis that we had suffered one flat tyre already on this trip. Instead we continued to Hin Wong Bay, which took us down an incredibly steep road to a little car park. There was a 20 Baht charge to leave our scooter, but in exchange the lady gave us a small bottle of water. The beach was quite nice & there were free beds if you were a customer at the restaurant. The sea was very choppy, but we decided it was probably worth a return visit.

    We then headed towards the south of the island & completed a comprehensive tour of all the reachable beaches in an anti-clockwise direction. We started at Tanote Bay, a wide sandy beach with a huge rock in the bay & then Lang Khaai Bay, which was down a 600 metre track & the abandoned & derelict Yang Bungalows. Next was Aow Leuk Bay, where a road sign as we came away from the beach warned that only one person was to be on a motorbike going back up the extremely steep hill. I chanced it with Jackie on the back (see the 1st photo) & we actually made it. It the bike had come to a standstill we would have been in trouble!

    It was then Sai Daeng Beach, which had 2 hotels including Coral Beach Resort. We were seriously considering booking our stay on Koh Tao at Coral Beach Resort, but we are so glad we didn’t, because it was in the middle of nowhere & it looked like no one was staying there. From there we went to Thian Og Bay & parked up & walked through the posh, but also virtually empty Jamahkiri Resort & Spa, which had a stunning view over Shark Bay. We didn’t go down to the beach, but rode to Freedom Beach, where they wanted 50 Baht entrance fee. We decided to save that for another day & so we head back into town.

    We had to make an emergency toilet stop at our Miracle Guesthouse suite, then we drove down to Ko Tao pier for some urgently required refreshment. We parked up & selected Bro & Sis Restaurant & Bar which looked out over the bustling Ko Tao Pier & bay. Over the next hour or so we shared a.couple of large Changs & watched the world go by.

    Around 4pm we headed over to Sairee Beach to purchase the cheapest, nastiest sets of mask & snorkel that we could find. 250 Baht (about a fiver) each bought us a dodgy snorkel & mask.

    To celebrate our bargain purchases, we popped in to Blue Water Cafe to take advantage of their happy hour. We ordered a ginger mojito & a bamboo cocktail with a plate of cheesy chips & basked in the late afternoon sun. It was bliss, so we ordered a second round of cocktails, I had a gin ‘n’ jam, whilst Jackie had a pineapple margarita.

    Being responsible, after just 2 lovely cocktails, we sadly had to pay up & rode back home on the scooter. Back at the suite, we learnt the sad news that Michael Lee Aday had died at the age of just 74. Whilst getting ready, we played our own musical tribute to Meatloaf.

    We went out for a walk around town that evening & went back to the same restaurant that we dined in last night. We had a Pad Thai, a chicken & cashew nuts & a large beer that cost just a fiver.

    We picked up a new bottle of Hong Thong & coke & returned to our suite for an early night.

    Song of the Day: Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf.
    For Crying Out Loud by Meatloaf. (One of Wedding 1st Dance Songs).
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    Steve Rush

    Love Ko Tao! Pictures look great. Sorry you couldn't find Bo. He used to work by Ko Tao Cabana, which is at the far north end of Sairee. Was that the hotel you found? It's definitely worth another stroll up there, if only for a bit of snorkeling. There are loads of fish around those rocks...

    Simon and Jackie Annals

    Hi Steve, yeah we did find Ko Tao Cabana & asked there for Bo. We have now already booked a snorkelling boat for Sunday.

     
  • Jan20

    Day 41 - Slow Down You Mad Bastard

    January 20 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Woke up at 5.30am to a tremendous downpour & saw that our drying sarongs & a few clothes which we were due to pack, were saturated on the balcony. My mood was improved when I checked the sports news & discovered that United had thrashed Brentford 3-1. My mood then dipped again, when I went to the bathroom, caught my reflection in the mirror & saw that I had a big bald patch above my right ear. It looks like I now have alopechia!

    We spent the morning packing the clothes we needed for our holiday to Koh Tao into one rucksack & what we didn’t into the other. At 10.45am, we took all our luggage down to reception & had a breakfast of cheese baguettes, iced coffee & a mango shake.

    At 11.50am the waiter informed us that our taxi had arrived. We left Pat with half our luggage & boarded our taxi van. It was the most terrifying ride of our lives. The driver drove like an absolute lunatic, way to fast for the road conditions. It was like being on a rollercoaster as the taxi swung violently left & right around corners & up & down steep gradients. Unlike a rollercoaster, we weren’t strapped in & we had to cling to the roll bar & hang on for dear life. Jackie admitted the taxi ride actually frightened her.

    Funnily enough, we arrived at the pier earlier than expected & after collecting our tickets, we waited under an awning whilst being serenaded by a one man band. When our catamaran arrived we immediately spotted the British chavs up on deck, he stripped to the waist & her sporting a homemade boob tube to show off the tattoos. Typically we ended sitting immediately behind them & they actually turned out to be alright & we swapped travel tips.

    Upon arrival at Koh Tao, just over an hour, later we disembarked on to the pier & we were required to produce an array of documentation that the immigration girl clearly had no idea what she was looking at, but eventually just waved us through anyway.

    Once on terra firma we walked up the road from the pier & about 400 metres later we located our budget accommodation, The Miracle Guesthouse & Diving. No one was around when we arrived, but after 5 minutes a young lady arrived by scooter & introduced herself to us as (Silly) Ninny. She was a bubbly excitable lady who told us she was the Yemen.

    Silly Ninny showed us to our room, that was an upgrade on what we booked. Apparently it had just been refurbished & eventually even Jackie agreed that it suited our purposes perfectly. Instead of a balcony, we had a lounge.

    I enquired with Silly Ninny about the possibility of hiring a scooter & before I knew it, ‘her friend’ arrived with a 125cc scooter just 10 minutes later. I told him that I didn’t actually want it until the morning & he seemed a bit upset, but we agreed that he should return at 9am. He left in a huff.

    Jackie & I then went out for an explore & to visit Sairee Beach, but we got caught up in a downpour & abandoned that idea. Instead we found a sandwich restaurant & supped a few beers, whilst the divers returned from their trips.

    After a shower we had a stroll around & ended up choosing a restaurant less than 50 yards from our Guesthouse. It was busy with divers & I noted that everyone in the restaurant was only drinking the free water. We got a large Chang out of the fridge & ordered crispy pork with kale & a Massaman chicken curry. It was absolutely superb & cost less than £6. I felt obliged to give them a healthy tip.

    We stopped at a Rasta Bar for a nightcap on the way home. We ended up sharing a large Leo & calling it a night. Back at the guesthouse, we struggled to open the door until eventually we realised that we were trying to open the wrong door.

    Song of the Day: Fast & Frightening by L7.
    Slow It Down by The Lumineers.
    Slow Down by Wire Train.
    Mad Man Blues by George Thorogood & The Destroyers.
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    Steve Rush

    United were lucky mate! We should have been out of sight by HT. Need to start taking our chances...

    Simon and Jackie Annals

    Ha ha ha. I thought you might bite at that comment!! I read that United were atrocious in the 1st half!

    Steve Rush

    Ha ha - couldn't help myself! United were terrible first half...

    4 more comments
     
  • Jan19

    Day 40 - Sod Ukraine What About Thailand

    January 19 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Woke up to discover that I had an email from the vetting people to say my Apple IPad may actually be suitable to complete my vetting questionnaire. Oh god, here we go again!!

    The first thing I had to do was cut & paste a link into Google to open up a portal. I failed at the first hurdle the WiFi in our room was not strong enough to upload the portal. I spent the next hour walking around the resort trying over & over again to upload the link without a glimmer of success. Totally f¥cked off, I resorted to begging a friend who has gone through the process to try & upload it for me in the UK.

    We had a liquid breakfast, Jackie had an iced coffee & I had a fresh mango shake. During breakfast, Swedish Julia found me & informed me that her computer is totally knackered & she cannot now work for the next 2 months until they go home. We are all being held hostage by technology!

    After breakfast we returned to our sun beds & read our paperback books. We are now fighting off Russians from all sides as they grow in numbers around Salad Beach. The point couldn’t have been emphasised any better than a Russian girl who at lunch was wearing a Russian army hat & just a skimpy bikini. Are they planning an invasion here as well?

    We had a relatively early lunch at Crystal next door & to mark our last lunch on Ko Phangan for a while, we ‘splashed out’ on a sandwich & french fries to share. The sandwich was onion confit, bacon, cheddar cheese & homemade pastrami, all in rye bread. It was absolutely gorgeous. Just 2 small beers accompanied it.

    Apart from the odd stroll along the beach we did nothing during the afternoon & ended it with a sundowner. Against my better judgement, we had a quick Hong Thong, then Jackie attacked my Pompadour with my beard trimmers on the balcony. I am now too scared to look in the mirror!

    After another Hong Thong we went out for dinner at Salad Hut, which Swedish Dad had recommended for it’s pizzas. When we arrived, the annoyingly loud Russian family were just leaving & it left us as the only diners. Not necessarily a good sign.

    We ordered a chicken satay starter followed by a margarita pizza with extra ham & garlic. The chicken was plentiful, but a bit chewy & the satay was not to my taste. The pizza then arrived & we knew we had made a mistake. Effectively it was a frozen pizza heated up in the oven & at some point ham slices & raw garlic slices were dropped on it. It was the second disappointing meal we had had in a row.

    We paid up & drowned our disappointment with Hong Thongs & a packet of 10 baht jammy dodgers. Just saying again! After a couple of Hong Thongs, Jackie felt the need to attack my Pompadour again, but now with a pair of nail scissors. My best white grandad shirt was covered in clumps of grey hair & blood. I’m never looking in a mirror again!

    Thank you Alka for getting me registered on the portal. Infuriatingly, I still can’t access the portal with the resort WiFi. Hopefully I’ll have better luck at our next stop!

    Song of the Day: Russians by Sting.
    Dominion / Mother Russia by Sisters of Mercy.
    The Best by Tina Turner.
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    Andy Mays

    You think I’m joking about my running bill for IT consultancy. Let me know how you get on once you’ve moved. 😎

     
  • Jan18

    Day 39 - No Techno to Technophobe

    January 18 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    At 8.30am, the alarm sounded & I rushed down to our sun beds to put our towels out. I was particularly nervous, because I could hear the noisy Russian family up & having breakfast. They were still free, phew.

    Once ensconced on my sun bed, I checked my emails & saw to my horror another request for the completion of a vetting form for a different job. Happily I had all the information I needed available & I was able to complete this vetting form on my IPad without leaving my sun bed. I was quite impressed with myself.

    Over breakfast of poached eggs & French toast with iced coffees, Jackie & I looked at accessing our emails through the Sky website on the internet. Try as we might, every time we tried to sign in we were denied access. After lots & lots of googling, we established that it was something to do with our IP address & we needed to contact Sky through their website that we couldn’t access. We went round & round in technophobic circles for the remainder of the morning.

    In the end we’d lost the will to live, so gave up & had lunch on our balcony, 2 cans of beer & some peanuts, whilst the IPads were recharged. The afternoon consisted of reading our good old fashioned paperback books back on the sun beds.

    The Swedish lady didn’t make contact with me during the day & I didn’t bother to hunt her down, because I needed access to my emails on her computer to get started. I’ve conceded defeat. The vetting forms will just have to wait until I get home.

    Just after 5pm, we had a few drops of rain, so we ran for shelter to our balcony. We then had a disagreement over accommodation in Koh Tao, Jackie was dithering, so I took charge & booked The Miracle Guesthouse & Dive, which had an excellent 9.2 rating on Booking.com & cost just £95 for 5 nights. Jackie accused me of only picking it because it included a superb breakfast. I took offence when she tried to make me promise not to have a Full American breakfast every day!

    That evening we returned to Salad Villa Restaurant, the restaurant on the beach for some barbecue food. I ordered a chicken skewer & Jackie chose a whole squid to accompany a large corn on the cob each. The restaurant was really busy which was possibly detrimental to the food because neither of us were particularly impressed with our dinner. Jackie’s squid was over cooked & very chewy, whilst there were more onion & peppers than chicken on my skewer. Still it was cheap & a lovely setting with the green lighted fishing boats out in the bay

    Song of the Day: Computer by Toyah.
    No Surprises by Radiohead.
    Read more

  • Jan17

    Day 39 - The Oldest Swingers NOT in Town

    January 17 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    The alarm was set for 8.30am & at 9am, I was laying out towels & sarongs on OUR sun beds. I then went into the restaurant to write up my blog & wait for Jackie. I returned the bike key which was collected without incident.

    We had an iced coffee & returned to our sun beds to find a Russian girl had moved her sun bed to within 2” of mine so she could also share the sunshine. I moved my bed a couple of inches away from her while she pretended to be asleep.

    We sunbathed all morning & noticed that all the Russian women around us resembled floor mops, a big head of hair & stick thin bodies, unlike us. We headed to Dubble Duke for lunch for a cheap beer. Jackie had a fried squid salad, whilst I had an Indian chicken curry.

    The afternoon was much of the same, but there were noticeably more young children around, mainly Russian. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Russian families all talk so incredibly loudly & I struggled to concentrate on reading my book.

    Sunset was a cracker that evening & warranted a couple of photos. Around the same time I also checked my emails & felt obliged to make more of an effort to complete a vetting form that had been sent to me that couldn’t be opened & completed on any Apple products or phones or tablets.

    With new determination, I popped down to reception to enquire with Pat if she had a computer or laptop I could borrow. She didn’t. She even rang another hotel, but they couldn’t help. I then knocked on Mandi & Jude, who had an Apple laptop that they were happy to lend me & Jude downloaded Google Chrome on to it for me. I took it away then had a touch of the seconds, because they were leaving the following morning. Mandi then introduced me to a Swedish family who had been staying at the resort for the last month, which ultimately resulted in the mum, Julia, agreeing to lend me her currently not working non Apple work laptop once IT had remotely fixed it. Hopefully this will be the following day.

    After all this running around, l relaxed with a chilled white wine on our balcony & we watched the full moon make it’s first appearance over a mountain. We tried to take photos of it, but it didn’t like it.

    We returned to the restaurant on the beach, where I ordered for both of us, a large Chang, a starter of No Name (vegetable tempura) & a Pad Thai. The waiter then turned to Jackie & asked what she would like. He was incredulous that we were sharing. He obviously thought that I looked like a greedy bastard!!

    After we’d finished dinner, we discovered that there was hardly anyone about & certainly no raving going on. We were definitely in the wrong place at the right time!

    We finished the evening with a quick nightcap on the balcony.

    Song of the Day: The Oldest Swinger in Town by Foster & Allen.
    Full Moon by The Kinks.
    Wrong Place, Right Time - No 2 by The Fall.
    Read more

  • Jan16

    Day 38 - Message in a Bottle Beach

    January 16 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    We both slept for over 10 and a half hours straight. I belatedly wrote up my blog & realised that we had failed to visit Bottle Beach the previous day. Disaster, especially when I discovered that to get to it by road was 18 miles away & yesterday we had been within 2 miles of it.

    We had an iced coffee for breakfast & the resort was noticeably busier, so Jackie negotiated with Pat to rent a ‘superior’ bungalow for 8 days when we returned from Koh Tao at a discounted rate. Nice work Jackie.

    It was gone 11am before we were back on the road again. We headed north to Chaloklum Beach where we found what appeared to be a number of nice waterfront restaurants & decided we would return that evening for dinner.

    We then followed a road up a high headland until we reached a car park full of scooters. We weren’t sure why or where everyone was, but a young lad informed us it was possible to walk from here to Bottle Beach. It would take at least an hour & the path was through jungle & up over a mountain. We decided against it on the grounds that we didn’t have any water with us. Just so we didn’t feel entirely lazy, we embarked on a 200 metre climb to a viewpoint looking down on Khom Beach, which was bloody knackering.

    We then drove the now 17 miles around the island to Bottle Beach. We found the correct turning off the main road, which for the next 2 miles took us along a bumpy dirt road until we reached a sign that read that only 4x4 vehicles were allowed to continue. We therefore parked up our bike with several others & continued on foot.

    For the next 500 metres (I measured it) we slipped & slid down the very steep loose gritted track. I effectively ‘snowploughed’ down in my adventure sandals. Our relief at reaching the bottom was short-lived when a couple coming the other way informed us we still had another 3/4 of a mile to go. This last leg was actually a pleasant undulating walk through coconut trees & the occasional sighting of a monkey.

    Dripping wet, we arrived at the very scenic Bottle Beach & made straight to the bar/restaurant for a much needed beer & food. Jackie had a Niçoise salad & I had spaghetti carbonara. It was all very pleasant apart from the flies attracted to our sweaty bodies. We noted that beach front huts with a fan could be rented for just £9 per night. We decided that we would stick to our aircon, but visit the beach again, but next time by taxi boat.

    After lunch we had a swim in the sea and wrote a message (in the sand) on Bottle Beach. I took photos of the message & Jackie, then I asked Jackie to take a photo of me with the message. Somehow she managed to adjust the camera settings from automatic to manual focus (As can be seen in the subsequent photo).

    We then steeled ourselves for the trudge back to our scooter. It took us half an hour of serious toil to complete the journey, particularly for the ridiculously steep last bit. At least we could now cool off with the air rushing past us on the scooter!

    We had gone no further than a couple of 100 yards when the rear wheel started to have a life of it’s own. My fears were realised when I looked down to see we had a flat rear tyre. Brilliant, on a Sunday, in the middle of nowhere & with absolutely no-one around.

    We had no choice but for Jackie to get off & walk, whilst I rode on ahead & turned left to find somewhere to get it fixed. I then crawled along the dirt track leaning over the handlebars to preserve the rear tyre. Luckily you are never too far away from a scooter repair shop in Thailand & less than 2 miles from where I left Jackie I found such a repair shop.

    The young mechanic undid the exhaust pipe to remove the wheel, then he replaced the inner tube & put it all back together again in about 30 minutes, by which time Jackie with her helmet in hand had caught me up. It would seem that a small sharp stone had caused the puncture & the cost of the repair & new inner tube, just 200 Baht. Less than a fiver, bargain.

    The afternoon was now pushing on so we rode back to Ban Tai & stopped at Lotus for more provisions, booze, mixers & a token bag of grapes. Opposite Lotus we found a shoe shop & we each bought a pair of Crocs to wear between the house & The Lemonery, for just 100 Baht a pair. Well we have to keep up with the Joneses (Clarkes & Rushes)!

    Pleased with our latest bargains, we sped north through the island back to Chaloklum Beach, but not before we had been waved through the police road block set up in exactly the same place as the previous night. At Chalokhum Beach we narrowed down our 2 favoured restaurants & chose the right hand one. It was the wrong one, next door was bustling with diners, so we had a quick relaxing beer on their empty waterfront tables, paid up & went next door to Cucina Italiano.

    In Cucina Italiano we ordered Italian food, Jackie had penne with ragu sauce & I had gnocchi with my favourite carbonara sauce, which didn’t really work & a garlic bread. It was very nice & warrants another visit.

    It was then a cold scooter ride home, where we ended the night with a nice hot shower & the remaining episodes of Afterlife.

    Song of the Day: Message in a Bottle by The Police.
    Nostalgie by Viken Arman.
    Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell.
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    Steve Rush

    Garden clogs is where it's at! All the cool kids are wearing them...

    Simon and Jackie Annals

    We’re joining the club!

    Andy Mays

    Nostalgia - where did you see that track? You losing the plot? Too much sun?

    Simon and Jackie Annals

    It was playing during lunch on Bottle Beach. Probably doesn’t travel well to a cold winter’s day in Sussex.

    Andy Mays

    Obviously helps when you spell the artist correctly. You sure your Mr Arman was a Viking 👀 😂😂😂

    Simon and Jackie Annals

    Bloody predictions spelling!!

     
  • Jan15

    Day 37 - Right Place, Wrong Time

    January 15 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    After another decent sleep we went down to reception at 9am for a much needed breakfast before our scooter arrived at 9.30. The timing couldn’t have been better, because as soon as the scooter arrived and I was required to complete the paperwork & go & check the scooter for damage etc, our breakfast of eggs on toast were going the other way to our table. By the time I returned to breakfast, Jackie had finished her poached eggs & my scrambled eggs were just lukewarm. Not the start I had been hoping for!

    Our trip commenced by heading south to (not so) Secret Beach followed by Yao Beach. The tide was high so we couldn’t see the beaches at their best, but we decided they didn’t match up to our Salad Beach. On their plus side, they certainly had more eating options within walking distance of the beaches.

    We stopped fleetingly at several other beaches, including Ao Chao pao, before driving through the busy centre of Thong Sala. After stopping at a pharmacy for a couple of bits, we stopped at a 7-11 store for some snacks for our room. I bought several packets of Dewberry jammy dodgers at just 10 Baht each. Just saying!

    The roads on Ko Phangan are very hilly & steep with lots of potholes, which makes riding a scooter extremely treacherous, particularly when at the bottom of each slope you have to drive through what can only be described as a sandpit. Understandably there are frequent scooter accidents resulting in the loss of skin on limbs which is known as a ‘Ko Phangan tattoo’. We have seen plenty of evidence of this with many people walking around with bandaged limbs, including one poor sod who had all 4 limbs & his chin bandaged! For these reasons, it is the law to wear a crash helmet & I had read that it is strictly enforced by the local police.

    The roads from Thong Sala to the south of the island were the trickiest to navigate, due to large cracks & potholes in the road, but we arrived safely at Hat Rin Nok Beach, better known as the famous Full Moon Party Beach. The next Full Moon Party is scheduled for two days time on Monday 17th January. We parked up & walked most of the length of the beach. Despite being deemed to be a beautiful beach it didn’t particularly do much for either of us. The beach front resorts were a mixture of nice to damn right awful & the town behind it was run down & soulless.

    We didn’t stay long & instead rode back to Ban Tai, just south of Thong Sala, then headed into the mountainous jungly heart of the island. This provided an exhilarating ride which took us to Than Sadet-Ko Pha-Ngan National Park, where we were forced to pay 100 Baht each entry fee. The road took us down to Hat Sadet Beach, which is highly rated in my guidebook. The beach was very pleasing on the eye with large boulders at either end & large waves crashing on to the beach. On the downside, the beach faced east & the tall palm trees behind the beach were shading it from the sun. After a quick beer in the beach restaurant, we sat on the beach for 30 minutes in a small sunny spot & snacked.

    As were were helmeting up back at the scooter, two wild boar sauntered past, but true to form they had virtually disappeared before I could lay my hands on the camera.

    We rode back up the road & parked up to walk a 100 metres to a waterfall. Halfway along the rocky path, we decided to stop because we could see in the distance that the waterfall didn’t look that impressive & there were Thai families & kids playing in & around it. Instead I leapt from rock to rock over a couple of raging torrents (streams) to get a better photo of it, when to my amazement a stark naked western man & woman emerged from the water where the kids were playing & started drying off on the rocks. I’m not a prude but that was seriously taking the piss in a country where even topless sunbathing is seriously frowned upon.

    We continued up the east coast to Thong Nai Pan Yai Beach, then to Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach, which was decidedly more upmarket. We parked our scooter up alongside Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villas & walked to the beach. As we did so I became aware of a security guard blatantly watching our every move. We walked up & down the beach & declared it the best beach we had visited today, but it also suffered with the afternoon sun disappearing behind the palm trees. I later checked the starting cost to stay in a room at Anantara with a sea view which turned out to be £494 per night.

    Still under the scrutiny of the security guard, we left the beach & headed home. We passed an afternoon rave in the jungle north of Thong Sala, then we stopped at a Lotus (Tesco) store to buy masks & snorkels but 30 minutes later emerged with enough wine & Hong Thong to sink a battleship. We passed another pool party rave with lots of bright red, pissed-up kids & we made up our mind there & then that we wouldn’t bother with the Full Moon Party.

    Heading home we chanced upon a Police roadblock & they were stopping everyone, presumably to fine them for not having a crash helmet or a face mask or both. At least 8 people had been detained at the side of the road, but after we had stopped we were waved on. It felt good & justified us wearing our uncomfortable helmets all day.

    We rode to KC Kitchens, a roadside restaurant we had spotted when we first returned arrived on Ko Phangan, because it was heaving with diners mid-afternoon. It was rough & ready, but the food was fantastic & plenty of it. I had a pineapple curry with chicken & rice, whilst Jackie ordered a crispy pork dish. We had also ordered a starter of spring rolls which arrived after the main course & we struggled, but managed to eat.

    After being out & about for around 11 hours, the evening ended with a much needed shower, several large glasses of passable white wine & 2 more episodes of Afterlife.

    Song of the Day: Right Place, Wrong Time by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
    Karma Police by Radiohead.
    Read more

  • Jan14

    Day 36 - A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts

    January 14 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    This morning we nearly got caught out when we saw people loitering near OUR sun beds. I managed to get our towels down whilst others dithered.

    To spice up our morning we ordered a couple of iced coffees from our very nice receptionist/manager, who we now know to be called Pat. Jackie enquired about extending our stay in our room for an additional 4 days & Pat gave us very favourable rates so that was a done deal.

    During the morning I bought a couple of lovely coconuts from Pat’s bunch she had for sale. Jackie & I then discussed our itinerary for the coming weeks in Thailand & came up with a plan. We would stay here at Salad Beach on Ko Phangan for a total of 8 days, then go to Koh Tao for 5 nights, then spend another 8 nights, probably back at Salad Beach for another 8 days before heading to Phuket and home. We would prefer our stay could go on & on!

    We also got chatting with Mandi, who has been staying at our resort since the beginning of December with her 19 year old son, Jude. Mandi is English who is now a self employed working with old people, but has spent most of her adult life travelling, mainly around Asia. She is an interesting character, but also quite a chatterer.

    Lunch was back at Dubble Duke for a couple of cheap beers. I had stir fried mushrooms with chicken & rice, whilst Jackie had a bowl of french fries.

    After lunch, we borrowed our new friend’s lilo & took it out to sea for a relaxing float. It seemed to have developed a couple of punctures whilst it was in our possession & so we blew it up & returned it as good as new………for a few minutes.

    Mandi got her own back, when she asked if I had any books she could read as she had read every English novel in the whole of Salad Beach. I generously gave up my book I was currently reading, but quite frankly not really enjoying. She did give me a DCI Banks book in exchange.

    That evening we returned to Spicy Salad for another romantic meal. Jackie & I ordered dishes that I cannot recall the names of. Jackie had a pork & rice dish, whilst I had a chicken noodle curry from northern Thailand. Both were very tasty, but the portions were too small for us. We left the restaurant certainly less than full & we didn’t have any food back in the room.

    We compensated with a couple of Hong Thongs whilst watching the 1st two episodes of the excellent Afterlife series 3 on Netflix.

    I also fixed the malfunctioning flash on my camera.Apparently the flash doesn’t work in silent mode, which I had switched it to for my covert photos. The result of all this means that I didn’t get any pictures of Jackie eating!!

    Song of the Day: On & On by Longpigs.
    Afterlife by Nothing But Thieves.
    Read more

    Andy Mays

    So you didn’t bother breathing in then? 😂

    Simon and Jackie Annals

    Obviously not!

    Steve Rush

    That looks so nice. I'm sitting here checking flights for Easter! Decent deals on Finnair via Helsinki...

    Simon and Jackie Annals

    You know it makes sense Steve

    2 more comments
     

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