March 2018 - July 2019
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  • Day18

    The weather is grim!

    April 15, 2018 in Hong Kong ⋅ 🌫 17 °C

    Back down to chilly weather with a bang. En route from Bangkok to London we have a day in Hong Kong. Pulling open the hotel room curtains we are greeted with a thick mist. Hooray, it is starting to clear. Boo, it is being replaced by the most relentless rain and windy weather that we have seen in quite a while. It’s going to be a very damp wander round HK today.Read more

  • Day15

    Scuba day

    April 12, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    Whilst Al soaks up the rays by the pool it is time for another day of diving including Emma’s first open water dives.

    Thailand is a beautiful dive destination and today’s dives are way out to sea but in a protected bay on a small pair of islands so ideal for a new diver. T, our divemaster, briefs us and we ‘giant stride’ into the ocean and descend gently to the bottom. 12m is the max depth for a novice but there is still plenty to see including several octopi, a large moray eel and some smaller morays, lots of giant puffer fish and more. It’s a long day with 3 dives and a lengthy boat trip out to sea. Leave at 8 and back just before 7pm.

    The photos don't really do it justice (and they need the colours fixing to adjust for the loss of colour underwater).
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  • Day13

    "Take me to the beach"

    April 10, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    Although we usually avoid plannned excursions, lethargy and lack of public transport led us to book a day trip to the famous Phi Phi islands with a company called Phuket Island Hopper. The islands are about 30 miles offshore. We take a mini van for an hour to the east side of Phuket, a speedboat for an hour to meet up with a bigger group who left earlier for a longer day trip, then a final speedboat to arrive at Ko Phi Phi Don just after lunchtime.

    Wow is it busy! There must be 30 boats lined up on the shore and dozens of others moored in the harbour. It is quite a feat but our captain manages to find a ’parking’ space. Tourists mill around and a bar beckons us for a cold drink. Because most of the boats only stop for a short time I’m sure on a longer trip it would be easy to get away from the crowds. But we don’t have the time today.

    Soon we are on our way to Monkey Beach, a couple of minutes ride away. A group of wild monkeys live on the beach and are fed by tourists on boats hence they have learnt to swim out to grab food. Cute but not natural. Our guide has quite some fun feeding bananas to the monkeys and they are quick to jump in the water and get their fill. They are cheeky looking things but we are warned that they bite and best for them not to get too close.

    En route to Ko Phi Phi Lee we are taken past a few other caves and bays. The Viking Cave is a unique sight and one of Ko Phi Phi’s main tourist attractions. The cave was so named, due to the prehistoric drawings that were found on the cave walls that resemble ancient viking ships.
    Within the cave there are lots of ledges which are inhabited by thousands of birds called swifts. These birds make their nests out of their own saliva, the nests are harvested and later sold to make birds nest soup, a Chinese delicacy.

    We arrive at Maya Beach after about 15 mins passing some beautiful scenery and again this bay is another tourist day trip highlight mainly for its location for the film ‘The Beach’. We snorkel and take a walk on the beach - disappointed not to find Leonardo but loads of tourists instead.

    Leaving the island and heading home you get a spectacular view of the island and it takes around 1 hr to get back to Phuket. We sat the back of the boat and unsurprisingly we are wetter than when we started off given the splash back from the waves. That said it was a great day.
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  • Day12

    Diving day 1

    April 9, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    That’s enough pool lazing for Paul. Today he’s off out on a dive boat about 30km off the coast of Phuket. The trip out is about an hour and a half and rather choppy ... just watch the horizon.

    Mostly small stuff to see - a seahorse, stingray, lots of moray eels and some small leopard sharks curled up under some coral.
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  • Day8

    R&R and Bangla Road

    April 5, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    After another day’s travelling we feel a day by the pool is fair reward. Paul takes a walk into Karon and back via the golden sandy beach.

    In the evening we head for Patong, the “liveliest” spot in Phuket. There’s a huge modern American style mall where we stock on a few medical supplies. We then take a walk along Bangla Road, the notorious centre of Patong. It is early when we get there but the bars are starting to turn up the music to attract customers. We’re hungry so we are headed for a recommended Italian restaurant called Salute. We are greeted by the owner, an ex-pat Italian, and eat authentic pasta, pizza and bruschetta. Topped off by limoncello. .

    As we venture outside the bars are in full swing with pole dancers on the bar tables. Cheap drinks are in offer as well exotic floor shows. We pass.

    Head back to the hotel on a tuk tuk with disco lights and music being broadcast to all.
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  • Day7

    Back on a plane

    April 4, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ 🌙 28 °C

    Another bit of travelling to do today to our next stop in Phuket for a bit of R&R. We treat ourselves to a taxi direct to the airport (£20) and it seems just as well we did as, for the lengthy period we run parallel to the railway, there are no trains to be seen.

    A quick breakfast and we’re off to the plane. Bangkok Airways A320. Boarding is very efficient and the plane is rolling down the runway 10 minutes early. That’s how it is done BA.

    It is just over an hour flight to Phuket. Flying domestic there’s no passport control to worry about but there is a long queue at baggage reclaim with no bags from even the arrival before appearing. Miraculously, however, our bags turn up a few minutes later - could the Cathay priority bag tags I left on them have played a part?

    Shunning the so it yourself travel approach yet again we’d booked a transfer to our hotel so only a few minutes to wait and we’re on our way. Phuket is much more built up than I’d thought with some sizeable towns and shopping malls en route to our destination of Karon beach.
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  • Day6

    Venice of the East

    April 3, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    Bangkok’s canals - or Khlongs to the locals - were created in the 16th century to help speed up the voyage to the sea for foreign merchants. By the 19th Century there were so many Bangkok was dubbed the Venice of the East. Most have now been filled in but on the West side of the river some remain and are still used for transport but mainly exist as a tourist attraction.

    We tour the canals in a traditional Thai long tail boat powered by a truck engine and a long propellor. We turn off the wide river into the narrow canal and the riverside properties range from broken and collapsed wooden houses through precariously balanced houses to carefully looked after solidly built properties with gardens. Several attempts at cleanups by the government have been made but this is one waterway I’d really rather not take a dip in. The locals must be annoyed constantly by the buzzing of these tourist boats. It is interesting to see a different view of Bangkok; there are many smaller channels off the main canal that look interesting to explore - some derelict, some wide enough only for a canoe.

    We end our trip at the pier which serves Chinatown. A Thai approach to health and safety as we scramble from the low lying longboat via tyres acting as boat fenders onto the pier itself.
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  • Day6

    Wat Pho

    April 3, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    Moving on from Wat Arun we cross the river by a small shuttle boat to another Temple. Wat Pho - famous for a large reclining Buddha. It is easily one of the most stunning temples in Bangkok, not only because of its riverside location, but also because the design is very different to the other temples you can visit. It is also a very important place of worship for the people of Bangkok.

    We are first led to the long line of people wanting to get a view of the reclining Buddha. It is certainly impressive and worth a look. On the reverse side you are invited to pay 20 Baht and drop coins into the offering bowls all along the length of the Buddha. After that we take up the offer of free water (a nice touch) and go for a walk to the other buildings. There are 100s of beautiful Buddhas, said to be the largest collection in Thailand, all shiny and bright gold and resplendent in their setting. Also we make a stop to take time out in Phra Ubosot (Phra Uposatha) which is the ordination hall, the main hall used for performing Buddhist rituals, and the most sacred building of the complex.
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