Lee & Trevor’s Thailand Adventure 21st March to 23rd April.
This is one very long JBR therefore: it’s being delivered in Chapters
GETTING THERE (Sat 31st March)
New LGA rules came in today, so we had to ensure all liquids etc were in bottles no more than 100ml and were in a clear plastic re-sealable bag. No more than 1L total. We thought things would be busy at the airport, but seeing we’d already checked in online, hoped we’d get though without too much delay. Ha, we nearly missed our flight, we never heard the boarding call and when we finally got to the Gate, the staff told us we weren’t on that particular flight. “Not funny, Jan”. Luckily the lady who checked us in, was there also and recognized us, somehow our names had been put on the bottom of “some list” which nobody read. So we had to run down the boarding tunnel, while the ground crew were yelling instructions down the walkie talkie not to close the doors. Of course, someone was sitting in our seats by mistake. Love being so obvious, NOT! Waved to Beth & Craig and slunk into our now vacated seats. Oh, forgot that we were on TV, Channel 10 stuck a big camera in our faces at the check in counter and wanted our opinion of the “new LGA rules”. I know I looked like a rabbit caught in a trap, fortunately Trevor was able to answer the stupid question.
Flight ok, watched DVD’s, ate & drank. Arrived in Singapore early, but flight to Phuket delayed for some reason. They announced a 45min delay, whereby Trevor decided to head to the smoking area, and 5 seconds after he left they called for plane boarding. “Here we go again” only this time I’m standing there unable to get on the plane, one of the crew started off for the smoking area with a brief description of what my errant husband looked like. Another run down the plane boarding tunnel. Trevor seemed highly amused, if looks could kill, I would have a lot of explaining to do. We had reserved the exit row seats, so a very comfortable flight to Phuket.
Arrived at approx 7.30pm, changed some AUS dollars at exchange counter about 26.6 baht and met Mai’s wife Nuch for our transfer to Deevana. Mai was working, but Nuch had organized a driver to collect us with her which we much appreciated. Unfortunately it was dark and couldn’t see much, but got a few bearings for map reference. “Heroine’s Monument and “Tesco Lotus” became two signs that helped me get my bearings everytime. Arrived at Deevana where the cold towels were greatly needed, already feeling the heat to come. Dropped off our luggage and went for a walk into Patong. Should have changed clothes, as this didn’t help with the heat. It was really oppressive and we struggled with the number of people on Beach Rd and activity going on. Walked as far as the Burasari where Trevor got his bum squeezed a few times by the massage girls, while I was waiting to cross the road. Went back to the bar at the Holiday Inn for a few cocktails, before fighting our way back to the Deevana for a soak in the spa and a few more drinks. Not sure what we thought of anything at that point.
Woke on Sunday, took some photos of resort for hotel review, picked up by Mai & Nuch at 10.30am for transfer to airport for flight to Samui for next 5 nights. (Samui JBR on Samui forum).
Arrived back from Samui at 12.45pm and got a metered taxi to Andaman Beach Suites Hotel (waited about 15 minutes). Cost 420 baht. Had to wait for our room to be ready at ABSH for another 45mins, although I think this is because they were setting it up for “Mr T Ryles honeymoon”. Not sure who they thought he was spending it with though as there wasn’t any other name of the card. This was a nice gesture as we mentioned it was our delayed Thailand honeymoon after we had to rearrange yet another hotel during our booking dilemmas. Raced out again to change some Oz money, did a quick spot of shopping, heading for our first “back room”, too bad for me I turned to look at something and Trevor had disappeared. I wandered to the back of the shop, but couldn’t see him, wandered back to Beach rd and waited and waited and waited. After 15 minutes, I was starting to get a bit concerned, the shop people suggested he was “shopping”, but I know my husband doesn’t know how, so they must have been wrong. I started wondering what I was going to do, I knew he couldn’t have been kidnapped, but I also knew how many times he lost his sense of direction in Samui, so I figured he may start walking towards the big tall hotel in Karon Beach before he worked out where he was. Eventually he reappeared, with 4 polo shirts in his mits and minus almost twice as much money, as he should have been. After remonstrating him about his limited bartering skills, he became the meanest, miserly man in the Patong shopping area. I’d pity the sellers when he went shopping from then on.
Overall impression of Patong – “HOT, HOT, & HOT” So many people in such a small space, lots of shops, all selling the same thing, too many tailors, although they do make me laugh at how hard they try.
Went for a walk up past the Novotel as far as the Blue Marine, and checked out the area where the Baan Norbett appartments were. Nice little beach for listening to the waves. Timed the walk back down the hill. Blue Marine to the Novotel 7 minutes, Novotel to Gracelands 6 minutes, Gracelands to Club Andaman corner 4 minutes. (Andaman Beach Suites to Club A corner over 4 minutes). I think I would look at Gracelands if ever staying in Patong again, I wouldn’t have minded the distance to the others but would have hated to climb those hills and in the heat the extra walking distance really would have been too much.
Trevor had his tattoo done at Nichao’s while I was out walking, very pleased (thanks Cathy & Gary).
Shopping – we felt the best was OTOP markets, liked heading into the Ocean Plaza’s and Jungleceylon to get cool down before next stretch. Got too hot & lazy and started using tuk tuks back to hotel.
Ate at the beach restaurants 47 & 48 across from 7/11 just near Club A, (everytime we headed out for a meal it started raining). We couldn’t always find some of the suggested places and we only had 3 nights to head out looking, so were happy with prices and food. Found a great little sandwich shop in the little road we walked out of ABSH just past BYD lofts on the left. Tried our first vendor food behind ABSH (or front) opposite Deevana entrance. Had a few drinks in “Two Black Sheep”, “Molly Malones”, “Rock city (had to sit outside) and ended up at “Thru the sea” one night after dodging showers. Had to laugh as we realized we were sitting in an “oldies” bar, but the female singer had an amazing voice. A few of the band members sang too, although it never ceased to amaze me why so many Thai singers try singing Elvis songs.
Fri Night Social 6th April
After losing Trevor on Beach Rd, we raced back to hotel with enough time for shower before pick up at Club A at 5.15 by Richard’s driver. Met Nicky, Ken & their sons (Joel & Mike) and Deb with her daughters & son (Steph, Daria & Tate), who we traveled to the BBQ, swapping stories along the way. Almost forgot it was Good Friday today, my folks would be horrified if they new what I ate that day. This was our first “non-Thai” meal since we left Adelaide and the potatoes were pretty scrumptious, loved the Swedish meatballs and the asparagus in bacon blanket Richard so kindly found for me. Got in trouble for drinking Singha (“tourist beer”), so I soon had the Chang slinging down pat. Great to meet so many TA forum members, apologies to those we didn’t get to say hello to.
Off to the Sunshine Bar, we had picked up a new nickname “The White-out People” (thanks Tate) who just happened to be the first up the pole I think. We sat with Nicky, Ken, Joel & Mike at the BBQ and somehow (with Richard’s guidance I think) we ended up at sitting at the “bar” when we got there, this for us ended up the place to be. The Thai waitresses sang us a lovely little Thai ditty and the singing never stopped. Ken was pretty good at knowing all the words to every song, (some Nicky & I had never heard of), and it didn’t take long for Trevor and Steve (South African fellow) to join in. Steve’s sister Deb, Nicky & I spent most of the night behind the bar dancing and drinking some funny little glasses of liquid that tasted like “rocket fuel” in between our Changs. I reckon I sweated dinner off that night. Steve’s sister and I managed to work out we are only a few days older/younger than each other, so she was quite happy us old boilers had plenty of stamina. There are only a few photos of this night that are worthy of a look, not sure if that was the photographer’s fault or the subjects. Managed to climb up the pole (just) and ring the bell, with a lot of help. Boy, that pole is slippery. This was our first meeting with Richard and Megumi and I can’t thank them enough for all their efforts to ensure Trevor & I were so very well looked after during our whole time in Phuket. Oops, I almost forgot, that toilet is amazing.
John Gray’s “Hongs by Starlight”
We did this on Monday 9th April. Absolutely brilliant day. Picked up at 11.45 and collected another couple and their children from the Novotel (glad I never walked up that hill). There were approximately 30 people on our trip. I took so many photos, but it is so hard to capture the essence of the scenery in one small photograph, it’s just that amazing. The big man himself was on our tour, which made me happy, there was a Kiwi guy on his honeymoon (Richard), and he & John swapped some very interesting rugby training stories which made the mind boggle at the fitness level required. The crew are brilliant, looking after everybody’s needs & wishes. There was so much food and I particularly loved the soup, but I can’t find the name anywhere. The sea eagles following the boat were so beautiful & graceful. Canoeing into the Hongs was much less scary than I had anticipated. The bat cave stank as much as everyone says it does. A storm built up as we were making our Kratongs, we watched a tremendous sky show with the sun setting on one side of an island and all this amazing lightning in the sky on the other side. Once the rain started we all had to dive for shelter to wait it out. Unfortunately after 2nd or 3rd “it’ll stop in 15 minutes” and a bag full of magic tricks performed by one of the crew, the decision was made that we could not re-enter the caves to float our Kratongs, so we headed back toward Ao Por pier and stopped a little way our and everybody jumped back in their respective canoes to float our Kratongs from the back and side of the boat. John said this was the first time in 6 years, they had not been able to re-enter the caves. So we mad history anyway, I must say the thought of going back into that smelly bat cave in the dark was not overly appealing. We are hoping that John got some decent photos to add to his web site.
Tuesday 10th April, picked up by Richards driver again (Deg, I think) at 10.10am, and proceeded to the Hilton to collect Anne, Dave & Matt and then Club Med to gather Deb, Gary, Stephanie & Jayden. Up to the Small View bar where we met Max & Maxine. We thought we’d had a wild night the night before, but I’m glad I wasn’t in the same plane as them. Richard gave us a rundown of what to expect re Charlie & Yum Lai and the “Ellies”. We already knew we would not get the privilege of visiting the centre with Richard in tow, so tried keeping expectations to a minimum. Charlie appeared as soon as we arrived as he was very pleased to see our driver. We all went for our Elephant trek with the 3 kids on an elephant together. We seemed to have the biggest and oldest elephant so there were many comments flying around about that one. We had some great views, but it was so hard taking photos of each other, and discovered some very blurred ones amongst them. We fed the elephants for a while after our ride. Charlie was still at the bar upon our return, ready for some preening, when all we wanted was a drink. We all had a time preening him, although be WARNED, don’t let your attention wane when supposedly doing this – everyone was trying to get organized for a group photo and I stopped preening for a few seconds and got reprimanded by Charlie for losing concentration. It was quite funny, he certainly know what he wants and loves the attention. We got some good photos, but only saw Lum Yai as we were leaving. We stopped there the next day, and watched the elephants eating bunches of bananas from off the ground, it was very interesting seeing how they pick up the leaves, brush the dirt and prickles off using their leg, before eating.
Well, haven’t time for anymore at present, will cover our day with Sam, Songkran, Molly Malones and everything else in the next chapter. Once again our heartfelt thanks goes to Richard & Megumi for all their organising, Cathy & Gary for all their great info (and shopping tips, carried the prices around with me too) and all TA members we met or missed so far.