Bars, Beaches, Buddhas & Ladyboys - 6 May - 21 May

Trip Start Sep 09, 2010
Trip End May 28, 2011

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Flag of Thailand  , Phuket,
Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday 6th May

Today we are going to the island of Koh Samet for the weekend. I arranged to meet Jan at her school as we are going with about 20 other teachers. I got the BTS to Phaya Thai and although I had my backpack with me decided to walk the 500 mtr to the school instead of getting a taxi - thought the exercise would do me good. But it was in the middle of the afternoon and sweltering, and well having 15 kg on your back is just not a good idea. So arrived very hot and sweaty and not in the best of moods! We left in a hired minibus at around 3pm and headed off to Koh Samet. Samet is only an hour or so from my friend Lucy’s so instead of returning back to Bangkok with everyone else I am going to meet and stay with her in Ban Chang and then head off to Phuket.

The journey should be about a two hour drive, on a normal day from Bangkok, but this was a Friday, the traffic was busy and as we headed onto the freeway so the minibus broke down. Well to be correct it ran out of gas - real gas not petrol as this is an eco-friendly taxi service - however for some bizarre reason the vehicles don’t have fuel gauges. So we sat around on the hard shoulder, sitting in the sizzling heat for an hour or so, before the Thai equivalent of the AA towed us away…and I mean literally towed us - all of us were still in the minibus whilst the tow truck towed us along the highway….this would never happen in the UK! Luckily it was only a short ride to the gas station where we got filled up and then finally headed off to the fishing town of Rayong where were would then be getting a water taxi to the island. We arrived around 5.30pm as another group of Jan‘s friends who had driven arrived. We hired a private speed boat for the group which took about 15-20 minutes and was 200 baht each. The mini bus was around 400 baht each - £7.

The speed boat dropped us off at the beach - there is no landing ramp or pier so you have to jump off with your luggage into the sea and scramble onto the beach. And it’s not particularly easy walking in the sand with a backpack on so managed to get on of the lads to carry mine!! However all was not straight forward when we arrived at the hotel. We thought we were booked into Samat Villa - the majority of the accommodation is bungalow style and right on the beach - and where everyone else was staying. Rachel, who is a friend of Jan’s who cancelled at the last minute, had booked and paid a deposit, earlier in the day, or so we thought. However, supposedly we were supposed to re-confirm the booking that day, even though it had been booked and paid that day (today)- they still didn’t reserve a room for us. Quite bizarre and as you can imagine we were a little annoyed. Jan was fuming and I was not impressed but what could we do. Anyway thankfully next door at Silver Beach they had a room available which was lovely . The room is spacious with a balcony and big TV so I was happy. We have paid 2000 baht for two nights so that is £20 each, so all good in the end!

I didn’t feel very well though, felt sick most of the way in the minibus, maybe it was a bit of travel sickness but the insides of my stomach were all topsey turvey. We got changed and went out for a few drinks, but not a late night and didn’t get round to eating. I was just really tired so Jan and I decided not to join the others who were going clubbing over at the far end of the island and had an early night instead so we could make the most of Saturday.

Saturday 7th May

Got up quite late so thought we’d missed breakfast but when we went down just before 11am they were still serving, a result. I had French toast with bacon and honey, I first tried this in New York a couple of years back and really like the contrast of the sweet and sour flavours. As we are now Silver Sand patrons we got free sun loungers, so Jan and I spent the day chilling out by the hotel just looking out across the white of the sand and the crystal blue sea. We had a lovely relaxing day of pampering at the beach. I had a foot/heal peel a bit like a pedicure but focused mainly on the hard skin of the sole of the foot. I then had a back massage. Here there are beach sellers, people who wander along the beach trying to sell you massages or fruit drinks and sarongs etc, but they don’t keep harassing you if you say no, unlike some places I have visited such as Kerala in Southern India or Bali, it’s a nightmare, but not here,

The sea is so warm it was like soaking in a tepid bath - lovely but not particularly refreshing. It looked like it might rain the sky darkened over to the right of us but thankfully it stayed dry. My final treats of the day were a beer and a henna tattoo on my right ankle for 350 baht - £7. The foot pedicure was 250 baht - £5 and a back massage with oils not the hardcore Thai one was 250 for half an hour. Probably could have bartered them down to lower prices, but they didn’t have much work and it’s only a couple of quid after all. I think I am getting addicted to massages though - which isn‘t good as they cost treble if not more back in the UK. They are such a treat and make you feel so much better. My back is a million times better than it was thanks for the two I’ve had so far.
I like the feel of this island. It is not so busy with western tourists, there are Thais, families and young travellers, but it is certainly not a party island - well not where we are staying. I could imagine coming here by myself, especially during the week, and feeling very relaxed, comfortable and at ease with a book and a beer and no-one else. I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable at all about coming here and there are not too many beach places I could say that, but it would be lovely to spend a few days alone to de-stress.

Jan and I went for dinner at Samat Villas and enjoyed watching the young Thai fire eaters. We joined the others at Jeps Bar for a few glasses of red wine before they headed to Nagga which is at the other end of the island to party the night away once more. One of the girls got a bit worse for wear the night before and ended up falling asleep under a table on the beach. She woke up in the morning covered and I mean covered in dozens and dozens of terrible bites, not sure if they were mossies or may have been sand flies but they looked disgusting and must have felt worse, we heard later that there had been two cases of malaria on the island the last couple of weeks. This is unusual but bought on by the rains and tropical storms of late. We oldies (I think Jan and I are the oldest in the group) went off to our room for an early night via the bar and one last beer and hit the sack at 1am.

Sunday 8th May

I got up by myself to have breakfast early as I met my friend Lucy who came to the island with her three young kids. I headed to Pudsa Beach which adjoins Silver Beach so is a 5 minute walk away. Lucy was already in the sea with her kids, Lily 7, Poppy 4 and Toby 2. The last time I saw them all was in the UK two years ago but they don’t remember me of course. We had a nice morning swimming and then Toby and Poppy has a snooze for a couple of hours. Lily and I headed back to Silver Beach to say goodbye to Jan and the others as they were leaving on the 1pm speed boat ferry. We had a drink and I paid for her to have a very pretty butterfly style henna tattoo on her shoulder…so it wouldn’t show at school and only 150 baht. We then went for a walk further up the island, but shortly into it the heavens opened and we got drenched running back to Pudsa beach. It was torrential rain for about half an hour and then it was all over, but it had been so heavy that a temporary stream appeared in the sand that ran directly from the small café we sheltered under right into the sea. The water was all churned up and had now turned from a turquoise blue into a muddy brown. Thankfully it stopped raining as we got the last ferry of the day at 4pm.

However, by the time our water taxi home arrived, the sea was pretty rough from the wind and we all got soaked stepping into the boat as the waves were rough and the water knee deep. It was a bit of a struggle getting in as the boat bobbed up and down and then violently shook as each wave hit it…I nearly went flying with my backpack and landed precariously close to the crotch area of some gentleman sitting at the back of the boat - luckily he moved quickly as I slid into him! As this was a public ferry service it cost 200 baht each and we had to stop at about 5 beaches before heading off into the open water back to the mainland. We hadn’t even left the shoreline, before people were already being sea-sick! Anyway thankfully the ride is only 15 minutes although the journey itself too more than an hour but I managed to keep the inside of my stomach in-tack.We then drove to Ban Chang where Lucy lives. It’s a small town about an hour from Rayong.

Everyone is at school tomorrow. Lucy is a teacher at the Garden International School, where Lily and Poppy are also studying. Toby is still at home and they have a maid called Nid who comes every day to do the cleaning and looks after Toby - it’s what all ex-pats do here as it is so cheap - in comparison to hiring someone in the UK - Lucy pays Nid around 7,000 baht a month, which is a good salary out here and around £150. Unfortunately Lucy is now a single parent and has been looking after the three kids solo for the last couple of years - so it’s pretty full on and extremely tiring raising the children alone and working full-time. But she’s amazing and has always been so full of energy that if anyone can do it Lucy can. The kids are lovely and a real credit to her all tucked in bed with no dramas by 7.30pm so just enough time for a couple of glasses of wine and a proper catch up before we too head for bed early!

Monday 9th May 2011

A chill out day - the kids came bursting into my room at 6.45am! Lily has kindly given me her room to stay in whilst she shares with Lucy. Toby and Poppy share bunk beds next door. The kids and Lucy are all off to school for 7.30am and quiet! I got up at 9 and just as I got out of shower so Lucy arrives home unexpectedly to pick up a memory stick she’d forgotten for her assembly later that day. As she was back she took me to the local Tesco - yes you heard me right - to do a spot of shopping. Tesco has acquired the local Thai brand - Lotus - so instead of the customary red, blue and white branding we are accustomed to in the UK - the Thai Tesco/Lotus is dark green. Went for a coffee first and then managed to find my way amongst the aisles which are marked in Thai and English and found most of the items on Lucy’s list. I then got a tuk tuk home. But this isn’t the usual type - it was more of a van with the sides cut off - but cool all the same - I do love them….and it only cost 70 baht - just over £1. Spent the rest of the day playing with Toby. A bit of a drama though. Toby has had these weird kind of lesions come up on his body, they are mossie bites that have gone nasty over the last few days. Luc has been putting cream on that seemed to be working but then today some more came up. We thought it might be some horrible blood disease he’d caught so to be safe she took him to the local hospital. Luckily all was ok and it was just an infection - caused by Toby teething and having his fingers in his mouth all the time and then rubbing his sores. So all good, but it meant I had to get the girls showered and ready for bed. Not too bad but you know what kids are like trying it on. But again as mum arrived at 7.30pm they went straight to bed no problems. Very impressed.

Tuesday 10th May

My blog has been temporarily shut down which means I can’t edit or publish it and no-one can view it. Not sure if this is a result of a couple of strange messages I reported getting a week or so ago. Nothing too dodgy just someone commenting on my Philae temple pictures from Aswan, Egypt, saying that they wanted to marry someone…not me but was slightly strange so I reported it to Travelpod which is the website that hosts my blog. Travelpod is so easy to use and I’ve managed to keep my blog up-to-date from every country I’ve visited. Anyway I was worried that all the work and hours I’d spent on it would be lost so sent them a couple of message begging them to re-activate it. And within 24 hours it was plus as a result of them having to review the content to make sure it was ok, they decided they actually quite liked it and the photos and will publish some of the content on their site. Pretty chuffed, might not be on for a few months but nice to know people who don’t even know me are finding my accounts interesting.

Wednesday 11th May

Had the use of Lucy’s car today a big 4-wheel drive Ford Everest - automatic so very easy to drive, and they drive on the left-hand side here in Thailand so the same as the UK thankfully. Lucy let Lily have the day off (she’s never ill) so we visited an area called Silver Lake and Elephant Land about half an hour way. Lily was there a few months back but loves elephants and so do I, so Luc thought it might be nice for me to have some company. We arrived around 10am after getting a little lost, but eventually after a few calls to Lucy, found the side road that then took us straight to Silver Lake. I think we were the first tourists of the day when we got to the Elephant Park. We decided to have a 30 minute ride and that cost 900 baht plus 100 for a photo. We rode on the back of an 57-year old female elephant. The centre has nine elephants in total most of which are related. This was what I expected an elephant ride to be like, compared to my experience in Bali. Lily actually got to ride on the neck of the elephant as we rode through the woods and wandered high up amongst the native vegetation - got scratched a couple of times - it drew blood - as we went through thorny over grown vines! But we got a lovely view of the surrounding hills and the backdrop of the famous Buddha which is etched into the mountain side.

Lily was my translator for the day. As Lucy has had Thai maids to help her look after the kids, Lily is now fluent I think the locals get a shock when this sweet little 8-year-old blonde girl starts jabbering away to them. After the elephant ride we headed up the road to Silver Lake. Surprising this is actually a vineyard - and was quite picturesque but we didn’t stay long - we had a tram ride around the grounds but it was hitting midday and Lily and I were beginning to melt so we had some food at the nearby food stall, just meat and rice for 130 baht. We then made our way to the Wat Yansangwararam - a modern Thai/Chinese Temple which was pretty spectacular. It was located on Sukhumwit Road, about 12 km south of Pattaya and is set in a vast, scenic and tranquil location by a lake. It had a phenomenal collection of buddhas - a private collection - and there were some terracotta soldiers from Xian in China, that had been donated to the collection. We finally stopped off at Buddha Mountain, the main landmark of the area. As the name suggests the mountain has a large gold Buddha painted on its side. It was only painted 15 or so years ago, but is huge and impressive as you can see if for miles. We were then made our way back home via a road-side café before picking up Lucy from school. It was a nice day out. I was a bit worried about driving but really it was pretty straight forward, the rules are the same as in the UK except here, I think you maybe be able to do this is Australia, but you can turn left on a red light if there is nothing coming. The only nuisance really are all the scooters and motorbikes that bob and weaving around and you never quite know what they are going to do next.

My main observation of Thailand so far is that of a developed country more than a developing one such as Egypt and Peru for example and definitely not third-world. I’ve not yet seen signs of extreme poverty, but I know it must be there in the countryside I’m sure and I’ve heard that some people actually live in slums on the railway lines of Bangkok. I also haven’t seen signs of prostitution that you expect in a country that has a reputation like that of Thailand. However even in Ban Chang where Lucy lives which has a small ex pat community there are shacks along the roads which sell food by day and by nights are transformed with sparkly twinkly lights into brothels.

I am reading a book called Bangkok Babylon by Jerry Hopkins which is a collection of stories about 25 of the city’s most colourful ex-pat characters…interestingly though they are all men. I sensed as I started reading the accounts and even being here just a few days, how Bangkok really is a man’s town. It is full of slim, young, beautiful and exotic looking women….as one of the ex-pats said in the book- how can a western woman compete? Here in Bangkok and other cities in Thailand any man can pay as little as 500 baht £10 to have an hour of lust with a beautiful woman, and as the most someone can earn from working in a paddy field is 250 baht a day you can understand why so many young women are pushed into prostitution by their families. However it is very sad that so many women find themselves having to sell their body to make a living. It seems to me though, that you can still come to Thailand and not see all the sex, but you can find it easy enough.

Thursday 12th May

Went for tea at Robsons restaurant near to where Lucy lives, which is right on the beach. Had a lovely traditional Thai meal and a nice large glass of red wine. Not cheap the wine was the equivalent of £4 - ouch, but so to dine out with sand between your toes and the sea breeze on your face.

Friday 13th

We went to a Turtle Conservation centre at Sattahip, about 30 km from Pattaya, and 20 mins from Lucy’s. The centre is situated within a Royal Naval area. The navy and other voluntary organisations protect its breeding beaches, rear hatchlings to a safe release age and re-habilitate sick and injured animals. It is free but you need to show identification before you can enter the secure naval base. The centre includes four large covered pools which include various types and size of turtles from those that are smaller than your fist to the larger giant sized reptiles. I drove Toby, Poppy and Nid (the maid) as it was her birthday and we spent a couple of hours. It was great - the kids loved it and the baby tiny turtles were so cute. Poppy and I went to pick up Lucy and Lily from school and we then we went swimming as they have a 25-metre pool. I managed10 lengths of breast strokes - most I’ve done since I was at school over 20 years ago!

14th May, Saturday.

I don’t feel great, the lower part of my left leg is covered in red bites. They are itchy and I think they are mossie but could be sand flies not sure - I have at least 15 - not attractive.

Saturday 14th May Chatuchak Market - Bangkok

Lucy’s friend Jane kindly offered to drive up to Bangkok so we could visit the famous Chatuchak Market which is only open at weekends. There was a massive storm in the night but Jane still picked me up at 7.30am. She drove to the outskirts of Bangkok just over two hours away. We parked at the airport and then got a train into the city which connected up with the BTS line. It only cost 45 baht one way - £1 one way and took us to Phaya Thai - about a half an hour ride. We then took the BTS to the end of the line - Mo Chit where we disembarked in the torrential rain. The downpour was unbelievable, everyone was getting drenched. Instead of turning back we decided to go shopping at Siam Paragon a few stops away, which is a posh western style mall with designer shops such as Hermes and Gucci. We stayed a couple of hours and then made our way back to Mo Chit. The rain had abated somewhat so we decided to stay and have a look around. Chatuchak is huge. We had some food and also spent some time looking around the animal stalls. With signs saying ‘no photos’ we saw cuddly puppy dogs, cats, rabbits as well as flying squirrels and porcupines for sale. Of course you never want to see animals in a cage and I wouldn’t go back, but on the whole it was clean and they appeared to be well looked after, but I just wanted to take them all home.

We also saw a very impressive Thai ‘Jack Sparrow’ - Johnny Depp look-alike - you had to look twice to realise it wasn’t the real thing. My ankles though were throbbing as the bites became very itchy as we walked through the market and dozens of puddles from the rain - the dirty water splashing up my legs made them throb and bright red…it honestly looked like I had small pox or some other kind of hideous disease. So by around 4pm we had had enough, as we struggled to find our way out of the maze so along the street we saw a tourist taking a picture of a tree. Odd I thought but one of the taxi drivers told us to look above our heads, and there we saw an actual python up in the branches. What I love about travelling is seeing animals in their native habitat and not in a cage. We then headed back to the train station and to the airport. The car park was 250 baht for car seven hours and 500 baht £10 for petrol.

16th Monday

Went into Pattaya, which is a popular resort area and busy with western tourists. Jane was treating Lucy to a facial for her birthday. We visited a salon in the Central Festival shopping mall. I looked after Poppy whilst the girls pampered themselves. We then went to the 5* Marriot hotel and had cocktails.

17th May Tuesday

I've  been looking at how to get to Phuket to visit my uncle. There were a couple of options, mainly involving going back to Bangkok and get a train, bus or I could fly. Train and bus would be cheap but would take a couple of days of travelling either way. Then Lucy said she thought her local airport U-tapuao airport - 15 mins away - was now doing direct flights to Phuket - and she was right. So for about £50 I got a one way ticket with Bangkok Airways. As it was a domestic flight I didn’t need to get there until about half an hour before departure, but we ended up getting there early. We had some food and then Lucy and the kids waved me off. I arrived in Phuket just gone 2pm. Barry picked me up in his jeep and as he arrived at the airport so the heavens opened. Downpours are pretty heavy in Thailand but that’s why the countryside and vegetation is so green. Of course the landscape is very different to England, its more like the tropical rainforests of Australia and the jungle of Peru, but it actually reminds me of home, as it is so green. I much prefer this kind of landscape to the dry and barren bush land of Oz.

Uncle Barry has a beautiful 3-bed apartment with a swimming pool - it is very secluded - with 24-hour security in the Thalang district of Phuket - which used to be the island’s old capital. I have my own private wing which is separate from the rest of the house. It has a huge bed, TV and walk in shower - it’s better than a hotel. Barry moved here three and a half years ago with his wife Jenny. They had holidayed in Thailand for the last 10 or so years and decided to retire out here, but unfortunately Jenny died a year and a half ago. I can though, now see why he hasn’t rushed back to the UK. Although he is still trying to sell it as he wants to downscale. We went for dinner at a nearby restaurant called Tawayi with a couple of Barry’s friends Graham and Annie, who are millionaires, but you never really have guessed. They are originally from the UK, then lived in Australia for years before coming to Thailand a couple of years ago to retire. We then went to the Yellow Bar not too far away which is one of their favourites. Run by a Thai woman who is the same age as me with a 17-year -old son. It is very quiet as it is a public holiday today - Buddha Day - so many bars and restaurants are closed. But luckily the Yellow Bar opened up especially for us.

Wednesday 18th May

Woke up to blue skies but by 10am a grey cloud which I thought would pass overhead turned into an almighty electrical storm, with flashes of lightening and huge claps of thunder which sounded like it was right above us. It was quite scary at times and after one clap the lights went out, it seems to have short circuited half of the house. We waited for the rain to stop but it didn’t so we still headed off to the Patong area about half an hour south. This is a busy, built up and commercial beach resort, with shopping malls, cafes, Macdonalds, Subways, bars and nightclubs. This is one of the resort areas full of farangs ‘foreigners’ whizzing around on scooters, you know it’s them and not the locals, as they are the only ones who wear crash helmets.

Barry had to go to the bank so while I waited I has a facial. Lucy has one in Pattaya on Monday and it cost 1,200 baht, in the shopping mall here, there were three or four salons offering special deals. I got a facial for 45 minutes for 299 baht - £6. Not that relaxing as it was like being at a bus stop there were about 20 beds - mostly full of foreigners, packed in very close to each other, and one in one out. Most the beds were occupied and business was good, but there was little atmosphere - no music - only the sound of the Thai beauticians chatting to each other - or chatting up the men in broken English.

I am thinking about having my hair straightened/rebounded permanently. Jenny had it done in Bali - it’s a lot cheaper than in western countries. Annie recommended a salon in Surin which we popped into today to book an appointment for tomorrow. They said it would be 3750 inc vat, when I got to Patong two salons said they would do it for 3000. On our way back to Barry’s I popped into the salon and got them down to 3210 (around £70). So will stick with this salon. I hate my hair - the humidity causes it to go all frizzy and curly and wavy, so hopefully this will cure it…

Thursday 19th May

There was a huge rain storm again last night as I turned out the lights….here the storms don’t usually last that long but cause minor flooding because of the huge amount of rain that falls in that short time. The weather has been a bit hit and miss since I arrived. It was ok this morning appears but had showers mid afternoon, but quickly the sun is back and it humid and hot again around 32 degrees.

Today it is a year since troops moved to clear red shirts from the streets of Bangkok - who were protesting in an attempt to get the government to step down. A rally is taking place to remember the 90 people who died last year. New elections are taking place on July 1st 2011. Thailand has had a few troubles over the past few years, ever time I’ve thought about coming there has been an uprising in Bangkok, and now there is conflict over a temple on the boarder with Cambodia. Always interesting times when you visit for a longer period of time more developing countries.

I had my hair re-bonded or straightened in other words. Got to the salon at 10am - I was the only customer there. It was a modern western style salon called Senses in Cherngtalay, Thalang. My stylist was called Patrick. The treatment took 3 hours. Firstly I had some lotion pasted and massaged onto strips of my hair - which was left to soak in for half an hour. Apparently this treatment was to make the hair more rubber like and stretchy so that it could be straightened longer. It was then washed off, not in a chair with my head back in a basin, I had to lie down and get it washed! Patrick then blow dried my hair straight - even brushing it after washing you could tell it was much straighter and longer. He spent half an hour straightening my hair in sections - it was perfectly straight - then he spent an hour putting more treatments on my hair - it was like the opposite of a perming solution to make sure the hair stays straight - not curly. Apparently this will last up to six months…we shall see. The final treatment is left on for 20 minutes, washed off and then blow dried and my hair is literally dead straight. I can’t wash it for a couple of days but it will be interesting to see what it looks like once I’ve had a go with it. I’m hoping this will last and if it does I might come back in six months and do it again. It’s about £300 to get it done in the UK, so as cheap to come out here for a holiday and get the hair done too! Well it’s a thought.

Barry and I went to Patong for the evening. We had dinner and drinks along Bangla Road which is the strip where you go to watch the ping pong shows and ladyboys. It is full of bars and restaurants. It wasn’t particularly busy so we managed to get a bar stool overlooking the pedestrian road watching allsorts of characters and people of all nationalities - old, young and families - walk by. I saw a show called ‘The Ladyboys of Bangkok’ in Brighton a few years ago. I would have loved to have gone to a show whilst in Thailand, just for the experience but probably not ideal to do so with my 70-year-old uncle! So we gave it a miss. Bangla Road though is a lively and a fun environment - worth a visit just to see the ladyboys flaunting their svelte figures in skimpy and sparkly outfits trying to entice tourists to come and see their show.

Friday 20th May

Barry took me for a tour of the island, mainly concentrating on the southern part, the north part is undeveloped…but for how long I wonder. I must admit before coming to Thailand I never realised Phuket was an island I just assumed it was a beach resort on the mainland. It is however the largest Thai island connected to the mainland by two bridges. It is actually the size of Singapore and is 30 miles long and 15 miles wide with a population of 350,000. We passed by the Heroines’ Monument, which is a statute in the middle of a roundabout dedicated to two young women who defended the island against invasion from the Burmese in 1785. We then made our way to one of the island’s newest tourist attractions - the Big Buddha. Situated on the top of Mount Nakkerd, over looking Phuket City, this is the world’s biggest Buddha statute constructed of reinforced concrete and financed purely by donations from Buddhist followers from throughout the world. It is free to visit. The 45 metre high Buddha sits perched on top of the mountain and can be seen for miles as you approach it from the road below. It is an impressive landmark which was built to commemorate the King‘s 80th birthday back in 2007. As we wind our way up the pot-holed single track road, so Barry informs me that they are planning to improve the road as the number of tourists increases and so too the accidents and fatalities. As we reach the top of the mountain, we see ‘elephant crossing’ signs and elephant treks advertised as well as wooden shack cafés promoting the best sea views.

The Buddha was under scaffolding until recently, but now the beauty of the intricate and delicate carving is unveiled under a crystal clear blue sky. The concrete complex, which the Buddha sits upon, currently looks more a like a car park, but it is still being constructed and will be totally transformed over the next few years. Soon the development will be home to a collection of carved Thai houses and statutes. We then stopped for lunch at a café promoting the ‘best sea views’ and sat looking across the beautiful shoreline below. On our way back to Barry’s we stopped off at a couple of beaches - Rawai Beach, Nai Harn Beach and Kata Noi Beach. We also popped into Le Meriden hotel for a beer. This is somewhere that Barry and Jenny know very well. They stayed here a number of times on holiday and were actually staying at the resort when the Tsunami hit back on Boxing Day 2004. Fortunately all the guests were able to scramble to the far end of the hotel, but the sun loungers, umbrellas, table and chairs were all washed up against the windows of the building - which protected them. Unfortunately as the first wave withdrew so one of the beach stall sellers went back and was tragically washed away when the second wave hit. So all still very fresh in the memory of Barry and the current bar manager who was there on the day it happened too. And apparently business has not fully recovered - the hotel was only a quarter full when we visited. 

Saturday 21st May

Back to Bangkok today I ahve another flight booked for just £30 with Bangkok Airways. So if I had to sum who what I have seen so far of Thailand it would be Beaches, Bars, Buddhas and Ladyboys. What a combination - but next time I hope to visit and see more of the real Thailand, the countryside, especially in the north. But I definitely want to come back again.


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