Tag Archives: snorkelling

Phuket – Bangkok…. Bangkok – Phuket

I’d like to keep the posts chronological so we’re going back a couple of months here for our first visit to Thailand, when met Jamie’s parents Ted and Ruth….. Then we were back in England for five weeks…. And then on January 12th we came back to Thailand to pick up where we left off. It’s a complicated life, but I can’t say I mind it!!!!

On November 21st Jamie and I flew from Saigon to Phuket where we had two nights in Patong while we waited for Ted and Ruth to arrive. Oh my goodness! Patong was such a shock to the system after three months in Vietnam. Bangla Road is crazy – it’s just a hectic, noisy, chaotic strip f clubs, go-go bars, upstairs strip clubs, lady-boys, drinking, drunkenness, revelry, and boobs and bums in your face everywhere!! We sat at the Sea Dragon to people watch over a couple of bottles of Chang – there were so many pissed people! The road is so busy, but apparently a good portion of this are people simply walking the strip to have a look. Either way the place has a great party vibe and we fell for it hook, line and sinker.

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We went to a go go bar, that’s where girls in underwear dance on the bar, but it’s no seedier than that. I played a barmaid at connect four and won a shot of something yuk. We drank too much Chang- watch out for this sneaky little lager! And we had such good fun that night!!!!

The next morning we both vowed to never drink Chang again. We chilled in our hotel room watching The Walking Dead (I love this series!!) and waiting for Ted and Ruth to arrive…. I remember meeting a couple in Mui Ne who said (somewhat self-righteously I’ll add) that they ‘didn’t come to SE Asia to sit in a hotel room and watch TV’… fair enough but as far as I’m concerned you need that bit of down time occasionally, you can’t always be out doing stuff. Plus the way we felt that morning- I couldn’t think of anything worse than walking about in +30 degrees, I needed to be gentle to my fragile head! To drink lots of water and watch the lovely Andrew Lincoln and team hack up a load of zombies.

We waited in the reception for Ted and Ruth to surprise them… It was so lovely to see them both- we’d been looking forward to it for ages- we’d missed them lots and lots. Plus, much as I love you J, I know you’d say the same, it was good to have someone else to talk to! We’d made friends along the way but that was different. That night we went out for a lovely supper and sat catching up on all we’d missed at home.

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looking out from Rawai Bay

on Nai Harn neach

on Nai Harn neach

The next day we got a taxi to our villa in Nai Harn. Gorgeous. Lovely pool, good BBQ area (that we would get put to very good use over the next ten days!), nice outside seating area and tonnes of space inside. Jamie and I unpacked! Something we hadn’t done since leaving home…. We played pool pong in the afternoons and cards in the evenings. There was a 7/11 just down the road so we could keep stocked up easily, plus we found a Tesco Lotus that delivered so we had everything we needed! Great thing was we could even use our club card- good old Tesco. There is not an awful lot going on in Nai Harn, a few bars and restuarants but that’s it. We liked Shakers, which was just across the road – the food was good and well priced, plus they kept giving us free litres of white wine!! I think we even declined it once!

Ted rented a car so that we could explore a bit, we found Ya Nui beach that had a nice restaurant opposite for lunch. The snorkelling there was pretty good too. Even better though was Ao Sane – we had to drive under the Royal Phuket Yacht club and follow a road that looks like it’s going nowhere, then there’s a sign, a couple of parking spaces and you’re there. You walk down some stairs to a long restaurant that stretches along the beach.

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I loved it here, it was pleasantly cool sat in the shade, the food was good and the beer quite cheap, but the snorkelling was amazing!!! The water was crystal clear and the were so many different kinds of fish. We even spotted a huge cuttlefish peeking out from under a rock.

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Jamie brought some chicken bones from the BBQ the night before so that we could feed the fish. It was so good! The restaurant even had a couple of resident golden retrievers that would swim with you in the surf!

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Another of our favourite places was the Italian restaurant above the Yacht club. We went to watch the sunset, which was beautiful. Ruth and I got to hold the owner’s parrot, and because she liked us he gave us both a free cocktail.

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While we were in Nai Harn we got the news that the chef at their pub at home was leaving, meaning they would be left stuck over Christmas and New Year. Jamie said (as I knew he would) that he would come home and work. Apparently an agency chef costs about £250 per day in England, and the chances of getting one at that time of year are slim anyway. It was decided that I would come home too (I was relieved because I didn’t really want to spend Christmas and New Year on my own). Thank you Ted and Ruth for bringing me back with J even though you didn’t have to. The pub paid for both of our flights and within a fortnight we were back in the Cotswolds! It all worked out well in the end though – we saw our friends and family, had Christmas at home (which was so lovely) and we both worked so we came back out with more money.

From Phuket we all flew to Bangkok where we had four nights in the lovely Tawana hotel. We did a dinner boat cruise along the river, went shopping on the Khoa San Road, saw the snake farm and visited PatPong.

we found the kind of snake that bit J in Vietnam at the snake farm

we found the kind of snake that bit J in Vietnam at the snake farm

The Khoa San at night time

The Khoa San at night time

cocktails at the Tawana

cocktails at the Tawana

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I didn’t like PatPong as my much as Bangla Road, it’s the same kind if thing but it feels seedier somehow, everything is hidden behind curtains and there isn’t the same party feel as in Patong…. On the 9th of December we flew home….

….then on the 12th of January we flew back to Bangkok! We went to the Sea Life Centre at the Siam Centre because I wanted too, it was a bit pricey but we thought it was worth it! We’d seen an episode of Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey that claimed to have found the best pad thai in Bangkok. The place was by the Ghost Gate on the Maha Chai Road – the ‘Thipsam’. It’s a street-food/restaurant set up, and the queue was down the street! It didn’t take too long though and we ate. It was 80 baht each- and yes, it was the best pad thai I’ve eaten yet!!!

street food at Maha Chai

street food at Maha Chai

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cool jellyfish close-up

cool jellyfish close-up

On the 17th of January we flew to Phuket. Obviously we went partying down Bangla! Same same!! And that brings us pretty much up to date for now ❤️

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Beautiful Han La Bay…

Researching boat trips out of Cat Ba Island we were expecting to pay between 20-30 USD per person. Our hotel the ‘Duc Tuan’ offered a full day for 25 USD so to save the hassle we booked through them. I sometimes think its worth paying a little more, particularly when its a matter of a couple of quid. We saw some pretty tired looking old boats when we were out, but ours was lovely.

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If you read up on trips around Halong Bay you’ll find it has a reputation for being overcrowded and a little dirty. Halong City is apparently rife with pickpockets and scam artists. Whether or not this is true I can’t say because we decided to give the city a miss.

Han La Bay however, (Halong’s quieter neighbour) is truly beautiful. Calm emerald-green waters lap a maze of giant limestone karsts that scatter the bay. We passed floating villages, fish farms, and the occasional fisherman  out on a traditional little fishing boat.

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We stopped for some kayaking. First time for me… think I may have been doing it wrong because I got soaked! When Jamie would paddle we went so fast I couldn’t even dip my oar in- let alone match his stroke! I got the hang of it by the end. We explored hidden lagoons and caves; some full of bats and tiny little fish. Kayaking is tiring, especially if you start off super excited like I did and power around for the first half hour. We went back to the boat for lunch and some sunbathing. Bell and I dangled our feet over the prow and watched the world pass by. We even saw a couple of flying fish, at least I think they were flying fish: about 6 inches long and silvery. When they jumped they glided for about 20 feet.

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We stoppped at the Thien Cung Cave (Heavenly Palace Cave) for some exploring. What we didn’t know is quite how much of a scramble it would be: we were crawling, squeezing and scraping our way through some pretty tiny spaces. Almost everyone was still in flip-flops and several people fell over. There was a huge spider and we all came out a bit covered in clayish-cave-goo.

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Our boat anchored again and we jumped off for some snorkelling. Unless you’re shallow the water is too murky to see much. There are tiny little beaches spotted around, and close to them there was plenty to see. We even spotted a sea snake! It wasn’t too big, with brown and white stripes. I was a little scared to be honest, the water was shallow enough to have put your feet down. Lesson learned there!! Another thing to watch out for are the currents, we’re all strong swimmers but we all noticed the pull; its fine as long as you keep an eye on the boat and each other.

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Last stop on our trip was Monkey Island. A quick note here: I hate monkeys (I know its silly but I’m scared of them) and nothing will convince me otherwise! I was even considering not going to the island, but Jamie changed my mind. Dan, Bell and Jamie went to see the monkeys (they’re all wild but there were some on some trees right next to the beach and a crowd gathered to see them). While they did that I swam (I figured I’ve never seen a monkey in the sea before right? so I’m probably safe here). Bell joined me for a swim. I hate to say I told you so but we were watching some girls near the monkeys and one jumed on her back and bit her! It looked pretty bad but I think it scared her more than anything (poor girl, I felt so sorry for her, she was crying loads). So, if you go to monkey Island beware they will bite, but it seems you’ll be safe in the sea if youre a complete scaredy cat like me. Google ‘Monkey Island bites’ and see for yourself.

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This trip was brilliant, although we were all still rocking for hours after leaving the boat. We love Han La Bay xxx