Archive for August, 2007

4th blogg from Thailand

Posted in Uncategorized on August 25, 2007 by David Palmer
Probably not the best time to write a blogg. I have just been sitting  on the verandah of my favourite bar over looking the Andaman Sea on a lovely sunny afternoon after drinking  3 Singha beers (variable potency) and  scoffing  green curry and chicken. I played Jamie at 5 games  of pool (won 3 in the world tournament!!!!!!!), had a massage with Jamie while Sarah had a a manicure and Sue went off to buy last minute prezzies. Just said goodbye to our friends and promised to see them next year (I hope so).
Now let me see, what have we been up to? The car went back to Avis yesterday, so we just stayed around the hotel and village and the lovely gardens that are there.  Sounds boring but it was nice to see the things that had changed and the things that had not. I am afraid that I pigged out at lunch time (2 servings of green curry with chicken and rice!) and couldn’t make the evening meal, so the rest of the family went into the village, stuffed themselves, then went to the Regent for extra cake. That accounts for why I got up at 8.00am and went for a run along the beach and they stayed in bed until 10.00am. Lazt critters.
Well, we have driven North and West  further than we have done before, so we decided to go South a few days ago. We got as far as Ban Saphan. Remarkable place, the scenery is stunning and the sea is exceptional for snorkelling. Jamie and Sarah had a great time swimming in and out of the coves. We decided to stay and found a little hotel (with air con and TV) for 1000 baht. Which is about 15 pound, and we had two apartments for that! The only Europeans we met there were 3 French couples (there has to be a downside), but otherwise it was completely undeveloped. But, if any entrepeneur ever came to the the place they would see the potential and I am sure would change things. I hope not.
Sarah, Jamie and I went on quad bikes  out into the mountains some time last week and I have to admit that it was the most awesome experience I have had for quite a few years. Thrashing down streams, up steep tracks that only sheep go up, blasting across mudflats and spalshing through ponds was brillllllllllll. We came back knackered, and WOULD HAVE DONE IT AGAIN IF OFFERED.
We have been down more caves that I can mention, placed the only footprints on spectaclar beaches and fed more monkeys, mud skippers, cats and dogs than  my brain can recall. Eaten fabulous food (there is no better than Thai) talked to some lovely people and had unforgettable experiences. We don’t want to go home tomorrow!

3rd blogg from Thailand

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20, 2007 by David Palmer
I got up early this morning to send this blogg as yesterday we wen to San Rioa National Park (South of where we are staying) and one of the things we did was climb up a mountain and then go down into a cave system. I sweated at least 2 litres of water out of me and my legs turned to rubber on the way down, so I thought I needn’t visit the gymn today, I’d have a rest and use the internet. It was lucky that we went into the cave as we found a group of students in there who were lost and had to ask us the way out. Jamie had taken his video camera to film the sytem and we found it very useful as its light was very bright and we could see where we were going (mostly), but usually where Jamie was going. Afterwards,  Sarah and I had a swim on a beach next to a fishing village (we ignored the million jellyfish there as we were hot). Jamie managed to badger one of the local women into cooking him fried rice and pork (I don’t kow how he does it as she couldn’t speak English) and he sat down and ate that, watched by the local dogs. Sue did say later that he was trying to get her to make him an omelette, but to get anything was a bit cheeky, but then that is Jamie!
The day in the park is always good. The scenery is stunning, the beaches are deserted and the locals are so friendly. We ate at the ranger station which is at the far end of the park, which itself is in a huge ancient volcanic crater. We did our traditional walk throught the mangroves, throwing berries at each other. This year Jamie and Sarah are getting more accurate and they do sting when they hit you (but I don’t encourage them by flinching). Sarah and I did gang up on Jamie and cornered him underneath a watch tower and I am afraid he paid theprice for all those sneaky little throws at us earlier and surrendered only after being hit so many times he looked like a dalmation (dog). We fed the Macaques (monkeys), looked for the Dusky Langurs (monkeys) but couldn’t find them and then gave drinks to Sarah and Jamie (monkeys). Sue enjoyed herself using the binoculars and looking at the bird life, butterflies and mudskippers in the mangroves, and later chatted with the locals as Sarah and I went back to a previous beach, as she had left a flip flop there (mine of course) that she had been wearing.
The other day we did something we always said that we would do, and Sarah and I had been planning all year. We drove up to Kaen Kratchaen Dam. Its the largest body of water in  Thailand and its up north from here, near the Burmese border. We have been there many times, it’s very beautiful and very remote, but we did (3 years ago) find a place called Paradise Boat resort. It is next to the lake, and down a very muddy cart track. It is paradise. The resort has boats built on the land in there own pools. The interiors are absolutely 6 star and the views are unbelievably stunning. We have just had lunch there in the past, and been the only guests. I ofetn wondered whether some Thai millionare had found this spot one day and decided that he would build a fabulous resort there because of the views. Well, I spoke to the owner this year. as she was there, and I was right! We stayed the night there in one of the boats, it was soooooo nice words won’t describe it, have a look at the photos (if they load). As soon as we checked in, a lot of people in uniform started to arrive. The General of the Thai armed forces had booked a party in the garden next to the lake there to celebrate his wife’s birthday. Sarah said that it was her 34th, but she looked 50 to me. Of course, you can guess that the ordinary ranks were waiting on the tables and the  officers were doing the celebrating. They provided us with our evening entertainment, but I must admit that If I had paid to watch it I would have wanted my money back, the professional dancers were good, but the Thais do like to karaoke and they are dire at it. Quite a lot of the party goers must have decided to stay as we saw them at breakfast the following morning. We swam in the lake, canoed around it and had some bicycles and went for a an exhausting evening ride. And, Sue had a chat with the general, I must ask her what he said.
We decided to go further that we have ever been before after checking out of the resort. I filled the car up with petrol and we headed off further into the jungle along a dirt track towards Pran Buri falls. After quite a long time with a few stops for me to walk ahead to check the road surface we came to an encampment and were stopped by a barrier. There was lots of evidence of wild elephants and also leopards and we came across a huge monitor lizard as well as lots of colourful buterflies. The camp was deserted except for three rangers, who showed no interest in us. Sue, Sarah and Jamie went off fro a walk and I nosed around the campsite. I was glad when they returned when it started to drizzle as I was sure that if it rained heavily I wouldn’t have been able to get the car back up and over the mountains we had just come. We did get back and it didn’t rain heavily, and we regret that we left without exploring further. Sarah would really love to go back there one day and camp herself, and I think she probably will. We all enjoyed that little trip, what a brilliant day!
We went back to Lawana, it has abeautiful infinity pool over looking a fishing village, so picturesque. We had lunch and then a swim in the pool. Sarah and I walked up the river towards the sea as there was a police boat in the middle of the estuary stopping and searching fishhing boats returning from the sea. We had been watching the boat using binoculars, but couldnt see clearly what they were searching for, from the pool. Sarah and I spent a pleasant hour sitting on the bank observing the police at work. As the fishing boats were entering the estuary they were being watched by the police. If they did anything suspicious then they pulled them in for boarding and a search. They were looking for drugs. Sarah and I watched the panic on the fishing boats as thet spotted the police boat, and then dumped the packets of drugs overboard. We knew they were drugs, because they were floating onto the beach in front of us!!! When the boat was searched, of course there were non on board so the police let them go. The police watched them dump them overboard, but I suppose like the fishermen, they play the game as well, and they did get rid of the drugs, in a fashion. And, the fishermen do live to fish another day! The irony was, that at 5 o’clock the police boat steamed away into the harbour, the police got onto their mopeds and went home. Of course, there were still fishing boats entering estuary (without the panic). At around 5.15 a larger Navy boat came into the estuary and made his way down the river, I guess he had been out at sea hunting the larger boats that were servicing the smaller fishing boats. It was an interesting afternoon.
Well I have loads more to tell, but not the time to tell it….. must be off, they will be wondering where I am.

2nd blogg from Thailand

Posted in Uncategorized on August 12, 2007 by David Palmer
 This week we have been more lively, we now have a car (Toyota Saluna) with the necessary air conditioning.
We have visited a few of our favourite beaches, and they are still as lovely as ever, except a beach up north where there are statues in the sea and the locals visit it at week-ends. A hotel is now being built there and though the beach is fine, it has destroyed its uniqueness and promises to be very busy in the future. We love its quietness and it is so picturesque. The pace we normally eat there produced some lovely food, but wanted 200baht each to use the pool. We decided to use the free sea next door. Jamie wandered off and came back half an hour later carrying a Thai flag (didn’t say where he got it from). I discovered that I really like lime ice-cream, and now I scoff one at every opportunity (It might even be preferable to Singha beer! Not likey!) even Sue says she likes them.
We went to our favourite ATV course (Quad bikes) and Sarah, Jamie and I had a pleasant time thrashing around the courses getting splattered with mud. Later on we found aq foot massage place, we all had one and it was lovely. After that, we had some tyres and flopped about in them on the sea at a local beach south of Hua Hin. I scoffed a few more lime ice-creams. I do spend half an hour in the gymn each morning to compensate!
The other night we ate an Irish Bar called Crawfords in Cha am. They were not very busy and we spent until midnight chatting to the owners. They kindly gave us free drinks (Jamie got drunk and several different cocktails and was very happy). The landlord told me that he was the coach to the All Blacks Rugby during the first World Cup. He moved on to coach the South Africans and then Italy. We swapped a lot of rugby stories (but his were better), then moaned about the state of English soccer (it was on the TV at the time) then discussed the merits of drinking Guiness anywhere but in Ireland (there weasn’t any).  Sarah and Jamie played pool all night and Sue talked to his wife about everything, but mostly on how difficult it can be married to a rugby player.
Today we drove out towards the Burmese border to Pala Alua, it is a water fall in the jungle. Your reach it by dirt track. When we got there we were told by the rangers it was closed as it was slippy and dangerous. The track was very muddy and as I didn’t have four wheel drive, we decided to go anyway. We had a great time. Sue enjoyed watching the enormouse butterflies while the kids and I splashed about in the water and did a spot of gully bashing. Jamie and Sarah decided to gully bash down the river back to the car (about a mile away). I went back with the towels to calm Sue’s nerves. Sure enough they emerged out of the river an hour later, full of exciting tales of nearly drowning and river snakes (not what Sue wanted to hear). We stopped at a local roadside market on the way back to nibble some of the local cuisine , I found some durian fruit, I have been lookinh for it since I arrived but have failed so far to discover any. I now have tomorrowsbreakfast!!!

1st blogg from Thailand

Posted in Uncategorized on August 7, 2007 by David Palmer
 The flight left Heathrow on time (9.45pm) and the flight was excellent. EVA operate brand new 777’s with latest entertainment technology, so you could choose to watch videos etc. when you wished, and we all had personal screens. Sarah and Jamie were occupied for the entire flight, even Sue and I managed to watch a couple of films in between eating and sleeping.
We flew into the new Bangkok airport (they have been having trouble with it, it is sinking) and I must admit I preferred the old one. We had to queque for ages to get through passport control, something we never had to do in the past. We had a mini-bus to ourselves for the journey south to Cha ‘am, and the journey took half an hour longer as the new airport is on the wrong side of the city. Anyway, we played I spy for 3hrs, with one stop for the loo and an ice cream.
We are staying in a chalet in the hotel grounds, quite large, very quiet and peaceful, all we can hear is the little brats next door (Jamie and Sarah!). We have stayed at this hotel for the lasy 8 years (I think) and have been in most of the room types over the years, but Sarah and I think this is the best, Jamie and Sue are still making up their minds.
So far we have done very little to eat, sleep, walk and talk. We have met quite a few friends from past years, unfortunately Sarah’s friend Charlotte left on the following day that we arrived, but her grandparents are still here (I am looking forward to getting old, one day, and then I can send the grandchildren home!!!!!) We all did go and have a massage, I must be getting relaxed because I nearly fell asleep. Today we had a walk to one of favourite eating places and then had dip in th pool and half an hour on the jetskis, the sea was rather calm so it was more fast than exciting. The resort is very quiet, it is low season and we are used to the peace and solitude, but this year seems exceptional. We were talking to Wan (she owns a restaurant, and is Sarah’s favourite Thai, she keeps cats and dogs and Sarah has been friends with her since she was 9yrs old) and she said that this is the quietest she has ever seen business. It is surprising as there is a lot of money being spent on developing the area, and a lot of building work is being done. I shall have trip into Hua Hin tomorrow and arrange for a car, and then we can go and visit our old haunts and see what has changed (if anything).
 

The Return

Posted in Uncategorized on August 1, 2007 by David Palmer
Another long flight via Bahrain (mercifully a short stoppover this time, just enough time to visit the loo and a long march from gate 2 to gate 32, about a mile away, why do you need such a huge terminal for a small desert kingdom?) Landed just after midnight, shuittle bused to the carpark (cheapest I could find, so it was 15mins away). Found the car, set the SAT NAV, took 2hrs to get home (very quiet sleepy car). Luckily Harborough was still there, so was the house AND undrowned. Jamie, Sarah and I climbed into bed, Sue said she wouldn’t be long. I woke up at 7.30am to find Sue on her 2nd load of washing (she hadn’t been anywhere near a bed!), Jamie up and about, he had spent the time playing with his new phone (hooking it up to his laptop) and Sarah fast asleep (well there are 2 sensible ones in the family at least).
Daylight showed:
Loft overflow, still leaking – fixed that with a £1.15 new valve.
Telephones not working – fixed that with a mobile call to BT who sent an engineer around half an hour later ( a tree had taken a dislike to my line and and had cut  it!).
Lawns gone mad – fixed that with a £5 donation to Jamie.
My camera charger couldn’t be fixed – fixed that with a hunt through the bits and pieces box I have at home, to find, yippeee, another charger and it works!
Pool gone green – fixed that with vacuum hose, chemicals and an hour of walking around and around in a circle.
Jamie went for a ride on his moped, came back an hour later with a broken machine, it had given up the ghost in Farndon and he had to push it all the way back – not fixed (and won’t be for another 4 weeks).
Gunnea pigs still alive – found out that by driving Sarah over to Rogers (who is looking after them).
Noticed Sue limping about the place, on inspection she has a rather nasty infected big toe, she said it was a small blister that has gone funny. Today she WILL visit the doctor and get some anti-biotics (we fly again in 3 days).