Thailand's Islands

Discussion in 'Thailand' started by Federicoita, Aug 5, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Hello Everyone,


    ** To view the photos in full size, do register as a member, it is free, and log in.


    I am a regular visitor to Thailand and I have recently joined Milepoint (August 2012). I have made a few contributions already and it appears (unless it escaped me) that there is not a thread on the many and varied islands in Thailand. There are individual postings but would it not be good to collate some information along with seaside places worthy of note in one single thread?


    Islands reviewed in this thread so far and not in order of importance:
    Koh Samet, Phi Phi Islands (Don and Leh), Bamboo island, Koh Kai, James Bond island (Koh Tapu), Koh Yung and also Pileh Lagoon, Monkey Beach and Maya Bay, Phuket.


    Journeys to the sea reviewed so far and not in order of importance:
    Bankrut, Prachuap Khiri Khan City, Hua Hin, Khao Lak Phang-nga


    Ko (or the Romanised version Koh) is the Thai word for “Island” and will usually precede the names of an island for example Koh Samet. There are a myriad of islands in Thailand. Here is a link, which provides a list outlining the most well known.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_islands_of_Thailand

    The aim of this thread is to give either a current or recent perspective along with photos.

    KSM_MAYA_BAY (125).JPG

    For those interested in minute details, further links to the individual islands can be found within the above link. I hope you will understand that by providing a link I am not being indolent but I am well aware that I am not an all-knowing being and I do not aspire to become one either. Also, knowledge is at its best when it is shared. Hence, other contributions from other members are, as always, welcome.


    Caveat, I am not a tour guide, just an independent traveller and what I write are my personal views. As with most Mediterranean natives, I seem to have the sea genetically imprinted in my brain and no visit to Thailand would be complete without an excursion to the sea with bucket and spade in tow.


    KSM_PILEH_LAGOON (4).jpg

    Forr the lovers of the empirical evidence, here is a link about the Phi Phi Islands http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phi_Phi_Islands

    Thank you all.
    Giorgio Federico
     

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  2. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Koh Samet (2012)


    The ferry to the Island (Koh) of Samet can be reached, if you do not have your own form of transportation, by either coach or minivan from Bangkok.

    I chose to travel by coach from Ekkamai station, which is served by the BTS train. My ticket to Nuanthip Pier (there is also a Ban Phe pier) was 157 baht. On board you are provided with a bottle of cold water and a snack, usually a packet of biscuits or a soft bun. The coach will make a number of stops along the way to allow some of the locals, also using this service, to reach a number of destinations on route. The journey is approximately three and half hours depending on traffic.

    The ferry return ticket cost me 100 baht. Normally, I would travel to Wong duern (Moon crescent) for 120 baht but the sea was a little rough on the day of my arrival to access the latter, which meant I alighted at Nadan Pier and from there I boarded a local taxi. The latter is usually green and will have double digit numbers painted on the outside. I paid 40 baht. Please be aware that the fee increases considerably once dark and on one occasion I was quoted 200 baht.

    IMG_6935.JPG


    Koh Samet is also a national park and you will be asked to pay an entry fee of 200 baht by the local immigration/police officers. Thai people will pay a fraction of that. To that end, I am all in favour of supporting the local economy but it is difficult to understand what the local administration does with this constant cash flow of money. By that I mean that in terms of road improvements and or better lighting or sewerage/sanitation I did not see evidence that either my 400 baht (including last year) or those of the several thousands of visitors who chose this rugged but beautiful island were invested to improve the local amenities.

    IMG_8261.JPG


    I have, sadly noticed, regular evidence of this two tier paying structure for Thai national and non Thai on a number of occasions. This is something I would have understood 40 years ago while Thailand developed its economy and infrastructure. However, we are now in 2012 and I wish the Thai Government discontinued this discriminatory practice aimed at foreigners and which seems to have been adopted across the board to museums, national parks and in some cases even temples (Doi Suthep now charges for example a 30 baht fee for foreigners only). Perhaps other posters may have a constructive view on the subject of pricing as I do not wish to come across as negative, which would serve little purpose.

    IMG_6950.JPG


    As to the island, it enjoys several beaches (Ao) most of them tucked away into picturesque bays of various sizes. It is possible to walk between quite a number of them and from my resort in Wong duern it took less than half an hour to reach either Ao Cho or ao Tub tim to the left when looking out at sea or Ao Thai or Sang Tien to the right. More adventurous travellers may choose to hire a motorbike to explore the other side of the island but please take note of what I meant earlier on, there are no roads to speak of, just dirt tracks and the latter are either not lit or very poorly lit. Therefore, unless you plan to stay on the other side, what you do to return to your base once the sun has gone down I have no idea.

    IMG_6838.JPG


    The quality and beauty of the sea is very appealing with trees providing welcome patches of shades along the white sandy beaches. However, check for the high tide which may wash ashore unwanted debris. During my last stay here, this only happened once and for the rest of my time the sea was very calm, the water warm and lovely to swim in. The man from snowland says "Yes"

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    Most resorts will offer breakfast but do not expect fireworks to liven up your taste buds. This is beach life and it comes in its basic form. One interesting point that may appeal to some, and it certainly did appeal to me, is the number of walking food vendors who are easily recognisable by their blue sleeveless vest and they often wear a straw hat to protect them from the heat and they carry a large wicker round basket at either end. These will be ingeniously equipped with make shift barbecues from which succulent pieces of chicken will be prepared (make sure they are thoroughly cooked though) as well as corn and something looking like sausages but which contain a mixture of meat, rice and noodles.

    IMG_8250.JPG

    From these vendors you will also be able to get a small bag of sticky rice (Kao Niao) and most will prepare one of Thais’ favourites, Som Tam or papaya salad. Many will carry fresh fruits so you are never too far from getting a refreshing coconut drink or slices and or chunks of water melon and pineapple juice. Prices will be set with fruit going for 20 baht, sticky rice and chicken 90 baht or Som Tam 50 baht (nota bene, this was in 2012).

    IMG_8257.JPG


    Most of the bays will also have floaters and dingy boats of various sizes and descriptions and nearly all resorts will provide all day uninterrupted service for food and drinks. Should you feel in need of a little massage, beds and masseuse are available under open shelters for 300 baht an hour for a traditional Thai massage. You can opt for a more expensive oil massage too but personally I do not see significant benefits for opting for the latter. The feeling of receiving a good massage while looking at the ocean is the staff dreams are made of. Thus, if you have 300 baht to spare, you may wish to do so.

    With the onset of dusk, a metamorphosis will occur with sea front resorts bringing out tables and benches on to the sand, lanterns will be lit and music will be played, the flame throwers will entertain you with their skills and that is the time when, like a beautiful lady, Koh Samet dresses up for the evening and entices you for one more dance before the day is over.

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    The range of various daily and freshly caught fish and sea food resting in crashed ice, in most cases priced by the Kilo, will be a big draw and enough to capture the senses before reaching your stomach. Both the display and the idea that your choice of the catch of the day may be grilled there and then before your very eyes will be extremely appealing. However, if you are not from these shores and you are used to marinades and various concoctions of garlic and herbs you may be disappointed with the final taste of your king prawns or similar other choices. Thus, lower your expectations, close your eyes and savour the local produce with little condiments other than salt, pepper and some chilli sauce.

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    Also bear in mind that wine in Thailand is expensive and unless you are not minded to be careful with your hard earned money, you may wish to compare whether your coins will buy, like for like, more beer than wine. Water, juices and other soft drinks are available too and they are not too expensive. I absolutely love Water melon shakes (Dang Mor Pan) reasonably priced at 80 baht. In the same vein a bag of little cashew or similar nuts to go with your drink will set you back only 20 baht.

    IMG_7008.JPG


    As to my choice of stay, last year I had enjoyed a week in Wong duern Samet Cabana Resort. I would have liked to try the resort of Tub Tim this year but despite trying to book 6 months before it was already full.Wait...let me get another beer first...

    IMG_6819.JPG

    Therefore, I returned to the same resort, which by the way is very conveniently located, clean and its personnel both friendly and helpful. One observation, which applies not just to this resort but also to most of the ones I revisited as part of my long daily walks is that I could not understand the reason as to why they do not prevent their attractive decks, woodwork, tables and chairs to become run down by applying some protective paint from season to season. It was either that they never stopped working or they simply did not include a general maintenance programme in their routine and I suspect it was the latter as there were sufficient staff on duty for this not to be missed. Mind you some of the resorts look great but they were exceptions rather than the norm. I am told the sleeping by the beach is quite an experience!!

    IMG_7149.JPG


    In summary, if you are looking for a semi rustic holiday where you can chose your own spot by walking from bay to bay, have a simple lunch of grilled chicken and sticky rice with papaya salad or you simply wish to stay put and roast until you sizzle under the tropical sun and from time to time dip into turquoise warm waters and let your senses be lulled by the bliss of a beach life and finally find yourself cajoled by a romantic evening dinner on the beach then Koh Samet will be for you.

    Would I come back to Koh Samet? Despite some of the misgivings outlined above, this remains an easy to reach destination from Bangkok. My main concern is that as prices continue to increase the quality of amenities and customer service does not appear to match what you are being asked to pay for and the welcoming Thai smile may soon not be enough with the amazing offers now available in Greece for example. The price for my attractive and ocean facing hat was 3,600 baht per night. Compare that to the 2,400 baht I pay for high end quality lodgings in Bangkok or the 1,980 baht for the Holiday Inn in Chiang Mai and you will notice there is a big difference for lesser comfort but alas this is what you pay for the pleasure of waking up looking at the ocean and to fall asleep at night lulled by tales of sailors and mermaids brought to shore by the sea waves.

    "I'll be back" said once a big man in a movie.

    Ciao ciao
    Giorgio Federico
     

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  3. Kalboz
    Original Member

    Kalboz Gold Member

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  4. aviator8

    aviator8 Silver Member

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  5. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Ley (2011)

    If you are into hedonistic pursuits, interested in tanning under a fierce tropical sun, a romantic holiday or simply taking photos of long tails boats resting on the clearest of water and between natural slate cliffs that will make your friends foam at the mouth with envy, this place is for you. If, however, you are not too keen on crowded places, then consider whether you should stay here or simply visit for the day.

    KSM_MAYA_BAY (12).jpg

    You see, despite the terrible events of the Tsunami back in December 2004, these islands have not really experienced any problems attracting visitors according to their resurgent popularity. Put simply, the allure of the curving bays, white sandy beaches and tropical foliage seem irresistible to most of people. Without doubt, therefore, the Phi Phi islands remain the star of the pack and expect to find yourself in a crowd.

    KSM_MAYA_BAY (25).jpg

    You would think that lessons should be learnt from previous mistakes and unless we take heed the fragile ecosystem and infrastructure may suffer but on the evidence of what I observed “Controlled and planned building development” is not an expression I would use. What I noticed was mass tourism, brisk trade, dozens of booking agencies, restaurants and dive operators and at times an approach that I can only describe as mildly aggressive.

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    I assert this cautiously and fully aware that where money is scarce the competition for money is more intense. My questions, however, are these; is money really scarce here or is it more the case that it lines the pockets of the few in a system akin to feudal Lordships, approving or blocking plans out of self interest? And why is the management of waste more of an issue here? I will stop there as this is a forum for sharing travel experiences and I am mindful of avoiding political assertions but it makes one think.

    KSM_MAYA_BAY (135).JPG

    One aspect that was conspicuous was the relative absence of large numbers of back packers in favour of main stream tourists with suitcases in tow. The issue, I believe may be one of affordability.At first glance, Koh Phi Phi may exude a backpacker vibe, such is its rugged simplicity and beauty. However, accommodation, when compared with what one pays in other areas of Thailand, remains cramped and overpriced.

    KSM_MAYA_BAY (113).JPG

    It is said that the reasons for this expensive trend is because the island does not rely on its own electricity and that the petrol for the various ferries and long-tail boat prices is also increasing. However, in my opinion, localised greed by a few could be a significant factor.

    KSM_AO_HED (23).jpg

    When I write in terms of pricing, I wish to make it clear that I am considering the local economy against what most local people get paid. In view of the potential estimated income the only reason why I notice general affluence in the very few is linked to the question I asked earlier. I do recognise that for a Westerner who is fully employed and receiving a median Western salary the Phi Phi islands will seem quite a bargain and in that perspective they are but for how long?

    KSM_AO_HED (1).jpg

    Leaving economy and self interest aside and even with all the hype, the islands are unlikely to disappoint.
    Phi Phi's beauty is the main reason for this allure. When approached by boat, the impression is that of love at first sight and despite the few issues I mentioned above one can only but appreciate the laid back attitude where a problem is often tackled with “Mai Bpen Rai” the Thai word for “It does not matter”.

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    Worth of note is that Phi Phi Leh, only 1.5 kms from Phi Phi Don is devoid of human inhabitants, while the latter is without roads. Hence, there is no schedule to speak of and no reason to hurry and with soaring limestone cliffs, crystal clear water and white sandy beaches it is no wonder as to why the area is so popular.

    KSM_AO_HED (1).jpg
    Most visitors tend to book via an organised Phi Phi boat tour.

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    However, it is possible to rent a long tail boat for your own customised adventures.

    KSM_MAYA_BAY (128).JPG

    From Phi Phi Don you can rent a long tail for 1,000 baht for about three hours or for 2,000 baht for a full day, maximum four people. Speedboats are around 3,500 to 4,000 baht for half day or 6,000 baht and upward for a full day, with a maximum of six people. These prices were correct up to 2011.

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    More reviews on specific islands will follow.

    Giorgio Federico
     

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  6. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Bamboo Island (2011)

    KSM_BAMBOO (10).JPG

    not the busiest of islands...

    KSM_BAMBOO (29).JPG

    but nevertheless a stunning island which is only 500m across.

    KSM_BAMBOO (1).jpg

    It has beautiful beaches virtually all the way around that give way to coral.

    KSM_BAMBOO (4).JPG
    Bamboo island...one not to miss.

    Giorgio Federico
     
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  7. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Koh Kai (2011)

    KSM_KOH_KAI (1).JPG

    This is a tiny little island

    KSM_KOH_KAI (5).JPG

    There is not much to do except...

    KSM_KOH_KAI (9).JPG

    Swim

    KSM_KOH_KAI (2).JPG

    Sunbathe

    KSM_KOH_KAI (10).JPG

    and taking strolls along the beach.

    KSM_KOH_KAI (3).JPG

    Tip: Bring your own food if you're planning to stay for the day.

    Giorgio Federico
     

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  8. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Monkey Beach (Koh Phi Phi Don) (2011)

    KSM_MONKEY_BEACH (12).jpg

    Located on the west side of Tonsai Bay and about 700m from the beach.

    KSM_MONKEY_BEACH (14).jpg

    At very high tide there's not much beach but at other times there's plenty of sand.


    KSM_MONKEY_BEACH (24).jpg

    The monkeys here eat offered fruit but beware they can be invasive especially if they see food.

    KSM_MONKEY_BEACH (21).jpg

    Giorgio Federico
     
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  9. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Maya Bay (Koh Phi Phi Leh) (2011)

    KSM_MAYA_BAY (99).JPG

    This is a stunningly beautiful bay, which is sheltered by 100-metre high cliffs on three sides.

    KSM_MAYA_BAY (12).jpg

    Inside the bay there are several beaches, most are small and some only exist at low tide.

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    The main one is around 200 metres long with silky soft white sand, underwater colourful coral and exotic fish in exceptionally clear water; the whole bay is one big reef.

    KSM_MAYA_BAY (58).JPG

    Maya Bay has become the main tourist attraction of Phi Phi since The Beach was filmed here in 1999. It was always very popular but while it is possible that there may be people around the world who have not heard of Koh Phi Phi Leh, they have certainly heard of Maya Bay.

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    The best time to visit Maya Bay is between November and April during the high season when seas are calm and access to the bay is easy.

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    As with all truly beautiful and well known spots many boats will go in and out to ferry the constant visitors demand. On the two occasions I visited I counted at least two dozens boats, speed boats and long tail boats and this meant hundreds of people.

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    Therefore while it is undeniably beautiful it is not secluded and thousands of people visit each day. Best time to visit to avoid the crowds would be early in the morning or after 17:00 hours.

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    Facilities in Maya Bay are very rudimentary, a small hut a little back from the beach sells drinks and snacks.

    KSM_MAYA_BAY (113).JPG

    Further back from the beach are toilets but unless you are desperate I would advise against using them. There is no food available here. Therefore, bring your own.

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    There are also many different kinds of boat tours that take in Maya Bay combined with other sites. These include long tail boats, speedboats and ferry boats.

    KSM_MAYA_BAY (132).JPG

    Tours are generally priced from 500 to 1,000 baht (2011) depending on the type of boat used and the duration of the tour.

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    Whatever you do, remember to charge your camera.

    Giorgio Federico
     

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  10. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    James Bond Island (2011)

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    Known originally and locally as Koh Tapu or Nail Island, found fame through the 1974 Bond film "The Man with the Golden Gun". This was the hideout for Bond’s enemy, Francisco Scaramanca.

    Since 1998, it is forbidden for tourist boats to approach Koh Tapu.

    IMG_2338.JPG

    This measure aims to stop erosion of the limestone rocks on and near the islet that might eventually result in its collapse.Hence, it is a bit of a walk from where your boat will dock but one which is not too taxing.

    Essentially, Koh Tapu is a limestone rock about 20 metres tall.

    IMG_2327.JPG

    Here is a local legend; Once upon a time, there lived a fisherman who used to bring home much fish every time he went to the sea. However, one day he could not catch any fish despite tedious attempts and only picked up a nail with his net. He kept throwing the nail back to the sea and catching it again. Furious, he took his sword and cut the nail in halves, using all his power. Upon impact, one half of the nail jumped up and speared into the sea forming Koh Tapu.

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    Nota bene: this is a very popular little spot. Expect to be part of a crowd.

    Giorgio Federico
     

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  11. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Koh Yung Island or Mosquito Island (2011)

    Located near Koh Phi Phi Don and is a great place for a day trip. Many miss out Mosquito Island because it is a little remote but it is one of Phi Phi's true gems. Longtail boats can take you from one island to another.

    KSM_AO_NUI (58).jpg

    Divers will especially want to make a trip to Koh Yung Island or Mosquito Island as this island has some spectacular diving that has divers coming back time and time again. Snorkelling is the primary diving done on Mosquito Island. You will see some well preserved and stunning coral gardens. Make sure you have your underwater camera with you to take some great photographs in this wonderful underwater paradise.

    KSM_AO_HED (21).jpg

    Why is Koh Yung Island known as Mosquito Island? At sunset you will see black clouds of mosquitoes all around the island which means most visitors are long gone before sunset. People particularly susceptible to mosquito bites should stay far away from the island at sunset.

    KSM_AO_NUI (59).jpg

    These photos are from Ao Nui as I did not have any photos from Koh Yung - sorry!!

    Giorgio Federico
     
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  12. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Pileh Lagoon (Kho Phi Phi Leh) (2011)

    KSM_PILEH_LAGOON (4).jpg

    One of the many unique aspects of the Phi Phi Islands is the fact that the nearby islands make it easy to take day trips and enjoy different scenery, different activities and a different pace.

    KSM_PILEH_LAGOON (10).jpg

    Many visitors from around the world take these day trips in order to find their version of paradise.

    KSM_PILEH_LAGOON (16).jpg

    The lagoon of pileh is one of the jewels of the Phi Phi islands.

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    Around half an hour south of Koh Phi Phi Don on Kho Phi Phi Leh .

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    The lagoon is surrounded by limestone mountains.

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    Hundreds of multicoloured wild fish will welcome you as you get into the warm 29 degrees turquoise waters.

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    It is one of the 3 stops on the island of Phi Phi Leh together with Maya Beach.
    Words can do no justice to the seansation you feel when you swim here.

    KSM_PILEH_LAGOON (32).JPG

    You will feel sad when it is time to go and vow to return at your first opportunity.

    Giorgio Federico
     
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  13. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Phuket (2011)

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    I have some mixed feelings about Phuket. I do recognise that, undoubtedly, this is Thailand’s premier resort. Although an island, it is, nowadays, connected to the mainland by the 700 metre Sarasin causeway and it lies in the warm Andaman Sea.

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    By the way, this is NOT the Sarasin bridge and the water is NOT the Andaman Sea! :)

    It is said that if you think of a wish and then hold your breath for the time it takes you to cross the Sarasin bridge (car recommended), your wish will come true. The word "Phuket" originates from Malay and it means “Hill”.

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    The reason why it is known to many as “The Pearl of Thailand” is because of its shape.

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    ...but this is NOT its shape, although this is not too far from Phuket.

    The distance between Phuket and Bangkok is 900 kms. However, many connections are available and getting to the island is easy and quick, especially if you are prepared to pay the air fare. The best time to visit is November to April when water conditions and visibility is at its best.

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    Arriving by boat is quite spectacular. Here is a good one.

    Although there are a handful of historical and cultural sites around the island, most people do not go to Phuket for history and culture.

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    Phuket, plenty of good beaches

    They go for the beaches and the top quality diving and, to that end, Phuket is hard to beat with the best places on the west coast. There are literally hundreds of places to stay but largely at the upper price end for Thailand. One of the most well known (and busiest) beach is Patong and it is followed by Karon, Kata, Bang Tao, Pansea and Kamala Beaches.

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    The reasons for my initial reservations about Phuket is that, more often than not, one cannot be too impressed with the media attention regarding the ongoing issues concerning the hire of jet skis, long tail boats, villa rentals and tuk tuk drivers.

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    Add that to the fact that Phuket is often busy and I decided not to stay there but only use it as a transient destination on my way to nearby destinations.

    As and when I return to Phuket, it will be to visit the Similan islands, a total of nine, which lie 80 kms northwest of Phuket. My understanding is that the best time to do this will be December to March.

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    Phuket, incredibly romantic with the most gorgeous of sunsets but unnecessary ongoing issues.

    Giorgio Federico
     

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  14. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    thanks for all the fantastic info. I have only been to the phi phi islands so far and I made the mistake of hiring a boat to take us out there in the summertime. The water was so choppy that we all had horrible back aches when we finally got there. We did have a great time once we arrived and the food was fantastic.
     
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  15. estnet
    Original Member

    estnet Gold Member

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    what has happened to Phuket is soooo sad. The street where many were killed in an underground shop during the tsunami is now ground zero for the sleaziest of sex shows and unwalkable at night if you don't want "sex" menus thrust in your face every 30 seconds. I just saw a picture of a foreigner who was beat up by tuk tuk drivers for defending his partner from their verbal assaults, it goes on and on (and makes me think sadly of NY of many years ago), nevertheless your pictures are beautiful as is your sense of humor (the rock pillow).
     
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  16. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Bay View Beach Resort
    Website www.bayviewbeachresort.com
    Email info@bayviewbeachresort.com
    t. +66(0)32 695566-7


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    I enjoy most of what Bangkok has to offer. By the same token I also look forward to venturing outside this fascinating and exotic metropolis. I suppose that I am both curious and eager to discover a little more of this wonderful and enchanting country every time I happen to be over here and one place I always love to go to is the sea. I am not much of a sun worshipper more of a sea shore fan.You see? I love the view of the sea and the sea air.

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    On the south west coast, I have ventured to Cha-am, then Hua Hin, then Prachuap Khirikhani Town and on this occasion I decided to go further south then last time, Bankrut to be precise. Perhaps I should first warn that this location is a five hour train ride from Bangkok. However, it is a comfortable journey and you could divide your travel into two segments and visit Hua Hin en route as it is only one and half hour away from this final destination.

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    Bankrut is a quiet spot, its first seven eleven was opened only recently and a second ATM was added earlier this year in addition to the one at the railway station. There are a couple of bars and restaurants and they will remain open as long as they have customers in them. As to the night life, they have the former but not much of the latter.

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    Bankrut, an oasis of tranquillity and Garfield Junior agrees.

    So, why would one want to come here? That is a good point and it depends on your personal views and requirements. Therefore, let me tell you why Mrs Smith and I came here.We wanted to experience the joy of a long and quiet beach and the feeling of peacefulness with nature and the sea.

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    We wanted to lodge in a traditionally built, yet comfortable, bungalow, in a resort where pine trees line the beach and palm groves abound all around.

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    We wanted to enjoy the privacy of a good size pool while surrounded by a natural and tranquil environment.

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    We wanted to sample delicious and tasty food while breathing the sea air at a beach side restaurant.

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    We wanted to bathe in a clean and warm sea and have fun cycling around and even playing a little volleyball from time to time. We wanted to fall asleep on a hammock while caressed by the sea breeze. All this we found at this resort.

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    Run efficiently by Khun An, Bay view beach resort is located along a beautiful long beach in Bankrut and it offers 35 rooms in 20 bungalows set in tropical greenery by the sea.

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    All the rooms have convenient facilities including satellite TV, refrigerator and electric shower.

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    Comfortable beds

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    functional and clean amenities

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    This is low season (July 2012) in Bankrut and you can experience a few showers from time to time but that will not spoil your enjoyment of the place and provided you have an interest in temples, you may wish to arrange for a car to drive you the two Kms or so to Thongchai mountain and wonder at the lovely nine chedi temple, Wat Tong Sai.

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    The views from the temple are superb and will be the subject of a separate post

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    A nice cold beer

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    The usual watermelon break

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    and plenty of delicious food (Aroy) to go with our stay

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    so lovely, even when it rains

    Giorgio Federico
     

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  17. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Sun Beach Guest House
    160 Chaitalae Road
    Prachuap Khiri Khan City 77000

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    Bear with me as this explanation will make sense in a short while.

    If you ever happen to be in Piazzale Euclide in Rome and wish to visit the gardens in Villa Borghese you will need to head upward a hill with a reasonable and lengthy incline. On both sides of the road you will notice well appointed houses, which once upon a time were the residence of aristocrats and although many have remained in the ownership of the original families some will have been acquired by well to do professionals.

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    A comfortable bed is always appealing for a good night rest

    These houses are quite distinguished for their classical appeal as they possess impeccable stucco finishes in either terracotta or ocra shades and many will have windows framed with travertine and will often be further decorated with key stones, pediments, Corinthian columns and various base reliefs. If you are fortunate enough to know one of the owners, you will be able to access their inner courtyards, which at times will include a fountain in the middle and oleander trees or a portico will provide respite from the ferocious midday sun and some of the walls will even have some delicate fresco paintings.

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    These are some of the reasons as to why classic Roman architecture has remained attractive through times despite a number of embellishments and this is the house I have come to describe in my latest review. Only that I am not in Rome and I am not even in Italy. I am actually in Prachuap Khirikhan City, about 100 Kms south of Hua Hin in Thailand.

    Prachuap khirikhan is a province of Thailand which has a number of very nice beaches and it stretches all the way from Phetburi in the north and Chumpon in the south.

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    The view from our room made getting out of bed in the morning a pleasure

    This is where Thailand is at its thinnest, 11 kms away from Burma to the west and the Gulf of Thailand to the east. The actual name means “Land of many mountains” and relies on fishing and agriculture.

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    Another sunset in Prachuap Khirikhan City

    I came across this location through a number of postings picked up on Tripadvisor, You Tube, Lonely Planet and some Thai centric forums. I have booked myself for a long weekend stay at the Sun Beach guest house, a 12 room two floor building which replicates some of the Roman architecture I have been describing above.

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    This is the brainchild of Herr Hurler, from Germany, and his lovely and friendly wife Ratchaneewan who confirmed that visits to Rome and Spain have in fact influenced their final choice of style.Their guest house has now been operational for six years and if I described it as a jewel in the desert I would not do it justice because this is not just a well kept family run guest house but a well thought, wonderfully laid out and scrupulously clean amenity where a few but wholly dedicated staff work very hard to maintain the highest standard you possibly can achieve.

    Now let me make it clear that if you have come to bathe in the sea, this may not be the best place where to stay because although is ocean facing, the sea is often rough and the waves will crash mercilessly onto the rocks and rebound on the pavement which runs along much of its coast line and well past the fishing pier. However, there are many nice beaches nearby and the views from the top of the Chong Khra Chok hill are superb.

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    Another reason to come here is to enjoy the local seafood.

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    However, if you love looking at the sea, if you crave for that pleasant sea breeze and you enjoy the salubrious effect of sea air, if you love indulging into a late afternoon or an evening watching the horizon from the comfort of your own balcony overlooking the bay, if you have come for a good night sleep, or some writing and/or reading, or some reflection or simply to get away from the frenetic pace of today’s life, then this will definitely be for you and at 1,000 baht per night excluding breakfast, this represents very good value for money.
    Khun Ratchaneewan and her team will ensure your stay is a pleasant one.


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    From the left; Khun Ratchaneewan and her daughter

    Mrs Smith and I arrived in the afternoon after a 4 hour drive by minivan from Bangkok (Victory monument). We had paid 480 baht for our transportation and it had been a comfortable drive.On arrival, we were given a key to our room, and a padlock and key to one of the lockers in reception to store our valuables. The location is a little off the beaten track but you need not worry because Khun Ratchaneewan has a number of scooters and will provide helmets too for as little as 150 baht per day. The police officers are vigilant in this part of Thailand so you are advised to ride your bike sensibly and wear your helmet.

    The house looks wonderful from the outside painted in ocra colours, with white stucco arched pediments and Corinthian columns.The windows are tall and wide and in turn bathing the rooms with plenty light and a medium sized pool with a dolphin mosaic in the middle is an attractive feature to the side of the house and facing all rooms.The pool and the area surrounding it are extremely clean and samples of wall sculptures and topiary are on display including a cute rabbit shaped one near the front of the house.

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    The stairs are flanked with twisted balustrades on one side and the floors of all rooms are tiled as well as the bathrooms and the skirting. The bathroom in our room was decorated with an Italianesque motif depicting the Florentine Lilly visible along the main dido and, as a detail, a number of individual tiles were decorated in the same vein.

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    The furnishings were in simple white MDF units with the bed cover, valance and curtains in light blue and all walls and ceilings in pastel sky blue which had the effect of bringing the outside sea indoor.

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    The room was spacious and the wardrobes could store some medium sized luggage. We had booked for this accommodation a few months before and we were glad we had done so as opposed to just arriving because we saw a number of people being turned away as all rooms were fully booked during the period we stayed there.

    Breakfast was basic but well presented and all cutlery and crockery very clean and of decent quality.

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    As a matter of fact cleanness was the feature constantly present throughout the house. This was my first time here but most of the visitors staying here had been before and, as I found out over a number of conversations during breakfast time, most if not all the ones I came across were veterans travellers not just in Thailand but South East Asia as a whole with many tales to share.

    As we were staying over the weekend, the night market provided the opportunity for some colourful displays and the many food stalls ensured you were never hungry with little impact on your wallet or purse.

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    Chicken tonight?

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    Or maybe some fish?

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    Noodles galore

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    and Thai sweet little things

    Also with a motorbike at our disposal we had access to many local areas

    As we like a moderate level of adventure in our travels, the ride to see the fishermen colourful boats was both pleasant and enchanting.

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    We were welcomed by sincere smiles and we met with a tranquil pace of life and docile and friendly people which most of Thailand is known for.

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    If you wish to get away for a few days from the hustle and bustle of a busy city life or a tiring touring schedule, then the Sun Beach guest house is likely to be a perfect choice.

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    Sausages anyone? Lady not included.

    Oh, nearly forgot to say that a tuk tuk can be pre booked on your day of departure to take you back to the minivan station for your return to Bangkok.The cost of the tuk tuk will vary from 20 to 30 baht per person.

    Giorgio Federico
     

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  18. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Hua Hin

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    Be prepared to be met by a tropical climate with high humidity and occasional rain. This is a location, which is typically pleasant however, and can be enjoyed all year round.

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    Generally, the best time of the year to visit is during the cool season from November to February, but for those who like it hot, then the hot season is from March to May.

    The rainy season (although it doesn't rain every day) is from June to October with September being the rainiest of all.

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    Train is an easy method to get into Hua Hin, as the train station is right in the centre of Hua Hin.

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    However, the trains go slowly getting away from Bangkok with an average journey of just over three hours. Hua Hin Railway Station is probably Thailand's most beautiful train station of which the local people are very proud.

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    Most trains on the southern route stop at Hua Hin. They leave Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong and Bang Sue railway stations 10 times daily between 07.45 and 22.50 hrs the average journey is just short of 4 hours.

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    From Bangkok, buses to Hua Hin leave from the Sai Tai Mai terminal about every 20 minutes and take around 3.5 hrs. The price for a first class ticket is under 200 baht. Buses run from 04.00 to 22.20 hrs.

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    More convenient (but perhaps a tad less comfortable) is travelling by minibus from near the Victory Monument near the BTS skytrain. Cost is 180 bht with limited baggage. The Hua Hin vans board in the alleyway next to Century Movie Plaza close to the stairs at the southern end of Victory Monument BTS station.

    From the Skytrain station, take the walkway towards south, descend the staircase on the east side to street level. The minibus area is next to the stairs. Look for a small table with "Cha Am, Hua Hin" written in English. Minibuses from Hua Hin back to BKK for 180thb as at June 2012 leave near opposite the Pananchai Hotel in Naebkehas Rd, some 200 metres along a side road from the clock tower.

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    Gifted with a high level of imagination and practicality, and after much consideration, someone came up with a great name for the beach, "Hua Hin Beach" and it runs from one side of Hua Hin to the other. The Beach in Hua Hin extends for three kilometres. It is long!!

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    At the south end of town, the hill of Khao Takiab interrupts the beach. A lovely early morning walk and the hill serves as a reference. There...follow those markings on the sand...you really cannot get lost.

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    Parts of the beach closer to the town may have greenish water, in this case continue walking down the beach where the water appears cleaner. There is ample supply of deck chairs along the beach, however many places will charge for their hire (100 baht is common).

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    Golf is extremely en vogue and there are over 50 massage shops in Hua Hin. Walking and cycling are popular due to the quietness of the roads. There are plenty of crafts including handicrafts, silk weaving, embroidery, basket making, pottery and wood carving. Alternatively you can try Go Karting at the karting track near the airport. The 700m circuit has a banked curve for speed, pits floodlighting, beer garden and catering.

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    Water Sports is available in many forms and Pony Rides can be found on Hua Hin beach.

    June is the time of the year when 'jazz on the beach' happens at the annual Hua Hin Jazz Festival and if you want to learn more about Thai food, you can take a cooking course.

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    At the night markets you can buy a range of items from t-shirts to antiques, silk weaving, embroidery, basket making, pottery, wood carving, gemstones and jewellery (including sapphires and rubies). Haggling is advisable to get the best prices possible. As for me, I am into food!!

    Note that there are two night markets. The better known is in the middle of Hua Hin, and is rather tourist oriented. The one the Thais favour is known as the Grand Market because it is in the parking lot between Grand Hotel and Sao Paulo Hospital. More diverse and interesting, but does not operate Mondays and Tuesdays. For local handicrafts, the Hua Hin Bazaar, about 100 metres west of the beach, should be your first stop.

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    Hua Hin is unlike any other beach resort in Thailand.

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    If you're looking for bright lights and the frantic all-night action of cabarets and discos, you may be disappointed here.

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    However, if you enjoy walks through the quiet winding streets of a friendly coastal village, sampling delicious seafood in restaurants overlooking the brightly lit fishing boats on the Gulf of Thailand, Hua Hin could very well be what you're looking for.

    Hua Hin has a special character all its own.

    "Thank you," the old man said. He was too simple to wonder when he had attained humility. But he knew he had attained it and he knew it was not disgraceful and it carried no loss of true pride. Ernest Hemingway "The Old Man and the Sea"

    Giorgio Federico
     

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  19. estnet
    Original Member

    estnet Gold Member

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    re: Hua Hin
    Beautiful photos and good advice about the night markets - the one in the center that used to have lots of food now has much less and too many "souvenir" shops. The one near the hospital is a lot more fun if you're looking for food variety.
    There is also a large shopping center (forgot the name) further south that is good if you need air conditioning. It even has some good local type places to eat as well as chain type places.
    One correction - the buses to/from Sai Thai Mai (Southern bus terminal) only run every half hour or every hour (I guess depending on demand? Also if you buy your ticket in Bangkok be sure to get the express not the local (they are sold from different kiosks) - only a small difference in cost but I made this mistake once and had a LONG ride on a non a/c bus! Otherwise the buses are faster than the train (which I think only has 4 or 5 which actually stop in HH - not 10) and the trains often run late (esp. returning to Bangkok since the train is coming from the south. I once was on one that was supposed to arrive around midnight - it was hours late and I ended up getting back 4 hours late - and nearly missed my plane when i thought I had allowed a 4 hour buffer :) )
    The main problem with the bus is that the new terminal is so far outside town that the taxi fare is as much as the bus fare - but the terminal is a/c and has lots of interesting shopping and food to pass the time.
     
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  20. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Dear Estnet,

    Thank you for your kind comments and also for pointing out the minor errors.

    “I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.” Mahatma Gandhi

    I have, without delay, rounded up those scoundrels in the Data Verification Team responsible for this oversight and I have admonished them in no uncertain terms and warned them that these kind of mistakes will no longer be tolerated on Milepoint. As you can see, they have all had their new sight tests and they have been provided with the latest high resolution noerrorspecification glasses and a new camera that they were keen to show you.

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    From all of us at the London Head Quarters
    Thank you for this feedback.

    Giorgio Federico
     
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  21. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    Giorgio, you are too funny! :D thanks for the morning chuckle!
     
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  22. estnet
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    estnet Gold Member

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    :):p:D:D
     
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  23. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Khaolak Emerald Beach Resort & spa
    7/10 Moo 2 Ramkean, Thai Muang,
    Phang-nga 82210

    Phone: (66 76)428700 Fax: (66 76)428729

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    Heaven on earth is probably here

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    Italians are often made to go to church from an early age but who would have thought that to get a glimpse of what Heaven must be like I had to come here, north of Phuket at Khao Lak beach front. It’s funny how life happens.

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    Now, some people reading my posts may take the view that I am another “Farang” who has become evangelical in promoting this newly discovered world. I would not challenge that thought as people are free to express themselves but as with most things nothing is all that simple.

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    Truth is that this place is pretty, period and there are plenty of islands and caves and rocky crops for the most adventurous too.

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    All roads lead to Rome? Maybe the beach is a more likely destination here.

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    Given that I tend to be a high value seeker, the special promotion of 1,100 baht per night was sufficiently appealing for me to make a booking. As we drove over the Sarasin bridge and knowing how the area had been affected by the Tsunami I held my breath and wished “Let it be good” but I should not have worried. By the way there are three bridges in total connecting the Phang-nga province to Koh Phuket and one of them (the old bridge) has been improved and it has been pedestrianised.

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    My Aussie friends often say “Put another shrimp on the barbecue” but for me it’s more of “Put another couple of crabs in that pot”...dozens of crabs that it is.

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    When I told the crabs I was going to cook them and eat them, they fell on their back had a good belly laugh!!

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    The style of accommodation is Thai contemporary;

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    The landscaped grounds as we well as the beach lend themselves to pleasant walks.

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    Tranquillity is the word I am thinking of.

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    However, one thing that I could not stop admiring was the ever changing cloud formation.

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    To me they seemed like beds made of cotton and nestled atop the skyes. They were puffy, wispy and fluffy. They reminded me of giant candy floss.

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    They were never a final shape for the Universe I stood against and there was no history of shapes other than the descriptions I could come out through my imagination.

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    It felt like watching imaginary painters playing and drawing the absolute eternal and what a shame that their lives were cut so short by an irrepressible wind.

    Khaolak Phang-nga, my good fortunes brought me here to look at beauty from the sea towards the clouds and I wanted to share it with you.


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    I see skies of blue..... clouds of white
    Bright blessed days....dark sacred nights
    And I think to myself .....what a wonderful world.

    Louis Armstrong "What a wonderful world"


    Love and light.
    Giorgio Federico
     

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