FESTIVITIES IN THAILAND: AO NANG, PHUKET, PHI PHI, KOH LANTA, KOH BULON LE, KOH LIPE, PAKBARA AND HAT YAI...


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January 4th 2009
Published: January 4th 2009
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HAPPY NEW YEAR, from hat yai! welcome to my first blog of 2009, and the probably the penultimate one before Ekk and i return to the UK at the end of next month.. since i last spoke, i helped ekk celebrate his 35th birthday in hua hin, helped by some duty free famous grouse whisky, a large chocolate cake from siam paragon and 5 puppies!

i then left hua hin by train to thung song junction, from where it is a short bus journey to krabi town. i could have got off at surat thani, but couldnt face the touts and hassle there. At thung song though, 2 hours further south, i was the only farang, and not a tout in sight ready to rip me off! time wise it was probably about the same, and it was far less stressful. i then took a songtheaw from krabi town bus station to ao nang, where i stayed at jinda guesthouse. spent a couple of quiet nights there, before taking the express boat to the hurdy gurdy of phuket, which only takes less than 2 hours, as opposed to the albeit cheaper bus, which takes over 4 hours.

patong beach,
GAY VOLLEYBALLGAY VOLLEYBALLGAY VOLLEYBALL

PATONG BEACH, PHUKET
phuket, was the setting for me celebrating my 40th birthday on 20th december. i spent 2 weeks there until boxing day. overdid it on a couple of nights, but generally all ran smooth. the first week i was ekkless, and lots of drag cabaret, gay beach volleyball and thai whisky generally ensued. ekk arrived 2 days before my birthday, so we went together on the Connect bar's weekly saturday gay day tour to "koh kai nui" on my actual birthday. i hadnt reckoned on how wierd it would be waking up in the morning and realising i am now 40! a bit of a depressing start to the day for sure. The tour is quite pricey, but everything in thailand is now with the GBP now as low as 49 baht to 1 GBP! You get a free bbq though and fruits/sandwiches, as well as a free beach bar. however, crucially they didnt bring enough booze, as by 4pm it was all finished! not only that but the booze was the cheapest low quality brands, which was a shame. Last year i went on the same tour, when there were twice as many attendees, the booze was brands you had
EKK ON KOH KAI NUIEKK ON KOH KAI NUIEKK ON KOH KAI NUI

ON MY 40TH BIRTHDAY
actualy heard of, and it was still flowing when it was time to leave the island at 6pm. so, Connect bar, if you are reading this, please note your standards have slipped in the past 12 months. also note that since last year half the beach on the island has disappeared, to be replaced by rocks.

still had a great day though, and when we got back it was a quick change and meal before hitting the gay bars of patong. at kiss bar, they give you a free 75cl bottle of scotch if it is your birthday, though you still have to buy rather expensive mixers and ice, so not entirely free. unless. that is, you like swigging neat whisky straight from the bottle! my swedish friend peter arrived in kiss bar that night, with his latest thai guy in tow. he and his latest are very nice people, but they are both chain smokers, so most conversations with them involve the risk of lung cancer through passive smoking... ces't la vie! we got to bed at 6am that night, so the next day was a sorry write off. the day after we took a motorbike and explored
KOH KAI NUIKOH KAI NUIKOH KAI NUI

ON MY 40TH BIRTHDAY, YES IT REALLY IS THAT SMALL!
places on phuket island we hadnt seen before. the days leading up to xmas eve were spent on patong beach, and on xmas eve it was more of the same around the patong gay cabaret bars. xmas day dawned late, like 4pm, and i havent drunk any alcohol since, not even on new years eve, and have resolved to keep it that way for the foreseeable future..... spent an hour searching for an authentic english breakfast in patong that day, found it, in fact it was the best ive had in a very long time (see photo!)...

so on boxing day it was time to leave patong, and headed for phi phi on what was billed an "executive yacht", not exactly, but i didnt expect much for 450baht each! it was also very overcrowded. still, the weather was perfect, as it has been everywhere since october, up until we arrived in hat yai 2 days ago, when the heavens opened for 2 days constant.. The boat had a circuit of phi phi leh before arriving at phi phi don. stayed at a poor value guesthouse by the mismomer of "Lux", but had a partial sea view. took a trek
XMAS DAY BREAKFASTXMAS DAY BREAKFASTXMAS DAY BREAKFAST

PATONG, GREAT HUNGOVER CURE, AND THE MOST DELICIOUS EVER~!
up to the viewpoint and around the north of the island, to some beautiful unsploilt parts of phi phi don 9 (there are some!).

after a couple of days on phi phi we took the boat to koh lanta, where we stayed at ban saladan, at a great value modern place for only 700 baht a night inc. hot shower and tv. took a day trip to koh ha, a great place for snorkelling, before taking a speedboat to koh bulon le, we planned to stop here for 3 nights en-route to koh lipe (pronounced "LEEPAE"), but we both didnt like it that much. it is very tiny, all the resorts are pretty tired and the beach wasnt that special. so we stayed just the night, before getting the same speedboat to koh lipe. koh lipe was one of the few places left on my visit thailand wish list, so didnt know what to expect. it was packed out for new year, and we had trouble finding a room. after 2 hours searching we found a very poor value one, but had no choice, as it was 8pm, and it was the only room on the island! No air-con,
LEAVING PHUKET HARBOURLEAVING PHUKET HARBOURLEAVING PHUKET HARBOUR

IT IS BOXING DAY MORNING, AND ITS PACKED....
no tv, no hot water, just a bed, a small fan and a rudimentary en-suite cold shower room, all for an outrageous 1300baht a night!! (it did include a buffet breakfast, but even so!) the resort is called bundhaya resort, some of the bungalows looked very nice, just these basic ones at the back were not. i don't mind basic, but only if it is also charged at a basic price! we stayed there for 3 nights over new year, i didnt drink any booze on NYE for the first time in 21 years. However on new years day morning i kept one tradition alive, by loudly playing Abba's bittersweet anthem "happy new year" on my cd player to anyone able to listen!

koh lipe is a beautiful island, in a even lovelier archipeligo in the south andaman sea, but is danger of becoming a victim of it own success. there is a limit, thai people! took a snorkelling day tour by longtail boat to some of the surrounding islands, including koh rawi, koh adang and koh hin-ngam, very nice indeed, with the clearest sea's i have ever seen. being so far out in the ocean, the water isnt
PHI PHI LEHPHI PHI LEHPHI PHI LEH

LOTS OF BOATS AND IMPRESSIVE LIMESTONE CLIFFS
that warm compared with places like krabi, but still lovely.

after the new year festivities were over, we took a speedboat back to the mainland for the 1st time in nearly a month (phuket, phi phi, lanta, bulon and lipe all being islands!), to the quiet port of pakbara, then from there it was a 1 hour journey by minivan to hat yai city, where i am now. staying at the kings hotel, only 450baht, with all mod cons. ekk has just got on a train (or rather a bus, as the train line was flooded as a far as surat thani), back to hua hin. i am taking the train to bangkok tommorrow, hopefully all the way!

cu


Additional photos below
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PHI PHI LEHPHI PHI LEH
PHI PHI LEH

FROM PHI PHI DON VIEWPOINT
BAMBOO ISLAND FROM PHI PHI DON VIEWPOINTBAMBOO ISLAND FROM PHI PHI DON VIEWPOINT
BAMBOO ISLAND FROM PHI PHI DON VIEWPOINT

KRABI (RAILEY CAPE) IN DISTANCE..
KLONG DAO BEACHKLONG DAO BEACH
KLONG DAO BEACH

IN THE EARLY MORNING, KOH LANTA
FIRE DANCERFIRE DANCER
FIRE DANCER

KOH LIPE
A BEACH ON LOH LIPEA BEACH ON LOH LIPE
A BEACH ON LOH LIPE

NEAR MOUNTAIN RESORT, NORTH EAST OF ISLAND
MIDNIGHT NEW YEARS EVE 2008/09MIDNIGHT NEW YEARS EVE 2008/09
MIDNIGHT NEW YEARS EVE 2008/09

BUNDHAYA BEACH, KOH LIPE


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