Thursday 15th Dec – Speed boat, beaches, islands and snorkelling.

Waded through thigh deep water to get to the speed boat at low tide and clambered on. Headed straight for the front – obviously, and then, onwards towards the advertised romantic, deserted beaches, staggering limestone cliffs and turquoise sea. Well the latter two were correct! Unfortunately every other boat in the whole world descended simultaneously (or so it seemed) on these romantic, deserted beaches! The most famous, as seen on “The Beach” with old Leo di Caprio, was utterly rammed with long boats, speed boats and hundreds and hundreds of tourists, mostly Russian (rude) and Chinese (ruder). Selfie sticks (Chinese) and provocative poses (Russian) at every turn. I managed at each of the beaches, to go right to the end to try and find some space and photo opportunities! 

The only times I could really get some space was in the sea, as 90% of the madding crowd, seemed either to need a life jacket and therefore wallowed around close to the boats, or didn’t go in the water at all. I just swam as far away as was reasonable with my mask and snorkel and enjoyed my solitude with the fish. The only problem with this was, I definitely couldn’t take any iPad photos 😆 

Below is Maya Bay, known to most as the beautiful, deserted, isolated “beach” made famous in the film of the same name. 

The rickety scaffolding in this cave is used by locals to collect swift’s nests for birds nest soup. Look closely at the couple in the long boat – aww. End of beach photo opportunities

Wed 14th Dec sea kayaking, monitor lizards, monkeys and gibbons

Up early again and off on the long tailed boat ferry to a bus and then to the kayaking. Great scenery if a little bit hazy compared to New Zealand. I hate having to use my iPad as a camera. Just can’t negotiate it to get the shots I want! Didn’t manage to get any photos of the wildlife but it was quite funny that I was accompanied by possums and fruit bats on my return, late evening to my hotel in Sydney; in Railay I came across a three foot long monitor lizard on the path and there are numerous monkeys and gibbons crashing about in the nearby trees, showering leaves and all sorts down below. Very entertaining stuff. 

Monday 12th Dec – Grand Temple, tourists and traffic

Meant to go to the market last night after Caroline and Jade left but once I’d done my blog and sorted my case (put all cold weather clothing at the bottom for now), I actually fell asleep around 7pm I think. Anyway I woke up a couple of hours later and then really didn’t feel like sweaty crowds, haggling and being offered ping pong shows at every turn 😜. I wanted to be up and off early to try and avoid the crowds at the temple (impossible task as it turns out). Got there for opening time and it was utterly rammed, not only with tourists, (mostly the rude, pushy Chinese variety) but also with literally thousands of Thai mourners, all dressed entirely in black and all queueing patiently to file past the king’s body and pay their respects. The king died in early October and this has been a daily occurrence since he was laid in state. It’s quite a sight to see. They all carry sprays of orchids, are channelled and herded everywhere without complaint, quietly waiting their turn. 

The comment about the Chinese is a generalisation of their culture and behaviour, having observed it all over New Zealand and in Sydney. No concept of personal space, no idea of the volume of their voices, no problem with pushing other people out of their way to get where they want to be, no interest in taking photos of the beautiful things around them, just of taking selfies in ridiculous poses. Oh and the habit of hawking and spitting at will, no matter who is nearby! Quite disgusting! 

Anyway, hopefully no more of them where I’m going, fingers crossed. It was incredibly difficult to take photos at the Temple, partly because I had to use my iPad, which is a tad bulky and also simply because of the number of people. I managed to get a few reasonable ones but they’re not great. It is visually stunning, in a very different way to the temples in Cambodia, which are romantic and haunting. These are bold and brash. I’m also guessing the feeling of claustrophobia in there didn’t help. It felt like Disneyworld on a public holiday! I’m about to board my flight to Krabi, then five days rest and relaxation on the beach. I know you don’t feel sorry for me but I am actually a bit tired. Xx

Sunday 11th Dec – Fabulous breakfast, river boat, afternoon tea, manicure and pedicure Bangkok style = awesome!

Ridiculously great breakfast next to an infinity pond by the river. This place feels so alive! Bit on the hazy side today. Not quite the crisp, clean air of New Zealand but you can’t have it all. Well I have been trying – and succeeding quite well, to have it all these last couple of months but hey ho! (Note the wonky building in the background. Looks like a Jenga tower 😂Then a river boat trip down a few of the back canals, where the real Bangkok is. The boats look like they have a monster jet engine on the back of them. Hilarious and very noisy but so much fun! My phone is officially dead but I have my iPad which is great but just a bit bulkier to handle. These shots were taken as we whizzed past so no real thought processes involved. Just see something interesting coming up, point, shoot and hope😜. Some real contrasts, with pristine temples right next to rickety wooden houses on stilts. The owners mostly manage to make them look great though.We smelt this boat before we saw it. Amazing spicy chicken kebabs I think.

These monster rice boats get hauled up and down the river, sometime four or five at a time. They look like tanks and are rather incongruous amongst the little, decorative Thai ferries and trip boats. And then for some quite marvellous pampering whilst Jade was shopping. It seemed the most sensible thing to do. The afternoon tea was like being at Betty’s, only a tenth of the price, and the manicure and pedicure were out of this world, again about a quarter of what it would be at home and way, way better! And another from Caroline’s phone last night from the top of the Sky Bar – 64 floors up