A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: peter.dudley

Summary

A combination of being on holiday and having man flu meant that I did not achieve my goal of blogging each (or at least every other) day. In fact I failed miserably, but I wanted a record of the holiday, so having been back a week, and sorted some of the photo's (still working out the video side of things) it is time to retro fit the blog.
Travelling with just hand luggage was a dream. No waiting at carousels, just pick it up and keep walking.
Thailand (or at least Kata Beach) is a wonderful place to stay, we just love the relaxed atmosphere. There are plenty of activities on the island, just as the local guides. The locals can tell when you are newly arrived, and will fleece you initially. As you get better at the game so reasonable prices become much more reasonable. Quality is suspect, somethings are really good. I still use the singlets at the gym that I purchased 18 months ago, other stuff, like the swimmers I purchased this time were destroyed and left behind.

Coming home is wonderful, especially when the there are a couple of very special people waiting for you.

Alex's removal of her wisdom teeth has gone well. She felt a bit based about initially, but better than she had expected. The review with the surgeon went well, he is pleased with the nature of the healing and the overall result. Alex's next challenge is the end of year exams, followed by her 2 month trip to Central America over Christmas and her 21st Brithday!!

Charlie is still aiming towards Goal 1 - a return to corp. He will need to complete his IET (Initial Employment Training) - just the last 3 weeks he believes, but early next year is the optimistic timeframe. In fact by the time he gets to his regiment he could well have already served 2 years of his 4 year term. Charlie being Charlie is hoping that this timeframe will be shorter.

Posted by peter.dudley 15:59

Heading Home

Oh no it's all over

The alarm sounds, I roll over and think 'Oh no, time to get up, I cant believe that this time has come so quickly'. Actually it's not an alarm, but a countdown timer. I'd removed my SIM to avoid bill shock, and as a result the phone remained on Australian time, I just knew that we only had 5h45m before we had to get up. Everything was packed, the long trousers were out along with the rugby shirt, just the toothbrush to go. Soon we were dragging our hand luggage out on to the street. The Taxi driver was waiting.
It was a quiet and somber trip to the airport, our time in Thailand was over. We milled around at the airport dealing with all the different security requirements. Why there can not be a global standard I don't know, even within the airport there seem to be different restrictions. We tried smuggling various containers of different liquids through each section, but each time one or other of us were discovered with some contraband. Matthew did manage to get a 200ml bottle of water onto the plane so the system can be beaten!!! Camilla did notice a number of people taking empty bottles through, we guess to fill them up with water on the other side - something to bear in mind for the next trip.
We knew what to expect and were prepared, a short flight from Phuket to KL, a 3h wait in KL then the final 8h long haul to Melbourne. Some breakfast and coffee kept up going, Malaysian ringet were handed to James and Matthew. Millie and Matthew headed off to the perfume counter to purchase some duty free. A few delays followed and finally we were loaded. The pilot managed to make up for lost time and we landed at Melbourne 15m early. A quick stop at the toilets for me to put in my contacts, a whiz through immigration for James and myself, Matthew whilst having a ePassport stayed with Millie who still has an old style passport. Then on to customs, declaring the dried fruit and nuts we had for the journey, James declaring the wooden bowl holding some soap, and we were through. SIM's into phones and a 30m wait for the bus to the long term car park.
It was a quiet journey home, tired from sitting all day, each of us turning through the pages of the memories of the last 11 days. We arrived home.We had planned on picking up a kebab on the way but the usual shop was closed, so having arrived home I headed straight off to get one for James and myself from a 24h place nearby.
When I got back I found a very excited Millie, who lead me to the laundry room (previously Charlie's bedroom). 'Look who is here' she said as she opened the door. 'Whats Alex doing sleeping downstairs' I was thinking, then it dawned on me 'That's not Alex - it's Charlie'.

Charlie had managed to arrange a weeks leave from the Army, and had come down as a suprise. I guess having the 6 of us all together again made coming home all worthwhile.

pcd

Posted by peter.dudley 17:00

Flow Rider

Never too old to try something new

sunny 30 °C

The boys had been on the Flow Rider a couple of time. It appears to be good value, only 800B (under $30) for an hour, until you realize that you are sharing with 8 others, although they do have 2 sections running at a time.
OK So it's time for the olds to have a go! This is one where I have to get the video working. All the young kids make it look so easy and graceful. Well my first attempt lasted under 5 seconds, Millie managed probably 20, but her balance is much better than mine. What's really interesting is just how quickly you improve. Sure at the end of the hour I was not exactly performing tricks, but I had at least let go of the safety rope and could gently traverse from side to side. The real challenge is to RELAX, something that we both found difficult, in fact several days later we were both stiff around the top of the shoulders and in the neck area. Although in my case it's possibly also related to cracking my head twice, both time quite hard. It's been over 20 years since I have been seriously winded.
This activity is something we would have done several time had we risen the to challenge earlier in the holiday. You can guess where we will be starting next time. It's fun, challenging, a great workout and immensely satisfying.

Posted by peter.dudley 19:00 Archived in Thailand

Whitewater rafting - or not

Searching for the illusive

sunny 30 °C

Google Maps had indicated that there was white water rafting just south of Kata, none of the locals knew much about it and kept wanting to take us elsewhere, however we are not in a position to be taking a trip every day. Start with a few days R&R then a day of activity and a day of nothing (supposedly writing the blog and sorting the photos). This was a nothing day, so started the quest for the rafting. We negotiated with a Tuk Tuk driver to head out of town, and again passed a number of both elephant experience places, and monkey handling sites, but no white water rafting. We ulled up Google Maps and had the driver drive back slowly as we tracked out location. Sure enough at the indicated location there was evidence that something had been there some time ago, but it certainly was not operating now, oh well that's part of the fun of having no plans. We heading back up to one of the lookout points we had past. From there we could look down and see Kata Noi Beach, Kata Beach and Karon Beach all lined up in a row, you could also see why Kata Beach avoided major damage when the tsunami came through on Boxing Day 2004 due to it's slightly different orientation.
It was a nice quiet day - which was just what I needed to finally fully get over what ever bugs I had contracted. James and Matthew occupied themselves in the local shops and are now well know to the majority of the stall holders, either by face and or name, or reputation. I get the feeling the profit margins (whilst I sure will be substantial) will be down this fortnight. Even Millie & I not have a new ploy the 'leave the sunglasses behind' trick. We try to get the price we want, and if we don't we leave the sunglasses behind, only to return 10 minutes later to collect them. It sometimes works that we get he price we wanted.
It's a game and they know it, and we know it. Only they do it every day, we do it every 18 months. Those who get us in the first 5 days make a killing, after that they just make a profit!

Since Thursday afternoon we have had no rain and each day it's been 30C, bright and sunny. the beaches have been turbid which is usual for this time of year, but the banana boat has been out occasionally and we have even seen the odd lantern sent up at night. Not much happens on the beach in the evening as the tides are right up to the retaining walls and there just is not much beach left on which to party.

pcd

Posted by peter.dudley 03:14 Archived in Thailand

Big Buddha Buggy Ride

Feeling back on track

sunny 30 °C

OK so it's been a few days since the last update. The good news is that the cold / flu has all but gone, and the tummy gripes have stayed away. The bad news is that Camilla now has the tummy gripes. However I get ahead of myself.
The trip up to the big Buddha was great, last time in Thailand (Jan 2012) we hired ATV's that frankly had seen MUCH better days, quite how they managed to get going was a testament to their build quality rather than the maintenance program. These buggies were different, sure they had seen a hard time, but they worked and had brakes. There's no powered steering on them so some effort needs to be put into that aspect. The boys managed well, leading from the front. James has some driving experience so he should have been OK. Matthew has driven GoKarts before, and teh ATV's last time, so it not the first time for either of them. I think the 4X4 experiences from home also helped. The drive up to the Big Budda was uphill and uneventful, but we did pass a number of elephant trek places and even a few monkeys. The difference between these monkeys and the ones we saw in Bang La Rd were that these were full of live and not drugged up to the eye balls. Along the way we stopped for the obligatory photo - I guess they do sell enough of these to make it worthwhile. The Big Budda is impressive from the townships and as you start to get up close it is even more impressive, but when you get really close you realize that it's far from complete. It seems that the government puts up the $$$ to get things going (the main statue) then waits for public contributions and donations for the rest of the infrastructure and supporting buildings. It was started in 2007, and my guess is that it's going to take some time to complete. The return journey took us off road where the boys had some fun trying to keep the vehicles under control, all of them were running rich and backfiring was a constant noise that the parading elephants had to contend with. When we came to a U turn I watched as Millie had to find reverse to complete the turn. I decided to have some fun and span the vehicle round in about 1/2 the width of the track - what I didn't notice was that the other 3 watched my hooning. Whoops, so much for setting a good example. James is planning on adding 1 hour off road driving to his log book, but without a license plate number I'm not too sure they will accept that one.
On the way back the guides stopped at a lookout grabbed our cameras and started taking photo's of us, handing back the cameras with the refrain 'Tip, tip, tip'. well the ride had been really good so they got one.

pcd
<Photo's to be added later>

Posted by peter.dudley 02:57 Archived in Thailand

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