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Archive for Thailand

Patong Pics

The Sea Hag was our favorite restaurant on Phuket. We went two nights in a row. After the first night I took the above photo of Ellie enjoying the warm evening.

I made friends with this guy. He set up our chairs on the beach. Later on he noticed I was reading a book in Japanese so after we chatted for a while I ended up teaching him some phrases in Japanese that he could use on Japanese tourists. He practiced them every time he approached me the rest of the day, but I don’t think they were sticking too well.

The Road to Siam Bay

From Batok Bay we took a road to Siam Bay. We saw no people, few dwellings (although that could change in the near future, I’m guessing, with the one resort on the island charging more per night than most Thai people make in a month), and some animals.

For instance, there were water buffalo.

The beach in Siam Bay was even more empty than Batok Bay. The white sand was incredibly soft, the water pure, and we were in paradise.

We found out, soon after I took the above photo, that Ellie’s bright pink shirt is loved by tropical fish. As we snorkled she was swarmed with fish who either thought she was their mother or their lunch.

Racha Yai Island

The weather forecast on Christmas Eve was for decent weather on Christmas day and then not so good weather for our last two full days in Phuket. As it turned out, the weather was pretty much the same everyday, but at the time we figured we should do our snorkeling adventure on Christmas to avoid possible bad weather.

We debated between going to the Similan Islands or the Phi Phi Islands. The Similan Islands were supposed to be less crowded and have better snorkeling opportunities, but the cost was almost twice (1,500 – 2,500 baht per person) that of Phi Phi (900 – 1,300 baht per person) and it takes forever to get there and back from Patong. We didn’t really like the idea of being given only 20-30 minutes to snorkel on the Phi Phi tours or bumping into people while snorkeling which is how crowded the Phi Phi tours are.

So when we were told about a new company, that just began doing snorkeling and diving tours off the Racha Islands, we were intrigued. The cost was about the same as going to the Similan Islands, but we could get there quickly and not have crowds. We booked the “Island Discovery Daytrip to Ko Racha Yai C” with Raya Oceanic Diver and hoped for the best.

I think Ryan and Ellie’s favorite part was getting there. I didn’t get sick, but I was ready for the 30 minute boat ride to be over after about 25 minutes. We went really fast on the speed boat, and the water on the way there was pretty choppy. The way back was much smoother. From Chalong Pier to Racha Yai felt like a very long rollercoaster ride to me–only there were no tracks so I felt less secure.

We started off in Batok Bay (pictured above), an absolutely beautiful location. The place seemed geared up for a few hundred tourists, but we didn’t see more than a dozen people on the island all day. And this was supposed to be their busiest week of the year!

We were quite pleased with our tour with Raya Oceanic Diver. We were their only customers on Christmas which meant we got lots of personal attention. Our guide, Reiner from Germany, snorkled with us–pointing out things we would have missed had we just been dumped off (which is what I hear the other tour companies are like). We experienced over an hour of snorkeling in two different locations (about two and a half hours total). We probably could have gone even longer had we requested such. I’ve read other reviews of people who went to Phi Phi who said they weren’t allowed to snorkel for more than 20 minutes so we felt very fortunate for the time and personal attention provided by Raya.

Christmas Eve in Thailand

christmas eve pantong beach phuket thailand

Christmas Eve in Phuket featured an excellent sunset. We looked for a place to eat on the beach but couldn’t find anything that would satisfy us all. We ended up going down an alley just to the north of McDonald’s and eating at a place called S&G Restaurant. The food was really good, the prices were cheap, and the staff was friendly. I ordered a creamy curry which was the best curry I have ever had.

Thawiwong Road seafood

This is the main drag (Thawiwong Road) by the beach. Eat at one of these places if you want to pay more for lesser quality food.

Bangla Road

You can eat really inexpensively by eating at one of these stalls. This one is in Phuket’s night life center on Bangla Road.

Patong Beach (again)

This is Patong Beach. Even though we saw very few Japanese in Thailand (most tourists seemed to be from Scandinavia this time of year), we sat next to a Japanese couple on their honeymoon (pictured in the lower left). It was nice to talk to an Asian face again in something other than broken English.

Ryan and Ellie had a great time playing on the ocean toys.

And here is the view from in the Indian Ocean. The beach can get crowded after noon. From 9 a.m. until noon it was very nice though. The water may look a little dirty in these photos because of the sandy bottom, but it was actually quite clear. You could see fish swimming around you without even putting your face in the water.

Departing Bangkok

On our last morning in Bangkok I took the elevator to the top floor of the hotel in hopes of seeing the sunrise over the Bangkok skyline. Unfortunately, the windows were dirty and the Bangkok air was quite smoggy (for the first time–a morning wind took care of the smog on the other days).

The top floor of the hotel looked quite a bit different from the other floors. These must have been some sort of penthouse suites as you had to enter through a seperate set of glass doors to get to the special rooms. There were also sculptures and other decorations that the other floors didn’t have.

A guard also “prevented” entrance to this exclusive location. I put prevented in quotes because in actuality the guard was sound asleep, curled up in the fetal position on the floor (just out of range in the above photograph).

We split town and headed for the airport with a cab driver who refused to turn on his meter. He wanted more than we paid with the meter for the same ride we had on the way in. I told him I would pay what we paid with a meter on the way in. He didn’t complain and after dropping us off and getting paid he left us with a smile on his face.

The above photo is what happens in the Bangkok airport while dad is checking in.

As I mentioned before, the new, Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok is really nice–both inside and out. Personally, I wouldn’t have minded had they cut a few corners on the airport and spent the savings on fixing the sidewalks in downtown Bangkok.

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