Archive | November, 2011

29th November – Jomtien Pattaya

29 Nov

Woke up this morning and received a few birthday greetings from friends and family. The boys sent this …. thank you!!

Some of that seems so long ago!

We stayed at the Grand Jomtien Palace, just across from the beach and easy access by taxi/bus to Pattaya centre (about 20p each).

 

 

Nice pool to cool down in.

 

 

 

In the afternoon wandered along the beach and indulged in birthday treats!

 

 

 

During the evening went into Pattaya with the idea of having drinks in Walking Street to watch all the people go by …. and there are all sorts!! Surprisingly no young girls offered to help me along the street … maybe Marjool put them off. Some nice people offered to show us a table tennis show (they called it ping pong show) but we decided that we could see this in the village hall anytime we liked!

28th November – Jomtien and Pattaya

29 Nov

In the morning we spent some time by the pool. Graham’s sandfly bites are still red and have blisters. They seem just like tick bites that we get at home sometimes. At least mossie bites go fast …. these have been itchy for a week. Avoid them if you can!

The only place to park the camper for the three days is in full sun, so we try to pop the top during the day as the fridge will struggle in a boiling hot enclosed space. The solar panel is only 38 Watts, but it seems that it is just enough to offset the fridge power consumption and keep the battery charged (showing 12.5 V) without running the engine. I know its boring, but someone asked!

Walking around the seafront we noticed some more unusual uses of the sidecar, as well as the standard mobile kitchen and food stall.

 

 

 

This one is a winch used to pull big boats up onto the sand. Made from bits of a car.

 

 

The balcony of the hotel was the ideal place to dry washing. While hanging it out, we were reminded what a small world it is. Graham started chatting to a Norwegian man who was staying two doors away. He is an ophthalmologist, and uses some equipment in his shops that has components in it that are made by the company that Graham used to work for. Turns out that he knows people that Graham knows! Nice man ….  maybe he will visit us in the UK one day. If not I am sure he can recommend some good fishing spots in Norway for the village fishing club! Marjool thinks it might be a better destination than Pattaya as you never know what you might catch there!!

In the evening we got a taxi/bus to Pattaya main city and beach area. You just jump on and when you arrive at the beach you pay 10 Baht each. Great value for the 15 min ride.

 

 

 

We were planning to go to Walking street tomorrow, but as we passed it on the way to the Taxi, we had a quick look. It is certainly busy and unusual!

 

 

 

 

Back at the hotel to find that the aircon had broken down ….. so much for the cool night!

 

27th November – Jomtien Beach (Pattaya)

29 Nov

As we drove towards Pattaya we passed the ferry port for Koh Samet.

 

 

Just along the road we watched as two monks collected shells on the beach. The colours stood out beautifully against the sand and the sea.

 

 

It is starting to get more built up as we continued past the ferry port and we saw the first high rise buildings since China! We decided not to go to the island itself as we had spent quite a lot of the last week on beaches and fancied seeing something different. We do not usually make for big town and cities, but felt ready to visit some shops, bars and restaurants. It is Graham’s birthday on 29th and so we decided that we would find a hotel for a few nights to recover from some very hot nights in the camper.

 

 

 

We decided to stay south of Pattaya in Jomtien as it is more family orientated rather than Pattaya’s main beach area.

Both resorts are very popular with Russians. Shops have signs in Russian. Russian food is available and offices offering tours are manned by Russians. There are also lots of French and Scandinavians. Surprisingly few English.

There are however lots of very old men in Pattaya, but being the friendly people that they are, the Thai girls hold their arms to steady them on the slightly uneven pavements. How nice is that!

 

 

26th November – Mae Phin Beach

29 Nov

We left our camping spot at the aquarium and set off along the coast towards a bay with more beaches either side. On the way we saw another common use of the pickup. This one had 17 people in and not a child seat in sight.

We knew that we were getting close as we saw a motorbike and sidecar loaded up with a few inflatables to sell at the beach. Not sure that he saw us though!

Spent a few hours walking and swimming, but it was very hot and could only go in the shade until the sun started to go down. Picked the best seat to watch people swimming and messing about in the water.

Health and safety is still not too big in Thailand and we watched with our fingers crossed as two powered paraglider pilots buzzed only feet over swimmers and children paddling in the shallows. It was all OK though …. maybe we fuss too much!

Another lazy day over we camped on an empty building site (grass) on the opposite side of the road to the beach. Nobody seemed to mind.

 

 

25th November – Outside Chao Lao Beach Aquarium

26 Nov

In the morning we packed up and headed south to see the Cambodian border town. First stop was the fishing port.

The fishing boats are very short and squat and have really complicated rigging. Some of the small boats were driven by two car engines with longtail propshafts.

No wonder they are so loud, the exhaust is straight through, with a water  jacket to stop it glowing cherry red.

We stopped briefly at the border market, but it was just the same things for sale that we had seen before, and so did not stay long. We decided instead to head towards Chanthaburi and the beaches in that area. It is too warm to stray too far from the water during the day.

Eight out of ten vehicles on the road in Thailand are pickups. Lots are just used as shopping cars or general transport as it is fashionable to have a pickup. However lots of them are used to transport goods, as they were intended.  Just to give you a flavour … This one has balls of  raw latex tipped in from the cups that collect the sap on the rubber trees.

Just because its got rubber on, doesn’t make it safe! Juice from the balls splashes up as you drive behind and smears all over the windscreen! It then takes ages to clean it off …. avoid it if you can!

 

Pigs on the pickup.

Sometimes we are amazed at how high they are piled up or in this case how long the load is …. nobody seems to mind!

We arrived at the Aquarium at Chao Lao Beach  and parked in the carpark just across from the sea. When we asked, they were happy for us to park there for the night and suggested we use the toilets and showers! Free camping in Thailand is so easy. Its surprising that we have not seen any other camper vans here, it is the perfect place.

Having slept on our decision to ship the car directly back, we had not changed our mind and so booked tickets home to the UK in mid January.

24th November – Bancheun Beach again!

26 Nov

Decided on one last day before we start moving up around the coast.  All we did today was swim, itch, and eat on or around the beach.

 

 

Towards the end of the day we were getting fidgety and started looking at the maps. We needed to plan the next few weeks, but also needed to workout the rest of the trip.

The big decision was what to do about the second  leg of the journey. We had got prices of the two lots of shipping, plus my flights to the US to meet the car and arrange storage, then a flight back to the UK, and it was more than we wanted to pay. We also had a price to ship the car direct home to Southampton and flights home from Malaysia ( cheap at 290 UK pounds each with Malaysia Airlines).

The other big factor is the customs deposit on Troopy for the carnet, which we will only get back when the car is in the UK.

Surprisingly when you work it all out, the cost of shipping Troopyto the US and back again for another trip is only marginally more expensive than leaving it there on the way back from Asia. Something that we had not worried or thought about when planning the round the world drive.

The final factor is that we think that we don’t want to be away again for next summer …. we miss home too …..

In the end we came to the decision that we would ship the car straight home from port Klang in Malaysia and fly back. We will sleep on it and if we have not changed our minds will book flights tomorrow. Big decision!

After all that another day gone. Just time to take a look at Joseph’s catch. He uses a net that he swims out with. The fish are not big but all are kept and eaten.

 

 

 

The sunsets here are amazing, every night different colours. Tonight was no exception.

 

 

This evening there were no clouds on the horizon and so you could see the sun drop straight into the sea.

 

 

As the sun dropped lower the squid fishermen were still heading out to their spot for the night.

Having made our decision about the rest of the trip we slept well, Graham too despite his itching!

 

23rd November – Bancheun Beach

26 Nov

As it is so warm at night the flaps on our canvas roof are always open, so when you wake up you usually have a good view. Much better than a hotel room.

 

 

The awning (Dartmouth Canvas Factory)  has been very useful on the trip, but we often don’t bother putting it up unless we are staying put for a few days.

 

 

It was a very quiet day today at the office. The ability to get the internet anywhere means that we can catch up with the website and the business e mails. The post is a different matter. The boys have said that four and a half months of post is quite a big pile!!

 

 

 

 

What I had not realised is that the sand flies were eating me alive …. serves me right for being so smug! The bites do not show straight away, but later that night they turned red and itchy ….. at least 60! Just goes to show, nowhere is perfect …

Trying not to scratch the bites, and covered with insect repellant we sat down and had a meal on the beach. Again a lovely view.

 

 

A very quiet day …. but nice.

22nd November – Ban Chun beach

23 Nov

What had attracted us to this area was the fact that it was not on the way to anywhere other than the beaches and the Cambodian border, we thought it would be undeveloped and quiet. We were not disappointed.

On the way we turned off the main road and onto some side roads. There are some lovely lakes behind the beaches and where there is a river,  stilt villages where the fishermen that fish in the gulf are based.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We carried on to Ban Chun to a little resort called Bancheun Beach Resort that has cabins and a restaurant and is owned by Joseph and Payear. They were happy for us to stay in the camper next to the restaurant, right on the beach, use their facilities and plug in to the mains electricity. They are really friendly and also own and run a hotel near Pattaya.

Having come through the Gobi without getting stuck, I was maybe a bit cocky driving onto the sand …. it is very fine and very soft …. we were soon digging ourselves out, and even got to use the high lift jack!!

 

 

 

 

Back on firmer ground, we attached the awning to the camper, went for a swim in the warm calm sea (just like getting in the bath) and in the evening had a meal in the small beach side cafe next door. So nice and relaxing, might even stay here a few days …..

 

 

 

21st November – Laem Klat (coast south of Trat)

23 Nov

In the morning the security guard called us over to look at a big snake. It was in a tree over by the main building trying to catch the squirrels that were eating fruit. Unfortunately it had gone by the time we got there …. good to be reminded that they are around though! We left at 8.00am just as the staff were having their morning briefing outside on the grass. It was quite formal, but as we drove off, they all smiled, waved and shouted goodbye. Again we are amazed at the Thai hospitality. The people are so lovely.

All along the roads in Thailand there are flags and pictures of the King, particularly near the National Parks. It seems that he is really popular and is very much involved with the development of Thailand. It is said that he is a very clever and well educated person who has expertise as an engineer and architect.

 

 

 

Today was basically a day of driving, we were ready to see the coast! We had not seen the sea since we left the Baltic. On the way we stopped at a Big C supermarket to stock up and buy a new camera card. Marjool had left her flip flops on the grass at the last coffee stop, so we needed some replacements ….. These were tempting, but a little warm!

 

 

 

Late afternoon we arrived at a small beach at Laem Klat. There were cabins at a small resort, but plenty of space for us to park right by the sea. We had arrived at the Gulf of Thailand!

 

 

 

 

 

In the morning we would continue down the narrow strip of coast here that has sea on one side and then Cambodia on the other. You can cross into Cambodia at the southern most point at a place called Khlong Yai. We will not be doing this as we are due in Chaam to meet our friends Keith and Frances in a couple of weeks and don’t want to rush the tour of the coast up to Bangkok.

 

 

20th November – Dong Yai Wildlife Reserve

21 Nov

We left the cabins at 7.15 am after a cool air conditioned night (better not get used to that !) and went straight to the elephant stadium. All along the road to the stadium are food stalls and plant sellers.  The plants for sale are all tropical garden plants, many of them orchids.

The seats we had were high in the stand and so were shady. You can pay as little as 40 baht on the other side, but right in the corner of the stadium, and in the blazing sun. Our tickets were 800 baht per person.

The elephants are well trained and get lots of practice performing most days in a village north of Surin. The music started and believe it or not the elephants started dancing! They also threw darts to pop balloons, walked over volunteers from the audiences laid out on the ground (we didn’t fancy that), and played hula hoop on their trunk while sitting or balancing on two legs!

It seemed as though they enjoyed themselves, and were proud when the audience clapped … maybe just wishful thinking?

It does seem that because of tourism, the elephant numbers in Thailand are increasing again. There were certainly loads of babies around.

One of the groups of elephants then had a game of football. No rapid changes of direction, but they were surprisingly quick.

There was then a re enactment of a big battle. Canons mounted on the backs of elephants, lots of traditional costumes and big explosions. It was really well done.

In the final stages of the show there seemed to be hundreds of elephants in the stadium!

It was a great show and we all really enjoyed it.

We had some lunch with Aree and her son, Chris and Mary and then headed out of Surin towards Buri Ram. Turned south on the 2208 to Prakhon Chai and then followed the 24 to Nang Rong. We planned to drop south right down to the coast on the 348.

In the evening we stopped at Dong Yai Wildlife Reserve and asked if we could sleep there. Once again lovely people and very welcoming. We were even given a socket to plug into. They offered us the use of the toilet area too. The security guard was armed, so we were well protected!

It cooled down really well in the evening, so it looked like being a quiet and cool night. Thailand has proved to be an easy place to stay overnight so far, though it may be different in the coastal areas. We’ll see!