VESPA SPRINT 150 cc

A couple of days ago I took delivery of my new Vespa Sprint 150cc from the dealership in Hua Hin; after 2 months on a rented Honda Scoopy 125cc, it is difficult to express what an incredible pleasure it is to be riding this beautiful example of Italian engineering and styling…………. I could have bought 3 Honda Scoopy’s for the price I have paid for this wonderful machine, but hey, no contest, this is a Vespa, and as such, it cannot be held in comparison to anything else in this world………….

At an age when some unfortunate soul’s are ordering a mobility scooter, I am truly fortunate and privileged, to be able to buy and enjoy this fantastic and aesthetically beautiful Scoot.

I have put 400 kilometres on the clock in 2 days of sheer unadulterated pleasure, just riding up and down the almost deserted costal road that leads from Cha-am to Bangkok. This new model, the Vespa Sprint is available with either a 125cc or 150cc engine, and it has been a wise decision to shove my mitt deeper into my pocket for the 150……….. with just my 65 kilos on the seat, the acceleration is awesome, and with new 12” wheels, the largest ever on a Vespa, the scoot is incredibly surefooted without loosing any of the agility and nimbleness that are the very essence of a scooter.

Oh, happy days, I am riding around all day wearing a lottery grin, and now only taking lunch and dinner at restaurants where I can park her within sight of my table, so that I can drool over her beauty while I enjoy my food………… what a lucky man I am …………. ieieieieieieie

So here she is ……………………………. (*^*)

 

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Above … collection day, and below, with Apple, the manager of the Vespa shop in Hua Hin

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BRIDGE OF SIZE / SIGHS……….. (PONTE DEI SOSPIRI)

The  narrow bridge in question provides a very convenient short cut for me on the ride from my condo to the main part of Cha-Am; it is only wide enough for pedestrians, bicycles and small motorbikes / scooters, and I have crossed it hundreds of times.

Last Monday evening, returning from dinner, as I rode onto the bridge, an unseen wet patch caused the front wheel of my rented scooter to slide sideways, crashing the right handlebar against the side of the bridge. I did not fall off, but my right hand got in the way of the altercation between the handlebar and the bridge………. ouch ouch and friggin ouch………

It was 11pm so I rode home, wrapped an old tea-towel around my hand and went to sleep. When I examined my hand the next morning, I realised that the steri-strip’s and plasters that I had in my first-aid kit were not going to be much use; so I rode (back across the bridge) to the little hospital in Cha-am, where a lovely young nurse sewed my little finger back together with 13 stitches, and put 4 stitches in the next finger……….. they were the only parts of my hand to be damaged.

I have been returning every day to the hospital to have the wounds cleaned and the dressings changed, and tomorrow they will remove the stitches if they are sufficiently happy with the healing process.

I must say that the service has been excellent, and although I have been stitched-up, it has only been literally and certainly not metaphorically; the first days treatment cost 775 Baht (about £15.50) which included the stitches, a course of antibiotics, a pack of pain killers and lots of smiles and laughter from the lovely young nurses……….. and wound cleaning and dressing changing has been 140 Baht (£2.80) per day.

Determined not to give my mishap more than a frowning hour, and searching for a silver lining, as you really have to at such times, I found a wonderful fruit stall on my way back from the hospital that I was unaware of before; I now stop there everyday for my Papaya’s, Mango’s, Bananas et al………. and you know, one of the things I really love about this wonderful country, they (most of them) don’t try and charge you a Johnny foreigner price, they are just happy to serve you and are pleased that you want to buy their lovely fruits………

 

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Above and below……….. the offending bridge……………..

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Above and below………. ouch (^*^)

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Above……… it was my little finger that bore the brunt of the unprovoked attack from the bridge……………fortunately I will not be taking tea at the Ritz in the near future !!

And below, from my new fruit supplier, a lovely papaya, 2 succulent mango’s and a bunch of sweet bananas…….. 85 Baht (£1.70)  ………  happy days (^∆*)

 

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THE SAND IN THE HOURGLASS IS RUNNING LOW……….

THE SAND IN THE HOURGLASS

IS RUNNING LOW

A VOICE IN THE MIRROR

TELLS ME IT’S TIME TO GO

I’LL LEAVE BEHIND FRIENDS

AND MY RECYCLING BINS

I’LL SWITCH OFF MY OLD LIFE

AS A NEW ONE BEGINS

I have just completed the purchase of an apartment (condo) in a small condominium development in the charming seaside town of Cha-Am on the western side of the gulf of Thailand…………It is a good sized condo (101 sq. meters) with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a large balcony with a lovely outlook.
The condominium has 2 good sized swimming pools, a small kiddies pool and the grounds front right onto a quiet beach.

I moved in a couple of weeks ago and feel immediately comfortable here, which is just as well because I intend to move here permanently; I will return to Isleworth in April to sell my car, scooter, hi-fi and other possessions that are not viable to ship out here………….. Thailand has a crazy system of import duty, to import my Alfa Romeo into the country would incur a whopping 300% import tax

As for my lovely flat in Isleworth, I will probably rent it out, which will give me a very healthy monthly income, or I may consider selling it and reinvesting in a smaller cheaper flat in the area, which will still give me a nice monthly income and will also release a nice chunk of cash for me to splash around out here…………

My condo is a ten minute ride on a scooter from the main beach at Cha-Am, where I like to go for a swim and a lunch of somtum (green papaya salad, as I am sure you all know by now)……..I am renting a scooter at the moment, but I have just placed a deposit on an order for a new Vespa Sprint 150, in white (see publicity photo) and when I return next year, I will buy a new car……….Alfa Romeo not available here, so maybe a new Mazda CX3 which is going on sale next spring………..

Below are a few photos of my apartment and the condominium grounds and pools

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Above and below, I delayed moving in for 2 days after the completion to have the condo redecorated……….every wall was pink………. nah !!

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All the furniture was part of the sale agreement and is good enough for the time being……….I will fit a new kitchen and I need to buy a decent TV and Hi-Fi and some furniture for them to sit on…………

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Above………..pink walls……… and below, view from my decent sized balcony

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Above……… there is a large paved sun-bathing area with steps leading down into the gulf of Thailand………and below, a publicity photo of the Vespa Sprint that I have ordered

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LINKFIELD ROAD TO LANGKAWI………………..

I took the ferry from Koh Lipie to Langkawi, which is an island in Malaysia; I was met there by my friend Chris Hedger (Hedge)………..we have been friends since our school days when we both lived in Linkfield Road, Isleworth, and eventually became members of the “Hounslow Bowl” scooter boys. It has been a long and eventful journey from Linkfield Road to Langkawi, and Hedge has bought a beautiful two bedroom, two bathroom, two balconied condo there, where he very kindly offered the second bedroom to me for the duration of my two week stay on the Island. It has been great to catch up with him, enjoy his hospitality and good humour, share a few beers together and get an insight into life in Malaysia, or rather, more specifically, on the lovely island of Langkawi. Hedge has been living in Johor Bahru, southern Malaysia, for many years but I think he will now rent out his condo there and move permanently to Langkawi; although he is yet to make a definitive decision, I can see the appeal of life in Langkawi and while he retains both properties any decision is always reversible……….

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Above……….the little immigration office on the beach at Koh Lipie………and below, the customary “long-tail’ boats waiting to take you out to the ferry which has to drop anchor in the bay because of the shallow water……………

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Above…………sunset on Cenang beach, Langkawi…………..and below, the beautiful condo that Hedge has bought…………..

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Above………….one of the balconies at Hedge’s condo, and below sunrise from that same balcony (I got up early, we did not stay up drinking all night)………….

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Above…………..sunset from the other balcony, and below, the condominiums swimming pool……….it also has a very nice and well equipped fitness centre, a spa and massage room, a hairdressers, a deli and a decent bar that serves very good grub………..

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Above and below………….Hedge took me on a tour of the island to look at some of the other beaches and places of interest……………

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As you all know, no post of a beautiful island is complete without a flower…………..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KOH LIPIE………………….

Koh Lipie is another of those stunningly beautiful and idyllic islands that Thailand seems to  have in abundance…………clear turquoise water, clean golden beaches fringed with tall elegant palms and the tranquillity of not very many occupants…………

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Above………….my four poster sun-bed on the beach in front of my hotel ……………..

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Above…………..outside a beachwear shop……………….

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Above and below………..on my second afternoon on Koh Lipie, an incredibly violent storm could be seen approaching the island and for about half an hour before it arrived, it bathed the island in an eerie translucent light, before it emptied its contents in a raging deluge….. photos do not really capture this strange light effect but I’m posting a few all the same

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I got up at 05.30 the next morning to find that cloud remnants from the storm had left brushstrokes across the sky, making for a truly wonderful sunrise………………..

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This lad came and sat right next to me for half an hour or so as I sat watching the sunrise………………

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CHA-AM TO KOH LIPIE………….

I took a twenty minute taxi ride from Cha-Am to Hua Hin to catch the overnight train that I had pre-booked with an online agent to Hat Yai, in order to take a mini van to Pak Bara to catch the ferry to Loh Lipie

 

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Above………….the delightful little station at Hua HIn

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Above………..every station in Thailand has a security guard on duty 24 /7………..and below, the night train to Hat Yai trundles into Hua Hin station at 19.15……….30 minutes late and it has only come a couple of hundred kilometres from Bangkok…………

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Nothing like the rain to bring you down……..
Nothing like a train to take you far away…….
Leaving here without a sound……….
Should have been gone yesterday…………

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Above and below………..my first class air-con sleeper cabin, 1425 Baht (about £28.00) for the 12 hour train ride

 

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Above and below…………breakfast in Hat Yai having arrived more than 2 hours behind schedule, before taking a mini van to Pak Bara to take the ferry to Koh Lipie

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Above………….there is no port on Koh Lipie, the water is too shallow all around the island, so they have anchored a large landing pontoon a couple of hundred meters out to sea……….so the ferries and speedboats moor there and you then pay 70 Baht for a lift in a “long-tail” boat to the beach, where you jump out into the shallow turquoise water and walk up the beach to your hotel……………traveling can be awfully demanding at times………

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Above and below…………arriving at Koh Lipie…………… (^∆*)

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CHA-AM……………

I am back in the absolutely charming seaside town of Cha-am on the west side of the Gulf of Thailand; I spent a week or so here last year and it’s appeal has in no way diminished……….it is a traditional Thai resort, so not many farang (foreign) visitors; quiet during the week, it bursts into life on Saturdays and Sundays when local and visiting Thai’s bring a wonderful facade of colour and a cacophony of laughter and shrieks of enjoyment to the beach…………..it is so uplifting to spend the weekend on the beach here surrounded by so much happiness and watching the children having the time of their lives without the assistance of mobile phones or games consoles …………..and great to see that the kite sellers and “horse-rides” that ply their trade on the beach still appear to be doing good business……..

It is the kind of small town that I could easily visualise living in, and I have made contact with a local real estate agent and I have already viewed 6 different condos; as a foreigner you cannot own land in Thailand, and consequently a house in your own name; but you can own an apartment in a condominium as long as the number of foreign owned apartments in any condominium is 49% or less………..you can still buy if the 49% allocation has been reached, but only then on a 30 year renewable lease……….

 

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Above and below……………some photos from the beach at Cha-Am…………..

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There is a river at Cha-Am that provides a perfect harbour for the countless fishing boats………….

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Above and below………a wonderful chain operated lifting bridge; one of the condo’s that I viewed is a ten minute drive or ride to the main beach at Cha-Am, this time can be cut in half by using this bridge,  but fairly obviously only by scooter or motorbike………..

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Above………this is one of the condominiums where I viewed an apartment; a good sized apartment, 101 sq meters with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and a good sized balcony, the view from which you can see below………….

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Above………..one of the 3 swimming pools in the condo grounds, and below, its sunbathing deck with steps down into the sea………………

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KOH CHANG TO BANGKOK

I am now back in Bangkok after a very relaxing 6 days on the island of Koh Chang; I have made posts about Koh Chang over the previous two winters, so just a couple of photos of the lovely Chang Buri Resort hotel that I stayed at, and a few of the ferry crossing back to the mainland………………

Tomorrow morning I head south to the traditional Thai seaside town of Cha-Am where I will stay for about a week………….

 

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Above………….don’t know who Frank Schneidwind is, but he has apparently upset somebody enough for them to go to the trouble of having leaflets printed displaying their obvious contempt for him………….

and below………. you like to think that the hull of the vessel is in better shape ………

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KOH MAK……………ANOTHER HIDDEN TREASURE

Tomorrow I will leave this beautiful island of Koh Mak and take a speedboat ferry to Koh Chang for 600 Baht (£11.50)  ………..  I have hired a scooter everyday since I arrived here and have ridden all round the island a couple of times; so here are a few snaps from Koh Mak….

 

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Above and below…………wonderful wooden pier on the north coast of the island……..

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Raft with an ingenious outboard motor……………..

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Above and below……….I found this lovely little Wat (Temple) which I believe is the only one on the island……………

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I was the only person there, until after a few minutes of wandering around, a young monk appeared and said hello; he then bade me to follow him, and he led me down to where this  beautiful gold statue looks out over the sea (below)  ……..  not knowing it was there I may well have missed it were it not for his kind gesture………….

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another pier, another boat, another Thai flag……………

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……….above and below, no sun-beds or fat Russian tourists on these beaches……….

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KOH KUT TO KOH MAK……………..

On Friday I left behind the beautiful island of Koh Kut and took the ferry to the island of Koh Mak………….the hotel that I stayed in on Koh Kut (Horizon Resort) is owned by a Frenchman, Stefan, and his manager Fabrice is also French; they have been in Thailand for 11 and 7 years respectively and both of them speak Thai and English. They were both extremely friendly and helpful and Stefan booked my ferry to Koh Mak by telephone and gave me a lift to the pier……….

So, I now have 5 days here on Koh Mak before I take another ferry to Koh Chang…………

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The new catamaran service that I took between Koh Kut and Koh Mak, which only took about half an hour and cost 300 Baht (about £6.00)……….

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I am staying in a lovely little beachside hotel here called “Sky Beach Resort” I have a nice large and recently constructed bungalow, 20 metres from the beach with a sea view……above is the beachside bar and restaurant………….

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Above and below……….06.45 first morning for a swim, while I could have the sea all to myself…………not that I have seen more than two or three people in it at any one time since……………………ieieieieieieieie

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They clean the beach every morning but it is difficult to figure out why, because it never seems to get dirty at all, just an occasional dead palm leaf…………..

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Above and below, as I have grown accustomed to in Thailand, wonderful flowers and plants everywhere you look; these are in the hotel garden just behind the beach…….

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