Approaching Journey’s End…………….

 

It was with some reluctance that I left the beautiful Phi Phi islands behind and took the ferry back to southern Phuket with Yada; we then drove north in her car to Don Sak and put the car on the ferry to Kho Pha Ngan for a couple of days……………..it seemed rather ordinary and unremarkable after Phi Phi, but in fairness, most places would; the beaches there are nice enough but the  sea is very shallow and consequently too warm to serve as a cooling agent from the hot sun…………

We took the ferry back to Don Sak after a couple of days and drove to the train station at Surat Thani, where Yada took repossession of her car’s driving seat and left me to take the 13 hour overnight train journey back to Bangkok.

I will be forever grateful to Yada for her wonderful company and the use of her car for the 12 days that we travelled together in southern Thailand; her knowledge of Thailand proved invaluable, and although I cannot understand the language, I could sense very clearly that every time she needed to make enquires or ask for directions, her soft, gentle and very shy demeanor never failed to provoke a warm and friendly response from people; it became immediately obvious, even to complete strangers, that they were in the presence of a wonderful human being, whose warm spirited outlook on life and attitude towards materialism and consumerism is not so much a breath of fresh air,  but more like a lung-filling gulp…..……….thank you so much Yada…(*_*)

I spent 2 days in Bangkok sorting out some luggage that I had left at my hotel there and reflecting on the previous 5 months that I had spent traveling and enjoying different places and cultures throughout South East Asia and Australasia; reflection, once again reminding me of how fortunate I am to be able to enjoy life in this way.

 

Above, and below…………the beach in front of the hotel that we stayed at on the island of Kho Pha Ngan………………………

It is now Thursday 11th April 2013, and I am back home having arrived after the 12 hour flight from Bangkok; before I left Bangkok I opened the BBC news and sports pages on my laptop to update myself on current affairs and all the sports news………….I had completely forgotten about the wonderfully informative and innovative football commentaries that we enjoy in the UK, until I came across this cliche-ridden gem from BBC’s radio 5 live text commentary, which I feel obliged to share with you all…..

BBC Radio 5 live

Clive Allen on Chelsea’s pursuit of a European and domestic cup double: “They have the quality and strength in depth to cope. My only fear is if they go out of one, it’s like a pack of cards that comes tumbling down.”…………………….Wow!

What Next ?…………….

Now that I am back home, I hope that my prediction (on facebook) of an incremental improvement in the weather from now onwards proves to be correct; I have had many reassurances  from friends that a very harsh winter has been endured in the UK……………most of Europe seems to have suffered the same conditions, my friend Rudolf, near Dusseldorf in western Germany and my friend Brigitte in Bavaria, in the east of Germany, have both relayed stories of very bad winters; Clive and Lynda, in the Tet valley near Perpignan, have probably faired a bit better being that much further south, as will Marie-Laure, Marie-Jo and Alan, near Marseilles…… but most of Europe has suffered bleak climatic conditions, to hold hands with the economic conditions of the last six months………..

 

I have not made any plans for the immediate future, other that accepting the kind offer that Rudolf has given me to visit him in Germany and stay with him for a week or so; he said that he thought it would be a good idea to tour the Moselle valley wine region for a few days…………..I immediately dismissed any notion of arguing with this idea, so it is just a matter of waiting for some better weather and booking a ferry for the trip………thanks Rudi (*_*)

 

I have concluded that I would be ill advised to calculate how much I have spent on my wonderful travels of the last 5 months, but suffice to say that I could probably do with finding a way of replenishing my dwindling finances……….inspiration arrived in an article in the “Vietnam News” on 31st January 2012; it is a daily publication and I picked up a copy that day and have been carrying it with me ever since, and I will quote directly from the article that has inspired me towards a new business venture:

 

BANGKOK

From gold-thread face lifts to whitening soaps and olive-oil penis enlargements, the image obsessed Thai’s are going to ever increasing extremes in the quest for beauty………………. The colourful self-proclaimed pioneer of breast-slapping says her unusual technique allows clients to boost their bust by at least one bra-size without surgery…….”This is the beauty by nature – one million percent guaranteed” said the eccentric 46 year old, who has changed her name to Khunyingtobnom, or Madam breast-slapper…….her work is also extremely lucrative, charging US $600 for 2 fifteen minute sessions covering one breast each, and a premium face-slapping service – which she claims can induce slimness – costing about US $1,000.

Having slapped her customers for 28 years, Khunyingtobnom said that her own small breasts prompted her late-grandmother to pass on this little-known art, which she applies to about 20 customers every day………..

In order to learn this little-known art, I wrote to her immediately, asking if she would take me on as an unsalaried apprentice; I am still awaiting her reply, but I have decided that most of my prospective clients would not be able to judge if I had perfected this little-known art or not, so I am now looking for suitable premises in Lower Feltham to start my new  business venture………Just a fifteen minute slap Madam, or the full half-an-hour ?

P. S. I shall not be predisposed to offering discounted rates to friends and acquaintances, this is a serious venture……..

That is probably about it or now……….thank you all for looking and many thanks for all your comments………..XX (*_*)

 

Bamboo Island……………

On our penultimate day on Phi Phi, Yada and I hired a long-tail boat to take us to Bamboo Island, a small island that is about an hours journey from Phi Phi; although uninhabited, somebody with foresight, and maybe even some nod towards permission, has set up a little shack on the island selling cold drinks and serving a very good vegetable fried rice dish……………

Above, leaving Phi Phi, early morning for Bamboo island………………….

Above and below, approaching Bamboo island……………..

Below…………the mandatory photos of long-tail boats sitting on the remarkably clear water that is endemic to this whole region  ………

Koh Phi Phi

Yada and I drove to the south of Phuket and took the ferry to Koh Phi Phi Don, or Phi Phi island as it is known; there are several islands in the group but Phi Phi Don is the largest, and I believe, the only one that is inhabited, the second largest, Phi Phi Leh, is a short trip away on a long-tail boat.

I must admit that I was a little skeptical about visiting Phi Phi, it’s reputation as the jewell in Thailand’s crown and all the hyperbole that surrounds it, is enough to bring out the skeptic in anyone; it is almost impossible to find a brochure about Thailand that does not have pictures of Phi Phi…………. but, as the ferry nears the islands, their preceding reputation of beauty starts to reveal itself, and you are smitten!

Yada and I booked a beachfront bungalow at a hotel called Paradise resort for 3 days; the hotel is only accessible by boat and the hotel has its own long-tail boat (above) that met us at the small harbour where the ferry docks and brought us to the hotel………..and below, the view from our bungalow………….

…….again, view from our bungalow……………………….

We took a boat for a day trip to Phi Phi Leh and stopped on the way at “Monkey beach” the approach to which you can see above…………and below, some of its friendly inhabitants………..

 

 

Above and below, we stopped at this little beach on Phi Phi Leh for a couple of hours of swimming and some fruit………………..

Just leaving the little cove where we had been swimming……………..

On our way back to Phi Phi Don…………………..

From Ao Nang To Phuket………………….

I drove south with Yada from Ao Nang and across the bridge onto the island of Phuket……….we proceeded to drive down the west coast of the island looking for somewhere to stay for a couple of days; finding somewhere suitable at this time of year did not prove easy, most of the resorts were very crowded and suffering from the effects of commercialism; hardly surprising, with beautiful sandy beaches and turquoise sea, these resorts have been attracting visitors for many years, and to expect a long term view on restricting expansion is a big ask for an island that relies so heavily on tourism…………….

We finally arrived at Karon and found a nice small hotel that was very reasonably priced and a ten minute drive to the beautiful beach, the car proving to be a priceless asset in this situation; the little town had plenty of excellent and cheap restaurants, which seems to be obligatory in Thailand, so we had a couple of days on the beach there………..

Above………..the lovely and not too crowded beach at Karon, and below, a local Thai bird displaying the usual amount of bravado with the remains of my lunch…………

Next stop, Phi Phi Island……………………..