Phang Nga Bay………………….

 

I made a journey from Krabi with my friend Rudolf to Phang Nga Bay and then a trip in a long-tailed boat around the dramatic limestone karst’s that jut vertically out of the sea……………….. Phang Nga Bay is a 400 km² bay in the Strait of Malacca between the island of Phuket and the mainland of the Malay peninsula of southern Thailand…………. Since 1981 an extensive section of the bay has been protected as the Ao Phang Nga National Park, and with good reason, it is a beautiful place, reminiscent of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam…………

Above and below…………a huge floating village that is reportedly home to 1600 permanent residents, where we stopped for a very nice lunch………….

Long-tailed boats beached on the island of Khao Phing Kan, otherwise known as James Bond Island………..because the location of the island was used in the making of “Man with a golden gun”………..apparently, I have not seen the film, but I’m sure that it is true…. 

Wonderful old engine of our long-tailed boat……………

Above……………”James Bond” rock, a 66 foot tall vertical karst………….

 

Above and below, we visited the Monkey cave Temple on our way back to Krabi, which is a huge cave housing many statues of Buddha, including the large reclining one below……………….

And of course an omnipresent troop of monkeys, that are very well fed by visitors………………….

Krabi…………

I left the lovely island of Koh Lanta with Rudolf, and we took the two and a half hour ferry ride to Krabi town, where we will stay for a couple of days to visit Phang Nga bay……..

Above and below, the Krabi river in both directions from the middle of the town that sits near to the river’s estuary…………..

A marvellous, huge crab sculpture on the riverbank……………

Krabi schoolbus……….standing room only…………..

Krabi recycling collection vehicle……………..

This temple in Krabi has a strange, very tall brick built tower, that looks like a chimney stack…………I’ve never seen anything like it before at the many temples that I have visited….

Above and below……….these gorgeous little kittens had been born recently to the hotel cat, at the nice little hotel where Rudolf and I are staying in Krabi……………

 

Christmas day on the beach………………

I have just returned to my hotel after a lovely relaxing day on the beach with Rudolf and Father Christmas……………

Above………..Father Christmas was just emerging from the sea when I arrived at the beach this morning……………so, I had to have a photo taken with him, below

Above…………Christmas day lunch……..Somtum (green papaya salad) and the obligatory couple of bottles of cold Chang beer………….and below, a couple of snaps looking out from the shack……………is it cold in Europe ? hehehehehe  (^∆^)

 

Christmas on Koh Lanta

It is Christmas morning and I am on the Island of Koh Lanta, where I have met up with my old chum Rudolf; it is great to see him again, and the humor and banter has not taken long to resurface………….

I have hired a scooter for the duration of my stay here and Rudolf also hired one yesterday so that we could both ride to the southernmost point of the island; Rudolf is a big unit and the thought of him on the pillion of my 125cc Honda Scoopy was a daunting prospect, so I was quite relieved when he decided to hire one himself……….

MY WARMEST SALUTATIONS AND LOVE TO YOU ALL FOR A GREAT CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR………….  (^∆^)

Above and below………a few shots from the lovely beach in the beautiful bay that is a couple of hundred metres from the small hotel where I am staying

The shack where Rudolf and I take lunch most days……………….

You should all know by now that if I see a flag or a boat, I have an urge to get my camera out of my bag……….when I see both together, the urge takes on an air of irresistibility………..

On our ride to the south of the island we came across this completely deserted beach……..

Well it was deserted until this lone masked fisherman came back to shore…………..

With his catch of squid, which he proceeded to clean in the clear shallow water………..

The view northwards from the southernmost point of Koh Lanta…………….

Another (almost) deserted beach…………………..

 

Above is the view from a small cliff-top restaurant where we stopped for lunch on our way back up the west coast from the south of the island……………..and below, is the same beach from sea level…………..

This half sunken vessel was in the middle of the huge bay at Old Lanta town on the east coast of the island…………and below is the long pier that stretches out into the sea there……………

You see many pictures of the king all over Thailand, this is a particularly large one on the seashore at Old Lanta town………………….

 

Koh Samui

I have just spent a week on the well known island of Koh Samui, where I met up with Simon & Wa who arrived there for a weeks holiday, and with Gordon who has been living there for the last five and a half years…………..

I stayed in the Imperial Boathouse, which is a lovely hotel with beach frontage and it is where Simon and Wa also stayed…………..

I rented a scooter for a few days to have a look around the island, and it certainly has the scenic beauty that is synonymous with Thai islands; unfortunately, Samui has been a popular destination for many years and has consequently suffered from the effects of (too much) commercialism…………with the inevitably sleazy aspect that  accompanies too much commercialism in this beautiful country………….

We went to a bar / restaurant one night and they did not serve any Thai food whatsoever; the whole menu was European, so I had to settle for fish and chips, which is not really what I go to Thailand for………….

Above and below, the beach in both directions at the front of the Imperial Boathouse

Above, looking back to the shoreline from a small island that you can easily take a kayak to, and below, Simon, Wa and Wa’s daughter Phueng (hope I’ve got that right) returning from an epic sea voyage……………..

Above, the smaller of the hotels 2 swimming pools, and below, the very nice large one next to the beach…………..

Water cannons, in far more peaceful usage than the image that is conjured by the name……………

Above………..one of the 34 authentic teak rice barges that have been converted into suites and set in the 7 acres of tropical gardens……………..

Above and below……….at the temple of Big Buddha ………….

You can see from the people in the foreground that he really is a “Big Buddha” and a very fine one indeed……………

You make a donation to the temple and then walk round striking the many bells that hang suspended in an elevated walkway next to the temple………..

Above……….lovely elephant fountain outside one of the hotels……….and below, a few snaps taken while out riding around the island……….

Cha Am, Thailand…………………..

I flew from Ha Noi back to Bangkok and traveled the next morning  to Cha Am, which is a lovely old and traditional seaside town, a 3 hour bus ride south of Bangkok; set up in the main for Thai holidaymakers, it does cater for foreign tourists but there were not many of them to be seen on my visit…………….

Above, the beach was pretty much deserted on my first couple of  days there……….and below, the next day was the King’s birthday and consequently a public holiday in Thailand, and suddenly the beach was alive with Thai’s enjoying their day off.

Above, several sellers that had not been on the beach before appeared selling these wonderful “aeroplane” kites, which all the kids were obsessed with……….understandably so, I very nearly bought one myself……………………below, cleverly made from polystyrene, brightly painted and adorned with ribbons, they were a fine sight indeed, adding another splash of colour and fun to the King’s birthday…………….

Above, these dudes were selling pony rides and were busy the whole day; I managed to get a shot of them as they arrived on the beach in the early morning……………

 

Above and below, Cha Am, naturally had its share of working vehicles

Above and below, beautiful young dog, waiting in his chariot, while his mistress was buying some fruit from a roadside stall………….not sure about his pedigree, plenty of pit bull terrier in his genes, I’ll wager; but he was really friendly, and how could you not fall for that lovely pink and brown snout

 

 

Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Island……………..

From Ha Noi I made a trip to Ha Long bay, which is almost mandatory once you are that close to this spectacular place; I took a 3 day 2 night boat trip, which consisted of 1 night on the boat and 1 night spent on Cat Ba island………this proved to be a very wise choice compared to the 2 day 1 night trips that are very popular; with the 2 day trips you only get as far into the bay as the hundreds of day trip excursions, and although the bay is still magnificent, the amount of boats and people turn it into a bit of a tourist merry-go-round………..hardly surprising, as this is surely one of the most beautiful places on planet earth; known in Vietnam as Vinh Ha Long (descending dragon bay) it is a UNESCO World heritage site, covering over 1,500 sq kilometers with 1969 islands and on the 3 day trip as you head towards Cat Ba island in the south west of the bay, tourist boats are few and far between and you can relax and enjoy uninterrupted views of some of the most dramatic scenery that you will see anywhere in the world……….

Above and below, the lovely hotel that I stayed in on Cat Ba island as part of my package…………..

Above………….the view from the balcony of my room on Cat Ba island……………..

The port at Cat Ba island is in an enormous sheltered bay, with plenty of room for the large fishing port and countless floating restaurants and residencies of various construction and quality…………..

Not sure about being in this one when a storm visits the bay……………

One of the many large floating restaurants…………………

Not exactly “Sandys” fish shop in Twickenham, but with no means of refrigeration available, she keeps her entire stock alive until somebody buys it……….simple really

The Fishermen spend most of their lives on these boats, and when they are docked you get a real insight into their lives; food and water being loaded, washed clothes being strung out to dry from the masts…………..

I wish I was a fisherman 
Tumblin’ on the seas 
Far away from dry land 
And it’s bitter memories 
Casting out my sweet line 
With abandonment and love 
No ceiling bearin’ down on me 
‘Cept the starry sky above 
With light in my head 
You in my arms……………..The Fisherman’s Blues……The Waterboys………..1988

This was one of the few fishing boats that I saw in Vietnam using the front net method that I saw so much of in Thailand…….

Reminiscent in places of the Milford sound on the south island of New Zealand………..

The vistas and panoramas just kept flooding into view………….and talking of panoramas, I  at last found myself somewhere where the “Panorama” feature on my Leica compact camera could be used…………….pic below

 

 

 

 

Ha Noi

After a few days spent in Hanoi, I concluded that the capitol city felt just a little calmer than Ho Chi Minh City, which would be the obvious city to make comparisons with; both cities boast a population of over 2 million motorbikes or scooters, and innumerable bicycles, so road crossing as a pedestrian is still quite demanding ………….

………at times when you look to cross a road, you see only two wheeled vehicles, and not a car in sight; you understand why that is when you learn that Vietnam has well in excess of ten million motorbikes and scooters, making up over 90% of vehicles on the road……….and with a population of 90 million it gives the country about the highest per capita rate in the world of two wheeled vehicles……….

So it is not so surprising that you see these two wheelers being utilised in a way that you would never see in Europe; it is a requirement of law to wear a crash helmet and everybody obeys that law, easy I guess, as it appears to be the only law………..as long as you wear a helmet, you are free to load your scooter with as many people or as much freight as you like………….

Her entire stock consisted of crockery………..OMG,  if she ever drops that bike !!

Above………..four up is commonplace, and below, it doesn’t matter which way round they sit………………….

Above…………. nicely balanced………..and below, a very rare sight, a load that has been tied down………..what a wooser !!