Thailand 2019, final thoughts 2: Tsunami warning system with the evacuation routes signs and loudspeaker towers should ensure that what happened in 2004 in this part of the world doesn't happen again. Not at that scale at least. Western oldies with young Thais are still making their pilgrimages to Thailand, but nothing as awful as I've seen before. It could be because Thailand is now significantly more expensive as well as the fact that (some) Westerners get only a month to stay in the country as a tourist. Phuket may well be Majorca of the Andaman Sea and Patong its Magaluf, but the island is beautiful with some high quality sandy beaches. Car hire or, even better, motorbike is recommended if one wants to explore the island independently. Phi Phi is still spectacular but Tonsai, the principal village, is their version of San Antonio Bay in Ibiza. Koh Lanta was wonderful with many sandy beaches, less commercialisation and more laid back feel. I'm coming back again.
Thailand 2019, final thoughts 1: it's been 16 years since my last visit to the country. Surprisingly some things are the same, others better but nothing deteriorated much. Same, same but different still applies to Thailand. People are nice, smiley, kind and polite and hopefully this doesn't change. The transportation and getting around got even better. Thailand I visited noe is now much more what Malaysia is: an orderly country with visible rule of law. The foreigners are not exclusively running the tourist businesses but Thai people themselves. Transparent pricing has been introduced and they're doing their best to minimise rip offs. Smoking is outlawed on some beaches and everywhere I've been in the Andaman Sea region felt like being in a civilised society. Two major differences since 2003: 1.prices! 2.Tsunami warning system. The price of services have shot dramatically, cheap accommodation in particular. I guess someone has to pay for all that policing and ensuring peace and order.
17 February 2019
The 45m tall marble Big Buddha is visible from the south part of Phuket. A long winding road, steep in places, ends underneath the statue; a motorbike country for sure. Great views from the top.
Wat Chalong is the most important Buddhist temple in the whole of Phuket. Lovely architecture
Motorbike tour of southern Phuket: beaches including a wonderful swim at Kata Noi in high tide; great viewpoints, four in total; visiting Wat Chalong, Phuket's most important Buddhist temple complex; climb up to the Big Buddha and just enjoying riding a bike in tropics.
16 February 2019
Thai kickboxing at Patong Boxing Stadium, Phuket
Good bye Koh Phi Phi! It was great to be here after 16 years, but not sure I'd ever want to be back. The island(s) are now far too commercialised for my liking. If bits of Phuket can now be compared to Magaluf then parts of Koh Phi Phi has become Ibiza of the Andaman Sea. Lovely nature away from crowds and commercialism though.
15 February 2019
Koh Phi Phi Lei with its famous Maya Bay. Snorkelling and diving there as well as nearby Koh Bida. Beautiful!
14 February 2019
Long Beach on Koh Phi Phi at high tide is swimming heaven. The visibility and depths of the water were decent too. And the hike from Tonsai village to this beach by following the coast was great, better on our way back with no sun though.
Koh Phi Phi's famous viewpoints
13 February 2019
Loh Dalum is the most accessible beach on Koh Phi Phi Don. Shallow waters even in high tide. The concentration of bars, cafes, restaurants, clubs has to be the one of the densest anywhere in Thailand. And the crowds, a stark contrast to Koh Lanta. Still very beautiful, not complaining, but a very different experience.
12 February 2019
Kayaking Talabeng Islands involves caverns exploration of Ghost Island, kayaking around Talabeng whilst admiring the views of another karst island, having a local cuisine meal at a scenic spot, swimming and dramatic entrance through a low ceiling tunnel to yet another cave.
11 February 2019
There are some small beaches south of Koh Lanta's Long Beach. Of course, yet another sunset beach. Add the Thai massage and you have the most relaxing end of your daylight hours' activities.
Koh Ha is a group of small rocky islands 1 hour on the boat SE from Koh Lanta. It's a part of natural marine park and as such protected from human interference. Seeing the rocky popups and the surrounding sea is wonderful, add diving or snorkelling and the experience is unforgettable.
10 February 2019
Khlong Nin Beach in is one of many long sandy beaches on the east coast of Koh Lanta. This was the nearest place to relax after the caving activity. And it nicely coincided with the high tide.
Mai Kaeo Cave is supposedly the largest cave system in Koh Lanta. A short trek through the noise filled tropical forest led us into the unassuming crack in the hillside. What followed then is the eery silence interrupted only by water dripping from the sharp stalactites onto the blunt stalagmites. Irregular tunnels, triangular ceilings, ponds, and the most amazing contoured walls. And spiders. And bats. Some openings were small to squeeze through, some ceilings too low so crawling only forward or back the same way for the claustrophobic ones. A very nice and gentle caving activity.
9 February 2019
Beautiful Andaman Sea: hundreds of karst islands of various shape and sizes dot the Thai section of Andaman Sea. The pics were taken from a passenger ferry service linking Phuket to Koh Lanta.
8 February 2019
Patong Beach on the Thai island of Phuket is where we're spending a day after arriving and we'll spend one more day here before departing the country. We chose this beach to recover from being on the go for almost 24 hours but Patong is not the reason we're in Thailand on this occasion. We'll make the most whilst staying in Phuket and will look forward to tomorrow's ferry to the Andaman Sea less commercial destinations. BTW, Simon Cabaret not to be missed: ladyboys as I'm Every Woman, hehe
6 February 2019
Flying Emirates economy class can be a great experience: big planes with quiet engines, comfortable and reclining seats, massive personal screens, excellent interactive entertainment, international crew, cosmopolitan atmosphere, decent and plentiful food and never ceasing to amaze (for good or bad reasons) transit through the Dubai airport. Unlike many airlines, the holiday really starts the moment you board the Emirates plane.