Day 30: Bangkok to Victoria

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After last night’s late to bed, we all needed a couple of extra minutes of sleep this morning but woke up feeling a lot more refreshed knowing there would be no lizard visitors for this evening!! And the bed was actually a pillow top – first one we had in a month of traveling. Them Asian folks sure do love their hard mattresses…
After a quick repack to fit in last night’s purchases, it was off for breakfast. Again, the Best Western came through in spades with an excellent full buffet breakfast included with the room… Even better, they were the only hotel we stayed at that didn’t charge extra for Caitlin! Then it was time to board the shuttle van for the trip to the airport. After that it was the usual travel related stuff – checking in, security, etc. Everything went smoothly at each step of the way with no problems to speak of although one security screener in Hong Kong did take a second look at the pack with all the weird little items we’ve picked up along the way…
The flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong was on a 777 so was pretty comfortable and dinner was pretty tasty – definitely a cut above Royal Thai Airlines mystery meet sandwiches. The flight from Hong Kong to Vancouver was on a 747 and was definitely a little more cramped and noisy… Caitlin didn’t even try to sleep, Marie dozed off in the middle of Kung Fu Panda 2 for a little bit and I tried but couldn’t get comfortable… But they did have the first season of Walking Dead on their entertainment system so was able to watch all of that! Was very weird to leave Hong Kong at 4:30 in the afternoon on August 23 and arrive in Vancouver at 1:15 in the afternoon on the same day… Time changes are discombobulating! I don’t know how people do those long haul flights on a regular basis – between cramped seats, loud air conditioning and crying kids I’m surprised more people don’t try to open a door in mid-flight just to preserve their sanity… But we arrived safely. Marie didn’t leave any claw marks in my arms or hands (8 flights in thirty days may have dulled some of the fear… Or else the lala pills worked like a charm!) and we’re all still talking to one another!
As we were heading to the baggage carousel in Vancouver, we heard Caitlin’s name being called over the PA system… Never good news. Seems they left one of our bags behind in Hong Kong – no big deal as it was a small bag we bought to put clothes (mostly dirty ones) in to make room for souvenirs – they’ll be couriering it to our house tomorrow morning at some point… Hopefully. After collecting our remaining luggage (which took forever) we discovered that our Air Canada flight to Victoria had been cancelled… Again, not a big inconvenience as they just put us on the next flight leaving a half hour later…
So now we’re sitting at the gate waiting for our last flight. Caitlin hit the Tim Hortons right away and both Marie and Caitlin are complaining about being cold… I’m reveling in the cooler temperatures and enjoying hearing all the public announcements in English…
Not looking forward to getting back into the hustle and bustle but looking forward to a soak in the hot tub and sleeping in my own bed… And seeing Ladybug of course!
Will post up some final thoughts and some accumulated funny English errors and whatnot in a couple of final posts tomorrow or the next day…

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Day 29: Koh Lanta to Bangkok

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Just a quick post as we have about 8 minutes to make it to our hotel shuttle to get to the airport for our flight home…
Yesterday we were woken by crashing booms of thunder and the sounds of light rain on the rooftop but things had improved considerably by the time we had packed and had breakfast so we threw on the trunks for one last play in the surf and sun… The waves today were the best yet!
After a swim and quick shower it was time for a light lunch then to pile into the van for the drive to Krabi Airport… Things went well. We ended up sharing the van with one of the owners of the resort so didn’t have to pay full freight for the private charter.
We made the airport with time to spare, had an uneventful flight to Bangkok (although Thai Airways food is always an adventure) and arrived in Bangkok to a waiting shuttle to our hotel for the evening (thanks Thaylin – two big thumbs up for the Best Western Amaranth Hotel)…
After checking in, we decided to take a cab to the infamous Night Bazaar at Silom (otherwise known as Patong Night Bazaar) for some last minute souvenir shopping for Caitlin…. As we didn’t get to the hotel until after 9, we didn’t get home until after 2…
Will write more in our final post ’cause it’s time to go now…

Day 28: Koh Lanta

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Today was our last full day on Lanta and Marie and Caitlin made the most of it by heading to the spa for 4 hours (a little more expensive than some places we’ve been this trip but they both had a facial, eyebrow waxing, manicure, pedicure and oil massage for 3400 baht total or about $120… And the woman who ran the place was awesome) while I did some last minute souvenir shopping and hung out at one of the local restaurants for a while. Then it was back to the resort for some beach time.
The weather improved as the afternoon wore on so by the time we hit the beach, we enjoyed full sun and downright hot temperatures… Marie was in heaven while I was very grateful to get in the water… Although it wasn’t much cooler. It’s hard to believe their ocean is only about 10 degrees fahrenheit cooler than our hot tub… We played around in the surf for about an hour then hit the pool for another hour before retiring to our deck for a drink.
Our not-so-subtle hints that we weren’t impressed by last night’s poor sleep must have resonated with someone ’cause the free stuff started showing up. As soon as we sat on our deck Wacheco pranced? (you really have to see this guy in action to appreciate him) over to ask us what we’d like to drink… We were able to sip our free cocktails on the deck while watching the start of another spectacular sunset… Once we’d finished our drinks we headed down to the beach to grab some pictures of our last Lanta sunset then as darkness set in went for a walk along the beach… In order to understand how this walk progressed, you need to imagine handing a very bright flashlight to someone who shows decided ADD tendencies and who read the section about wild animals in the national park at least three times… We’d take about 3 steps then Caitlin would flail about wildly with the flashlight convinced that trees were giant man-eating something’s, that ant dark shadow on the beach must be a panther and that something was going to crawl out of the surf and devour us… Alternating between complete blindness and moments on serene tranquility, we saw fireflies dancing in the trees and every variety of hermit crab imaginable…. But no tigers, monkeys or other dangerous denizens of the forest, alas.
On returning from walk, we were greeted by last night’s lizard’s cousin hanging on our front door just chilling and waiting to say hello… We greeted him by trying to shoe him away but he was determined to find out what we had done to his cousin and refused to move… We encouraged him but he was back after dinner as well… After making the room secure against lizard intruders we hit the restaurant for dinner and after placing our orders were treated to a very nice appetizer platter courtesy of one of the waiters who professed his profound apologies for the noise the night before. Gotta give credit to the staff… Much as we were pretty irked by the two noisy nights, their service and general good nature made it pretty easy to forgive and forget.
After dinner it was early to bed as we were all worn out by a full day in the sun…

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Day 27: Koh Lanta

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On this day, we did nothing. Well, okay, Marie and I started our day off going for a swim in the ocean – at 8am so those of you who know Marie can imagine how warm the air and the water would have to be for Marie to do such a thing. (I learned from one of the local shops that the water is about 31 degrees Celsius at this time of year… By comparison, Victoria’s ocean is probably about 8 degrees celsius). Then we swam in the pool. Then we woke Caitlin up. Then we had breakfast. Then we swam in the ocean again. And played in the surf. Even did some snorkeling around the rocks at the west end of the beach and saw a nice variety of tropical fishes… Then had lunch. Then Marie and Caitlin booked spa appointments for Sunday while I tried to firm up a dive trip to Hin Deuang that might or might not be possible for Sunday (turns out it didn’t work out so no diving for me this trip… Not a big deal, really as their trips are pretty pricey at almost $200 for charters and rentals and would have eaten up the whole day). Then we retreated to the cool of our bungalow to watch a couple of movies. Then it was time for dinner. And dessert (their banana fritters are really quite tasty). Then for a walk on the beach in the dark – glad I brought my flashlight so we could spot all the hermit crabs motoring around on the beach. Even saw some fireflies – a first for all of us. And there must have been some large factory fish boats offshore ’cause there were lights all along the horizon… Was very cool. Then back to finish our movie.
From there on the evening went a bit downhill… It began with the discovery of a very large Tokay Gecko (he was about 10″ from tip to tail) in the bathroom which prompted Marie to utter squeals of outrage and sent Caitlin running from the room. Fearing he would disappear somewhere into the recesses of the bathroom only to reappear and attack them in their sleep, Marie and Caitlin insisted on getting the staff to take care of it… I was tasked with watching him and making sure that I didn’t lose sight of him… I think there may have been threats involved. In a couple of minutes Wacheco showed up, threw a towel on the poor little guy, wrapped him up and took him somewhere to release… On the other side of the island according to Marie’s explicit instructions. Marie was done at this point and I have been checking the bathroom and other spaces carefully before either of them will venture in to use the facilities… Finding out that this particular gecko is nicknamed “the pit bull” because they refuse to let go when they bite (they’ll clamp on for over an hour) did nothing to allay their concerns… Eventually the hysteria died down and we resumed watching our movie…
Unfortunately, it turned out to be party night at the restaurant again… Now, it’s important to note that they’re not going crazy but given the complete silence in the evenings (other than the sound of the surf) every voice/sound easily carries across the less than 50′ to our room. And they were up talking, singing, etc. until 5am… Like I said, they weren’t being intentionally obnoxious but it was unappreciated and was an unwelcome addition to the evening… We contemplated changing resorts but we’ve just got the one night left and wanted to spend the time relaxing rather than packing up and moving rooms, etc. This time, though, we let Wacheco know we were a little put out by the noise and hadn’t got much sleep because of it… He was appropriately contrite and hopefully he’ll pass the message along to the right parties… Otherwise there may need to be some adjusting when it comes time to the pay the bill…
All in all, this day was a lot like many of the days we’ve spent out at Otter Point over the years – didn’t accomplish much but enjoyed the downtime and the proximity to the ocean… Only here we can jump in any time we feel like it without 2 layers of neoprene to keep our hearts from stopping from the shock of the cold.
Oh yeah, the weather today was a bit of a mixed bag – sunny and hot until early afternoon then overcast with a cool onshore wind and a couple of spatterings of rain and then getting nicer again as the evening wore on (saw a few stars on our walk around 8pm). Should probably mention at this point, if I haven’t already, that it gets dark early here at this time of year (sun sets around 6:15 and it’s full dark by 7:30)…
Can’t believe we’re coming to the end of our time here…

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Marie and Caitlin want me to assure you that he was much bigger than he appears in these photos…

Day 26: Koh Lanta

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Another relaxing day on Koh Lanta. Weather was not as nice today – very grey and overcast with a couple of periods of light rain/drizzle but still pretty warm. Guess it was a good thing that our driver didn’t have an accident today so we could spend most of the day exploring Lanta Old Town – not much happening there. Just a bunch of stores and restaurants on the waterfront – the buildings are pretty old and it’s cool how they’re built right out over the water but a fair number were closed for the low season and the ones that were open didn’t have much of interest. Although the hammock store was pretty cool…
After Old Lanta we headed back to Saladan (the main town on Lanta) for lunch and some souvenir shopping. Stopped along the way, first, to play with some elephants on the side of the road (seems a couple of enterprising folks have brought some elephants to the island to run jungle treks for the tourists… The elephants seemed okay but was a little too exploitative, and expensive, for our tastes). Once in Saladan, found that lots of stores and shops are closed down for the low season so not much happening. We had lunch at some restaurant built out over the water and we were the only people there the whole time. Did some souvenir shopping but found prices pretty high and most of the shopkeepers pretty disinterested in making a sale… Had one girl watch TV the whole time we were bargaining with her… Ended up not buying the stuff after all… I would have thought they’d be working hard to make sales at this time of year but doesn’t seem that way. Popped into an optical shop (once again can’t figure out why a small town needs 5 optical shops) and was swamped by the whole staff trying to find me a pair of sunglasses – brought cold drinks, the whole nine yards. Felt bad when I left without buying anything but really not into big blingy sunglasses…
Stopped at Scuba-Fish on the way back and talked with them about doing some diving as it doesn’t look like anyone will be doing Hin Deung or Muang while I’m here so will look at doing something more accessible and run-of-the-mill, I guess. Will probably end up diving Ko Haa which offers a variety of dives and is supposed to have great visibility… It’s the 2 hour boat ride each way that’s keeping me undecided. Would like to do some diving but I spend enough time on boats that 4 hours putting to and from the dive site doesn’t sound that appealing… Maybe they’ll let me throw a line out as we putt along 🙂
Marie was pretty thrilled on the way back when we stopped to watch a monkey sitting in the tree… Caitlin tried out some of her monkey gestures but the monkey pretty much ignored her… Kid’s got no game 🙂
After we got back to the resort around 4 we watched a movie or something, once again it was a such a difficult day I can’t remember exactly what we did. Also spent some time chatting with Wachiko – the defacto manager/jack-of-all-trades at the resort. The guy could write his ticket anywhere – he’s a real character and works his rear end off for the resort… And has never used their beach in the two years he’s been working for the resort… He hates the heat, doesn’t like the sand and doesn’t like the ocean…
Eventually it was time for dinner followed by free desserts (we would have had a couple of scoops of ice cream but didn’t want to be rude and turn down freebies) then time to finish our movie. Again, after such a difficult, action-packed day, we were worn out and turned the lights out by 10:30. There were no loud parties and we must be getting used to the air conditioner because we all slept pretty well…
Can’t believe we only have two more nights here and will be back in Victoria on Tuesday afternoon… At least we still have a couple of weeks of holidays left when we get back…

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View from the front deck of our bungalow.

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Day 25: Koh Lanta

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Whew. I’m beat. These days in tropical paradise are grueling. First we had to pack all our stuff up so they could move it to our new bungalow. Then we had to eat breakfast… Which may have required a 20′ maybe even 25′ walk. It was touch and go for a while there but we made it… After a light breakfast of pancakes for me, scrambled eggs and toast for Marie and toast and bacon for Caitlin, we set up a taxi to take us around the island to do some exploring and some shopping. He wasn’t going to arrive until noon so we were forced to relax by the pool for a couple of hours… That sitting in the blazing hot tropical sun reading books and sipping cold drinks really takes it out of you. After about an hour of intense lounging our concierge/waiter/Tattoo-clone came up all flustered and with his hands on his hips lisped “we have a problem.” We thought they were going to boot out us out of our new digs or something but apparently our driver “had an accident… Maybe you go tomorrow?” okay we go tomorrow… Ummm was the driver okay? Never did find out…
Which left us with a whole day to lounge around in the sun, swim in the pool and play in the surf. That was our whole day. We moved into our new beach bungalow – awesome views of the sunset and the beach but a little less “sealed” so a few more spiders and lizards than Marie and Caitlin would like… But they must be acclimatizing – I still have to hunt down the spiders (these guys move like greased lightning, jump 6-8″ at a time and know when you’re out to get them so spider hunting takes some effort) but the lizards have been left alone… They chatter at us occasionally to let us know they’re around but are otherwise a non-issue… Although Caitlin does cringe a bit every time she sees one and may whimper a little…
After moving into our new digs, it was serious relaxing time. Marie was into the sauce before noon, claiming all we had to drink were Bacardi Breezers. She did only have the one all day but that doesn’t sound nearly as scandalous but she threatened me with bodily harm if I didn’t set the record straight… Caitlin spent the day lounging like some Hollywood starlet baking in the sun… I spent exactly 29 minutes on the lounger in the sun before retreating for the shade and still managed to get a sunburn… That’ll teach me not to use sunscreen. We perfected the art of body surfing – at least I did, Marie was doing some weird “wave” thing where she threw her arms up over her head and just let the waves smash into her… Caitlin tried her best to actually surf but spent most of her time getting knocked butt over teakettle and having her face slammed into the sand… There was apparently loss of bikini parts for both Caitlin and Marie… Mine stayed firmly in place the whole time 😉
After exhausting ourselves in the surf for about an hour it was time to retreat to the relative coolness of the resort’s pool and some more lounging time. There was lunch in there somewhere but the day was so draining I’ve lost track of where it fell in the day’s events. I know my Panang curry with chicken was fabulous – although I was careful to request “not spicy.” After my first experience with a supposedly mildly spiced dish I was fearing for my life trying this one which was a 2 chili dish… But, they dialed it down to mortal levels and all was good. Marie went way out on a limb and had Japanese gyoza while Caitlin had garlic bread and fries… Although she did sample a mouthful of my panang curry. She was not impressed. I think she may have stopped breathing for a minute or two.
The rest of the day passed in a blur of relaxing, reading, and general lounging around. Around dinner time the skies darkened and a couple of peals of thunder announced the arrival of a light rain (not being sarcastic, it was actually a normal light rain instead of the tropical deluges we’ve been having). So we lounged some more. After the rain let up and a spot opened up on the comfy couch in the restaurant, we made a dash for the restaurant/bar and settled in for dinner. A couple of hours later we headed back to the room to watch a movie and so some more reading. And so ended another day in paradise. A lot relaxed, a little sunburned and exhausted by a tough day at the beach… I was being sarcastic there for those of you who don’t know me very well…
All was going well until we woke up in the middle of night to the sound of a very noisy air conditioner and somebody having a really good time at the bar – seems one of the owners and his Thai friends and some of the guests were tying on a good one… They continued until just after 4am although the air conditioned cutting in and out drowned out most of the sound… Things are definitely a little subdued around the resort this morning and everyone seems to be moving a little gingerly so it must have been a good time. We’d probably be more bent out of shape if we weren’t so completely relaxed… a repeat this evening, though, will probably not go over well.

Day 24: Koh Lanta

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Our first full day in tropical paradise began with breakfast… More fried eggs, scrambled eggs, or omelette with bacon, sausage or ham… But wait. They have pancakes! Pancakes with honey, even. Life is good.
After breakfast, we hitched a ride into town with one of the staff who was going in to get the day’s groceries. We poked around a little in some of the shops and, most importantly, stocked up on some cheap beer, pop and snacks as prices for that kind of stuff are a little steep at the resort (not so much by Canadian standards but definitely by Thai standards). I also put my name on a list with one of the dive shops to go out to Hin Deung and Muang – supposedly the second best dive sites in Thailand… Diving is relatively expensive here (about 5000 baht – $160 cdn for two dives, weights, tanks, etc. and is mostly of the cattle boat variety and conditions are decent but not stellar at this time of year so I’m being a little picky. This dive is only for advanced divers as there’s fairly strong current and they only take 10-12 divers instead of 30 on the other boats… It’s a 90 minute speedboat trip each way to the dive site so it’s pretty weather dependent and they need at least 6-7 divers to make it worthwhile… If they get enough people to put a charter together it’ll happen, if not, no big deal. I might relent and do one of the regularly scheduled dives if i get bored later in the week but for now it’s not a huge priority.
After a couple of hours poking around in the little shops, we piled back into the van for the 40 minute drive back to the resort.Then it was time to change into our swimsuits and hit the water. We grabbed a couple of the little sit-on-top kayaks and played around in the surf for a while then ditched the kayaks and just body surfed and played around in the waves for an hour or more. I haven’t taken my dive computer down to double check but I think the water temp is definitely in the high 80s – considerably warmer than commonwealth pool and it’s 84 degrees… After a couple of hours, we were played out and headed to the restaurant for some lunch and a couple of fruit smoothies. Then it was read some books time, play some games, walk on the beach, take some sunset pictures, then eat, watch a movie, read books, sleep, etc. The workload here is crushing.
We only booked a couple of nights here originally as we weren’t sure about the resort, the isolation, etc. and wanted to leave our options open. While I’m sure there are lots of nice resorts on the island, we decided today to spend the full 7 nights here… Mostly because it’s so quiet and serene – there’s a few other couples/families here but the resort’s only about half full (and they only have 20 bungalows to begin with) we have the beach more or less to ourselves and the staff are very cheerful and friendly. We’ll be moving to a beachfront bungalow for the rest of our stay – same layout but full view of the ocean and sunsets. We had tried to book one at the start and they were full but this might have worked out better as we’re now able to get the one truly beachfront bungalow they have…. That’s pretty much it for our first full day. I suspect the next few days will read much the same – eat, play in the sun/surf/sand, read, sleep… Although we may rent some scooters and do some exploring – there’s another little town on the east side of the island that’s supposed to be pretty cool and has some good shops, etc. So we’ll try to check that at out at least once and we may wander down the beach to the other resort and see what their food is like for a change of pace but otherwise looks like a pretty relaxing few days on the horizon…
For Thaylin, here’s some pictures of the room and the grounds. Things are pretty laid back at this time of the year and the grounds are a bit rough around the edges. It’s sort of funny too how everyone’s (meaning a few of the posters on trip advisor) bent out of shape about the rubbish on the beaches… I guess in high season they have some poor saps walking up and down the beach collecting everything that washes up during the night… Having spent a lot of time on beaches, this one is pretty clean and the bits of flotsam and jetsam that do wash up each night are a lot less than you’d see on many of the beaches on Vancouver Island… The grounds are definitely a little rustic to begin with and could use a bit of grooming but I’m not really much of a manicured gardens person anyways so it works for me… The whole thing sort of feels like camping but with comfy mattresses and really good food… And cold beers.

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