Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200305 Vietnam Cambodia Thailand

THURSDAY 1 MAY 2003 – 6.30am walk along the beach.
This is the time when the Vietnamese go in the water
all wearing clothes.  In the afternoon Don & Teena
track us down.  We won’t be joining them as they are
staying at the luxury Sheridan resort $55 (GBP39)
night.  It’s their honeymoon so they are having a bit
of luxury.  They return in the evening and we walk
along the beach to a restaurant we spotted last night.
 Tonight the place is empty but they soon put out some
tables for us behind the beach.  The young girls
English is poor but we manage to place our order even
if we sometimes have to make 3 choices.  At this point
it begins to feel like Faulty Towers.  Main courses
arrive before the soup, my chips arrive without the
rest of the meal and nothing tastes good. We
eventually give up and retreat to Hahn Cafe across the
road where the pancakes are excellent. 
FRIDAY 2 MAY – Sunbathe in the morning then chat to
Teena & Dan who come down at lunchtime to see us off.
The bus arrives around 2.30pm for our uneventful
journey back to Ho Chi Minh City arriving around
6.30pm.  Our passports complete with Cambodia visa are
waiting at the Brothers office. Return to Hotel 64. 
SATURDAY 3 MAY – Walk to the Reunification Palace
15,000d (60p).  It’s been left much as it was when
last used in 1975 and has some interesting rooms.
When we leave we turn right and spot a restaurant
"Quan an ngon" on the opposite side of the road which
is packed out mainly with Vietnamese, a good sign so
we join them and try a few more local specialties.  Ho
Chi Minh City museum 10,000 (40p) is a real mixed up
museum with archaeological finds, war stuff, relics
from the fishing industry and other odds and ends to
hold our interest.  The building itself is attractive
and two different brides are having their photos taken
here.  Return to the back packer district for Steve to
watch football in a bar whilst I E-mail.
SUNDAY 4 MAY – Happy Tours offer a 3 day/2night trip
to the Mekong Delta which for $25 (GBP17.50)includes
bus, boats, tour guide, entrance fees, accommodation
and 3 meals a day and has now been reduced by a
further 10%.  Following on from this you can take the
boat into Cambodia for an extra $8 (GBP5.60) and this
is what we have booked. We are the only Happy Tours
customers so get put on a bus with TM Brother Tours.
Once we arrive at Mytho in the Delta we go on a small
boat to one of the islands.  Local fruits are grown
here and we are given many to try whilst being
serenaded by the locals.  At the back of the fruit
farm we get into small rowing boats and are each given
one of the typical Vietnamese conical hats to wear
whilst being transported along one of the small
canals.  Back on the big boat we next stop to see
coconut sweets being made then it’s over a bridge to
the honey farm.  Off down more waterways on the big
boat as the heavens open up.  Lunch on Phoenix island
where the locals make lots of handicrafts from
coconuts. Back to Mytho where a Danish couple and
ourselves are off loaded to Tropic tours along with
their 3 couples.  Due to the rain we miss our stop at
the market and end up going straight through to
Cantho.  Happy tours were offering us a hotel in the
city with hot shower and satellite TV.  Tropic use
bungalows in the country and although the resort is
pretty the accommodation is rough.  We change rooms
with little improvement.  There are lots of streams
flowing through the complex and the rooms are damp and
have gaps where the windows won’t shut and under the
doors.  The mattress feels damp when you lie on it but
our tour guide doesn’t want to know and says it is
Happy Tours responsibility.  Evening meal is on a
floating restaurant up the river which is quite
pleasant. Reluctantly return to the room spotting lots
of water rats and frogs en route. Find the mosquito
nets don’t fit properly and even tucking them in
around the mattress leaves gaps where the mattress
doesn’t fit over the slats underneath. There are
lizards all over the walls and I just freak out and
sit on the bed sobbing.  I can’t handle the thought of
things coming in where there is a huge gap under the
door. I nearly have a fit when Steve threatens to turn
the light out.  Eventually he realises I have a real
problem and goes up to reception.  He comes back for
me and we move into a room on the second floor of the
hotel main block (don’t know why we couldn’t have had
that in the first place). 
MONDAY 5 MAY – Nobody has slept very well as they have
all being hearing strange noises in the night. After
breakfast we head off along the river to view two
different floating markets. As we cruise along we see
the river being used for everything including bathing
and judging by the floating turds a toilet as well.
Houses are built out over the water on stilts but they
look very basic and unstable. By the time we get to
the vermicelli factory I am feeling quite sick and as
soon as I get a whiff of the local smells I make a
quick exit to throw up.  I was sick before in Hue so
this is getting to be a bit of a worry as I have only
eaten an omelette, at least I can’t be pregnant!  Back
to the bus for a drive before we drop off 2 couples
leaving just 3 couples on the tour. Into another boat
to go along even narrower canals to a sanctuary where
egrets nest and breed.  From a platform we can see
(and smell) literally thousands of them. Heading back
the tide is going out and the water level getting low.
 The boat propeller keeps getting tangled with rubbish
and plastic bags.  Once they have been ripped off they
are thrown straight back into the water!  Back on land
for lunch before our guide heads back to the city. We
are left with the mini bus and driver who takes us to
Chao Doc. Our quiet hotel in the country turns out to
be one right in the middle of town.  This time Tropic
tours give their clients air con rooms whilst we get
one with a fan.  It seems that if your tour gets
merged you get the worst of everything.  Late
afternoon we are taken up Sam mountain to watch the
sunset from the terrace of a temple.  We look out over
green paddy fields then across the river to Cambodia
where the fields are very brown and dry.  Stop on the
way down to look at the Queenland Lady Temple which is
attractively lit up.
TUESDAY 6 MAY – This morning we also loose the bus and
have to walk about 1km with our heavy bags down to the
river. There are lots of floating houses/fish farms
here and we are taken out to one.  There is an awful
stench from the fish food that they are making to feed
the catfish which they breed underneath.  Next stop is
the minority village of Champa where Moslems live and
make sarongs.  Back on the river another boat pulls
along side and just Steve and I are off loaded for the
trip to Cambodia.  About 3 hours later we arrive at
the border village of Vinh Xuong.  We disembark over
rickety boards then scramble up the bank.  It takes
about 2 hours to process the documents during which
time we watch rice being brought ashore, tested to see
if it’s dry then either re packed or tipped out to
dry.  A women comes through with bamboo sticks then
shaves the outside and sells them to the children to
chew on like lollies.  Eventually we are ready to walk
through passport control and board a boat along with a
group from Saigon Tours.  We are only on the boat a
short time before we pull over at the Cambodian
immigration centre.  The process is quite quick and in
no time at all we are officially in CAMBODIA and
heading further up the Mekong River on the boat. The
currency is Reil with around 4000r = $1 or 6,500 r =
1GPB.  As in Vietnam the American dollar is the
preferred currency. A further few hours pass before we
dock. Saigon tour people go on a bus whilst we are
singled out and put in a car. The roads in Cambodia
are poor. We are either bumping along tarmac with huge
pothole-s or bouncing through dusty roadworks.
Eventually arrive in the capital of Phnom Penh.  The
car takes us to Royal guest house but I don’t like the
rooms so we pay the driver an extra $1 (70p) to take
us to OKAY guest-house which has been recommended.  $5
(GBP3.50) gets us a double with en-suite.  Not quite
as nice as the rooms in Vietnam but acceptable.  They
seem very friendly people and offer us lots of
information and maps. Observe that the people here are
not as thin as the Vietnamese and have rounder faces.
The women also don’t seem to worry about getting their
skin brown. Steve goes out for an evening stroll the
WEDNESDAY 7 MAY – A change of rooms as the mattress
was very thin, worn and I could feel the boards
underneath.  We are offered a room with a thick foam
mattress for the same price. The system at this guest
house is that you are given a book for your room in
which to record your purchases of food, drink, tours
and also the cost of the room.  Notice that the room
has previously been let at $4. Reckon in Cambodia they
offer you the worst rooms first and then expect you to
either ask for a discount or a better room. In Vietnam
they seemed to show you a mid range room with the
option of showing you something cheaper of dearer if
it didn’t suit but still expecting you to bargain the
price.  Set out on foot and stop in by the nearby
Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Monument.  There are
crowds around and we soon realise there is a funeral
taking place.  It must be someone important as all the
forces are represented and also many monks.  We see
fireworks let off, smoke coming from a chimney by the
coffin (maybe they do the cremating in situ?) and a
full gun salute.  Walk to the palace noticing that
even here in the capital there are only a few sealed
roads the rest being dirt and rubble.  There are fewer
motorbikes but more cars than Vietnam.  Probably
because of all the abandoned mines in the country we
see lots of beggars with limbs missing. Admission to
the Silver Pagoda area of the Royal Palace is $2
(GBP1.40).  It’s very similar to the Thai style palace
with magnificent buildings, one is the throne room.
From here we walk to Capital Tours office and are just
in time to take the 11am $2 (GBP1.40) tour out to the
Killing Fields of Choeung Ek $2 (GBP1.40) admission.
It’s a depressing place where between 1975 and 1978
around 17,000 people were exterminated.  Some of the
mass graves have been uncovered and a central memorial
has shelves up to the roof containing at total of 8000
skulls.  We walk amongst the graves and underfoot see
fragments of bones and bits of clothes sticking out of
the earth.  One grave contained all children aged 6
and under.  To save bullets the Khmer Rouge hammered
nails into a nearby tree and swung the children at it
until their skulls shattered.  Many more graves have
been left undisturbed. We really feel these people
were even worse than the Nazi’s.  Returning to Phnom
Penh we visit the Tuol Sleng Museum $2 (GBP1.40) the
High School which Pol Pot’s security forces turned
into a prison known as S-21.  People were detained and
tortured here before being sent to the killing fields.
 We wander round the building showing different types
of cells, photo’s and paintings of the treatment
carried out and distressing write ups.  Start walking
back to the guest house but succumb to a cyclo ride
for 1,000r (17p).  After a siesta we walk along the
attractive River front before turning up a side street
to Friends restaurant where we’re dining for a cause.
Street children of Phnom Penh are rehabilitated and
educated to work in the food trade.  These children
have had drug, Aids, abuse and other problems and are
now getting a chance to do better funded by the money
charged to diners.  We’re greeted by a number of
children who hold their hands prayer style and made a
small bow.  Most things on the menu are between $1-$2
(GBP1.40 – GBP2.80) and everything we select is really
tasty. Service is attentive and we can really
recommend the experience.  They even have the nicest
toilet we have seen this last few weeks with free
condoms. Back on the river front Steve is swayed by
beer at 50c (35p) whilst I use the Internet cafe next
door 2000r (34p) hour.  It gets a bit confusing with
some prices in American dollars and other in riel.
Also on small transactions you can pay in dollars but
get riel in change. There are no ATM’s anywhere in the
country and if any dollars are old or torn they are
not accepted.
THURSDAY 8 MAY – Up at 6.30am for our 7.00 pick up to
connect with the 7.30am bus.  We have booked the
Capitol Tours $4 (GBP2.80) bus to Siem Reap and
reserved our seats.  The bus is quite good and the air
con just about works.  The only problem is that it has
a video and blares out Cambodian Karaoke music.  I
begin feeling queasy and end up being sick.  Having
only eaten egg and bread this morning it can only be
the egg yet again so in future I shall steer clear of
them.  We make frequent stops and conclude that the
Cambodians have small bladders!  The road surface is
non existent and it’s like traveling on the outback
roads of Australia complete with dust.  Arrive in Siem
Reap around 3.00pm and agree to stay at the Popular
Guest house where they drop us.  We get a $5 room
reduced to $4 (GBP2.80) but it’s nothing flash.
Upstairs is a roof top restaurant and we chat to one
of the tour guides who convinces us we should head out
to the temples tonight to take in the sunset.  If you
are buying a ticket for tomorrow it includes admission
today after 4.30pm.  His brother just happens to have
a remarque which is a motorbike with a 2 seater
carriage attached to the back.  For $4 (GBP2.80) he
takes us out to the temple area.  We buy a one day
ticket for $20 (GBP14) and head out to Phnom Bakheng
temple mountain.  You can be taken up by elephant but
we do it the hard way.  We reach the top to get fine
views over Angkor Wat but unfortunately it clouds over
before sunset.  Back in Siem Reap we stoll to the
nearby Lucky Restaurant where meals are $1.50 (GBP1)
and upwards and include soup, rice and iced tea. 
FRIDAY 9 MAY – Wake up at 4.45am and our remarque
arrives at 5.00am.  Head straight to Angkor Wat for
sunrise but we are unlucky again.  The next area is
Angkor Thom where we approach through the magnificent
south gate guarded by demons on one side and the good
guys on the other.  This is a walled city so we first
climb the 3 levels off Bayon which has dozens of
towers topped on all four side by the heads of Shiva.
There are lots of impressive carvings on the stone
walls and it’s all very beautiful. Next we stroll over
to the outside walls of the palace where we are
impressed by the Terrace of the Elephants and then the
Terrace of the Lepers which has a hidden area within.
The heavens suddenly open up so we shelter in the
nearby cafes whilst eating breakfast.  It’s still only
7.30am so we talk to our driver and suggest we pay him
a little more money and do the Grand circuit.  The
first temple Preah Khan is enormous with lots of
corridors but few visitors.  We see only 2 other
people.  Next is Neak Pean which was a huge bathing
pool and has elaborately carved spouts. Ta Som has
it’s east entrance gate strangled by a huge tree.
East Mebon has lovely elephant statues.  Pre Rup is
much the same.  Banteay Kdel is a Buddhist temple and
nice to wander around before crossing the road to the
lake opposite Sras Srang.  One of the famous 3 is Ta
Prohm which has been left pretty much as it was found
with the jungle encroaching on the temple.  Trees
cling onto and grow over the walls and it’s an amazing
sight but we are not the only ones to think so as it
is quite crowded.  The cover of the latest Lonely
Planet shows an old man sweeping here and we see the
very same man who is in his 80’s.  Parts of Tomb
Raider were filmed here and we can see why.  It’s
getting a bit repetitive now so we pass on Ta Keo and
return to Angkor Thom for lunch and to take a few
photos in the better light.  Steve joins the locals
for a nap in the hammocks whilst I climb the ruined
temple of Phimeanakas for the view then walk around
the outside of Baphuon which is being restored.  That
only leaves the most famous temple Angkor Wat. We
approach over a moat then through the outer walls to
see the temple in all it’s splendor.  It’s in very
good repair and we first walk around the outside which
is lined with bas reliefs (murals carved in stone).
We then climb to the top of the third level and feel
it having already climbed hundreds of these high
narrow steps in the other temples.  We’re finished by
3.30pm and stop for a drink.  At the stall we see a
tiny baby asleep in a hammock then notice two more
children asleep in a cupboard!  Return to our hotel
rather than wait for sunset and pay our driver $11
(GBP7.70) for the day.  Stroll around Siem Reap before
eating out.
SATURDAY 10 MAY – We’ve booked a large air conditioned
bus for $10 (GBP7) to take us to Bangkok so are a bit
surprised when a tiny mini bus arrives.  They assure
us this is only for the first 1/2 hour.  A bridge has
collapsed and the big bus is waiting at the other
side.  We set off and find the air conditioner doesn’t
work and neither do we get transferred to another bus.
 For 5 hours we are stifled and choked with dust as we
bounce along even worse dirt roads.  The pot holes are
so big that the locals could bathe in them after rain!
 Spot lots of signs at the side of the road warning of
land mines.  Make it to the border around noon then
walk across into THAILAND.  Needless to say the large
air conditioned bus for the Thai part of the journey
is also a mini bus but at least the air conditioner
works and we do stop for a complimentary sandwich and
bottle of water.  Pull up at a service station with a
7 Eleven and Steve is like a kid in a toy shop buying
western crisps and other goodies.  It hits us just how
westernised Thailand is after Cambodia and Vietnam.
They have fully surfaced roads, yellow and white lines
on them and the traffic seems to act more responsibly.
 A storm looms ahead with lots of lightening.  Shortly
after we come to an area where for about 1 mile the
electric pylons have collapsed and cable dangles along
the side of the road.  A telephone kiosk and cafe have
been demolished and there is lots of damage.  We can
only assume it has been struck by lightening.  Arrive
in Bangkok in torrential rain and get dropped off in
the Khao San road back packer area.  We’re pretty
weary so after checking out a few of the cheaper
hostel which are a bit grotty we settle on the
Sawasdee Khao San Road Inn with double en-suite rooms
at 450 baht (GBP6.75) including cable TV.  You now get
around 650 baht = GBP1.  I have an early night and
Steve does a brief walk about.
SUNDAY 11 MAY – I get up first for a stroll around the
area and it’s my turn to be excited when I find Boots
the Chemist and all the nice toiletries we have in
England.  Late morning head off to visit the Grand
Palace.  The tourist information centre misled us
Steve ends up having to borrow some of the free
clothing to cover his shorts.  200b (GBP3) admission
includes the 1.30pm guided tour.  It’s a magnificent
place with lots of interesting buildings and of course
the famous Emerald Buddha. We’ve also been misled and
find that on Saturday and Sunday the palace buildings
are closed. In nearby Sanam Luang park we come across
the build up to the festival to the full moon which is
the holies of Buddhist holidays.  There are lots of
side shows and we get free Internet use and are also
offered a free meal.  Brief heavy rain storm again.
Lots of floats are lined up ready for the procession,
some with animated Buddha images.  Steve goes out to
watch football in the evening whilst I watch movies in
the room.  Another bad thunder and rain storm in the
MONDAY 12 MAY – Palace ticket includes a separate
ticket for Vinamek Mansion.  Tuk Tuk pester us and we
find the fare is either 80bt (GBP 1.20) to go direct
or just 10bt (15p) if they can take you to a jewelery
store en route.  Providing you spend at least 10
minutes looking in the shop the driver gets 100bt (GBP
1.50) worth of free fuel.  The jewelery is lovely but
I’m not at all tempted.  Arrive at the Mansion just in
time for the free 10.30am traditional Thai dance
performance.  After this we take the free guided tour
of the house which is excellent.  It’s all made of
teak and not a nail was used in the construction.
Catch a local air-con bus 12bt (18p) to Pantip Plaza.
I’m in need of a new laptop and this enormous shopping
centre has 7 floors of computer shops.  Round the
corner is the World Trade Centre where we stop for an
hours ten pin bowling 160bt (GBP2.40).  Catch the no
air con bus back which is just 7 1.2bt (10p).
TUESDAY 13 MAY – 10am 80bt (GBP1.20) air con mini bus
to Kanchanaburi.  Around 12.30pm it drop us off at
Sugar Cane Guest House which has lovely motel style
bungalows with en-suite for just 150bt (GBP2.25) night
and a view over the River Kwai.  Walk along the road
to the War Museum 30bt (45p) which has a section on
JEATH the acronym for the nationalities used in the
building of the bridge – Japanese, English,
Australian, Thai and Hollanders.  Continue to the
bridge and walk part way across then catch the
afternoon train to Kanchanaburi central station for
just 2 bt (3p).  Wander round the 2nd world war
cemetery which is the same style as the ones in
France.  Evening meal at Friendly restaurant where
they are showing the film Bridge on the River Kwai.
WEDNESDAY 14 MAY – Catch the 11.00am train along the
death railway towards Burma.  16bt (24p) takes you to
Nam Tok which is the end of the line.  We pass
interesting countryside with fields full of tapioca.
Get an insight into just how hard it was to build the
bridge which clings to cliff sides and goes through
lots of rock cuttings.  Brief stop at Nam Tok before
the 1 1/2 hour journey back.  Meal in the guest house
restaurant on the banks of the river.
THURSDAY 15 MAY – Catch the 7.17am train back to
Bangkok 25bt (37p). Numerous vendors walk through the
carriages selling all sorts of food and drink.  Arrive
10.30am then walk straight out to catch the river boat
6bt (9p) to go 2 stops north to Banglamphu back packer
area. Steve whiles away most of the day skipping from
pub to pub to catch different movies whilst I mooch
around the market stalls.  At 6.00pm we leave on the
VIP bus to Koh Samui.  180 bt (GBP2.70) get us a seat
on the coach to Surat Thani then another bus to Donsak
and from there the ferry to the island.  We have
English video on board to watch and the seats are well
spaced, comfortable and recline a long way.    
FRIDAY 16 MAY – Arrive Surat Thani 6.30am then
transfer by bus to catch the 10am ferry which takes
around 1 1/2 hours.  We have agreed to go with one of
the touts to Coconut Clam Beach Bungalows on Bo Phut
Beach.  We’ve seen photos but when we arrive the
accommodation is poor even for 250bt (GBP 3.75).
We’re in a basic beach hut which is nothing like the
picture we were shown.  Agree to stay for one night.
Steve goes off on a long walk and finds us something
better for tomorrow.  The beach is lovely and the
water very warm.  Storm late afternoon after which we
take a walk along the beach finding resorts with rooms
at 7,000bt (GBP105.00) night.  Next to us is Lawana
Resort where we enjoy our evening meal.  Meet Graham &
Claire who are staying there but off to Koh Pha An for
the full moon party tonight.  We’ve seen it on TV and
8,000 people partying through the night on a beach
urged on by booze and drugs is not our scene.
SATURDAY 17 MAY – Yesterday Steve arranged for us to
be picked up and taken to SR Bungalows on MaeNam Beach
which is the next one west.  For 300bt (GBP4.50) we
get a more spacious, cleaner and more modern room in a
concrete bungalow with pretty gardens outside leading
straight onto the beach.  Laze the day away.  The only
other guests are here for the wedding of the owner and
we decline the invitation to join them all for the
evening party as Steve is a bit under the weather with
a sore throat.  Take our evening meal next door at Mae
Nam Villas which also have reasonable accommodation.
SUNDAY 18 MAY – Find it easy to hire a motorbike for
150bt (GBP2.2.5) day even though our licence is back
in Bangkok!  There is no insurance here and you pay
for any loss or damage.  Steve has a bit of a practice
as he is not used to gears.  Set off with lots of
kangaroo hops and make it safely clockwise round the
coast to Big Buddha.  We cross a causeway to this
monastic complex with the huge Buddha statue looking
over the bay and other enormous figures around the
bay.  Chaweng is the main tourist resort on the island
and full of luxury resorts.  The only way to get to
the beach is through one of them or down small tracks.
 Over the hill we prefer Lamai which still have lots
of resorts but more of the 3 star variety catering to
British package holiday makers.  At the south end of
the beach is a famous rock formation where the Grandad
rock looks like a big willie and the Grandma rock like
the female bits.  Cut inland to visit Namuang
Waterfall 2 which entails quite a walk.  The falls are
quite pretty but we are more impressed with the
swimming hole downstream.  Make it safely back after
our 50km ride. Excellent evening meal at our
MONDAY 19 MAY – Lazy day, sunny in the morning and
cloudy later.  We are the only guests so it is nice
and peaceful.  Get a text from David to say he has
passed his driving test which we are very pleased
TUESDAY 20 MAY – Another lazy day as Steve is still
feeling a bit unwell.
WEDNESDAY 21 MAY – Take a taxi 100bt (GBP1.50) to Big
Buddha pier to catch the 10.30am ferry to Koh PhaNgan
100bt (GBP1.50). Arrive about an hour later on Haad
Rin western (sunset) beach. Reluctant to take
accommodation from the touts Steve leaves me with the
bags and heads off alone.  He returns almost 3/4 hour
later in a jeep to collect me.  He’s had problems as
most of the accommodation was beach huts, poor and
expensive. Sari Kantang is over the headland on Leela
Beach which is the south western part of sunset beach.
 The hut sits on stilts and for 300bt (GBP4.50) is
acceptable.  Afternoon walk over the peninsula to
sunrise beach where the full moon parties are held.
It’s a pretty beach with soft white sand and clear
water. This started off with just a few bungalows but
over the years the back of the beach has developed
into wall to wall bungalows and bars and behind them
almost a complete village with everything for the
young back packer.  Late afternoon on Leela Beach
after which we spend our time watching movies in the
restaurant.  I play Shit Head with 3 Israeli’s and a
Canadian whilst Steve watches TV until 11.00pm when I
head for bed.  The bed is rock hard and I end up
blowing up my air bed and sleeping on that.
THURSDAY 22 MAY – Steve stays up watching football and
doesn’t get to bed until around 5am.  I’m still awake.
 All their accommodation has the same mattresses so we
check out.  Heading for the ferry we walk past
Paradise resort and find they have nice concrete
bungalows on the hill for 300bt (GBP4.50) with comfy
beds. A lad who stayed last night says it was nice and
quiet so we decide to stay. Spend most of the day on
sunrise beach with me floating on the air bed out at
sea. Evening stroll around the area which seems to
have everything for the young party going backpacker –
bars, clothes shops and lots of medical centres!  Stop
for a curry at the Indian then a movie where we are
handed a flyer for the Backyard party night starting
at 10am.  Backyard is directly below our bungalow and
when I return to bed the music is thumping away.  It’s
still noisy when Steve returns much later after
watching football.  Drinks here are sold in beach
buckets which accounts for the number of drunks
rolling around.
FRIDAY 23 MAY – Another bad choice of accommodation so
we move on.  Check with the tout that the pictures of
the bungalows he is showing are the ones he is
offering for 300bt (GBP4.50).  He sends us off in the
songthaew (taxi truck with seats in the back) 100bt
(GBP1.50) to Haad Son.  We’ve been had again as the
300bt accommodation is grotty huts but it’s a nice
place with a swimming pool so we upgrade to the 550bt
(GBP8) concrete bungalows with air con.  Enjoy the
pool all afternoon.  Evening stroll to the adjacent
Had Yao and check out a few other accommodation
SATURDAY 24 MAY – Early morning on the beach whilst
the tide is in.  Calling into the restaurant for
drinks we are quizzed as to why we didn’t eat there
yesterday or for breakfast.  It seems that if you
don’t take all your meals there they don’t want you to
stay.  This was never mentioned and we don’t like
being told this so leave.  Opposite is Tantawan with
basic huts for 250bt (GBP3.75) and a swimming pool.
I’m not keen on being in a hut again but it looks
reasonably clean so we’ll give it a try.  Settling in
by the pool we spot a chap we recognise.  It’s Mark
whom we met on Crete in 1997.  He lives here now and
runs a diving business and bar.Today he is training
someone in the pool. After he has done his teaching he
chats to us and invites us to visit him another day.
Take our evening meal in the restaurant to make sure
we don’t get evicted.  Our room smells strongly of
mothballs which are there to keep the cockroaches at
bay.  The beds are hard and I have difficulty
sleeping.  In the middle of the night we have a dog
trying to climb in through the window.  Steve gets up
at first light to sleep outside in the hammock!
SUNDAY 25 MAY – I get up for an early shower to be
greeted by a huge lizard in the bathroom – we’re out
of here.  I phone Mark who invites round to their
place tonight.  Hang around after we have checked out
and learn that we were in the bungalow where Godzilla
lives!  Late afternoon we go to Ban Chalok Lam where
Mark and his Thai wife Fern run The Dive Inn. He sells
diving courses with all the companies on the island
and also takes small groups himself.  In addition he
does motorbike rental and runs the bar which does
western meals.  Meet lots of locals who call in for
drinks. Another night with little sleep as Mark and
Ferns spare room consists of a mat on the floor with a
couple of sleeping bags for padding.
MONDAY 26 MAY – Borrow one of Marks motorbikes to
tootle round the coast to Mae Haad beach.  At low tide
you can walk to a small island which is surrounded by
a reef which is good for snorkeling over.  It is a
very hot day so we are glad of the cooling breeze.
Not much colourful coral or fish but the biggest sea
cucumbers we have ever seen – yuk.  Head to Utopia
restaurant on the way back.  It is up a very steep
hill and in second gear the bike peters out and
getting first whilst on the move is almost impossible.
 I hop off and walk whilst Steve makes a number of
attempts before following me.  There is a superb view
from the restaurant looking over to different bays in
three directions.  Return to Marks mid afternoon then
take a taxi to the main town of Thong Sala.  In need
of a good nights sleep we check into the Asia Hotel
with an air con twin at 500bt – GBP7.50.  Steve checks
out the pubs for one showing the play offs.  Wolves
are playing Sheffield United in the first division
play offs so he is desperate to see it.  No one is
advertising it but with luck it should be on the TV in
the room. Almost get a good nights sleep, we are on
the edge of the jungle and the mozzies seem to like
our room almost as much as we do!  Steve is delighted
when Wolves win 3 to 0.  Receive a text from David to
say he is there, lucky lad.
TUESDAY 27 MAY – Book 380bt GBP5.70 tickets with
Freedom Travel for our return boat and bus to Bangkok.
Hi Speed ferry at noon calling in to Samui then
arriving in Surat Thani around 4pm.  There are 3 big
VIP coaches waiting but we are put into a truck with
people and luggage piled in the bag.  Everyone else is
dropped at a travel cafe but our driver insists we
have booked with another company and she takes us to
their depot, we are the only ones and wonder if we
have been stitched up again!  Eventually another
couple arrive and the 6pm bus turns up just after 7pm.
 It is a VIP bus but with seats are very close
together, the video isn’t working and the driver won’t
let us use the reading lights.  Notice than underneath
as well as a toilet there is a lounge area with 2
sofas.  The bags are stored on the floor but the seats
look good enough to sleep on.  I’m joined by Brian a
Scot who now lives in Australia.  He’s fuming with his
wife who persuaded him to take the bus where they were
guaranteed one with the extra leg room!
WEDNESDAY 28 MAY – Arrive Bangkok 6.30am and check
into the Dee & Dee Hotel which is opposite Boots the
chemist on Khao San Road.  600bt (GBP9) gets us an air
con room, satellite TV and use of the roof top
swimming pool.  Rooms ending in 27 and 29 have windows
over looking the courtyard and we take one of these.
We’re both full of colds and spend most of the day in
the room with me making it up to the pool for 1 hour.
THURSDAY 29 MAY – Both still full of cold.  I nip out
to the supermarket and take back food and coffees for
breakfast. Late morning by the pool then back to the
room to rest and watch movies.  Get a haircut, colour
and cut and blow dry for 600bt (GBP9) with Miss Jinny
a transvestite who hasn’t made a good transition but
does a good cut! Food at one of the many street
FRIDAY 30 MAY – Collect breakfast from down the street
– a bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice for 25bt
(37p), from the grocery store coffees at 10bt (15p)and
a cup of ready brek 12bt (18p) plus a fresh pineapple
from a street stall for 10t (15p). Laze by the pool.
Steve gets a haircut for 70bt (GBP1.05) and we eat
again at the street stalls paying 25bt (37p) for sweet
and sour pork with rice, excellent value.
SATURDAY 31 MAY – Out of our rooms by noon so then
it’s up to the pool area to laze away our last day.
60bt (90p) gets us a mini bus to the airport for our
Quantas flight at 0020 back to Heathrow.

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