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Old 30th January 2014, 14:16   #16
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Default Re: Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!

Quote:
Originally Posted by vnabhi View Post
I am curious to know how Thai food was, other than the standard western breakfast that you've posted pics of.

This apart, I was always thinking that the Bridge on the River Kwai was in Burma, till I read your link. What I do know is that the movie was shot in Sri Lanka, as I've passed by that place last year.

Please keep posting. How are the roads in the remote places you've been to? Are fuel bunks abundant? Do you have to fill the fuel yourself, as in western countries? And finally, is the Honda City having any extra features compared to the one sold in India?
Thank You Venu.
The roads are all very good even in the remotest places, except for maybe, where there is any work going on.
There are lots of Petrol Bunks and they all have attendants to fill the fuel. (the same way we have in India).
I have never driven the Honda City in India so, I can't compare with the Indian version. I had a tough time locating the USB/Aux input for the ICE and you must remember that our Hyderabad Team BHPians came to my rescue on Whatsapp!

Quote:
Originally Posted by predatorwheelz View Post
Fantastic travelogue. Thoroughly entertaining, and a nice easy narrative.

1. What's the yellow mashed thing you're eating for breakfast?
2. Where's the Phuket part?
Thank you predatorwheelz for the comment. Phuket part will be updated soon!
SS-Traveller has already answered the 1st question!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Good going, pulsar56. Looking forward to the rest of the travelogue!
Thank you Doc!
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Old 30th January 2014, 16:18   #17
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Default Day 4

Day 4 in Thailand: Cheow Lan Lake / Ratchaprabha Dam (Khao Sok National Park)


Quote:
The stunning Chiaw Lan Lake sits about an hour's drive east of the visitor's centre. The lake was created in 1982 by an enormous shale-clay dam called Ratchaprabha (Kheuan Ratchaprabha or Kheuan Chiaw Lan). The limestone outcrops protruding from the lake reach a height of 960m, over three times higher than the formations in the Phang-Nga area.

Cheow Larn Lake is a spectacular man made lake that is becoming famous for its towering limestone cliffs and stunning views. The lake covers an area of 185 square kilometers and is located about 70km from Surat Thani. The lake was formed by the damming and flooding of a valley of dense rainforest. The plants and animals resident in the flooded forest still thrives in the dense jungles and towering mountains that surround the lake.

Source: Link

Khao Sok National Park and the Cheow Lan Lake are hidden gems in Thailand, unspoiled by mainstream tourism.
The photographs don't capture the real beauty of the lake, though I have tried my best

The lake is accessible from the Ratchaprabha Dam. There is a Park entrance fee of 200 THB for foreigners.

We had booked our trip through the resort, at 1,500 THB per person, with pickup and drop to the resort in a van. It was a group trip, with tourists from other resorts as well, majority being Russians!

We stopped at the local market for a while before going into the dam.

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The limestone cliffs in the lake.
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Kayaking!
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Accommodation on the lake - Floating raft-houses, electricity available from 6:30 PM to 11:00 PM (generator powered).
There are various operators/companies owning these raft-houses and they are all situated in different corners of the huge lake.
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Long-Tail Boat
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The engine powering the boat!
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It would be a wonderful experience to spend a couple of nights at this place, though the accommodation is basic.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vnabhi View Post
I am curious to know how Thai food was, other than the standard western breakfast that you've posted pics of.
Venu, pictures of our Thai style lunch at the lake:
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Basic raft house:
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After lunch, we were taken to another part of the lake, where we had to trek through a slippery track and go across a small hill/hillock.
My wife was not impressed and to make matters worse, she slipped and had a bad fall.

Boarding the bamboo rafts to go to the cave.
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Pretty scary to travel on these rafts, as they don't have any life jackets, etc and then it was slippery everywhere!
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We went to one of the many caves at the lake. Some of the caves seem to get filled with water during rains and are inaccessible.
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Our guide was having fun inside the cave!
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Couple more pictures of the breath-taking scenery at the Lake.
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Note: Most of the reviews and threads on Tripadvisor and other forums always recommend booking the lake trip through the resort, for convenience sake. I was not able to gather much information on making the trip to the lake on my own and decided to book the trip through the resort.

Our resort had also provided us with extra towels and a head lamp (for wearing in the caves) before we departed for the lake trip.


I should have went ahead on my own to the dam and engaged a long-tail boat directly for a private trip instead of a group tour.
The car was parked for the whole day at the Resort.

If at all you arrive at Khao Sok in your own car/transportation, it would be better to head down to the Dam and book the lake trip with one of the operators/guides directly there.
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Old 30th January 2014, 19:50   #18
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Here's a short video of our drive in Thailand.

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Old 31st January 2014, 08:29   #19
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Default Day 5

Day 5: Khao Sok to Phuket.


We had breakfast at the 'Thai Herb Restaurant'.


One of the most beautiful entrances to a restaurant:
Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!-dsc_0354.jpg

Restaurant rating - Clean Food, Good Taste!
Quote:
Since 1989, Department of Health of the Ministry of Public Health together with Tourism Authority of Thailand and Ministry of Interior who is responsible for all local governments in provinces around the country have joined hands in a project aiming at assuring the good sanitation of all restaurants and street vendors in Thailand. The "Clean Food Good Taste" Project directly benefits the people of Thailand while also reassures tourists that food in Thailand is safe as well as looks and tastes good. Until now, 5,377 restaurants (of 11,731 applied) and 3,045 vendors (of 6,843 applied) have passed the criteria and been awarded the Clean Food Good Taste logo to be displayed at their businesses. Thirty percents of the awardees is randomly chosen and assessed twice a year. If good sanitation is not found, the award and logo will be revoked.
Source: Link
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Banana Pancake
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Wifey decided to play safe and had a boring sandwich!
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We had driven around the 1km+ stretch of Khao Sok village the previous evening and enquired with the travel agents for Elephant Trekking. The rates here were considerably cheaper than the one quoted by the resort.

We booked our trip with a lovely Thai lady running a travel agency at Khao Sok, who also introduced us to Thai Sweet Potato 'bajji'!
The cost of the elephant trekking was 1400 THB for 2 of us.
Luckily this trip was not with a large group. We had another family with 2 cute kids who accompanying us.

Note: Elephant trekking is a controversial topic on the Internet, with viral photos and videos being shared frequently, people swearing on Facebook, not to ride an elephant ever in their life.

After a short, bumpy 10 KM ride in a Toyota Hilux, we arrived at Baan Chang Khao Sok Elephant Camp.
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Some pictures from the 'Top'.
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We checked out from the resort after the elephant trek and continued towards Phuket. On the way, we spotted the board for hot springs and took a diversion.
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The people at the ticket counter told us that there was not much water in the springs on that day. So, we just clicked a picture of the place and continued towards Phuket.
After seeing the images of the spring on the website, I don't regret not visiting them! Link
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We continue our journey to Phuket and arrive at SansukoVille Bungalow Resort in Phuket Town.

The room:
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View from inside the room:
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Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!-dsc_0532001.jpg

The resort entrance:
Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!-dsc_0557.jpg
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Old 31st January 2014, 11:18   #20
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Default Re: Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!

Very nice TL mate, a completely different view of Thai. Do write more.
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Old 1st February 2014, 10:22   #21
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Default Day 6

Day 6: John Gray's Sea Canoe full day trip.

The rates quoted by this tour operator are too high compared to others. But, the only problem is in disparity they have in the rates!
They quote 3,900 THB per person for the Hong by Starlight trip on their website and if you contact them directly.
They offer the same trip at 3,450 THB (or even lesser) when you book through your resort or hotel!
In a way, they offer better rates when middlemen are involved!

Apart from the above, the trip is a unique experience, with less than 20 members in the boat!


Itinerary of the trip: (from the website)
1330 - Arrive Ao Po and board our modern twin-engine escort boat
Thai-style light lunch, trip and Nature Game briefing.
1430 - Arrive first island and explore 1-2 caves and hongs
1530 - Return to the escort boat and move to the second island
1600 - Explore two more caves and hongs
1800 - Self-paddle, swimming and make your own Kratong while waiting for the sunset.
Thai seafood buffet dinner during Phang Nga Bay Sunset.
1900 - Return to a previously visited Hong after dark and launch your own Kratong
2000 - Depart for Ao Po Pier. Thai Seafood buffet dinner.
Play Star Games on the Starlight deck.
2100 Arrive Ao Po Pier

We had decided to go on our own to the Pier instead of the van pick-up offered, a good decision since we had the morning to explore Phuket town and shopping.

Thai Style Breakfast! (similar to the chicken rice available in Malaysia & Singapore)
Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!-dsc_0560001.jpg

Shops at Ao Po Pier!
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The Krathong we made!
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Krathongs!
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The highlights of the trip - Friendly guides, Good Thai Food (Lunch & Dinner) served on board the escort boat, One guide for 2 people for the entire day, Exploring the caves during low tide, Watching the Luminous planktons after sunset.
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Old 2nd February 2014, 17:16   #22
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Default Re: Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!

Fantastic travelogue. Cheers to you for bringing out the best of Thailand. Just an inquiry. Do you need an international Drivers License for renting a car in Thailand or does the Indian License hold good. Hope to read more of your adventures soon. Good luck :-)
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Old 3rd February 2014, 15:09   #23
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Default Re: Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!

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Originally Posted by rajamuneeb View Post
Fantastic travelogue. Cheers to you for bringing out the best of Thailand. Just an inquiry. Do you need an international Drivers License for renting a car in Thailand or does the Indian License hold good. Hope to read more of your adventures soon. Good luck :-)
Thank you for the appreciation rajamuneeb.

Foreigners are required to have an IDP for driving in Thailand as per law but the rental agencies allow you to rent as long as the license is in English.
If you can manage to get an IDP, it will be a good idea to get one made.

I live in Singapore and my IDP had expired in 2012. It was impossible for me to go back to India just to renew the IDP. So, to be on the safer side, I carried the expired IDP also along with me, but we were never stopped or checked anywhere for license during our 9 days in Thailand.
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Old 3rd February 2014, 16:19   #24
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Default Re: Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!

Pictures speak a thousand words and how!

What a wonderful log with a crisp write-up and those marvelous pictures! Thank you so much for sharing. Makes me wanna jump up from my seat and go there immediately!
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Old 5th February 2014, 15:53   #25
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Default Re: Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!

Beautiful pics Pulsar, It's inspired me and I'm not kidding but I've just booked me and my wife for a Thailand trip next month.

Q) Does the SIM give you data throughought Kanchanaburi? Did you have an android/apple phone on which the Google Maps worked?

Q) How long did you take to trek around Erawan waterfalls? I'm planning on doing one day trip to Kanchanaburi and I want to do Erawan falls and Tiger Temple.
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Old 5th February 2014, 16:29   #26
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Default Re: Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!

Quote:
Originally Posted by raghubhaskar View Post
Beautiful pics Pulsar, It's inspired me and I'm not kidding but I've just booked me and my wife for a Thailand trip next month.

Q) Does the SIM give you data throughought Kanchanaburi? Did you have an android/apple phone on which the Google Maps worked?

Q) How long did you take to trek around Erawan waterfalls? I'm planning on doing one day trip to Kanchanaburi and I want to do Erawan falls and Tiger Temple.
Hi raghubhaskar,

A) The DTAC sim had pretty decent coverage throughout Thailand. I used an Android phone for Data but for GPS, I depended entirely on the stand-alone unit I rented from Hertz.
You can rely on a smart phone also for GPS. I could not use mine due to some issues on my phone and a weak battery.


A) The base levels of the waterfalls (Level 1-3) are easily accessible and don't require much trekking. 4-5 is medium difficulty and 6-7 is supposed to be little tricky based on the reviews on Tripadvisor.
We took around approximately 2.5+ hours to reach level 5. (with stops at the lower levels for photography, etc). It was the first time trekking for my wife and hence we were comparatively slower.

The path was slippery when we had been there and sandals/shoes with good grip was necessary. There were a lot of people (wearing flip-flops) slipping and falling along the path.


If you are also planning for tiger temple on the same day, it would be a good idea to go to the falls early in the morning and start from Erawan latest by 1:00 PM for 1+ hour drive to Tiger temple.
The regular visiting hours to the tiger temple are from 12:00 to 5:00 PM I guess.



P.S: Please do check on the situation/travel advisory for Bangkok due to the on-going political situation there.


I am already planning another vacation in Koh Lanta, Thailand.
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Old 5th February 2014, 16:53   #27
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Default Re: Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!

Thanks pulsar, the situation in Thailand is what I'm worried about. Of which I learned after I booked the flight tickets.
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Old 5th February 2014, 23:04   #28
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Question Re: Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!

Quote:
Car Rental:
What is a holiday if you are not driving yourself, exploring and enjoying the destinations and the journey at your own pace? Moreover, after considering the cost of Taxis, etc I decided it would be better to hire a car from one of the reputed rental agencies like Avis, Hertz, Budget, etc.

Did you need an International DL for renting a car? I've an Indian passport and hold Indian DL as well as an US DL.
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Old 7th February 2014, 09:41   #29
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Default Re: Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!

Quote:
Originally Posted by raghubhaskar View Post
Did you need an International DL for renting a car? I've an Indian passport and hold Indian DL as well as an US DL.
Hi Raghu,

Your current DL (either Indian or US) is sufficient to rent a car. IDP is not mandatory but good to have if you can manage to get one. (Approximate cost is 500+ INR)

We have a dedicated thread on team-bhp for IDP if you need more info - http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-...dp-thread.html (The International Driving License (IDL) / International Driving Permit (IDP) Thread)

I don't remember seeing this text before.
Quote:
According to the UN Traffic Act of 1949 and the Thai Traffic Act of 1979, an IDP is not required if you are a tourist/visitor in Thailand as long as your license is in English, has a photo, and your country is a contracting state of the 1949 treaty, which most are. (See motoring law below) If you are a resident, however, you require a Thai drivers license. As a tourist, rental car companies, insurance companies and police will all accept your home license. Still, it not a bad idea to obtain a legitimately issued INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMIT (IDP) before you leave your home country.

Source: Link
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Old 12th February 2014, 19:36   #30
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Default Day 7, 8 & 9 - The End

Day 7, 8 & 9:

Days to relax.

We spent the day exploring Phuket Town, Phuket Square, the Malls - Central, Big C, Robinsons, etc and finally ending with a drive through horrible Patong area in the evening, roaming round and round to find a parking spot!

Phuket Town was also choc-a-bloc due to the Vegetarian Festival processions.
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Phuket Square
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Inside Phuket Square.
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We were provided with free passes to the Phuket Aquarium during our trip with John Gray's. We decided to check out the aquarium. Not many pics from the aquarium as we were not that impressed after being to the S.E.A Aquarium in Singapore.
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The secret beach, directions shown by the staff at SansukoVille. Bobby, the owner of Sansukoville had asked us to check out this beach the previous night.
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The path leading to the beach... Very easy to miss.
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On the way to Kata/Karon beach, we spotted a board for ATV and stopped at the Sea View Elephant Camp.
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This fellow was trained to pose only if you pay 100 THB and feed him. Otherwise, he would just turn the other side if you try to click a picture!
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ATV Ride: 1400 THB for 2.
This is the only pic of the ATV ride as we took only videos during the ride. We had to ride a short distance on the highway to reach the track. The track was not challenging, but it was a challenge to keep the ATV's engine on. (bad maintenance, that's all!)
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View from Karon View Point.
You can see the Karon (top) and Kata Beaches (bottom)
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Kata Beach at 300mm zoom. This is the best beach in Phuket.
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Some pictures from Karon Beach. (The sea here is little rough and there were yellow and red flags on the beach to warn swimmers).
Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!-dsc_0236001.jpg

Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!-dsc_0237001.jpg

Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!-dsc_0244002.jpg

Parasailing at 1,300 THB. I am 'hanging' in the front while the other person is controlling the Parachute!
Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!-dsc_0343002.jpg

Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!-dsc_0368001.jpg

Final Picture - Choices of Pancakes available in Phuket!
Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok & Phuket - A Road Trip!-dsc_0381002.jpg


On the day of departure, we reached Phuket Airport approximately 2.5 hours before the scheduled departure as we had to return the car as well. Locating parking for Hertz was tough! The attendant will not provide a parking ticket if we mention that we are returning the rental car while entering the airport.

BTW, Tiger Airways provides boarding passes on slips like the ones you get from an ATM!


Total Cost for the trip - 2,500 SGD (Approx.)
The Experience - Priceless.

Next trip to Thailand: Koh Lanta (March 2014)


THE END!
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