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Old 2nd November 2014, 18:31   #1
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Default Voyage: Phuket, Amazing Thailand

'Will I be bored? Will I curse myself for being stupid? Will I make it back safe and sound?' my thoughts as I sat pondering about the voyage that I am going to undertake, in my own style as it should be.

Why? Why? Why alone to an unknown distant place? Everyone asked, everyone I knew. My family, my friends and everyone who heard about my saga asked me. Initially the plan was not to travel alone but eventually it turned out to be so.

When I look back at it, I was never bored. Not even a bit. Even if I sat in hotel room with nothing to do and I don't think I'll be asking anyone to travel with me henceforth for I love solo trips, solo rides... Some people call me a loner, but I would say I love exploring places myself with just my cam to accompany. It's a different experience, the one that needs to experienced. One that needs a lot of caution and planning.

I had a point to prove, not to anyone in particular but to myself... for every single day I keep reminding myself that I love travelling and love meeting new people. And that was Thailand trip about.

With this post I would describe my travel to Thailand, my trip in general, the mistakes I made, the observations of staying cheap which is what every traveler wants which I will post towards the end.

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Planning of this trip started very god knows when. I wanted to do it from at least 2-3 years. The destination was decided in Augustí14 though. The main reason for selecting this destination was 'visa on arrival' for Indian nationals. Hence the hassle of going to consulate/embassy was dealt with. Initially my plans were to take a week off from work and not visit India, have a short vacation just to Thailand. Now who would want to go back to work in 7 days when I have around 30 days left? I for one didnít want to do that. I then thought of visiting my parents for 2 weeks and in between visit Thailand, which worked out perfectly. I left for my home (India) in the first week of October and left for Thailand the next week.

Requirements for visiting Thailand:

1. A passport with at least 6 months validity and two straight pages for them to stamp.

2.A very recent photograph (passport size) and 1000 Thai Baht as the visa fees.

3. 10,000 Thai Baht for a single person / 20,000 Thai Baht for a family. (1THB = 0.031 USD / 1.9 INR)

4. Proof of your stay in hotel and return ticket within the next 15 days (can be a print out)

The best time to visit Thailand is Nov-Jul, I visited in the off season and hence the rate of many things were on a bit lower side, but October is kind of that time when people start coming in as November is just a peek away.

Last edited by voyageur : 3rd November 2014 at 21:29.
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Old 3rd November 2014, 17:43   #2
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Default re: Voyage: Phuket, Amazing Thailand

My Experiences:

I would prefer to narrate day by day experiences so that I miss nothing. I would try and keep it short but will narrate my experiences too in a pretty detailed manner while keeping it short.

Day zero :

A day spent with friends is a blessed day. Day zero was amazing. My friends picked me up, we laughed as usual and we laughed a lot. Speed.Demon stays near by Cochin airport. He agrees to drop me off at the airport, its a bit late but still glad that he did the needed. Thank you so much bwooy. After getting into the airport and completing the usual formalities, I was waiting for another friend who was travelling to Mumbai in an AI. He arrives and we laugh again, and in a bit I have to leave.

I get into the flight and itís a 5 hr flight. I have a cat nap for 4.5 hrs, the rest half an hr used up to fill up my empty stomach.

(friends here are all bhpians)

That was day zero.

Day One :

Day one starts with singapore, Changi Intl airport. I land there at round about 6 am in the morning. The airport is massive, around 60-70 gates. I had to go to gate 64. With the help of an airport personnel, I reach the spot. While waiting for my connection flight I notice that the count of Indians are less. Considerably less. This came to my surprise. White people flooded the place.In a bit, I am on my way to Phuket. On the way, I was very much excited though exhausted. I take my camera out and what I see is

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We are about 12 kms above the ground and it was really fogged up. The flight was empty, I had already done the online check in and got a window seat for myself, smart ayy! I wanted to have a sight of those islands and hoped that the fog disappears. It did in a while, when we were descending, I got a sight of what I wanted.

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And then it started getting better

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The cloud mattress was amazing, and later on islands start showing up.

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In a while I was at the Phuket International Airport Ė 1. It was a small airport, it was less busy and ours was the only flight that landed at 7 in the morning. I walked as per the board indicating visa on arrival. There I was asked for the visa fees. I looked around and there was no money exchange counters there. I had heard from a friend that it was before the immigration counter, but it was not. I had INR and not even USD, so in soup again. I tell them that I have only INR and they being very very very accommodating and pleasant arrange a Silk airlines staff to come with me to the money exchange place.

The young girl who was to help me was very beautiful indeed I somehow managed to grab my dropped jaws from the floor and follow her. She showed me an exchange counter where they didnít exchange for INR. I was shocked and scared at the same time. I looked at the young lady and she understood, she pointed to another exchange which was at the end. I walked and they did have INR Ė THB. So I just hand over all my money and get screwed then and there. To know how I got screwed, read below...

Technically I get my change, and I walk with the young lady back to the immigration counter. On the way back I ask her if she drove and where she lived (as if I knew all the places there ), she then seemed to be friendly. I go back get my stuff done and walk out of the airport. I had done my research on how to reach my hotel cheap, as I walk out I see a counter where I could book mini bus or taxi. I booked mini-bus which is a small van kind of thing (20 seater). The price is 180 THB, which is kind of cheap. I could have chose a bus and made it more cheaper but I didnít want to take a very long route. While I waited for the minibus, I remember that I read somewhere I can get tourist sim for cheap in airport. I walk back, do all the scan again and while walking back towards the immigration office, there is white and red stall selling TrueH international sim cards. The lass in the stall give me options of 3G net and stuff. I tell her, 'Can I have the cheapest of all?' I knew from my research that most hotels and shops gave wifi free, so internet was never an issue.

She says that I can get a sim for free and I need to top up the credit from mini super market. Thank you so much. I grab hold of it and walk off to my mini bus place. I get on the mini bus, the place has good roads, with 2 lanes at least in one side. The drive is right hand like India, but the traffic and road culture is way way better than our country. People have some sense and courtesy. They use indicators and stuff. I am sorry to have not taken a picture of their road. The bikers as usual might annoy you but apart from that the traffic is fine.

The minibus stops at a place and they kind of try to sell tours and stuff, but you can easily talk your way out of that. I was at my hotel in another hour or so. I had a check in of 12 noon. I reached by 11:40 am or round about. The name of the hotel was Patong Towers Condominium. I met Tah there, she was the receptionist. Very beautiful and smart. I get the room keys and get to know a bit about the place and stuff. The room was on 6th floor and sadly it was not a sea view. I had booked it via QVI clubs and they donít offer any sea view rooms for it, which is indeed sad.

The room was amazing. It was for 4 pax and I had it all for myself. Electric Oven, kettle and toaster all for myself. I could lavishly have coffee and tea. Only on the final day did I snap a couple of pics of the room. The room had a TV which I switched on once, and it had free wifi as I mentioned.

Only on the last day did I click pics of my room, here are those

the view from my bed

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This was front room, the bed room had a huge king size bed and the view from my bed is shown above.

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The pool of the resort beside, one of the best pools I have ever been in my life. The pool of my hotel was a big turn off, it had leaves all over and water wasnít changed for god knows how long. I used this pool of the other resort once and I was really impressed how it was maintained.

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I had a nap again till 6 pm and then I wake up and go out. I had before coming here, managed to damage my ride which took all the money from my Thailand trip. I was really short of money and I hence had decided I will stay away from W&W (women'n'wine). This would be a budget trip.

The evening was spent walking here and there, tried and spotted couple of Indian restaurants, McD and Pizza places. At night fall, I walked through the Las Vegas of Phuket. It is called Soi Bangla (street Bangla). This is the main night life and party place of the entire town. Bars, women dancing around poles, various kind of kinky showsÖ I walked past all these took a hint of what to expect at this place. Photos of the placeÖ

Patong is the most happening place of Phuket, Phuket apart from Patong is generally dull. Bangla sits near the Patong Beach. My hotel was close to both beach and Bangla street.

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Clubs like this are plenty in numbers, you wonít even know how much money you spend if you go into one of these

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Look at the crowd, like walking on Dadar station in Mumbai. This gets worse as the night starts growing.

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One of the various activities that happens in Soi Bangla

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Soi seadragon, the baap of all soi's.

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The parking goes for more than a km or two.

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I decided I am staying away from this place.

The night was still young, but I had no more vigor left in me. I retire for the day.

(To be contd...)

Last edited by voyageur : 3rd November 2014 at 22:01.
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Old 5th November 2014, 01:17   #3
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Default re: Voyage: Phuket, Amazing Thailand

Moving on to day 2

Day Two:

On the 2nd day of the trip too, I had no plans as such. I had a small paper on which I had written down my top priority list to visit. I couldn't even do half of it. So as I was pondering on what is to be done, my room service, a young lady (married yes) came over. She was cleaning up and I asked her if she knows how to drive. Yes. Then again I explained how bored I am and how I can’t get ripped off by a taxi. Guess what, she was free after an hour, she was done with her work. She offered to be my guide and we started negotiations. Finally she managed to convince me 1400 THB for two places, a temple named Wat chalong and a view point called Laem Promthep. The price was high but less than the taxi rate so I did nod. It was afternoon and not the best time to visit those places. She drove a mazda 2 hatch (no pics again) and we left for the place which was 22 kms away or so.

She was a bit cautious driver unlike the usual us. I liked that, cos she made sure that she doesn’t land me in trouble and waste my day. We reach the temple Wat Chalong first. It is a Buddhist temple and since she was with me, I was guided on how to pray and go around in the proper manner following their customs. The pictures of the place are as follows,

(as I had to adjust the exposure a bit the pics are a bit dull)

Wat chalong had a group of temples, I visited 2 of them which looked like the main one’s

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Inside the temple, there were people praying. I tried to take as less pics as possible not to offend their faith

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From there we left for the view point, the sun was really hot. Made me feel really tired. Take your sun protection creams, I have become a lot tan than I was. The sun is bad.

We passed Rawai beach on the way to reach Laem Promthep viewpoint. It would have been amazing if it was evening. But I didn’t have any options. I tried to adjust the color and exposure, not sure how much I have succeeded.

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My friend Jazz

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After walking around in the hot sun for a while, she dropped me back at my place. On the way back, she showed me her motorcycle, a small honda. Apparently they drive small Kawasaki KSR 138 cc and Honda CRF 250 but not limited to them. There are plenty of sports motorcycle too that I saw. Everyone in Thailand apparently owns couple of motorcycles and couple of cars. since the population is less, its fine.

For the remaining day I had nothing else to do apart from roaming around. I walk around the streets and grab something to eat from McD. I retire for the bed early as the next day was sure to be filled with activities. In my prayers I thanked Jazz, for she was very helpful and friendly. Though we had a problem of communication, she helped me out with lot of information about their culture and other general things.

(To be contd...)

Last edited by GTO : 11th November 2014 at 18:14. Reason: Taking Live :)
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Old 5th November 2014, 01:36   #4
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Day Three :

The next day I had to get up earlier than usual, for I had booked a tour to Phi Phi Islands. Itís one of the best islands in terms of nature and the water around. You guys will definitely understand it from the pics. The movie 'THE BEACH' was shot in an island nearby, couldn't visit the island though. I booked this tour through internet for 900 Baht, which was stupid of me. The reason I will explain later on, so just keep reading

The pick up time was mentioned as 7:00 am from my hotel lobby. The guy came to pick me up at the correct time in a mini-bus. After picking up couple of other people, we left for the nearby harbor. The harbor was an hour travel from my hotel. I was carrying my tripod and all my equipment for cam so that I can get a good shot or two. But that never happened.

Once we reached the harbor, we got stickers for identifications and our guide, a young lad explained to us which boat to board and the other itinerary for the day. We board the boat and it had 3 decks. Still it was packed with people. I placed my bag on the bottom deck on a seat and sat there for a while till everything was settled. I walk on to the deck and take a couple of pictures.

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People, just wait for me too

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The green portion is place where we swim/snorkel.

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So back to the story,

In a while, on the front open area, I happened to meet a friendly couple with whom I had a really nice chat. The guy was from Manchester, UK and he cheered for Manchester city which kind of came as a surprise. The young lady was from Copenhagen, Denmark and the young man lives in Copenhagen too with the beautiful lady. He was a great fan of football and even had season passes for the game. He was teacher by profession and shared that he had couple of students who belonged to Kerala, India basically. We are everywhere, no denying that. As I started getting to know more, I came to know that they were going to halt for a couple of days at Phi Phi Island. Then came the talks of scuba diving.

The young lady had done many dives around Phi Phi Island and I also had read about the PADI here, it had positive reviews . Itís a divers dream to have a couple of dive here. Till then I was going to give scuba diving a miss, but then decided I wouldnít. She also told me about the view point above the Phi Phi islands which I couldnít go to. In a while the mother cruiser stopped near Phi Phi Islands, we parted without a good bye.

I hopped on to another boat where we were taken to snorkel, swim or dive. Diving came with a price, which I didnít have as I never expected that. But probably that was the best place to have a dive. The only option left was to swim and snorkel. I am not a good swimmer though I know a bit. I got myself a life jacket like everyone and dived into the water to have my share of salt water. Why should fishes have all the fun!!!

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Also another advice from me would be, not to touch the rocks. I floated (with life jackets) to the rocks and touched it. I returned with a lot of cuts on my left palm. The rocks are knife sharp.

After the swim/snorkel, we were taken back to the island to have quick lunch. It was Thai dishes. Though I am not a great fan of Thai food, I managed to eat something to keep me away from starving till we are back.

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After lunch was done it was already 2 in the noon. We were ready to leave by 2:30 pm and hence no way to visit the viewpoint. Sad indeed.

We return back for Phuket which is couple of hours away.Parting shots follows

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Reached back by 6 pm in the evening and was very tired swimming and snorkeling. I counted that as the end of activities for the day.

(To be contd...)
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Old 6th November 2014, 01:28   #5
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Day Four:

I knew this day was going to be truly special. It was filled with activities and I was kept on my toes.

I had booked a tour to Phang Nga bay, and something more at night. To know what, keep reading

Now Phang Nga bay tour included visiting of 4 islands including the one on which James Bond 007 was filmed. Cool isnít it.

I happened to eat dinner in one of the Indian restaurants and thatís how I knew they do booking for tours too. Hence I did the booking there. The price was a 1000 THB. Booking through the internet would have been a 18oo THB, I felt like a smart guy then by saving 800 THB, which was put into buying scale models of Merc SLS AMG and Mini cooper S.

Phang Nga is one of the most recommended in Trip advisor and lonely planet, so going there was obvious. As usual the pick up was at half past 7 in the morning. The guy arrived with his usual minibus (different guy from yesterday as itís a different tour). The harbor was different from yesterday and we were going in a different direction. This was a bit more close and the tour included a lot of activities like Canoeing/kayaking, visiting james bond (island), finally snorkeling and swimming

One of the major attractions of the islands are the limestone formation on the caves. We were taken there to see limestone formations and batman hanging upside down. Plenty of batmanís. So canoeing there was real fun.

Again a young lad, our guide started telling out the itinerary, screaming out instructions of doís and donít doís. The lad was very funny though. He made efforts and was friendly with everyone in the boat.

We set out on a cruiser boat again, this time the crowd was less and there were plenty of chilled out people to talk to.

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Sorry for the shake

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Canoeing cave

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Aussie couple that I met on the trip. They were in Phuket for 7 days same like me.

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Our cruiser boat

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An unmanned island with a path inviting us

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James bond island

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One can clearly see the limestone formations. Also peeks to James bond island.

Last edited by voyageur : 8th November 2014 at 10:10.
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Old 6th November 2014, 01:49   #6
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She was posing for a long time, I thought why not do a profile shoot for her, carry on lady.

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This could be the signature shot, not much editing into this one

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After James Bond island we were taken to another island, in which we were free to swim. The cruiser stopped half a km away from the island and me with couple of others swam to the island. I didnít click any pics of this.

This was the end of activities and they engaged the reverse gear and took us back to Phuket. It took them another 2 hrs to reach Phuket. Tired and wet as a fish, I rushed to my room and had a quick shower.

That my friends was the end of activities for the day, not yet. There was something more for the night *devilish smile*

Muay Thai:

The beauty of travelling alone is that you can find a friend for a short time who is amazing and have a great chat. The togetherness might last few hours or can last forever. To know what I am blabbering, read on.

I still remember my days when I was enthralled by the movie Ong Bak (Thai movie also known as Enter the new dragon). If you havenít watched it, please do. There were another 2 sequels to Ong Bak. The movie had this Thai fighter, Ting (Tony Jaa) going after a religious Buddha head stolen from their village. The Thai boxing shown was so amazing that I made a copy of Ong Bak and watched all the movies couple of times. The Ong Bak 1 is the best of all.

From then I wanted learn Muay Thai, or at least watch it. Where else to fulfill my dream if not in Thailand! I had walked into Bangla boxing stadium couple of days back knowing that there was a fight this day to enquire. The notices will be all over the streets and glued to the walls. So you can always know when and where you have a boxing match. So coming back to my case, I went then to enquire and they made me book my ticket. The cost of the ticket was 1700 THB, I paid an advance of 500 THB and later on the day of the match, paid them the rest.

I go just on time, ie 9 pm. The fight has not started yet. There is vip seats, ring side and stadium seats for which cost reduces in descending order respectively. I ,of course bought the lowest one. This is where I met Daniel, an Aussie guy. He himself had trained Muay Thai in his early ages. He might be around 38 yrs and I was seating besides him. We started talking and had cool chat and then the announcements started.

The first fight was between two young kids, might be around 5-6 years. I enjoyed the fight, the kids were amazing.

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The red lad won if I remember correctly. He was really ripped and landed much more shots on the blue kid. Both were amazing though. Itís sad to see kids fight at this age, but I really wish them all the best.

The next fight was between kids aged 9-10 years, I donít have pics of that. I think again the red guy won.

The next were teenagers, great fight. The red guy won.

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There were women's boxing too.

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Couple of fighters whom I remember, one is definitely Nadia. She is doing her stretches. She won the match too. Nadia was too strong to be beaten.

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Rest of the images shows the other matches, let images do all the talking. Guess the winner if you can

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Last edited by voyageur : 8th November 2014 at 01:20.
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Old 6th November 2014, 01:53   #7
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After the match we parted ways, may be will meet somewhere.

I saw many Tony Jaa’s there. Amazing to have seen a boxing match in real after watching thousands of matches of Tyson and Ali and couple of my professional boxer friends in youtube.

As the Muay Thai matches finished, I went to my hotel room and dropped dead, for tomorrow is another day to do a lot of things.

(To be contd...)

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Old 9th November 2014, 17:33   #8
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Day Five :

After the hyperactive 2 days, I was out of activities for day 5. I opted it so. I was tired and decided why not hit the pool, beach today and go around meet some people, talk to them know about Thailand. Did I succeed in that? Not really. I was lazing around at the hotel room, and by the time I was up and ready in the morning it was lunch time. The usual McD and again back to my room. I then quickly opened up my laptop and connected the memory card, checked out all the pics that I took.

In the evening, I use the pool (pic in the first post) which belonged to our neighboring resort. The pool was very nice. After an hour or so, when I return back I see Tah getting ready to leave. I talk to Tah about her programs for the rest of the day, she replies gym and then home. She is a busy lady, apparently owns couple business. Finally I make her agree to go along and visit her gym nearby. This is better than sitting in the room.

She leaves early to the gym and texts me on how to reach a nearby place and instructed me that I call her for directions. I walk towards her gym and calls her to come and pick me up , which she does. I initially wait in the lobby and me being me wouldnít sit there for long. I walk into the gym check out the people, it was unisex which was good. I then walk towards their pool. Itís been already an hr and no sign of the lady. I walk to the small bar/restaurant. There I meet Tuk Tuk (not to be confused by the rickshaw tuk tuk). She was amazing and occasionally commented about the bollywood movies she saw. The lead actor and actress running around a tree would amuse her as it amuses me now. We had a pleasant laugh, she offered me pizza at 50% discount if I was to come on another day.

By then Tah finishes her swimming and comes straight to check on me. They start talking to each other in Thai and all I understand is ďSawatdikapĒ (Hello) and ďKob khun kaĒ (Thanks) which I learnt from the cruiser from a lad there. Tah leaves me to get changed and I carry on chatting with Tuk.

Again this night I was supposed to go out with Jade, who cancels the plan cos she has some other stuff going on. Now Jade is from Kent, UK and a very friendly girl. I had met her in the hotel lobby and she used to stay in my hotel. So with nothing to do, I go out grab a pizza and get back to my hotel.

I crash land on my bed, hoping that the scuba diving goes well the next day.
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Old 11th November 2014, 18:21   #9
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 11th November 2014, 18:26   #10
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Thanks for the detailed travelogue. Phuket seems to be a wonderful place to visit. Will add it to my ever growing list of places to visit.

Loved your pictures.
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Old 12th November 2014, 13:11   #11
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Excellent pictures and nice narration. You reminded of my Honeymoon trip.
My trip included stays of 1 night at Phuket, 2 nights at Phi Phi island, 2 nights at Krabi (near Aonang ) and 1 night in Bangkok. It was a perfect round trip.
I must say these are excellent places to visit.
But at the same time, I would have suggested you atleast one night stay at the Phi Phi Islands.
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Old 12th November 2014, 15:38   #12
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Originally Posted by venuvedam View Post
Thanks for the detailed travelogue. Phuket seems to be a wonderful place to visit. Will add it to my ever growing list of places to visit.

Loved your pictures.
I would anyday recommend it. It's cheap and excellent nature and good people.

Originally Posted by gearhead_mait View Post
Excellent pictures and nice narration. You reminded of my Honeymoon trip.
My trip included stays of 1 night at Phuket, 2 nights at Phi Phi island, 2 nights at Krabi (near Aonang ) and 1 night in Bangkok. It was a perfect round trip.
I must say these are excellent places to visit.
But at the same time, I would have suggested you atleast one night stay at the Phi Phi Islands.
Seriously, I missed staying at Phi Phi. I think your stay was very short, just a night at Phuket and bangkok. Do you plan to go again?
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Old 12th November 2014, 16:01   #13
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Have visited Phuket and Bangkok back in 2011 for my Honeymoon. Phuket is amazing place. We also did a full day outing in the sea visiting several island and having lunch on one of the islands.
We also stayed in Patong and one day we spent for a leisure on the patong beach. Rented those chairs with umbrellas and just relaxing on the beach.
My wife even did that para gliding or whatever it called (where they strap you to a boat with a parachute and the boat goes in water and you have to run towards sea and you are lifted off soon). It lasts for a couple of minutes or so but it is enjoyable (as mentioned by wife...me too scared to do that).
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Old 12th November 2014, 16:25   #14
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Yeeha! Nice writeup and pics. This hopefully will inspire me to write up about my solo Cambodia trip.

Such fun travelling alone!
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Old 12th November 2014, 18:11   #15
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Thanks for the travelogue! Great pictures too

Originally Posted by voyageur View Post
Day Three :
The movie 'THE BEACH' was shot in an island nearby, couldn't visit the island though. I booked this tour through internet for 900 Baht, which was stupid of me.
Is this the picture of Maya Bay where the movie Beach was shot?
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