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Old 22nd May 2011, 19:34   #106
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Default Re: 10 days across Thailand (2009) - and 8 more days (2011)

Part of the fun of going to Safari World is an expensive indulgence wherein you get to pose and have pics taken with a variety of animals and birds. We went a little overboard this time, and here are the results! Even then my daughter decided she did not want to pose with the dolphins.

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Old 22nd May 2011, 19:42   #107
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Default Re: 10 days across Thailand (2009) - and 8 more days (2011)

To continue with the story of the morning of 17 May 2011...

The day begins really early for us - 4:30 AM.
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The main garment market activities start at 4 AM or so, and wind up by 9 AM. We make our way downstairs for some serious shopping! It's a wholesale market, and the prices quoted are for a minimum offtake of 3 pieces. Most shops won't sell just one piece, and some that do, quote a 50% higher price if you want one instead of 3.
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Breakfast at 7:30 AM, check-out by 8:15 AM, and we are on our way to Avis' downtown office to pick up our self-drive rental car for the next four days. In the event, we get a spanking-new Toyota Vios AT with less than 4500 km on the odo for the price of an MT. The Garmin Nuvi GPS that I rent out has some issues finding my next destination, the Safari World on the outskirts of Bangkok. A phone call to my friend gets us the street address and phone number, and we are on our way.
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An auto accessories shop that we stopped at to ask for directions - doesn't help too much because of the language barrier. Step out of the high-volume tourist areas, and hardly anyone understands English.
It is Wan Wisakha Bucha in Thailand (what we celebrate as Buddha Purnima in India) today, a public holiday. We reach Safari World at 11 AM, and since I am driving my own car, I get to pay the lower entrance rates for Thais (530THB, versus 800THB for tourists).

Drive into the Safari Park, and it's a (camera)-trigger-happy zone for anyone with a camera, right through the 5-km drive among a variety of animals and birds.
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Last edited by SS-Traveller : 22nd May 2011 at 19:45.
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Old 22nd May 2011, 20:14   #108
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Default Re: 10 days across Thailand (2009) - and 8 more days (2011)

Thailand through your eyes. Good narration and some very excellent pictures. Wondering, why nobody rated it till now. I did..

Glued and waiting for more..
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Old 23rd May 2011, 07:02   #109
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Default Re: 10 days across Thailand (2009) - and 8 more days (2011)

SS Sir,

Is this Pratunam Market or is this in Khaosan Road? in my last visit i remember going there to buy clothes , but never came accross the wholesale section ..

Regds
Raghu..

Last edited by vraghuz : 23rd May 2011 at 07:07.
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Old 24th May 2011, 11:25   #110
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Default Re: 10 days across Thailand (2009) - and 8 more days (2011)

^^ This is near the Khaosan area, at a place called Bo-Bae tower.
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Old 24th May 2011, 12:20   #111
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Default Re: 10 days across Thailand (2009) - and 8 more days (2011)

Some more visuals from Safari World.

Watching in awe...
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Colour on wings...

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Never seen a blue parrot before, but then found some red and yellow ones too.
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Not only birds can fly...
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Big game territory, with automatic gates and warnings...

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This one isn't so dangerous!
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Big lizard
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Feeding the giraffes - they have unbelievably long tongues, and it is said they can lick their ears with their tongues!
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Bighorn...
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New horns...
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Collecting those pics with the tiger, the orang utan and the macaws.
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Last edited by SS-Traveller : 24th May 2011 at 12:30. Reason: Attaching pics
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Old 24th May 2011, 12:53   #112
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Default Re: 10 days across Thailand (2009) - and 8 more days (2011)

17 May 2011... continuing an all-night drive into 18 May 2011

We are through with our visit to Safari World by 5 PM, and it is time to look for someplace to eat. When in doubt, the best place to check out is a 7-Eleven Store. You can get ready-packed sandwiches and croissants, pastries and patties, and ready-mix coffee with free availability of hot water. One can also get a bowl of instant noodles and add hot water to it, to have an filling meal. Thais eat out habitually, and half the population doesn't have a functional kitchen at home!

We find a 7-Eleven next to a market full of little stalls selling sausages, meat balls, noodles, fruits, fresh juices and a variety of ready-to-eat stuff that we don't know the names of. We pick up our dinner-on-the-go in the car, try to set the address of the street in Krabi where our hotel is (and in the process learn of some very strange street names), give up, set the destination as just 'Krabi', and drive depending solely on the GPS's inputs.
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An hour later, we are out of city limits, cruising along a eight-lane highway, with, believe it or not, ALL cars on dipped beam.
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In fact, during our almost-2000-km drive this time, with two overnight runs (Bangkok-Krabi and Phuket-Bangkok), I have seen not more than 2 cars approach me on high beams, and they have dipped promptly when I flashed my beams. And I have not used the horn even once reflexively - just once have I blown the horn, intentionally to hear how it sounds, on an empty stretch of highway.

Our first stop is Petchaburi (we call it our LILO or liquid-in-liquid-out stop).
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First stop gets us our first roadblock. A 150 km out of Bangkok, fuel station attendants do not understand one word of English. Fuel I can explain, gesticulate, and make them understand that I need a full tank. Now how on earth do I ask for directions to the loo? Toilet? washroom? Display the little finger? Short of demonstrating the process, nothing I do makes them understand. Fortunately another driver points the place out to us. Across Thailand, it is customary for ALL fuel pumps to have a clean toilet marked separately for men & women. Most also have a 7-Eleven or Tesco Lotus store on the premises, working round the clock, where one can grab a cup of coffee or soup.
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Have not expected such excellent roads all through, since my idea of a Rural Road in India is entirely different from that in Thailand! Maps from Google had shown that the road after Surat Thani is narrow, and I am a little wary because it's called a Rural Road. But, wait... what's rural about this? It's a 4-lane undivided road, as smooth as any expressway! The traffic discipline and steady speeds see us cover ground well, despite my backing off after midnight to a constant 85-90 km/h, to both conserve fuel and not arrive in the middle of the night.

It is 4:30 AM, and quite dark, as we roll into Krabi. A lady doing duty at a 7-Eleven pointed us the way to our hotel, while (what looked and sounded like) an European couple carried on a drunken brawl between themselves on the footpath. One more interesting thing to note in Thailand - all-night pumps and stores are often manned by 2-3 women (no men at all) throughout the night. The place we had booked earlier on Agoda is called Somkiet Buri Resort, and no amount of reading reviews prepared us for walking into a tropical jungle in the dark! Mercifully, a clerk sleeping at the reception checks us into our rooms at that early hour (5 AM), and we are dead to the world till noon.
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Last edited by SS-Traveller : 24th May 2011 at 13:01.
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Old 24th May 2011, 22:37   #113
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Default Re: 10 days across Thailand (2009) - and 8 more days (2011)

Wow! Rocking adventure again! Gotta keep away my wife from this thread. Last year she saw this and has been bugging me to organize a Thailand trip ever since. If she comes to know you went twice, sigh!

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This chimp seems really fond of you. One of your past patients?
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Old 24th May 2011, 22:55   #114
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Default The Somkiet Buri Resort at Ao Nang. A surprise find.

18 May 2011 (afternoon)

Time for a luxurious bath. My abdomen growls, asking for lunch. But we stay on in the room just that much longer. The scenery outside in the daylight is far more awe-inspiring that it seemed at night. This is a hotel room experience out of the ordinary, and the closest I can think of is the Club Mahindra Resort at Coorg, But the quality of interior decor & fittings, the landscaping and the view of a lily pond from the balcony puts CM Coorg to shame. And this comes to us at much less than CM Coorg's price (@2500 INR/night).

Somkiet Buri Resort at Ao Nang, Krabi, is so impressive for us, that we wish we could stay on here for a few days more, rather than just the two nights we have booked. But time is a constraint, and we would like to return there someday and spend a few more days enjoying the facility.

Pictures from the resort...

The entrance, reception and car park
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Looking out to the balcony
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Lazy guy like me likes this - can do everything from the bed!
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The toilet
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Interesting old-fashioned lock for the sliding doors of the balcony
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Chairs on the balcony - love them!
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Looking out from the balcony
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Breakfast is included in the room price - a decent spread
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Walking around the resort
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Old 24th May 2011, 23:01   #115
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Default Re: 10 days across Thailand (2009) - and 8 more days (2011)

Quote:
Originally Posted by predatorwheelz View Post
Wow! Rocking adventure again! Gotta keep away my wife from this thread. Last year she saw this and has been bugging me to organize a Thailand trip ever since. If she comes to know you went twice, sigh!
Yes, so I tempt you with a nice hotel at Krabi at a price that won't bust the bank!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by predatorwheelz View Post
This chimp seems really fond of you. One of your past patients?
I don't pay money to be photographed with my patients... . Anyone you pay money to in Thailand, is a great pal of yours!
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Old 25th May 2011, 10:13   #116
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Default Re: 10 days across Thailand (2009) - and 8 more days (2011)

Thanks for the pictures and nice travelogue.
Good to know that you went driving into this country.
Can you let us know the car rental and the driving licence procedures.
Thanks for giving the itch to drive on these roads.
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Old 25th May 2011, 10:32   #117
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Default Re: 10 days across Thailand (2009) - and 8 more days (2011)

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Originally Posted by gajadonga View Post
Can you let us know the car rental and the driving licence procedures.
@gajadonga: Thanks for the appreciation. You can rent various types of self-drive cars at Avis (AVIS Rent a car in Thailand - Thai Car Rental is the Car Rental service Thai service in cities of Thailand by Thai international Rent a car co ltd in Thailand.- chauffeur Drive leasing Limousine , Daily Car rentlal , Monthly Car Rental , Yearly Car r) or Budget (:: Budget Car Rental Thailand. 20 locations, Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Samui etc.-> Budget Thailand::) - the rates they offer can be checked on the website directly. We paid around 8600 INR for 4 days, including SCDW and GPS rental, to Avis for a Group A Toyota Vios manual (which was upgraded free of charge to a Group B automatic). Smaller local rental companies also rent out cars, but make sure you pay for zero-liability insurance (like Avis' SCDW) because the charges for even a small scratch can be phenomenally high (Avis has a liability clause of 8000 THB under their CDW cover).

Your Indian driving licence (or any DL printed in English) is valid for renting the car, but if you are stopped by Thai police for breaking the law, they sometimes insist that you have an IDP (I have not had such an experience till now).

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Old 25th May 2011, 12:14   #118
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Default Re: 10 days across Thailand (2009) - and 8 more days (2011)

18 May 2011 - afternoon

Time for a very late lunch, and to explore the local area of Ao Nang. A small shack near the hotel serves up some excellent seafood and prawns at a great price, and the hunger pangs subside.

The car is running low on fuel, and we do not know that after Surat Thani the bigger fuel stations cease to exist. We find a small place to fuel up, but there is no Gasohol 91/95 (which is cheaper) there (Difference Between Gasohol 95 and Gasohol 91? | Thai Life + Travel). So we fill 10 litres of regular petrol, and set off to explore the beaches and the pier. The car's fuel tank flap bears a green sticker that says it can run on Gasohol 91.

Time to explore the Nopparat Thara beach...
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A stark reminder of what transpired in 2004
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No styrofoam. Littering is a rare sight on the beach anyway.
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Parked at the beach
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Just a walk...
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At the pier...
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Old 25th May 2011, 13:33   #119
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Posting a video of my daughter with the orang utans at Safari World, Bangkok.

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Old 26th May 2011, 12:20   #120
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The ubiquitous longtail boat
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A cloudy sunset at the Nopparat Thara beach...
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