Category: Travel


Still feeling the after vacation blues after a week, though not as bad as the first day back. The workouts at the gym have a way of making you feel better even though your body is asking for forgiveness. I think that may the be the only thing that makes coming back to the cold worthwhile, other than the cats of course. This week has been rather bleak weather wise with not much sun and lots of cloud cover. In response to this I am looking at the vacation pictures of the great sunsets and sunny days that happened every day.

Karon Sunset - Phuket Thailand

These sunsets happened every night except for one where we had one of those monsoon rains that drop enough water to have four or five inches of water on the ground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At work we are now having the usual fundraising and donations that happen every year at this time and is it just me or does it seem to start earlier every year. Man, do I need a vacation…

Crashing surf - a restful sound

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other thing that I miss from any warm climate vacation is the colour that is so abundant in many tropical locations. I knew I was home as soon as I saw the drab greens, browns and black that the people wear in the northern climes. Even the basic beach umbrella is more colourful. This abundance of colour, from the flora and fauna to the clothes and even the food, lift the spirtit and make you feel better. If you dont think so, try a small experiment at work or with your friends. Wear something that is a bright colour, dont be outlandish, and see how people react. I bet they will smile and lets face it, it sort of gives you more energy and makes you feel happy.

Colourful Umbrellas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In another week or so I will have to get back into the workouts big time. I noticed during this last workout that I had some issues with weight that should not provide me too much trouble. That means I need to refocus on doing the Wendler Strength workout twice a week. Additionally we are having a 100 burpee per day challenge until the 25th of December and I have not signed up however I should make an effort to get some in to make room for the turkey that will be consumed that day.

 

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One of the reasons that we decided to go to Phuket, actually it was just me, was that I wanted to go to a sun destination. The decision for this was made after having an enjoyable trip to Paris in April, however the weather when we arrived back home in New Brunswick Canada was not that great. We had 15C to 21C temperatures  in Paris and came back to temperatures hovering around 5C to 8C. My wife explained that she was not to keen on going to the Caribbean as we lived there for 4 years and it would be the same old, same old and it would be the same if we went to Florida, Las Vegas or any other U.S. southern destination.

After a few seconds of thought I said, “Let’s go to Thailand at the end of the year. We like the food, I heard that the beaches are great and we have not been there.” and at that point the decision was made. Little did I know I made a fantastic decision. The summer sucked big time in New Brunswick and the trip was even better, and it cheered both of us up leaving the dreary weather conditions at home.

The first thing we both did on arriving was take a quick shower and head to the beach as it was only 10am when we checked in to the room. It was a great decision even after 35 hours of flying and waiting. The reviews of the hotel location said that it was only a 5 minute walk to the beach and they were correct. We changed and went to where the sound of the waves were coming from, and lo and behold, a beach that went on for miles.

Karon Beach looking towards the south

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karon Beach looking towards the North

 

 

 

 

All the beaches were different as I think I mentioned it previously in another postiing. Karon Beach had big breakers and Kata Beach was more of a family beach with surf that did not want to beat you silly. Some of the outer islands had white sandy beaches, others had golden sand, and at all of the beaches the sand made a squeaking noise when you walked on the sand.

 

 

Below are some pics from the beach, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did when walking along them.

A View of Karon Beach from the @Beach Restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rows of chairs and umbrellas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun on the beach - some is going Parasailing

Soaking up the Vitamin D

 

I think I have gotten over the depression that sets in after coming back from a great vacation and knowing that eventually you will be sitting back in that cubicle at work wondering how to escape for the next one. Unfortunately that wont happen for at least a another year. North American work values are more Orwellian in nature. Big Brother wants you to work even while you are on vacation. It’s like the world will end if you don’t show up for work for more than 2-3 days. Maybe they need to take a vacation, in Europe, some countries have laws that say you must have 6 weeks PAID vacation minimum.

What are we missing here? Why can’t we have a global company wide vacation policy. My company is a global company that sponsors a FIA World Championship Motorcycle Team, and has employees in more countries than I care to think about. So why could we not have a standard vacation based on, if the minimum vacation is 6 weeks in some countries then why cannot I have 6 weeks. Do they not do the same thing I do?

Any way I am getting off topic. I was thinking about Thailand – the land of smiles and they are not kidding, even the Airport says it is the Airport of Smiles. The Thai people are some of the friendliest people I have met, always willing to answer questions, apologize if they cannot help you, and always with a smile. It is like I was in a Star Trek scene where Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty had to find out who Landrew was as everyone smiled and continued on.

Well, enough of that. Here are some more pictures that should make you smile or want to kill me if you are experiencing anything less than 25C temperatures.

Surf at Karon Beach

 

The surf rolling in on our first visit to the beach. It was such a nice site to see and the temperature (big sigh) never changed daytime 32C  – nighttime it was 25C and about once a week it would rain somewhere in Phuket and if you were lucky it was not where you were.

 

 

 

 

Me getting toasted by an 8 foot swell

 

Here I am about to be crushed by an 8 foot swell that just broke in front of me. You learn real fast to dive into them. I got caught with one that just about knocked the wind out of me. Felt like someone just decided to punch me in the stomach. Today would have been a great day for bodyboarding if I knew how to do it.

 

 

 

Fresh Daily Seafood - Prawn as big as Lobster

You just got to love going to eat fresh seafood every day cooked Thai Style. Yes, eat off the Thai menu as it is less expensive than American/European Style. Don’t ask me why, as it’s the same food, you just pay more.

Don’t you just love the size of those shrimp/prawn – same size as a lobster tail for less.

 

 

 

 

Long Tailed Boats at Kata Beach

These are the famous long-tailed boats. They were at Kata Beach which is the next beach over from Karon Beach. They are here as the surf is more gentle which was great for MP as Karon Beach would have taken her hips apart with their action.

These boats are here to take tourists away for 3-5 hours on tours around the Island of Phuket and there are many locations to visit and all are distinctive and unique.

 

 

 

The Elephant Man or Mahout

This is the Mahout or the elephant handler. As you can see – they smile and who wouldn’t if your work involved riding elephants all day. This was the start of the elephant trek through the forest we took. It is roughly around 3000 feet up the side of the mountain in a rubber plantation. We had some spectacular views looking out to Phuket Harbour (see below) and saw a neat tree spider. I believe his name was Tuuk and the elephant was around 30 years old, just hitting mid-life as they do live up to 50 years.

 

 

 

View to Phuket Harbour from atop an elephant

The view to Phuket Harbour. Trying to take pictures from the back of a moving elephant is quite the challenge as they have quite to sway. Now I know why the Mahoot sits where he does, he has less movement sitting behind the neck.

 

 

 

 

 

Tree Spider

The neat tree spider. I have no idea how bad the venom would be as all spiders have some sort of venom but like most people I was not going to let it get on me and provide a sample.

It was probably just as scared of us on an elephant as it skittered away down the tree pretty fast.

 

 

 

 

A Sunset in Thailand

This is the final pic of the day and I thought it would be fitting to have a Sunset. This vista happened on a regular basis and I don’t think I could get tired of it.

Tomorrow will be a beach day.

The trip to Thailand was to say the least, fantastic, wonderful, amazing and of course much needed. The only thing I would change and that is a maybe, is the date. The February blues for people in the Northern climes would be a great time to do a trip to Thailand especially Phuket Island and I would pick the second week of February and take three weeks that way I would be coming back in March and then spring does not seem that far away. Good reasoning I think. I mean what do you prefer:

This

Or this

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will not be writing much and just post some pics to make some people envious.

The Grand Palace

Roofs at the Grand Palace

Sunset on the first day

The postcard shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Beach Hotel amd Restaurant

 

After yesterday’s all day adventure on the Andaman Sea, traveling to 4 different islands around Phuket, MP and myself are completely bagged. The weather was great even though there was a lot of moisture in the air. Somewhere in Thailand someone was getting dumped on but it was not us. During the trip to Krabi we stopped at this one location and there was someone doing a TV Travel Show with the whole crew looking after this one person, the host. They had a remote control airborne camera that hovered and did its overhead shots of the location, it was quite cool, maybe I will be discovered as I am was walking up the beach when they were doing one shot. The island also had a monkey that was going through some beach bags that people left too close to where he could have easy and quick access. I thought we were going to have a nasty incident as one person came racing back to their bag, the monkey was not a happy camper and was baring his teeth and screaming at the person. Past experiences in India says you should not do that, they are very unpredictable, have nasty bites and generally are more agile than humans. The woman would have been missing a lot of hair after it got through with her.

Food during the trip was great. We stopped at Railay Island which is a resort that you can only get to by water taxi. They served us a great buffet under trees with the jutting peaks of the island in the background. The only let down was that the snorkelling was just okay, the coral have taken a beating from the tsunami of 2004 and it has not had the time to recover. Yes, I saw the usual fish of Sargent Majors, Large Angel fish, some Parrot fish, Red Snappers and only one large Clown Fish (Nemo) and there should have been more species. I guess I would have to go on a dive trip to see more varieties, I will leave that til next time.

For now, we are content to sit at the pool and watch the birds, as going to beach and the walking around in sand would bother MP too much as her legs are tired and her hips are a bit tender.

We have only tomorrow in Phuket and then one day in Bangkok before leaving to come home and start the regimen of working out and going to work (so sad).

Krabi and Elephant Safari

Took a bit of a break to enjoy the wonderful weather and take a trip to the Province of Krabi in Thailand. The elephant safari was great as we did a number of things on the tour including riding a cart pulled by a water buffalo in a rice paddy, then did some rice crushing, different things with coconuts and finally riding an elephant through some jungle around 3000 feet up a mountain. What can I say the Thai people certainly know how to entertain and they are all so polite.

I bought a large mortar and pestle that I have been trying to find for a long time to no avail, guess I had to travel half way across the planet to find something that will do the work I want to put it through. The nice thing about it was that after purchasing the item, which weighed about 5-7 pounds the workers carried it for the rest of the tour until we got back to go for the sunset dinner cruise. The weather was perfect, again, and sunset was another great one. I Know I am effusing about the weather but when it never changes by more than 2 or 3 degrees, it certainly marks a drastic change from the weather back home which can change in five minutes from rain to wind to sun, plus 10 to -3 or whatever, you get the picture.

There is only one thing that I can say about the trip to Krabi, wait for me to come back to post pictures. The scenery is just like the movies show it. I will not be recognizable at work or the gym as I will be 10 shades darker than when I left. I will also now be held accountable to make Pad Thai for the crew at the gym. I know there will be a few things that I will make that will bring sheer joy to a few people. If you like coconut cream or milk I have some new things to whip up.

Today was a relaxing day as I got mixed up on when we are supposed to go on the Elephant Safari and we spent the day at the beach. Phuket Island has the most amazing beaches, all so different and all so easy to get to. It seems as though each beach is only a few kilometers from each other and all are so different in personality. Karon Beach is great for the breakers, while Kata Beach has a more gentle surf that is great for small children and families. Kata Noi is a smaller beach that has better sunsets and I have not ventured to Patong Beach yet, but I am sure it will be different in nature than the others as it was the one hit by the Tsunami on December 26th 2004. What I have not mentioned is that all these beaches are huge in length and width, Kata Noi which is the smallest of the beaches is probably 2 kms or more in length and around 50m wide, it took around 45 minutes to walk less than a third the length of Karon Beach and it is almost 100 meters wide in some places and Patong I am told is even longer.  

Started off walking Karon Beach to go to Kata Beach as usual and watched the breakers come in for a bit then headed over to Kata for some sun time. This beach is more crowded due to small breakers that come in and the shelf is shallower so you can wade out for quite a distance. Phuket is a not your usual North American destination and the language you will hear the most is Russian, Australian or some Scandinavian dialect. The Russians are the most entertaining as the women love to pose for pictures when one of the people they are with picks up a camera, it does not matter what shape they are in, their age, or their size they all seem to think they are some supermodel out for a magazine shoot. Here is something that most North American women should find interesting, they are not afraid to wear a bikini no matter what size they are. If you have seen the movie Norbert (Eddie Murphy) and think it is the stuff that only happens in movies, forget it, Eddie must have vacationed here to get the idea. I saw some that could have been in the movie as stand ins. Oh well who am I to say anything, as I am not in the best of shape either.

I must say that tanning is tough work as it is tough watching all these people all day. MP and myself were already tanned before we got here and still managed to get mildly burned and then seeing some people looking like they are cooked shrimp or boiled lobsters almost makes me want to give them my after tanning lotion. I hope they had a lot to drink at night as they will be feeling it in the morning.

Tomorrow for sure we will be doing the elelphant safari and that should make for an interesting post.

After a lovely day of sitting by the pool, MP decided we should have a Thai Massage. Sounds good to me and then the fun began. MP went first and I waited for my turn, after an hour she emerged looking a little banged up but I figured that was due to the fact that she was a bit sore before. Little did I know the “treat” I was in for, I should have seen in it coming as Lilly had forearms and hands that could probably break coconuts.

After undressing and getting on the table, in comes Lilly. She started with working my back pretty good and then I don’t know what happened next as it felt like someone let loose an Orangutan in the room. She jumped up on the table sitting astride me and basically twisted, bashed and pulled anything that was loose. My mind went WTF as Lilly then dug her hands into parts of me that I did not think were a problem. I did not think I signed up for the MMA lessons as more parts were pounded into submission and I almost broke into laughter when she started on my calfs. Greg, one of our trainers, who has some calf issues would have died and this made me forget the pain I was in. Lilly jumped up and down from the table as if she was some female Tarzan, her finishing move was the camel clutch as I remember from WWE, I think I tapped out at that point and she says, All finished.

A nice round of ginger tea and we were done. Her parting shot was that the marble in my shoulder was not out and I think that pissed her off. shewanted another go at in two more days. I dont think I am ready for that but we shall see…

Thunder, Lightning, and a Small Lake

Sunday was a terrific second day in Karon Beach, Phuket. After the beach we decided to walk back a different way and see what it looked like. Not much different as there is a multitude of restaurants, clothing places, massage parlours and pharmacies. We stopped in one place and the gentleman was very nice, not pushy or overly aggressive in his approach. After chatting for a good 20-30 minutes MP decided I needed some shirts and promptly picked out a nice pattern with dragons on it, then I asked what the cost would be and the haggling started for which I am accustomed to with East Indian tailors, eventually we came to a mutual agreement for three fitted tailor-made shirts for 3000 Baht (less than $100 CDN). Being familiar with how things work in the sub-continent and Asia I asked if he could send things overseas to which another discussion took place, bottom line is yes as long as he has my measurements on file he can do it. He was just finishing an order for a German for the same thing and the German ordered 8 trousers, 11 shirts, one heavy winter overcoat, 6 suits and some ties all for 77000 Baht ($2000 CDN) including shipping and if you pick it up at his shop the cost would be 55000 Baht. I think I may be coming back in a year or two.

All this took around 2 hours and I was getting hungry again. We decided that we would eat just down the road from our hotel at the sister hotel. It was a good thing we did that, we were just ordering some dessert when the street went into some frantic scurrying. MP commented on this and I said rain is coming in 20 minutes as I could smell the ozone. It was great watching the locals get things ready while the tourists just went about the normal perusing of vendors and then it came. A few lightning flashes as a warning shot across the bow and then a few drops, more lightning and now thunder deciding that it should give a greater warning so you would pay attention and then the deluge. It was perfect timing as we just finished our desserts, ordered some coffee and watched the people scatter for cover. If you have never been in a monsoon rain it is quite the deluge, as literally a small lake will drop from the sky in a matter of minutes, walkways and roads are 4-5 inches deep in water and raindrops can injure as they hit your body like small pebbles and feel the same way.  

It was decided over this deluge what things we would be doing or attempting in the next week. I will be taking a Thai cooking course in Phuket as well as one in a local small village during our elephant safari on Wednesday. MP is just enjoying herself as she is able to move without pain and go swimming in the ocean.

See you tomorrow…

Karon Beach Phuket Thailand

We reached our destination in pretty good shape all things considered. The hotel is clean, the staff friendly, and we are not far from the beach (3 minutes walk). It was a good thing we pre-booked the taxi from the airport as we were inundated with the usual Taxi, Taxi hawkers until we saw my name with on the board that the driver was holding.

The drive to the hotel was a treat for anyone who knows the roads in Saint John, not a single pothole and smooth as baby bottom, If only they could make roads like that back home I might have enough money saved from not going to the repair shop to come back to Phuket.

As soon as we landed in Bangkok I knew I was overdressed and all I had on was a golf shirt with T-shirt underneath, long slacks, socks and shoes. The weather has been perfect with temps hovering around 32C – 35C and only small amounts of cloud. I will be a very different colour when I return.

We have been to two beaches so far, Karon Beach and Kata Beach and even though they are only separated by a point they are completely different in nature. Karon Beach in great for the surf with 6 foot breakers constantly coming in, one hit me and I felt like someone just punched me in the stomach. I will be doing some bodyboarding on this one. Kata Beach does not have the breakers and is one that you can walk out and just swim. I think I will do some parasailing at some point. I was also able to do some bench presses on the beach with some make shift bar bell. Maybe I can do some thrusters, squats and runs on the beach in the next few days.