Racha Yai & Noi

First day of real diving for us – 3 dives at two islands south of Phuket. Our underwater camera worked… for a while (before the screen packed in, making next-to-useless now πŸ™ Time to reclaim on the warranty I think!). Alex & Lizzy diving at Racha Yai

Spent a lot of the dives doing all the skills for my PADI Open Water Diving qualification, so didn’t have too much time to look around. Was still good though πŸ™‚ Then we headed back to Phuket…

Leaving Racha Noi after 2 dives


Patong at night Phuket is pronounced “Poo-ket” not “Fook-it” – although the tourists seem to be doing alot of the latter with a good number of the locals judging from the number of ‘massage parlors’, ‘Go Go’ and ‘Ping Pong Shows’ that we’ve been invited too (we haven’t been to any, and please don’t ask us what they are!)

Sunset on Karon Beach, Phuket Anyway, the beaches are great (although I got assaulted by an evil fat jellyfish) & hostels – variable. First one we stayed in had a tap that sprayed water onto the floor every time you used it (Phil, no need to come out, we’ve left now πŸ˜‰ ) and the glass didn’t fit the windows so they’d stuffed the cracks with (hopefuly clean) loo roll. We’ve since moved and are now in a cheaper (350 baht or Β£7/night for the room), cleaner and nicer room for the next 4 nights.

Sunset on Karon Beach, PhuketWe hired a moped (cheapest way to get around the island) yesterday and drove to some neighbouring beachesΒ  which were very pretty (don’t worry parentals, we got helmets and drove very carefully…couldn’t drive fast coz we weighed it down too much, especially up the hills- ha ha!)

Started PADI Open Water SCUBA Diving course today which for me a refresher but for Alex is to get certified (as an open water diver, not as mentally ill… I confirmed the latter a long time ago). First ocean dives tomorrow at Ratcha Yai & Ratcha Noi islands where we will HOPEFULLY see Manta Rays and then on Wed we’ll hopefully see either Leopard or Whale Sharks!!! I’m SOOOOOO excited!! I’ll be gutted if we don’t see anything big!

Kanchanaburi: The town of ‘The Bridge over the River Kwai’

WWII War Memorial Didn’t think that the museum or the guides did the history behind the railway or bridge much justice, barely mentioning the 16,000 POW’sΒ  & 100,000 civilians who died during it’s construction (information courtesy of Rough Guide) and the museum was bizarre.

Braved the cheap seats on ‘the Death Railway’ and managed to find one that wasn’t broken πŸ™‚

Enjoyed the Bamboo rafting, particularly when the boy who was meant to be steering us missed the landing and had to jump in.

Elephant TrekkingElephant riding was the highlight for me. Found them fascinating- they follow their own footprints and actually walk very daintily given how huge they are. Had been a bit worried about whether we should do this but didn’t see anything obviously wrong. We’d decided to veto the Tiger Temple (where we would’ve been able to cuddle a tiger- yes really) after reading a welfare report on it πŸ™ . Also saw two leopard cubs which were increbidly cute but sadly were chained up so tourists could hold them and give them a bottle (of probably drugged milk).

Waterfall was really impressive but only had 20mins so didn’t bother changing to swim.

Remember: All the photos as we upload them are here

Bangkok: First full day

Firstly, to let you know we’re uploading more photos to Flickr as we go and only choosing a few to go here. See our flickr page or the photos block on the right for more…

The Emerald Buddha, The Grand Palace Our first full day in Bangkok was mostly spent at the Grand Palace – the holiest Buddhist location in Thailand and home to the Emerald Buddha (which is actually made of jade). But before we got there our tuk-tuk driver (who spoke about 3 words of English: gasoline, grand and palace) decided to take us on an unrequested tour of some other sites, which confused us totally. He then requested a steep 100 baht for his services having said 40 baht to start with. “Taken for a ride” seems fitting πŸ™‚

Alex in front of Phra Siratana Chedi, The Grand Palace Anyway, The Grand Palace is an amazing place with such intricate detail throughout. As with other buildings of such size and detail, I was amazed by the dedication and precision of the workmen that made it – it must have taken years! In fact it’s still ongoing – due to the heat & humidity the work decays quickly so there’s constant repair work underway.

We got caught in our first Thai thunderstorm at the Grand Palace and appreciate the ponchos that we’d popped in our bag.

Bangkok: First Impressions

Lizzy walks down a Bangkok street
We’ve been in Bangkok about 6 hours now, so these really are first impressions…
It’s hot.
It’s humid.
The food is grreat (although we’ve only had one meal here so far)!
There are lots of smells – both nice & nasty.
Things are cheap (~Β£3 pppn for hostel with A/C, ~Β£1.50 for a main dish and a bottle of water).
We like it.
Street sellers in Bangkok

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We’re now enjoying a few days of luxury at Mum & Dad’s, making the most of comfy beds, home cooked food and hot showers before we get used to the not so luxurious Β£1 hostels in less than a weeks time πŸ˜‰

Have managed to catch up with a few friends whist we’re back. Had lunch with Jill who I met on my nursing course in Notts but who now lives in Oz and happened to be back visiting her parents in Norfolk. Also had tea with Shelly, who’d just arrived back from the USA yesterday morning. So all in all, pretty good timing to be back here:-). Think it’ll be hard to say goodbye to Mum and Dad, Dan and Claire tomorrow, but at least they’ll all be visiting us whilst we’re out there πŸ™‚