Saturday, December 02, 2006

Tsunami warning signs on Ko Phi Phi Don remind visitors of what now seems so painfully obvious.
Today we rented motorbikes and went for a ride around the island. We stopped by the yacht club where we saw some incredible boats. We ate lunch at an authentic Thai restaurant (almost impossible to find on Phuket) and we continued on a loop that would eventually take us back to Kamala Beach. (where we are currently staying)

Phuket has more similarities with Florida than it does to the rest of Thailand. Huge billboards with English advertisements line the roads. Strip malls are the building of choice when it comes to commercial development, and tourists generally come here on some sort of a packaged trip. Most of the people appear to be of retirement age, and those who aren't are either diving or they missed the memo about islands in the Gulf of Thailand being much better. The restaurants are very westernized and they lack any resemblance to the Thai restaurants in other parts of Thailand. The food is served western style and they don't even bother to put spicy fish sauce on the table.

There is no question that Phuket has some beautiful scenery. You have to share it with every banana hammock on the planet, but if you are looking for a resort vacation Phuket is a decent destination.

Phuket does have some of the best diving in the world. The nearby Similan Islands are widely considered to be among the worlds top 10 dive sites. Diving is probably the only reason one should ever come here.

Today I bumped up our airline tickets so we can get out of here sooner. We have three days of diving planned this week and we are flying to Bangkok on Friday, December 8th. I have to admit, I can't wait to get back to Thailand

I have heard that Patong Beach is a hole. Today we drove by it on our trip around the island. I stopped and took the photograph below. (if you witnessed "hell on earth" you'd probably take a picture too) I did you all a favor and I decided not to take any photos of the street... it's a real eyesore. (see if you can spot any banana hammocks)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Here is my papa in front of our Kamala Beach Guest House, Papa Crab.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

We made our way from the beautiful islands of Phi Phi to the Krabi Province in Southern Thailand. Krabi is considered to be one of the world's premier rock climbing destinations. The limestone cliffs that jet out of the tropical Andaman Sea are a breathtaking sight.

The above image is my father looking off the port side of a longtail boat we hired to take us from Ao Nang Beach to Ton Sai Beach.

As we approached Ton Sai it was quite clear as to why there aren't any roads connecting the village to mainland Thailand. The entire village is surrounded by limestone cliffs. The only way in or out is by boat.

At night the village of Ton Sai is rather busy. The lights from the bars light up the cliffs surrounding the village.

During low-tide the rocky bottom in Ton Sai is exposed. Low-tide also provides a walking path to nearby Railay Beach.

This image shows the west end of Ton Sai Beach.

Image of Ton Sai from a longtail boat.

Many of these limestone cliffs are bolted which helps make climbing routes abundant for all skill levels.

Leaving Ton Sai Beach by longtail you can see how difficult it is to take a level photograph.

As we made our way from Ton Sai to Ao Nang Beach we passed this beach resort nestled in between the cliffs.

While Ko Phi Phi Don appears to be mostly rebuilt, there are a few places on Phi Phi Don where the rebuilding effort is still going strong.

The main beach on Phi Phi Don is loaded with longtail boats offering to taxi you to other nearby beaches for a nominal fee.

Monday, November 27, 2006

On Sunday we arrived on the island of Ko Phi Phi Don, the largest of the Phi Phi Islands. The island was made famous when it was used as the primary filming location for the 2000 film, The Beach, with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Much of the islands buildings were destroyed by the December 26, 2004 tsunami that struck much of SE Asia. 700 people on the island were killed. An estimated 200,000 people died from the tsunami, with an estimated 8,000 deaths in Thailand.

Most of the buildings on the island have been rebuilt and there are few signs of the devastation that occured here. Accomodation prices are among the most expensive in Thailand as they are often fully booked on the island. We arrived just in time for the high season prices which are more than double those of the low season.

We didn't have much of a choice in where we stayed as most of the island was full. We took one of the cheaper options we found and it is quite nice. We have a small bungalow with a/c, satellite television, electronic safe, bathroom with hot water, and two twin beds. The brand new bungalows are very nice, although they are not the best value I've found in Thailand. (or anywhere close)

We bought first class seats on the night train from Bangkok to Phuket. 1st class was great as we had a private cabin with a sink and a/c. We were even served breakfast in bed.

After a 12 hour train ride and a 5 hour bus ride we arrived on the island/province of Phuket, Thailand.

The primary beaches on Phuket are rather developed and loaded with tourists.. we spent 2 nights near Karon Beach and we moved on.