A Travellerspoint blog

Chasing the Sun

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Chasing the Sun

So we ran away from the slightly iffy weather. In all honesty we ran from the impending full moon party. We’d seen the type of people it was attracting, not to mention 2/3 of the foreign population of Thailand aged 18-20. No, we are not old, but at the same time, being sick on the beach is not our thing. On top of that we’ve heard plenty of stories of glass and needles (eugh!) in the sand.

We ran.

After sorting out tickets to Surat Thani (mainland) with ease we jumped on the high speed ferry at lunch time. We had the usual “do we go on the deck in the sun and risk losing a seat indoors or not” dilemma. We didn’t have to worry. The air-con “VIP” part of the boat was 40 Baht extra and only about 6 people took up the offer! It was cool (yay! Aircon for the 1st time in 2 weeks) and comfortable. We were happy, and falling asleep. Shortly afterwards a body builder type Brit and hit blonde companion sat at the front, and upon being offered choices of movies, he instantly chose Resident Evil. Class.

EVERYONE else (all wearing baseball caps) charged to the front and watched the masterpiece at full volume. We moved to the back :-) . So glad to be moving away ! (toilet was fun. I took a look and walked out). Oh yeah – At this stage I had the galloping trots. Nice! – I took Imodium for the boat trip. A very good decision.

Anyhow! :-) got to Surat Thani and booked a minibus to the Koh Sok National Park – a wonder of Thailand. Our driver was nothing short of mental.

We had all sorts of things planned for the National Park, tubing down the river, climbing up waterfalls, swimming in rock pools, sleeping on the lake. Slight problem though. We’d arrived at full moon, and the dry season. Full moon means no night safaris – the animals see you before you see them, and the dry season means no tubing, no waterfalls and no rock pools. Hmm. Slight cock up. No matter though, we had a super time and we’ll go back when there has been some rain. We stayed in a hut on stilts called a “river hut”. Not quite the same when there is no river lol. There were HUGE spiders on the balcony and all around. I was a nervous wreck.

We took a canoe trip down a river – me and K and a guide who did the rowing. It was nothing short of stunning. He parked our canoe under a Green Mamba (worrying) and various other snakes and critters. Then the moment came. He said “Look! Spider”. We were a few feet away from the biggest spider I’ve ever seen in real life. I nearly filled my pants with my recently inherited diarrhoea . After that he avoided the spiders, though every time we canoed thought undergrowth I laid down and cowered. Overall it was a good few hours of beauty and tranquillity. We are so going back when it rains some more. They do trips to the lake where you trek all day through the jungle and waterfalls, then stay on a floating house boat on the lake, then wake up to the jungle orchestra and swim ,then trek some more. Everyone we have spoken to says it’s the most amazing adventure they have ever done. Looking forward to that one :-) (although they take you through a cave with spiders the size of your head – which causes a lot of panic, mainly in the female crowd). Our guide / rower – called me a ladyboy when he saw how terrified I was of spiders. Git!

At this stage we’d already decided to move on and come back later but we were pleasantly surprised by two things. Bear in mind we are in the middle of a jungle with a handful of bars and not much else (so tranquil – the noise of the jungle is mesmerising) – we found a) a Pizza restaurant – and boy oh boy – they made perfect proper Italian pizzas – total heaven (Thai food is great but a change is fabulous), and secondly (ok, b) ), after exploring a seemingly dead-end jungle path – a bar on stilts (the approach being a wobbly rope bridge straight from a Pirates movie) overlooking a plain that was almost like a scene from Africa. We drank beers and cowered as a massive ugly spider hung near by. It was beautiful. (oh, and we fed monkeys by the river :-) ) – cheeky monkeys.

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(Spot the Cheeky Monkey)

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(we were not the only ones having a great time)

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(Where could this lead?)

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(Not Peckham)

We are quickly learning that taking 20 minutes to explore your surroundings can reveal some awesome places.

Leaving the national park, and very, very welcoming and helpful hosts (the manager was very honest and explained that night safaris were a little pointless at full moon) (Bamboo Bungalow resort) we set off on another bus heading to the Koh Samilian islands – reputed to be some of the best coral snorkelling and diving in Thailand/World. We met “Tony” the Germain at the bus stop who we’d bumped into the night before at the pizza place (he walked past and said “Bangkok – Shanti Lodge!” – he recognised us form Bangkok lol) – very nice chap – a teacher and musician from Stuttgart who was having a great time walking on his own trough the jungle and recording the nature sounds to use in his music. – Hi Tony! – look forward to seeing you in Stuttgart.

- aside note – we are meeting great people all the time and making new friends who all seem very happy to show us around their home towns when we get there (Stuttgart and Bavaria so far – Germany is covered lol – half of Germany seems to be here!)

So now were are in Koh Lak at a lovely bungalow overlooking the beach. We got dropped off a the “drive” and walked 1km with our packs to the resort – we are feeling very righteous!  We are booked to leave tomorrow at 8am for a 3 day snorkelling trip to the Koh Similian Islands. We will be camping in a tent for 2 nights on the beach! Very excited. After that, we plan to go a little up-scale and stay in Koh Lanta (where the Tsunami hit worst) for a while with aircon and internet etc. We can afford small bursts of luxury here and there. We hope. (may well hook up with Chris and Slavka too who we’ve had a great time with in Koh Pha Gnang)

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(only one day here :-) not exactly crowded)

Getting into the traveller groove. We hiked up to the resort with a Candian girl called Heather and there were only two rooms left. One wooden with more chance of bugs and one smart and new. She took the wooden one but we offered to share ours with her (4 beds – stop sniggering!) – so the three of us are sharing. Saves money and everyone is happy. We are all on our balcony now drinking beers and getting tips on Canada, which , to be fair, we’d kind of overlooked.

Off snorkelling now – speak soon.

R&K xx

Posted by Dodgey 04:26 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Birthdays and changing weather

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View Round the World Baby! on Dodgey's travel map.

I’m typing this on the balcony in the hope the recently resurrected internet connection at our place stays live long enough for me to upload it later tonight…. Fingers crossed

Had a fabulous few days since I last updated. It has taken a good week of being in one place to get into the groove. We went for a walk up to some waterfalls nearby with Chris and Slavka a couple of days ago. There were some lovely pools. We all ummed and erred about the safety of swimming in river water, and were on our way to leave when we all agreed it was very lame not to try. After all agreeing that pissing in the water would be very bad in case of those funny fish parasites that shoot up your jack jones, we dived in! – Definitely worth it

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(Me in a waterfall Jacuzzi – most refreshing)

As we descended we noticed a track leading to another beach so we followed a trail through the coconut trees for quite a long time…..

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,,,,and found a stunning, empty beach with crystal clear water, bath-warm. Had a super time there.

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Kirstin’s birthday was yesterday – not much to buy round here though (gulp!) – we hired a jeep for the day and drove to the nearest town – along 10k’s of a deeply rutted dirt track – takes about an hour! – got shopping in (wine etc). Came back and ended up with Chris and Slavka and the German crowd we’ve me including a lovely couple, Alex and Stephanie, Many long island iced teas later were all ended up playing poker (surprise surprise!)

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(It had to happen !)

Woke up this morning to find we have a resident lizard in our bathroom. We’ve called him Larry  Larry the Lizard – imaginative hey!?! He’s great news – they eat mozzies according to K so we are being very nice to him. Once of his kiddies lives in our light shade on the balcony – I found out when I changed the bulb today.

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Weather sucks today. It’s amazing – one minute it’s super sunny and calm, and today, grey skies, mega waves and constant wind. The waves are crashing on the rocks below our balcony in a huge way. We are going to sit it out for another day, and if there is no change we’ll bugger off to the Anderman coast (Phucket, Ko Chang, Ko Phi Phi etc) – it’s unreal getting used to the fact we can just up-sticks and go where we please !

More soon.

R&K
x

Posted by Dodgey 05:16 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Slowing Down :-)

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12/01/08

Only a couple of days since our last update. We are slowing down ;-) Life is very chilled. I’m typing this from my hammock on our balcony after a days’
tanning.

We met a couple from London on the thongshaw on the way here a few days ago. We hooked up with them last night for a few beers and a BBQ at the main beach hut/bar. He;s a DJ (I laughed previously with K about how long it would take to meet a DJ – I think everyone is these days). Chris and SlavKa – I mention their names as I’m pleased that I can remember. The Gins here should be illegal. I’m having to work hard on remembering names – most are foreign – and you will all know how crap I am with names. With the foreign ones I have to put a lot of effort into word association so I can remember them. “Slave Car” – that’s my method of remembering SlavKa (- Chris is easy – hi bro )

I spoke again with a German sounding chap and his bird today. He introduced himself as what I assumed was “Hans”. His name is Alex.

The main beach bar here is so laid back it’s horizontal (the Raggae bar). A bunch of Checks (spelling?) rock each day on a boat and listen to reggae and get stoned beyond reason. It’s very funny to see.

We are discovering the other bars dotted around the place (about 4 ish we think to far) and they each have a slightly different feel, menu, and of course, location - There is one very high up – you can see it I think in the previous blog pictures – we are saving ourselves for that one – it gets the sun at 5pm ish and looks a great place for drinks.

I’m sipping red wine form cups K has made form cutting water bottles in half. She’s also done the washing in the sink today and hung it up. She’s fast becoming Elma Flintstone.

The cold showers are getting “easier”. I’ve found it’s a matter of making sure you splash all parts of yourself 1st, then get in, then do not under any circumstances remove any part from the shower until you are done (thanks to K for passing me shampoo, soap, towel)

After the last email / update I sent –we went and bought essentials – a 1 to 4 way plug extension lead. Now I can charge everything! – btw – my solar panels are working a treat! – just not enough juice for the laptops.

Kirstin already has two Kaftans and I’m certain she is planning more.

My wine is running low – going to see if she’ll bring a refill to the hammock (she’s typing her memoirs – they started very Victorian like and I suggested she might like to write like someone of her own age lol )

It’s working – she’s coming with wine…got some!

We put in our 1st proper day of sunbathing today. It was dreamy. We were both lying parallel, on our identical beach towels, on our backs, oiled up, buth plugged in with small earphones to my walkman listening to “Chicane – far from the maddening crowd” – it felt like the opening scene in the film “Sexy Beast” (music excepted). We both sat up and looked out to sea, and smiled. Did I mention it was very laid back here? (  )

Then it got surreal – a pirate-like feaux-wooden ship came round the corner with trance/rave music blasting out, loads of good bass, and then headed into the bay – it was packed with shirtless ravers and dropouts having a big party. Very very loud. The tranquillity of the idyl was smashes, but in an amusingly shocking way – it was just not what us (and it seems most others) expected.

Some chap was permanently twirling a fire stick – he had a horrific hair cut – all bald to 2/3 the way back, then in resumed into a long pony tail – bit like a Mohican with a bad receding problem. Another chap was just wearing a kilt. Not odd that he was “just” wearing a kilt. The kilt. They all jumped off the ship and headed straight to the main reggae bar after asking people where they were. They joined the Checks . We ran to a quite bar 

It’s funny – that’s what we are discovering about this part of the world. Nothing is a surprise and everyone is out to have fun. It’s nice when the noisy people leave though 

We’ve definitely decided to stay here for a good 3 weeks minimum. Chris and Slavka went on a tour around the island and agreed with our initial suggestion that this probably can’t be beat, and even if it can, why waste time searching when it’s this good. Oh I’m so wise.

Might be able to get on the web more easily soon. We have a Web Café of sorts here, but it’s down due to “Internet problems”. I saw some staff walking in with a whole new PC this morning. I’m guessing their problems were more than just “Internet”.

Other braking news:

Even little parts of jellyfish sting
Chang beer is cheap because it’s too strong
I read books a lot with little Internet access
Hamocks rock
Kirstin loves shopping more than she lets on

Can someone let me know how you can tell if a star is a star or a satellite? We are debating this but don’t really have a clue. Also an email with a star chart would be grand – no we are not becoming hippies, but we are both trying to identify constellations with little success.

R&K x

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Note to self to add dodgey photobucket link in blog

Oh yeah! - I'm uploading pics and videos to my photobucket site:

http://s97.photobucket.com/albums/l235/dodgey99/Thailand%202008/

Keep an eye on it!

Posted by Dodgey 22:20 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

The Eagle has Landed

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Well well well! We were struggling with the travelling, and we had our hearts and minds set on getting to a beach with nice accommodation and a laid back atmosphere. There is only so much jumping in and out of taxis and ferries you can take – especially the local “taxis” – which are basically pick up trucks with two long opposing benches running down each side – driven by Thai versions or Michael Schumacker – on speed, and the roads were made on an “off day” to say the least. But we grinned and bared it (bore?).

After staying one night in the mosquito nest of a room in Koh Samui, and having the most fantastic seafood dinner on the beach with our feet in the sand we both woke up at 7 am – pretty much because neither of us were comfortable sleeping in a room that we’d spend 15 min whacking mozzies with a towel, and then 1 litre of spray to make sure is was as good as it could be. We booked our ferry tickets to Ko Pha Ngan (pron. Kofangyang) – heart of the full moon ravers but also home to some of the countries finest secluded bungalows (so we assumed). Our “taxi” arrived at 9.30 and we jumped in the back for our 10.30 ferry. After picking up two lads on the way we waited at another hotel for a foreign couple (no idea – Iranian? Didn’t want to ask) who took 20 minutes to show, then she said “5 more minutes” to the driver and strolled off - no hurry dear, you take your time. She eventually got on with her fella, a fat man in speedos. It took all of about 1 second for K to notice his left testicle was slightly poking out and she couldn’t stop herself laughing  - as we flew down bumpy roads the offending item slipped more and more into view. We both felt a little sick. I made jokes about the journey being “the nuts”, “dogs bollocks” etc. He never twigged.

We eventually got to the pier, and got the now late departing boat. Both very relieved it waited! – 40 minutes of a gentle chugging along (the captain was asleep with his feet on the wheel – no kidding) we arrived at Ko Pha Ngan – at the main harbour and town – Hat Rin – home to all the scumbags we thought we’d left behind in England lol. Repeatedly seeing fat ugly Brits and other Europeans with clearly paid-for Thai girlfriends is something I think neither of us will be able to accept comfortably. More than anything because the Thai sex trade does not have age limits. What can you do? Who knows.

So now, we grab rolling tobacco for K she’s been desperately searching Thailand for (no surprises the rave capital of Thailand sells all manner of rolling kit!) and jump into an aircon van to the Mai Pen Rai Bungalows/resort. This is what we’ve both been gunning for from day one. Make no mistake, we’ll sight-see with the best of them, but we want beach life, and we want it now!  We went to the resort office in Thong Sala and from there we got a 4x4 taxi down to the resort – on what is basically a clearing in the forest made by a bulldozer. Amazingly steep, no road surface – just a jungle track. We were both astonished there were couples on little 125cc twist-and-go scooters traversing this road. At times they had to get off and walk their scooters down steep bits – all this in shorts or swimming cozzies! – total madness, and all to save a 100Baht (£1.40 ish) taxi. Natural selection is still working, I can assure you 

This is it now – we are here, and we are both wondering if we are going to get what we expected. We jumped out of the jeep and strolled to the bar/reception/checkin hut on the beach. Oh My Word – we here!! – the place is amazingly beautiful – a small white sand cove with Bungalows on the beach, along the river, and on the rocks on the sea front.

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Our “bath” for some time!

Immediately we were lead off to our bungalow (we booked a “family” one on the rocks) – getting there involves walking across the beach, then over some rocks, then UNDER a giant boulder which caught both our backpacks as we stooped to get through, then some more steps and paths along the coast. When we got to our bungalow we were both speechless! – forget any 5 star resorts you might have seen pics of with huts on stilts – this owns all of them! We have a HUGE , what is basically a tree house on stilts, bungalow. Our deck looks directly out over the sea, we have an “upstairs” with 2 spare beds – and it’s stunning – with windows out to the sea, back downstairs we have a home-made-out of-trees 4 poster with mozzie net, and a huge bathroom. All you can hear – is the sea. (cold showers are a real shocker mind you!)

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Our Home for some time!

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Our Neighbours!

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Our balcony – tricky to take a pic in such bright light in the shade – plenty of time to learn how!

It was such a relief to unpack at last! – once that was done I tested out the hammock. With only the sound of the sea in my head I was asleep in about 5 mins lol. Total bliss.

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White but very happy – will be brown as a button soon!, very soon!

The place is awesome – they have 2 bars and 3 restaurants dotted around, some on the beach and some round and up the rocks. Good value too – we’ve rented the most costly option (of course) at 800B a night (£13) – unreal! And delightful dishes are about a pound a pop. Beers the same. Oh that reminds me – the food out here is blissful. We’ve always enjoyed Thai cuisine but kinda overlooked the fact that now we are in their own country. Boy do they do it well – yum-bloody-yum!

We are going to extend our 10 day reservation to 3 or 4 weeks tomorrow. Why move? No rush 

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Wifeling relaxing in the Reggae Bar on the beach on the 1st night there (last night) – there is a hammock in the background – I was in that immediately after taking this shot :-p

We have finally made it! – both totally delighted (though K is in bed right now after bringing back up here Alka-Seltzer after a night of underestimating the strength of the local Long Island Iced Teas  - she’s vowed to stick to beer now – we’ll see  ) – update – she’s ok now!

They have Internet here apparently but it’s very intermittent, so I’m pre-typing this and I’ll send it when we go to Tha Salong tomorrow to get some provisions. If any of you want a bargain paradise holiday then all you have to get here (this is obviously aimed at family and friends only - for any strangers bored enough to be reading this!). Just call the Mai Pen Rai resort (linked in other posts here) or email them and they will be able to get a message to us as we are at the bar an aweful lot. We will 100% be here for 2 weeks as of today (10th Jan) and almost certainly a month. If you arrive the day we are leaving, no worries, we’ll stay – who’d not want to? :---)

We have two spare beds upstairs, and a hammock on the deck too! Or if you want you could book your own bungalow – you can even have one on the beach! – they range from £5 to £13 a day lol! If they are full – which I doubt – no probs – we have loads of room.

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Beach bungalows

Directions: Turn left out of your front door, get a taxi to the airport, then…
Fly to Bangkok (about 12 hours direct). From Bangkok airport…
Fly to Ko Samui (Bangkok air flies every 40 mins for between £30 and £50) – like a bus service really – it’s only a 40 min flight
At Ko Samui (note below). Get a taxi to the Big Buddah Pier and get the ferry (40 mins again) to Ko Pha Ngan.
Arrive at KPN and you will be offered taxis – take an aircon Van to Thong Sala (20 mins and about 200Baht). At Thong Sala you walk across the road to the Mai Pen Rai Bungalows office (just down from the 7-11 store) and at 1pm they will take you in a 4x4 to the resort for 150 Baht) (if later – they will take you for 800 Baht)

Note: It’s a very easy journey, only stumbling block is the last ferry from Ko Samui is at 4pm so if you miss it, just stay a night in Ko Samui – we got a quick taxi (it’s a small island) to the Ban Chaweng beach and stayed at the Marine bungalows for 1200 Baht – the beach at night is littered with stunning cafes and restaurants on the sand. Tell your hotelier you want the 10.30 ferry (or 1pm or 4pm) to Ko Pha Ngan and he’ll book you a “taxi” and your ferry ticket. If you fly in early to Ko Samui just get a cab to the Big Buddah Pier where you can buy a ferry ticket for 150 Baht.

Everyone knows were everything is so there is no fear of not knowing where to go – people will come up to you and say “where you going?” – you say “Ko Pha Ngan” and they’ll arrange it for you on the spot. You may end up paying a few pounds (at most) more than booking direct, but it’s so simple.

Basically, if you get a flight to BKK that lands in the morning you’ll be here the same day you land. If you get to BKK by midday, you’ll probably stay a night in Koh Samui.

Either way – it’s probably one of the easiest options you’ll have to join us for a week or two as we’ll def hang around here and it’s so amazing you won’t believe your eyes when you arrive! If you email the resort to get hold of us, Fiona is the best person to speak to (English speaker and very helpful).

Maybe see you soon! – Having a super ranch-relaxo time! – R & K xx

Posted by Dodgey 22:12 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Thailand

Business Class rocks!

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Well, we arrived as Koh Samui, after reading in one of our "rough guides" that it's riddled with crime, destroyed by high rises etc etc. Booked into a basic aircon room for 1200 baht (about £20) - fine but not too flash!. Walked along the beach and WHEYAYA! we have arrived. Bar after bar with tables on the beach, sat round a fire at a reggae bar drinking beers on the beach, then walked on to a restaurant and ate delicious starters, followed by 4 Tiger prawns barbequeued. Blinking fabulous. Total heaven (apart from the commoners). Can't wait till tomorrow - catching the ferry to Ko Phanyang and then direct to our remote location (http://thansadet.com/) - which we can't wait for. Maybe stay there a month or so if it's what we expect it to be. Might be offline for some time. Not sure. PLace we are going does not have 24 hour leccy so one assumes no wifi lol.

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K getting to grips with beach life

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Koh Samui Airport - cute for an airport (landing was a little hairy)

Be in touch soonish. R&k (fek! this beats Peckham)

Just a quick entry 'till I get some photos together. Arrived in Bangkok yesterday and staying in a lovely place and getting our bearings. Business class flight was worth every penny! - Had electric seats that went down to near flat, turning into beds. Oh the style :-)

Now online finding out how the hell we get down to the beaches. Looks like Koh Pangyang to start with... beach huts await :-)

Oh! Update (photography is not my strong point when we are disconbobulated)

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Not much to say: - Bangkok!

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This one is for my i-victim friends. We found your "i-hospital" :-)

OK, a small update, I think we are shortly to be without internet for a month or so. We are off to http://thansadet.com/kohphanganaccess.php (presuming thy accept our booking - rather worryingly we have booked for tomorrow and they email says they will get back to us in 3 working days lmao! - we have booked the flights to Koh Samui for tomorrow! - perhaps we'll stay in a posh resort in KS if the rooms are not available yet - we are both very new to this "winging it" culture. Sure it'll be fine :-)

A couple of more pics...

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This is our current place of living. about £11 a day for an aircon room. Very chilled. Very female. I call it the lezzer-lodge. They may not be lesbians but the women sure as hell outnumber the men!

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And this is my lovely wife enjoying Latte's with web browsing at the Shanti Lodge - very chilled place indeed.

Oh! I bought some sandals today - yay! (Kirstin has bought Sandals, waxing, Pedicure, face "stuff", pens, etc etc etc - there is no stopping her!) - K clearly thinks when we get to the next island we are going to be collecting water from tree leaves in the morning. I have a different opinion. Bless her x

Roger

Posted by Dodgey 19:39 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

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