A Travellerspoint blog

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Thailand

Koh Samui & Koh Tao

sunny 80 °F
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Ok where to start... Well first was the very interesting entry into Koh Samui, the smallest airport I have ever flown into. Upon entry the airport looked more like an exclusive holiday resort rather than an airport with golf cart style transport to take you to the terminal which was no more than approx 10 steps away from the plane. So trust me the pilots are high calibre to be able to land a plane on such a short runway, and so near to the main and only terminal.

Once I left the airport we travelled through a place which looked very basic with simple living conditions, and very close together. Back to a place with lots of people riding bikes and scooters, but nowhere is ever going to top Saigon in Vietnam. The weather was beautiful and it was just what I needed, I arrived at my very exclusive hotel where I was met by a team of very nice staff who made me feel very comfortable, as soon as I stepped foot into the reception. So what does Koh Samui have to offer. Well for starters it has the following:-

  • Spas - Well known for it's abundance and range of luxury day spas, beauty salons and health programs. Ben Sabal Spa at Big Buddha Beach
  • Yoga - Available where better to be able to do sunrise and sunset yoga
  • Hin Ta & Hin Yai Rocks - Are the famous twin granite rocks on Lamai Beach. Hin Ta or Granfather Rock isin the form of a male genitals while Hin Yai or Grandmother Rock, those of a female.
  • Beaches - Chaweng Beach is by far the biggest and busiest on the east coast with over a 5km stretch of sand. Lamai Beach is a great spot for a swim or just a drop to cool you off. Big Buddha beach is located on the north coast and is tranquil and nice spot for relaxation along with Bophut Beach. There are also many other beaches dotted around the island to explore as well.
  • Chaweng - has plenty to keep you occupied! Whether you're looking for artgwork, clothing, tailors, CDs/DVD's, sports stores, books or Thai handicrafts, you'll find something here. Most of the action happens in the early evening till late. Be sure to test your bargaining skills!
  • Watersports - include scuba & snorkeling (both of which I tried out in Koh Tao, more about that later, plus it is cheaper than doing these activities in Koh Samui!) To complete PADI courses. Other options are also weather dependent, Kayaking, Kiteboarding, sunset cruises, sailing and fishing.

The Sea Samui was paradise and just amazing see attached pictures. Definitely a place to return to, time and time again.....

Koh Tao

After a very rough crossing I finally get to the small and perfectly formed Koh Tao. I am surround as soon as I get off the boat by lots of people offering diving packages...however lucky for me I had a recommendation Simple Life Divers by a friend who has been diving with them every year for a while now.... so you see a recommendation does not come better than that.

I finally make my way to the centre, and track down the Dive School, where I am greeted by a friendly face. I have a brief chat and explained that I would like to book to do a Padi Open Water dive course. They were really good and even helped me sort out my accommodation and I even got a good rate, due to signing up with them to do my open water. I was booked in straight away to start work, I had to hit the books straight away, which was a little strange, given I have not studied for some time, plus after chilling out and having a good time, I had to get my head down, as scuba diving is serious with dangerous side effects, I am sure that the majority of you reading this have heard about 'the bends'. Those of you that have not heard of it, 'google' it.

Anyway I was assigned to Lee who was a complete star, so please if you go to Koh Tao, like my friend I would like to highly recommend Simple Life Divers, Sairee Beach, Surathani, Thailand, 84360 check out there link www.simplelifedivers.com it is run by Luke and Haydon who are both British are the managers/partners of the dive school. I for one am looking forward to visiting them again, I hope to be in the position and be able to return every year like my friend. All being I get on with scuba diving of course, as might end up deciding it is not for me.

Don't forget to ask for Lee or Steve should you decided to dive with them in Koh Tao, oh and be sure to say Dee recommended the place to you. You won't regret it.

The Sea Samui

The Sea Samui


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Posted by djAsia2010 09:35 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Vietnam

Nha Trang Thap Ba Hot Spring Center

sunny 85 °F
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Breakfast out the way, everyone showered we set of at 09:30 to visit the Bien Lai Thiu Phi Tham Quan, mini Angkor Wat is how I will describe it in Nha Trang. We drive pass the amazing beach which is just at the end of the road we are staying. Given we are all tired we decide the order of the day should be about pampering ourselves.

Once we have done the temple visit we head to Trap Ba Hot Spring Center, which was just amazing and nothing like any of us where expecting which was nice for just 100,000.00 which is approximately £3:00 where we stayed for a total of 3-4 hours of total bliss therapy, mud bath, hot mineral water soaking where the water was 40c , plus jet springs which were just bliss along with swimming in the hot and cold water pools, and lounging around by the pool.

Definately recommend you visit this place if you get the chance: www.thapbahotspring.com.vn

For me Nha Trang had a lot of offer.. just beautiful. Until next time Nha Trang, as believe you me, I will be back!

Posted by djAsia2010 12:48 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur

sunny 88 °F
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The past and a half have been been a blast and I have had the time of my life. I feel sad today, as I am now getting close to the end of this amazing journey, which I am very grateful to have experienced and would not change any part of it.

I arrive at KL full of excitement as I am meeting my mum at the airport. My mum has never been to Asia before so I was excited about spending time with her and introducing her to a place I fell in love with last year.

Of course in my eyes there is only one hotel to stay and that is 'Traders' with the amazing Twin Towers view at an extra price, which of course I had to book for my mum and I, only the best for my mum. Let me share with you a little about this amazing place.

KL is a modern metropolis in a jungle landscape, an affluent capital - one which combines modern sophistication and old-word charm. Highlights of KL are:

  • Chinatown - JI Petaling is a bustling street market and the Central Market sells Malay arts and crafts. The night market sets up around 5pm selling everything fake!!!
  • Sri Mahamariamman Temple - KL's main Hindu Temple is one of the most elaborate in the country. Accessed via Pasar Seni LTR station or the KL Monorail.
  • Little India - Jalan Masjid has the feel of a bazaar with the sari shops adding brilliant colour to the scene and plenty of incense and spices.
  • Golden Triangle - KL's business entertainment and shopping district Menara Kuala Lumpur is the 4th telecommunications tower in the world - the scene from the viewing deck is pretty impressive. The world's 2nd tallest skyscraper Petronas Towers combines Islamic and modern architecture - visits to the 41st floor skybridge connecting he towers are free.

For me KL is shopping paradise all the famous brand names all under one roof... see shopping below:-

  • Central Market (Pasar Seni) - Offers an assortment of arts and crafts items - antiques, souvenirs, clothing
  • Kuala Lumpur Craft Complex - Styled like a Malay village this artists colony houses handicraft shops, and art workshop and craft museum.
  • Plaza Low Yat - 6 floors of gadgets and electronics of every description
  • Petaling Street (China town night market) - From fake Gucci bags to the latest DVD releases the night market has it all.

A place which is a must to visit especially if you have children or like me, are a kid at heart is Afamosa Animal World Safari and park. It is open daily from 09.00 - 17.00 and has so much to offer. Along with the Animal Safari you can also visit the near by Water World and Cowboy Town, it also offers the following:-

  • Horse Riding; Fishing; Bicycle & Chariot Rides; Jungle Trekking; Kite Flying; Paintball; Go-Karts; Swimming Pool

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Posted by djAsia2010 12:13 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Hong Kong continued

82 °F
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Ok so breakfast was an experience I will not be forgetting in a hurry. After trying to work out what certain things were on the menu I ended up having the fresh fruit platter with cornflakes clearly nothing like the UK's no offence to my Asian friends. Tomorrow I will be joining my Asian friends and having noodles for breakfast, yes I did say noodles, with a clear broth and vegetables, at this early stage I have already realised eat what the locals eat, and you will not go far wrong.

On a brighter note despite the weather I have organised tomorrow, where I will be heading off to see the following:

Man Mo Temple - Built in 1847, the temple is dedicated to the the gods, Man (literature) and Mo (martial arts)
Victoria Peak - Worlds steepest funicular railway up to The famous Hong Kong Peak. View of the harbour and Kowloon Peninsula from 428 meters vantage point.
Aberdeen Fishing Village - Old traditional fishing village
Stanley Market - shoppers paradise (so had to be on the list)
Star Ferry - Ferry ride to the Kowloon side on Victoria Harbour
Old Clock Tower - Former Kowloon Station of Kowloon - Canton Railway since 1915. Main terminal building was demolished in 1978 leaving only the clock tower.
A symphony of lights - world's "Largest Permanent Light & Sound Show" by Guinness World Records. Am so excited that I have the opportunity to see this.
Avenue of Stars - the Hollywood style Avenue of stars features plaques for honoured movie celebrities on the walk of fame.

What I have seen so far Hong Kong is an amazing place with amazing people, who are very friendly and welcoming, have already added it to my list of places to visit again, as my visit here is too short to fit everything in.

Tonight dinner is with a very dear friend who I have never met in person. Nearest we have got is video conference oops showing my age in today's modern world web cam/Skype culture.

Rain so bad have been advised not to travel to see the Po Lin Monastery as it is quiet far away. So you now know why I have to visit again!

Posted by djAsia2010 17:04 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

Vietnam

Homestay

all seasons in one day 85 °F
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We took a boat along the Mekong River, where we stopped for the most amazing lunch which basically was in a families home. The food was just outstanding and all cooked by the man of the house (of course us ladies liked this!). This was the first time we got to eat the 'elephant' fish, which is like no other fish I have ever tasted before. You can basically eat for a king or queen for very little money here in Vietnam £10 and that is eating very well indeed with a couple of courses and in most cases include a nice cold local beer.

After lunch it was back on the boat, to another small village where we were split up due to the river being too narrow for our boat and having to take small row boats/canoes down the river to Mrs Moi's where we were all, doing our homestay. Given this is something that we all wanted to experience it was nice that we all got to stay in the same place, as you can imagine conditions were nothing like any of us have or had experienced before, kitchens outside with very basic living conditions, there was one large room with 12 beds, some would say a basic college dorm or a little like The Waltons for those in the UK older enough to remember that programme.

We took a walk around the village, which did not take long, and spoke with the locals, everyone has a few dogs and chickens seems to be the standard for all the families, I guess the dogs are used as security to protect there homes and possessions, as none of the houses have locks on the doors. In fact some of them do not have any doors, just a curtain for the entrance. This is basic living and in our modern world where we live, it is hard to think that people are living like this today. Given I guess the majority of them do not know any different way of living, they are very happy people, who are fantastic at recyling anything and everything, we could certainly learn a lot from them. It quickly became clear that education is very important in Vietnam, as many of the young locals speak excellent English, some with an American accent as they have been taught by Americans. Mrs Moi and her husband had called on other family members who live elsewhere to come and help them with our overnight stay. We were invited to help make dinner, which was good and we can all now make first class rice steam rolls. Just delicious :)

We had a fun night of talking, and singing old songs with the family, it seems a common interest here, is of old English romantic songs amongst the locals, who are shocked that we all did not know all the words..... to round off the night, Mrs Moi asked us all some questions where we also got to do the same. Mrs Moi is in here late seventies and was so strong, lifting huge pots and organizing her family, was just amazing, most people her age would not be able to do the things that Mrs Moi was capable of, or even rise before 5.00am in the morning to excercise. If I can do half of what Mrs Moi can do when I reach her age, I will be a very happy person indeed. I will never forget her beautiful smile for as long as I live, this lady has truly touched my heart and if I was given the chance to visit her again I would jump at it... on a yearly basis. In fact watch this space, as I plan to help raise money for Mrs Moi and her family, so they can improve conditions for future homestay visitors.

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Posted by djAsia2010 03:30 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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