Holidays in Khao Lak

Khao Lak seems to still be relatively unknown. Everyone has heard of Phuket, but Khao Lak still remains very quiet and I am surprised how often visitors to Phuket have not heard of it. Khao Lak was hardly there 15 years ago and was really just getting to be an important destination in 2004 when the tsunami caused massive damage in the area. Many think of Khao Lak as an extension to Phuket as the main entry point is Phuket airport, but Khao Lak is actually in Phang Nga province and over the years has tried to find it's own identity with nice beaches and a mix of resorts and smaller lower budget bungalow operations, stretched out along about 20km of coastline with the southern end of Khao Lak being about 70-75km from Phuket airport. From our house near Phuket Town, it's less than 2 hours easy drive up the main road, past the airport, over the bridge and about another 60km from there directly North. I had always thought of Khao Lak as having little interest and had not really thought of staying there until earlier this year. There were a few trips we wanted to do and places to visit in the Khao Lak area so we booked a couple of nights, plus a night at Khao Sok National Park, which is about an hours drive from Khao Lak. A week later we had another 2 nights and we've been again recently.

First thing to sort out is a hotel! I normally use and recommend Agoda and I spent some time looking at hotels in Khao Lak, identified a few at the right price, then contacted a friend who lives in Khao Lak to get a local opinion. He then recommended a totally different hotel that can't be booked on the major online booking sites - Nangthong Bay Resort - we called them, cheekily asked for low season rate although it was still April. They agreed, so we booked - a family room with 2 bedrooms at 1500 Baht per night. And when we arrived, we liked it right away. Took the kids just a few minutes to find the pool ...

Hotel Pool at Khao Lak

We were into relaxation mode in no time at all! This hotel, like many in Khao Lak, is right by the beach. And even those not right by the beach are normally maximum 10 minutes walk away. Khao Lak is essentially a series of small built-up areas along the main road, with side roads down to the beach. In the past we have drive through and thought "is that it?" .. and in a way that is true - there's not much in Khao Lak save for hotels, restaurants (and not an enormous choice of them, especially in low season), dive shops (which also mostly close down in low season since the main destination, the Similan Islands, is closed), tour agents and shops. It's quiet, and that's nice for a couple of days! We ended up heading back the next week for another couple of nights.

Khao Lak Sunset

(above) Beach close to Nangthong Bay Resort - kids playing and me taking photos from my seat at the bar :)

So, what did we get up to during our little holidays in Khao Lak? Apart from just splashing in the pool, walking on the beach, hunting for shells and enjoying sunset beers at the hotel - is there time for other things?! Yes, of course and I have actually blogged about what we have done already, but this blog post ties it all together into a mini Khao Lak guide, though I admit that I don't know Khao Lak so well! One of the reasons we planned a couple of nights there was to visit Koh Tachai Island. I knew the island for diving, and have been there maybe 40 times, but never set foot on the beach, only dived there. Over the last couple of years Tachai has been more visited by day trippers, especially Thai tourists, as an alternative to the better known Similan islands. So we booked up a day trip through my friends at Easy Day Thailand.

Koh Tachai Island

(above) Koh Tachai - Kids loved it! More about this day on the blog : Day Trip to Koh Tachai.

Another reason for stopping in Khao Lak was to take a step back in time. My son is now 8 1/2 years old. He was born 2 weeks after "the" tsunami. I won't dwell on my thoughts on this page, but have written about it before (see Tsunami Memories). Khao Lak was hit much harder than Phuket. While about 300 people died in Phuket, the tsunami killed at least 3,000 people in the Khao Lak area including tourists, many locals, a grandson of the King too. The area just north of Khao Lak at a village called Ban Nam Khem was especially bad. A tsunami memorial has been built here which I wanted to visit, and we also wanted to stop at the police boat - it was carried more than 1km inland and has been kept there as a memorial - and now a larger memorial and museum is under construction around it. Well, we wanted to stop and pay our respects.

Tsunami Memorial at Baan Nam Khem

(above) Tsunami memorial. The wall is embedded with names, and some photos too. People who died. Our kids know about the tsunami. I think this place made them think for a while. More information on the blog : Khao Lak Tsunami Memorials.

Khao Lak Tsunami Memorial

(above) The police patrol boat that was carried inland by the tsunami

Restaurants - Well, we tried a few different places. There are quite a lot of restaurants up on the main road, but Khao Lak is so spread out, it's good to have transport to check out different eateries. We had cheap Thai food and noodles a few times at a place on the main road. We have been twice to a pizzeria called La Piccola Maria - good pizza. It was closed on our most recent low season visit in July. And we at a couple of times at the hotel (Nangthong Bay Resort) - breakfasts were OK and Thai food for dinner decent too. Also went to a place which as I recall was called Jumbo Steak, which was good (on the main road in the Bang Niang area of Khao Lak).



(above) Cheap local place to eat in Khao Lak on the main road in the Nangthong area

Khao Lak Sunset

(above) View from the Nangthong Bay Resort restaurant. When the weather was still good at the end of high season we could eat there right by the sea. In low season when wind and waves can be an issue, this part of the restaurant is not open. Great spot for a few sunset beers! The beach at this point (Nangthong Beach) is a bit rocky) - further north at Bang Niang it's not rocky. Myself, I like it this way - and the kids liked to go looking in rock pools and looking for shells.

Khao Lak Beach Rockpools

(above) The kids checking rockpools at Nangthong Beach

So, yeh, some of our time there was spent relaxing, by the beach, preferably with a cold beer in hand. But we did other stuff too! In the Khao Lak area there are several waterfalls, some we have not seen yet. The most impressive was at Ton Prai Waterfall, especially on our visit in July after some rain had fallen. Ton Prai is about 30km south of Khao Lak so we stopped on the way home to Phuket. There's a parking area and a 700m walk through the jungle to the waterfall.

Ton Prai Waterfall

(above) Ton Prai Waterfall

About 1 hour drive North of Khao Lak is a National Park that seems to get few visitors - Sri Phang Nga National Park is jungle, rivers and waterfalls. We had been before, and have been twice this year as a little trip from Khao Lak. Still need to go again, as the park has several waterfalls and I want to see more of them. The best waterfall is called Tamnang, about a 500m walk from a small car park. There's a pool of water full of fish under the waterfall. You can feed them or swim with them. And there's a good, cheap Thai restaurant at the park headquarters.

Tamnang Waterfall

(above) Tamnang Waterfall - more information on the blog - see Sri Phang Nga National Park.

Now, all of the above can also be done as trips from Phuket, though some of them are long trips! Khao Lak is (I think) worth a few days mixed in with a stay in Phuket. You can also do trips from Khao Lak to Phang Nga Bay and Khao Lak is easily close enough for a day trip to Khao Sok National Park, which we have visited a number of times. On our visit to Khao Lak at the end of April, we had 2 nights at Khao Lak, and 1 night at the Cliff and River Resort in Khao Sok.

Khao Sok Double Rainbow

(above) Double rainbow as seen from our room at the Cliff and River in Khao Sok. Very relaxing place to stay.

And there's another place I recommend visiting. North of Khao Lak is the town of Takua Pa, and a few km from the main town is the old town of Takua Pa (also called Sri Takua Pa). Can be a place to stop between Khao Lak and Khao Sok. It looks like the old part of Phuket Town, but it's really quiet. Old shophouses built around the turn of the 20th century, just like old Phuket. The similarity is because there were tin mines here just like in Phuket. Interesting place....

Hardware Store

(above) Hardware shop owner in Old Takua Pa

I think we'll have some more short Khao Lak trips! Not a long drive from Phuket, a place we can go and relax for a couple of days. I'm not saying that Phuket is stressful, but you know, we have a "normal life" in Phuket with work and a home to look after and school .. so a couple of days of pool, beach, waterfalls is sometimes needed ... Let's go kids, dinner time!

Khao Lak - Nangthong Beach Sunset

Khao Lak - More Information

Khao Lak Hotels at Agoda.com
Dive Trips to the Similan Islands
Tour Booking - Easy Day Thailand

Khao Lak Area - Location Map


View Khao Lak (and surrounding area) in a larger map

Khao Lak Hotel Information


Shady Maple Smorgasbord on the Fourth of July

For a big tourist area, not all restaurants are open on the Fourth of July in Lancaster County, PA. Shady Maple at one time closed early, but for a long time now has remained open for its regular hours. We were in the area on the Fourth of July and went to Shady Maple for dinner.

It was crowded but there was no wait. We went right in and was seated. The dining room was crowded and we sat a bit

Who is laughing now?

I am a voracious reader. Two policies of mine, when it comes to reading, are -
1)Any book I can lay my hands on, I pick up to read.
2)I never abandon a book that I have picked, half way through. Never.
Once I read through a thousand page book, even though I knew the ending just after two pages in. That's when I decided, I never gonna pick up a dictionary again to read.

The one thing I hate more than a dictionary is self help books. There is not one good self help book in this whole world. Trust me, I have read all of them. As far as I am concerned, the best self help book is the one with the fewest pages.

I love writing too. But I am good at coding. So I write code, mostly. But I have always wanted to write, write like John Grisham. I did too, write like him, for about six months. But then his publisher found out and sued me. I think that if you want to write like somebody, you are better off choosing Leo Tolstoy or Salman Rushdie. No one might read you. But you will never get caught either.

Once, I joined a creative writing class. The instructor's name was Shweta. She had written couple of novels. But she was more popular for her news paper columns. She was an extremely gifted columnist. She could write a poignant account, in three hundred words or less, of the harassment women face in public buses within the half an hour it takes her to commute to the office in the back seat of her Chauffeur driven AC car. She was a fake.

Shweta looked like the girl next door, the ultimate dream of every married man.
"If you want to lead well, you have to follow first. If you want to write well, you should read first." She said the first day.
"I want to act well in porn movies." All the men in the class said immediately.

After writing in this blog for couple of years, I have decided I want to write a book. I want to write a humor novel and laugh at the people who bought it. But writing a blog post is very different from writing a book. You see, a post is all about three hundred words and six funny one liners. Even the four seplling errors and dozen grammatical mistakes are a bonus. But a book is different. You need a plot, characters and lot and lots of words. Writing a sixty thousand word novel is hard, very hard. You have to write like, hundred thousand words. The continuous cycle of writing, deleting... Ufff. But I am optimistic. I have a plan, a plan to bloat up the word count, a plan that no one has thought about yet. I will increase the font size.

The setting for my novel is a fictitious country called A.S.U. They outsource any task that is possible to outsource. They import all goods - from fluffy cotton pillows to heavy Iron dumbbells. The only thing they do themselves is write and read... self help books. Now, all I need is a plot.


Two months into my endeavor of writing a novel, I am trudging along. Often I fail to meet my daily quota of five hundred words a day.But I say to myself, "Some days, it is about quantity. Some days, it is about quality."

But the truth is, most of the days, it is just about green tea.
From Funny Side Of Life

A Moment


Robin and Me: In a moment.
Have you ever experienced a time when life pushed you in a direction you weren’t prepared to go?

I have.

I’ve lived in Seattle for eight years and in those years, my career has flourished, but my personal life languished. Somehow, I struggled to build friendships that grew beyond an occasional lunch.

So, nearly two years ago when a series of circumstances conspired to make it necessary for me to sell my home, on the surface, it seemed it was a blessing: A cosmic kick to move to a new city where I could start fresh and make the deeper friendships I so desired.

But, as I was just beginning to start a business, it seemed far too risky to pull up roots and disrupt my life while my business was still fragile.  Instead, I decided to rent an apartment for a short period while I got my business up and to give myself time to gain more clarity about where I wanted to go from there.

What I hadn’t planned on was how a simple move, eight blocks from my home, would change my personal life.

People started accepting my invitations to happy hours, dinners, and slumber parties in my new apartment.

My cousin and her husband moved to the area.

And, I met Robin.

I still have a picture memory in my mind of the second I met Robin. We met one day while squeezing our cars into the parking stall we share.  Both dressed in workout gear, both holding a Starbuck’s coffee and both starting our introduction by apologizing to the other about the amount of space we were taking in the stall, we had an easy way in our connection.

Nine months later, it seems I’ve known Robin forever. In a lot of ways, we feel like sister-roommates.  I work from home and Robin is home during the days, too. Robin lives directly below me and she can hear my every move, though I try not to make too much noise for her.  And, we check on each other every day. 

“Do you need something from the store?”

“Want to watch a movie tonight?”

“Can you come up for tea this afternoon?”

Robin and I make each other laugh and we have a lot of fun. And not having this feeling of community since living in Iowa more than 10 years ago, it’s comforting. But more than that, I recognize it’s special.

It’s easy to meet lots of people and go for lunch or coffee, but it’s hard to find friends with an easy connection.  To know you can let down your guard and you will be accepted.  The relief of being seen and feeling understood.  And, to have that kind of friendship one flight of stairs away… well, that is pretty rare.

But it’s bittersweet, too. Robin is looking for a home to buy and I will be living here less and less.  It’s clear this time is temporary.  Yet, instead of wistfully dreading the moment when it will end, we are relishing in the moments we still have.

© 2013 Lisa Ann Edwards


Yoders Restaurant on a Wednesday Night

I thought I had been to Yoders Restaurant in New Holland, PA at least once on each night of the week, but we were in the area on a Wednesday and went to Yoders and discovered that when we got there it was Italian Night. We had not been there before for Italian Night so this was going to be an experience for an Italian that grew up in an all Italian family and was raised on fine Italian cooking.

Another week goes by

This comic should have gone with the previous post. But...

From Funny Side Of Life

Market Day in Wang Pho and the hunt for a Pork Belly

Today is Tuesday and that's market day here in Wang Pho , a place to buy anything you might need to eat , or to prepare  to eat , and they have the freshes veggies in all the land , this Kanchanaburi  valley is so fertile that everything grows here soo easy , I've said before "stick it in the ground and it will grow ," with a little tlc. We were doing a little shopping because we are going to the big city in a couple of days soo , not a lot of buying today , except I was on the hunt for a fresh pork belly so I can make some more bacon , found a great one and after trimming it up a little looks great , I'll be mixing my rub in a few minutes, and starting the curing process , It takes 7 days for a good cure and then a couple of hours in a cool (warm) corn husk smoke and "wala"  it's bacon, ready to cut as thick or thin as you want and it is great in beans or soup as a seasoning.Do you have a weekly or Saturday market near where you live ?, if soo give it a visit and buy fresh, if you can,lots of the produce sold at Sat markets are organic, and better for your health, and it really helps out the folks that raise it and bring from their garden to sell and make some extra income .
I took a few shots of the folks at our market today hope you enjoy, and if you're interested in making your own bacon give me a shout or leave comment , and you can also google "making bacon " for lots of videos and recipes.





Chiang Rai's Top Sites

I have updated my Google Map to reflect my favorite places in Chiang Rai.  Take a look.

One of Two Dinners in a Week at Dutch-Way Family Restaurant, Gap, PA

We were staying several nights in Lancaster, PA and out of all of the buffet restaurants that we love to go to in Lancaster, Dutch-Way Family Restaurant in Gap was the one that was calling us to go to first. We went on a Tuesday night. We seem to go to Dutch-Way a lot on Tuesday nights. The specials for Tuesdays on the dinner buffet at the grill are "build your own burgers" and a choice of hot

I want to be what I was when I wanted to be what I am

This was a short story I wrote for an online magazine. But they said I have to pay ten dollars to get it published in their magazine.
So I decided to put it here.
Either ways, it is going to end up at the same place - Internet, right?
***
I got selected for the great Indian comedy show.It had been my dream! It was the moment I had been preparing for all my adult life. When my colleagues complained of tight schedule, I stayed back and coded their software modules too - so that I can write funny comments.
"This code is all wrong. I have to rewrite it completely!." My project leader shouted.
"Will you keep the comments at least?" I pleaded. He looked as though I was out of mind.
I didn't belong to the software world.


"I can't stand fat women. That explains why I end up lying down with them always." I started my act with a well rehearsed line. The audience squirmed uncomfortably. A red light went on at the back. Two more red lights and I will be eliminated. I didn't want to risk it. So I skipped the jokes about how conservative Indians are when it came to sex - all the billions of them. I went to my Golf jokes.

"You have the worst swing in the world, My golf partner mocked me. So I gave him a black eye. But he was right. I was aiming for his nose." The audience booed. Red light came on at the back. Both of them. It was curtains for me. I went backstage and sat defeated in a dark corner.

I cried.

"You know why Indians suck at comedy?" I looked up. It was a drunk foreigner.
"Who are you? Greg Chappel?" I asked. I don't take insults - at least not off stage.
"You guys see some mp3s downloaded from pirate bay and you think you can do comedy too. Look around you. Take a look at your audience. How many Indians play golf? Write for your audience."
A failed performance and I have to take advise from morons who come to see losers like me perform. I closed my eyes and retreated into me hoping he will go away.

"Time to open your eyes, kid."He said and moved.

I changed my act to make it more relevant. That meant sex and golf was out. Bollywood and cricket was in. But that's what everyone else was doing. I needed variety. So I added jokes about a cricketer in a movie and an actor in a match. I built a decent following. Loyalists who would come to hear me when there wasn't anything on T.V and it didn't rain and I performed near their office. I told them my jokes and they would smile politely. Then I would go backstage and get my free
drink, my wage for the evening. I would mingle with fellow performers - a transvestite, a teenager and a consultant. And I really hated the consultant.


Mingling with fellow performers have plus and minus sides. I get to meet popular and successful people before they became popular or successful.
"Jasmine won't come anymore. She got a T.V show." The bartender said as he pushed the drinks to me one evening.
"What! How is it possible? He is a..." I choked.
"She! Not He." The bartender said.
I broke down.

"Do you know why Jasmine made it?" I looked up. The drunk foreigner was back to conduct an "extraaa innings" of my failures.
"Because He is a she. And the audience like it vulgar." I said.
"No. It is because he didn't laugh at others. He laughed at himself! He is the act. He is the material. He is the show."
"But what can I talk about me? There is nothing about me to laugh at. I am just a... normal guy." I said as I sipped the beer.

"Time to look within, kid." He said and moved.

But there was nothing to look. I wasn't too fat or too thin, too tall or too short, too rich or too poor. My car wasn't too new or too old. My day job wasn't too interesting or too dull. If you walk past me, you won't even notice me. I am just an average guy except... except that I would give an arm and leg and maybe something else to be in jasmine's shoes or high heels or whatever.


"Isn't time to stop? It's few more than the laughs you got." The bartender said as he refilled.
"I just realized I am a miserable failure."
"Join the gang." He said.
"No more free drinks." The bartender said as I signaled to him five minutes later. So I paid. I paid that night, next morning and the morning after. Every morning and every evening.

Pretty soon I got a lot of stuff to laugh at me. It was gold! I had just moved from anonymous to alcoholic anonymous. So I did my shows - I had to drink before, during and after the show. And little later it got even better. I had to go on stage with a glass in hand. The audience, they loved it!
I became so famous that I got a request even from jasmine.

'Couldn't get a ticket to your show. Can you arrange one for me and for my special other?' - luv jasmine.
This.. This is what I wanted! I sent two tickets to my show - for her and him or him and her.

But that was my last show.
I collapsed on the stage. They put me in an ambulance and sped to a hospital. The paramedics tried pumping my stomach on the way.

I was floating in bright white light.
"Well, you got what you wanted." A voice came from beyond.
"Yes." I said.
"Any more wishes?" it asked.
"I.. I want to be what I was when I wanted to be what I am." I said.

Phuket Botanic Garden

The Phuket Botanic Garden opened just last year (2012) and we had thought about going for a while, though I am often reluctant to visit obvious tourist attractions (call me a cynic) and I mean .. we have plenty of plants in our garden and we don't have to pay to see them! I was not sure the botanic garden would be that great and I normally only have 1 day off work every week, so there's limited time to explore, and some days we just like to be lazy or I stay home and take care of my own garden! However, our daughter went on a school trip and enjoyed it, plus I got the thumbs up from a couple of friends, so we added it to our to-do list. Saturday is normally the one day I can spend with the family, but often the kids have things to do like some extra school or their music class or Taekwondo. Last Saturday we finally decided to drag ourselves out of the house on a hot afternoon and visit the botanic garden. I was not expecting Kew Gardens, in fact I was prepared to be disappointed, but actually I was impressed. Read on!

The Phuket Botanic Garden is in the Chalong area of Phuket not far from Chalong Temple and covers a big area, bigger than I was expecting! It's open daily except Wednesday. Map at the end of this page. The entry fee for non-locals is 500 Baht for adults and 300 Baht for kids. The Thai rate is considerably less. At most attractions I can also pay the Thai price by showing a local driving licence. It's much appreciated, as we live here and are likely to be return visitors. The entrance is quite grand, but we came here to see interesting plants. Fun and hopefully educational.

One of the first plants we saw inside (after a display of pretty flowers) was a pitcher plant ...

Pitcher Plant at Phuket Botanic Garden

This was followed by (I think) a herb garden with various herbal and medicinal plants. One of them caught my eye. I recalled the plant name from my studies in forensic science ... Erythroxylum coca? Surely not legal! I've not seen this since traveling years ago in South America and drinking coca tea to lessen the effects of altitude :)

Erythroxylum coca

Next was a rice paddy and a bamboo house with an attached garden, meant to show how the poor farmers live. My wife liked the house. I said we could build one in our garden :) Yes, sometimes simple is good. You could probably get Wifi installed too.

Bamboo House at the Phuket Botanical Garden

After we'd been there about 20 minutes my daughter read off the list of zones/gardens from the map we were given at the entrance. A long list! We'd only seen a fraction so far. The next in line was an orchid garden with a very nice lily pond outside. I like water lilies.

Lily Pond at the Phuket Botanic Garden

And I like orchids. There were many varieties on display in the orchid garden. Here's just two of them ...

Orchid

Orchid at the Botanic Garden Phuket

The botanic garden is very well signposted and also very well kept. We saw numerous gardeners at work during our visit - more gardeners than visitors it seemed. It can be hard to convince sun-seeking tourists to get off the beach, but really, come on ... Phuket has so much more, SO much more! That's what this blog is all about!

Phuket Botanic Garden is well signposted

Phuket Botanic Garden is well looked after

There was a fair sized pond in the middle of the gardens, with what must be the owners house on one side. Fish food = 20 Baht per packet and of course our kids wanted to feed the fish.

Feeding the Fish at Phuket Botanic Garden

Moving on! Next stop was a cactus garden, covered with a roof to keep the rain off. I like cacti .. or cactuses. They are tough and have a rough beauty. I seem to recall my parents kept cacti around our house when I was young.

Cactus Garden at Phuket Botanic Garden

And after the cactus garden, the opposite .. a rainforest garden which includes a waterfall. The entrance is along a walkway with aerial roots (is that what they are? botanists?) hanging down in your face...

Rainforest Garden Entrance

And inside ... it's all green and the waterfall is much needed by kids on a hot day! Dad was tempted to join, but .. yeh, I am too sensible sometimes, plus I was carrying a camera. My son enjoyed it so much .... see this video.

Rainforest Waterfall at Phuket Botanic Garden

How many gentle flowers grow in an English country garden? Well, the climate is wrong, but they have an 'English Garden' here. Did not seem to English except I was convinced this statue on a bench was meant to be Christopher Robin. My daughter read his book with him.

Is that Christopher Robin?

See? This place is big. Not finished yet! We passed by an impressive palm garden, did not stop to look closely, we were getting hot and thirsty! But anyway, it looked good ...

Palm Garden - Palm Trees

Then, hurrah! A cafe, very nice place actually with lots of shady seating and another pond full of fish, some of them were big Koi Carp. Another chance for fish feeding after a nice cold coke. We'd been there already about an hour and a half when we left the cafe.

Feeding Fish at the cafe, Phuket Botanic Garden

Next was an indoor, air-conditioned garden. Yes! They called it the Winter Garden, which I have read houses plants from north Thailand. The air-con was most welcome. I am used to the hot weather after so many years, but if the average temperature in Phuket was a few degrees lower I would not complain :)

Indoor Winter Garden with Air Conditioning

Winter Garden Flowers

It's not over until the fat lady sings. See above. Nearly over. The winter garden is attached to a small butterfly garden, that did have some butterflies but is no competition to the actual Phuket Butterfly Garden!

And right before the souvenir shop was a lady with some tropical birds, a promotion for the newly opened Phuket Bird Park. Me and the kids played with the birds. She had a sign "Take Photo With Birds 150 Baht" .. well we didn't pay anything, but took photos and fed the birds and she chatted with the kids. Nice birdies! One of them climbed on me and (it was a hot afternoon) hopped on my shoulder and licked the sweat off my cheek! I have a photo of that, but it's not pretty.

Birds at Phuket Botanic Garden

We were there for nearly 2 hours and could have spent longer. So I am happy to say the Phuket Botanic Garden is worth a visit, certainly if you are at all interested in plants or want to do something different. We might well go again sometime. The new Bird Park will have to be investigated soon, kids will love that I am sure (so will Mum and Dad).

Related Phuket Blog Posts

Phuket Aquarium
Phuket Butterfly Garden
Kayaks in the Mangroves
Phuket Waterfalls
Things to do in Phuket


Phuket Botanic Garden - Location Map


View Phuket Botanic Garden in a larger map

Children at Buffets

Buffets are generally affordable dinners and many families come to buffets. When I go to a buffet I expect to see children there with their families. But children need to be supervised in a buffet, and for some reason so many parents just seem to send the children - I have seen as young as five - up to the buffet by themselves. And this is not only dangerous to the child, it becomes a broader

Chasing Blue Skies …


It rained through the night and I awoke to one of those lazy gray days where one cannot tell time without the aid of some manmade device.  It was a colorless, featureless day, very good for doing nothing at all.  It had been far too many days since my last ride, however, and that had me chomping at the bit, restless to hit the trail but still uncommitted due to the weather.

By the time I managed to overcome my inertia, it was nearing noon and I was still undecided about which direction to take.  My initial plan was to head West but as I paused at the end of our driveway in a light mist, I could see rain in that direction.  To the East though, high above the mountains, I thought I glimpsed a touch of blue and made a quick change of course, in search of those blue skies.  By the time I was crossing the Ing River, I began to feel more confidence in my choice of direction.

The closer I got to the mountains the clearer things got.  That mist like rain which I began my ride in, was gone and the mountains beckoned, promising blue skies and clear views.  It had been some time since I last attempted the two kilometer climb to the mountain reservoir but I felt the call on this day.

Threading my way through tight village lanes, I found my way blocked by a funeral procession as I neared the mountain trailhead.  There was not an inch to spare on either side, and dressed in black as I was, I fit right in with no one offering to make a path for me.  I could see the temple up ahead, but at the processional pace, it was going to take some time to get there.  Taking a chance on a side soi, I eventually found my way to the foot of the mountain and the beginning of the torturous climb to the top.

It quickly became apparent they had done some work on the trail.  I have grown to expect the dramatic changes that one encounters on the trail.  Sometimes they are washed out, burnt out, overgrown, graveled over or excavated by tractor or backhoe.  As usual there were also some newly cleared slopes and felled trees, as the industrious locals seek to add to their meager incomes.

My biggest surprise was yet to greet me.  Heart pounding, lungs searing, panting like Cookie on a hot summer day, I stood in awe at what lay before me.  Usually I have been greeted by water which stretched from dam to forest with no vantage other than from atop the dam itself.  I had been there when the water was low but never like this.

There were massive old tree trunks scattered about and large areas were covered by a moss like growth which helped to keep one from sinking into the muck and mud.  Looking out over this odd terrain, which was usually hidden from view by several meters of water, I saw a few trails where someone or something had trod, leaving deep footprints, highlighted by the angle of the sun.

At first I venture slowly, uncertain of my footing.  Each step was an adventure as I walked my bike over the spongy floor of the lake.  From the tiny plants beneath my feet, to rocks and tree trunks which dotted the area, to the eerie feeling of walking in this giant bowl like space, my senses were overwhelmed.  I spent quite some time wandering about taking pictures and marveling at this magical place.  I really didn’t want to leave but I had spent much longer than usual and still had a long way to ride with the temperature rising and my water running low.

Reluctantly I found my way back to the dam and started home.  That is when it really struck me, how much work they had done on the trail.  Lets just say it was quick ride to the bottom.  It ended up being a 48 kilometer day and I am feeling it today but I still have a smile on my face when I look at the pictures and remember.


Crossing the river.


Clearing the forest.

An improved trail


The dry lakebed. 

Tree stump.

A dried out relic from the bottom of the lake.

A different angle.

Flying close to the ground.

Closeup of the green carpet on the lake floor.

The tiny stream which feeds the lake.

The stream coming down from the mountains.

One last parting glance as I leave.  Blue sky found.