Koh Lanta November 2015

After travelling for nearly 30 hours by car, bus, plane, train, minibus and ferry, we finally arrived at Maya Hotel on Koh Lanta (http://www.mayalantaresort.com/). Our hotel was on the beautiful Klong Dao beach, sandy and gently sloping with warm water. Great location and excellent facilities and the sunsets were truly amazing.

Ko Lanta is a large island with 6 km wide and over 30 kms long, 9 beaches lie from north to south along the sunset coast. The island boasts stunning scenery, fantastic white sandy beaches, coastlines dotted with more than 70 small islands and plenty of forest, coral reefs and under water life.

Koh Lanta is a melting pot of Buddhists, Thai-Chinese, Muslims, and  sea gypsies (Chao Ley  – people of the sea) . The majority of the population in the rural areas is Muslim. Unlike the UK, Koh Lanta does not suffer from any religious tension and the folk live in peace and harmony.

Being an island, seafood was plentiful and was on the menu in many restaurants and was relatively cheap compared to Chiang Mai.  Getting a decent cup of coffee was nearly impossible, in the week we were there, we only found one decent coffee shop.

Our time on Koh Lanta soon passed and it was time to pack the cases and head north. Our ferry journey to Krabi took 2.5 hours and en-route we passed some beautiful beaches and stunning coastal scenery.  Our night in Krabi town was unexciting.  It rained and we had Thai food in ‘Grace’s Irish Bar’; not very adventurous but there was aircon and cold beer.

Next stop Chiang Mai.




Drive it like you’ve stolen it!

For my 60th Birthday which was back in November 2014, my two children Sean and Lauren really had no idea what to buy me for this momentous occasion. After numerous conversations with Lynne it was decided that an appropriate present would be the chance to experience driving a sports cars. I had a choice and could have driven a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin DB9, Mini Cooper, Porsche (something or other) Caterham 7 or some Japanese tin boxes or an E Type Jaguar. The decision was not a difficult choice to make. It had to be the E Type…

I decided to wait until the summer months, hoping that the weather might possibly be more favourable than the depths of winter and 12th June was the chosen date. We arrived one hour before my allotted slot, registered and heard the compulsory briefing. I was then offered an additional classic car experience costing from £25 for the Mini Cooper S ranging up to £60 for a Aston Martin. There was a Austin Healy 3000 and a Ford Mustang Mach 1, both a car that I’d very much like to drive. Decision made: it was the Mustang American Muscle Car ( I’d watch the film “Bullitt” in my younger years)

My name was called and it was time for my six laps in the E Type.  I was not alone; there was an experienced driver in the passenger seat who was responsible for ensuring the experience was enjoyable, making sure I didn’t break it.  Strapped in and ready, we slowly made our way on to the track which consisted of two long straights with chicane corners at each end. On the first straight I thought I was going fast until a Aston Martin DB9 passed like I was standing still.  I starting gaining confidence by the 6th and final lap when I passed the same Aston Martin DB9 (pretty sure it was a different driver!) All too soon the E Type drive was over. But it will never be forgotten.

By the time it came for me to take the Mustang out, the rain arrived and it was torrential. Those of you that know  anything about American Muscle cars, know that they don’t corner in the dry, never mind when it’s raining cats and dogs.  So it was all about the straight: automatic gear box, engage drive, press the accelerator down to the floor and sit back, brake heavy before the corner, coax it round and the off down the straight again.

What a day! Driven two of the most iconic cars ever made.


And he’s off

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Anusarn Market – Chang Klan Road

Hi folks. Been away now six weeks and been pretty lazy.  Since we arrived we’ve not done much. We arrived just before the three day Loy Krathong Festival (festival of lanterns) and it rained for two days and nights which is quite unusual for Chiang Mai.  The last day of rain (7th November) I bought a umbrella, typically  the rain stopped and we’ve not had a drop since.  The apartment we rent is very close to the road where the Night Bazaar is held.  The Night Bazaar opens 365 days a year and starts at 5pm and stops around 11pm.

There are a number of other markets that are on adjoining roads. One of our favourites is Anusarn. Here there is a wide variety of food stalls and restaurants selling a wide variety of cuisines including Chinese, Thai, Indian, Burmese and Western.  Some specialising in seafood, all available at incredibly low prices.

One of our favourite eateries is Jintana Happy Thai which is very basic and outdoors but the food is very good,  service is great and so cheap.  The chef must be the Happy Thai as he always smiles and sings along to his favourites tunes which are generally Bee Gees and John Denver. If you want you can have leg, back or head massage, dip your feet in a fish tank full of feet eating fish (tried feet eating fish, not to my liking).  You can have a pair of flip flops made to your taste.  Paintings, leather goods, wood carvings, clothes, handbags, jewellery are sold here and it’s expected that you barter, sometimes you find yourself arguing over 5 pence.

Anusarn also boasts about it’s world famous Chiang Mai Lady Boy show, entrance is 200 Baht (£4) and this includes a free beer or cocktail. We’ve been on a number of occasions and they actually put on a great show. Although they mime to the songs, the costumes and the dancing are quite professional, definitely not a West End show but for four quid …..!  Some of the cast of the show do look like a man dressed in drag, though others look very feminine (at least from a distance).  After the show ends the leading ladies all line up for a photo call, however it will cost you 20Baht (40 pence) a shot.

One of our favourite bars in Anusarn is O’Malley’s Irish Pub. The main reason for  drinking  in an Irish pub it’s definitely not the food it’s: Air Conditioning and comfy seating and good service. Another plus is the staff are very friendly, especially Poo and Fern ( Fern is the Tiger Beer promotion girl)

Hope you enjoy the photographs.



Songkran in Chiang Mai

Sean, Lynne and Neil survived Songkran 2014.

Well, this is our last few days in Chiang Mai before we head off home via Bangkok. It’s Songkran festival which means it’s party time in Chiang Mai. The water fights are actually just one aspect of the Songkran Festival. It actually has a deeper meaning and that is to ask for blessings and to enrich religious intentions. As everyone wishes for good vibes, housewives clean their houses and remove all junk. That’s for the Thais. For westerners it’s all about the water fights and having a great time.

Day one:  We ventured out dry and un-armed and prepared to get wet. Phones, camera, wallets all secured in a sturdy waterproof bag. The temperature was a balmy 35c so getting wet would be a pleasant experience. We must have walked for 20 minutes before we encountered the first serious water revellers who took great joy in throwing, squirting and pouring water over us.  Some of the water was warm, some was ice cold and was quite a shock to the system. By the time we arrived at the centre of the celebrations (Tha Phae Gate) the road was 6 inches deep in water and hundreds of people either side of the road battling it out with buckets, hose pipes and water pistols. Tuk tuks and pick-up trucks filled with people and water butts with ice cold water spraying everyone. We decided we needed to be equipped so we bought what I can only describe as a three litre capacity water canon, that was capable of shooting a high powered jet of water over 4 metres. It was time to seek revenge!

Day two:  This was the official start for Songkran; day one was just a practice day. Today there would be processions and floats and many more Thais on the street.  This time we were fully prepared, water pistols filled we hit the streets.  We managed to arrive at the local ice cream shop quite dry and shared large passion fruit frozen yogurt and listened to a local Punk band that were performing. We then ventured into Loi Kroh.  We knew that this would be a very water hostile territory and we were right, it was like Custer’s Last Stand only shooting ice cold water but no scalping. We exited Loi Kroh colder and wetter then we arrived and manage to fill our own water pistols before crossing the main road, Moon Muang, by the moat. This was the most hazardous part of the day, the water from the Moat is not the cleanest and it’s best avoided if possible.

We arrived at base camp zero, We’s restaurant, wet but not yet traumatised. This would be our base for a couple of hours, offering plenty of water, cold beer and ambushing unsuspecting tourists. One very dry Chinese tourist took exception when I gave her a good squirt by shouting “fook off”, so I squirted her again. The final sorte of the day was Tha Phae Gate, the centre of celebrations. It was chaotic: thousands of Thais and westerners all dispensing gallons and gallons of water on to the procession. We had a great time but after fours hours of water fights it was time to retire and shower for Seans last dinner in Chiang Mai.

Today Monday: Sean is on his way back to the UK. Songkran goes on for another two days, we’ve decided to have a day out today. We are leaving Chiang Mai early Wednesday (Bangkok bound). We’ll be sorry to leave Chiang Mai but looking forward to getting home.

“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching”

Hope you like the photographs. It was quite difficult getting them without getting the camera soaked.





Muang Mai Market – Chiang Mai

The Muang Mai Market is the main wholesale area for fresh produce in Chiang Mai and for anyone interested in food it’s a great place to visit. The market runs along the west side of the Ping River. It’s a maze of streets and lanes, bustling with pickup trucks, people walking and on scooters.

Muang Mai market is a mix of small stalls, warehouses, permanent shops and pick up trucks. Much of the food has come straight from the farm and in some parts of the market the farmers sell their wares direct from the back of their vehicles. You will be amazed at how much garlic, cabbages or other vegetables can be piled in the back of one of these vehicles. Most of the vendors specialise in one or two items of produce so buying a basket of food will mean working your way around the market. The majority of the market is made up of an enormous range of locally grown fruits and vegetables – one stall will sell watermelons, another pineapple, another lettuce and so on. The variety and freshness is astonishing to those used to buying from a western supermarket.

A section of the market is for fresh meat serving mainly pork and chicken but with some beef. We’re used to buying meat cling wrapped on polystyrene plate, here some of the hygiene standards may not be to western supermarket standards.

In another lane there are stalls selling fresh seafood laid on ice. There are not only fish (live) but a huge variety of shellfish, prawns, squid and crab much of it heading for Chiang Mai’s many restaurants.

Turn a corner and you find stalls that specialise solely in curry pastes.

Compared to our usual market (Somphet) the prices at Muang Mai market are much cheaper. We were absolutely astonished at some of the prices compared with the high prices in UK supermarkets. Although Muang Mai is mainly a wholesale market selling in bulk, all the stalls will sell smaller amounts and shopping for fresh food will save on the weekly budget!

Chiang Mai Flower Festival 2014

The Flower Festival in Chiang Mai is an annual event.  It’s another excuse for closing the roads and setting up stalls and walking streets that sell food and souvenirs. That’s the cynical view!

Plant vendors position their stands on the roadsides around the moat for three days and city’s large east entrance, Tha Pae Gate, is overrun with hundreds of tourists and locals, a large stage, food stalls, flower showcases, beauty pageants and people.

In fact, it’s truly a spectacular three day event, the orchids and other flora displays mixed in with food, drink, clothes craft stalls are colourful and imaginative. At 4:00pm on day two the main road from Narawat Bridge leading to Tha Pae Gate is closed for the extravagantly decorated floral floats, marching bands, drummers, traditional Thai dancing girls and Hill Tribe people in traditional outfits. We watched for a hour or so and took numerous photographs. We then went and had some dinner, two hours later the floats etc were still parading into Tha Pae Gate. Over four and a half hours of floats

Chinese New Year – Wararot Market, Chiang Mai

Today, being Chinese New Year (Year of the Horse), we walked to China Town (Wararot Market). The roads around Wararot are normally nose to tail with songtaews and tuk tuks but today the roads were closed to traffic and turned into a walking street, full of Thai people who have Chinese origins, dressed in tradition outfits together with the thousands of Chinese tourists who now choose to take their holidays in Chiang Mai due to amongst other things, direct flights.  Being a day of celebration is another opportunity to earn some extra money with stalls set up along the road selling all kinds of food and drink. You could buy sausages, fish, quail, chicken, fruit, fried rice, noodles and unrecognisable foodstuffs that aren’t even translated into English! They catered for every taste, a stall selling deep fried bugs: small, medium and gigantic. What a great afternoon in the sunshine. Sorry you can’t be here to share it but here are some of the photographs.