Monday 26th January - Happy birthday!!
Happy birthday to our handsome grandson Louis who is 13 today. Also thoughts of Thelma who shared her birthday with Louis. She is never far from our thoughts. Tried skyping Louis but not a good connection but good to make contact albeit briefly. Lots of love Louis xx
Left the hotel at 8am after having our laundry delivered, $3 a kilo washed and ironed and delivered back to the hotel. Can't be bad! 3 hour drive today to Kampot home of the Kampot pepper. I believe we're visiting the plantation so Kevin, if they've got some that's nice n hot, we'll bring you some back.
Our drive was extended somewhat this morning as we had a road checkpoint. Police were pulling random vehicles over to check their documents. Unlike home where it's all on computer now, they have to ring the relevant departments to make the check. 45 minutes (ish) and we were back on the road. We had to laugh as 2 of our group are from Australia and today is Australia day. One of the couple, Carl Is also a massive facebook fan asking lots of people if they want to be friends on FB. They kept saying, shall we just ask the police man if he'd like a beer for Australia day, you know be friendly, then we were joking with Carl saying, have you asked him if he's on FB? We did have to pinch his camera when he wanted to take a photo of him checking the car and documents. Originally our guide Shane had a few notes in his pocket but when he realised it was official he kept it there. You know what they say "Cambodia has the best police force money can buy"!!
Arrived at the hotel just in time to drop the bags and head off for lunch. We went to a restaurant who specialises in seafood. They were gutting and washing the freshly caught squid in the sea.
Most people had fish or seafood and said it was lovely but I'm not too fussed on getting fish with head, tail but I had a nice chicken noodle instead.
All the travelling, early starts, packing and unpacking sounds a bit tedious but to be honest, we've hardly noticed it. And we've managed pretty well with our bags too. Not loads of drinking so think that helps.
So off we went to see Kampot pepper. I'm not sure I ever thought where pepper came from but now I really know. It grows on what looks like a climbing plant. Black, white and green peppercorns all come from the same plant, its just timing / ripeness which makes it the different colours. It's quite a tedious operation as its picked and stripped from the stem and separated, all by hand. I took a little piece from the plant and it almost blew my mouth off but Mike (who has an asbestos mouth) thought it was okay! Got some for you Kev, so hope it's nice and hot for you. Then we went through a little fishing village to the salt fields. As far as the eye could see were sections with little walls to keep the water in. When the water evapora
Quick 30 mins to get ready for our boat trip. It was a beautiful evening and we had the boat to ourselves. It was pitch black cruising down the Kampot river until we pulled into the side and the trees were lit by hundreds of fire flys.
They were magical, like a Christmas tree, and we remembered Louis having one which he kept in a jar and called it Blinky. They also made us think of Thelma when we visited the glow worms at Branns Farm. Funny to have 2 memories about 2 people with the similar thing In common and think of them both on their birthday. We felt Thelma was with us looking at the fireflys and enjoying the evening with us. xx
Bed handy for our 7 am start tomorrow - beach for 2 days, Yipeeeeee!
Tuesday 27th January - hitting the beach
3 hr drive. Arrived at the hotel in time for breakfast near the beach. Our hotel is very nice and we have a room overlooking the pool. Some went for a swim in the pool after breakfast but we just had a little sunbathe before heading to the beach to meet Mary Lou and Gerry, a couple from the group, from British Columbia. Mary Lou had gone to have her nails done but hadn't realised what she thought was a 15 min job turned out to be more like an hour. We weren't complaining as we were waiting at the bar on the beach. Most of the group stayed round the hotel but we decedent to go to another beach nearby. Tuk-tuk $5, we had to barter him down from 8 but he said he'd pick us up too so that was good. Oh this beach was lovely. Much more relaxed and miles of golden sand the water was warm too (to paddle in) The first beach was full of sellers and some of them can be quite aggressive if you don't want to buy.Another drink followed by 2 hrs walk then back for more drinks and food. I've never had barracuda before but have to say It was lovely. Think It might have been one of my best meals. We were hoping to see the sunset on the beach but it suddenly clouded over so it wasn't to be.
It was really lively down on the beach in the evening. Fireworks going off and lanterns flying high in the sky. Been back to the room early most nights but we have a lie In tomorrow, 8.30 start. Yipeeeeee! going on the boat to an island with some snorkeling and bbq lunch on the beach so looking forward to that.
Wednesday 28th January - Snorkeling
Left hotel at 8am and headed by tuk tuk for the boat. We were originally going to go to the national park and Mary Lou and Garry were going to join us but Shane said the costs had gone up so much for the trip it wasn't really worth It so we did the boat trip after all. We like to think he just wanted us all to be together on our last day of adventure. And we're glad we did. We had a great day. The snorkeling was good fun but not lots to see but Shane was throwing (like a girl) some bread in to attract the fish which brought a lot of little yellow and black striped ones.
Our boat got to the island before anyone else so we had the pick of the chairs. It was lovely. Like being on holiday!!! A lovely meal of fish or chicken with rice and salad and warm rolls was prepared on what was basically 2 terracotta plant pots with coal in and 2 bacon oil trays. No £200 bbq for these guys. Beer and soft drinks were Included too all for the sum of 15$ (approx £10)! Can't beat that can you?
On our way back to shore after our swimming n sunbathing had finished, the engine on the boat suddenly stopped. They carry a spare shaft on the boat which was lucky as ours had sheared off. On trying to remove it from the pole, the spanner fell in the sea. It was also starting to get a little choppy and Violet was having to take a lot of deep breaths. Sumeer loves the pina colada song and Mike had brought his boom box so we had It playing full blast and we were singing along. Next up was a rapper song ' we're on a boat" never heard It before and the language was choice but it was very catchy and funny. Mike has a wide variety of music on his play list to say the least! Titanic was requested but due to Violet feeling rather sick he decided against it!
Time for drink on the beach before hitting the shower to get ready for our final meal together before heading for the airport.
Last night was quite the party atmosphere and several had a late night (mentioning no names) and after a full days sun people were flagging somewhat so not too late finishing but the beach was really nice.
Bit of a late start tomorrow - heading back to Bangkok
Thursday 29th January - back to Bangkok
Left the hotel at 10 am headed for the airport which was about 4 hour drive. We went through customs and checked in without a hitch. Shane looked after all the paperwork and loaded all the cases on the belt. Several people were looking a little nervous flying with air Asia but It was a nice little plane and our seating was good too as it seemed we all got to sit together. Flight only about 1hr 15 mins and went by in no time. Arrived back at the Centra Hotel at about 7.30. Still can't get my head round the fact that you get the lift up to the 12th floor for reception then get the lift down to your room! It's just weird!
We had a lovely meal together except for Carl and Norrelle as they were meeting up with friends. We sat outside on the 12th floor overlooking the city and it was very picturesque.
Had a nice chat with Rita on viber. Time scale makes it difficult to phone.
Friday 30th January Homeward bound for some.
More goodbyes at breakfast. Carl and Norrelle are staying In Thailand for another couple of nights, Mary Lou and Garry heading off on a cruise, Dave headed home early this morning, Jenny heading home this afternoon so she went shopping with Vera and Violet who are heading off tonight.
Sam and I took the underground to Chatuchak park with lakes and lovely shrubs and flowers. We had a ride on the pedalos which were shaped like swans. Whilst we were sailing, we spotted a huge monitor lizard on the bank then it started getting into the water. It looked a bit like a crocodile. We knew It wasn't but it felt a little scary. Although we walked for most of the day, it was very relaxing and peaceful there. We were even offered mats to sit on but I'm not sure If they were for hire or sale. There we were really plenty of people employed in keeping
ING the park Immaculate and the way they can gather the leaves up with those brooms is and skill in itself. I even had and go to see if it was as easy as It looked. It's a skill!
Called at the 7-11 supermarket by the hotel to pick up a beer as we were roasting and hadn't seen a bar all day. We did stop at an ice cream kiosk in the park and they also had bottles of juice. I picked one up, 100% natural it said so on the bottle. Sat by the lake to glug It down and nearly choked. It was foul. I gave Sam a try too and he agreed. On closer Inspection It turns out Inspection was sweet corn juice!!! I ask you. Who's ever heard of sweetcorn juice? Not me for one! Vile!
I jumped straight in the shower when we got back so I could savor my coke and really enjoyed laying on the bed with the air con blasting gazing out of the window, an unexpected, treat. Thanks Shane!
Problem was by the time I'd finished typing up the blog I was frozen. That air con is pretty effective. So the final 7 headed off for a meal. You forget how warm it is outside when you're in the air con buildings. We went to the same restaurant we went to with Shane on our arrival night and all felt a little melancholy.They've been such a great group. We've all gelled together really well.
So off to bed. Leaving hotel at 9.30am tomorrow
Saturday 31st January - Start of
Quite painless getting sorted this morning. Down for nice breakfast. Dropped bag at reception for collection, who knows when. Don't know when we'll be back but it'll be the 4th March if not sooner. Taxi to the airport then flight, just over an hour. Straight off the plane to catch the coach. Another hour and a half then onto the boat at 46m. It's a big high speed catamaran approx 3 hrs but stopping at koh samui and another 1 island before koh tao
Everyone boarded choosing whether or not to sit in or outside. I thought I'd take a look on deck but the seats were pretty basic, bench like so didn't fancy that for hours, so went in to find a seat. Only singles left inside but we remembered there's a VIP lounge so headed there. Comfy seats and legroom at the unbelievable price of 150 baht £3.00 each. People were scattered round the outside of the boat, some seated at the side admiring the view and the sun. Until we set sail! The water was crashing over the sides like a fireman's hose! At first there was lots of laughing (mostly young ones on the boat) then we saw them pinned to the windows soaked! Some of them had taken their shirts off as they were already soaked. I think there must be someone outside our window with a bucket of water as every few minutes it's thrown up the side. Memories of Isle of Mann ferry looming! Think I may have just heard some retching from behind:( Got my travel bands on so fingers crossed I'll be okay. It's really rough though.
1st stop (5.15) an hour to Koh Samui, 2nd stop 6.05 and final stop Koh Tao 7.20. Our cases were last off the boat. Probably because they were the heaviest!! Got a cab straight away and Banks diving resort was only a few minutes drive - 200 baht (£4) 2 girls came In the cab too. Well I say cab maybe pick up truck would be more descriptive! The girls piled In the back and Sam and I got in.
When we registered act reception the took us to our rooms In car! The resort is huge. Then we had to climb 2 sets of stairs. Worse for Sam acts he also had to carry the case up. The room is lovely though - deluxe hillside apartment with sea view! Ooh get us! Just dropped the bags then went to investigate and have some food. Haven't eaten since breakfast. Hmm maybe that dress will fit after all. Meal on the beach and walked along a bit and saw flames. Well you know me and fires. So we headed down and there was a boy, couldn't have been more than 13, swinging fire around his head and juggling with it too. Then they lit rope and the people from the bar were skipping - jumping over this flaming rope after lord knows how many buckets of alcohol. Mad!
Off to bed now. Looking forward to seeing the place in the light and having a swim