Thailand – Beach, Airport and Russians, Phuket

Nai Yang, Phuket, Thailand, May 2017: To find a clean beach around here takes some effort. After having arrived here a day or 2 ago only to be greeted by the dirtiest beach I’ve seen anywhere in Asia – even the beaches in Sihanoukville, Cambodia are cleaner then here! So after a few hours of exploration here’s how to find a clean beach, close to Nai Yang, on foot and without paying a 200 baht fee.

  1. Just before the pay booth there’s a road between 2 sections of jungle. Take this for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Take the next track on the right by a gate. It meanders towards the middle section of Nai Yang’s beach, about another 10 minutes.
  3. Head North towards the airport and after 20 minutes the garbage is gone, and so are the tourists.
  4. Another 10 -15 minutes north and the airport runway appears and so do a few tourists, the beach isn’t perfect here but not bad either.
  5. Another 10 minutes and there’s a near perfect spot and populated with plenty of vacationing Russians. A fallen log, a swing seat and a hammock to share between about 20 – but its still better than Nai Yang’s dirty beach. A lunch time the place empties and one has that dessert island feel. Here’s a few pictures….

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So with some effort, there is a clean beach, not that far from Nai Yang and if one likes aeroplanes then here it’s the perfect combination. Bring supplies since the beach sellers are somewhat unreliable, in short supply. and are really only limited to coconuts and instant noodles. Personally, I fill up at breakfast time – easy for me because I’m non-alcoholic thus no hangovers ūüôā .

Thailand – 200 Baht and a Dirty Beach, Phuket

Nai Yang, Phuket, Thailand, May 2017:¬† I hate to do this, but since I’m not being paid to write nice things, I can! I have to dispel the myth that Thailand’s beaches are pristine – the Beach here in Nai Yang on Phuket Island is filthy. Adding insult to injury the authorities here are demanding a 200 baht payment from Whites before even stepping foot near to the so called pristine white sands Thailand is famous for. Since its my first Thai beach experience, this is a huge disappointment, not a great start to the week.

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Its not all bad news though. Before 8.30 Am and after £.30 PM the payment booth is unattended and when the booth is manned there are ways to navigate around it requiring a little bit of jungle trekking.

Thailand – Phuket via Bangkok and the Phoenix

Bangkok. Thailand, May 2017:¬† Its a 5 1/2 hour flight with Air Asia X from Seoul to Bangkok’s Don Meuang International Airport. 10 days in Thailand, mostly on Phuket Island and in the vicinity of Nai Yang¬†(Google Map). ¬†With an 11.30 AM departure plenty of time to grab a few airplane photos. Quite a lot of photos as it happens – there’s a 90 minute delay on this Air Asia X Airbus 330 flight.

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Bangkok Don Meuang is an easy airport to get through because there aren’t that many international flights thus immigration queues are relatively short. If one is travelling light with only cabin baggage then plane seat to bus stop is about 40 minutes. Now I need to get across to the Phoenix Hotel located in the Lat Krabang area, right next to Bangkok’s main gateway airport – Suvarnabhumi.

So here’s how to get across to the Phoenix hotel, for a night stop prior to the next flight leaving Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport:

Don Meuang bus stop (Google Map), local public bus 29 or 25 to the Sky Train station of Mo Chit (Google Map) Around 30 minutes and about 35p for the ride.

BTS Sky Train from Mo Chit to Phaya Thai – transfer to the airport line. Journey time of about 20 minutes costing 80p.

Phaya Thai (Google Map) airport line to Lat Krabang (Google Map), one stop before the airport, 97p and 40 minutes.

From Lat Krabang station, the Phoenix hotel is about 15-20 minutes of stomping along some rather menacing looking streets – yes its dark, almost 10 pm, prime time for the plethora of guard dogs eyeing up the situation of a lone tourist weighed down with a backpack! Thankfully they’r all behind bars, or at least tied up as they snarl, snap and bark in unison. I’m glad to finally reach the Phoenix and crash (Google Map)

Next Stop, Phuket….

 

 

Kuala Lumpur – Manila – Puerto Princesa

Bangkok. Thailand, April 2016. Tomorrow, Sunday I will fly to Kuala Lumpur, night stop and fly out to the Philippines on Monday. I should arrive in Puerto Princesa, Palawan Late afternoon – hopefully ūüôā

So, until Malaysia, enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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The best photo award go’s to this Colourful Bird spotted in Bangkok City Park

Thailand – Bangkok, The cost of 9 Days

Bangkok, Thailand, April 2016. Bangkok is always a good place to stay – vibrant, exciting and always something good to eat! A city that keeps me coming back, and back again. Here’s a rundown of the cost of a 9 day¬†stay in Bangkok.

Being outside the tourist area the cost of living is actually petty good. Food is cheap and excellent value for money while groceries are reasonably priced – milk, tea bags similar to the UK. Breakfast, lunch and dinner always less than a pound each meal. Water was freely provided as part of the room cost as was toiletries.

  1. Accommodation, double bed apartment in Chatuchuk  9 nights £111
  2. Transport, Metro, Sky Train and buses across 9 days £6.20
  3. Food and drink, local eats, coffee from Seven Eleven across 9 days £30.60
  4. Groceries Рtea bags, milk, bug spray and laundry powder £3.75
  5. Flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok Don Muang Airport £27.37
  6. TOTAL 9 Days £178.92. Minus the flight cost then actual cost of living, £151.55 over 9 days, £16.83 per day.
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    Balcony View from the Apartment

     

Thailand – Bangkok, The Sky Train

Bangkok. Thailand, April 2016. Not a new concept by any means but the elevated mass transit system weaving between the skyscrapers of downtown Bangkok is one that gives visitors some outstanding cityscape views as well as a good ride above the traffic jams!

So, why not buy a 1 station ticket and ride around the Bangkok Sky Train lines for a while and take-in those amazing views on the horizon, and of course a closer look at some pretty innovative architecture in the downtown. Its a pretty cool way to spend an hour or 2.

Riding the BTS around downtown an getting out at each station is a good way to grab some unique photos as seen here.

Thailand – Bangkok, Fusion with Nature

Bangkok, Thailand, April 2016.¬†Probably the best city park anywhere in Southeast Asia. Situated in the Chatuchuk area, this park provides a true oasis in an urban jungle. I’ve visited several times and each time I see something different – plants, wild animals, insects. This is where city and nature come together without boundaries and co-exist happily, if only for a few hours under the palms.

Easily accessible via the Mo Chit BTS station, Chatuchuk Metro station or a host of buses including numbers 3, ¬†510, 29, 134 and 503. Its quite a vast area so visitors should allow at least 3 hours to walk the entire area beginning from beside the Metro station. There are some pretty big monitor lizards here so be careful and never get too close – even if they look dead they’r not! Chatuchuk is also home to a famous weekend market, another vast area that’ll take hours to explore. I’m not going there this trip since I was there a while back, but believe me its worth ¬†exploring. ¬†Google Map.

The Bangkok Butterfly House is situated here in Chatuchuk park but don’t expect to see many exotic butterflies. On my visit here a few days ago I spotted about 10 of the insects across 2 species, so the place may disappoint some visitors. The good news though ¬†is that its a free entry attraction!

So here is how the city and nature are co-existing in Bangkok. Rather randomly there is an old steam train, clearly unloved gathering leaves right on the northern edge of the park. I don’t know the history around here but it looks like this train ran out of steam right there and then, some 50 or so years ago.

Warning: Don’t chase or touch the lizards ¬†– it’ll be a regretful decision!

Thailand -Bangkok, Old City

Bangkok, Thailand, April 2016. The historical area of Bangkok is worth a look. Stretching from Khao San Road and the Democracy Monument towards the Chao Phraya River and extending south visitors will find a wealth of history to explore. The grandeur of the Palace, small streets lines with traditional shop houses and still used as such, many temples and religious buildings displaying splendid colours and not forgetting the centuries old riverside communities – all waiting to be explored. The place is busy, especially around the Grand Palace with Chinese, Korean and Japanese tour groups giving ticket touts a run for their money.

And when it gets too much visitors can retreat to the Thammasat University canteen and grab some lunch with the students – yes, eat cheap, drink cheap here at Thammasat, itself a historical attraction being the seat of discontent and revolution along the path to democracy. The place here has so much food choice that its quite bewildering at first. All good local food mostly with one booth taking on the western burger theme. I settled for a mild chicken curry, tasty and only 30 Baht (60p).

Easily accessible via bus 203, 503 or Chao Phraya Express Boat Tha Chang Pier. From Khao San Road its a 25 minute walk. Allow at least a few hours to see the main sights – Grand Palace, Temples etc. To explore every nook and cranny I’d set aside the whole day! On the other hand Tuk Tuk drivers will gladly take visitors on a whirlwind tour of the area – negotiate hard for at least 50% less than the original price!¬†Google Map.

The streets outside Thammasat University, colourful and occupied with locals selling all manner of illegal items – illegal in Britain of course. Gun, animal skin and plenty of ivory products. When done with lunch in the University canteen, head underground to the library coffee shop and join students in a nice fresh coffee.

Quaint streets, art and tour groups…life in old Bangkok.

Thailand -Bangkok, Chao Phraya River Express

Bangkok, Thailand, April 2016.¬†By taking a ride on the Chao Phraya Express Boat, visitors to Bangkok will not only get to see the stunning Sky Line view, but will also be able to take a peak at some historical architecture that isn’t always accessible from the land! Yes, a ride on the river will give one a fascinating look into life on the Chao Phraya in Bangkok – past, present and future!

Express boat from Sathorn Pier (Google Map) to Tha Chang (Google Map)

So here are the views a 15 Baht (30p) ticket will buy…Pretty nice!

And on the edge of the historical district where one can take a peak at some pretty old buildings with beautiful architecture including the spires of the Grand palace.

The river is a busy place…

 

Thailand – Bangkok, City Views for less than a Dollar

Bangkok, Thailand, April 2016. Visitors on a tight budget likely won’t be staying on the 45th floor of the Hilton or dining in a sky-bar downtown Bangkok, where city sky-line views can come at a hefty price.¬†Here are a couple of exciting alternatives that wont dent the budget and provide some pretty nice views of the city – for under a Dollar!

1. Boat Ride the Bangkok River. The Chao Phraya River flows north to south through the middle of Bangkok and is a hub of transportation as river buses, water taxis, ferries, tourist boats and cargo barges continuously sailing the length and breadth of the waterway Р the place can look pretty hectic at times. For just 15 Baht visitors can ride a water taxi pretty much the length of the city and at the same time experience some rather nice skyline views.

Here’s how I took the local water taxi boat south to north and took in some awesome scenery. The most accessible pier is outside the Saphan Taksin Sky Train Station, Sathorn Pier. The first and most prominent ticket counter is selling tickets for the tourist boat (blue flag) at 40 Baht. Bypass this and join the queue behind it. That’s a queue for the local water taxi called the Chao Phraya Express, and soon someone will collect the 15 Baht and issue a ticket. Wait for the next boat with an orange flag and enjoy the ride along Bangkok’s famous Chao Phraya river. I’d recommend getting off in the historical district at Tha Tien or Tha Chang pier and explore the Grand Palace, Thammasat University and some quaint streets.

2. Ride the Sky Train.¬†Riding the famous Bangkok Sky Train is an exciting way to get a more personalised view of Bangkok as the lines meander right through the hart of downtown. Buy the cheapest ticket, there appears no time limit, and ride around for a few hours getting off at various stations for that elevated view of the city. Don’t forget to end the journey¬†at a station appropriate to the ticket price or there could be trouble! But its a fun way to grab a few photos of Bangkok – i’d recommend avoiding rush hour though! I paid 42 Baht since I needed to alight at Mo Chit. I then spent a good couple of hours riding around, taking a look at Bangkok hassle free.

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More photos of the river ride and Sky Train journey are coming up on the next blog post.