Polo in Phuket

A flashback to our unforgettable holiday in Thailand during Jun/ July last year.

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Life is a Holiday (reprise)

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 17 July 2012: 5 years 10 months on … Advantage ED

Before we left on our holiday to Thailand, we did a lot of research, homework and preparation. We read books, searched the internet and chatted to people who had been there before.

We packed appropriately, got our documentation in order and ensured that we had the correct currency.

In short, we ensured that we were well-prepared for the trip.

Then, off we went.

We knew we had limited time and that the trip would end. So we ensured that we used every available moment at our disposal. Time spent sleeping or in hotel rooms was wasted, so we did as much as we possibly could in the days available to us.

Time not utilised was lost to us – we would not pass that way again and would not be able to recoup the moments lost.

We had to live in each and every moment, enjoy the moment, savour the moment, relish the moment, delight in the moment, take pleasure in the moment, appreciate the moment and value the moment.

Sometimes, one is so busy taking photographs in order to save the moment for future memories that you are unable to take the pleasure in the fullness of that very moment.

There would be no time for regrets, no going back and no doing it over again.

And even when we realised that our time was running out fast, that we only had so “many sleeps” left and that the end was certain, it didn’t help to lament about it – we just had to keep on going and do as much as possible.

Along the way, we appreciated everything we saw. We marvelled at the world around us. Despite the weather sometimes being good and sometimes bad, we had to make do with what came our way. Despite the heat, the humidity and conditions far from ideal, we persevered. Despite heavy monsoon rains, we made alternative plans to lying on the beach – we hired scooters and bought rain ponchos and continued to explore the island of Phuket and enjoy ourselves.

It didn’t help blaming the fact that we hadn’t always made sufficient preparations to cover all eventualities. We had to make decisions on the fly.

And, yes, before we knew it, it was over – as we say here in South Africa: finished and klaar!

The question is how did the experience change us and what will we remember; and what did we do to make a difference to the lives of those we met along the way? Will they and how will they remember us?

Such is life!

In our formative years, we prepare with the help of others, at home and at school, for the journey that lies ahead of us. It is essential that we are well-prepared.

We know that our time is limited on this earth so we should not procrastinate, not delay, but make the most of every moment of our life. We should not waste – not even a single moment.

Time not utilised is lost to us – we will not pass this way again and we will not be able to recoup a single moment lost.

We have to live in each and every moment, enjoy the moment, savour the moment, relish the moment, delight in the moment, take pleasure in the moment, appreciate the moment and value the moment.

Somehow, it is so difficult to do that. We are often so busy blaming our past and preparing for our future that we lose our present, and that particular moment that we are living in.

But there is no time for regrets, no going back and no doing it over again. An unutilised moment passed is a moment lost!

And when our time runs out, when we only have so “many sleeps” left and the end becomes certain, it won’t help to lament about our life – we just have to keep on going and do as much as is possible in the time we have left.

Along the way, we must appreciate everything we see. We can only marvel at the world around us.

Despite the odds, we have to make do with what comes our way. When we have excellent conditions, we must make the most of them. Despite adverse conditions, we must persevere and make alternative plans and continue to enjoy ourselves.

And before we know it, when it is all finished and klaar, the question will be: “How did the experience of life change us and what will we take with us. What did we do to make a difference to the lives of those we met along the way? Will they remember us and how will they remember us?

After all, life should be a holiday!

 

 

 

 

Market Day (Thailand Day 15: Saturday 7 July 2012)

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Written on Saturday 25 August 2012: 5 years 11 months on … Advantage CBD

I was “Thai-ED”and needed to sleep. It was our second last night on The Island.

Saturday morning, and it was Market Day in Phuket Town. That is where the group was headed.

All except me, that is. I decided that I had had enough shopping and would remain behind at the hotel. A relaxing day at the pool and on the beach … but the rain continued and so, there were brief moments in the sun at the pool for me interspersed with a number of lazy naps in our hotel room.

The Poncho Brigade left in the rain for Phuket Town round about noon. They visited some malls and the Phuket Weekly Saturday Market – shopped ‘til they dropped! The last of the Bhats had to be spent before our return to SA on the next day (Sunday).

Saturday evening, we celebrated Phill’s birthday in Thai style at the restaurant next door to our hotel. Originally, we planned to go through to Kata Beach – a more vibrant area – but I think the bums were tired from all the scootering around the shopping areas of Phuket! So, it was simply a short walk up the water-logged road to our local neighbourhood Thai restaurant. Besides Phill’s birthday, we also celebrated our last dinner together in the East.

Tomorrow, Sunday, would see us returning to SA. It would be our “goodbye” day and as my ex-pupil, David Aldo (Abbate) sings from Los Angeles – “Where’s the good in goodbye?”

 

Fantasea (Thailand Day 14: Friday 6 July 2012)

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Written on Saturday 25 August 2012: 5 years 11 months on … Advantage CBD

The rain continued with brief spells of intermittent sunshine. In fact, for me, the weather conditions were far more comfortable during the rainy periods. Despite the temperature being high, the humidity level would drop a bit and make the outdoor conditions far more tolerable.

We had originally hired the scooters until Friday (today) but realised that it was far easier to get around on them than to have to use the taxi or the tuk-tuks. So we went back to the scooter vendor in Kata (the lessor or is it the lessee?) who was only too happy to extend the lease (ha! Ha! No paper work – all verbally!) and to continue to hold my SA driver’s licence as his collateral on the scooters! (Ha! Ha! Sing Ha! He also didn’t know that I have a duplicate driver’s licence in my wallet!)

The plan for Friday morning was to spend time on the beach – that rained out. Instead, I had a foot massage, a pedicure and … eventually a full Thai massage in the hotel lobby area!

Pera and I had booked to see the Fantasea Show at a venue just north of Patong Beach. The rest of the group planned to return to Patong to commence the early celebration of Phillip’s 17th birthday on the next day (Saturday 7 July). They had made arrangements with the friends they had made at the Bar Big Bang to braai and party the night away – and by now there was also a SA flag hanging there that had been procured somewhere in Phuket.

We were collected at the hotel by a taxi at about 17h30 and made two other stops to collect more patrons, arriving at the Fantasea complex well in time for the show which was due to commence at 19h00.

They had two sessions that evening: one group of 3 000 people sit down and have supper together in an enormous dining hall (Thai Buffet, of course!) whilst another group of 3 000 people watch the show (that was our group). The groups swap at 21h00 when our group went to supper and the first supper group go and watch the show!

The logistics of planning all this is as admirable as the show itself!

Hundreds of taxis arrive at the venue bringing people from every hotel on the Island. You are swiftly ushered to one of a number of queues to collect your tickets. In our case, where we were kept waiting for a few seconds because the person in front of us experienced a delay with his credit card, we were immediately ushered to the VIP queue, apologised to most profusely and given our tickets immediately.

Then each person has to hand in the camera and cell phone as photography is strictly prohibited. Imagine the logistics involved in collecting 3000 peoples’ recording devices but, again, all of this happens in minutes!

The show itself is a one and a half hour extravaganza of music, song, dance, prose, acrobatics, animals (including elephants, of course), magic, illusion, colour, laser, lights … a showcase of all that is Thai using the showcase of each and every media method that one can imagine.

After the show, in a matter of minutes, you are reunited with your valuables, and then we headed off to the dining hall – another example of Thai cuisine united with Thai logistics.

And then at 22h30, the taxi was waiting for us at Bay no 8, as arranged. We had originally planned to join the others at Big Bang in Patong to see in Phill’s birthday. However, we opted to be returned straight back to our hotel, the Katathani, in Kata Noi.

I was “Thai-ED”and “neED- ED” to sleep. It was our second last night on The Island.

 

 

S&T – Scooters and Temples (Thailand Day 13: Thursday 5 July 2012)

Thursday 5 July 2012

Wake up time 9am
Breakfast time 10h00 to 1100
Temp 32 degrees
Pouring rain still
Sitting in coffee room waiting to go scootering!!!
Rain rain go away!
Started pencilling in blogs
Bought ponchos to depart in the rain!
Left at one for Phuket Town on scooters in pouring rain … the Poncho People!
Visited Temple – Wat Chalong (Polite dress required – in effect meant the ladies needed to cover their shoulders, and all had to remove our Thai plastic “fish” sandles that we all had bought and were wearing by now)
Returned to Patong Beach – Visited Big Bang Bar
Lunch from the sidewalk scooter vendor (hamburgers! LOL)
Back to Kata Beach
Mostly in the rain
I went back to hotel (bum worn through on scooter!)- rest of group to 3- beach viewpoint for drinks
Rested
Supper at restaurant next door
Early sleep!

(Updated on Saturday 25 August 2012: 5 years 11 months on … Advantage CBD)

Pics from Thailand

Friday 24 August 2012: 5 years 11 months on… Advantage CBD

Sunday = Rest Day (Thailand Day 9: Sunday 1 July 2012)

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Written on Tuesday 21 August 2012: 5 years 11 months on … Deuce

Snooze, swim, Singha’s, shop, supper, shop, swim, sleep … until Sunday which was Day 9 of out trip.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.  Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2: 2-3)

Today was Sunday and was designated as our rest day from all the hard work of holidaying in Thailand that we had done!

Today was also the hottest of our entire trip – high of 36oC and low of 29oC! It was a windless day with humidity close to 90%! It was an ideal day for staying in the water – be it the hotel pool or the Andaman Sea at Patong Beach. The only problem is that sometimes you actually need cool water to swim in, because even the sea and pool water become too warm!

Thank God for air-conditioning – on what day did He create that?!

So, after breakfast, we headed for the pool and the beach and the sea.

We strolled, swam, Singha’d and snoozed … and shopped!

On Patong Beach there are all kinds of activities (for negotiable rental, of course!): loungers for snoozing, jet ski’s, parasailing, ski-ing, boating, Thai Massages, manicures, pedicures or just ordinary swimming (rent-free!) and, of course, shops – at which Pera bought pearls and the ladies organised tickets which would take us on a boat trip to Phi-Phi Island on Monday!

There is so much boating activity at Patong Beach that one could actually taste the petrol/diesel in the water! Paradise won – Paradise lost!

We slothed our way through the day – until it was supper time once again, and we headed back to Subai Subai for our daily dose of excellent, inexpensive Thai food and great hospitality.

So busy are they that we had to wait for a table – but, never-mind, until then there are … you guessed it …. more shops to peruse!

We walked back to our hotel, and on the way there, we stopped for lovely caramel and cream pancakes sold on the kerb by one of the (many!) street vendors.

Swim and sleep to end our rest day, and to prepare for an early start for our boat trip to Phi-Phi on Monday!

 

 

 

 

Big Buddha (Thailand Day 8: Saturday 30 June 2012)

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Written on Saturday 18 August 2012: 5 years 11 months on … Advantage ED

As usual, the nightly routine was a late-night swim before a well-deserved sleep. Saturday would be another early morning for our island tour.

Breakfast and ready by nine. It’s quite a thing to get up early when you start getting used to late sleep-ins!

Anyway, the tour guide was typically punctual (quite something for us Africans) and we all piled in – me in the front as usual. My numerous questions posed to the driver were always laughed at by the rest of the group. Hopefully, not because of the poor questions posed but always because of the poor understanding of English by the driver. (Thai’s generally understand and speak English very poorly and, of course, we understand and speak no Thai – a recipe for frustration!) So all my questions usually had poor responses, if any at all! Political responses, I call them, the type where the answer in no way matches the question posed!

Eventually, I just gave up asking questions and took in and savoured all that was to be seen.

We headed south from Patong Beach down the west coast of Phuket, passing Karon Beach, Kata Beach and Kata Noi Beach (noi meaning small, so that’s “small” Kata Beach where we would be moving to next Tuesday). That’s about a 20km winding up-and-down trip.

From the Kata 3-Bay viewpoint you are able to look north and see all three stunning beaches in one view. Photo time!

Continuing further south along that road, we passed Nai Harn Beach and then on to the most southern point of Phuket Island, the Sunset View Point at Promthep Cape. (Guess that’s about another 5km trip.)

After more photo’s, we continued northwards along the eastern seaboard of Phuket towards Phuket Town (or City as it’s also called!) – the main town on the Island. Before that we headed upwards (literally up Mount Nakkerd) to the Big Buddha, well known among Thais as the Phra Puttamingmongkol Eaknakakeeree!

The 45 metre high Buddha is 25metres across its base, layered with beautiful white jade marble and sits and shines in the sun on top of the mount between Chalong and Kata. It can be seen from far away and from it one has the best 360 views of the entire Phuket Island. More and more photo’s!

The final stop of our tour was on the outskirts of Phuket Town … at the jewellery shop, Wang Talang! We did a quick 5-minute walk through this International Lapidary and then transferred to another mini-bus to take us back to Patong beach. (From Phuket Town to Patong Beach is about 15km) 

The Bryants and our boys got off at the Burger King, and Pera and I did a clockwise trip north along the one-way Thaweewong Road (Beach Road) and south on Rat-u-Thit 200 Road, arriving back to our Amari Coral Hotel just after one pm.

Snooze, swim, Singha’s, shop, supper, shop, swim, sleep … until Sunday which was Day 9 of out trip.

Party at Patong (Thailand Day 7: Friday 29 June 2012)

 ©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Written on Saturday 11 August 2012: 5 years 11 months on … Advantage ED

On Friday morning, we were to meet our tour operator from World Travel Services, Mr Pombat, at 11h00 in the “over-looking Patong Bay” foyer of our hotel.

So, it was breakfast at ten. Then we met to confirm the arrangements for our trip back and to discuss any other tours that we would want to do whilst on Phuket.

There are a myriad of tours available and the prices – like everything else here – are negotiable! We tend to think that if anything is cheap then there must be a catch to it. But I guess the price of whatever you buy here in the line of tours and excursions is directly linked to what you get: the cheaper the price, the less you get and, of course, vice versa! The more you pay, the more frills and fancies are attached to the excursion.

We agreed and paid to do an orientation island tour at 09h00 on Saturday morning – BHT600 for all nine of us. Atrip to the famous Phi Phi Islands would cost (negotiable, of course!) BHT 2580 cash(!) per person.

For the rest – we got the run-down, got the pamphlets, took the names and the numbers, would consider our options and get back to them in due course. Of course, that simply meant that we would see if we could get it any cheaper elsewhere, bearing in mind that excursions are offered on sale along with every street vendor and on every other street corner!

But now it was swim time in the hotel pool, and in the Andaman Sea! Then some walked from the hotel along Patong Beach and back. A snooze for us followed, whilst the rest “kuiered”. We were scheduled to meet in Patong Town for supper at 19h00.

My usual radar device went faulty and we took the wrong turn, so we were hot and sticky and late by the time we met up!

Shop, ‘squabbling’ supper and a show followed (suggested to us by Joggie Viljoen, ex-Grey boy and Stormers rugby player – now in New Zealand – who was eating at a table behind us and came and introduced himself).

 

The show – Moulin Rose – was on the street where everyone lives in Patong, Bangla Road. A normal vehicular thoroughfare by day and a pedestrian precinct, a theatre land, pub land and entertainment centre by night – a seething mass of people who have come to see and to be seen. Young and old, young and young, old and old, and in many cases old Westerner male and young Thai female – all coming in search of Paradise, whatever Paradise may be for them!

 The show was enjoyable and far sexier than the one seen in Bangkok. It was a musical revue and the actresses all actors – a bevy of lady-boy beauties lined up on stage, off stage and afterwards – at a price – for photos and whatever else the heart desires.

It was time for me to return to the hotel – the old man and the stick! It’s quite an experience to walk alone through late-night Patong … 

 … Beach Road, Patong, lead us not into temptation but straight back to the Amari Coral Hotel at the southern end of Patong Beach on the Island of Phuket in the Kingdom of Thailand!

As usual, the nightly routine was a late-night swim before a well-deserved sleep. Saturday would be another early morning for our island tour.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Phuket: Island of Dreams (Thailand Day 6: Thursday 28 June 2012)

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Written on Friday 3 August 2012: 5 years 11 months on … Advantage ED

It WAS already Thursday morning when I put my head down on the pillow.

We would have to get up earlier this morning, as later on Thursday we were flying to Phuket and needed to get to the airport.

I was first up and had breakfast by myself! The rest were either sleeping in, still cross with me or shopping!

Sawasdee!

At 09h30 we all met in the hotel foyer and waited on our taxi’s to arrive to transfer us to the Bangkok International Airport. There we checked in, explored the airport, and awaited our Thai Airlines Airbus A330 Flight TG211 to Phuket International Airport  due to leave at 12h15. I found myself considering this strange breed of people in transit that, at any given time occupy airports and aeroplanes all over the world. A seething mass of humanity on the move – either on the ground locked into airport buildings or in the air locked into large tin cans traversing the skies over our wonderful world. Maybe, sometime I’ll write about the “Travelling Willbury’s”!

It was a short flight of 1 hour and twenty minutes, partly over the Thai Peninsula and some of it over the Gulf of Thailand. Very soon, I could see the bluish-green sea and the white beaches of the Island of Phuket (and even the causeway bridge that connects Phuket with the Thai peninsula mainland).

The camera snapped away as we came in to land from east to west. You come in over the sea on the western side of the island, see the water, see the beach, see the runway, touchdown, brakes … and by the time you get to the end of the runway you see the beach and sea on the western side of the island!

Phuket International is a smallish airport, and as it was a domestic flight for us, we did not have to proceed through customs and passport control. We collected our luggage, and were met outside the front door by our taxi driver to the hotel. The sign said LUNNON and it’s always reassuring to see your name and someone waiting for you!

Almost an hour long trip followed to Patong Beach and to our home for the next five nights – the Amari Coral Hotel situated on and overlooking the southern side of Patong Beach and Patong Bay.

We checked in, received our welcoming drink and our cold “lappie”(facecloth) to wipe down the face and leave on the back of your neck to cool down, and then went to our beautiful Andaman sea-facing rooms, with the waves  lapping right below our balconies.

But no time for that – we headed straight for the hotel’s pool, happy hour and our first exotic tropical  Island style cocktail cocorico drink served in a coconut in the pool. Heaven could not be better than this.

A few hours later, we left the pool, changed and headed into Patong “City” to see the sights and to find supper.

The tuk-tuk dropped us off at the famous Bangla Road. From there, we explored until we were “spotted” and stopped by a friendly South African couple who advised us to dine at a little Thai restaurant called Sabai Sabai (Thai meaning “all is good and well”). We would return there often, as the food was good, the atmosphere great and the prices very inexpensive – yes, all was good and well!  SA and Aussie business cards, messages, names and signatures adorn the walls!

After supper, just a bit more scouting, shopping (!), and snorting (Singha’s) – until it was time for me to call it a night. I walked up the steep hill back to the Amari, had the obligatory midnight swim (it was 28 degrees and the water not much cooler!) and then dozed off to sleep in my lovely air-conditioned room at 17 degrees with the sound of the waves crashing on the beach below..  

On Friday morning, we were to meet our tour operator at 11h00 in the “over-looking Patong Bay” foyer of our hotel.