ED is in week EnDing Tuesday 28 Aug 2012

 

5 years 11 months on … Advantage CBD

  • Mon 20: Gardener; Not feeling well – lay down for most of day (first time since being ill)
  • Tue 21: Visit from Gill (HOSPICE); massage by Julian (not well for rest of week)
  • Wed 22: AlgoaFM broadcast; Gym at Humewood; Visit by Isaac; Cancelled Trivia Quiz at Grey
  • Thu 23:Men’s Club Meeting at Bridge Street Brewery; Nadine visit; Ivan Berkowitz visit; Lance Armstrong has medals stripped and banned for life
  • Fri 24: Lunch with Andrew Barton at Thai Restaurant
  • Sat 25: BuildaBurger at home; Springboks vs Argentina (draw); Death of Neil Armstrong (astronaut)
  • Sun 26: Gym; Finished off  Thailand blogs
  • Mon 27: Admin
  • Tue 28: Visit Sr Gill; Dallas after thirty years!

Come back to Earth with a Bump! (Thailand Day 22) – Reprise

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 16 July 2012: 5 years 10 months on … Advantage ED

It was approximately half past five in the evening on Saturday 14 July 2012 – the last day of our trip and we were approaching Port Elizabeth airport.

British Airways Boeing Flight 6237 from JHB to PLZ was about to land. We couldn’t see from which direction because outside it looked like pea-soup! The pilot had said that there was a strong southerly wind blowing and that it was raining hard.

We had read that the coast was in the grips of a severe storm and I had phoned the airways before we left to ensure that all was in order. I was assured that all flights were travelling normally.

But this landing was far from normal … you couldn’t see a thing until we emerged from the cloud just above the Port Elizabeth harbour. The wind was buffeting the plane from the left side as we came down with the engines racing. The we lurched to the right, back to the left and then hit the ground hard … bump, bump, bump! Heads hit the lockers and people screamed. We shuddered, skidding from left to right to left along the runway, and then returned to normal as we slowly taxied to the airport building and parked right in front of the arrivals section.

There was a cacophony of noise inside the plane – nervous tension being released, I think – as passengers shouted, laughed, giggled and finally applauded the pilot for landing us safely. I would love to know at what point he would have decided to abort the landing; but we really had come back to earth with a bump! Both literally and figuratively!

The wind was howling and the rain was pouring down in sheets of water as we quickly sped across the concourse to the airport building. Port Elizabeth (and the country) was in the grips of a killer storm, and we had landed at the height of it. (It was howling, raining, flooding, snowing and had been since Thursday and was to continue until Monday.)

In the warmth of the arrivals terminal we collected our thoughts and our luggage. Then dashed to Kerri Botha’s double cab and slowly made our way home through the dark, windswept, wet, deluged streets of Port Elizabeth.

Once home, the boys quickly off-loaded the luggage in the pouring rain. We were all eager to see Charlie and he was nowhere to be found! Then suddenly he appeared at the sliding door on the front stoep – wet and cold and jumping all over us!

Yes – we were home – Charlie was our welcoming party in the height of the storm!

We ordered in burgers from Steers and started unpacking: washing, dirty clothes, crumpled clothes, summer clothes, winter clothes, new clothes, old clothes, pamphlets, passports, tickets, booklets, unused bahts, chargers, cables, phones, toiletries … it was the end of our trip.

As we unpacked our suitcases, we unpacked our memories and our thoughts of a magnificent holiday. Each item unpacked had some connotation attached to it and we shared this with each other. Later, the laptops, the I-Pads, the cameras and the photos were produced, compared, laughed at, recollected, transferred, stored, face-booked, emailed and shared with the world.

This would continue on Sunday and Monday and … who knows … as the storm abated, we would slowly come back to earth and return to normal life: Phillip back to the boarding house on Sunday, Pera back to work on Monday, Sean discovering that he still had a week’s holiday  ( at 9pm Saturday evening he was called out to do emergency NSRI rescue duty!) … and me?

Well, there’s the documenting of our holiday that needs to be done and will keep me occupied for the next few days.

In my mind, I have been comparing Life to a Holiday. There are so many similarities.

So, watch this space, as I try to share our exciting journey with you … and enjoy the pictures with us!

In the meantime, it was great falling asleep in my bed for the first time in three weeks!

Our grateful thanks are extended to all who made this trip possible.

 And to

  •          the Bryants from Plett who shared their holiday with us and did all the hard work as the tour guides
  •          Tyler Botha for looking after Charlie and the house
  •          The Uptons, Reelers, Moolmans and Keelings for their hospitality in Pretoria
  •          Cheryl Price and Kerri Botha for airport transfers

 

 

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

Scooters! (Thailand Day 12: Wednesday 4 July 2012)

Wednesday 4 July Independence Day USA

Wake up 09h00
Breakfast 10am to 11am
Pouring rain
30 degrees C
Water polo tournament in Kata Bhuri pool in pouring rain: 11 to noon
Iced coffee in Lobby Bar
Massages in room 2h30 to 3h30
AlgoAFM broadcast from room 3:30 (10h30 in SA) – A happy ending!
Sunshine!
Taxi to Kata Beach
Then to shops on way home
Booked for Fantasea show – Friday evening
Hired 2 scooters – Phil and I; Sean and Pera
Back to Katathani
Pre-dinner drinks
Off on scooters to Kata for supper
Supper
Shopping
Pub …. Games … Etc
Back to Katathani
Swim
Wimbledon on TV
Sleep!!!!

Katathani Here we Come (Thailand Day 11: Tuesday 3 July 2012)

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Patong Beach
Amari Coral Beach Hotel

Day to change hotels

Breakfast
Packed
Checked out at noon
Taxi to Katathani
Too early to check in
Walked around resort – viewed facilities
Checked in at three thirty
Beach
Pool
Started raining
Pre-drinks at the BP (Bryant’s Pad)
Supper next door at The Orchid Restaurant

Written on WED 22 AUGUST 2012: 5 YEARS 11 MONTHS ON … ADVANTAGE CBD

I made the above notes (and those of Wed 4 July and Thurs 5 July) on Thursday 5 July. They were the only notes I made during the trip and up until now I have been writing as much as my memory will allow me to do.

The only reason that I started writing notes on Thursday 5 July is because it started raining on the afternoon we moved hotels (Tuesday 3 July) and didn’t stop for the rest of the time that we were on Phuket! So there was time to write …

I will add the following now:

We had planned to spend five nights at the Amari Coral Beach Hotel on Patong Beach and then a further five nights at the Katathani Pukhet Beach Resort at the Kata Noi Beach. The resort calls itself the “Shores of Serenity” and it is only about ten kilometres further south from Patong Beach on the western Andaman Sea coastline of Phuket Island.

For those readers familiar with Port Elizabeth, it would be something like moving down the coast from the bustle of Kings Beach to the more sedate Cape Recife. On the Cape Peninsula it would be like moving from Clifton’s Fourth Beach to Kommetjie!

Katathani is a beautiful large holiday resort and offers daily activities such as pool volleyball, aqua aerobics, water polo, Thai boxing classes, Thai cooking classes, fruit and vegetable carving, walks, dance aerobics, Thai massages, yoga and personal trainers.

The resort consists of two sections – a larger one on the beach and a smaller section at the side and facing but not quite on the beach. We were in this part, so we lost our immediate waterfront rooms that we had become accustomed to at the Amari and the sound of the waves crashing on the beach below us.

But that water sound that we lost was replaced by another water sound – it started raining heavily on Tuesday afternoon and did so intermittently until we left on Sunday. It was warm rain falling from the sky as if someone was just standing there regularly squeezing out a sponge. It curtailed our beach visits somewhat, but for the rest we just had to make do with activities in the rain – even as much as a busy game of waterpolo in the hotel pool in drenching rain when at times it was difficult to see in front of you!

Because we checked in late, the hotel gave us vouchers which entitled our family to free Thai massages. We made use of them on Wednesday afternoon.

For the rest, Tuesday followed the activities as detailed above.

Phi Phi (Thailand Day 10: Monday 2 July 2012)

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

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

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

One of the excursions that we all wanted to do was a boat trip to Phi Phi Islands – the location at which the Leonardo de Caprio movie “The Beach” was filmed and often the postcard pictures that get used to advertise Thailand.

There are actually two islands – Phi Phi Ley and Phi Phi Don.

Tickets for these various excursions – besides being able to arrange them from home – are available all over Thailand, from Travel Agents through just about any of the shops to “sidewalk sellers”. The prices vary considerably and depend on number of people travelling, the add-ons and add-ins that one requires (like pick-ups at hotels, meals, type of boat, snorkelling, equipment, etc etc) and of course, how good one’s negotiating skills and endurance and perseverance are.

Alison and Pera had purchased our tickets at a sidewalk seller at Patong Beach on the Sunday. We were to be collected at the hotel at 7h30, transferred to the harbour at Phuket Town, taken to Phi Phi on a speedboat (no more than 50 people!), stop at a few places and eventually returned to our hotel at 17h00 that afternoon – all at the price of BHT900 per person (just less than R300).

And the tour operator through his agent commanded “Let there be Phi Phi Tour”. Evening passed and morning came – it was Monday and there was tour. And we were very pleased with what we saw and it was good!

We were picked up (again punctually!) and went eastwards across Phuket Island, through Phuket Town to the harbour. There we were given an orientation programme by our tour guide, a flamboyant ladybird,  as to the day’s events, safety etc and sea-sick pills for the hour long trip over the Andaman Sea to Phi Phi Ley.

The sea was not calm, as I believe it can be, and it was not rough, as I believe it can get. But we did bump a bit and on the way there and we did experience our first rain shower of the trip. Soon we turned the corner into Maya Bay and expecting a lonely beautiful tropical beach, I was quite shocked when I saw the hundreds of people on The Beach and the numerous boats offloading more and more! As some left, more arrived.

But what exquisite beauty to behold – beach, cliffs, sea, sand, vegetation! The photos tell it all …

We swam for a while (and dodged boats) before we departed to Viking Cave, Monkey Beach and Phi Phi Don Island.

After lunch on Phi Phi Don Island, we snorkelled  and then left for Khai Island. The boys were a bit disappointed that we did not find the 20m cliff that Mr Rory Duncan, their rugby coach, had challenged them to jump off! Maybe next time!

We had about an hour to snorkel on Khai, swim or just to gape at the hundreds of people who were lying on the beach under a myriad of umbrellas.

Then we headed back to Phuket Town and onwards back to the Hotel in Patong City. We were a bit bumpier for the boat ride but it had been so well worth it. What an experience!

A swim in the hotel pool was followed by the obligatory nap, and then we had supper at the hotel. For some or other reason, still not quite known to me, we were given “apology” complimentary tickets for hotel dinner (which are normally much more expensive than meals obtainable at restaurants).

The Bryants went to town for supper (Subai Subai!) and we had dinner “in style” in the diningroom overlooking Patong Bay. There was just one other couple there and we were joined by an Aussie who was travelling by himself and who I had met earlier in the pool. Dinner came complete with an evening of Thai entertainment (spot the “lady boys”!) and a drinks bill for a round of drinks that was far more expensive than had we gone for a meal and two rounds of drinks on the town!!

Ha! Ha! Caught again! But the buffet of Thai food was excellent, and we really did fill up, so I guess it was well worth it (and anyway, so much cheaper than back home.)

We were very “Thai-ED” when, after the usual late night swim, we eventually went to bed and drifted off to sleep. Tuesday, the next morning, would see us having to move to our next hotel at Kata Noi Beach.