Saturday, 9 July 2016

Hua Hin Thailand Xmas 2015

Hua Hin Thailand

The royal Thai family have resided in this town and certainly return now and then on vacation, so we were looking forward to seeing what all the fuss was about, the Train journey was very much delayed and arrived us in its stunning train station much later than we expected it was dark on arrival and we had no where to stay...ha ha. (well we had booked a hostel somewhere but thank god we did not stay there it was terrible) we walked around a bit and asked at a few places but we were running out of time, it was about 10pm at night. We also knew from Bangkok what prices we should be paying.

 We found a Dutch bar...(Dutch are everywhere) who had rooms to rent above the bar, it wasn't a kicking bar at all and the guy said he could rent us scooters as well, and gave us a good deal for 4 days and a good deal on a new scooter....we were sorted with a family room balcony and air con on the third floor, costing in Holiday season (Xmas) 4500 Bhat (£67) in total, and they did a breakie too and we had Dutch beer below....was I dreaming, also next door he owned a free pool table with darts etc etc....what a deal....I had to pinch me self.

We dumped bags, got settled in and headed across road for food, which was as normal as pie served to us by a lovely lady boy dressed in a delightful evening dress after chowing down we started to map where we were in relation to stuff and most importantly the beach....!!!! we strolled around and eventually found the beach and a bar that went out over the waters edge, the tide was coming in and we sat alone on the waters edge sipping a proper cocktail (with alcohol) not a crappy Malaysian Mocktail... after which we wandered along the beach which was beautiful in the dark. A head of us we could see what looked like to be a party, when we arrived we found it was being set up for the next few nights and they were getting it ready, it looked great on the beach. It was being sponsored by Singha beer and the Heritage Hotel a very swanky place, which from all accounts was having a festival over the next few days, it was lush as and in the day they served free beer, i really was in heaven.

The first day in Hua Hin was lush we had a high view over a road junction so great for people watching, got up dressed and out, we got the bike and shot off to fall in love Hua Hin, it really is  a cool town, one long road takes you up and down the coast and the resort is backed by the railway line behind and all sort of local stuff goes on on the other side of the Rail line inland its where all the locals reside and has all of the temples and an art cultural centre which we went to as well, having a scooter is crucial in these parts as your free to spend as much or as little time as you wish in places.

The markets were smaller and less aggressive as in the sales tactics of Bangkok and this gave the place a warmer slower more leisurely feel to it, i bought some traditional Thai trousers, (not worn them since they keep falling down)...Steph bought some items as well, but although the markets are cheap compared to the UK they are not silly silly cheap, if you buy something really cheap it will genuinely be crap and not worth the time or effort in buying. Some of the sea food looked great and they had restaurants built in behind the stalls of sea food, you chose your fish or crab etc and sat down and they cooked it live in front of you, it was very busy and very popular, some the sea food went into high sums of money for unusual catches or delicacies.

Hua Hin has a few famous upmarket Markets, Cacada is one of them, a short ride up the coast on the scooter got us there, it was very European in its layout and design, there was free music going on in a separate open air natural amphitheatre, there were hundreds of stalls, done very stylishly, there was also a theatre again designed as an amphitheatre but we missed the show, next door to Cacada is another market done in the old worldly Thai way, gravel paths shoddy stalls and more lets say local, but to be honest this market had much more character and in the middle they had live bands playing around a little circular bar, you just got some chow bought a beer and sat it was also much cheaper, miles away from uptight NO FUN MALAYSIA which has laws against having a good time and feeling anything fun at all whilst out and about (Langkawi Island excluded).

I also got my best Thai massage at cacada from Lily, and i mean a proper massage no questionable extras, again much better than the thumping the crap out of you Chinese crap you get in Ipoh.

It was a great destination and I recommend it to anyone, its not stunning paradise or like the islands but it has a very friendly vibe to it, and at night things and areas that looked so innocent during the day changed into a ladyboy and prostitute mayhem area during the night where all manner of things could be bought or sold depending on your needs. Always remember to check the size of feet should you consider trying anything....

One night I walked this area alone and got locked out of our flat as Steph was asleep and had the key? to walk through these alleyways as a lone man is a tough thing to do, the girls and er men grab you, stroke you hug you (very strong grip type hugs) and whisper into your ear that they want you, YOU are the one for them and YOU should spent some time with them....etc etc....possibly all night. all normal massage places turn into skin on skin treatments for a much higher white faced tax price.

I found a bar and ducked in to hide as it seemed less aggressive and met a Dutch guy who was alone and just chilling out and had lived here for years, and he told me all i needed to know about the night life of Hua Hin, some good, some hilarious some not so good. But of all the advice he gave me it was the feet story that stuck, watch the ones with big feet, of all the treatments a man can have done to become a lady, they cannot change the feet (as of 2015)...a size ten in heels is not for you he said ha ha ha. When someone tells you this what do you do....yep you look at everyone's feet, then he gave me the next bit of good advice, dont stare at their feet, the best thing you can do to avoid a knife in the back is compliment them on how beautiful they are but that you kindly dont need their services tonight, and smile...

Spending a night trying to disguise the fact your looking at lady boy feet isn't easy....but if you are of the ilk to desire such a woman most of the real women available wear flip flops whereas the ladyboys never do. I was locked out till about was an interesting night watching girls supposedly with guys doing everything they can not to give out anything....the whole scene is a con, when went back another night with Stephanie I was mostly ignored. peace at watch more feet.....

Pictures later...

We headed for phuket next on the Bus.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Bangkok Thailand by sleeper Xmas 2015.

Our Xmas break offered us the chance to see foreign lands and we were recommended by a colleague to try Thailand, a much looser more open minded and lady boy laden country than Malaysia....mmm.

As always we were on a budget and was told of a super cheap way of getting there, by train (sleeper in fact) so I shot down to Ipoh station to enquire, lucky for me which is not always the case I got someone who could speak good English (thank the lord) and they explained to me that there were only two tickets left in the whole of December for that train...yesh the whole of December!!! I was asking on the 4th...  the only day you could get to Bangkok was on the 13th of December and they were the only two tickets available. I paid immediately and I paid 113 MR for me bottom bunk (larger) and 103 MR for Stephanie top bunk. This price to travel 22 hours on a train was £17 each thereabouts....British Rail eat yer heart out.

Of course being Malaysia we could not catch the train from Ipoh we had to go to another station called Butterworth and the bus to that location was 20 MR (£3) each.

In Malaysia I have to say never try to get close connections when travelling, the bus drivers and train drivers just leave when they are good and ready regardless of what your watch says, they call it Malaysian time, our bus left an hour late...and that is very reasonable in Malaysia, we were lucky.

In Butterworth all of the buses, trains and ferry's over to the island all depart from the same location, so we popped across to wait for our train....there I was expecting a huge 10 carriage monster but a piddly 2 carriages rolled up and we all got on, the train was at first sight very basic and even uncomfortable and we could not work out how we would sleep at all, what we did not realise was that your sleeper part of the ticket only starts at the border with Thailand before that seats were sold so we had people next to us until then.

The border was cool, and the passport control was on the middle platform, so we all got through and back on the train, there were massive clunks and bangs as other Thai carriages were added on including a buffet car and more sleepers, then loads of ladies and men pile on with offerings of food, some very strange items it has to be said some not so. This happened every time the train stops, and you could as I did buy food straight out of the train window by just catching their eye or by calling them over. Another thing that's cool on Thai trains is that no doors are locked they let the breeze flow through so all of the windows are wide open and in the join between carriages you can sit with your feet dangling outside, you could even jump off at stops as many locals did, even in between stations when the train slowed crazy but fun. I found myself sitting there watching the world go by, an experience you'd never get in the UK..

Many Thai people live on the edge of the railway line and use it as a way of making a living selling their food on board, clearly these people I will assume are very poor and it was sad to see some of the more serious poverty sights, terrible really, no way to live at all.


The Journey through Thailand with the wide window view we had was stunning, it is a beautiful albeit poor country, the landscape really is a joy to watch go by and we were touched by it because you see how they farm the land and their methods clearly have not changed over the years and look so out dated, but the romance of it all, its as if you could taste it. But of course this must be a very hard life, and the poverty on the railways edge looked painfully sad.

As twilight drew near we were fascinated to see how they started to set the beds up, and the basic seats we had turned into lush freshly clean sheeted beds mmmm, it was so cool I was like a 5 year old, being on the bottom bunk too was great as I had the window view, but Steph snuggled down for a while as it was that large....sleeping was a breeze and when morning came I just sat up and watched the sun-kissed landscape roll by, it was something I will never forget and hope to repeat, SEAsian trains are kinda cool.

During the night though id awaken occasionally when the train stopped at a station, you'd look up and out of the window looking all sleepy and be seen by loads of people looking in at you waiting at the station, but not only that your in the nod  and they are bemused by your state, and remember a lot of people in Thailand sleep on small station platforms as they stay dry. It was interesting to say the least.

Bangkok Thailand. 

Well as we slowly wound our way into the seething metropolis of concrete Bangkok, it was sad to see the country fade into a concrete jungle, they were doing so much work along the railway lines, building a mono rail above ground I believe. Slowly the train creaked its way in, crossing multiple lanes and criss crossing tracks on its way in. Bangkok station is in itself not too bad, a small crappy imitation of Waterloo in London from 1978 ha ha....with really weird food....(I was starving)

We got off and walked into our first real experience of Thailand, the shouting of taxis drivers tuk tuk drivers all baying for your financial blood, once we escaped them we caught the mono rail, got lost and then slowly found our way to the hostel (sweating profusely at this point). The hostel we used was a flashpackers called Lub D Hostel (meaning 'sleep well' in Thai). It was a hostel I would recommend with a bar and great staff, beds are as you'd expect, but all you needed was there, even a travel agents etc etc.

Be in no doubt Bangkok, is not traditional Thailand in any sense, it is a manic crazy fucked up place, where everyone is baying for your money, you are seen as nothing more than a walking wallet, the hostel protects you from about 2M from the door, but as soon you walk out side of that imaginary zone, the shouts start...''Hey you where you go?....come I take you now get in!!!!'....etc etc etc. The Taxis are a complete rip off and most of the Tuk Tuk drivers have scams where your taken to shops and get locked in until you buy something off of their sponsors....!! crazy but fun..well sort of.

Once you've started walking they fade and then others approach you for special sexual shows and or massage, these people can actually grab you hold on to your arm and be very persuasive in there way of selling or promoting there goods, at first your a little shell shocked and then you start playing hard ball with them and they back off, they are only really after the newbies which you are for 24 hours, if you've never been before, like us - on day 3 and 4, it was easier to get rid of them, maybe you just get a look in your eye and they see it? ...

In Bangkok we saw in our short time there -
  • The Grand Palace 500 Bhat. - stunning really really stunning, something I will never forget. 
  • The laying huge Buddha - again a wonderful experience, tearful in its beauty, very emotional if honest.
  • Travelled by the river boats most of the time. 
  • Experienced dodgy and good tuk tuk rides. 
  • Saw the craziness of real china town...
  • Climax the Night club (the most famous lady boy club in Bangkok)....we made it out alive just!!
  • Koa San Road - an amazing experience not to be missed...we stayed until 6:30 need to do it again though at our age...amazing. 
  • Found a superb blues band Bar and drank cocktails on a street corner whilst listening. 
  • Met some great peeps. 
There is massage offerings and pie everywhere you turn all sorts of sex shows are on offer from all sorts of sexualities....what ever you fancy can be accommodated, this is fun at first but eventually tires on you as its all a con anyway, really good prostitutes cost an arm and a leg, where ever you are in the world the streets here just offer happy finishes etc, I indulged in many foot massages which could of ended being something very different if single....but i'm not.

That aside the markets are fun, I bought some Birkenstocks for £3 (they lasted me 3 weeks then i dumped them) killed me feet to be honest, i got some Thai shirts nice to be fair for about £3 not sure if washing will destroy the stitching well see. so you can get cheap stuff but my oh my it is crap......also when you buy something out here after you've paid they tap all the other items on the stall with your cash as if to spread the fortune of a sale over the stall, again the romance is nice. You do get hassled a lot and after a while it can get a bit annoying but thats Bangkok for ya.

It is without doubt the Palaces that took our breath away, some of the sculptures the Buddha's the buildings and the detailing is very impressive indeed, we were touched by it all, it was in a spiritual way very emotional, you could not help but be in awe and be humbled by it. It really was beautiful and we timed it right as we were nearly the last to leave the Grand Palace and we simply did not want to. The amount of pictures we took of the palaces is crazy and to many to show here you really must visit and for the best pictures get up early or go late to get the lower sunlight it catches everything and will make you pictures better, it is and will always be worth the money for sure. At the bottom of the post we have selected about twenty images or so to try and convey how impressive it was, i was very interested in the forms and the detailing hence some of pictures show this instead of classic shitte holiday pics or twaty selfies...hope you enjoy them.

We then bought some train tickets 2nd class to Hua Hin, down the coast and hoped for some Rest and relaxation away from the city hustle and bustle, the tickets were in a fanned carriage no aircon we paid about £7 each, for a 5 hour train trip approx. buying tickets were easy, and we love travelling by train in SEAsia. The train itself was comfy enough with big old reclining seats and we were not the only Europeans on this train either, lots of travellers.

Whilst waiting for the train to move onwards I once again found myself chilling in the doorway between carriages facing away from the platform side and watched kids washing in the water that was being released from another train, it is these scenes that touch you SEAsia, no police hassling them nothing, just having a wash on the railway line..simples.

Enjoy the pics off to Hua Hin next down the coast.

They are black before being sealed gold, I thought it made an interesting picture, some of the people were still working on them and there seemed to be no shortcuts or secret quick methods, it was intricate slow and meaningful work done by very dedicated people....attention to detail lost on the modern youth of today.

The Grand Palace will never be forgotten it was too beautiful really, it stays with you....

Hundreds of pictures we took, none of them really do it justice as is often the case, you'd need private access and hours with many lenses to get it in its best light....we tried. 

Personally I loved the colours and the lines, the tiling and the layouts and space used in its design, courtyards creating such peace and serenity, even with tourists around you would occasionally find yourself alone, and you didn't want the peace and quiet to end, you kind of wanted to stay all night, well I did. 

Thats all somewhere else now. 

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

October break - A Mushroom farm in Ipoh and Pangkor Island our local beach.

Stephanie has her first holiday from school since starting, and we have decided to do a couple of things during the break, cheap things if honest because here in Malaysia it can be just as expensive or more so than in the UK if you have the funds and desire luxury, on the other hand there are some cheap gems all over the place and it just takes a keen eye and a little research and a poor mans paradise can be found all over where the pretentious five star brigade are none existent.

This particular mushroom can cure many illnesses of the gut its dried and crushed and added to food, its very bitter, 
We have found an app called Airbnb, basically you can rent every type of accommodation on it but essentially for us you can rent someone's spare room in a house, this for us is very interesting because we get the instant hit of meeting a local with local knowledge so we get a cultural experience as well, and its much cheaper than most hotels, some of them work harder for your money to (not always ) but on occasions you luck out and do well by it, you can also haggle the price and pay cash because out here you can buy anything with cash...even Grandmas and souls are for sale.

They are grown in bottles, many mushroom sets can come form one bottle until the nutrients dry up. 
So to start we found Jimmy on his mushroom farm and homestay tucked in by the rocks and jungle and near the best Temple in Ipoh. Jimmys place is here -

Jimmys place

 It was a test to see if the app worked well and to see what you get for 75 ringets  a night (£10.50) this is for a private room and bathroom with aircon and TV and coffee facilities with private outdoor seating area. This price is for the rooms not per person, so we each paid £5.25 a night. !! not bad...

It was nice cute and twee, the rooms were very clean and in Malaysia that really is your main concern, is the bed clean and bug free....after that most things can be accommodated, but you must have a bug free clean bed. The bathroom was a wet room type so when you shower everything gets soaked the toilet the sink everything as it is in Malay. When outside your in the world of bugs, they lived here first so it is us in their home really, the flies outside made it nearly impossible to relax and chill with a morning coffee but I did try. we liked it and for that price it was stunning value Jimmy and his family were delightful and very accommodating and this is what makes Malaysia so nice it is its people.

Meeting Janne and Susan the Finns. 

There we were in the shop looking at a map and a forlorn soaked and tired looking Finn named Janne
(Yan Ne) came into our lives, he was asking to borrow a bike to hunt down food, we offered him a lift into town...his eyes lit up ..... and so the epic story begins of our time with the Finns.

They were travelling all over SEA for a while and were on a tight budget, they were essentially back packers and Susan looked weary from the toll travelling had taken on her and here in Malaysia to travel without a car is never easy not in this heat, in my opinion you need a car (or a bike). Once in town we got funds and headed for food when we were introduced to Janne's bottomless stomach this man could eat...and he ate, and ate and ate and ate some more..incredible eating stamina, a Finnish X eating champion possibly who knows. Suffice to say we became travelling friends and UNO card game combatants and I suffered heavy emotional defeats in this field of card playing during our time together.

We took them out to places and we had a cool time at the best Temple in Ipoh pictures below a stunning place full of wonderment hard to describe really it has to be seen flt to be honest, I am touched by these places and struggle to vocalise how beautiful they are in another life I would live in one.

We let them stay in our place in Ipoh after our time at the mushroom farm came to an end essentially to let them re cope and re charge, and I think they really enjoyed the break from the stress of not knowing where they will sleep next, during our time together we hit the Cameron Highlands getting some awesome pictures swam at night in the luxury dome pool great fun, and we also swan wild in a waterfall on the way up to the Cameron Highlands it was a great time. They only stayed  a few nights and were then off the KL on the bus, lovely people and an opportunity for me to repay my dues to the back packing community as I was helped so much when I was doing it years ago. when they arrived at ours they just hit the the hammock and chilled ha ha...great....

We will never forget each other of course never...impossible, because me and Janne both ate the same dodgy food one day and both ended up suffering the same terrible violating outcome at the same time whilst out and about in Malaysia in those kinds of toilets (hole in the ground types)....the kind that rats avoid, well they will now we've destroyed was for a while a concern having such multiple violent watery anal attacks as those but(t) as the stomach settled and we were able once again to sit normally and relax in the car without fear of fucking up the leather interior the laughter began, and it never ended.....details of our spoils literally were explained in excruciating detail to the girls and we all got the giggles, I'm even giggling now weeks after the event as I write... stunning what your own body can do to you.....sigh...a tough day for sure.

Pangkor island - Poor mans paradise (my type)

Paradise lost

We looked on-line after Janne and Susan had travelled onward and we wanted to escape the Haze and though the coast might bring some rest from it, we saw a nice place slightly higher in price and we thought wed try it for a few day in the end we stayed 4 nights, it was worth it. Here is where we stayed.

Nipah Guest House

OK to get there its a hour and a half drive from Ipoh, then you dump you car at the ferry terminal we stayed for 4 days the parking costs us 38 ringets when we picked it up on our return (£5.75) wow....the ferry across to the island is 10 ringets open return for a month (£1.55)...

when we got there we caught an infamous pink taxi, all having set prices of 15 ringets for anywhere on the island yep pink here they are....

So its dark we caught the last ferry over at 7:30pm and were at the chalets at 8:15...we have found in Malaysia to date that everywhere looks so nice at night, when the darkness hides the drainage, sanitation and rubbish dumping issues as well as the bad finishing of everything which is just Malaysia in general, so when we arrived it looked stunning at the end of small lane just off the beach road the A frames were all lit up and the pool glimmered temptingly, I could not wait to get in it and you could swim all night if you cool is that.

Costs well we got it for 120 for two nights and 150 for another two nights as its more on the weekend. so 540 ringets for 4 nights bliss...(£81 total) £40 each...£10 a night each...that's the price you pay to lift yourself slightly above good hostel level.

The pool was lush I just laid there for hours, what we did not know but do now, is that the island is empty during the week and only really kicks off on the weekends, so for the first 2 and a half days it was bliss the beaches were empty and we could just walk alone for hours wading in the warm sea...(it is very warm).

These types of non luxury islands do sadly lend themselves to look like dumping grounds and Malays in general struggle with understanding what the fuck to do with litter and garbage so in-between the rope swings hanging over the sea off palm trees and the multiple crafted swings you can chill on, rubbish kind of creeps constantly into view as well as old and tired boats canoes and equipment once having seen better days, they just dont get it, rubbish will destroy there tourism industry completely....they need to be careful.

But the Island has a rustic charm about it which creeps into your sole, like all these rustic lived in tropical  places they just well get to you, the lack of rules and legislation gives a feeling of freedom and abandonment which is enjoyable in a very human way, there are good spots and bad spots, you and can choose where you go and as always its the people that are magic, they are the ones who make the trip a success not the immediate environment at your feet.

We engaged with the locals we hunted them down rode our scooter in to the edges where tourists probably dont go to, stopped and looked and showed interest in their lives and it and it is this that touches you and made the break a roaring success, it was good it worked because this is the cheapest and nearest beach of quality to us and only 2 hours away nice for weekend breaks.

The hosts were wonderful, it was the kind of B&b small b because you had to make your own breakfast, it was nice with fruit toasts and eggs and sausages and free T&C all day. it was a beautiful layout and it was a pleasure to be there, we also met all the other guests and spoke with a couple from Belgium who were returning home after this weekend so their Malaysian trip was over, they said that Malaysia was much better than Thailand....The pictures tell the rest of the story but suffice to say Pangkor is now our local weekend beach hideaway should we need it.

Its a bit knackered its a bit worn, but its our favourite local cheap poor mans paradise escape, We love Pankor and there is so much to see we missed this time around, we will I imagine go ever October half term as it was very quite at this time of year.