Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Snorkeling (part one) in the Phi Phi islands!


Well...turns out the underwater camera works pretty well. Only thing is you can't zoom in or out, and you can barely look in the viewfinder with your goggles on. A lot of the photos were too close up. You could take only 26 photos, without being able to view them or delete them. It reminded me of the old days... The last photo is my favourite though...the fish was looking right at me!
I'm usually quite a bad swimmer, but give me snorkeling gear and I swim like a fish! Some poor people on our tour boat had to be "rescued" by the workers, even though they had life-jackets on! Poor them, they barely snorkeled at all afterward.

More of todays photos can be found here.

Here's yet another short video:

Met tons of people today. from all over: Denmark, Scotland, Kenya (NIROBE!), Tokyo, Holland, Singapore, Wales, and OTTAWA (My hometown!)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

From Khao Lak to Krabi!

Scroll down to the Santhiya post to see a video I just uploaded.

These first pics were taken last night, still in Khao Lak. We had read on tripadvisor.com about this amazing Italian restaurant. Well, it was so good that we went two nights in a row. Here I am taking a photo with three of the five cooks. These guys were hilarious...they kept dancing to the top 40 playing. You can see the wood-burning pizza oven in the background.

Pizza di frutti di mare

As I mentioned previously, we hired a driver to drive us here. Turns out his wife died in the Tsunami. Very sad. They have an 8 year old son.

Well, here we are. At our absolute favourite hotel in the world. This place is highly recommended, especially for couples. I am definitely plugging this hotel in the magazine, although I was not assigned to. As soon as we came, they knew our names! They even took the effort to give us the exact same room that we stayed in two years ago! Thanks Hana and Ryan for recommending this wonderful place! Here's their website again.

My first jumping pic of this vacation!

Tomorrow, we are taking a snorkelling tour to Phi Phi Islands. It is definitely now that I wish I had this camera... The main reason I didn't buy it was that, in the highest settings, the video clips were only 10 seconds long! Strange...we do however have an inexpensive underwater digital...we'll see how good the photos are...I'm still bringing the Canon, though the SLR will remain at the hotel.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pool at the Ramada

Picasa (not blogger) is allowing me to upload one photo per post...oh well. I'll fix everything up asap.

Small Market in Khao Lak

Just a few rambutan, a very popular tropical fruit

Wow...did I finally upload something? Found this pig face interesting...I think the rest of his body was beside him.

We did some adventurous sightseeing today. The wife had a great idea to ask the cabbie who always waits outside our hotel to just simply drive us around. We went to the waterfalls nearby...had to hike 15 minutes up. It was fun though. Saw some tourists up at the top, in their swimsuits. The poor old guy (in his speedo) fell off the rock and bloodied up his hand. It was then when I decided I wasn't going to follow them to see the big waterfall up close.

We went back to the same place for dinner, this Italian restaurant. We'd read about it on tripadvisor.com and wow! This was the real thing: Authentic pizza and pasta! Best since Italy without a doubt.

Well, we were able to cut our stay here in Khao Lak short by two days. We have hired a taxi to drive us 2.5 hours down to Krabi, where we will be staying at the Tubkaak Resort (Another one that we are actually paying for!) We came here two years ago and absolutely loved it. We'll go snorkelling either at Hong or Phi Phi island the day after tomorrow. They have free wifi! Hopefully the uploading won't be a problem like it has been here for the past three days.

The hotel here was gracious enough to let us have an early checkout with just a 5% fee (well, charged by the travel website). It's quite interesting how we found our driver. Last night, as we exited 7-11, the wife noticed americans getting out of an unmarked car. She told me to go ask the driver how much he would charge to go to Krabi. Nice guy, with a 2008 Corolla to boot! His quote was 700 baht ($21) cheaper than the hotel transfer, so we called him today and booked it. He'll be picking us up in 9 hours...

Pray that my camera doesn't get wet during our excursion!

Here's another video of the short hiking trip:

video

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bon, je vais poster en français!

Qu’est-ce que je trouve bizarre ici en Thailande? Quand je vois des femmes qui ressemblent à des hommes, mes yeux se dirigent tout de suite vers leur pomme d’Adam (Adam’s apple). Tu peux deviner pourquoi. Au Japon, je regardais les sourcils des hommes, qui étaient formés comme ceux des filles! Il y a beaucoup de touristes français partout ici en Asie: à Tokyo, à Yokohoma, à Bangkok, à Koh Samui, même ici, à Khao Lak. Ils connaissent les bons endroits pour voyager, n’est-ce pas?

La semaine dernière, on était à Lumpini parc, un grand parc au milieu de Bangkok. On m'a dit qu’il y avait de bons joueurs de Takraw, un sport comme le volleyball, mais avec les pieds. On a pris un taxi jusqu’au parc, et on a cherché presque partout! Lorsque j’ai posé la question aux thailandais “Do you know where people play kick volleyball?”, ma femme a beaucoup ri. Finalement, j'ai vu un couple qui avait l'air d'être américain. Mais lorqsu'ils m'ont répondu “I don’t understand”, j’ai remarqué tout de suite remarqué leur accent français et je leur ai demandé “Vous êtes français?” Ils m'ont répondu “Oui” et dit qu’ils ont vu un match tout près de là où l'on se trouvait… J’ai enfin trouvé les joueurs, mais, malheureusement, ils n’ont pas bien joué du tout! Ma femme m’a dit que les joueurs étaient meileurs à Singapore…notre prochaine destination après la Thailande. Bon. On verra bien....



Ce soir, pour le dîner, on a décidé d’aller à l'extérieur de l’hotel. On a trouvé plein de restaurants tout près, un restaurant indien, italien, et beaucoup de restaurants thailandais. On a lu que le restaurant italien était très bon, alors on y est allé. Les prix étaient moyens, pas beaucoup moins chers que les prix à l’hotel. Mais la nourriture était très bonne! Comme en Italie! Non, je ne rigole pas. La pizza et les spaghettis qu'on a command és étaient délicieux.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Khao Lak


Although we are staying in a hotel with free wifi, I can't upload anything! Oh well, we are staying at the Ramada in Khao Lak. Like the courtyard Marriott, it's much better than the U.S. version. We're not doing any articles for this place, so there's a lot of relaxing to do. The beach is beautiful, although the waves are high so we can't do any watersports.

There's a convenience store about 30 meters away, where we can stock up on everything, instead of paying the exhorbitant mini-bar prices...

Here is a map of southern Thailand in case you need. We are staying near the Phang Nga area:


Since I can't upload photos, see more resort photos here.

We hope to hit the snorkeling at Krabi and at Phi Phi Island (not labelled)

Bangkok part 2! Updated...

Update: I can finally upload photos from our new hotel in Krabi!

Why did we came back to Bangkok, do you ask? Well, you may have read from the wife's blog that this summer we are travel writers. The Koh Samui trip replaced the Cambodia one (We were glad we axed Cambodia, due to much political warfare happening: a military buildup at the border. We'll have to visit Cambodia (where my parents grew up) another time.

So, we get free stays (Thanks, cousin AVRIL!) at hotels in exchange for articles in the magazine Expat Weekend, owned by the wife's uncle. So this time, we got to stay at Courtyard Mariott Bangkok. It's definitely not like the Courtyard's in the suburbs of the States (2-3 stars). It is much trendier and classier. I met with the PR lady, Khun Ann, to go for a walkabout at the hotel, as well as a food tasting:

Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad

Grilled Jumbo Prawns with Rucola and Romesco Sauce

Khao Niaw Mamuang, a popular Thai dessert with sweetened sticky rice and ripe mango

Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream

But, back to the first night back in BKK. We went to this amazingly huge outdoor restaurant, Waterside, outside of the city, recommended by Avril's colleague Poy.

Samui - Santhiya resort

It's been a few days since the last post! Internet at Santhiya resort and back at Bangkok was not really available ($18/day at the latter)

We're now in Khao Lak, Thailand, where we have wifi in the room. I'll slowly post in order anyways. I'll have time to post some random videos, too.

welcome coconut at Santhiya resort in Koh Phanang.

Speedboat from Samui that brought us here (35 minutes)

Their pool was huge, with a waterfall, too:
pool at night

lobby area

Dock on the way to Koh Phanang

Overall, it was a great traditional hotel with amazing Thai architecture, but I much prefer the more modern hotels!

Update (July 28th) Here's a video of some of the rather overpriced rooms:

video

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Koh Samui

Robert Deniro fans will remember that Koh Samui is where he wanted to send his daughter and her husband on a surprise honeymoon in MEET THE PARENTS.

I'll just post a few photos, and hopefully update later tonight. From our resort, we took a cab to Lamai. It was an interesting area with quite a bit of market-style shopping. Lots of restaurants filled with farangs, too. We saw another couple from the resort we're staying at, and I quickly asked if they wanted to share a cab home. When it comes to transportation, I'll always go the cheapest route. We arrived at Santhiya resort today. Beautiful pool and beach. It was a 40 minute speedboat ride from Samui.

Hopefully in the morning we'll get our first chance to go snorkelling.

The main pool

Our private pool

Cucumber, Melon and Honey Shake

Calamari

Tiramisu

Mai Tai on the beach

Saw some interesting characters while in Lamai

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bangkok - Day 1 - Chatuchak + Siam Paragon Mall

Here are some photos and a video from Chatuchak market. It was about a $3 cab ride from our hotel. (Cabs are super cheap here! We took FOUR of them today!)

This is the weekend market, usually catering to the locals. It was huge. We didn't even cover most of it. The prices there were very good: 100 baht - 3 dollars for wallets, sunglasses, and nice t-shirts. I even got a pair of sunglasses for 59 baht ($1.75)!

Tired shoppers can stop for a massage. Foot massages here cost 280 baht/hour ($8.40)

You could probably find any pet you want! Bringing them home would be a problem though.

You must see this boy in the video. Trop mignon!


video

Went to the food court at Siam Paragon for an early dinner. Pad Thai cost 45 baht ($1.35)!! The mall was incredible. Saw these shoes for a fraction of the price of Tokyo's stores:


I was in Converse/Jack Purcell heaven! These shoes cost between 850-2250 baht ($25-67, tax included) Can't wait to come back here.

Bangkok is awesome. If you're a shopper, you must come here. It has everything you could ever want. Spend a couple nights here, and then hit the beach!

We'll, we're off to Koh Samui this afternoon for three days on the beach. Hopefully our luggage is not too heavy for the smaller boutique airlines!