Saturday, October 31, 2009

Krabi -Day 3

Day 3 -17/10/09
Phi Phi Island


We started earlier today at 8.30am The tour operator fetched us from the hotel with a jeepney. There were 8 other tourists with our group of 8, so there were 16 of us on the boat. The couple in front of me were from Germany. I think the ones in front of the boat were French.


Shane- 3rd from right

We had a lovely tour guide – Shane (I think that’s what I heard). Our first stop was Viking cave where the locals collect bird’s nest inside. We didn’t go down here, just a quick stop. First beach stop was at Bamboo Island. We stayed here for an hour. Not much marine life/fishes here, but the beach here really is sandy white!


Viking cave



Happy at Bamboo Island

Next stop was (I think it was Hin Klarng) for open sea snorkelling. Many fishes here, but too bad we didn’t bring bread to feed them. Many boats were anchored here, and many were also moving in and out, so the water was rather choppy here, I couldn’t really enjoy my snorkel. I did see a woman here who, on top of wearing a life jacket, was also wearing a (Pooh cartoon) float. Gives more security eh ;-)

We then went down to the second beach -Maya bay at Phi Phi Lay island (small Phi Phi) where The Beach was filmed. Stayed here for 45 minutes. Same here as Bamboo Island, not much sea life/fishes here, but sandy white beaches and emerald waters.



Azure / emerald waters of the Andaman sea


We were quite drained by now, so the mention of lunch perked us up. We stopped for lunch at Phi Phi Don (Big Phi Phi) island at Ton Sai Bay for 2 hours. Lunch was tom yam (just OK), fish fillet, spaghetti Bolognese, chap chai with rice. After lunch, we browsed around the shops.

Phi Phi shops

We wanted to go to the Tsunami memorial (Phi Phi was one of the affected places), but was told by Shane that it was a 2 hour walk away. She did tell us that Phi Phi had 2 bays, opposite to each other (see here) so it was swept from both sides during the Tsunami.


A banner on the 2004 tsunami

Excerpt form link: The thin, low-lying isthmus where most the development was, received waves from both directions, amplified by the two bays that sandwich it. Zairul bought a magazine on the Tsunami – it was really awful, people had nowhere else to run on the tiny island


A cute kitty in Phi Phi
From Phi Phi, we had a quick stop at Monkey Beach – to see – well, monkeys! We thought nothing much of it, but the farangs were really impressed though. They were really fascinated by the sight of monkeys.


Monkey beach

Last stop for our tour was XX (I didn't get the name – for our second open sea snorkel. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, as it has got an abundance of corals, sea urchins and fishes. The water was calm too. I snapped some photos here with Liza’s underwater camera. Glad that at least one site was satisfying enough. We were not long here though, only 45 minutes. We then head back to shore, dropping 2 of the other passengers at Railay Beach (an awesome place for rock climbing) before reaching back to Ao Nang.


Open sea snorkel


We promised to meet back at 6.30 pm (2 hour rest), but most of us were out and about soon after. Razeif & Izwan went to the North side of Ao Nang to catch the sunset there, and caught a Chinese ceremony by the beach in the process. Myself and Zu head towards the shopping stretch, but straight to the opposite lane (without stopping at the shops). Managed to reach until McD’s. Zairul & Amin also went browsing around the shops area.


After all of us met back together, we went for dinner at Aeshah’s, just beside our hotel. I had rice with cashew nut chicken. Something in the spice caused me allergic reactions in the wee hours of the morning. I woke up scratching of itchiness. I had mosquito bite-like spots under my eye and left leg. Luckily Clarinase (anti-histamine for flu) did the job to clear the allergies. Very useful!

Back to the night. After dinner, the girls had to decide what to do the next day. Razeif & Izwan wanted to do the 4-island hopping tour. The girls felt that it would be quite the same as Phi Phi island, so we decided to do something else. The caving kayak tour to Bor Thor was the most exciting, but there was no afternoon trip. (We had to wait for Zairul to send off Amin). So we settled on the half day kayak tour to Ao Thalane mangrove site for 350 Baht (RM35). After deciding what to do, we continued with more shopping. The guys & Zu retired earlier, while the rest continued until the end of the road (literally).

We turned back after that, searching for a more decent yet reasonably priced spa parlour. The one beside Best Western was already closed, so we decided to check out Sunset Spa beside it. It was much better than the seedy looking first spa center we went to. Relaxing ambient, soothing music and sweet aroma. Mas & Liza tried the 1 hour foot and shoulder massage while I opted for the snooze therapy, i.e. back to hotel and sleep ;-)

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Krabi Day 2

Day 2 – 16/10/09
The Rainforest Tour

As mentioned, we booked a private van (and spanking new) for the whole day to bring us wherever we fancy ;-) We started off to Thung Thieo Emerald Pool Natural Park (or Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve) Took us about an hour from our hotel. Entrance fee was 200 Baht.


The trail

We trekked a bit (800m flat trail) to reach Emerald Pool. The pool was indeed green. Hot springs from the underground are sedimented with layers of alkaline limestone, resulting in a crystal clear large pool. Depending on the temperature and other factors, the water can be anything from crystal clear to deep green (source here).

The pool was shallow, just about the height of my neck. When we arrived, there were not many people around, so we immediately took a plunge. While we were swimming, more people came, until the pool became quite full, so we decided to leave, and it was really hot by then (it was around 11am). We decided to trek to Blue Pool next.

Emerald pool

Inside the pool

Happy bathers!

Blue Pool was a bit further inland, some 1 km away. But it was worth the trek. The water really is azure (due to CaCO3), but we couldn’t swim there. We could see the water whirling at the bottom of the pool, and bubbles coming up. The signage there was in Thai, so it was anybody’s guess whatever it was that caused the whirl (it did say there magma- hot water maybe?). I searched the net and found this: It is a hot spring originated from underground volcanic chambers. Source here

Blue pool

Video of Blue Pool:

video
We then trekked back to the entry point, but using a different trail which was a bit further than the first trail we took to Emerald Pool. We crossed Crystal Pool on the way, which was also not swimmable as it was full of tree debris. One starkly different thing we noticed here was that the water flowed freely all over, like the place was flooded. It didn’t seem like a river where you normally see a trough/ditch filled with water. This is water ON a FLAT surface flowing freely in all directions.




Looks like flooded area more than stream

Next destination was Bang Kram Hot Spring, a short drive from Emerald Pool. Entrance fee was 80 Baht. The Hot Spring is a natural mineral water source. The temperature is around 40-42 deg C. We took a dip in the natural Jacuzzi, it was nice to soak a bit in warm water, although for not too long, as you could feel dizzy if you stayed longer. As it is a mineral water source, I gulped in the water that I dipped in heheh as I was feeling thirsty. It tasted just like bottled water, and I didn’t fall sick after, so it was fine ;-)


Hot spring

As it was drizzling, we left hurriedly to the shelter of (what else!) a warm, welcoming food stall. We had a sumptuous lunch of tom yam (less spicy this time, to my relief hehe), green curry (yummy), vegetable soup (just OK) and vegetable tempura (which was accidentally ordered – we asked for calamari a.k.a sotong goreng tepung – but the waitress misunderstood – but it tasted really good!)

After lunch (just around RM14/person), we stopped by the airport to fetch Amin. We went to the Factory Outlet next. It just stopped raining, we were still damp from swimming, with no change of clothes and the air cond in the building was at full blast, with not much customer around. We were freezing so much (in supposedly sunny Krabi – such irony!) that we darted to the restroom for some relief. Not much to be found here though– no Le Sports Sac sigh – and the price wasn’t really cheap. However, Zairul and Liza got themselves a vest each.


Factory Outlet
We went back to the hotel next for a quick shower/rest. Then we continued back to Krabi town to the night market. We browsed around here for about 1.5hours. Not really big, but there were more variety compared to our pasar malam. They had all sorts of food, drinks (they even sell cocktails / alcoholic beverages openly at the stalls), musical bands and a stage – a small girl sang that night. They had tables and chairs at an open area for patrons to enjoy their food while it’s still hot – a good idea to emulate for our local pasar malam.

Ketupat daun palas pun ada!


Can sit & enjoy the food

Band

Girl singing

Cocktail pun ada
The others were feeling adventurous, so they tried everything from the Muslim stalls – the most adventurous being the normal/horseshoe crab hybrid (I dunno what type of crab it is really). I didn’t try it though, as I have allergies to seafood (but I ignore them for calamaris though heheh). At the night market, we saw a CIMB Thai branch across the road. Just wanted to tell that.
Not sure what type of crab this is

Tak dpt tmpt duduk...diri je
We then head back to the hotel. We were already full, except for Mas & Razeif. They proceeded to have dinner while the rest went back to retire for the day. I wanted to watch Mr Kayu (Keanu Reeves hehe) acting (on Constantine) but was too sleepy and fell asleep before the movie even started (on Filmax channel).

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Krabi- Day 1

Day 1 – 15/10/09

We went during the Deepavali holiday, but a day before the eve, so the queue at the check in counter was surprisingly short, although the LCCT looked crowded (it’s always busy I suppose). We had lunch at the Kopitiam first, prior to boarding (plus one at McD’s, while another one couldn’t wait, already eaten on the bus, otw to LCCT lol!)


Lapar seh


Flight was smooth, a bit bumpy when we were arriving as we hit some heavy clouds. We reached around 2pm local time (+7 GMT). A little bit of drama when Liza couldn’t find her passport during immigration check, luckily the air steward found it, so she was back in line in no time ;-)
selamat :-)

We found a tour operator at the airport and immediately booked a full day tour to Phi Phi island + halal lunch for 900Baht/person (RM90) for Saturday. (We arrived on Thursday). We also booked a (spanking new/shiny) van for hotel transfer plus full day transportation for Friday. Hotel transfer costs 500 Baht for 7 persons (RM 7.10/person) for a half hour ride to our hotel in a comfy van. Not bad! Full day (9am – 8pm) transportation for the next day costs us 1120 Baht (or RM14/person). What a deal! Btw, there were 8 of us for Days 2 – 3 as Zairul’s husband, Amin joined us for the 2 days.

Spanking new van

After we settled in our hotel, we set out to the Ao Nang beach shopping stretch, just a 5 minute walking distance away. Well actually, the shopping stretch starts right smack in front of our hotel. Just window shopping on the first day for us, to survey the prices. My friend Miele was right, souvenirs are quite expensive here. Just bargain shamelessly, but do pick the local (Thai) shops, instead of the ones with foreign shopkeepers, they could be a little nasty (e.g. “I don’t make much profit, I’ll show you the receipt” and “I don’t need you, a lot of people come to my shop”, well not verbatim, but something along that line). The Thai ones were polite though.
Shops & souvenirs


Before sunset, we posed for pictures by the beach (more like cam-whoring) and of course, did our staple – jumping shots!! The farangs (mat sallehs) were pretty amused by our antics. Then we continued with a bit more window shopping, eating delicious, cheap pancakes in between. We found a Muslim stall (quite a big population of Muslims here, some can speak Kelantanese). Pancakes cost 20-30 Baht (RM2.50 – 3) for sweet flavours (mango, banana, banana chocolate, nutella etc) while savouries (egg & cheese, tuna, cheese etc) cost 30-35 Baht (RM 3-3.50)
Jump Day 1
Pancakes pancakes! We heart fat heheh..


Sunset

Not enough with the pancake treats, we had dinner later at (forgot name) halal restaurant, just beside our hotel. Food is cheap here. I had water melon juice, plain rice (yummy fragrant Thai rice!) with (super spicy hot) tom yam for only Baht140 (RM14). Nice!

But do be careful with the drinks though – they are extremely sweet! By the third day, we have learnt to ask for sugarless juice! (Quote from a waitress: “You are like European, don’t like too sweet!) I can picture Mas in her sunhat, shades & hotpants to perfectly fit the bill lol!
super spicy hot tom yam

really sweet watermelon juice


After a nice dinner, we went for spa treatment, just beside our hotel. It was the cheapest we could find, so it did look a bit seedy. Izwan, Razeif & Liza had foot massage; while Mas & Zairul had body massage (aromatherapy for Zairul). Foot massage cost 200 Baht, while aromatherapy full body massage cost 300 Baht. Zairul enjoyed her massage, despite the (ahem sleazy) façade. Myself and Zu, well, we did something, which was a wee bit painful, but very brief. It costs 350 Baht. Haha go figure ;-)
Massage

Next post: Day 2, Rainforest Tour

Note: Pix posted here are a mix from all the gang - Liza, Zu, Izwan, Mas, Razeif, Zairul & myself. Thanks y'all!

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Krabi - The Details

Let’s start with the mundane details first. We booked our hotel through agoda.com (thanks Razeif!) for Beach Terrace Hotel (BT) at Ao Nang (or Nang Bay), Krabi. Costs us just RM56/person/night or RM 112/room/night. It’s a nice little hotel, room was comfy, they had drinking water changed every day, jug kettle, complimentary tea/coffee sachets, fridge and even a DVD player! Good enough for us to stay for 4 nights ;-) Oh, it comes with complimentary breakfast too.


Beach Terrace Hotel

Bfast by the sea

Walkway to bfast


Swimming pool

Towel deco in our room. Changes everyday ;-)

Drinking water. Replenished everyday too

If you want a slightly modern touch to the rooms/hotel, stay at Best Western (BW) instead, just across the street. No, you don’t have to worry about crossing the street to get to the beach if you stay at BW, because the beach isn’t really bathable. It’s better to take the island hopping/Phi Phi/James Bond Island tour to swim/snorkel/dive. Sandy white beaches there!


Best Western across the street
Flight costs us RM357/person return via AA. Make sure you pre-book your in-flight meal when you return to M’sia (as all the food were already being walloped by the incoming passengers). We were left only with cup noodles! Unless you have lunch first prior to going to the airport, you should be stuffed enough ;-) There’s not much choice to eat at the airport.

Anyway, if you’re Malaysian, you don’t need a visa to enter Thailand. The airport tax has been included in the flight cost, so you don’t have to keep extra Baht going back (unlike Siem Reap).

Some other useful tips:

-Tap water is hard water, so you’ll find your hair becoming entangled/ hard/scruffy. Hair conditioner helps.
-Wear flip flops/ selipar jepun / open toe quick dry rubber sandals for strolling around the beach / snorkelling/swimming/kayaking trips
-It can get really hot so drink lots of water & wear sunscreen / shades / hat
-It did rain too, so ponchos would be useful -Plug points are 2 pin, so bring along an adapter if your plugs are 3 pin.

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