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Survival Guide To Shopping In BangkokSurvival Guide To Shopping In Bangkok Shopping in Bangkok is a ‘must do’ on any trip to Thailand. The place is a shopaholics dream city with many different shopping malls ranging from the sophisticated Emporium to the legendary Mah Boon...

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Bangkok River CruiseBangkok River Cruise A superb way to have a relaxing night off from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok would be to enjoy dinner on a Bangkok river cruise along the Chao Phraya river. But beware of the type of river cruise you...

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Andaman Dive Sites – Hin Daeng & Hin MuangAndaman Dive Sites – Hin Daeng & Hin Muang Two of the more popular dive sites in Thailand, Hin Daeng & Hin Muang are usually dived on the same day due to their close proximity to each other. In fact they are so close you can swim from one...

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Toy Thailand

Posted on : 01-02-2011 | By : Brian | In : Bangkok, Phuket

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I have been looking out for new videos using a technique called Tilt Shift. I’m not really sure how they do it but the end results are amazing. I came across this superb video by Joerg Daiber who uses Bangkok, Phuket, Tonsai and Railay as the backdrop.

Update: The video is no longer available on Vimeo.

Not a big fan of the music he used but I guess that’s what he imagined it all to be, serene and peaceful. I would have preferred a more active piece of music to portray the high levels of movement around energy in the video. Hope you enjoy this and share it on, it deserves it.

Learn To Scuba Dive – Part 4

Posted on : 30-12-2010 | By : Brian | In : Scuba Diving

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This fourth post in my learn to dive series will expand on the available training in scuba diving after your initial training. In the previous posts I have discussed why you should learn to dive, is one training agency better than another and is it better to learn to dive at home or when on holiday? I have also broke down a PADI Open Water Course to give you an idea what you will do when you learn to dive.

So you are now a fully qualified diver with a new shiny badge to say so, now what. Well the first thing you may notice is that when you try to book a days diving not all the dives will be available to you. To understand why this is you need to go back to your training and remember that as an open water diver you are restricted to depths of 18m or less. Although the majority of coral and life are within this 18m area there are sometimes, well lots of times actually, when going below this depth will reward you with some wonderful dives. Many wrecks are below the 18m depth and large pelagic’s usually rest in waters deeper than 18 m. So your convinced, you want to get below the 18m mark but how do you do it?

Happy Divers

What Will I Do On the Next Course?

Back to training for this but before you all run away listen to what is need to get you down to a maximum depth of 30m. Unlike your Open Water course there is no classroom or pool work this time, but you will have to read a bit more and complete the knowledge developments again but the big thing is there is NO EXAM!

The PADI Advanced Open Water Course takes only 5 dives in open water and their corresponding knowledge developments from the book. From the 5 dives one must be a deep dive to 30m and one must be a navigational dive were you learn to use a compass underwater, the other 3 dives are made up from a list of about 20 options. When I say about 20 that’s because some of these are dependent on location but you will have a great deal to choose from regardless of where you dive.

When Should I Do An Advanced Course?

There is a lot of discussion about this on forums and in diver publications and the answer is, in my opinion, when you feel comfortable with your diving skills. Now what I mean here is that some people complete the PADI open water course and curse the fact they have been missing out on life underwater, others feel that there was not enough instruction, that they have not mastered the skills yet or that they just don’t feel 100% comfortable underwater. These less confident people would be better to complete a few dives with a guide for some support and comfort, the other more confident people could further their training and move straight on to the next course.

It is possible to complete the first course and move straight onto the next without any dives in-between, but what I have always recommended is that you should try for at least 10 dives after your first qualification, 20 dives if you are a home diver and have more access to dives.

These 10 dives will give you some practice at buoyancy control and other skills you learnt during your Open Water Course. It also allows you some time to make sure it really is the next hobby you want to take up, scuba diving equipment is not really expensive in comparaison to other hobbies like skiing or golf, but you still don’t want to waste your money.

When Does This Training End?

In reality you will never stop learning to dive. Every dive will bring up new situations that you will learn from, but if its academic style training then you can always continue this also.

After the advanced course you could take on the PADI Rescue Diver Course, but be warned this is not a fun course and most people will find it exhausting and difficult but very very rewarding. It teaches you how to spot and prevent incidents before they happen and to react to incidents in a calm manner and how to deal with anything that may happen while on a days scuba diving, both above and below the water.

As you gain more confidence in the water you may find you have a liking for a particular type of dive, drift dive or coral dive, or for something you do while on a dive photography of videography. PADI has a whole bunch of specialities were you can learn more about these types of dives. So as you can see after you learn to dive you can go on and learn some more!

So far I have discussed why and where you should learn to dive, I have also talked about what you will do on your course and what to do after it. In the next post I’m not going to talk about learning to dive or courses but what I do plan to do is try and convince you that diving is something you should learn as soon as possible.

Learn To Dive – Part 1 Why Learn To Dive?

Learn To Dive – Part 2 Where To Learn To Dive

Learn To Dive – Part 3 What Will I do On The Course

Thailand Sees Tourism Boom in 2010 Despite Red Shirt Protests

Posted on : 17-12-2010 | By : Brian | In : Holidays To Thailand, Thailand Travel

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Red Shirts and violent uprisings may have dominated the news from Thailand in the first half of 2010, but it seems it will take more than two months of bloody protests to put tourists off visiting.

The southeast Asian nation is celebrating after announcing a 12.6 per cent rise in visitor numbers for the year so far, despite political turmoil and a shaky world economy.

Nearly 14 million people visited Thailand in the first 11 months of this year, a figure that is expected to rise to 15.8 million by the end of this month.

Beachseller on a beach in Koh Samui
Welcome boost: Thailand has seen a surge in visitor numbers in 2010

But while British visitor numbers remain strong, it is actually Indian and Middle Eastern tourists that are the country’s fastest-growing markets.

Visitors from other south Asian countries also remained the most loyal, still visiting in large numbers even in the height of the country’s violence.

Protests in Bangkok during April and May killed 92 people and even saw the international airport closed at one point, causing unease among potential visitors.

But, despite the bloody images beamed around the world, Thailand still managed to generate £12.3bn through tourism in 2010 – no mean feat in a year when many chose to holiday close to home to keep costs down.

Red Shirts carry the bodies of killed protesters through the streets
Bloodshed: The Bangkok protests saw 92 people killed

However, the holiday hotspot could well become a victim of its own success in 2011.

The Thai baht currency is becoming stronger, making the country more expensive for foreign visitors.

Thailand’s affordability has always been a big selling point for tourists looking for cheap but exotic package holidays.

However, to combat a possible dip in numbers, the country is planning on targeting emerging markets such as China and Indonesia as well as Brazil and Argentina.

So it could be a very international set populating the beaches of Phuket in the future.

Read more: at the DailyMail



Learn To Scuba Dive – Part 3

Posted on : 16-12-2010 | By : Brian | In : Scuba Diving

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This is the third in a five part post about learning to dive. In the previous posts I have discussed why you should learn to dive, is one training agency better than another and is it better to learn to dive at home or when on holiday?

This post will go further into the actual course you would do. As I said in a previous post I‘ve been a PADI instructor for a number of years and have taught in both the UK and in Thailand. The breakdown I’m about to talk about is from a typical PADI Open Water Diver Course regardless if it takes 4 days, 4weeks or 4months, what you learn is exactly the same.

A PADI Open Water Diver Course (OWD) is the first level at which, after qualification, you can dive independent of a dive instructor or professional guide. With this in mind you can understand that you will learn a lot on this course and it’s not until your Rescue Diver course will the learning curve be so step.

pool training

The OWD course is split into 3 sections knowledge development, confined water and open water. When you first sign up for your course you’ll be handed a load of stuff some of which will not make any sense to you yet. The book however will be your first introduction to the world of scuba diving and will be the focus your academic training.

Knowledge Development

Most schools now opt for their customers to do independent study and monitor how much they read and understood the chapter. Depending on where you learn to dive you may also get a DVD or video to take home that talks about each chapter and shows you examples of what it’s talking about. Your answers to the knowledge developments are used for monitoring how well you understood the topic and if you get stuck then the instructor only needs to go over that one area instead of waffling on about stuff you already understand. Good huh!!!

The five knowledge developments are broken down like this

KD 1

  • Buoyancy
  • Comfortable Ascents
  • Comfortable Descents
  • Breathing Underwater

KD2

  • Staying Warm
  • Streamlining Yourself
  • Diving Together

KD3

  • What’s It Like Where We’ll We Diving?
  • Care For Yourself
  • Care For Others
  • Solution Thinking Underwater
  • Offshore Adventures

KD4

  • Nitrogen Narcosis
  • Decompression Sickness
  • Dive Table Introduction
  • Using The Recreational Dive Planner (RDP)

KD5

  • Making Safety Stops
  • Emergency Decompression
  • Altitude Considerations for divers
  • Finding a minimum surface interval
  • Electronic dive planning

There is no time limit on these chapters but to proceed onto the confined water sections you must have completed the appropriate chapter in the book, for example to start confined water one you must have completed KD1. In theory this is great, in practise in a holiday resort it doesn’t work. You may find yourself doing 2 chapters then 3 confined water sessions or maybe only 1 chapter than all confined session in a day. This is something you will work out with your instructor.

Confined Water

To most people confined water would be a swimming pool but you may find your first training session to be in the sea. What is meant by confined water is swimming pool or open sea area that offers swimming pool like conditions in respect of clarity, calmness and depth. As you begin your training it should first be conducted in waters shallow enough to stand up in to build your confidence and ability then move on to water to deep to stand up in.

The confined water session are spilt into 5 parts, each taking the training a step further. This is a breakdown of some of the main things you will learn in each part.

CW1

  • Scuba Equipment & How To Put It Together & Put It On Safely
  • Breathing Underwater
  • Hand Signals
  • Recovering & Clearing A Regulator
  • Clearing A Partially Flooded Mask
  • Swimming Underwater
  • Using Your Submersible Pressure Gauge
  • Locating & Using An Alternate Air Source (AAS)
  • Ascents From Deep Water

CW2

  • Pre-Dive Safety Check
  • Deep Water Entry & Controlled Descents
  • Mask Removal, Replacement & Clearing
  • Air Depletion Exercise
  • Surface Swimming In Scuba Gear
  • Snorkel Clearing
  • Scuba Equipment Removal On The Surface

CW3

  • Fin Pivots, Neutral Buoyancy Skills & Swimming
  • Air Depletion & AAS Location & Use
  • Free Flowing Regulator
  • Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent (CESA)

CW4

  • Mask Removal & Swim, Replace & Clear Mask
  • Neutral Buoyancy Skills & Swim
  • Buddy Breathing

CW5

  • Scuba Unit Removal & Replacement Underwater
  • Scuba Unit Removal & Replacement On The Surface
Open Water Sessions

Now for the real fun parts with four dives in the open water. You are limited to only 2 training dives in any one day so these dives have to be conducted over 2 days. On your first day you will not go deeper than 12m and on the second day you will go no deeper than 18m. How these dives are conducted is where there is a big variation in the PADI courses around the world. Some will be done in fresh water quarry pits, some will be done from the shore of a quite bay, some from a busy beach or from a boat. What ever the location or type of water, there is still a standardised way in which the dives will be done.

The skills you trained for in the pool will now be practised again but this time in deeper waters but like the pool you will have time to get confident in your surroundings before you do any skills.

Ideally your first dive should only include skills that you would do in every dive anyway. The breakdown listed here is only what you may do on any specific dive and the actual dive you do the skill on may vary, so this is just an idea of what you may do.

OW1

  • Equipment Preparation Putting It On & Adjustment
  • Pre-Dive Safety Check (BWRAF)
  • Entry Appropriate To Location
  • Weight Check
  • Controlled Descent & Swimming
  • Ascent & Exit
  • Logging The Dive

OW 2

  • Buoyancy Control
  • Partial & Complete Mask Flood & Clear
  • Regulator Recovery & Clearing
  • Alternate Air Source Use Stationary & Assisted Ascent
  • Weight Removal At The Surface
  • Snorkel/Regulator Exchange
  • 25 m/yard Tired Diver Tow

OW 3

  • Cramp Removal Self & Buddy
  • 50 m/yard Straight Line Surface Swim With Compass
  • Free Descent With Reference
  • Buoyancy Control
  • Complete Mask Flood & Clear
  • Buddy Breathing
  • Underwater Exploration
  • Remove & Replace Weight System At The Surface
  • Remove & Replace Scuba Unit At The Surface
  • Debrief & Log Dive

Ow4

  • Free Descent Without Reference
  • Buoyancy Control
  • Mask Removal, Replacement & Clearing
  • Underwater Navigation With Compass
  • CESA

Now you have the full breakdown of what you will do on your PADI Open Water Course you should be rushing out to book yours or start to look for dive operators at your next holiday destination. In the next post I will be talking about what to do after you have finished your course. Many people learn to dive on holiday and only ever do the four dives required for the course, so I’ll talk about what to do to get the best from your new skill.

Learn To Dive – Part 1 Why Learn To Dive?

Learn To Dive – Part 2 Where To Learn To Dive

Learn To Scuba Dive – Part 2

Posted on : 13-12-2010 | By : Brian | In : Scuba Diving

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Hi, this is the second part of what is or will be a five part post on how to learn to dive. Part one introduced you to the attractions of diving, namely learning a new skill, meeting new people and travelling to different places. This second part will go on to discuss where should you learn to dive and what is the difference between the training agencies.

Home or Away?

As mentioned in the previous learn to dive post it is only after your first introduction to diving that you would even look at your home town for a dive shop, if you live in-land like I do. You will be surprised however at the number of dive locations that can be a few hundred miles (or km) from the sea. You would also be surprised that regardless of the temperature people still learn to dive. I have found myself in waters as low as 5degreeC teaching people to dive!! So it’s not only holiday makers that learn to dive, many people take up the sport as a hobby while still in their home country.

learning to dive at capernwary

Obviously whether you should learn to dive at home or away is defiantly a personal choice, diving in 5degreeC isn’t for everyone, but there are a few considerations before you make the decision. The main benefit I see from people who learn to dive while still at home is time. Dive courses are split into 3 segments, pool training, open water training and academic training. This last part I think is best done over a longer period than the 2-3 days you get while on holiday.

My reason for saying this is that when you have more time people will actually read the stuff you have asked them to, but on holiday many people will read only what they need to know to get through the exam. This doesn’t make them bad divers just not fully informed in my opinion.

The main advantage of learning to dive when on holiday is variety. Depending on where you live and how far from the sea you are will depend on the number of dive schools in your area. You may only have the one school who only teaches from one agency and the dive school may not really be that good. On holiday to most beach destinations, however, you will find at least 6 dive schools or as many as 200, teaching all the main agency standards. With these types of place you literally have the dive world to choose from.

What Dive Training Agency Is Best?

Short answer, None!

I have trained under only 2 different agencies but looked at the other agencies training programmes and to be honest now they are all pretty similar in their structure. It wasn’t always like this though and when I learned to dive with BSAC (British Sub-Aqu-Club) training was a lot different then. Academic and pool sessions lasted for about 6 months before we were allowed into ‘real’ water and we ridiculed PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) trained divers, for their short inadequate training. Today however, things have changed and most training agencies now have a 4 day course that you can learn while on holiday.

I am now a PADI instructor teaching these 4 day courses and can say that people are trained well enough to become certified divers, and PADI’s wishes to get people in the water as soon as possible is the right way to do it. If you talk about it so much people can get a little apprehensive but if you get in the water the day you book your course or the day after you feel great.

Before I finish I would like to point out that PADI (not sure about other agencies) have a course that does allow you the advantage of learning the academics and pool stuff while you’re at home. You then can go on holiday and finish your Open Water Diver Course in the open sea. These referral courses are a great way to learn to dive as it allows you the time to read and understand the academics and gives you more time to play in the pool. Just don’t do the course so early before your holiday you need a refresher before the next part or so late you fly the day after you complete it.

You should now have an idea why it would be good to learn to dive from post one, now you have something to think about, regarding what agency you should choose and if you can wait till your next holiday to learn to dive. Personally I enjoy diving regardeless of location or weather, so I always advise people to take up the challenge of learning to dive sooner rather than later. In the next part of this post series you will get to know what happens on a typical dive course.

Loy Krathong Festival

Posted on : 13-12-2010 | By : Brian | In : Holidays To Thailand, Thailand Festivals, Thailand Travel

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If your lucky enough to be on holiday in Thailand in November, you should make sure your hotel is somewhere near a river or beach or at least some body of water for this is the time of Thailand’s most beautiful festival, Loy Krathong. Almost every river, canal, beach front and night-sky will all be glowing with the water offerings and paper lanterns released during these few days, but the main event will occur on the 12th.

Loy Krathong began in the northern province of Sukhothai during the reign of Thai King Rama IV in 1863, and is now one of the most popular Thai celebrations and is celebrated throughout Thailand every year. The raft is decorated with elaborately folded banana leaves (a Krathong-small raft made of banana tree leaves), flowers, candles, and incense sticks. The incense and candles are lit and the Kratong is pushed out onto the water in a symbolic act of letting go of one’s bad luck. The term Loi, or Loy, means “float” and this is what is happening to your bad luck, it floats away.

Each province in Thailand celebrates their own versions of Loy Krathong and the Government offices hold big events to celebrate the full moon buring this time. Chiang Mai’s skyline lights up as the capital of the north celebrates with Yi Peng Lantern balloons released. These lanterns float into the night’s sky fuelled by only a small candle inside. Ayutthaya, just north of Bangkok, holds Krathong contests and puts on a re-enactment of an ancient Loy Krathong festival, and in contrast to these cultural performances they hold a Miss Noppamas beauty contest. As can be imagined the best place to watch the celebrations of Loy Krathong would probably be Bangkok were all the waterways, including the great Chao Praya River, have small and large Krathongs reflecting of the waters surface as the night-sky’s are filled with fireworks.

Hotel Name/Location Class Price
The Imperial Mae Ping Hotel Chiang Mai The Imperial Mae Ping Hotel Chiang Mai 26 GBP
Ambassador Hotel Bangkok Ambassador Hotel Bangkok 26 GBP
Deevana Patong Resort & Spa Phuket Deevana Patong Resort & Spa Phuket 19 GBP

The actual act of these rafts floating also has some other important means to people, besides letting go of your bad luck. For many Thais the Krathong is a way to thank the goddess of water, Phra Mae Kongka, for allowing them to use the water from rivers and canals all year long. For romantic couples the Krathong is floated out and should stay upright until it has left their sight, this is a symbol their love will last forever.

The biggest advantage for anyone on holiday in Thailand during this time is that this festival is one in which both Thais and tourists can participate. In fact local Thai people actively get tourists to purchase and float their own Krathong. This is a wonderful time to get to know many new Thai friends and is a great way to break the ice. Start asking about what Loy Krathong means to them and many Thais will be happy to share their thoughts about this wonderful festival.

Survival Guide To Shopping In Bangkok

Posted on : 13-12-2010 | By : Brian | In : Bangkok, Holidays To Thailand

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Shopping in Bangkok is a ‘must do’ on any trip to Thailand. The place is a shopaholics dream city with many MBK Shopping Bangkokdifferent shopping malls ranging from the sophisticated Emporium to the legendary Mah Boon Krong or MBK as its better known. The best thing about these malls is the transport between them can be so easy if you plan it right but the worst thing about them is you will never have enough time to visit them all on just one short trip, I mean the Central World mall has over 500,000sqm of retail space alone, but then again this is the biggest in Bangkok.

When you’ve had enough of shopping in the malls there are all those markets to get around as well. With over 15,000 stalls, the famed Chatuchak Weekend Market is the biggest outdoor market in the world I believe but I’ve not been to them all so correct me if I’m wrong here. Then you have your night markets in the Patpong area and floating markets at Damnoen Saduak to name just a few.

With so much shopping to do in such a short time it’s a good idea to be prepared. I’ve listed a few things that I think could help when shopping in Bangkok and also may help to make your shopping trip that bit easier.

Plan Your Shopping Trip – You should have a idea of how many days you will be in Bangkok so plan what days you want to go shopping. Early morning and late evenings are the best time to visit those markets with the temperatures and tourist numbers not yet peaked. Visit the air conditioned malls at the hottest time of the day for some lunch and leisure shopping. Its best to try and have an idea what you want to buy and plan where to get it, this will target focus your shopping in Bangkok instead of wandering about in the heat and humidity wondering where to go next.

Transport – Bangkok has a multitude of ways of getting around the city, tuk-tuk, taxis, Skytrain and underground are just some of them. Although very inexpensive public buses are best avoided, you will waste a lot of time trying to find the right bus. Taxis and tuk tuk’s are often your best method of transport in Bangkok but watch out for those that want to take you some where else first. Make sure before setting off the driver wants to take you to your destination without any detours. I have, more than once, been driven a few hundred meters and then got out because the driver changed his mind about the destination. Another thing to consider with your taxi and tuk tuk is the Bangkok traffic, it’s notoriously bad at certain times of the day and getting stuck in traffic won’t help your shopping plans.. The skytrain and underground are both air conditioned means of transport but unfortunately don’t cover all of Bangkok. If you can get either of these close to your final destination then walking a short distance may be the best plan at certain times of the day.

Opening Hours – Bangkok shops open anywhere between 9-10 am and stay open until around 8-10p six days a week, with Sunday closing. The biggest shopping malls however may still have some shops open on a Sunday but I wouldn’t advise planning any shopping for that day.

Comparing Prices & Haggling – Like other shopping trips you do, don’t just buy the first item you see. Shop about a little and check out what others have that item on sale for. If you are in a mall shop with a price tag save yourself the embarrassment and don’t try to haggle with the shop assistant. If getting a bargain is what you are after ask about a Tourist Discount Card or VAT refunds at the airport. The best place to try your haggling skills is on the street market stalls. Bartering, haggling or bargaining on stalls is very normal and indeed will be expected in most cases. The first price you get from a vendor will be marked up considerably and it is your job to try and get them down to a price that both you and they are happy with. There are many different ways to haggle and each person will have their own technique and it will develop the more you do it. In the high tourist areas like Patpong it would not be uncommon to offer a price less than half of the vendors asking price. Some points to remember when trying to get your item for a cheaper price is to treat it a bit like a game. Have fun with the vendor smile lots and be polite. Getting angry and shouting because they wont come done anymore on a price won’t help and in fact they may refuse to sell to you. If you are unhappy with the price thank them for their time, smile and walk away, if they really won’t come down any more they will let you go, but if they want that sale then maybe you have just won the game when they lower the price.

Safety - Bangkok is no different than any other major city when it comes to petty crime. Although you are on holiday to enjoy yourself don’t let your personal safety slip. Remember to keep you possession close by you and if in a crowded area don’t carry your rucksack or bag behind you. Pickpockets are common in busy areas so take care of your wallet and purse and always know where it is.

What To Wear – Bangkok is a hot and humid city all year round so what you wear to combat these conditions should be thought about carefully. Your first priority should be a good pair of walking shoes. The streets of Bangkok are not that easy to traverse, often resembling obstacle courses with exposed manholes, potholes, vendor carts, the odd beggar and garland maker. There is nothing faster than a broken toe to stop a shopping trip so although maybe cool and trendy sandals and reef shoes should be left in the hotel. Cool light weight cloths will help when outside but if you plan a full day in an air conditioned mall maybe something a little heavier would be best. Oh, and beach wear is never best in Bangkok except by your hotel pool. My first purchase when I arrive in Bangkok is always some bandanna’s and some wet wipes. These help freshen you up on a long shopping trip. Quick tip – keep the wet ones in the fridge if you can.

These are just some of my tips on how to make shopping in Bangkok easier than normal, there will be many more I’m sure. One thing I will say is that if you are traveling to Thailand with children then none of these tips will help easy the pain of shopping with children.

Bangkok River Cruise

Posted on : 13-12-2010 | By : Brian | In : Bangkok, Holidays To Thailand

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A superb way to have a relaxing night off from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok would be to enjoy dinner on a Bangkok river cruise along the Chao Phraya river. But beware of the type of river cruise you are joining. Loy Nava Bangkok River CruiseEssential there are 2 kinds of river cruise in Bangkok, the one’s that have many people on board and dinner is a buffet style with a music after, and the ones that are more exclusive and have limited seats, your own table with table service and music as part of the meal.

Loy Nava is in the later category and I can strongly recommend it. This converted rice barge is made of sold teak and just drips in Asian traditions of wood carving and boat building. It is said to have been the first to start dinner cruises in Bangkok and maybe that is why the food is nice. Highly decorative and pleasing to the eye, to food is most definitely 5 star even if a little tempered to our western tastes so no real spice, but I have that complaint about most restaurants in Thailand that cater for westerners.

The service is outstanding from the moment you get picked up at your hotel to the moment you get dropped off. Staff on the boat are dressed in traditional Thai cloths and perform a water ceremony as you board the boat. Slowly drifting along the river, sitting at your candle lit table listening to traditional Thai Kim music Kim Player(xylophone style) played in the background by a tradionally dressed Thai girl will lead to a very romantic evening indeed and made all the more so by the abundance of fresh flowers everywhere scenting the place.

The Loy Nava river cruise starts at either 6pm or 8pm so both have the advantage of seeing all the Bangkok sights lite up. You are given a beautifully designed map of the Chao Phraya river describing 34 of the lite up landmarks you will see on your dinner cruise. Just in case you might not notice these the staff will also prompt you as you pass a place of great importance to Bangkok and her people.

You can book the Loy Nava from most hotel reception desks or direct with them. If you do have a spare evening in Bangkok with a loved one then this would be a perfect way to spend some time together in my opinion.

Website : www.loynava.com

email : loynava@hotmail.com (best to use there contact page from the website)

Telephone +66 (0) 24 377 329 or +66 (0) 24 383 098

Andaman Dive Sites – Hin Daeng & Hin Muang

Posted on : 13-12-2010 | By : Brian | In : Scuba Diving

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Two of the more popular dive sites in Thailand, Hin Daeng & Hin Muang are usually dived on the same day due to their close proximity to each other. In fact they are so close you can swim from one to the other no problem. The names of these sites derive from the colour of the soft coral and anemaones found on them, Daeng in Thai means red and Muang means purple. As you approach these dive sites there is a little anti-climax as all you can see from the surface is a rock sticking 3m clear of the surface. If you have been diving around Phi Phi or the Bida Islands and enjoyed the scenery in between your dives then this will be a stark contrast for you.

Hin Daeng

The 3m rock mentioned above belongs to this site and as soon as you enter the water the anti-climax of your arrival at the dive site soon fades as you are confronted with a drop over 60m deep. This southern side of Hin Daeng is the steepest and deepest drop off in all Thailand’s dive sites and should only be attempetd by those more advanced divers. Coral life is a little sparse on this rock but this is not why you come to Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, its the pelagic life. When dive shops offer you the chance to see large paegics like Whale Sharks and Manta Rays this is most like th site to which they wil bring you. If the depth of 60m scares you then you can stay on the eastern side of the rock and swim about the rocky outcrops. This area has a maximum depth of about 40m or so and you can still see some amazing paeligcs like Batfish and Barracudda.

Hin Daeng Thailand Southern Dive Sites

Hin Muang

This large rectangular shaped rock (200m long, only 20m wide) also drops off into deep waters but the most interesting part to this dive is usually in the shallow waters of 25m or less. In contarst to the relative barrennes of Hin Daeng the top of Hin Muang looks as though it’s covered in soft corals and anemone. In fact if you dive when there is a current it can be difficut to find a bare piece of rock to hold on to. Hin Muang is in my opinion the best place to spot and swim with large Manta Rays as the gentle giants seem to like to play with the divers bubles. Given your relative shallow diving you can stay and dive with them for longer as they slowly swoop above your head as your bubbles rise up. After watching them for some time me and some friends think that the bubbles must tickle the Mantas or give them some enjoyment because they activley seek out divers who have bubbles above them, unlike most other sea cretures who swim away from the bubbles.

Hin Muang Thailand Dive Sites

Thailand has many great dive sites but these 2 are about the best for spotting large pelagics. The down side is the travel time from either Krabi or Phuket but the easy way to aviod this is to spend time on Koh Lanta. Dive operators from Krabi and Phuket usually only do these sites from a speed boat as this is the only way to get there and back in a day. My personal opion is that speed boats are not great dive vessels, but thats another topic. Your best option is Koh Lanta as it is the closest to Hin Daeng and Hin Muang and also has many other wonderfull dive sites clsoe to the island. Although you should be super advanced to dive these two rocks many other dive sites from Koh Lanta are more than suitable for the beginner. In fact one of the best dive sites to do PADI open awater courses is very near here.

I hope this post has given you a little insight into some Thailand dive sites and i look forward to bringing you more.

How To Discover Hidden Thailand Beaches

Posted on : 13-12-2010 | By : Brian | In : Holidays To Thailand

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Millions of people arrive at Thailand’s International Airport every year with the aim to Travel Thailand and see as much as possible. Many will head North for lush tropical rainforests or West to Kanchanaburi for the Bridge over the River Kwai but a great deal many more will head south to the soft, tropical, whiter than white sands of Thailand Beaches.

Many of these travelers will be searching out for that elusive beach, you know the one, its deserted, its palm tree fringed and soft white sand as far as the eye can see. It’s a place were we can feel, for a moment or two, marooned on an uninhabited island. That you don’t really have to go back to work or the rat race or even the mountain of material possessions you have accumulated over the years. Or is that just me :-)

Thailand Beaches

The reality however is that we will most probably end up on a beach paying for our lounger and shade umbrella. Sitting cheek to jowl with those on the lounger next to you, listening in on their lives they’re that close. Relaxing your holiday may be private and exclusive it’s not.

In the southern parts of Thailand beaches are a plenty yet most people all head for the same ones. If we had taken a few minutes during our holiday planning and thought maybe those jaw dropping beach scenes could be our holiday.

Holiday planning is the most essential part of any holiday, would you agree? Then why let someone else plan it for you? Most travel agents who sell you a holiday will have never been to the location they are selling. They only know the Thailand beaches that everyone else heads for because that is what they are given to sell you. What do you think makes these places popular? In my opinion nice beaches and exclusivity are not really that high on the scale of importance but high commission rates from hotels night be. Yes I am cynical about the travel industry.

So how do we get the best of Thailand beaches as we travel Thailand on our treasured break? Simple, research should be the start to any holiday planning and the research should include more that looking for the telephone number of the local travel agent.

I have outlined 7 points that I undertake when looking for my next break, not necessarily to Thailand beaches. You found this page so you know how to use the internet so what you will be doing isn’t rocket science and the list is by no means complete but it may give you an idea into what you can do.

7 Points To Great Holiday Research

  1. Decided on what type of holiday you want, beach, city or forest break. If you want a combination of these then do the following 6 steps for each destination.
  2. Note down 5 phrases or words that come to mind when you think about your chosen destination.
  3. Put these phrases into Google or any other search engine you may use and have a look at the first page results, then ignore them.
  4. Move to page 2 and 3 and working your way down ignore hotel booking services and visit the web sites that seem like information pages and have some relevance to your searched term or phrase.
  5. Look for locations on these web pages that maybe you have never heard about or read about and take a note of the name.
  6. Search for this unknown location and take note of the number of pages with the term.
  7. The location with the least number of pages should now be your focus for your next holiday destination.

Here is how it all works:

I love Thailand beaches when I’m on holiday, I think of white sand, palm trees, blue waters, cool breeze and deserted beaches. So now I have my 5 terms I’ll put them into Google one at a time.

Deserted Beach

White sand Thailand returns 2.35 million results I skip the 1st page and go to page 2 and skip anything that looks like a hotel booking service. Bingo about half way down I see Amazing-Thailand.com – Tropicals Islands in Thailand a quick scan of this page shows me 2 locations I’m not familiar with and have not seen anywhere else, Koh Larn and Koh Turatao.

I search for Koh Turatao which returns 1,380 results and Koh Larn which returns 55,400 pages. So my first holiday research place would be Koh Turatao.

This type of holiday research may not work every time but it will open your eyes to the other destinations at your chosen location. Finding deserted Thailand beaches is not impossible today but a word of warning. The locations of these deserted beaches will be, by there very nature, far from any commercial outlets, medical centers or English speaking locals so it may not all be paradise. Finally, I would like to ask that if anyone does come across any Thailand beaches that may not be know yet as they travel Thailand then please keep it to yourself, after letting me know ofc