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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.

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 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.

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.

Learn To Scuba Dive – Part 1

Posted on : 13-09-2010 | By : Brian | In : Holidays To Thailand, Scuba Diving

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Just in case you didn’t know, scuba diving can be dangerous sport. The equipment used needs to be handled properly and as of today, we humans still can’t breath underwater without this equipment! So, before using scuba equipment or submersing in any water (even a swimming pool) you should seek training from a recognised instructor. This is the first of a five part post that will give non-divers an insight into what they will do when they learn to scuba dive.

Before we begin this I should point out 2 things. One, scuba is an acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus and two, if I was to say I’m going diving many people would have visions of swimming pools and high dive boards. To avoid any confusion I always say scuba diving or scuba when referring to the underwater type.

two-divers.jpg

Why Learn To Dive?

So if it’s a dangerous sport why would you want to learn to dive? It’s only dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing and with proper instruction you will know exactly what to do. How I like to describe it is that anyone can buy scuba equipment and jump in the sea but the dangerous start before you hit the bottom. You need to understand your maximum depth, how long your air supply will last, dangerous creatures you may encounter and the most important thing how to get back to the surface safely.

Beach holidays have always been a popular choice but so many people are now looking for something at little more exciting to do, except sit on the sand all day and scuba diving is the perfect answer.

When you first learn to scuba dive it will feel a little unnatural as your body gets used to the feeling of weightlessness, you will fight every little current that pushes you side ways and feel that your are forever out of balance. As time passes though you will so learn to enjoy this weightlessness and let that soft gentle current wave over you.

After you have completed the course you now know a new skill, woohoo!! This new skill can now be taken home with you and what you will find is that around the world, no matter how far you live from the sea, there will be a thriving scuba community. Just because you learnt to dive on holiday doesn’t mean you should only leave scuba diving to holiday times. Find that community and join it, they will have some fantastic dive spots that are not too far from your home.

So you now understand that you need training before you can scuba dive, that its an exciting sport that allows you to explore a relatively unseen world, and that its not only a holiday sport, now what? In part two of this post series I will talk about different training agencies and is it better to learn to scuba dive at home or on holiday?