Me and My Lucky Landings

The spirit shrine where Scarlett came off her bike

The spirit shrine where Scarlett came off her bike

By Scarlett

My lucky landings have served me well over the whole of travelling.

At KC’s at Chitwan National Park a piece of bamboo treehouse fell at me. It was the tallest one and was about six metres. Luckily, instead of landing on my head, it landed very close – on my shoulder. So when we went trekking again, I didn’t have to carry my own rucksack.

The second time was, just as my shoulder healed, when I had my big fall in Nepal. I fell five metres and instead of breaking both my legs I only broke one! And I didn’t have to carry my rucksack. Again.

The third time was a week after I had an x-ray saying I could run and jump again. I had a bike crash. I was going downhill on a rented bicycle and my brakes weren’t working. I kept going faster and faster and couldn’t stop. I was very, very, very, very, very scared. Daddy was urging me on. My sisters were going slower because their brakes were working so there was just me and Daddy there. I managed to get round about five or six corners before it happened…

A corner came up and hit me. Or more like it hit me all along the side of my bike. I went flying. My bike came after me. I think I landed before it.

What happened next was a mystery. One minute I was on the ground, the next minute I was in Daddy’s arms. Well, things like that do happen when you bump your head.

The rest of the family arrived a few minutes later. But that time, Daddy’s t-shirt was a little bit bloody. Mummy asked me whether or not I was alright. I said, “yes”.

It was lucky because instead of landing in the undergrowth and wild places where snakes could live, or the big drop further up, I landed just in front of a spirit house on the softest bit of earth I could have landed on.

Mummy found my shoe eventually. And even though she doesn’t believe in spirits she did a little pray to them to say thank you. Daddy found me a little plastic superhero with moving arms on the floor and I called him Squiddo the Superhero. I think both of them working together saved me from breaking anything.

Hitting the Road

After having, in the last nearly six months of away, having travelled by long-haul plane, short-haul plane, tiny twin-prop plane, various classes of bus and coach, minibus, taxi, motor rickshaw, pedal rickshaw, horse drawn cart, Sherpa-back (kids only), bicycle, moped, night train, day train, underground train, baht bus, song tiaw, elephant, dug out canoe, Jeep, longtail, variously-sized ferries, rowing boat, sea canoe, and tuk-tuk, it’s very exciting to have set off on a three-day journey in what was once our most normal mode of transport: a car.

And good timing, too. Not only are we savouring the independence and thrill of actually steering ourselves around but it’s currently 38 degrees outside. And our car has aircon.

No more dashing into 7-11 to cool off for us. We have our own mobile, persona-sized fridge. Ahhh!

The Wild Dugong Hunt

By Evie

We were on a day trip to see dugongs around Koh Libong and near the end of it, just when we had given up looking for any wildlife, our guide pointed out something in the water…

He ran up to the front of the boat and pointed out a moving black fin. Then it jumped and dived – I had never seen one before but I knew what it was at once. A dolphin! What else would jump and dive and then completely vanish? Or I thought it had vanished until – whoosh!  ­– there it was again! About 4 or 5 times.

No it wasn’t an ‘it’; it was a ‘they’ – two – two dolphins.

We asked the guide if we could swim with them; he gave us the thumbs up because he didn’t he speak enough English to say “yes”.

By the time we all had our snorkels on the dolphins had gone, however we decided to try anyway. We clambered into the water and began to swim towards where the dolphins had been. When we turned and swam back to the boat, I suddenly realized how deep the water was – so deep I couldn’t see the bottom even though the water was very clear. Ow! I bumped my head on the boat and climbed on.

I say now: “I wish we had seen dugongs as well because that is what we set out to do. Or maybe that would be a bit too lucky.”

Trip Advisor Review of Phu Khao Lak Guesthouse, Khao Lak

Janet’s Trip Advisor Review of Phu Khao Lak Guesthouse, Khao Lak. Five stars!

When we arrived here I started frantically checking the email reservation to make sure I’d not missed a zero, surely we hadn’t paid enough money for somewhere this nice?

The pool is fairly small but lovely, with an infinity edge and some water features. The garden is huge, I mean seriously huge, if you have children they will love being able to roam around in the open space.

And as for the bungalows, we had a 600B room with hot water, I was expecting it to be a bit rough and ready but it’s just lovely. Daily cleaning, soft white towels, outdoor seating area, new mattresses, clean & newly tiled bathroom. It’s perfect.

The staff cannot do enough for you, and the restaurant is packed every night because the food is so delicious.

As other have said the Wi Fi is the only improvement that is needed, but for the price you pay it is amazing value for money and I definitely intend to come back here.

See Janet’s other reviews.

Trip Advisor review of Woodland Lodge, Koh Jum

Janet’s Trip Advisor review of Woodland Lodge, Koh Jum. Five stars!

We absolutely loved our stay here and would have extended it if we could. The family bungalow was spacious, with bookshelves to unpack onto and a large bathroom (one of the few places where you can have a shower without getting the toilet wet!). It had a double bed and a single bed. As we have 3 children, 2 of them slept on out travel mats on the floor and the owners provided an umbrella-like mosquito net for them.

The verandah was very big, we had space for our Iarge hammock, plus there were deckchairs and a table provided, so for once we could all sit down at the same time. It felt as though the owners had really thought about what you want or need and tried to provide it. We felt very comfortable.

The food was outstanding, such great cooking, there was no need to go anywhere else. However, there are other resorts and restaurants in walking distance if you fancy a change. The prices were also reasonable, including beer and wine, so you didn’t feel too guilty about having a few sundowners! And the sunset is so pretty here, it’s a mini-event on the beach each evening, with lots of comfy seats, buckets of ice and cold, white wine. Lovely!

Ko Jum and this resort seem to attract a slightly older crowd, and things are very low key, which suited us just fine, it’s not a party island, but lots of chance to socialise.

There’s a big grassy area that our kids turned into a quidditch pitch (we’re in a Harry Potter phase) and Ray, co-owner, brought out some footballs for them to use, which really kept them entertained.

The beach has lovely sand, and the area outside and just to the left of the resort is good for swimming in all tides, not too rocky unlike much of the rest of the island. However, the water is not clear and hopeless for snorkelling. I prefer a good swim anyway!

There are a few bits of old exercise equipment at the resort, a bit rustyp but useable, if you feel like working off some of the great food. I also went running a few times and could easily reach the village and the port, I would come back with little chocolate treats for the kids, there are plenty of little shops there. It’s too far to walk though.

You can also get a motorbike for 350B per day, delivered to the bungalow. We enjoyed exploring, but concluded we were staying at the best bit anyway!

The owners are so friendly and helpful. We paid a lot less to leave the island than we did to arrive by travelling back to Krabi with Ray, he even gave us a lift all the way to the bus station, which we really appreciated. He also told us lots of interesting local facts on the way.

After we left, we realised we’d left behind some clothes, and they have very kindly arranged for us to pick them up from a guest house in Krabi. Thank you so much!

All in all, it turned out to be one of our favourite places on the Andaman coast, I think we’ll be back.

See Janet’s other reviews.

Squid Island

Sunset at Had Farang

It’s a little while since we moved on from Koh Mook (which translates as Squid Island in Thai), but it we were all rather sad to leave it behind – until we got here to Koh Libong, it was definitely our favourite island.

We stayed on Had Farang, the same beach where Janet and I spent several weeks last time we were backpacking. At that time – in 2000 – the wide, curving, white-sand beach ended with a stack of boulders to the south and an impressive sea cliff to the north; behind, it was backed by a large, empty coconut plantation; and all the bungalows were hidden behind the tree line at the very edges. It really felt like a desert island. Apart from a single longtail that was generally moored in the harbour, you could easily imagine that you had the whole island to yourself.

This time around, although the beach remains the same, the coconut plantation has been cut down and replaced with the brash, new “Charlie’s Resort” with its swimming pool, beach umbrellas and a cocktail bar pumping out Ibiza dance hits. And there are now so many longtails at the water’s edge that a section has had to be cordoned off for swimming.

Yet, despite the changes, we all still loved Had Farang. Crowded as it is, the beach remains beautiful and is big enough to accommodate the increased numbers. The views re still stunning, the water still clear (and unlike Koh Jum, actually cooler than the air so it feels refreshing when you jump in after baking in the tropical sun). Watching the sunsets in the evenings at Chill Out Bar (far enough along not to hear Charlie’s cheesy music), it was easy to see why we’d loved it here before.

Plus there were new discoveries. We passed a small massage hut on the way to and from our little bungalows. In the day we would stop there to admire the grimacing faces of farangs on the painful end of a joint-wrenching Thai massage, and in the evenings, we would duck down underneath and marvel at the hundreds of hermit crabs which congregated there. They were charming, each with its different scavenged shell; clumsy, hairy legs protruding from underneath like Jim Henson glove puppets.

We also had several fun activity days. We wandered across the island through rubber plantations, touching and stretching the rubber as it oozed from the trunks. We hired sea canoes and explored the cliffs to the north. And, best of all, we hired a longtail and guide to take us into Emerald Cave, a hidden cove only reachable at low tide by swimming through pitch-black tunnels. Emerald Cave was only rediscovered using satellite imagery but had once been the home of pirates and smugglers. It was also one of the main inspirations for The Beach. Check out the girls’ reports of the trip here, here and here.

As I finished writing, I asked Evie what her opinion of the island was. Her reply was simple: “I absolutely loved Koh Mook!”

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