Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Koh Samet

Koh Samet is my favourite destination in Thailand. It is a small island off the coast of Rayong District about 250km west of Bangkok.

You have to catch boat over to the Island at Ban Pean, this is a small port town. The pier for the Island is a shit hole and sadly gets worse every time we visit! You can either catch the public ferry at 50baht which takes 45 mins to get to the main pier on Koh Samet, you also have to pay a pick up to take you to your resort nad pay 200baht each to enter the National Park that covers most of the Island. Or you can catch a speed boat which costs 1500baht each way. The boat can hold at least 10 people, so the more you fit on the better the price will be. One thing to be aware of is that the speed boats do it in 15mins and boy do they go fast, the crossing is very bumpy. Another advantage of the speedboat is that it takes you directly to your Hotel so no Parke or taxi fees.

We stayed at the Samed Villa Resort, we have stayed there before, the last time about five years ago. I was very keen to go back and take advantage of the excellent position Aoh Phau beach. The Hotel didn't dissappoint, from the easy check, through to the Sea View Bungalow with 2 bedrooms. There is Air Con, TV and a mini bar in each room.

The view from the room is outstanding, there is alot of improvement work being carried out at the moment, but th is is very low key.

The breakfast is very good and the menu during the day is very varied and something for everyone. Nuch was very impressed with the Thai food, her and her friends ordered. Prices of food and drink is very reasonable, despite you being a captive audience. Plus you get all this for £44 per night in low season, this is for both rooms....

On this trip Koh Samet didn't let me down. The mixture of white sandy beaches, warm clear sea and a friendly layed back atmosphere all go in to making this a super getaway place.

We will definately be going back to Koh Samet on our next visit.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Courtyard by Marriott Cha-Am

The Courtyard by Marriott resort Hotel at cha Am is without doubt one of the best hotels that I have stayed in.

Cha am is about 200km from Bnagkok on the coast in the Gulf of Thailand. The hotel is set between Cha Am and neighbouring Hua Hin. The hotel is well sign posted and parking spaces in abundance, Reception is a super airy place, no air conditioning, instead relying on the breeze coming off the sea which is about 100m away.

First impressions are super modern and clean, the rooms don't dissappoint either, our room was a large affair with one huge super king size bed, flat screen TV, DVD player, coffee, fridge and of course air con. The bathroom is superb with a massive walk in shower. What also sets this Hotel from others is the plugs are suitable for UK 3 pin....

The view from all the rooms is the same as in the picture and is worth the 4000baht a night on its own.

Breakfast is very good, probably not up with the Dusit we stayed in, but better than most.

The pool is outstanding, with a slide, several different depth pools and a pool bar. Elizabeth was more than entertained with the pool and the Kids Club kept her occupied for a couple of hours.

We will definately be going back again and would recommend this hotel to anyone.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Thailand 2011

Its been two years I have been in Thailand and I've noticed several major changes.

The main thing is the cost of living as shot up, not only for the locals but as a tourist, everything as gone up big time.

Prices in Thai baht

2009     2011
70         125  Small bottle of beer in a pub
45         55    Large bottle of beer in the Supermarket
295       385  Pizza at Pizza Hut
45         65    Express Way charge to Don Muang
23         35   1 Ltr unleaded petrol

Other things have stayed the same, like eating out Thai, Taxi rides, in fact anything that local Thais buy everyday.

Unfortunately the exchange rate between the Baht and the Pound is shocking at the moment. So had the average 20%ish rise in the price anyway and then factor in the 20-30% loss due to the exchange rate and the prices are more than noticeably higher.

Bangkok, certainly seems to be a more modern place, many more high rise buildings and professional people walking about, there seem to be more new cars on the road and some of the High tech stuff Bangkok is way ahead of us.

I was very disappointed to see the measures that some people were going to to make a buck, stuff like pimps coming up to me and asking if I want a soapy massage, even though I have Elizabeth with me. Being tapped on the shoulder in Burger King by a young lad and asked if I want a good time! Child Porn DVDs, Sex toys and drug taking equipment openly for sale on Silom, Sukhumvit and in Chinatown.

What hasn't changed is the friendliness and character of normal day to day Thai people, whether business people or the working class. I enjoyed meeting a very  diverse set of people on this trip.

I now have an appetite to go back to Thailand for another holiday.

Dusit Thani Bangkok

On our recent visit to Thailand we stayed for nine days at the Dusit Thani in Bangkok. It is billed as a five star hotel and picked our rooms up on line for around £100 per night.

On arrival at the Hotel, there is everything you would expect from this level of class hotel. The service is second to none. There is a little bizarre checking in ritual which takes you to a small area where you check in, maybe to get people staying in our wing away from the busy reception. he check proceedure is very complicated and they also charged me £50 per day as a deposit and took the cost of the room as a deposit on my credit card. This pretty much wiped a load of avaliable balance of this card for a week. They also didn't charge the deposit upon departure and charged the card again for the room, this did kill the credit card for a week....

The Hotel is located next to the busy Silom area of Bangkok and is right next to the Sala Dang BTS Station and the Silom MRT Station, so getting to most points in Bangkok is very easy. Across the road is Lumpini Park, a great place for kids with a load of wildlife including a 2M monitor, which Elizabeth loved.

The Hotel as many Restaurants and facilities. The pool is excellent and the Gym looked great. There are Thai, Vietnamese, Australian Steak House food and a big Night Club. Unfortunately the cost of these is prohibitive! A glass of beer and a coke around the pool cost £8.50. For me that is too much........

The rooms are the biggest let down. If I had paid half the cost of the room, then the room would have been just adequate, however the room did not meet my expectation. We have stayed at the Dusit Thani in Hua Hin and the rooms are 100% better. The room was clean and tidy, but old and tired.

There were nice touches like milk and cookies for Elizabeth and on our second stay they left us baby shampoo and shower gel.. Breakfast was fantastic! Beans and bacon everyday, aswell as all the international dishes you would expect including great coffee.

The check out was a real pain, both times they messed up the total of the bill, on the second occassion the overcharge was nearly £80.

So as far as an overall score goes, I can only give the Dusit Thani 6/10. I so wanted to love this Hotel, unfortunately not even spending £1000 over nine days could do this.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thai Election 2011 (part 5)

On our recent visit to Thailand we were greeted by every lampost, tree and telegraph pole being festooned in election posters.

Most were the regular run of the mill picture of the candidate and which party they support. However some really caught my eye and imagination:

The above poster is from the PAD, they want people to vote no in the upcoming election. They are using posters of monkeys, water buffalos, dogs and monitors dressed as politicians. Many parties are very unhappy with the posters and there is a campaign to get them banned.

This poster is of the PTP leader Yingluck. She is the sister of Thaksin Shinawatra, she is ahead in the polls and is a pretty foxy looking chick.

The geezer is called Chuwit, he is a self made millionaire, making his money from brothels and massage parlours. He as a bad temper, but appeals to peoples sense of right. His posters are pretty good at getting his message across, he also speaks his mind on TV. He as also caught the imagination of the press by putting some posters up in english and advertising his facebook and twitter accounts.

I wonder what will to these 1000's of posters after this is all finished?