Friday, January 30, 2009

John and Sonja's last Night

Great Food and Wild Nights

Thailand is famous for its food...many of us have enjoyed Thai meals together in Alderney. The food here IS amazing...and cheap.........and so much're all gonna love it!

The selection is endless.....Lydia surveys one restaurant's offerings.....there's even crispy bugs!

One of the great pleasures...sitting down to a great Thai meal
together...friendships, food and drink...AND WARMTH!

Thai Night Life is IS crazy and fun filled........there are bars everywhere and the Thai's are fantastically hospitable and party loving.......

Lydia is fascinated by the 7' tall Lady Boy and the Thai ladies are fascinated by Lydia..........any night at the bars is a scream.... you're gonna see some sights!
We've also found several very good night clubs with fine bands's a very different atmosphere at these as it's mainly wealthy Thai's freqenting such clubs. The atmosphere is very polite and gentle....NOT! Ha Ha!
Today our guests John and Sonja leave us to return to the UK...I guess they will get one more serious shopping effort in. Steve and I plus Horst (the Swiss EFSA Chairman who lives here) will be fishing in the late afternoon and evening before joining the ladies and friends for Lydia and Steve's farewell's a hard life!
BOOKINGS for late 2009 and 2010
On a serious note, the house is getting booked up already for next winter. Our four current guests are returning and half of March 2010 is booked.
I took over the booking and arranging of flight for quite a few of this year's customers as I managed to find cheaper flights.
You have choices
Option the house to yourselfs...£600 per week. Sleeps 7 and includes a car.
Option the house yourself £600 per week...with me and Jai here as your guides/arrangers, house cleaners etc etc......
Option 3. You book a room (there's 3 rooms) at £200 per week (2 to a room so £100 per week each if two of you). Jai and I will be here to meet you at the airport, help you get to grips with the place, advise you and arrange trips etc etc.
With Options 2 and 3, you also get the chance to start to learn diving with me!
If you want, I'll arrange all your international and internal flights as well; including arranging a stopover in Bangkok if you fancy that as part of your holiday. Anything to make things easier for you now that I've got the hang of finding and booking it all...
Padi Open Water Divers!!

Congratulations to Sonja and John having successfully completed their 4 day PADI Open Water Course. Yesterday, Day 4 of their course, saw the couple going to sea for their two Boat Dives. The day at sea is a great day out starting at 0800 at the Dive Centre, travelling the 200 yards to the boat, preparing the dive gear on the way to the first dive site, a light breakfast and then the first dive.

The first dive is followed by a debriefing from the Instructors with a light snack of fruit whilst waiting for the obigatory one hour surface interval before the second and final dive of the four dive course.

Today the four of us (Sonja, John, Jai and me) went to Kata Beach for the final dive of the couple's holiday as they leave for UK tomorrow. Completing the Open Water Course has been a great achievement for Sonja in particular as when she arrived she had never been in the sea and did not enjoy going out of her depth.

But now Sonja's hooked on diving and has been 18 metres out of her depth....Well Done, Sonja!

Kata Beach...........there's a fantastic coral reef off to the right of the picture with stacks of fish life and colourful corals in clear water....a perfect place for shore diving.

....and the perfect way to finish the day....colourful sunset with a few beers on the they kept IS paradise here.

Tonight we'll all be going out to our current favourite beach bar for Sonja and John's farewell party.......with Lydia, Party Demon extraordinaire, in our company the photographs for tomorrow's blog should be a this space!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Learning to Scuba Dive


One of my aims in setting up 'paulsthaihouse' was to offer Scuba Diving to any of you that would like to try.
I've bought four complete sets of scuba diving gear (very expensive) and we have the house pool to learn in. You just have to supply the fins (or flippers!) as I couldn't cater for all the different size feet! There's no need for a wet suit as the sea is so warm...but if you wish to bring one or buy one here, then so be it!

I found it very difficult to learn to Scuba Dive. As a result of my own experiences, I always hoped that if I ever ended up in a position where I could encourage people to take up diving then I would teach it in a way very different to the way I was taught. In fact, as a result of the instruction I received I did not take up diving until many years later. I learnt a lot of lessons back then about how not to teach diving and so it is my intention to make your instruction as personal, stress free and relaxed as possible. Everyone has different requirements and has varying levels of confidence. Diving is all about confidence based on a good solid foundation of knowledge and positive experience...and that's exactly what I aim to provide for you.

For the past six years I have been involved with the big diving resort Buddha View on the Thai island of Koa Toa. Koa Toa is where my son Tom learnt to be a PADI Instructor although he is now making his living as a full time commercial diver. In 2007 I spent 3 months at Buddha View on the Dive Master course which teaches you how to assist and lead fellow divers. Prior to this I had gone down the PADI Master Scuba Diver route whereby you can choose from any number of courses to develop your own skills and knowledge. Jai (your crew on Offshore Rebel) and son Tom was with me for the past six years as we dived in the Phillipines, Vietnam, Cambodia and much of Thailand with Tom and I also enjoying the excellent diving at Dahab in the Red Sea. In the past three years number 2 son, Sam, has joined us at the Red Sea and spent this Xmas with me in Koh Toa and then here in Phuket.

Over the past two months the majority of my guests have expressed the desire to learn. One guest was a quaified PADI diver but had lost is confidence through a bad experience with a dive resort in another country; one lady guest had always been nervous of the sea and of being out of her depth; another had never thought they would have the confidence to try. One guest took three days to be able to put her face under water....but so what? We have plenty of time. No-one is going to pressurise anyone. We can take as long as you like over any aspect of learning to dive. I've even had the pleasure of teaching two Thai's to dive....and they hate the sea...something about spirits living in it or summat!!

After as much time as an individual requires in the pool, we progress to the sea and practice our new skills in shallow water before gently progressing deeper.

The practical sessions are supported with videos and diving manuals if you so desire.
Several guests have enjoyed the experience so much that they have progressed on to the full PADI Open Water Course and, as I write, two of our guests are 'at sea' on their first two boat dives as part of their course.

Today, Jai and I found another great location for shore diving. Very clear water, colourful corals and stacks of fish. There's some clear sandy patches running parallel to the reef where we can practice your new skills without fear of wacking yourself on a sharp seabed. It is my intention to construct shore diving safari's now that I have the equipment and a jeep to carry it all around in. What a great way to spend the day with a tasty Thai lunch or dinner on the beach after the dive.
The local dive schools are being brilliant with me...filling my scuba tanks and offering lots of local advice.

For the really keen there are some superb liveaboard trips to the Surin and Simian Islands. These are trips where you live on the dive boat for several days and can do up to five dives a day if you wish....the company is always good and the food is superb.

Scuba Diving is a fantastic sport to, here is your chance.........and with me........learning it is all free as part of your holiday!!!!!!! (Just pay for the air in the tanks and the fuel in the car!)

Friday, January 23, 2009


Three weeks ago we were honoured with the presence of 7 Buddhist Monks in the house who performed an hour long ceremony to bless the property and all those who come to stay here.
Many Thai people, along with friends and family from THE UK came. It was a fascinating insight into a major aspect of Thai culture and belief.

Earlier this week (see last post) we had the blessing of the Spirit House so that the resident spirit of the land could move in and be our Guardian Spirit.
Last night (Thursday 22nd Jan) it was the HOUSE WARMING party. Many of our Thai neighbours came and very generously bought us presents and Good Wishes. Our guests currently include two couples from UK who were proved to be great centres of attraction as our Thai guests are always very eager to improve their English.

One colourful and entertaining custom at parties (or for any excuse really!) is the releasing of large, hot air 'balloons'. These 'balloons' are very large square paper contraptions. They are very light. The hot air is provided by igniting a paraffin impregnated circle of material at the mouth of the 'balloon'. Once it is filled and ready to drift up into space, the party goers make their wishes and the Night Light is released. It goes up for what looks like thousands of feet and burns for a very long time. At New Year there anywhere up to 100 in the sky in this area alone. Very impressive sight!

Tomorrow John and Sonja make thier sixth dive with me and then progress to the Padi Open Water Course on Sunday wich will take place over 4 days and includes shore and boat diving as part of the training. Cost is about a third of the UK that's a major attraction for people coming to stay in Phuket.

Last week we were taken to a famous Night Club in Phuket City that had a very good Thai band with a really amazing Thai lady singer. Plenty of soul, Joplin, it was extremely classy stuff. Needless to say...we're off there again tonight!

More Blog stuff at the weekend!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Spirit House

Spirits in Thailand

Spirits are all over the place in Thailand. They live in rivers, trees, the sea, mountains, on boats, in cars and anywhere else you can think of. When a house is built, it has inevitably displaced the resident spirit that lived on or in that land. This is not good! Obviously the spirit needs to be appeased. This is achieved by providing a Sahn Phra Phum (spirit house). A spirit house does not need to be a big structure for a house but it does have to be beautifully and ornately made. Also, the Sahn Phra Phum must be cared for on a daily basis with offerings of food, flowers, incense and prayers.
When the Spirit House first arrives it must be correctly positioned so as to enjoy the 'best aspect' and the correct offerings (food, flowers) in exactly the correct way must be made. This can only be done, of course, by a Holy Man or 'Phram' who presents all the intitial offerings in the appropriate manner. Prayers are then offered and the Sahn Phra Pum is ready to move in and adopt its role as Guardian Spirit or Phra Phum Chao Tih.

This tradition has its roots in Hinduism. If you've ever been to India or Thailand (and many other Asian countries) you may have seen some massive Sahn Phra Phum's specially if there's a major business involved. Inside these large 'spirit houses' you may see a four faced, eight armed Guardian Spirit who is Toa Ma Ha Phrom. Being able to look in four directions at once, he is able to foresee anything potentially harmful affecting the business he protects and thus prevent misfortune....only the good things get through!

So, now we have a properly installed Sahn Phra Phum erected and blessed, we are expecting good fortune to befall all who come to stay in the house!