Saturday, December 31, 2011


It's been windy here virtually every day since I arrived in early December. For many (sunbathers, kite surfers, culture vultures, walkers etc), a bit of breeze is very welcome but not for us chaps who want to go sea fishing. The seas have been too uncomfortable for inshore fishing from the longtail boats and too rough 70 miles off for our planned Similan Island trips.

This means I have been doing a lot of, every day! At the moment I have Neil as my 'private student' and now Coz and Wad from Dorset have arrived. Yesterday was Coz' first sea dive after our first day spent in the pool learning the basics....

Here we have Neil posing on his second sea dive. This was a particularly good dive. We had moved out onto the sand clear of the coral reef to practice navigation and bouyancy control. A bit of current was moving so we drifted a bit further away from the reef than I'd planned so we continued our dive over sand in the hope of seeing a few stingrays. We were rewarded with spotting 8 stingrays of varying sizes....excellent.

Wad (Mark, from Weymouth) has done a bit of diving in Koa Toa and UK. He has dived with my illustrious son Tom around Weymouth and Portland. Thus, as can be seen here, he is very able to be silly underwater. It actually takes a good deal of bouyancy control to be silly in a controlled, well done to Wad for showing us how it should be done.

This was Coz's first dive in the sea. The first 'drop down' from the surface is always the most worrying and one that will never be forgotten. Coz (short for Corinne!) was great. No probs at all....a gentle descent and then into a nice forward position so we could take the first steps at buoyancy control and dive profile.

Despite it being her first dive, Coz easily managed an hour and we surfaced with her having plenty of air left whilst her acrobatic boyfriend, Wad, was sucking on the final molecules in his tank. It just shows that with calmness and control, the dive can last a long time. The great thing about this Kata reef is that there is so much to see. It is crammed with life and thousands of fish with many different species including a resident school of young barracuda that are often completely surrounding's an impressive sight. And everything can be viewed from the safety of the sandy sea bottom that runs alongside the reef. Perfect. As our trainee divers become more confident (the last thing I want is for our 'trainees' to wack themselves on the coral reef) then we can start to explore further into the reef itself.

Today is the 1st Jan 2012. Our UK friends should be tucked up in bed now (it is 02.17 your time) after a good session of celebration. Here it is 09.17...Jai has gone to water the garden at her house and to visit the Temple. I am here 'writing' and waiting for the first appearances from our 6 guests from upstairs...who knows when that might be??

No diving for a couple of days now. Today we aim to go to the Rawai Sea Gypsy Village for a fresh fish, prawn BBQ lunch. Sadly, this will be our friend Keith's last lunch as he has to return to UK tomorrow. Keith has systematically broken the hearts of the young ladies of Chalong and has actually been banned from several bars because the ladies are fighting over him and it is causing serious disharmony in their ranks!! Ha Ha, what a laugh...being banned cos the female bar staff get too upset when you walk in!! Can you imagine that happening in UK???

We have a lake fishing trip planned for the 3rd and will be joined by several other UK anglers who are staying in nearby Kata. On the 4th we (Neil, Neil's wife Jan, Wad, Coz, me) are booked to go diving all day out on a longtail boat with our local skipper, Captain Tawan.

It's all go here in sunny could be YOU next Xmas or next year!!! Get that holiday planning on the go!!

Happy 2012!!!

Christmas Day

I have been berated for my slackness in maintaining The Blog over the last few days by my faithful Blog Followers. Apologies...this has been due to the time spend chasing Jai through Chalong Town on her nightly drunken outings....she is a real scamp at this time of year!

And so, Xmas Day, The Jai and I were fought over by our neighbours ex- sub-mariner Malcome and his charming Ukrainian Pole Dancing finalist wife Carol, who comes from some county called Devon, and Lt Colonel David and his wife Gai. Gai, as you all know, means chicken. Thai ladies are called after such creatures on a regular basis...especially useful when they become old broilers.

We (The Jai) and I had been ordered to the Colonel's house this year having hob nobbed with the 'low life' at Malcome's last Christmas. But first we nipped into Malcome's so Jai could see the splendid Xmas Tree and presents that had been prepared for the guests.

It ain't easy to get the 'stuff' required to put on a fine Xmas spread over here....and a massive effort had gone into both Xmas Dinners.

Anyhow, we entered the Colonel's superb Town House and were impressed to see four Thai 'servants'...well, that's what the Colonel calls them and how he refers to them when he's shouting at them for being useless...slaving over a selection of meats (turkey, hams, porks, sausages wrappd in bacon) and at least six traditional veg including the despised Brussel Sprouts ( there anyone who honestly like these fart inducing, smelly geen balls???) roast and mashed tatties, and all sorts of
stuffings and jellies. I mean; it WAS amazing......

Upstairs we were greeted by the delightful Gai (chicken, remember) who showed us to our named seats (the seating plan being carefully constructed so that the ex-Pat men were at one end of the table in order that they might talk about important stuff such as golf and fishing whilst the Thai ladies (wives and partners) were as far away as possible at the other end where they good gossip at how extremely lucky they were to have encroached into polite European Society and who had the biggest car, shiniest ring, most dresses know the sort of stuff.

Ah, the pleasures of a well presented table under the formidable and ordered control of a man, Colonel David, who believes in the maintainance of standards. Excellent.

It was a womderful dinner and fascinating conversation. I must point out that I met a gentleman named Peter at dinner who is an International Marine Lawyer and Broker. It is he who has just managed (after 2 full years of negotiations) to sell off Condor 10 in Weymouth Harbour for a measley £6.5 million to the South Koreans. So, maybe Condor 10 has gone....but if not, it will be when the weather allows.

This will come as a massive shock to a certain member of the Weymouth Commercial fishing fleet whose own boat has been known to attempt to mate with Condor 10.

It was important for me to pop downstairs and next door to see how the Lower Classes were spending their Xmas Day. Here, on the left of the photo, you can see Jeff (the Bristol Faery) and then International Lothario, Keith from Aylesbury.

The other lads on the right, with tattoes, are young entrepreneurs from the 'London' area who are over here in Thailand making themselves a deserved fortune through the clever exporting of quality imitation goods into may well be wearing some item of theirs right now! Neil, with sun glasses on, has been my dive student for the past few excellent and highly motivated young chap who is already a £millionaire at 27 through his own efforts...

In this pic we have Crusty Steve at the Head of the Table. His wife, Janey, is rarely to be seen as she understands her duties to her husband and was usually in the kitchen fixing her beloved another G and T. The other lads are Irish and, I kid you not, are wonderful musicians. Jimmy, wearing glasses, does the most poignant version of 'Waltzing Matilda' (you know, that brilliant version by The Pogues ages ago) and other traditional Irish songs accompanied by the other lads on Irish Whistle and Irish Drum...excellent!!!

It was a spendid day..starting at 1 pm and finishing about midnight and our genuine thanks go to our hosts for their generosity and for inviting us again this year.

A new and rather quaintly modest house has gone up just two 'doors' away from us. It has been built in a style to replicate one of the Royal Houses. I do not, as yet, know who owns this mansion but I am expecting him to enter the fray for our Xmas Day favours next year....

Jai said she wouldn't mind going.....

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The new Pagoda

It's a bit exposed by the house, this year's plan was to have a nice, shady pagoda built. Soon we will be able to have breakfast, snacks and evening drinks by the pool. Don't we ex-Pats live well??

Anyhow, here we have photo of the Thai workforce grafting away.

And here, we have 'The Jai' sweet talking the boss of the Building Company' she's trying to extract a bit of commission for herself.

First phase is done...the support columns are up. The lads are tidying up by washing all the excess concrete onto my flower beds...yep, just the same here as back home...bloody, messy builders.

Now, Xmas Day, we are well into phase 2. The roof girders are going on....this is gonna be a STRONG pagoda...but it has to be as we have plenty wind here and stacks of rain in the Monsoon period.

Good to see the Thai's work over Xmas period. And our current guests?? Fast asleep after far too many G and T's last night....rascals, the lot of 'em!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Xmas Eve...Sunshine Bar, Rawai

Welcome to the Christmas Eve Party at the Sunshine Bar in Rawai, our favourite fun bar.

And it's Jai opening the welcome with a well timed Thai Dance...

....before the Cabaraet Show begins.

Om and Jeff cuddle up to Brian, our heroic beach front land grabber/settler from New Zealand. With scant regard to local traditions, Brian just selected a piece of what will become prime beach frontage at Chalong....and started building on it 10 years ago. It was a courageous move and it has required a degree of shotgun standoff tactics.....but now the local Government has officially recognised Brian's landgrab...and he's going to get to keep it all!! Maybe it's something to do with the trips on his yacht he offers to the 'right' people????

And here are our charming hosts for the evening...(L to R) Om (Jeff's wife); Jai (strange person from Pitsanalok); Nong (Brian's wife) and standing, Peeyan (works for local Government...jolly useful lady to know!!)

Steve and Janey had got waylaid in the Tamarin Bar back up in Chalong....but our International Lothario, Keith turned up with this hot little number called Som...who announced she was gonna give him a Xmas Night he'd never forget. They haven't got up you'll have to wait until I've interviewed them to see if Som lived up to her promise and if Keith survived it....

We were treated to plenty of fireworks, music, laughter and erotic dancing throughout the evening....and then Father Christmas turned up...complete with dazzling blonde Swedish helper...

The Bar Mama, Khun Wallet Watcher, never misses a thing. She and her staff are SO on the ball.....there was no chnace of us scarpering in Santa's Tuk Tuk without paying the bill......

.....and now it's about 10 am on Xmas Day...the troops are slowly beginning to stir...we are off to neighbours for an extremely long Xmas lunch/dinner which I fear could end in yet another afternoon/night of drunken oblivion.

Yo Ho; Merry Xmas everyone

Friday, December 23, 2011

Kata Diving

Our diving on Kata Reef yesterday allowed us to discover a few more Nudibranchs. For those hardened anglers reading this, I can feel your bafflement at such dinky little critters being of any interest....but, they are hard to find and quite rare. From a diver's point of view, it requires good underwater buoyancy control in order to be able to get a good look at these creatures...

....and to get nice, clear photographs the diver needs to be in complete control of his, well done to Jeff who is progressing very nicely and is now starting to take good seen here. This is Jeff's last dive until next December...he and Om are off 'up country' after Xmas.

Coral bleaching is a problem, particularly in shallow waters. The reason given for 'bleaching' is the rise in water temperatures. Water temperatures in Phuket/Andaman Sea have been in excess of 30 degrees in the last few years...bleaching occurs (so I am told) at 33 degrees. (Reminder...this is SEA temp!!! It's pretty warm diving over here!). This coral has a hint of colour left on you can imagine what the whole area would look like if the corals were still coloured.

Here's another little bit of coral. Kata is not the best place for coral but it's a great reef to practice dive skills and also to see a LOT of fish life...there's stacks of fish about. We were going to sea today on a longtail boat for a bit of offshore diving...but Jeff's gone and got injured. The Bristol Fairy had to be carried out of the Tamarin Bar last night....and, for a change, he was not drunk....the fool has gone and damaged his cartilage. Thought we were off to hospital last night!!

Nice little shot of a few fish hovering over a clump of rock near the surface.

Adventure Islands

Today was 'sea trip to a couple of offshore islands' day. The various boats for fishing, diving and tripping all go from nearby Chalong Pier. Janey was delighted to get Steve away from the damn fish and claim him for the day.....see how merry she is??

First stop was the very beautiful Coral Island which is great for snorkling and enjoying lunch and a few drinks on the beach.

Coral Island is their favourite island and so they have purchased a charming beachside property, shown here, for a mere £7.53.

The Islands Day is a long they are waiting for the sun to dip before heading back to Chalong and a seafood banquet on the sea shore....

...and there, ready to join us for two weeks, was our Hero, Keith! Welcome to our International let the fun and games commence.We are up to full strength full...and adventures occuring!!

A Day at The Lake

Mr Jeff Whittard, Bristol Fairy, has complained that whenever he goes bassing, there's never any fish and he returns home fishless. I tell him that there are thousands of bass 'out there' but that he is useless.

Mr Steve Thorne, master of sink waste systems, is at the other end of the spectrum. Whenever Steve fishes onboard Offshore Rebel he catches...'shed loads'.

So, it was to be an interesting day at the Phuket Game Park with the lake currently stocked with over 7,000 fish! Therefore, the first part of Jeff's demands had been met.....thousands of fish in a confined area...leaping out of the water to prove they existed. Even Jeff had to admit that there were indeed stacks of fish to be caught.

Mr Steve Thorne got stuck in immediately with a fine carp...

Fishing next to us was Adrian from Gloucester. Adrian and his friends were catching a mixture of piraya, catfish, including this fine red tailed catfish, and carp.

Captain Whittall of Weymouth was having fun with regular runs as big fish took off with the legered bread's one of the day's catfish.

Some cracking carp to 15kg were being caught from the various 'swims' around the lake.

Captain Whittall was adding to the variety with toothy paraya to 5kg...

Mr Thorne was all smiles as he bent into another lively rod bender.......

...and here he is with a very nice catfish...

It was a lively day with plenty of fish coming from all around the lake, plenty of runs and 'dropped fish', line bite offs and hooks bitten in half! These are fierce critters with very impressive teeth!!

And Mr Jeff Whittard??? Caught nothing. Yes, nothing! Out of the 7,000 rampaging fish.....he caught not one single fish.......!!!!!

Highlight of Jeff's day?? Catching a tree...which he did extremely well.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kata Shore Dive

The Kata reef starts about 200 yards off Kata Beach in Phuket. The whole reef is buoyed off to prevent entry by boats and to protect the reef and the snorklers and scuba divers it attracts. The reef runs from just 3 metres to 10 metres deep and is teeming with fish life and corals.

Because it is so shallow, it is possible to take some great long as the currents haven't stirred up the fine sand. It's also an advantage if the reef hasn't been dived before you arrive as that also stirs up the sand.

Today was Jeff's first dive for some time and after a bit of getting sorted to start with he soon got into the dive and we managed to stay down 80 minutes....which is excellent. Jeff's always been very good on air use....

The Kata reef is particularly good for seeing small critters. This funny looking 'fish' is a pipefish and was about 9'' long. It's pretty hard to see them as they look like an old bit of seaweed...but, with patience, you can creep up on them and take a few photo's.

Many divers enjoy finding Nudibrancs. Nudibrance are shell-less molluscs and as such have developed a whole variety of defense mechanisms. Some species of Nudibranc are highly toxic and, if disturbed, can give off a powerful chemical. People who like to keep Nudibrancs in home aquariums have to be very careful not to cause them stress as they can easily wipe out a whole tank of tropical fish. Other Nudibrancs use camouflage or extremely bright colours as warning. There's over 2,000 different kinds of Nudibrancs in Asian it's no surprise to see one of these varieties for the first time. In fact, this is two Nudibrancs it was a double first for me. Never seen this kind before and never seen Nudibrancs bonking...well, we are in Thailand after all!!

We also saw a massive shoal of barracuda which totally surrounded us, lots of angel and pufferfish, scorpion and lionfish, a few crabs and stacks of other fish..too many to mention. It's certainly a great place to dive.

Tomorrow, we go back to Kata and do it all again and then on Wednesday we shall charter a local longtail boat and go and dive one of the islands just offshore where no divers go. By then Jeff should be well trained up and ready for a dive with the local PADI Instructors who want me to show them the delights of Kata reef....well, won't Jeff be in the diving glitterati of Phuket on that occassion!

Just could have a go at this when you come here for your winter break!!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Scuba Diving

The main reason why I decided to spend winters in Thailand is simply because of our grotty winter weather in England. The sea is too rough, the winds are too strong; the temperature is crap...and you chaps do not have much fun out there....and nor do I....when such conditions are to be endured!

And, I love to go scuba diving. One of the things on offer here if you come to stay is free scuba diving. I know quite a few of you have tried in the past and for whatever reason, it hasn't worked for you. Some of you 'have always wanted to have a go' but time tends to slip by and the opportunty hasn't be there for you. And so, here you get the chance...and I am your illustrious teacher and guide...and we have a nice little house pool to learn the first skills in.

There's no time pressure so you can take all the time you like in the pool to learn and practice the skills required at your own pace. We have the PADI books and Videos in the house for you to read and can go into it as deeply as you like. ..and I take you gently through the PADI Open Water course. If you get hooked, which I hope you do, you could go on to do the full PADI course at one of the nearby Dive Centres and gain your Open Water Certification which means you can then scuba dive anywhere in the world with PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors).

Several years ago, Jeff (Bristol Fairy) had a go and enjoyed it so much he progressed to take his PADI OW (Open Water) Certificate. Today we are just preparing to go to our favourite shore dive site. We've spent a bit of time in the pool refreshing our skills, checked all the gear; had the tanks checked and filled with air...and laid out the stuff to make sure we have everything we need.

There's quite a bit of kit needed and this is NOTHING compared to what is required in UK. You will see a couple of scuba tanks, BCD's (Buoyancy Control other words, the jackets we wear), fins, masks, suits, regulators, cameras, has to be carefully checked and prepared. Unlike angling, you cannot afford to make MUST get it the training and having the correct, properly maintained kit is essential.

All this stuff is available when you come to stay...buggar, I've spent a fortune on it's a real bonus if you'd like to have a go.

Yo Ho, we are just waiting for the girls to come back with the cars and then we are off!!!

Dinner and Negotiations at Bonsai Restaurant

Last night we visited the Bonsai Restaurant in Chalong which is one of the most interesting places to eat as it is packed with antiques (including us last night).

We arrived in the Rolls Royce the restaurant send to collect guests (yep, guests as opposed to're treated in a proper manner).

Jeff, having clinched a major building deal in Bristol, had bought his Thai wife, Om, a sports car which the previous owners had arranged to have waiting inside the Bonsai restaurant...which was a nice touch to the evening.

Jai is now waiting to negotiate a deal on some of the restaurant's antiques. Janey and Steve are antiques dealers/collectors and are always out for a bargain to take The Jai was sent in to open the price bartering.

Meanwhile....not being interested in such high financial dealings, I wandered around the restaurant grounds..,admiring all the little Bonsai trees. It's a great concept for a restaurant....loads of valuable items set amongst an ornamental and subtly lit garden with guests seated in secluded corners enjoying an extremely original menu featuring alligator, croc, ostrich, snake, various fish ...

Janey..usually the business head of Thorne Enterprises...was intrigued to listen in to Jai's opening negotiations on the few items they were interested in. The staff thought Janey's stalking antics were most amusing. In fact, Janey looks positively meercatish in this shot....and it was noted that stir fried meercat was one of the more ununsual items on the menu.

It has often been said, when someone is sitting between Janey and Steve, that they are a 'rose between two Thornes' (Get it?? Jane and Steve Thorne??). Here they are with 'An old Urn between Two Thornes'. As can be seen, at this stage, negotiations had almost reached a conclusion and a serious offer was about to be offered.

Success!! The Thorne Antiques Company have clinched a whole load of old crockery and here it is on display before being packed ready for shipping back to the UK. The whole lot was purchased for one million Baht (about £20k). Steve and Janey are delighted with an absolute bargain; the restaurant owners are happy as this lot cost 12 Bhat (26 pence) to produce in their ovens round the back....and so everybody was happy.

And so, back to the carpark...Om and Jai are laughing their heads off (as usual) after having received a hefty commission from the restaurant owners...and are looking forward to speeding downtown in Om's new red sports car to dance the night away at The Tiger Bar.

We English are off to the Sports Bar to watch the Arsenal V Man City match..

Ah, another quiet evening in Chalong......