Monday, February 27, 2012

Mr Ellis and Keith fishing at Phuket Game Park

On the last occasion Keith, Mr Steve (soon to be given an award for being a pillar of local Society??) Ellis and his mad keen fishing wife, Alison went fishing at the lake without me. No doubt I was doing something fascinating...but I forget what!

Keith was on the hence no photographs of's all about Mr Ellis. Well, that's OK as Mr Ellis is a story in himself with what can only be described as a unique approach to lake fishing.

It's not good to lose your fishing rod into the lake. As we are hiring rods, it's a 6,000 Baht 'fine' (£130) if you lose one. How can you lose one?? These fish are incredibly powerful. They will pull an unattended rod ....and metal rod rest...into the lake with ease. The lake is deep and ain't gonna jump in and find your rod...which will have been towed half way over the other side of the lake anyway. Here's Steve tho' with a nice catfish...just to show he can catch them....eventually.

Mr Ellis lost 2 rods and a big rodrack!! Luckily one of my trained professional rods was also being used. For those of you who do not understand, a professionally trained rod is one we skippers use. It knows what lunatics it will be surrounded by and is always ready to leap to the rescue...apart from catching the most fish. So, Mr Ellis' first rod had gone and then my 'professional' rod buckled over which Mr Ellis managed to grab....and on winding in discovered the hook on the 'Prof' rod had skilfully hooked the balearm on his about that then?? The missing rod was carefully brought in and then Mr Ellis was able to resume playing his fish.

Later in the day, Mr Ellis caught someone else's rod...this rod had also been dragged in by a fish. He retrieved this other rod and there was still a fish on it....I dunno; I wouldn't want to own a fishing lake. These lake anglers are clearly bonkers.

Another technique employed by intrepid lake anglers is to cast as high as possible and get your terminal geat to hang off the electric cable that runs high over the lake. This is a pretty impressive achievement as the casting angle must be about 10 degrees to achieve the required height. However, many appear to possess this gift as a number of sets of gear (including 3 sets of Mr Ellis') were suspended by the end of the session.

Having lost tackle at an alarming rate....Mr Ellis found a bit of old rope and tide rod, rack, and right foot together to a nearby tree stump. Good idea.....

And here he is again with another catfish.....Keith was also catching but Mr Ellis doesn't know how to use a camera or take nothing of Keith, I'm afraid.

And here's a Siamese Carp for Steve....this carp was attached to another lost rod which Steve managed to pick up on his gear.

I could say these fish were the result of incredible angling skill....but then again?????

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Longtail Boat diving trip..Coral Island.

Bit of a poor surface photo but here we are swimming away from our longtail boat before we drop down onto the reef at Coral Island which is about 2 miles offshore from Rawai. There's stacks to see and a riot of's a pufferfish hiding under a bit of coral.

There's plenty of vivid fish to enjoy and take photo's of...and lots of attractive bits of coral scattered around away from the main reef.

Here's a frogfish....I saw a couple in the Similan Islands so nice to see another one so close to Rawai. (It's the little yellow blob of a fish....expand it and you'll be able to make it out as a fish...well, just about!)

Occasionally there's a nice Nudibranch......we're lucky there's so much to see on all the dives. And today worked out at a splendid £30 to charter the longtail boat and fill four tanks for two dives for me and the Jai to make two dives each.

With so much on offer, I aim to get as many of you coming here interested in the diving....I can guarantee that if you make that first sea dive (I'll only let you make it after several pool sessions and when both you and I are happy in your confidence and ability) then you cannot fail to be 'hooked' on's an amazing and colourful world around south Phuket.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Keith's first dive...Kata, Phuket

The west end of Kata Beach is a great place to take people on their first fact, it's great anyway with stacks of fish to see. Here's Keith on his first dive in the sea after several pool practice sessions.

We dropped down to just five metres and stood about for a bit just to get the 'feeling' of being on the sea bed and watch the fish coming to us.

The fish are so used to divers that they will come right up to the camera and as we are so shallow there's plenty of natural light to get a few clear photo's.

Kata has a beautiful coral reef which is encircled by soft sand. This means that a new diver can land on the sandy bottom with no fear of damaging themselves or the coral and still enjoy the mass of sea life right alongside.

Lots of little fish shoal up in the various coral windows.

There's usually a huge resident shoal of small barracuda. It's nice just to sit on the bottom and release a bit of air...the barracuda form a circle around the air bubbles rising to the surface and soon you are right in the middle of the cirling shoal that rises from the bottom all the way to the's a magical sight.

There's plenty of isolated patches of anenomes with a resident family of clown fish and often a small crab.

Lots of small lionfish all over the dive site.

And here's Keith....making his first underwater 'swim'. Even though it was his first dive, Keith still managed just over an hour
with a maximum depth of 10 metres where we were fortunate enough to see about ten small stingray to complete his memorable first entry into the world of scuba diving....excellent!!

Water temperature?? 30 degrees C. Nice, eh?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A few more diving photo's

Here we are then....just getting ready to dive in. Were close to the land on this dive but we were on a 40 metre drop off....very dramatic underwater scenery with massive granite boulders and swim throughs.

Tucked into rock crevices were some pretty big moray eels.

Batfish were all over the place....

I was looking up towards the surface watching the shoals of big barracuda and trevally. Something triggered a feeding frenzy for the trevallies....they came from 30 metres above me to within inches on me in less than a second. That was mega high speed swimming...amazing how fast they came down. That was a real eye-opener for me...just how fast they attacked right from the surface to the bottom.

There's all sorts of wierd little critters lurking about. I dived on this site two weeks ago and this male ribbon eel was in exactly the same place! And right next to it were two frogfish which had also remained on exactly the same bit of coral...looked like they'd moved a whole inch in a fortnight.

The pleasures of 'flying' in Blue Water.

We didn't see any turtles during the dive...but no problem as they came round the boat once we were all onboard.

Great trip.......I have a family of divers arriving in March....maybe time to sneak another liveaboard trip in if they're up for it?????

Monday, February 20, 2012

Similan Islands...diving

Jai and I have just got back from a fabulous four day, 14 dive trip in the Surin/Similan Islands on a dive liveaboard vessel the MV Phoenix.

I was the only European onboard with the divers coming from Singapore, Japan and Thailand. The whole crew (skipper, chef, 3 deck lads, 2 dive masters) were all's a real big turn around from when I started going to the Similans 10 years ago when the divers and Dive Masters were all either European or American. As my new Asian friends announced on a number of occasions 'Our Time has Come!'. And it certainly has.....the cinematic equipment and laptops that everyone carried put my miserable little camera (cutting edge 10 years ago!!) to shame! It was an absolute pleasure diving with these guys (Jai was the only lady diver, apart from Da Da one of the Thai Dive Masters)...they were extremely polite, modest and very good fun....especially when we started hitting the Thai whiskey at night!

Anyhow, here's a few photo's with Jai being featured quite a bit....she IS a pretty impressive scuba diver....and enjoys posing underwater. I dunno, whenever you point a camera at a Thai Lady, they just GOT to strike a pose!!!

Here is one of these crazy Boxer Shrimps...angry little tarts. Apparantly, if they get miffed, they have been known to smash through a diver's better not to confront them head on for a photo.

It's rare to find seahorses...but The Similan Islands offer these opportunities as it is such a brilliant place to dive...and full of marine life.

Here's a moray sticking its head out...we saw plenty of these eels...some were pretty big. I saw 6 sharks on this trip...I was the lucky one....right place, right time.

Plenty of puffer fish all over the place.

Typical of Jai to find a gurt grouper...shoot it and then bring it back for us all for several meals onboard. We were well outside the National Park (no take area) when we found this critter.....
so, all legal!!

Fantastic clarity allows for some real nice photo shots. Here is Jai dropping down against the taking photo from beneath her.

See...Jai is always mucking about and posing.

Quite a few of our guests are now getting into the diving....courteousy of my pre-dive PADI course....and some have gone on to take the PADI Open Water Course. If you can do your course (much cheaper to do it here in Phuket than UK) then you too could experience one of these fabulous dive liveaboard'd be mad not to!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Still Here!!

Don't fret, folks! Contrary to popular rumour, I have not run off with this pretty young fashionable Thai-ess.... we are still here and as hectic as ever!! But here's a couple of photo's before Jai and I jump into a mini bus to take us off on a 5 day diving trip in the Similan Islands.

Gary and Mandy have left us now and we curently have 6 new guests. Gary is a builder by trade and kindly added on an extension to the house for me while he was here. This will be the new V.I.P. room and, I am assured, is the sort of quality build one can expect. (Yes, Bert??)

While Gary was busy building my extension, Mandy thought she'd make the most of her spare time and get a better looking man to show her the sights.

Gary also got a part time job as a Rick Shaw driver. He was paid higher than most drivers because of his engine size and power to weight ration. You wanna see them Thai drivers scatter when Gary steps on the gas. Yo Ho!

Our new 'Sala' is now complete and we have been enjoying midnight soirees in it. Looks good with the new moon rising above it, eh??

OK.....much more drivel when I return......

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mandy Scuba diving.

The PADI Open Water video talks about the feeling of weightlessness akin to flying when you are scuba diving....and here's our Mandy on her second dive of her holiday...flying along underwater at the start of our favourite inshore dive mark at Kata Beach.

Because the bottom is very fine sand and Kata is used for diving practice/first dives etc there's plenty of 'diver traffic' some days. There was today and it doesn't take long for the sand to get kicked up into the sea and make the viz rather cloudy. But, it's still very nice and there plenty of interesting things to see especially when you move off the usual 'diver lane'.

Moving a bit away from the main coral reef, there's isolated rock outcrops and the chance to get some better photographs as the viz clears. Here's one of those famous puffer fish skulking about.

There's also isolated clumps of anenomes with a few resident clown fish...always good for a few minutes of close up viewing. Often there's a colourful shrimp hiding in there...if you look close you can see one in this photo. We were about 10 metres down.

Here's a couple of lionfish hiding amongst the rocks.....when the viz clears the photo's turn out nicely.

And here we are at the end of the dive. Each dive lasts at least an hour because we are in shallow water. Our max depth today was only 11 metres but there's plenty to see all the way throughout the dive. We found an old abandoned fish trap. It wasn't 'fishing' anymore and thousands of fish were swarming all over it as they would with a wreck. There were some big lionfish hiding on it.

Mandy completed this dive of an hour with 25% of her tank still full...excellent...and The Jai was also with us. Today is Tuesday. We have booked a local longtail boat for Thursday and will be taking our six scuba tanks with us so that Mandy, Jai and I can have two nice dives around offshore deserted islands. Our whole day with boat hire, lunch, tanks of air will cost us about £50 between us for a full days. Gary will be with us for snorkling and doing a bit of fishing with our Thai Captain while we are mucking about down below......

This is just all too good to miss. The house is fully booked now until next January 2013 when I have 2 rooms, what are you waiting for!!!! Book a room...enjoy a great couple of weeks and try some diving with me!!!!

Sukhothai Historical Park

Sukhothai of Thailand's mst impressive World Heritage Sites. 21 historical sites are contained within the Old City walls and a further 70 sites outside all within a km radius. It's such a big area that you need to hire at least a bike to get round some of it...or a bike...or, in our case, a air conditioned car with a driver and a case of chilled beer.

The Sukhothai Kingsom flourished from mid 13th to late 14th Century and is the period likened to our 'Rennaisance' period when art and culture reached thier peak and still exert a massive influence on today's Thai art and religion.

During its time as Thailand's 'Capital', Sukhothai amazed travelling European merchants with its level of sophistication and population which was well in excess of 14th Century London, Lisbon and Paris combined. I include Lisbon because this was the time when the Portuguese were heavily involved in this part of the world. Much of old Phuket Town contains plenty of Portuguese architecture.

Anyhow, all that aside....Sukhothai is north of Bangkok and south of ChiangMai. If you have the energy to do a bit of site seeing while you are here in sunny Thailand...then this is another 'must' to visit (well, that's if you like temples of course).

Here is a picture with one of the many remaining Sukhothai Buddha images towering over our Jai sitting at its base. It's a very popular place for Thais to visit but as the area the 'park' covers is so vast, you can stroll around as if on your own. Excellent!! As ever, it's best to go as early as possible before the sun begins its daily assault on the fragile European body....the parl open at 0600...and that's the time to get there for 5 hours max...then scarper and maybe return in the evening.