Monday, March 19, 2012

Last Day at Phuket Fishing Lake

Time is running out for was our last chance this 'season' to go fishing at the Phuket Lake. Japanese Ladies' Freediving record holder, Ai Futaki and EFSA President Horst Sneider were my prestigeous angling partners today!!!

Here's Ai.....just waiting for that first bite.

We had a pretty busy day. It wasn't long before Horst was into a nice Siamese Carp....

.....followed by one of these lunatic fruit eating pirhana fish which are definitely on steroids. These fish are mad and go racing up and down the lake....excellent action.

Here's Ai into her first fish with Horst acting as netsman...

Ai's fish was a red tailed catfish.....beautiful looking creature!

Old git Whittall actually caught a few fish today....5 I think!! Here's one of the catfish.

When yapping to the new lake owner, an Australian called Chris, and not paying rod was dragged into the lake by a fish. Chris dived in after it and caught the rod butt before it was dragged under....and then proceeded to play the fish whilst swimming back to the shore. Very impressive technique.....he's gonna go far, this lad!!

So, that's it for this more lake fishing for me....but it was a great day's fishing to end on. Ai retired after 3 fish, the red-tailed catfish, a pirhana and a carp. Horst had 5 fish with 3 of them being carp and I had 13 fish with most of them well into double figures and several over 20lb. We've had some terrific fishing this year.....Thank you, Phuket!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thai Cultural Show

Last night we went to a Thai cultural show......and it was AMAZING. I have tried unsuccessfully to encourage our guests to take a look at this show but without much success which I admit baffles me a bit. Surely part of coming 6,000 miles to a totally different country is to learn a little bit about the culture. My paulsthaihouse web site, cleverly designed by Dave Gibson in Weymouth, has a load of links that will take you deep into Thai culture if you wish to spend a bit of time researching what's on offer here. Anyhow, I was not allowed to take photographs inside the show so please take a look at this link Make sure you click into the PHUKET not Bangkok theatre.

This is a new show in Phuket and the grounds surrounding the theatre will be full of added attractions. There's already a replica of the Bangkok Floating Market and examples of Northern and Southern Thai style must have cost £millions to create this project and by the time I return in December, I would expect the project to be nearly completed.

If you are coming to stay next's really worth including this on your itinary. we are...we arrived 2 hours before the show was due to start and had been sampling the local food delicacies on offer....and a variety of Thai Herbal Whiskeys....and now Jen is learning how to make a fish (good gal) out of bamboo leaves or whatever.

There's an impressive array of souvenir shops inside the theatre complex...just right for that last minute shopping before returning home....

And here's the gals surveying the bits 'n pieces they've bought for the lucky folks back home.

On the way in (and out) a muscial quintet play an array of traditional Thai's a very pleasant evening and the show is SPECTACULAR. You WILL be blown away by the effects in this spectacle...I guarantee it.

This was the final night for Bob, Cath and Jen....they leave tomorrow and they have been perfect adventuring everyday and packing in as much as possible....excellent.

So, this is the end of my 'winter season' as far as guests are concerned. It's been hectic to say the least. I have had a brilliant time these past four months and learnt a lot more about Phuket and Thailand in general...although I would be the first to admit I am only just scraping the surface.

Today, Thursday, after Bob and Co leave us, I am off to school for another two hours lesson of trying to learn to read and write Thai and after that I'm giving a diving theory lesson to a charming Singaporean family of four. Tomorrow, Friday, Ai arrives (Ai is the Japanese Ladies' Freediving record holder) and we (Jai, Ai and me!) aim to do some diving together at the weekend. On Monday I have a day lake fishing with our illustrious EFSA World President, Mr Horst there's plenty still to do before boarding that plane back to UK on Wednesday.

The house is booked from April 1st to Nov 31st this year with an Australian Company and then the next Dec 2012 to March 2013 'winter season' is already REALLY busy....but there are a FEW room slots still left. Flights are cheap at the beginning of December (£550 max) and the first booked guests do not arrive until mid there's a golden opportunity to have a pre-Xmas break at the cheapest prices!!! 3 weeks, for example, cost £600 for flights and £100 each for accommodation (sharing a double room) £900 for three weeks!!

Go For It!!!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Longtails Ahoy

Capt'n Bob, Cath and daughter Jen have been off doing their own thing these past couple of days aboard Captain Tawan's (our excellent Thai skipper) longtail boat.

This has been all about diving with our Captain taking our guests to 4 different Islands over the past 2 days....and here are our two intrepid explorers, photographs courtesy of Jen, surveying the area before donning the scuba stuff.

Cath makes ready to enter the water.

Here's a couple of shots of the 'areas' chosen for the can see that even way out to sea, on an uninhabited Island, there's always the chance of seeing a Thai person praying to Buddha. Thailand is a land full of massive respect for Buddha...

Just imagine how scenic the dives were off these two islands...

Very nice, eh?

Sorry, underwater stuff to show you. Disaster struck on Monday when I was with Bob and Co.....the cord tieing my underwater camera to my BCD must have parted....and neither I or anyone else noticed my camera floating away from me underwater......bugga!!! That little Lumix camera and I have have had some very good times over the past ten years...and sadly the most recent photographs of our day's shore fishing at Kamala on Sunday and our dive on Monday have gone forever.....I am now in the market for a good underwater camera????????

Monday, March 12, 2012

Jen's Similan Island trip.

Bob's daughter, Jen, returned last night from her Similan Ilsand Liveaboard trip. Ah, how nice to see young people who are independant and confident enough to go off on their own and enjoy a diving adventure. It sounds like the viz was no-where near as good as the trips last month...but then plankton attract the bigger creatures...and Jen was fortunate to be treated to the truly awesome spectacle of Manta rays.....which Jai and I did not see.

It's really hard to get a good photo of little have to have a really good underwater set-up.....but these colourful little blobs are actually two pretty rare Harlequin shrimps spotted in amongst a bit of soft coral.

Puffer fish are nice and easy to take a photograph of as they keep still and don't mind posing.

Being a Graduate Architect, Jen has an eye for the more unsual shot compared to my very predicatble efforts......nice this....good angle on an anenome bending towards the camera with a little clown fish sheltering in it for a bit of colour. Anemones are brightly coloured but at 30 metres the colours have to have a powerful strobe to light things up and bring their colour to life.

mmmm...anemones against the deep blue.

The fish had gone...the sand cloud reveals where it had been!! It's often very hard to capture the fish on camera....many species are very shy and incedibly fast moving they they need to be.....

Cleaner wrasse lurking about.

Whilst Jen was away on the Similan Island trip, Bob and Cath and I were diving from Captain Tawan's longtail boat. The family have taken all the dive gear and gone out again today with Capt they will tomorrow, their final day for diving. This is the first time any of my guests have been able to take themselves off and carry out their own dive day without me needing to be around. The advantage is you get to dive with your own small group and go to places where there are no other divers....and, of course, it's massively cheaper than going out on a PADI boat. We priced up a 3 dive day for 3 people with PADI for tomorrow and, with the poor exchange rate and the price rises, it worked out at £240 for 3 people. Today and tomorrow on the longtail boat works out at £80....or £40 per 6 times cheaper than going with PADI.


Our friendly Captain has been out of action for 10 days....3 powerboats (driven by young Testerone filled Thai men) carrying customers to offshore islands cut too tight to Capt Tawan's boat. The waves caused by the powerboats were too big and too close for the longtail to ride out and it was tipped over. Captain Tawan lost everything out of his upturned boat including his longtail engine...disaster. At least no-one was hurt as his customers were already down diving....but a total right-off for his season.

I sat commiserating with him yesterday as my season last year was a complete right off as well with all the trouble I had with my BRAND NEW CUMMINS engines at £20k each. Because there were so many problems, I have bought another new engine and gearbox to be in a workshop ready to replace either of the new engines if either break, £60K last year on engines...and £6k for a spare DO NOT GRIZZLE TO ME ABOUT THE COST OF YOUR FISHING TRIP THIS YEAR!!!

Koa Sok National Park

I can't imagine going to a country without a Lonely Planet Guide accompanying me. Lonely Planet (or Rough Guide series) Guides are available for every country in the world and they are not just brilliant for the amount of information in them but they are ESSENTIAL if you want to get the best out of your holiday. Buy one a month before your holiday, turn off 'East Enders' and read the bloody some research...get a grip!!

Then there is 'Google'. Just stick Koa Sok into Google and wait for the info to appear before your eyes...or, to get you started, just click this link and off you go!!

Koa Sok is so photographic that it's difficult not to keep taking stacks of photo's. Remember the pre-digital camera days of the rolls of film we used to waste?? Digital cameras are a massive plus for us travellers...and the photographs many of you come back with are fantastic. Capt'n Bob is a fine here's a few of his scenery shots.

Early morning is very nice with the mists forming inbetween the Karst mountains...

Transport around the lakes is pretty basic.....and that's all part of your adventure.

There's 11 (I think) floating 'villages' on the lake for guests to stay in overnight or for several days. The villages are either 'noisy' or 'quiet'. The Park is very popular for Thai school and University trips and for working Thais (usually from Bangkok...upper class
...and really charming people) and they tend to favour the 'noisy' floating villages with a party atmosphere and, wait for it, drinking at the weekends....(no, not the school kids). So, you have to make the decision of either going to a quiet village or joining in with the Thais. The advantage of the 'noisy' floating villages is that you will meet lots of Thai people who are either in education or are 'educated'. This means they are not just happy but keen to converse with you in English. English is the World's language and we, as Native English speakers, are blessed with what is arguably the most important 'qualification' anyone could possess...the English Language. And the Thai people you will meet here are an absolute pleasure to be with...extremely polite, charming, fun's an ideal way to have the chance to meet and talk to Thai's.

Very early morning shot of the lake, the mountains and the mist. You just have to get up early in Koa Sok as it is such an inspirational place for all photographers and nature lovers.

The day is now under way. Apart from bird and animal spotting, and partying at night (if you chose a party village) there's swimming, fishing and kyaking in the can just go off and do your own thing.

Capt'n Bob and Co

Captain Bob and family have been here since March 5th.....and now there's only 3 days left until they go back to UK....and I've put nothing on here about what they have been up to!! This is because they, Like Roger and Mary, have embraced the idea of going off ADVENTURING.

A car was rented on the first day and Capt'n Bob, wife Cath and daughter Jen were soon off for a three day trip to the Koa Sok National Park. Bob particlularly enjoys seeing wildlife and the Park is a haven for birds in, it's good to have proper binoculars and a good camera. There's plenty to see and photograph.

Thailand has an impressive variety of birdlife and there are some big critters flying about here. The world's largest sea eagle lives here...with a wingspan of 3 metres.....and we get them fishing in the lagoon behind the house now. In fact, since we have been here, the bird life by our lagoon has steadily increased.

Stuff just seems to grow in Thailand overnight....there are zillions of different plant varieties to enjoy. The good thing for me with so many different people coming to stay is the variety of interests you all have. It means I am constantly learning about new things and what is on offer in the Phuket and north of Phuket area....things I would not necessarily have sought out without the interest of you guys to motivate me. I'm not really into birds, plants etc....but it's great when real enthusiasts come to stay and can hold forth on such subjects. I can now recognise this's a pink one!

We are getting a few of these birds fishing in the lagoon....but these are taken out at Koa Sok. I have featured this Park several times in the Blog as it is a very impressive place to visit. A large dam was made in the 1980's so a massive part of the Koa Sok valley was flooded....with all sorts of waterborne life now combining with the animals lurking in the dense jungle. I kinda thought the tourist stuff about how many animals could be seen was hype....and so far I haven't seen any animals 'in the wild' when I've been to the Park. But then I crash about and have no idea how to spot shy creatures which are doing their best to stay hidden. Bob and Co have the knowledge...and they have come back with all sorts of stories and photographs from their adventure.

Apart from little things, there's always the elephants to enjoy...

Nice shot of a herd down by the river.

Lik everything, it's all about the effort you put into your holiday as to what you will gain from it. Saying that, though, there's nothing wrong with just coming over here and just 'chilling out' but this winter our guests have been very keen to 'do stuff' and not just sit around the place. Excellent...that's why I set this place a base for your personal adventures.

These 15 weeks have flown by for me. We've all done so much this 'winter'. There's just a week to go before I return to Weymouth and the fishing......but no problem there's great to come home to a place that you love and to a job that has to be the best one on the planet??????

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mary and Roger

I haven't featured our current guests, Mary and Roger, much at all! This is because they have been off 'doing their own thing' every day.....and they have my genuine admiration for doing so.

Mary has never driven an automatic car before but announced it was her intention to do all the driving here in Phuket. We collected a nice new shiny Toyota on their second day here and they've kept it for thier 2 weeks. Mary spent some time just driving around the estate getting the hang of an automatic...and then they were off. I know many people who have come to stay have been nervous about driving here...but Mary has handled it brilliantly and they've enjoyed a cracking holiday by going off and discovering Phuket for themselves.

Here's Roger...a retired Commercial airline pilot. Roger is a proper English Gentleman. Always polite and charming with a ready and disarming smile...jolly nice couple!!

And here's Mary with us two. Mary had spent a good deal of time researching Phuket before they came. She'd studied maps, looked up places and had made a real effort to understand Phuket in order to get the best out of it. So, you don't HAVE to put up with Whittall's Work Camp when you're made to go diving and CAN do your own thing. Just relax...go where you want when you want and IF you want. Roger and Mary spent a part of each day just chilling by the pool and reading.....nice holiday.

They've been to loads of places....but Mary's 'lost' her first camera there's only a few shots on the current card. But here's a picture of the fish (I know, always bloody fish...Whittall is just fish, fish, fish....boring old git) at The Rawai Sea Gypsy Village which they discovered by themselves. They have really enjoyed Rawai and have been there a number of times.

Picture of Rawai seafront...most of the longtail boats were out at sea doing thier daily 'round the islands', snorkling or fishing trips. Idealic, ain't it??

We've had some unseasonable stroms in the last few days...very heavy rain and plenty of lightning. This photo probably doesn't show it too well....but as a storm starts to brew...the sky, the buildings, the water all go a shade of pink...bizzarre. Then it blackens over with a vengeance and rains. 'Rains' is not really the word for what happens's like a total waterfall! And's gone. The sun comes back out...everything dries up in minutes and it's back to sun, sun, sun.

Tomorrow Roger and Mary head off to Hong Kong for a couple of nights.....but they've loved it here and have already asked to come again next year. With Pleasure!!!

Today Captain Bob, wife Cath and daughter Jen have arrived. They've already been in the pool trying out the dive gear and we've had a quick tour of Rawai, Nai Harn and the Yan Nui beaches
to suss out our first shore dive sites. Looks like tomorrow we'll be diving soon as I get back from Phuket airport after seeing Roger and Mary on their way.

Captain Bob and his family are our last guests of the season and it's been great fun this year. We've done lots and learnt lots more about Phuket. The 110 days have flown by!! Soon it will be time for me to return to Weymouth for what I hope will be a trouble free season after all the mishaps with my NEW engines last year...but before then..another 2 weeks of diving to enjoy.

Yo Ho.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Jung Ceylon

Before it was named Phuket, this tropical paradise of an island was called Jung Ceylon. There's a massive shopping centre deep in the heart of the mad tourist centre of Patong. poured with we thought we'd better do some indoor exploring...hence The Jai and I going to this shopping centre...Jung Ceylon!!

Luckily Jai hates shopping as much as, after a bit of a wander around...and then a nice Thai dinner....we found ourselves in an excellent Irish Bar!! As we entered, the band struck up with a fine medley of jigs and reels. Now ain't Irish music the business??? Jigs 'n reels are guaranteed to brighten the rainiest day...which is what I guess they were designed to do back in rainy old Ireland.

And the drinks menu....well, the Irish just KNOW how to do it!!

Inbetween the music and the Guiness (which was excellent), I wandered around the pub a bit...and sure enough, there was the ubiquitous bike hanging from the ceiling......

And what Irish Hostelry, stuck in the middle of a Thai shopping Centre, wouldn't have a few items to provoke fond memories of the Dear Homeland....????

What did The Jai make of it all?? Well, she jigged all over the place to the music...downed several large whiskeys...knicked the bike and rode home in the downpour......Ah, Irish Blarney...can't beat it!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Kata New Road and the Phuket Glitterati

A couple of days ago Jai and I were given V.I.P tickets to attend the opening of a new Italian Restuarant in Kata. The press, stunning Thai (lady!) models and various important Phuket dignatories were there to welcome us and the other invited guests...the creme de la creme of Phuket High Society, you understand (ha ha ha).

There's so many new developments going on in Phuket that it's hard to keep up with its ever changing face. This new restaurant is on a brand new road..Kata New Road. The road and all the new up-market businesses opened the same night (25th Feb) and it was a pretty impressive spectacle.

Anyhow, this new restaurant is owned by four major share holders; two of whom are the financial backers of the Phuket Private Lagoon estate that my house is on and another of whom is none other than Gae.

Here is Gae. She's 28 years old and has risen like a meteorite in Phuket Business Society. It is her intention, so she tells me, to have 20 million Baht (£4 million) in her bank by the time she is 40. She, like many Thai's, is money obsessed. The saying here is 'Money First, Buddha second'. Well, I'm sure we all have our own opinion about that but whatever my view, I have to admire this young lady who is 'driven' to succeed. Gae is the Project Manager of Phuket Private Lagoon, is one of the share holders in Offshore Rebel Co.Ltd (Thailand) and has also recently started her own 8 house project in Rawai and is involved in a multi-million Baht housing project in Koh Samui.

This has all come about through the generousity and foresight of EFSA President Horst Sneider who recognised Gae's talents and sent her to University in Bangkok to study Business Development and Accounting. Horst was on hand to give one of the welcoming speeches to the guests...and it's worth pointing out that it was Horst who secured the two year contract with a top award winning Italian Chef to be the Head Chef at this new restaurant. Ah, wheels within wheels, eh...and a lengthy arm of influence.

Throughout the evening there was entertainment with plenty of Thai Culture on show with performances from the Thai version of the Indian Epic 'The Ramayana' and music and dancing from different parts of Thailand. It was an impressive two hour expense spared!

I enjoy Thai culture. Everyone has their own likes/dislikes when on holiday but I am surprised as to why hardly any of our visitors shows much interest in the culture of this country. There's a new show in town...and it's stunning. So far only Mandy has wanted to come along and see it.....and she (and Jai and I) loved it. Why come all this way to a totally different Culture and show no interest in it??

Anyhow, hope you enjoy the photographs......Happy Days.....