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JBR 28th Sept - 15th Oct 2011

Rylstone, Australia
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JBR 28th Sept - 15th Oct 2011

We landed back in Australia last night after a fantastic 16 days away in Thailand. Flying Thai Airways to Bangkok on our first night, we laid over at a cheap and cheerful hotel near the airport for the few hours we had before catching our connecting flight to Phuket. We caught a public taxi to and from, no dramas. Flight to Phuket was uneventful and we picked up our free sim cards at the airport before being met by one of Boss’s drivers from Cheaper than Hotel Taxis and headed up to Khao Lak on a gorgeous sunny morning. The vehicle was clean, cool and comfortable and the driver, while speedy, was sensible! The kids had a snooze on the way and we arrived to a slightly overcast Khao Lak and Ayara Villas, our eyes on stalks as we tried to take in this new landscape on the way. Having holidayed at Kata Beach and Ko Yao Noi the previous year, this was completely new territory for us and we really enjoyed seeing a more authentic Thailand, especially the bustling centres of Kok Kloy (sp?) and Thai Mueang along the journey.

Our check in at Ayara was smooth, despite our early arrival at 10.30am and we were shown straight to our “Holiday House” – a spacious two bedroom, two bathroom villa with open sitting/kitchen area (which I am extremely excited to report had a few resident fire flies) within about 2m from the smaller of two pools at the resort (reviewed separately). We unpacked, headed up the road to Sunny Restaurant on the beach opposite the Sudala Resort for a yummy lunch then back to Ayara for swimming, sleeping and a walk up the beach to get our bearings. Dinner was at the resort that night, tasty and reasonably priced, and an early night.

The next day (rainy) we took a local taxi to Khao Lak town, but as it was still quite early, we decided on a quick trip to the turtle farm at the military base at Tab Lamu. The kids loved to see the turtles at varying stages of maturity. It was free entry to this, which was good, as there wasn’t much there to explain what the process was and the whole place was a little tired and run down. The beach was very very dirty with litter washed up by the tide, which was sad as it was a lovely spot otherwise.

Back to Khao Lak town for a bit of shopping and pampering, we enjoyed meeting the staff at PhuPing Massage and my husband and son got great haircuts for approx AU$5 each. We had pedicures and manicures and whiled away some time while the rain fell. Went to Jai Seafood for lunch and were treated to a fantastic experience as the procession of pierced and spirit-filled men and women filed through the restaurant, blessing the offerings on a table out the front and the staff within. For a great explanation of what this festival is about, have a look at Jamies Phuket Blog – amazing info and photos there.

One of our other highlights was a trip with Boss Taxi’s to Khao Sok, Chiew Lan (sp?) lake, with the very funny Sunya. Sunya’s great pride in his country, culture and environment made for an excellent day and we learned so much. The lake was stunning, completely amazing, and we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Putowan Raft Houses, followed by a swimming in the deep, clear water and a snooze in the raft houses, listening to the Gibbons whoop and call in the jungle around us. A visit to some great stalagmite/stalagtite formations in the “Coral Cave” via a jungle trek (wear good shoes for this – especially if it’s been raining as the clay soil of the jungle floor is extremely slippery) where we saw gibbons swinging high in the canopy of trees above us and a motorised raft trip across the lake was well worth the sometimes treacherous trip to get there and back!

We spent a morning visiting the Tsunami Museum and Police Boat and left feeling extremely saddened for the people of Khao Lak and those tourists who lost their lives and loved ones. It was really not long ago and to see how the people have bounced back is incredible. Be careful taking kids to the Police Boat as there are some particularly graphic photos of dead bodies on display at the kiosk on the right before the boat, which my kids, though a bit older at 9 & 11 (and living on a farm are quite used to the concept of life and death) were quite shaken by and both had trouble sleeping that night. We did an elephant trek at Asia Safari, nice and close and the elephants seem happy and well cared for, a trip to Splash Jungle Water Park at Mai Khao Beach for the kids, lots of eating (our favourites were Chef Jimme and the Chong Fah restaurant), massages (Orchide Massage at Bang Niang – next door to Chef Jimme – same owners – great massages and the best manicure I’ve had in Thailand with OPI nail polish), some great clothing made by Tony from Monty the Tailor and shopping at the markets was always fun (Mon, Wed and Sat).

The weather steadily improved over our time there and the sea was almost flat and the gorgeous turquoise blue you see in all the ads for Thailand by our last few days, so we enjoyed a swim (still close to shore as there were a few rips) and some great lunch’s (one that turned into dinner as well as we were so relaxed) at the beach restaurant at the far northern end of Bang Niang.

We loved Khao Lak and Bang Niang. The people were so friendly, the food was fantastic, the location superb, there are no beach hawkers and no time share touts, the tailors generally leave you alone if you are firm and friendly. We could see the area coming out of it’s low season cocoon over the time we were there, as more and more renovations came to an end and more businesses re-opened for the coming high season. Sure we had quite a few rainy days, but when it’s still so warm it doesn’t really stop you from doing much and you can’t beat the low season prices. We paid approx $AU70 a night for our two bed, two bath villa including a huge breakfast each day, an average meal was approx $AU30 which included at least four dishes, rice and numerous fruit shakes, cocktails and beers. We probably could have skipped lunch as we had such huge brekkies but couldn’t resist the opportunity to try more dishes. Let’s just say popping the jeans on to come home was a bit scary!!! My advice is to go the tailors at the BEGINNING of your holiday if you want more true to size clothing – also standing in front of a full length mirror after two weeks of over indulging and no makeup or blow drying is enough to give anyone a fright!

We travelled home to Sydney, first stop a late afternoon flight from Phuket to Bangkok and wished we had organised to stay a little longer there, we’d love to see the Royal Palace and visit the famous markets, but….next time! Having a full night’s sleep before our day time travel to Sydney the next day was much easier on us than travelling through the night as we did last year, so would try to do that again if possible.

If not for the great advice leaned from TA, especially Arandora, Mossy and Tanmar, this holiday would not have been anywhere near as fantastic as it was. Thank you so much!

As we let our lanterns go from the front of the Chong Fah restaurant on our last night in Khao Lak our wish was that we could return to this fantastic place and it’s people next year. Fingers crossed!!!

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melbourne australia
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1. Re: JBR 28th Sept - 15th Oct 2011

Great read Roses

glad you got some nice weather wise days as well..

a magic place it is..

Perth, Australia
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2. Re: JBR 28th Sept - 15th Oct 2011

Thank you for such a lovely report and great read Roses, I enjoyed reading it so much, I could picture everywhere that you mentioned :-)

you covered such a lot of things in your time there, well done, Sunya is so good isn't he, funny guy and great guide, we love him

I'm sure your wishes with your lucky lantern will come true for next year

welcome to another Khao Lak lover :-)

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Khao Lak
Khao Lak
Phang Nga Province, Thailand
Perth
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3. Re: JBR 28th Sept - 15th Oct 2011

Hi Roses,

So glad you had such a wonderful time and we could be some help.

The lanterns are a lovely way to end your holiday and make a wish.

Think we will be lucky enough to return again next year

tanmar

Poulton Le Fylde...
Destination Expert
for Khao Lak, Khao Sok National Park
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4. Re: JBR 28th Sept - 15th Oct 2011

Great JBR and so glad you enjoyed Khao Lak and the growing band of Khao Lak Lovers from Down Under.

Where exactly is Chef Jimme's? Must have only opened since April.

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Khao Lak
Khao Lak
Phang Nga Province, Thailand
Rylstone, Australia
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5. Re: JBR 28th Sept - 15th Oct 2011

Arandora I think it has been there for a while but a sign has only just gone up in the last few days. If walking from the Chong Fah rest it's the next rest on the left after the laundry lady and Orchide massage. It's a basic little open air rest with bamboo furniture but the food was delicious and the family who run it were lovely.

Poulton Le Fylde...
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for Khao Lak, Khao Sok National Park
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6. Re: JBR 28th Sept - 15th Oct 2011

We stay just around the corner and can't place it - probably because no sign before - but we'll be back in just 37 days (who's counting! LOL) and will give it a try. From where you describe it is a new addition to the ever changing dining scene in Bang Niang.

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Bang Niang Beach
Bang Niang Beach
Khao Lak, Thailand
Brisbane
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7. Re: JBR 28th Sept - 15th Oct 2011

Sounds like a great trip!! :) 24 days until my first Thailand trip - wahoo!

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Norfolk, United...
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for Chaweng, Ko Samui
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8. Re: JBR 28th Sept - 15th Oct 2011

Thanks for sharing, we plan to visit next year, so love reading all about it!

Maidstone, England...
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9. Re: JBR 28th Sept - 15th Oct 2011

Sounds an excellent holiday. We are 6 days away from our first visit to Thailand and will be staying in Khao Lak. Your info will be invaluable. Thanks

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Khao Lak
Khao Lak
Phang Nga Province, Thailand
Maidstone, England...
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10. Re: JBR 28th Sept - 15th Oct 2011

Sounds an excellent holiday. We are 6 days away from our first visit to Thailand and will be staying in Khao Lak. Your info will be invaluable. Thanks

Edited: 17 October 2011, 03:46
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Khao Lak
Khao Lak
Phang Nga Province, Thailand
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