Saturday 23rd December 2000 Day 11

We weren't going to picked up today until 10:40am, how wonderful! A proper lie in! I didn't wake until 8am. Heaven! Julie said she'd been awake since 6:30am. We ordered breakfast to our room, and quickly packed the few things we'd taken out of our suitcases. Mostly toiletries. We got our wet clothes off the balcony, but because of the humidity they were just as wet as they were last night. Before checking out we went for a quick walk down to the beach. The clouds appear to have gone, with a glorious sun shinning down. Whilst we sat at the lobby the piped music was Christmas songs, and bizarrely enough, 'Happy Holidays', came on. Our theme tune for this vacation! Good omen?

The minibus was on time, and we prepared our selves for a three hour drive to Krabi. After a few minutes we had noticed that the driver had a strange habit of not using his brakes! The concept of braking into a corner and accelerating out of it was just lost on him. We went careering into bends, hanging on for dear life, not knowing if we were to come out of the curve alive, or shoot off on a tangent into an orbital trajectory! No kidding! I'm sure we went onto two wheels quite a few times. Just past Phanganga Bay, we took a short cut down a really bumpy dirt track, but at least it was a fairly straight road. Before too long we were back on the main road, tearing around bends! The scenery around here was getting increasingly spectacular, with huge limestone cliffs jutting out of the earth in the middle of nowhere. They looked so out of place. As if they had been dropped from the sky as giant monolithic standing stones of the gods! We stopped at the roadside to look at paddy fields where they filmed parts of "Good Morning Vietnam." The driver stopped for me to take a photo, but the view didn't look that impressive from our [disad-] vantage point, so I just quickly snapped one photo and climbed back in the minibus. Further down the road we stopped at a Shell garage where we were able to buy more bottled water, and MAGNUM ice creams!! The banana crisps that Hannah had also looked delicious, but she rationed me to only 5 pieces.

We arrived at the Andaman Hotel after travelling a mile down a crater filled dirt track, dodging huge lorries, throwing up dust in our way. Our first impressions of the hotel were satisfactory. They didn't seem very organised however. They appeared to be either lethargic and couldn't be bothered, or extremely laid back and stoned! We were shown to our room by the same girl who checked us in, and she did a good job of showing us where the safe was, where the shower room was, where the fridge was, and so on! The room was very large, and hexagonal in shape. Our shower room was also huge, and hexagonal. The whole place smelt musty though, but we'd soon made it smell like home! We had access to our rooftop to use as a private area to sit and sunbathe, but with all the chalets tightly packed it wouldn't be that private. Although we didn't seem to have any neighbours. In fact we seemed to be the only guests? Of course that wasn't the case, but it was by no means busy.

We popped down to the beach and were really disappointed. The tide was out, and beige coral was on display, giving it the lunar landscape look. The sand was also very coarse, more like broken shells than the white powdery sands we saw so on the picture postcards. Incredibly, finally smashing the illusion of paradise portrayed by those glossy images, in the next bay along the coast, there was a large jetty, loading onto huge tankers whatever those lorries we were dodging earlier were transporting.

Back up towards the chalet we trudged, feeling a bit down. We didn't want anything to spoil the holiday however, and looked at the positive side. Only slightly further down the coast was the stunning Rai Ley beach, and other beautiful islands were only short boat rides away. If it were sea and sand we were after, the best in the world were only ten minutes away!

Time for lunch, so we popped to the Ocean Cliff restaurant where Hannah finally got to experience drinking coconut water straight from a fresh nut! After all the hype and anticipation she decided she didn't really like the taste! She did however fall in love with the corn soup she had for lunch. My fried rice was also tasty, and Julie's tuna sandwich was good. She did have an issue with the bottled water though. The seal was broken on the bottle when they brought it to our table, and she was convinced it had been tampered with! I did test it, and it did taste salty? We came to the conclusion that it was probably 'purified water' and not bottled mineral water. We'll know next time to ask specifically for mineral.

On the way back to the room we passed the swimming pool and weren't at all impressed by its size or its design! Not at all aesthetically pleasing! It was also quite busy, too busy in fact to be relaxing. We were still very difficult to please! Thanks to the Le Meridien at the Golden Triangle we had become holiday resort snobs!

We got changed for the beach, and walked down pass a Thai massage booth near the shore. The massage tout caught my eye, but he only wanted rub in salt into my wound! Once again someone else spotted my tattoo and took great pleasure in telling me he was a Liverpool supporter!

We lay on the beach, drifting in and out of sleep, but not exactly soaking up the rays, as it was very overcast. We went for a paddle but the tide was still out, so it was difficult to 'paddle' amongst the rocky seabed. It wasn't at all comfortable.

We noticed why, perhaps, they call this area Krabi! We saw thousands of little tiny crabs that disappeared down their own crab holes as you stepped nearer them.

They almost had the appearance of being one fluid body, as the vibrations of our footsteps caused a ripple effect amongst the surface as they scurried into their hideaways. Stomping around, causing these little waves of panicking little crabs, occupied us for quite some time!

The afternoon flew by, and we only decided to leave the beach when it became dusky. When we were in danger of becoming a playground for the midges.

We moved back up to our room and sat on our roof top balcony, drank some Singha beer, and watched the sun go down.

Our satisfaction was still playing hard to get, as the sunset didn't live up to our expectation. The view of the sea and islands was pretty good, and I'm sure on a clear day the sunset would be spectacular.

Whilst unpacking in our room, we watched the BBC world service, and saw the Holiday Programme with Toyah Wilcox in Bangkok! What a coincidence! We all had showers and got changed to go out for supper. Popped to the lobby first though to redeem our free Welcome Drink voucher. It was another strange sweet fruit drink that they couldn't even give away, as we ended up leaving most of it. Whilst in the reception area we browsed through a small shop they had. We bought Hannah a pair of sandals, ideal for walking amongst the rocky seabed. We also booked two tours. One for tomorrow, to Krabi, visiting the Shell Cemetery, and then the Tiger Cave Temple. Another for Boxing Day, with a trip to Ko Tapu, better known as James Bond Island.

We finally ended up in the Orchidea Restaurant. It was basically just the other side of the Ocean Cliff. We sat at a table near an opened window, which was why our table was covered in hundreds of tiny bugs. Drawn out from the darkness of the forest by the warm light of our restaurant. I wonder if the kitchen's light was warm at inviting? Again we had the customary few lizards on the ceiling keeping us company! When the food arrived it was delicious. Julie had a pork satay, which was adventurous for her, and she thoroughly enjoyed it! She also had sweet and sour chicken as a main course. I've actually forgotten what Hannah had to eat, but I had a spicy veg soup to start, served in a freshly cut coconut. To follow I had a Pineapple Red Curry, and as it was being served both waiter and waitress were laughing, and warning me that it was a very hot dish for westerners to handle! Well, it wasn't exactly a vindaloo!! Perhaps the chef had held back on the chillies? The whole bill came to 980 Baht, about £16 for the three of us, which was extremely reasonable. I suppose after a good meal, and some Singha beer inside us, we were beginning to warm to this place. It wasn't as bad as we initially felt. Putting things into perspective, it was in reality a nice resort, especially when compared to Salou. We were back in our room and tucked up in bed, falling asleep to "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle" by 8:30pm.

Day 12>>

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