Saturday, 20 December 2014

Catching Up (15 - 20 December 2014)




It's still all quiet here, there are a few more people generally but not many, even Walking Street on Thursday was half empty. But there's good news on Darling, the lovely black dog (above) from last year. Apparently he was still a bit naughty after he had been "done" and was still chasing motorbikes. One of the local traders further down the road wanted him to be "removed", as in permanently, but luckily before that happened a new home was found for him. The people who have taken him on are friends of the girl who had been looking after him here. They apparently have a bit of land where he can run about. They often bring him back to the beach here so I will keep a look out for him. But apparently he's got fatter in his contentment so hope I still recognise him! I do miss seeing him though.




There's been a few more wild days, the seas on Wednesday really were high. The evenings are chilly (well Gill's version of chilly which is quite warm really....) but one evening I needed light wrap and leggings! And today people eating at a beach restaurant were wearing sweaters against the wind chill. But it's still more than warm enough to sit and enjoy this whole pool that I have had all to myself for a week but as we get nearer to Xmas it is slowly filling up. I guess I have been really spoiled having the whole place to myself and am not sure I like these interlopers. The man on the roof by the way is trying to fix the iffy wiffy.






I have also been catching up with the snake population. I saw my first and hopefully my last in snake alley. Carole and I christened the part of the road where we had more frequent sightings this last year. We were always more watchful walking there. It's part of the nice back road route on our morning walk. This one I was glad was at least dead, but I guess the snake may not have felt the same!



I've also been catching up with old faces. The hotel put on one of their "welcome back and thankyou returning guest parties" on Thursday night, coinciding with the return of their two grown up children who are studying in Australia. There was a big family table as well as guests and Surajit's family is quite a large one now. Angel, the front of house manager, her husband and another of the front of house staff did sterling work as the band - they are very good and do it professionally as well as their day job. I met up with a Swiss couple I have met here the last two years, it's always nice to see a friendly familiar face. It's so good of the hotel to do this, free food and drink, plus the music - but perhaps this is why they have so many returning guests.
I've also been getting my daily steps back up, for some reason it's easier to get up here and go for a walk than it is at home. It's so much easier just to get up and don a pair of shorts (don't try and visualise that, not a pretty sight, but even that is better than some of the get ups you see Europeans in here...), a top and a pair of flip flops. The UP 24 doesn't quite know what's hit it. However I do have a summer of too many Mary Berry Great British Bake Off challenges - both cooking and eating - to walk off... And an evening walk does always make that first glass of why why taste much better... The words are still "why why" by the way - I did try the other day asking for "white wine" but got no further than the usual puzzled look. As soon as I changed to "why why" the look of comprehension dawned accompanied by the relieved "ah, why why", not as relieved as me of course as the cold wine was served!
The Thai economy obviously is doing better than the Russian one, on one of my walks along the back roads some of the places that were just open plots of land now sport lovely little houses. But the gardening business perhaps isn't doing so well. One place that had a beautiful flower nursery has had the greenhouses bit knocked down and a new house built. But what is growing well there is the cute little white puppy who had one ear up and one down, now grown into a handsome boy as you can see.



Wifi issues continue to plague me - I really should be chilled about it. I do find it really annoying though as the Sky reps found to their cost this summer at home! At Jordan's tonight, usually my one port in a wiffy storm had network communication issues, i.e. no wiffy. The Florist have had people working this afternoon so fingers crossed it's good now at the hotel. I guess wiffy can't be good in all places all of the time, but I'd be happy with some of the places some of the time... But wiffy allowing I have been catching up with my reality tv. Given I'm 7 hours ahead, most of the excitement takes place too late for me to watch in real time so I have to be very careful that social media doesn't spoil the surprise. I got it very wrong with the X Factor. Just before watching the final, I went on to the iTunes Store for something and the first thing that greeted me was a banner ad for "the winner's single" and Ben's picture - bit of a giveaway but I guess it took away the tension whilst watching! I'm being a bit more careful with the Apprentice, but the best time to avoid knowing what's happening is to watch early morning here, and even I don't want to go to Jordan's bar for that. Hopefully the Florist fix on the wiffy here will help so I can watch at my leisure with a coffee in the morning. Just for clarity for any new readers to this blog, wiffy is the tech why why equivalent here. Ask for Wifi in a normal English accent and you often get a puzzled stare. Then ask for Wiffy and a password is proffered post haste after the relieved "ah, wiffy" along with a huge smile is heard. Easy.
I've also been trying to catch up with life under military rule which is still in effect here. The only real visible difference I can see is that the big sign with inflated taxi prices has been replaced with one insisting on 100% adherence to helmet wearing by motorcyclists. Not sure the sign is that clear as as far as I can see, almost 100% don't wear them. The Europeans are as bad. I saw one family yesterday, the man, the woman and two small children on a motorbike, the only one with a helmet was the man - just shows where his priorities lie. I still haven't found out the taxi answer. The military are supposed to be clamping down heavily on the taxi Mafia here. I do hope so as it did make the taxis here almost on a par with a black cab in London.
I've also done a quick recce of the big Tesco Lotus, I needed to pop into the Boots there for Soltan. Quite proud of my Thai language recognition, I can now tell when it's on 3 for 2 or just special offer. For those who are interested, no big purchases this time, it was just on special offer... But they still don't recognise a UK Advantage card only the Thai one. Same in Tesco's, free wiffy if you enter your Clubcard number but it wouldn't take a UK one. What's gone wrong with the global economy is what I want to know...
And the good news is that the hotel wiffy is back up to speed - hope I am not speaking too soon. I guess the only downside to that is I don't have the excuse to visit a local bar just to catch up and communicate....





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Location:แม่น้ำ,Thailand

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Home Alone (11 - 15 December)





24 hours door to door, three flights including an unusually empty Bangkok Airway's flight and I finally arrive but it looks like I'm home alone... Great welcome from the hotel and a lovely coconut to drink made all the nicer by a sneaky measure of local rum. But everywhere is so quiet. In my area of 12 rooms around the pool I am the only room occupied since I arrived five days ago and the rest of the place is almost empty too. I know the Russians are staying away due to their economic problems (shame...) but it still feels unusual. So I am enjoying the peace which the hotel tell me will change a few days before Xmas. And the empty pool, not been in it yet but it does feel a lot warmer than last year. And of course at the moment no young kids splashing around in there either...




Nothing much has changed here in the past few months apart from the two huge new houses built by the hotel for the family, very impressive they are too. There's a new small shopping centre in nearby Bophut beach and the lovely beach bar there where you sat on the sand on big cushions sipping an early evening cocktail (Carole, Deryn and Anna Marie will remember those) has gone, looks like a victim of progress in the building of the shopping centre, such a shame.
The weather is also same same. The dry season doesn't really kick in until mid to late December so the first few days here have been a bit wet and windy with narrow beaches and thundery nights but am also hoping that will change by Xmas. But of course regardless of wind or rain it is also lovely and warm all the time. Same as the people - lots of warm welcomes and welcome backs.


Technology doesn't change either - well the management of it with wifi being the most annoying. The rain seems to really affect the signal which seems a bit last century to me. But Apple and iOS 8 play their part too. Slingbox is hopeless on the iPad or mini iPad, I am reduced to watching the telly on my phone, hooray for android is what I say! Have managed to catch up with the The Apprentice and the X Factor finals. Looks like Gogglebox for tonight and am sure to remember to sky plus Xmas Day's Downton Abbey. But my tech issues do spread to the hotel too. Their wifi is not too good in my room so am forced to sit in Jordan's sports bar or here in the Irish Bar in Bophut catching up. I guess we all have to do what we have to do...







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Thursday, 10 April 2014

It's a bit like a London bus (22 March - 8 April 2014)



Snake sightings that is. You don't see any for weeks then three come along all at once. The first, not much of an issue as it was dead in the road. The second was the cobra just down the road from Walker's that was captured and taken away by the emergency service volunteers. I must say that's the closest I've ever been to a real live wild cobra, and as close as I ever want to get! Big thanks have to go to the rescue services, all volunteers who came along with their blue lights blazing to catch the thing and re locate it back in the jungle. The third was rustling around in the Nature Bar last night, I saw all the guys with sticks trying to find it but didn't see it, nor did they catch it... Khao Lak is a really narrow strip of coastline with impenetrable jungle rising up from it. The road has been cut through this and means that all the hotels, beach and most other buildings are on the sea side of the road where they slope gently down to the sea with just about one row of buildings on the other side before the jungle starts. On a positive note, all the snake sightings have been on the jungle side of the road which makes sense. The road, Highway 4, is the main road from Phuket up to Bangkok and is always busy with coaches, lorries, buses etc. I find it hard to cross at times so I guess the snakes find the same.... at least I hope so!






But the lie of the land makes for a good morning walk. Going south from here across a headland, the road has crash barriers so you feel a bit safer and there are spectacular views along the coastline one way and massive trees and dense jungle the other. The only thing spoiling it are the remains of the Chinese lanterns hanging on the trees, they look so magical at night but so nasty in daylight and every day there seem more.






I am now in Nang Thong Bay, south of Bang Niang where I was before and probably the main centre here. Although when I say main, that doesn't mean a lot. Compared to other tourist places in Thailand, this is really quiet, again all low rise places, a reasonable choice of places to eat but not at all built up. It's a centre for the diving which apparently is pretty good around here, not that I'll be trying that! And nice to be able to go back to Walker's Inn for good company, wine and food.
As usual, I am having a bit of a flashpack towards the end of this trip and am in a lovely villa on the beach with my own little pool. But as the temperature and humidity rise as the wet season approaches being able to take a quick dip every now and again is great. On some days the weather pages tell me it feels like 48C but the water is a bit like a hot bath so not that refreshing. But I guess it does seem churlish to moan about the temperature in my own little pool... And my LiLo Gill skills that I acquired in Koh Chang when Carole and I were there are coming along nicely. Back in Blighty I will miss floating around on my Barbie pink Lilo, whiling away the hot afternoon... I am working up to a selfie of me and said Lilo but so far my balance skills haven't allowed it. Will keep up the practice...



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Location:Thanon Phet Kasem,Khuekkhak,Thailand

Thursday, 27 March 2014

That sinking feeling (15 - 22 March 2014)

Around here boats, especially tourist ones off Phuket, are always sinking, so,it was a great cause for celebration when the sinking was supposed to happen and we has much street cleaning, dignitaries, flags and speeches.







They have sunk an old naval patrol boat a few kilometres offshore to create a new reef and provide a different sort of dive site. Given the current pressure on banks though, with the occasional one going under, I'm not convinced it was a particularly clever sponsorship deal for Bangkok Bank... That was the big excitement for the week here in Bang Niang apart from the little market and funfair that opened up for a few days next to the Tsunami Memorial.



It generally starts to get quieter now as the low season approaches. The temperature is certainly rising but so far the rainy but hasn't arrived. That normally starts around Songkran on 13 April, but with current weather patterns, who knows. It's interesting here, in an attempt to get more visitors they don't actually call it the rainy season or the low season any more, it's now called the "green season". It's really mountainous and jungly around here so when the rain does come it gets even greener, hence the name, although it look pretty green already!
The political troubles in Bangkok have calmed down a little but they don't really have any effect here. However the recent alcohol ban due to voting for the Senate was a National thing. But apart from the 7/11 who didn't sell it for a couple of days, everywhere else did. Apparently it's because 7/11 stores give you a times receipt so,it could be proved they broke the law, but the other stores don't give you a receipt at all, so no proof, so no crime committed... A neat idea!
It's still a great place to wander around though, lovely wild flowers and less wild dogs - this one belongs to Joe's Steakhouse and lives in the little hole he's dug for himself to keep cool.




The food also continues to be good with happy home made burger buns from the Brit owned Mars Bar. They're great, the happy faces are made with poppy seeds and the smiley face is the cafe's logo. Clever and cute. But haven't yet tried the hot and sour soup cartilage or fried chicken tendons from this menu...






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Location:Khuekkhak,Thailand

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Bang Niang (2 -15 March 2014)

I've now moved north up the coast to Bang Niang Beach. This has a much flatter plain between the sea and the mountains and is about two kilometres wide where in much of the rest of this coastline it's a lot narrower than that. This is the reason it was so devastated by the tsunami. I know it's been written about a million times and it is nearly ten years ago, but wandering round the area you can't forget. Not just the heartbreaking Tsunami Museum, but the police boat that was carried two kilometres inland. I had not see it before but imagined it to be one of those small rib inflatable type things.






I was really shocked to see how big it was and to imagine the power that carried this from the sea to where it now rests two kilometres away from the beach. It takes around half an hour to walk from the beach to where this huge boat finally stopped. And it was already one kilometre out at sea guarding some Thai Royals'. The beach front here has been redeveloped in places but in others the land is still empty.


There are a couple of really nice and very expensive places as well as little bungalow resorts like the Cousin Resort where I am staying. The Casa de la Flora is rather fab, a Tablet hotel and the cool design even applies to the very modern spirit house.


The main reason I am not staying there is the lack of a lottery win... But whilst some business has bounced back, there's no sign that any sense of community has returned. As you walk around behind the beach the original concrete roads are still here but all bordered by empty lots of land, covered in scrubby vegetation and signs saying land for sale. The odd remnant of a ruined building stands alone in the middle.



I can't imagine it would ever reach a decent price, there's so much for sale and I assume has been for years. No one seems to live here. When you walk around the back beach roads in Samui it's teeming with life - cats, dogs, chickens, buffalo, caterpillars, butterflies, birds and even the odd snake. Here, nothing. Not even the scabby stray dogs that seem to populate the rest of the country. But with a whole young generation now who will not remember the horror perhaps local memories are fading along with the warning signs. The community used to survive on fishing, rubber and palm oil, I'm not sure that way of life will ever return.



But on a more positive note, this part of Khao Lak is a good place to stay. All low rise, lots of little restaurants and bars, a good beach, although like elsewhere along this coast there is some erosion but it has nice fine sand. I'm not a sea swimmer but you can see that it slopes very gently here although on occasions, the surf can get quite high. It seems to have bypassed all of the horrible side of Thai resort development with no girly bars, very few nightclubs and a beach that is just a beach and not covered in deck chairs. It's just a pity that the Moo Moo Cabaret starts a bit late for me at 9.45 pm up on the main road - I think it is Khao Lak's version of the Sydney Bar in Priscilla, perhaps I really should make the effort one night.... I am discovering that the Thai distributor for Mont Clair wine has done a sterling job. Absolutely everywhere in Thailand that is what you get when you order a why why, every restaurant in Samui and now every restaurant here. You can even buy it in 7/11... The beach here is west facing so you get a great sunset each night to go with that Mont Clair - Carole, you will remember it well!



The heat is starting to build though, up to 35 at times and very humid, even I am looking forward to the rain that is forecast for later today. But not as much as the locals I imagine, there have been a few forest fires up in the hills along the whole coastal strip so a good soaking is really needed, the only downside to that it it tends to cool down the pool... And I don't know quite what happens in technical terms but rain in this part of the world always means iffy wiffy....
And this afternoon the rain arrived with a vengeance, a proper full on thunderstorm. It made me realise that the item I use most here is my umbrella - not normally for rain but as a "ladylike parasol" on my walks and tonight for the purpose for which is was originally intended!



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Location:อ.ตะกั่วป่า,Thailand

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

When is an inch not an inch... (22 February - 2 March 2014)


...and of all the answers I'm sure you were contemplating, sadly the answer is "in a Thai hairdresser". As the temperature rises to the mid thirties, I was getting hotter and hotter so thought a haircut might help. I had spied a place where I had not seen the staff searching each others' hair for nits (an unusual occurrence...) so thought I would take the chance. I thought my Thainglish and sign language had worked until I felt the razor going at the back... Not sure what the back looks like now, but the razor work stopped. Perhaps she had thought I had asked for a finished job of an inch all over rather than an inch off all round.... Now if I could just identify what that itching is...



I am now back to Thailand and in Khao Lak, a long stretch of pretty coastline which is still relatively undeveloped. A few reasons, it's surrounded by National Park - both on land and sea, it's also a fairly narrow coastal plain backed by steep hills so not a huge amount of room to build. It was also very badly hit by the tsunami and has had to be virtually rebuilt - unlike some Thai resorts that were built in the 80's, planners, even Thai ones, have learned a little more since then. I understand that local planning laws state that no buildings can be higher than a coconut palm - now the palms are quite tall around here but it does limit buildings to about three storeys.
I am staying at Khao Lak Beach - and in the mysterious ways of Thailand it isn't actually central Khao Lak but south of the headland and the original area that tourism here started. I thought I could take a quick walk over said headland to get to "civilisation" in Khao Lak but after one try I decided my life was worth more than a bigger choice of restaurants. The road between the beach and the hills is a main highway but there are no pavements this side of the headland. Thai driving is atrocious and lorries, buses and cars speed past and whizz around the hairpin bends like they're on the M1, so I decided to give it a miss. The beach here is lovely, a long sweeping bay but with a few erosion problems. Not sure why, I don't think it's anything to do with the buildings as there aren't that many and the trees whose roots are gradually being exposed look like they've been here many years.
I am staying at the Khao Lak Diamond, one of four hotels here and a little "village" of support services have grown around them - restaurants, bars, shops, tour operators and tailors. Walking out of an evening is a bit like trying to get through Harrod's or Selfridge's fragrance halls as you re stopped every few metres by a tailor... All you need is here apart from some investment in the hotel. Could be quite nice if only they got their act together and used a bit of bleach in the bathroom... Also it's really irritating, there are not enough sunbeds therefore the Germans are up at the crack of dawn putting their towels out so if you want one you have to play the same game. But am moving on soon so no problem.
Not much action here until today, March 1st. At 8 am. the National Anthem played out loud and clear. A good thing I discover as they play this through the tsunami warning towers twice a month to test them - this morning they were obviously working well. And as I went on my walk I noticed lots of activity just up from the beach with loads of loud firecrackers. I followed the crowd up into the forest to a clearing where some sort of festival was happening at a temple which was hidden away. From the firecrackers and the people it was a Thai Chinese festival. The people were really nice offering me a bit of tree trunk to sit on to watch the proceedings. Lots of young people all dressed in white and continual firecrackers going off. That, as well as food was what people were bringing and obviously the bigger and louder the firecracker the better. They were being hung from every tree and thrown around the ground with abandon. Given this is a forest in the dry season, all a bit of a worry... And as I left a nice old guy offered me a lift in his three wheeled trike, I declined but was touched at how kind and welcoming the people were. The hotel are no use at all when I try to find out what it's all about, all they can say is if they are dressed in white they are Chinese not Thai Buddhists. A good way to find out I thought was to pay a visit to Peter's Bar which was right where the action is, and of course even though it is only lunchtime it was rude not to order a cube. Now it might be called Peter's Bar and English is not widely spoken but as far as my Thainglish allows the conversation tells me that it's all about the local village celebrating their ancestors - that makes sense with the young people in white, a funereal colour. There was also a bamboo structure on the beach which I thought did have a funereal look - this apparently will be pushed out to sea this afternoon.


The bar guy said about three o clock but given time here I'm not sure. Also there is a sign indicating this festival is going on for two days so it might be tomorrow - sitting here for hours drinking Sang Som and Coke waiting for it all to happen may not be such a sensible move... But no, suddenly the band (sounding very Balinese, like a Gamelan orchestra) start up and gradually as they get faster and faster, the bamboo structure is hoisted aloft and paraded across the beach down to the sea and loaded onto a long tail boat and motors off into the distance. One guy in white seems so overcome he throws himself into the sea to chase after the boat and has to be dragged out by two other white clad devotees. But it's a good job these people are so nice and welcoming. Luckily this is a quiet beach but given their ancestor ceremony is hijacked by Westerners in brief (well, there are a lot of German's) swimmies toting cameras, they are very gracious.


I return the next day to see what was happening but all had changed - God forbid you needed help in the Khao Lak area today as all of the emergency services including ambulances and rescue boats had gathered for some sort of ceremony with lots of speeches and a few firecrackers. It's all happening here...


Well, actually it's not - apart from the weekend's excitement, it's been a quiet time. Still trying to do my day's walking and it's nice to say hello to the elephants each day.



An evening visit to Bang Niang market (the area I am moving to next) in the hotel shuttle bus feeling just like a German Saga outing but apart from that my biggest issue was European or Thai for dinner...
And getting to know another doggie friend, Hannah. Sweet little thing but still can't beat my fave, (my fave in Thailand that is), Darling from Samui!


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Location:อ.ตะกั่วป่า,Thailand

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Batu Ferringi 0, Georgetown 1 (18 - 21 February 2014)


As much as I disliked Batu Ferringgi, I find that the opposite is true of Georgetown. It seems an uncrowded, gentle place, quietly elegant with the echoes of Colonial times, with nice people and polite taxi drivers. Perhaps the fact that I am staying at the Eastern and Oriental (E & O) hotel may have something to do with it!









The Grand Dame of Penang has reinvented itself and is back to its former glory of fab rooms, huge colonial bathrooms, quiet efficient service, but particularly the free drinks and canapés in the Planter's Lounge each evening!


This tradition was started almost a year ago when the new wing was re opened and is available for two hours each evening. Good timing being here now, at the year anniversary next month, it goes down to one hour. What happens a year after that I'm not sure, but am certainly enjoying the current plan! The most exciting thing, apart from decent wine on tap, is real cheese, a complete rarity out in this part of the world, so I am wolfing down Cheddar and Stilton with gusto! But a nice thing is that Kev and Ant stayed here back on the 90's so I feel I am on familiar territory.
From my room, and from the terrace of the Planter's Lounge with the ceiling fans moving lazily overhead where I write this, is a view over the Malacca Straits to mainland Malaysia and Butterworth. Watching the various boats and ships go by including the odd cruise liner. Pity I don't like boats, I could actually take a one day cruise up to Phuket. One was in today but even with that disgorging its thousands on to the streets, the place still felt quiet. And listening to the conversation around me back at the E & O, I could be back in the hey day of the place in the twenties and thirties. Still almost all Brit's here but with accents less the Scouse and Mancunian of Batu Ferringgi and more Home Counties. But wherever they are from, they are still hoovering up the free booze... Plus ca change... I think some of them really may have been out here in their youth... I have made the effort but do feel slightly underdressed compared to some.... Not a backpackers haven then, oh no, I forgot I'm flash packing for a while, haven't done it in so long! As I walked around the old town, checking my map, I was accosted by locals asking to help. And that's all, just asking if I needed help or directions. Not asking to "go to my shop" - how nice.
Yesterday I went shopping to Gurney Plaza and even though the pound has regained some of its value, shopping still isn't the bargain it once was. But you can't get away from UK shopping anywhere anyway. I have got used to seeing the huge Tesco's here and in Thailand and the Topshop's and Dorothy Perkins in the malls, but I was still surprised to see a Waitrose section in the supermarket sporting the best of expat necessities including HP sauce... I also visited Gurney Paragon mall and thought I was in Bluewater until I realised there isn't a Debenham's in Bluewater so I couldn't have been there, but yes, there is a big one here...



Day 2 I did my own walking tour of the old town which since 2008 has had World Heritage status - tick. A wander through China town and Little India. Visits to the Penang museum and Art Gallery, only just worth the 1 ringgit (18p) entrance fee, perhaps I'm being a little unfair, the curator is perhaps an amateur.... I also visited the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, this one well worth the 20 ringgit (£3.60) entrance fee. What a great place, a mansion of the Nyonya (Strait's Chinese), but kept as it was when they lived there in the thirties with the cosmetics still out on the dressing table and the clothes still in the wardrobe. Really good. I also took a walk along the avenue of peaceful harmony where many faiths are represented side by side. But this peaceful harmony had been shattered recently. Apparently, people of all faiths here have always referred to God as Allah. The local Muslim population have recently taken umbridge at this and a judge has ruled that they are right and only Muslims can use the word Allah as their God. Firebombed churches are the result. So much for peaceful harmony - how stupid is that whole thing. If he is up there, I can't see he cares what people call him as long as they live in peace and hold the bombing. Madness.



Day Three I braved the funicular railway up to Penang Hill, a hill station from the old days. Compared to other hill stations I've visited this was a bit small, just the odd original bungalow. And despite the haze some pretty spectacular views of Penang itself and a few degrees cooler than at sea level. The mercury hit 35 today so even for me this slight drop was pleasant. But I braved the heat and walked back along Gurney Drive and took a look at the local architecture. The old town still maintains the old shophouses in various states of repair and new "boutique experience" places are opening up. But the rest of the island is condo city with so many towers already in place or being built. I hope the economy holds up, it's hard to see how such a huge building programme can make economic sense at the moment. But there are still some examples of the old Penang around, albeit gradually being encased in a tower block...



And along the beach road are some examples of fine buildings which in their heyday would have been the spectacular homes of the great and the good of the East India Company, backing on to the sea. I felt my silver umbrella I use to keep the sun off turning into a gracious parasol as I walked along. But however much I tried, my shorts were never going to turn into a crinoline....
So today, visa run sorted, I return to Thailand and drive north from Phuket to Khao Lak. Can't believe I'll have to start paying again for my early evening why why...




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