Saturday, December 12, 2015

INDEX

THAILAND

Post-sunset shot at Ko Adang National Park headquarters beach.

INTRODUCTION - WHICH ISLAND OR BEACH?

ADANG

BU BU
BULON LAE

CHANG (big Chang eastern Gulf)
Little Ko CHANG, Andaman side
CORAL ISLAND

JUM

KANCHANABURI
KRADAN
KRABI, RAILAY, TON SAI
KHAO LAK
KHAO SOK NATIONAL PARK
KHO KHAO
KUT (KOOD, KUD)

LANTA
LAO LIANG
LIBONG, HAT YAO
LIPE

MAK (MAC, MAAK)
MAYA BAY/THE BEACH/PHI PHI LEY
MUK (MOOK)

NANGYUAN
NGAI (HAI)

PANYEE/PANYI
PATTAYA
PHANGAN
PHANGAN PART 2
PHANG NGA BAY
PHAYAM
PHRA THONG
PHUKET
PHI PHI
PHI PHI NEWSPAPER ARTICLE BY TEZZA

RAILAY, TON SAI AND KRABI TOWN
RAYA/RACHA
ROK

SAMET
SAMUI
SIBOYA
SIMILAN ISLANDS
SIMILAN ISLANDS LIVE-ABOARD
SUKORN
SURINS ISLANDS

TAO
TARUTAO

WAI (WHAI)

YAO NOI
YAO YAI



General Thailand Information

SOME TIPS ON NOT DROWNING

WET WEATHER INFORMATION

SNORKELLING IN THAILAND

THAILAND'S BEST BEACHES



INDONESIA
Spoiling visitor on Seraya Island - West Flores

BALI
BALI'S BEST BEACHES - incl THE BUKIT PENINSULA
BALI - AMED
BALI - BEDUGUL AND LAKE BRATAN
BALI - CANGGU
BALI - JIMBARAN
BALI - NUSA LEMBONGAN
BALI - NUSA DUA, TANJUNG BENOA AND GEGER BEACH
BALI - MEDEWI
BALI - MUNDUK
BALI - LOVINA
EAST BALI - PADANGBAI AND CANDIDASA
BALI- PEMUTERAN AND MANJANGAN ISLAND
BALI RICE TERRACES EAST - SIDEMAN
BALI RICE TERRACES CENTRAL - TEGALLALANG
BALI RICE TERRACES WEST - KEBUN VILLAS
BALI RICE TERRACES TIRTA GANGGA + WATER PALACE


BINTAN

LOMBOK - THE GILI ISLANDS
LOMBOK - THE KUTA LOMBOK AREA

PERAMA SLOW BOAT - FLORES/KOMODO/LOMBOK

SERAYA & KANAWA ISLANDS + LABUANBJO - FLORES



MALAYSIA
Salang beach on Tioman

GORGEOUS TIOMAN ISLAND

CHERATING BEACH

KAPAS ISLAND

LANGKAWI

LANG TENGAH

PERHENTIAN ISLANDS

REDANG ISLAND

SIBU ISLAND



AUSTRALIA
Bound for Hook Island on Oetella

CRUISING TROPICAL ISLANDS ON A BUDGET

BUDGET RESORTING ON THE WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS

SPENDING TIME AT AIRLIE BEACH

BYRON BAY - BEACH PARADISE

NOOSA HEADS - MY ALL TIME FAVOURITE



GREECE
Paradise Beach - Kos

GREEK ISLAND HOPPING



TURKEY
Paragliding Mount Babadag to Oludeniz Beach

BUDGET CRUISING AND PARAGLIDING THE TURQUOISE COAST
THE NORTH AEGEAN COAST
THE SOUTH AEGEAN COAST




SPAIN
Bay just south of Portas Vells, south east Mallorca

NTRODUCTION
BARCELONA
IBIZA
L'HOSPITALET DE L'INFANT
MALLORCA/MAJORCA
MONTSERRAT
PYRENEES
SAN SEBASTIAN
SITGES
TOSSA DE MAR


READERS' TRIP REPORTS
Trip reporter Cocodrilo at Similan's viewpoint
Read the trip reports or submit your own


THE FORUM
Yon Cassia has a lean and hungry look (image Deco Dermots)

Questions, comments, shoot the bull.



GENERAL
Kwak joins the Worry Collective - image BEDARD

JUST FOR LARFS - PART 1
JUST FOR LARFS - PART 2: STONES FROM THE JOKER IN THE GLASS HOUSE (1 thru 11)

JUST FOR LARFS - PART 3: THE WORRY COLLECTIVE

ABOUT THIS SITE


LADY TEZZA'S TRAVELLING JAPAN
Fashions for sale in Takeshita dori - Tokyo

The basics - Osaka - Kyoto - Hiroshima&Himeji - Takayama - Tokyo - Kyushu - Daytrip to Mt Fuji National Park - Accessing your money - Other helpul stuff

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If you have questions, please don't post them below - I seldom get to scroll down this far. Put them in THE FORUM which I try to check most days when not travelling.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tegalalang/Tegallalang

visited May 2015




These rice terraces are about 10km north of Ubud and 44/48 km from Kuta/the airport. However because of Bali's increasingly difficult traffic you are looking at something like 20/95/115mins give or take.


I feel the terraces at Tegallalang are not as good as at Sideman in the east  or Belimbing in the west. However Tegallalang has 2 advantages:
* immediate access for people wishing to walk the terraces
* this area is much easier to reach from the southern tourist areas not to mention Ubud which is a major accommodation destination in itself


The terraced area is immediately adjacent to Jl Ray Tegallalang which is one of the main roads between Ubud and the Kintimani volcano area. Seeing these are about the two biggest daytrip destinations in Bali, plenty of passers-by call in. These vehicles are actually parked in the main drag - makes for a major traffic hickup: our free shuttle from Pondok Sebatu Villas 5km north avoided the jam; dropped us off just north of this area. Plenty of restaurants with terrace views, and other touristy businesses along the above strip.





This is the outlook from the restaurant we chose. Food prices along here seemed to be a little higher than Ubud budget restaurant levels but lower than Pondok Sebatu Villas (the latter wasn't over the top - way cheaper than western prices). This shot is a good one to click-expand.


The restaurants etc along the main road from the opposite side of the gorge


Entry to the restaurant slope is free - the opposite slope (above) has a nominal 10k idr (abt us80 cents at the time) fee.


The free shuttle the 5km from Pondok Sebatu Villas took less than 10 minutes - I chose to walk back (slightly more than an hour) along the parallel, slightly shorter and way less busy Jl Raya Ceking - check your Google Maps. 90% of the route was shaded by trees, slopes gradual to moderate, one village and at least a dozen woodcarving businesses.

PONDOK SEBATU VILLAS
There is closer accommodation to the terraces (none right in the main road strip or very close to it) but Pondok Sebatu Villas was the nearest which had a room within yer humble correspondent's modest budget. 
I find it difficult to build a linear scale on a Google Earth image featuring variable relief (there is a series of parallel gorges within the above area) - but fer you map nerds, the straight line distance from the "r" of "rice terraces" to the "P" of "Pondok" is 2.7km.
Many booking sites include PSV in their Ubud lists but I don't think this should be the case - at 15km north and 30 to 40+ minutes driving depending on traffic it is too distant. There is a lot of equal or better for the price accommodation in and immediately around Ubud – as a repeat Ubud visitor I reckon you really need to be close to make the best of the town. I booked Pondok Sebatu on the basis of proximity to the rice terraces
 
PSV is a short distance south of Sebatu village - the straight line distance between the place marker of each is 540m. I found a good general type store less than 10 minutes walk from PSV, immediately on entry to the village - if you forget to pack something you could probably find it here. But I couldn't find any budget (or other) restaurants in town. There were some food stalls down near the temple (it is in a deep gorge) but nowhere to sit down. The nearby Puri Ganga resort (small square near temple's place marker) had food prices considerably higher than PSV's. Resort itslelf looked pretty sweet - pool and restaurant had outlook over the gorge.


This is the view from our villa's balcony. PSV is a pretty nice place with only 10 villas, located on the side of a small gorge with views across to some okay rice terraces on the opposite slopes. The lowest villas also look out over a small lagoon which you may be able to see if you click-expand  – their downside is a pretty steep climb to the restaurant and pool (which are just above the level of this pic), although most of the lower villas have their own mini pool. Sweet.  

Chez tezza at PSV


We booked the cheapest  room, a  one bedroom no-pool villa, and at around $us70 a night for May which is not really high season I was a bit disappointed (I have stayed in dozens of Bali rooms in recent  years and have found better value elsewhere).**  But I think PSV's villas vary a fair bit - people who book more expensive ones should maybe search for those reviews (even the other basic room seemed bigger and of different design to ours so my conclusions may not apply to it). 
Our room was more compact than I expected – the queen bed took more than half the space. There was no hanging area for clothes (there was a wardrobe with shelves), no luggage stands, no inside chairs (chairs outside on the spacious balcony with great views over the gorge), poor lights for reading. Done up in attractive dark stained wood but the floors were very thin meaning they creaked when walked on. The bed was comfy and the fitted mozzie net was a very good one. TV, jug, aircon (quiet), safe, in room wifi but some other inclusions mentioned by booking.com absent – they may be found in the more expensive bungalows.
** that may be a bit harsh - PSV has quite a few free extras - afternoon tea, 3 shuttles to Ubud and back daily, free shuttles any time to the rice terraces plus pickup when you want, free bicycles, a good value guided morning hike of the Sebatu region's highlights, meals and afternoon teas delivered to your villa if you wished. 

Overall I thought the place was pretty good and enjoyed my stay.


Characterful outdoor bathroom had good hot water. Mozzies didn't seem a problem.


Small pool had nice outlook....


....as did the restaurant immediately above the pool. Restaurant prices not budget but still a bargain by western standards. Food pretty nice. Ditto the inclusive breakfast - staff here excellent as elsewhere in the resort.

The free pre breakfast walking tour is recommended. One hour, gentle gradients apart from the first 100m up PSV's killer driveway, very relaxed pace. Informed commentary from guide Udi about farming, village life, temples - also provided free bottles of water. 







I also went on an independent wander thru the district. Walked as far north thru Sebatu village as I could, from where the road became a concrete path.....




....which cut thru the rice fields (that's distant Agung in the background)....


....finally ending at a small temple....


From there I took a narrow path which cut across a small, deep ravine and then climbed to the busy Jl Raya Tegallalang 
I walked back down this road (there must have been a dozen wood-carving places as above in the 2km I walked - how many in the next 10km to Ubud?)....

.... to the turn-off back to Sebatu, Checked the Gunung Rawi Sebatu temple on my way thru the gorge and was back at PSV in about 2hrs.
.

THE FREE UBUD TRANSFERS
3 times a day but the timing is such you either spend 5 hours in Ubud or 10 minutes. 
If you insist on making PSV your Ubud destination, do a bit of research - 5 hours is plenty of time to fit some of the more time-consuming activities in (eg the Campuhan ridge walk which takes you thru some attractive rice growing areas although not particularly terraced) plus fit in a nice meal at one of Ubud's many good value restaurants.


BACK TO THE BALI PAGE

Monday, December 15, 2014

Maya Bay - Phi Phi Leh



visited November 2014

Sunset from The Beach - Maya Bay attracts thousands of visitors but not too many are around this time of day. Shot should click-expand nicely


The unsettled national park island of Phi Phi Ley is about 6km from the pier at Phi Phi Don, 50km from Phuket's main pier, 40km from Krabi town and 30km from Lanta's Saladan pier - image Google Earth


Trip destinations and route (modified Google Earth)


My plan is to stay on every island in Thailand with affordable accommodation. The problem with Phi Phi Leh/Ley/Lay/Le is that until recently it was impossible to stay overnight on this National Park island. A few years back someone started overnight camping trips there - that doesn't seem to have lasted, but it is now possible to do a one night Maya Bay Sleep Aboard visit. I've done lots of sleep- aboards in various parts of the world and enjoyed them immensely, so I jumped at the chance.

The boat is an old Krabi Connection small ferry - in reasonable condition with the very important large canvas covered rear deck for viewing with shade. The boat had a fair amount of other undercover room. There was only one toilet and no showers (although a barrel of fresh water with a splash bucket on the rear sea-access platform which in fact is a great way to shower).
The trip was supposed to leave at 1500 but as usual someone was dragging the chain, so we sat around until 1540. 

The ladies font of shot are sitting on the sleeping mattresses. I've found these comfortable in the past. Unfortunately we didn't get to use them - we were told we were overbooked and would sleep on the beach**. Everyone but me was mega-enthusiastic about this - I worried about the frequent November storms. Incredible luck saw a starry night - the only one without a storm in my 3 week Andaman tour.
**sleeping on the beach - "don't tell anyone!" says the young Thai tour leader. As if - with at least one travel-blogger and a whole lot of people who are going to write reviews for their booking company and others. btw I got the impression with the fairly slick dinner/post dinner entertainment/sleeping organisation and the indifference of national park staff to our presence  that this sleeping on the beach was not to much an unusual occurrence.

It took about 30minutes to motor across to Ley. First stop was off the Viking Cave. These days the public can't access it (I went in on a day trip in the late 80s) but our boat's tour leader gave an interesting talk about the birds' nesting and why it is called Viking (birds' nesters, trapped by bad weather in the past, spent the time painting - apparently viking style paintings).

The tide that day was too low for the usual snorkeling in nearby Phi Le Bay, so that was postponed until the next day and we........

.....motored around to Maya Bay.

Still a reasonable amount of boats and people for 1730 but nothing like the ridiculous jam you get earlier in the day, as can be seen by....


....this pic, shot around 1000 in March 2013 from my Phuket to Phi Phi Don ferry ,which always does a circumnavigation of Phi Phi Ley before docking. Click-expand for detail.
This ferry is called the Phi Phi Cruiser - half the passengers are day-trip people - the circumnavigation of Ley is the only exposure they get to the island and this is as close as they get to The Beach. I personally would be unhappy - there are better day-trips out of Phuket.

A quick unscheduled snorkeling session in the north of the bay before we headed for the beach saw sadly deteriorated coral since my last session there in the late 80s - some fish to look at however.

And then to The Beach......

From the south - time 1900


And the north. Note smaller beach background left easily waded to at low tide. Tour guide said water in that region good for spotting harmless small black tipped reef sharks. 


A bit later


Later still

PERSPECTIVE

This earlier-in-the day-shot shows maybe our time of visit is so much more preferable. It comes from a recent 2015 Bangkok Post article saying Maya Bay is becoming over-run by day visitors (image from Niruth David Bannob)



These days, the area in back of The Beach has a series of paths thru the tropical scrub - didn't exist in the late 80s, but that was before THAT movie. National Parks has set up at least two canteen areas where you can buy basic eats and drinks (including beer - for the past 5 years or so NP has had a no-alcohol rule, this was the first I've heard of the relaxation of the ban - later comfirmed at Ko Rok). There are 2 toilet/shower blocks behind The Beach too.

One of the paths leads to the other side of the island where a platform gives you a look at an east coast inlet.


Platform/inlet from the boat next day


This shot shows the behind-beach area fairly well. The clearing we ate in is close to the beach right of center. Most of us slept in in a sandy section off the beach against the far right headland - wider than it looks from shot's angle. The east coast inlet can be seen background center.
(image dreamerattractions.com - but this site seems to be currently defunct)


National Park canteen foreground - our boat people set up dinner in area behind, used structure background left as guests' bag storage/boat's utility storage area. Pessimist tezza checked region in shot for shelter - figured if it rained there was enough sit-up shelter for us, forget about stretching out. No mattresses bought ashore anyhow.


Dinner is served - the usual yummy Thai mild chicken curry, boiled rice, fried chicken and fruit plate + water. No shortage: servings unlimited. Other drinks could be purchased and each guest got one free bucket of Thai rum and mixer (other alternatives) which was pretty good stuff. There were adequate National Park toilet facilities nearby but bring a torch - I kicked my toe  big time on a hidden lump of rock: had my usual emergency medical kit but no torch - who said DUH?.


Tucker time.  After dinner here staff members made a good effort to keep guests entertained with card/drinking games/guitars etc, although sitting on the by now deserted beach was a nice alternative. There was a later break in activities when people went down the shore to check the bioluminescent plankton - kind of gob-smacking if you haven't seen it before. I have on maybe a dozen occasions. People manning bar can be seen background right. Small Chang cans 100b - a bit high but same as National Park canteen which by this stage had closed. I think extra buckets were 150.


Sleep time - in a sandy cove just off the main beach.


Trying to sleep with only a 1mm rattan mat between the supplied (lighweight - didn't overheat) sleeping bag and the sand was not comfortable - it's surprising how seemingly soft sand compacts after a while. I got virtually no shut-eye. At least the stars and the swash of the ocean on the shore were nice. One mature age guest commented: "character-building”. My character is sufficiently built in the areas of enduring discomfort/lack of sleep and needs no development. Small point - don't leave yer glasses where you can roll over and break them. DUH!


0630 next morning. It was kinda neat having only fellow guests on the beach. Well not quite true - National Park dude nearest right doing something very unusual for his cohort: some work.


Quite a few guest took an early swim. I fanged out to the end of the swimming enclosure and back and then did a half dozen jogging laps of the beach - an ideal way to work off the sleeping mat stiffness.


The big group shot. 
btw - I noticed a few day-trip boats sliding in as early as 0730. The travel-guides suggest you get an early start - these people sure did.


 Google Earth's image of Maya Bay. Inlet top right is southern point of Phi Le Bay (see down page)


Back to the boat


Breakfast on board was pretty basic but hit the spot - scrambled eggs, bread, tea/coffee/juice, fruit - once again in virtually unlimited quantities. 


Leaving Maya Bay we did an anticlockwise circumnavigation of PP Ley. This karst stack on the eastern coast a bit south of the Viking Cave really sticks out when seen from PP Don's Long Beach (background).


Last stop was Phi Le Bay in the island's north-east. Interested guest could check the deep inlet's rather awesome landscape/seascape from the mother boat's tender. We followed this with a snorkel/swim - coral ok but not mind-blowing; fish quite good. Some guests took advantage of the tour's hire kayaks to check the inlet.


We were at the bay from abt 0830 to 0930. This is the scene later in the day - taken at about 1100 in March 2013. The place sure gets popular.


Google Earth image of Phi Le Bay

After that we headed back to Phi Phi Don - arriving at the pier around 1000. It takes another 10 minutes to walk back to the tour's booking office where there is a good secure storage area for guests' bigger bags. Back at the pier, the boat guys have to get it cleaned and stocked for the next departure at 1500.

SUM UP.
I was a bit underwhelmed. I feel this experience would be best value for people who have not seen Phi Phi Ley island - unfortunately my ferry from Phuket to Phi Phi Don has circumnavigated Phi Phi Ley in all my last half dozen visits - and I have done a Maya Bay day-trip in the past, admittedly in the 80s before THAT movie. 
So the amazing landscape/seascape was not exactly novel to me. Add the overbooking, uncomfortable, sleepless night, the injured foot and broken glasses to my discontent. At least it didn't rain. 
However it was kinda interesting to be in the area BEFORE and AFTER the big crowds. A 2 night trip allowing one to experience the crowded times would be interesting. No doubt you could arrange this, but it would probably cost a bomb. I personally thought the one night trip was overpriced. 


Nice shot from Tourists 360