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 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

-----------------------------------------
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.

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


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. 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



Saturday, August 30, 2014

L'HOSPITALET DE L'INFANT

visited August 2014


L'Hospitalet de l'Infant is a laid back seaside resort town about 140km south west of Barcelona. Because the trains don't usually waste time I visited as a day trip but if I come back to the general Barcelona area I aim to stay a few days here. It is a pretty nice place and there is no shortage of holiday accommodation.

Hospitalet is on a section of the coast is known as the Costa Dorada. This starts roughly above the 0 on the distance scale - Hospitalet is pretty much central on the Costa Dorada. Tarragona is the biggest city in the area - tends to have a fair bit of industry particularly chemical in nature and a busy port but nevertheless some nice beaches. Fact is the whole coastline is made up of a string of nice beaches and resorts - the train line from tends to stick immediately behind the beaches for a large part of the journey.

BEACHES
L'Hospitalet de L'Infant has two long main beaches separated by small headlands encasing a smaller beach, the name of which I can't find.

PLATJA ARENAL
I shot this from adjacent the harbour break-wall looking south-west. Arenal at 2200m long takes some time to walk. The promenade at right runs the first kilometer. Even though I'm not a fan of looong beaches (except for mind-blowers like Queensland's Whitehaven) this is a pretty nice strip of sand. The silica itself was the typical Catalonia fairly coast coarse grained* yellow brown stuff and seemed reasonably clean. I'm not sure about water quality up here near the harbour but down the beach it seemed okay without being the crystal clear stuff I saw on the Costa Brava or at Ibiza and Mallorca. I visited on a nice Sunday in July and the beach was more crowded than this, but not overcrowded. The opening shot top of page also shows Platja Arenal.
*I've said elsewhere that this is no bad thing - it doesn't tend to stick to feet as much and is less subject to wind blow.

PLATJA DEL TORN
I was just reading on a camping review website that del Torn is arguably the best nudist beach in Spain. I can't judge it on a national level on account I haven't traveled widely in Spain, but I do rate it my second favourite naturist beach in Catalonia (after the Costa Brava's Cala Boadella - yep, a more compact beach).
Del Torn isn't exactly short either at 1500m. I thought the water clearer here than at Arenal. The sand was similar but there tended to be a fair few pebble rocks close to the tide line, particularly further south. These got really hot around mid-day.
It doesn't look all that crowded in the shot but I reckon there was close to one thousand people scattered along here. As typical in Spain, quite a few were "textiles" and the naturists didn't give a damn. Families and couples seemed to be the go, maybe boosted by the very big El Temple del Sol naturist camping area which is hidden by the first 400m or so of dunes in this shot.


I cropped the previous pic to show the above chiringuito (beach bar/cafe) about one third of the way along the beach. This place was so crowded around 1400 that I had to prop myself  at an outside drink stand - no problem, it was nice out there. One of the reasons for the crowd was maybe the two sisters looking after the bar - clad only in sarongs, they had the most stunning figures and brownest skin I've seen for some time. The other girl serving the tables was not exactly a drunk-scarer either. I reckon the girls are a smart ploy by the owner to keep male patrons hanging around/buying more drinks. I hung around/bought more drinks. 
I've been a naturist for many years but for me it was kinda novel to see naked people entering a restaurant. The idea is to wrap a towel/sarong around or put on a pair of shorts before you sit down. Tezza staggered in after a 20 minute walk back down the hot beach clad in his usual sun-avoiding long sleeved business shirt under Aussie bushman's hat and over $3 knock-off Billabong board shorts from the Bali bazaar (years of 10 hour surfing days in a period when I couldn't afford sun screen or rash vests has blitzed my skin - don't mind limited sunbathing these days but unnecessary sun exposure I avoid) and no-one gave a damn.
There is a second chiringuito on the fore-dune abut 2/3 up the beach.


I found this small sub section of del Torn, way up the far southern end most pleasant mainly on account it was sheltered by the high rocks at right from the onshore breeze. About 100 other people thought the same. This is a compact area only 70m across (image Google Earth as are all the modified "maps" on this page). Lots of pebbly rocks between the two beach areas were quite hard on bare feet, particularly when the sun heated them.


I've explained previously that I'm not keen about waving my camera around nude beaches unless I can get distant shots like the above. However I was too lazy to climb up here so I had to pinch this one from HERALDO.es

Here's a nice one of the main beach from the same rock featured on Tripadvisor.

GETTING BETWEEN ARENAL AND DEL TORN
I stuck to the shore line going south. At first the going was easy, over a section of rocks/sand and across a short beach. But the next 200m or so was not so simple with the rock shelf very rough underfoot - you need sensible footwear here. Fortunately there were no big vertical changes or wide sea gutters as is usually the case when I go rock-hopping in unknown places.
On the way back I cut up through the camping area which is much easier - see below.


White track going south - as said I don't know the local name of beach x (maybe it is Cala d'Oques as in the first camping area: then again the southern-most area of long Platjay Arenal may be called this). Beach x is only abt 180m long. Proximity to the camping areas saw it fairly crowded with a 50/50 spit of nudists and textiles (El Templo de Sol is a naturist camping area - it's pretty big with less than half showing on this modified Google Earth image).
Yellow track going back - up a good set of stairs and then a path thru a small section of El Templo - nobody seemed to mind passers-by along here.

GETTING TO HOSPITALET
I'll leave you to google options (you may find it better to google "Tarragona" - stuff on Hopitalet's access seems a bit limited) - I'll simply outline my experience as a day-tripper.
I caught a train on the RENFE line from Barcelona's Estacio de Franca railway station. The train starts there and also picks up at Paaseig de Gracia and Barcelona Sants, but by the time this early Sunday train had left Sants it was standing room only. Lots of people got off at the big Port Adventura adventure park just south of Tarragona but that is 90 minutes into the trip - a long time to stand. If the train has no problems the total time to Hospitalet should be around 1 3/4 hours.

The return trip was a bit of a circus. The train was having problems and was over 30 minutes late into Hopitalet. Click-expand and check the digital temperature readout upper left - 38C. Just after I shot this we were told the train was going no further. We transferred to a later train which was even more packed once we got aboard. Unfortunately I had to stand the 60 minutes into Barcelona. I'm am older dude and spent the time glaring at some little fat kid sitting in the geezers'/disadvantageds' seats with his family. Didn't have any impact but I do love to try on a good stir, even when unsuccessful. Not that I cared - my fitness routine has me in better shape than 90% of 13 year olds let alone circumfentialy-enhanced ones (I am so fit I got muscles on my boogers) so standing for extended periods is no problem. Plus my head was up near the aircon vents: such was the crowd the readout showed 30C. 
In all I got back to Barcelona over 2 hours later than I thought. Maybe Spain's economic woes are having some impact on railway maintenance.

-----------------------------------------------------------------


BACK TO THE INDEX

IF YOU SEE MISTAKES OR HAVE EXTRA INFO PLEASE POST BELOW. BUT IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS PLEASE POST THEM IN THE FORUM WHICH I CHECK MOST DAYS - I RARELY RETURN TO THESE INDIVIDUAL LOCATION PAGES.