Here’s looking at you…..

The internet speed here at our resort on Ko Lipe is not all that great, so I will not try and upload heaps of fishy photos for your enjoyment ….that can wait till we get back ! Besides that, there are a couple of fish that are new to me and I am not sure of their ID so will wait until I get home.

But here is just a few for the time being….

 

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Close-up of a Hermit Crab hiding in his borrowed home

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Can you see me ? …Stingray hiding in the sand.

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One eyed bundle of spikes !


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 Our first day here was cloudy and a bit wet but since then the days have been mainly sunny, but with a bit of thunder and lightning at night. After a week here it is off to Langkawi tomorrow morning,a fairly short trip by ferry into Malaysia. We will have 5 nights there, and then on to Penang for 3 nights before flying back to Bangkok. Looking forward to some Laksa ! I have been making the most of the opportunity to eat real southern thai food like Panang and mussaman curries that are sometimes hard to find in Bangkok, but the missus sticks to her somtam and sticky rice ….you can take a girl out of Issan but not change her diet !

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Songkran is coming !

In Thailand, when the shops start stocking Hawaiian style shirts you know that the Songkran festival is approaching. But like back home when the stores start getting all Christmassy much too early, it’s still a month until the world’s biggest water fight starts.

Plenty of time to stock up on gaudy shirts for the festivities, or on survival rations to let you stay at home out of the combat zone during the hostilities, depending on your attitude to this time of the year !

As the country is still in an official 12 month mourning period it remains to be seen whether Songkran is toned down or not this year …even if it is you can be sure that going out during the day will see you get wet sooner or later.

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Cosplay @ Japan Expo 2017

japanexpo2017-13As I mentioned yesterday, the Japan Expo 2017 was held at one of the large shopping malls in central Bangkok over the weekend. Japan is a popular tourist destination for middle class Thais, and anything Japanese related is popular with the young hip generation …J-pop, J-food, J-fashion etc.

Inside the mall itself were many tourism related stalls, drumming up business for hotels, tour agencies, Japan Railways, etc while outside were lots of Japanese food stalls doing a roaring trade and a couple of stages for the entertainment….most of it seemed to be cover bands lip-synching from what I saw, but doing a pretty good job of it.

And wandering all around were hundreds of cosplayers dressed up as who knows what !

(as usual, click to see a larger version )


japanexpo2017-10 I have no idea who or what they are supposed to be in their costumes, but most of them were more than willing to pose for all the photographers and casual passers-by.

I guess you have to be quite an extrovert to go out dressed like they do !

This girl in particular really knew how to work the camera, perhaps she has done some modelling sometime or perhaps she is just a natural, but I’m sure there were more photos taken of her than anybody else. At times there were twenty or more photographers jostling to get a clear shot of her. Her being good looking and wearing a fairly skimpy outfit probably had something to do with that too ! 🙂

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With those shoes I would want to sit down too !

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If anybody wants to see more photos, or larger versions of these, then my pBase gallery is right here !

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Cosplay Queen

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The “Japan Expo 2017” was held at the CentralWorld mall here in Bangkok this past weekend, with lots of Japanese food stalls, travel agents, hotels and other businesses trying to drum up some customers, J-pop music to entertain the crowd, and hundreds of cosplayers dressing up in their costumes. I don’t know what this girl’s costume is supposed to be, but it looks more like something out of Arabian Nights than anything Japanese.

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Underwater Myanmar – the Mergui islands.

I am recently back from a trip to Myanmar, snorkelling around the Mergui islands.

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Our route, downloaded from my phone’s GPS app on to Google Earth.

It was not quite as good as I was hoping, the visibility was rather poor in many places and the marine life not as good as I have encountered at places in Thailand, such as the Similans not far south from Mergui. The Mergui Archipelago, like much of the old Burma was off limits to foreigners for many years and it has only recently opened to dive boats. This trip with Andaman Snorkel Discovery on the MV Reggae Queen was apparently the first commercial snorkel tour to operate in this area, and although we did have the compulsory Burmese guide who had done some diving and snorkelling in the area we were more or less venturing into the unknown on an exploratory trip as the dive boats go further south-west looking for the big fish.

Perhaps we were unlucky and just went to the wrong areas despite out guide’s “advice” or perhaps what we saw is typical of the snorkelling in this area ? They do have more exploratory trips planned so perhaps Andaman Snorkel Discovery will find some better areas. It may have been a bit disappointing overall, and perhaps not fully worth the money, but it was not a complete write-off….after all, even a bad day’s snorkelling on a coral reef has to be better than most, right ?mergui_snorkel_trip-29

The meeting point was in Khao Lak, where 5 guests piled into a minivan for a 3 hour drive north to Ranong, where we met the boat and another couple of guests. Leaving Thailand without too much red tape we cruised across the estuary to Kawthaung (aka Victoria Point) in Myanmar to do the entry formalities into Myanmar and pick up the guide and two more passengers.

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Kawthaung…30 minutes and 20 years behind Thailand.

The red tape here took a bit longer as the harbourmaster and the 3 immigration officials meticulously checked the ships papers, the crews’ seamans books, our passports and anything else they could think of.

Eventually everything was declared OK, and we were on our way, with Bob Marley on the stereo to help the boat live up to it’s name….Ralf, the owner, fancies himself as a bit of a Rastafarian pirate !

mergui_snorkel_trip-34I’ve done a few liveaboard boat trips in Thailand, and I have never gone hungry on any of them, this trip was no exception ….great food and lots of it ! Once underway the cooks brought up lunch, it really is amazing what they can conjure up in a tiny kitchen. We had 3 or 4 choices every meal, plus rice or noodles, fresh fruit, free soft drinks and snacks, plus alcohol at a reasonable price.

C:DCIM101GOPROGOPR3245.GPRAfter about 3 hours we reached our first snorkel spot, on the map above it look as if the boat went overland but actually there is a small passage between 2 islands, which is where we got wet for the first time. The current between the 2 islands was churning up the sand, so visibility was not good here. After this stop it was a long haul to our overnight anchorage. The Mergui Archipelago has around 800 islands, many just numbered not named.

The second day was a shorter distance, and much more time in the water.
(click for a larger version )

Day 3 was shorter again, only 18 kms according to my GPS, and more time in the water. We also had our first encounters with the Moken sea gypsies today.
mergui_snorkel_trip-13 We pulled into one bay and 2 dugout canoes appeared, an old lady and baby in one, 3 young kids in the other. Our guide traded some fruit and a few snacks for fish and they paddled off again.

Later we cruised around to the other side of the island to top up our water tanks from a raft, with water pumped from a spring ashore, followed by a quick trip ashore.

mergui_snorkel_trip-15 Apart from a rather ramshackle temple there was not much to see, although we did find the local bar ! Myanmar Beer is a nice drop, although we did have to send the dinghy back to the boat for ice so that we could have cold beer!

The next day was some of the best snorkelling on the trip, along with a stop for a walk on one of the islands, and visiting another Moken village. Although the island beaches looked pristine from the boat, once ashore you could see the storm debris and rubbish washed up along the high water mark. Most of the rubbish clearly came from the local trawlers, polystyrene food containers etc that were simply thrown overboard.

This village had a large new temple, financed by the lottery winnings of a fishing company owner, even though the Moken are animist not Buddhist. This village was fairly large, with several stores selling all sorts of stuff, such as the Sea-cucumbers, clam meat and air bladders from Pufferfish in the photo above. All delicacies for the Chinese market apparently ?


That evening we anchored at the end of a long calm inlet on Jar Lann Kyunn Island, where some of the guys broke out the boat’s wakeboard and became probably the first people to wakeboard the Mergui islands, towed by the boats dinghy !

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Cuttlefish, close-up shot with GoPro Hero 5

Next morning we snorkelled along the shore close to the boat, then headed to 3 more spots before starting the long trip back to Ranong, anchoring overnight at Zar Det Ngee island.An early morning start gave us time for 2 more stops, and included seeing yet more Lionfish and a couple of Cuttlefish which completely ignored us for several minutes, not a bad way to finish !

 

We were back at Kawthaung by early afternoon and the Myanmar immigration formalities were done quickly while we went for what was supposed to be a short stroll, but this is where the customer relations turned a bit sour, in my opinion. Most of us had to get back to Khao Lak, still several hours away, but owner and some of the crew wanted to stay drinking beer in Kawthaung “one last time”. I think they should have forseen possible trouble and delays with Thai immigration and got under way earlier. As things would have it, it took a long time to get our passports stamped, involving trips into town and back, waiting for immigration etc, nearly 90 minutes altogether. Even then we had to detour twice before heading back to Khao Lak,to drop people off at various places. Khao Lak closes up early, so people were worried about their accommodation being closed by the time we got there well after 9pm. In addition, after arriving at the office and picking up our bags left there, they would not give anybody a ride to their hotels even though the company van was heading that way ….just a poor way to finish the trip in my opinion.

All in all, while I do not regret going, it is not something I would do again unless the company finds some much better spots. And even without the US$250 Myanmar government entry permit fee it was not exactly cheap. For the total cost I could have spent 2 weeks on Koh Lipe and probably had better snorkelling ! Oh well, nothing ventured nothing gained, you live and learn, etc etc.

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The year that was…..

I probably should have uploaded this before the “New year’ post of the other day, but better late than never. My YouTube email notifications were full of “My Year’ videos suggested for me for some reason so I thought, why not do one too ? It turns out a minor YouTube “celebrity” called Sam Kolder had a bit of a competition running where people had to upload a video about their year and include in the title Sam Kolder inspired ….clever bit of self promotion for him.

Anyway, it’s just a short fun video of my last year, it’s not meant to be an award winning documentary, LOL. Now that I’ve acquired a serious, live-in girlfriend I probably will not be travelling as much this year, I’m not so footloose and fancy free nowadays …. not that I would change anything, I hasten to add !

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