Saturday, April 28, 2007
Scuba diving is Thailand’s most popular water sport and the country boosts some of the most beautiful dive sites in the world – the water is clear, sea life plentiful, transport and accommodation readily available and instruction to a very high standard. Diving in Thailand is comparatively cheap, and once you have achieved your certification in Thailand, you can use it to go scuba-diving all over the world.
Diving is available at all times of the year, although visibility changes according to the season. In the Andaman Sea, the best time to dive is from October to April, and in the Gulf of Thailand from May to September. At recommended dive sites in Thailand the water is so clear that the under-water world is visible from the surface: whale sharks, manta rays, marlin, flying fish, dolphins and coral reefs.
All reputable dive shops are affiliated with PADI or other international dive bodies, and most hold courses in multiple languages. All over Thailand, you can expect modern amenities, international standard boats and professional facilities.
For group or family travelers, all good live aboard operations will take non-divers along at a substantially reduced fee. Friends and family can relax, swim, sunbathe, snorkel and still enjoy the food, trip, scenery and experience of sailing in some of the world’s most beautiful waters.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Parks & Waterfalls in Phuket
Phuket's natural beauty is not just about the beaches. Often overlooked by tourists are a number of forest reserves and parks, with exotic wildlife and a few modest but pretty waterfalls. Be warned though, if you go during the dry season, these waterfalls may be little more than a trickle.
Khao Phra Thaeo National Park
- Located in the north of Phuket, this park contains the only remaining virgin rainforest on the island. The park conserves a number of species of wild animal: langurs, barking deer, mouse deer, bears, wild boar, monkeys and gibbons. About one hundred species of bird also inhabit the forest vegetation, which consists of huge trees, creepers and climbers of every description.
The reserve has several forest trails for hiking and guides can be hired from the reserve office near Ton Sai waterfall. There is also a small museum and information centre.
Bang Pae Waterfall:
Though quite a small cascade, this is Phuket's largest waterfall. The 10 minute walk from the car park through the shady forest is very pleasan. The pond at the base of the waterfall is great for a dip in the cool water.
You can get to Bang Pae by road by taking the exit heading east (Paklok Road) from the Heroines' Monument on Thepkasattri Road, north of Phuket City. After about 9kms there is a left turn next to an elephant trekking camp. There is also an 8km trail through Khao Phra Thaeo National Park from Ton Sai waterfall to Bang Pae if you feel up to it.
Bang Pae is also home to the Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre, an NGO run project which adopts gibbons in captivity and returns them to the wild. The centre can be found near Bang Pae waterfall. See their website for more details: http://www.gibbonproject.org/
Ton Sai Waterfall:
Located near the park headquarters at the entrance to the park, this waterfall is not very big but quite scenic. There is also a reasonable restaurant with excellent views if you get hungry.
To get to Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, head north on Thepkasattri Road from Phuket City for about 20kms until you reach the main intersection at Thalang. Take the road heading east, which cuts through rubber plantations for about 7kms until it reaches the Forestry Department checkpoint.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
KOH SAMUI - A PARADISE?
Yes, but not for dogs or cats! Koh Samui is a tropical island in the South of Thailand, approx 25 km across with many beautiful beaches, thousands of coconut palms, 25,000 inhabitants and several hundred bungalow resorts and hotels. There are also hundreds of stray dogs( stray dog means in Thai SOI DOG - SOI means steet) begging for food on the beaches and in the streets. Most of the SOI dogs live in small packs and remain within their territory. This territory is defended by the whole pack and it is very hard for new dogs to join a pack.
Until April 1999 there was no vet on the island and medical treatment for animals was impossible. Countless sick or injured dogs (SOI DOGS) and cats (SOI CATS) died wretchedly and were completely ignored at the roadside. Even small bite wounds proved lethal in the tropics because the flies deposit their eggs in the cuts; the resulting maggots eat their way deeper and deeper into the animal. All it takes is a thorough cleansing and some powder and even large injuries infected with hundreds of maggots can heal quickly.
Dogs have puppies twice a year. Mongrels are particularly fecund and litters with ten puppies are not uncommon. If only five out of ten puppies survive, that amounts to 10,000 living pups per year from 1,000 bitches. As the animal population grew on the island, the government carried out mass poisonings and the dog problem was solved for a time. For the tourists who had to witness this, their holidays were spoiled. Also dogs with owners had two litters a year and the Thai people, not knowing how to deal with puppies, took them to the temple. There, the dogs were fed by the monks with some rice and other leftovers but, if there were too many, the government also poisoned these dogs. As the majority of the Thai population is very poor, and the only vet at that time was on the mainland, traveling there with a dog was not feasible. The average salary is about 5 Euro a day; the price for a castration is about 30 Euro.
When we started helping the dogs on Koh Samui, there wasn't much of a cat problem as dogs eat cats (sad but true). As our work with the dogs progressed and their numbers fell, and the cat population grew. As a result, we had to address the cat problem so we started to neuter and look after the cats on the Island and this work continues still.........
Saturday, April 14, 2007
...The largest destination marathon in South East Asia, will take place on Sunday 17th June 2007
Only in its sophomore year, the Phuket International Marathon 2007 looks set to build substantially upon the success of last year’s inaugural event.
Organisers Go Adventure Asia are expecting a 100 per cent increase in participants – including 1,500 international runners from 40 different countries – which will provide a global platform for the beautiful Thai region.
The date of the event was specifically chosen to maximise the benefits of the event for the island. Held during a traditional low-season the, Phuket International Marathon 2007 will encourage the tourist industry to thrive throughout a typically quiet period.
The focus of the event is not on breaking world records but in establishing a respected competition that exposes the true beauty of Phuket. Following the Tsunami disaster in 2004, the organisers set out to create an event that celebrated how the people, businesses, and landscape of Thailand had recovered and were moving forward.
In 2007, Go Adventure Asia is encouraging runners to raise money for a charity of their choice. This is a new concept in Thailand, but the organisers hope to emulate the success of the London Marathon, whose 9500 participants raised in excess of £12 million in 2006. The Phuket International Marathon 2007 has nominated HOPE worldwide (Thailand) as its official charity. HOPE worldwide (Thailand) is dedicated to helping needy children and underprivileged girls in Thailand.
The race course navigates around the picturesque Northern part of the island, allowing people of all abilities to participate whilst still enjoying the stunning scenery of the island. A Half Marathon and a 10km Fun Run have been organised in addition to the Marathon – making this incredible sporting experience available to people of all ages and athleticism.
The Phuket International
June 15th – 17th 2007
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Drift Diving in Phuket
All the dives I'd done before Phuket consisted of swimming around one particular spot. Phuket was different. There I swam through an environment.
In a drift dive, the dive boat drops you off at one spot and you drift with the current to another spot, where the boat is waiting to pick you up. There's a nice sense of freedom and movement with these dives.
Phuket's water offered visibility of around 20 meters – the greatest I've ever seen. In that clear, bright environment the fish and coral were especially vibrant and easy to observe.
Venomous and Evil
I saw sea snakes for the first time in Phuket - red and blue ones. Although they rarely use their venom, it's twenty times more potent than land snakes. They're also twenty-times more evil-looking than their land counterparts.
An American on my boat had recently moved to Thailand permanently on a "retirement visa". His five-bedroom house in Phuket with ocean views cost him just $75,000. Factor in the strength of the dollar in Thailand for everyday items such as food, clothing, and entertainment, and you've got yourself an incredible value in paradise. Not to mention the friendliness of the people, incredible food, beautiful weather… Something to consider.
I won't get a chance to do any more diving until I reach Egypt – about six months from now. Many people say the diving off the Sinai Peninsula is the best in the world. Of course, people say that about every location. Here's what I say: Thailand has been the best so far.
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