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3 January

Page history last edited by PBworks 18 years, 5 months ago

3rd January

Preparations for the next stage


(Note: This is extracted from the diary of 10 January)


On 3rd January Jo, Haggis and I drove up to Khao Lak with San, in the van, on an accommodation hunt - despite the lovely free accommodation the Sheraton Laguna Hotel have given us, our CWI budget is looking a bit dodgy, as food here in Thailand is far more expensive than it was in Sri Lanka - and we have new members coming to join us soon - Paul Molyneux and his crystal ball rolling should be arriving on the 14th for a few days, Trent Arkle and Martha (two great clowns, who also play excellent live music) and their 3-year-old are arriving on 17th for the duration, and Lee Hayes (great juggler and "crate-stack climber" from Amsterdam) and his family are arriving on the 19th for 3 days), so it is vital that we find cheap accommodation up in Khao Lak for us all.


As soon as we enter the Khao Lak area, we can see how devastating the damage from the Tsunami was here. Almost everything right down by the coast was destroyed. Apparently 78% of the deaths and the structural damage that occurred in Thailand from the Tsunami happened in the Khao Lak area.


We call by the excellent Khao Lak Tsunami Volunteer Centre, who are doing an incredible amount of good work up here, and pick their brains about lots of things and get some useful contacts.


They also give us a list of all the current available accommodation in the area - this is really useful, as, of course, many of the places mentioned in The Lonely Planet have been either completely destroyed or still need pretty massive reconstruction.


We go and look at lots of different possible places to stay, and we visit lots of them - most are too expensive for our budget, some are just too depressingly dank and mosquito-ridden, and in many the plumbing leaves a lot to be desired. Eventually we find a very nice little place called Krathom Khao Lak - lots of tiny little thatched bungalows in a big, 400 metre long garden, full of beautiful trees, which leads down towards the beach, a further 400 metres away.


The rooms are tiny, with a tiny bathroom behind and a tiny verandah to the front - but they are fine, and they are only 800 Baht each per night - indeed as we are "tsunami volunteers" we are offered a 10% discount, so each double room is costing only £10 per night, including breakfast. We book 2 rooms, one for Jo, Jake and Rooben, and another for Haggis and me from the 10th, and rooms for the future team members for later. We are delighted to find, when we have lunch over the road, that the food is quite a lot cheaper up here in Khao Lak than it is down near Laguna or Kata - so hopefully we will not be as over-budget as we had feared.


Jo then heads back to Laguna (where we have our free rooms till 10th January) with San, to rejoin Jake and Rooben, and as Hags and I have 3 hours to spare before we are meant to join our dive boat at the Khao Lak pier down the road, we go and have agonising, but infinitely good, and ultimately relaxing, 2-hour traditional Thai massages by masseurs who were trained at Wat Po - £6 each for 2 hours! (Hags and I are obviously paying for everything ourselves during the holiday period till the 10th, and "extras" like massages or "treats" of any sort we always pay for ourselves.)


Hags and I then catch a songtheuw to the pier and find the live-aboard diving boat that we will be living on for the next 4 days during our mini-holiday. Our cabin is on the top deck, which is great, with windows each side and is simple but excellent - apart from the fact that the bunk bed mattresses are very hard and thin. The other 10 divers (5 Japanese, 4 Germans and one very jolly English/Australian girl who will be doing her advanced course on the trip) arrive and we eat a very good dinner on the top deck dining table and go to bed - travelling overnight to the Simmillian Islands. - this is the only rough part of the trip, but luckily they have fantastic anti-nausea pills out here, and Hags is fine, thank goodness. Being so high up on the boat means our bunks do lurch around a lot, but we still manage to get some sleep. We are woken at 6.00 am and see that we are moored by a tiny beautiful island, along with 4 or 5 other "live-aboards". We get our diving briefing over coffee, and are kitted out and in the water before 7.00 for the first of the 14 dives we will be enjoying over the next few days.

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