I spent a couple of days sunbaking beside the hotel pool during the day, shopping at Suan-Lum night market, sightseeing by ferries on Chao Phrao (River), traversed Soi Cowboy to witness the nightlife, enjoyed eating the excellent Thai food in local restaurants and street stalls, and witnessed Muay Thai boxing at Lumpini Boxing Stadium. I splurged 1800 baht for a ringside seat, which enabled me to visit 'backstage' where I had my photo taken with several of the competitors. They're little blokes, but damned tough.
Stayed at Sam's Guest House, which provided comfortable, pleasant, rustic accommodation for 450 baht per night.
While in Kanchanburi I booked a tour to the Buddhist Tiger Temple, where I had about 20 photos taken with various tigers. There are about 17 tigers, and they're really beautiful, magnificent creatures. I'd like to return in the next couple of years and stay a week spending time helping care for them.
I also joined a tour which included Hellfire Pass, and the Bridge over the River Kwai of film fame. The appalling conditions and brutal treatment of the prisoners and locals who were forced to build the railway resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands.
I again spent three adventurous and fun filled days at the Elephant Conservation Centre, training as a mahout.
I spent a week of relaxation on the beach developing the suntan, more healthy food, regular massage at the Thai Blind Massage Institute, and catching up with friends from past trips. Visited "Walking Street" in Pattaya to witness the night life, although I didn't venture into any of the clubs or shows available.
What little I saw was pleasant, but constant heavy rain limited sightseeing other than in the immediate vicinity of the resort, so I returned to Jomtiem where I enjoyed several more days of healthy living.
Nothing remains of the devastation caused by the 2004 tsunami, and the beach and foreshore are clean and beautiful.
I'd booked a room in the Royal Paradise Hotel in Patong on the internet at a cheap rate. I had a very pleasant room on the 16th floor with superb views over the town toward the sea. The hotel facilities including the pool area were great.
Returning home one night, I took a photo of three transvestite show girls with whom I chatted. They had great personalities and great ......
Each day I went to the beach where I hired a comfortable lounge and umbrella for 50 baht, so I could enhance the sun tan, and bought a large plate of sliced tropical fruit for lunch which also only cost 50 baht.
On a day trip to Phang Gna Bay, the ferry sailed through some magnificent scenery, including dozens of small and large islands. We also canoed into several small bays, and then through caves in the cliff walls to lagoons hidden inside the interior of the islands - a superb experience.
Ton Sai Bay where the ferry arrives appears much the same as before the tsunami. The beach at Loh Dalum Bay on the other side of the island was OK, although it had been devastated by the Tsunami. I spent four days swimming, snorkeling, dining with friends, sunbaking and wandering around investigating the Ton Sai Village where lots of rebuilding is continuing to recover from the tsunami.
I booked scuba diving trips with Moskito Diving which proved to be a very professional company, and I enjoyed four dives over two days, seeing masses of beautiful fan coral, large tube coral, reef sharks in a cave, leopard sharks, and a variety of other colourful coral and fish. I also moved into a room over there dive shop which was basic but gave me a considerable saving in expenses.
I booked a cabin in a beach front resort which was a long way from the town of Had Run. I enjoyed my time on the island because of the people I met, but it's not on my list of favourite places in Thailand.
Booked into Bans Diving Resort. They not only provide great accommodation, but excellent diving facilities.
I enjoyed a couple of scuba diving trips, although pleasant, nothing unusual.
I hired a motor bike taxi and driver to take me sightseeing around the island. He took me down several back roads where for spectacular views of the palm lined coast fronting aqua green seas. The scenery was later reinforced on a ferry trip which circum-navigated the island giving views from a different perspective.
The town has little to offer tourists, except cheaper shopping than Patong, and the incredible Vegetarian Festival. I again saw several parades of the participants which never ceases to fascinate me. On the last night, the parade was inundated with explosive and noisy fireworks. It's amazing that nobody is injured or fires aren't started.
Wines and spirits are expensive. Buy a duty free supply to take with you. On arrival at the airport, several ATM's are available inside the terminal to provide local currency. Don't hire a taxi or limousine when approached inside the terminal. A taxi rank outside provides meter taxis which cost far less. Don't hire a taxi or limousine from hotel travel desks. Hail a meter taxi outside which will cost far less. In Bangkok, use the sky train and underground to get around. Cheap and convenient. Tuk Tuks are adventurous and can be fun, but can be dangerous, and limit what you see because of the low roof. Motor bike taxis are adventurous if not down right dangerous, but cheap for the single traveller.
Consider booking your accommodation on the internet, as far in advance as possible, to get good rates. I find the following web site usually provides the least expensive rates :
Try eating from a street stall. Select one which looks clean and is popular with the locals. Some of my most enjoyable meals were purchased on a street stall. (Warning : A Thai's opinion of food being "a little spicy" may well mean it's very spicy for a westerner.)
If you plan to have clothes tailored, consider taking garments which you would like copied, to reduce the hassles. In all your dealings with Thais - don't lose your cool, no matter how irritated you may be.
Learn a few basic phrases in Thai :
(Men end their comments with "krap", women end with "kha")
Pictures of the trip are available.
Go here for web site index, including pictures and comments about other destinations, scuba diving, and other activities, or look at details of the 2004 trip or 2005 trip.