Travel Blog Information January to March 2011

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30th March 2011

The weather here in Pattaya for the past three days has been unseasonally cool (the locals say cold) with minimum temperatures below 20C and maximums only a couple of degrees higher. The average for March is minimums around 25C and maximums around 31C.

The forecast for Bangkok yesterday was a minimum of 18C and a maximum of 19C. I just had a search to find the record lows and was amazed to find that the lowest recorded temperature in Bangkok was 9.9C - But the lowest maximum was 19.9C so if the forecast for yesterday was correct then yesterday may have had the lowest maximum on record.


29th March 2011

I went into Bangkok yesterday to get a visa for my trip to China starting at the end of next month. I was not sure how long the visa process was going to take as I had decided that I may pay the extra charge to get it quicker. The normal processing time is four days but you can pay extra to get it in 1, 2 or 3 days. I had assumed that one day meant the following day and I was thinking that I would probably stay overnight in Bangkok. As it turned out the 1 day processing meant you get it back the same day which was great. The extra charge was 1200 Baht making a total of 2,300 Baht in total for the visa.

I do not have a set plan for my China trip but have booked a couple of hotels already. I will be flying from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur (where I will be staying overnight) and then on to Tianjin which is China's fifth largest city (population 8 million plus). I plan to stay one night in Tianjin and then catch the train to Beijing. The distance is about 120 kilometres and takes 30 minutes (that makes an average speed of 240 kilometres per hour - top speed is 350 kph!). I have booked a hotel in Beijing for 2 nights but may stay longer - I want to have a good look around the city and also go out and visit the "Great Wall". I would have also liked to have made a visit to the "Terracotta Warriors" but that is quite a trip from Beijing and the airfare is expensive (maybe some other time)


6th March 2011

Back in Jomtien after my "Visa Run" to Vientiane, Lao. The trip was even slower than normal for a variety of reasons - The trip in total (from home to hotel in Vientiane) should take around 6-7 hours - This trip the outward journey took 11 hours and the return took 13 hours - Mainly due to late aircraft and full buses. I had planned to take the international bus on the return trip - this goes from the bus station in Vientiane to the bus station in Udon Thani and sounds much simpler than the alternatives - The problem was that the bus I needed to catch was full and the next bus was to late for me to catch my plane (maybe next trip).

The hotel I stayed at in Vientiane (Villa Sisavad) was good with the only negative being the location (it is hidden away at the back of the main city area) but the swimming pool is a plus for a hotel in this price range. I will probably stay there again on my next visit.

The large new park along the Mekong river front is almost complete - I will take some photos on my next trip as I did not take my camera this time.

The highlight of the trip was the Beerlao (my new favourite beer) - a world class beer at a budget price (640 ml bottle for $1).

On my next trip to Vientiane I plan to rent a motorbike and do a bit of sightseeing.

I will be in Jomtien for almost the next two months and then I am going to Tianjin, China for a week.


1st March 2011

I am now in Vientiane, Lao PDR, for the next four days to get a new Thai visa. The trip took a total of about eight hours mainly due to time spent at Bangkok airport (my plane was one and half hour late). I am staying at a hotel called Villa Sisavad and my first impressions are good. It is only small but the rooms are large and have air conditioning, cable TV, refridgerator, wireless internet and the bonus is the hotel has a swimming pool - All for $16 per night.


22nd February 2011

After my trip to Ubon Ratchathani and Pakse I am back working in Jomtien, Thailand. I am going away again next week to Udon Thani and across the border to Vientiane, Laos to get a new Thai visa (more Beerlao). I have
booked a hotel with a swimming pool for $16 a night so I hope it is OK. I have been to Vientiane twice before and stayed in different hotels each time.

After the Vientiane trip I am in Jomtien for almost two months before flying to Tianjin, China (via Kuala Lumpur) on April 30th. Whilst in China I plan to travel to Beijing and also the Great Wall.


16th February 2011

Back in Ubon Ratchathni after a trip to Laos for lunch (turned out to be a liquid lunch - I love Beer Lao). It was quite a trip - I left Ubon Ratchthani by bus at 9.30 am to go to Pakse, Laos - The trip was supposed to take 3 hours (took 3 1/2) and was a typical boring bus trip. Because it is late in the dry season the countryside was very dry, brown and dusty. The border crossing at Chong Mek was slower than at Nong Kai. The return trip in the afternoon only took three hours as the border crossing prrocedure went smoother.

Pakse is on the bank of the Mekong river and appears larger and more modern than even Vientiane (the capital of Lao).


14th February 2011

Arrived in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand at 7.30pm on Air Asia from Bangkok. It was quite cool on arrival (probably about 20 degrees C). I was surprised how quiet it was - almost all the shops were closed and there were very few people around - it was Valentines Day so perhaps everyone went to bed early :). Ubon Ratchathani appears larger than I had imagined and I think it is probably a distribution hub for goods imported from China etc.

A Few Photos Taken Around Ubon Ratchathani


31st January 2011

My trip to Myanmar has been cancelled as the government changed the visa rules and I do not have time to get one via the new process. When I booked my trip you did not have to get a visa before travelling you could get one on arrival but now you have to visit the embassy in the country where you live and apply for a visa before you go. I believe this new method was brought in before last years election to make it harder for foreign journalists to enter the country. It was supposed to be temporary but apparently has become permanent.


26th January 2011

Now back in Jomtien, Thailand and back at work. I caught a cold on my trip to Bali so I do not feel very well (I have not had a cold for many years).

I have added a few photos from my Australian trip although I did not take very many.

I am going to Yangon, Myanmar next week which I am looking forward to as I have not been there before. I read in the Air Asia on board magazine that the population of Yangon is around four million which really surprised me as I thought it was much smaller.


21st January 2011

Today I rented a motorbike and headed up the mountains. I made it to Lake Beratan after first missing the turn off and going ten kilometres out of my way. Once at the top of the mountain I considered going down the other side and back to Kuta via the coast (which would have covered about half of Bali) but it started to rain and I had no wet weather gear so I returned the way I came.

The bike only cost 50,000 Rp (about $5.50 for the day) and petrol is only 4,500 Rp per litre (about 50 cents).

The first time I came to Bali and rented a motorbike you had to get a local licence (do a ridng test and answer road rule questions) due to the large number of drunken tourists falling off their bikes. This time there was not even a mention of any form of licence.


19th January 2011

After three weeks in Australia I am now in Bali, Indonesia, for seven days before I return home to Jomtien in Thailand. I had a good break in Australia despite the floods etc.

So far I have been in Bali for two days and have only been walking around and hangng out at the swimming pool. I do not plan to do many touristy things as I have been here twice before (and am coming again in October) but I may do at least one local day tour.

The general appearance of Kuta is that of a run down neglected Asian town. It has got to the stage were it is urgent need of a makeover. I think the local businesses and government authorities has just come to accept that tourists would keep coming no matter what and failed to maintain or improve hotel and retail facilities. There is some construction in progress (mainly towards the Legian end) but it will be a couple of years before completion.

The next time I come I will try and stay in somewhere other that Kuta.

Bali    Bali Rice Terraces    Tanah Lot Temple, Bali, Indonesia    Two Monkeys at The Cliff Temple, Bali    Surfer at Kuta Beach, Bali


15th January 2011

Back in Sydney after a week away on a road trip up to Queensland and around New South Wales. The plan was to go as far North as Bundaberg in Queensland. As it turned out we could not get to Bundaberg due to floods.

Our first stop was South West Rocks in NSW where we spent some time body surfing in Horseshoe Bay before camping for the night. Not long after we set up the tent it started to rain and there was also a strong wind which persisted all night.

The following day we drove up the coast into Queensland before stopping at Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast (where I used to live). We struck a lot of rain on the drive between South West Rocks and Caloundra and we decided to stay in a caravan rather than the tent as the forecast was for more heavy rain. The Sunshine Coast was not living up to its name as there was no sun in sight. Steven went fishing in the creek at the side of the caravan park but did not get any fish. Overnight there were endless storms with a lot of lighting and very loud thunder. The road in the caravan park became a rapidly flowing river.

We had planned to drive up to Bundaberg the following day but the news said that the road was flooded at Gympie, North of the Sunshine Coast and again in Bundaberg. We were also told that the road was closed at Caboolture, South of Caloundra. We decided to stay in Caloundra for another night and booked into a local motel so that we could go for a swim (the beach was closed due to rough seas).

The rain was causing flooding all around and there was a major flash flood which started in Toowoomba, washing way many cars and also any people. This flood then proceeded downstream causing further devastation. The news said that there had been three deaths and 72 people were still missing.

With no prospect of travelling North to Bundaberg we decided to start our return trip South to Sydney. The road at Caboolture was re-opened, even though the town was still isolated, and we were able to get through and travel down the coast via Brisbane and back into NSW. We stuck to the Pacific Highway and continued South through the Gold Coast, Tweed Heads, Byron Bay and Ballina. Once in Ballina we discovered that Grafton, a major town to the South, was flooded and the highway was closed with no alternate route. I decided to buy a map and see if I could find a way around the flooding.

I felt that there was a good chance of getting around Grafton by going inland even though the news said that this was not possible. We headed off from Ballina inland along the Bruxner Highway towards Lismore and Casino. The news had said that the highway was flooded at Casino but we found that was not true. We continued on over the Great Dividing Range to Tenterfield on the New England Highway. The rain started to ease once we were over the mountains even though we passed many rivers that had obviously been in flood and there were still major storms in the area. We followed the New England Highway South through Glen Innes and finally stopped for the night in Armidale.

The next day we headed off back towards the coast along Waterfall Way via Dorigo and Bellingen We arrived back on the Pacific Highway at Urunga (just North of Port Macquarie) after a detour of around 550 kilometres to avoid the flooding at Grafton.

We again stopped at South West Rocks for a swim before contining South towards Sydney. We spent the night at Swansea, South of Newcastle, where Steven again tried fishing without luck. The following day we returned to Sydney after a five day trip covering 3,000 plus killometres.

I will post a few photos when I return to Thailand on the 24th January after my week in Bali (I forgot the USB cable for my camera).

Horseshoe Bay, South West Rocks                  Brown Water at Horseshoe Bay              Caloundra Caravan Park in the rain

Horseshoe Bay, South West Rocks       Brown Sea           Heavy Rain in Caloundra        

Stonehenge New South Wales

Steven at Stonehenge, New South Wales


1st January 2011

I am now in Bundeena (Sydney) catching up with the kids etc. I have a few things to do such as renew my drivers licence. Other than that I have no fixed plans and will probably just laze around and go to the beach on  regular basis. I am thinking of renting a car and going for a week long road trip up into Queensland with my eldest son Steven.

Bundeena Ferry                             Jibbon Beach Bundeena     

Bundeena Ferry                    Jibbon Beach, Bundeena

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