World Tourer - Travel Blog Information - October to December 2011

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24th December 2011

Today I took another trip to Koh Larn (a short ferry ride from Pattaya) - The beaches over there are better and cleaner than either Pattaya or Jomtien although still crowded.


16th December 2011

After putting so much effort into the completion of the USA Photo Gallery I decided to keep going and have now completed the Vietnam Photo Gallery - the Vietnam photos were taken over several trips I have made to Vietnam and cover Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Hanoi, Hue, Danang, Hoi An, Dalat and Nha Trang. The Vietnam Photo Gallery is the last one and so all the photo galleries are now complete.

All future photos will be put into "Trip Photo Galleries" as I have decided it is to hard to add photos to a completed gallery.


15th December 2011

I have finally finished the USA Photo Gallery - The first portion (from Page 1 to Page 19) contains photos taken on my 2003 world trip to take photos of the cities featured in the City Pages Business Directories (Top City Photos - The second portion (from Page 20 to Page 44) contains photographs from my five month 30,000 kilometre Motorhome "Road Trip" around the USA in 2007.


11th December 2011

Home in Jomtien after my trip to Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar (Burma) - Overall I was disappointed with Yangon despite having no great expectations. It reminded me a lot of Sri Lanka (I didn't really like Sri Lanka) with nothing unique to set it apart. The city is a relic of a bygone colonial period and is crumbling all around. The people are friendly and some even speak good English. There seems to be quite a variety of ethnic backgrounds and the bulk of the population looks more Sri Lankan or Bangladeshi than South East Asian (probably another reason Yangon reminded me of Sri Lanka).

I am sure there are many places in Myanmar worth a visit but I only visited Yangon so I cannot comment on other places.

Catholic Church in Yangon      Government Building in Yangon      Pagoda in Downtown Yangon      Yangon Railway Station      Golden Pagoda Outside Yangon, Myanmar

Catholic Church      Government Building    Downtown Pagoda   Yangon Railway Station   Golden Pagoda


6th December 2011

There is no chance that I will finish the USA Photo Gallery before I leave for Burma tomorrow as I am not even half way through yet. At the current rate I may not be able to finish it until close to the end of December.


1st December 2011

Today I have started working on the USA Photo Gallery which is the largest of all the photo galleries (Around 500 Photographs) comprising of photos taken mainly during my world trip to take photos of the cities associated with the City Directories in 2003 and the five month RV road trip I made around the US in 2007 - I hope to have it completed before I leave for Myanmar (Burma) next week.


29th November 2011

Arrived back in Jomtien this afternoon after bus-flight-bus from Surat Thani. Whilst I did not really like Koh Samui I did like Surat Thani - even though I only stayed there overnight I felt this town is a good example of authentic Thailand rather than the tourist areas. I visited the local night market and sampled a variety of food. I have already booked another trip to Surat Thani in February and I will be only visiting Surat Thani and the local area.


28th November 2011

My overall impression of Koh Samui is that it is rather dull and ordinary without any character of its own. Whereas Phuket has a lot of character (in fact Patong Beach is a bit "Over The Top") Chaweng Beach on Koh Samui is the lifeless and boring. It is probably alright for "Resort Dwellers" (people that go on holidays and spend their entire holiday in their resort without any contact with the local town or population, but if you like to experience the locals and their culture and customs I could not recommend Koh Samui.

I am now in Surat Thani where I am staying overnight before flying back to Bangkok in the morning. The trip back from Koh Samui was fairly easy - Songthaew from Chaweng Beach to Nathon Pier (45 minutes/80 Baht), Seatran Ferry from Nathon to Don Sak (1 1/2 hours/130 Baht), bus from Don Sak into Surat Thani town (1 hour/100 Baht). I am staying at the My Place @ Surat Hotel which is good and in the centre of town ($13/night).


27th November 2011

I am in Koh Samui for a few days. I flew from Bangkok to Surat Thani with Air Asia and then caught a bus, a ferry and a mini bus to get to my hotel at Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui (you can fly direct to Koh Samui with Bangkok Airways but the fare is many times the price).

Chaweng Beach is the biggest, most popular beach on Koh Samui and all I can say is that at the moment it is almost deserted. I think all the news media coverage of flooding in Thailand has caused a lot of people to cancel their plans to travel to Thailand despite the fact that none of the tourist destintions have been affected at all.

My first impressions of Chaweng Beach are not good - the beach is ordinary, the restaurants are ordinary and there seem to be even more annoying Indian tailors than most other areas of Thailand. There is virtually no public access to the beach (I only found one small soi leading to the beach) with hotels and "Resorts" built all along the beach.

The best thing so far has been my hotel - it is very good - it is called the First Residence (apparently used to be called the First House)

I got a great deal - the advertised room rate was $127 a night and I am paying $23 - it is a modern clean three star hotel with a pool and a restaurant. My room is large, has a balcony, includes cable TV, A/C, Mini Bar, WiFi etc. - the hotel has 50 rooms but I have only seen a few other guests so far and nobody at the restaurant.

The only advice I would give anyone planning a trip to Koh Samui would be to suggest they go to Phuket.

I purchased a second camera a couple of weeks ago for times when I cannot be bothered to carry my large camera (Sony DSLR with 18-200 Tamron Lens) around - the new camera is a Samsung WB 700 - it has an 18X optical zoom, HD video recording and 14.2 megapixels - it is a pocket sized camera and I bought it from Hong Kong for around $240 - so far it seems OK (the photos below are the first I have taken with this camera).

Coast Around Don Sak Port      First Residence Swimming Pool      First Residence Room      Chaweng Beach      Chaweng Beach South

Coast Near Don Sak  -  Hotel Swimming Pool   -  Hotel Room    -    Chaweng Beach  -  Chaweng Beach South


15th November 2011

Yesterday I finally got my Burmese Visa - When I went last week they were closed for a Burmese public holiday (I forgot to check). Luckily I was able to pay extra and get it done on the same day which saves having to stay overnight or make another trip into Bangkok.

There is no flooding in the main Bangkok city area and I even went looking around on the outskirts of the city to see if I could find any flooding - there is no flooding anywhere near the main airport, there is no flooding between the airport and the city (as viewed from the airport train) - the Chao Phraya river at Saphan Taksin (BTS station) is not flooding although there are signs it was over the bank by about half a metre recently - at Mo Chit (BTS), which is in the direction of Don Muang airport, there is a small amount of water across some of the road (about 50mm) with signs that there was up to a metre at some stage. There is still flooding in the suburbs of Bangkok.

Today I also finished the Stockholm (Sweden) photo gallery.


7th November 2011

I am going into Bangkok on Wednesday to get a visa for Myanmar (Burma) and I do not know the status of the flooding etc - The Bangkok Post the other day had several articles about the flooding but did not give any details of the status within Bangkok. The news is still saying that the water level is rising daily but will not flood central Bangkok. Strangely when I left for Bali more than a week ago the news said the water level had peaked and was falling.


30th October 2011

I am in Bali, Indonesia, for a few days mainly to just laze on the beach or by the hotel pool. Having been here three times before I have done most of the tourist things. I think this may be my last visit as I am starting to get tired of the constant vendors hassling me every few steps. Also the whole Kuta Beach area is starting to look old and run down - there are several construction sites along the beach road but I think it will be a few years before the place looks any better. I was here in January this year and they are still repairing the same potholes in the roads that they were fixing then.


13th October 2011

Well I now have a 15 month "O" "Retirement Visa" combined with a multiple entry re entry visa - so I am able to stay in Thailand until January 2013 which is also when the lease on my condo expires. The process was very simple and invonlved opening a Thai bank account depositing 800,000 Baht and then getting a letter from the bank showing I had the money deposited, filling out the immigration forms and that was it. The visa agent took the forms to immigration for processing so I did not even have to visit them.

I am now able to leave Thailand and return whenever I like and if I do not want to leave for a period of 90 days I must visit the local immigration office to confirm my address.


11th October 2011

Yesterday I visited a local visa agent and discussed the options for me to stay in Thailand. I asked if I could get a 12 month "O" multiple entry visa and was told I had to do that from outside the country. The woman told me I could get a retirement visa as long as I was fifty years old and that I could do that from within Thailand - I have arranged to visit them again on Wednesday and will probably get the retirement visa with a multiple enrty "re entry visa". I am still unclear as to the requirements and limitations of this visa but will see how it goes.


5th October 2011

Well I am back in Thailand but as I do not have a visa I can only stay for 15 days before I have to leave again so I plan to do a standard visa run to get another 15 day extension. I then go to Bali at the end of the month and then Myanmar in November - when I fly out of (and back into) Thailand I automatically get a 30 day visitor permit so I may have to do this many times.

The only real problem I have with the Thai visa rules is that no one appears to know what they are. The Thai embassy websites and immigration etc only have the basic information as to the types of visas and how to apply.

Laos Photo Gallery

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