Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Finally legal. Trang games. Samui ladyboys. Canopy walkways. Khao Lak with Pat.

Update1200 days - wow. One year ago I was crossing from Malaysia into Sungai Kolok in Southern Thailand. I was about to unwittingly spend 6 weeks on Ko Pha Ngan. Two years ago I had just started working as an English teacher in Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan. Three years ago I was chilling in Dali in Yunnan Province, China. Four years ago I was quitting work as an IT Tech at Pfizer to embark on an MSc at Newcastle Uni. Today I am teaching Maths in Trang having done so for the last 6 months.


Finally, after 5 months of chasing myself up my own arse, I have all the necessary paperwork to work here legally. To say 'obtaining the paperwork has been a smooth ride' would be akin to saying 'referees aren't biased at Old Trafford'.

I went to Kantang immigration twice. The first time they required my original work permit (the school secretary only gave me photocopies). I went back the next day and completed the ordeal. Now, I merely have to report to immigration once every 90 days to prove I'm still alive. My visa expires on 31st March 2010 providing I remain in this job.

How to get legal:

Initial tourist visa: 1100bt
Wasted trip to Malaysia for another tourist visa: 1100 bt (visa) 2900bt (expenses)
Return trip to Bangkok to convert tourist visa to Non-Imm-B: 2000bt (visa) 3000bt (exp)
Work permit: 3100bt
Photos: 200bt
Extend Non-Imm-B until March 2010: 1900bt

Total 15,300bt = 2 weeks salary = £280

Some people are on the pitch, they think it's all over........................I'm just glad it finally is.

Trang Games 09/09/09

Sporting competitors representing the 76 provinces of Thailand descended on Trang for Thailand's very own Olympics. This is a once in a lifetime event for Trang as Thai towns take turns hosting this prestigious event.

Here's Trang's cool sports stadium. I think Trang finished 4th overall which isn't too bad. It came as no surprise that Bangkok won the whole thing. I was happy that my school closed for 2 weeks in order to accommodate the athletes.

Holiday - Samui 3 nights

Since I had been in Trang for a staight 5 months I decided to escape the games and head for some R+R during my 2 week break.

Don Sak pier for the ferry to Ko Samui. My R+R rapidly descended into a Grade-A piss up as I hooked up with some lads who are friendly with my Trang mates. The first thing that struck me here was the amount of Falangs (Europeans) around. Very strange to see so many after so long in Trang. The second thing was the price of booze in the bars - needless to say things are a lot pricier here than in Trang. I wish I had taken more pics.

This scary ladyboy took me to one of Samui's coolest discos before I drank myself stupid until 0930 in some Cockney bloke's bar. The next day I walked past his bar and he was smiling at me. I asked if he knew me and he was laughing that I'd forgot drinking in his bar for 7hrs the night before!!

I indulged in a lot of Falang food here since it's pretty much unavailable in Trang. Here's pissed Steve devouring a slice of contraband cheddar in Flintstones bar near Chaweng beach.

I'm pleased my Samui trip didn't involve copious amounts of narcotics like last year.

Holiday - Ko Pha Ngan 5 nights

I escaped Samui by taking a ferry to Thong Sala on Ko Pha Ngan. I spent 5 nights in this basic hut. I caught up with many old friends from last year and had a good time although I was starting to miss home (Trang) and particularly Pat, my little lass, who couldn't come because of work.

This 22yr old lad is from Carlisle. What's so special about that? Well, this fella blew 1Million baht in 6 months! He now has no passport, no visa and no money. An old woman running a bar houses him and feeds him in return for a little work in her bar. You meet some crazy people in these parts.

I circumnavigated the island by scooter and came upon Had Rin again - the site of the infamous Full Moon Party. I was greatful it was daytime and the idiotic hordes had yet to emerge from their pits. I like this pic of all the stalls that sell 'buckets' later in the evening. The names of the stalls are very elegant as you may be able to read.

A view North up Had Rin from the bucket stalls. This would be a great place if there were about 10,000 less people.

An Irish girl (who sounded Geordie) took this pic of me next to this wonderfully named retail outlet. I would love to ask Juliet, in a Shakespearean manner, if I could indeed 'Fuck her bucket'?

Treasures on your doorstep

I was pleased to board a ferry to Don Sak, a minivan to Nakkon Si Tammarat followed by a final minivan to Trang. I travelled the last leg with a bus load of giggling Muslim schoolgirls. They are from Trang but go to a boarding school in Nakkon. I headed to my local bar and was shortly joined by Pat. It felt very nice to be back home again.

As I was aimlessly riding my scooter I stumbled upon this small-known park. I proceeded to spend a couple of hours walking through jungle canopies and swamps. It was an amazing discovery.

Here's a sign explaining the intricacies of a forest. It's helpful to know some Thai here.

This was the highlight - a 18m canopy walkway. It was awesome walking so high up through the dense vegetation. I'm scared of heights so I was little jittery up here. It's a long way down from the swaying walkways. The Thai sign says: "Antarai - ham ping" OR "Danger - don't lean". There you go - some more useless Thai shite for ya!

I enjoyed the trail through the swampy sections of jungle too. Hard to believe all this is only 8km from Trang town.

On the way home I stopped to buy some insects and chillis at the local market. These particular insects are used to scare the rats away.

Khao Lak

Pat fancied driving her car so we headed up to Khao Lak via Phang Nga. Khao Lak is about 4-5hrs away by car and Pat drove the whole thing herself. She wanted some practice at long distance driving. After a night in Phang Nga we stopped here the next day for a photo shoot. We wanted to eat here but after buying cars and ridiculous island holidays we felt this place is temporarily a little out of our league.

A nice view along the Khao Lak coast.

As we soon learnt, Khao Lak was devestated by the boxing day Tsunami in 2004. This ship was plonked about 2km inland from the sea! It's left here as a reminder.

There is also a Tsunami memorial monument here. Stupidly, Pat and I thought it was this plastic swan thing - DOH!

After a little search we found it further around the corner.

We also found this 'Big nose beer gut' thing nearby.

Here's one of your typical restaurant on a motorbike setup. She can BBQ chicken liver on here for you - AROY MAC.

This is a pic I've been after for a while. This is how you make Som Tam, a product that the West is only just beginning to appreciate. I believe the thermodynamic properties of Som Tam will provide us with the next carbonless energy source. If spice-o-meters exist, and if they sound like Geigercounters, I speculate that if you put one near a dish of Som Tam the thing would sound like a cat going through a mangle. This stuff is INSANE.

This is our pool near the sea - only joking. We were 5km away from the sea in a chicken shed. Still, nice though eh?

Driving back through Phang Nga. James Bond Island is in the bay nearby but we contented ourselves with a trip to Tesco in Krabi so I could get some new shoes. Bizarrely, something ate my work shoes while I was away - we have no idea what!

This is a dashing pink Trang - Phuket bus passing through Ao Luek just south of Krabi.

Little Pat enjoying the buzz in Big C - Krabi's own department store type thing. Krabi has a lot more stuff than Trang. Krabi even has a 'multiplex' but, disappointingly, it had no English movies on any of its 5 screens.

Here's a reminder of the Chinese influence in Thailand. The last time I saw something like this was Sept 2006 in Dali, Kunming Province, China.

How many people can you fit in the back of a pick up? Millions in Thailand.


First defeat of the season away to mighty Blackpool.

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