Friday, 22 April 2011

Ko Phi Phi. A trip off Alcatraz.


I'm currently on Easter holidays, or to be more exact, Songkran break. Songkran is the Thai new year celebration which manifests itself as a massive water fight. In Patong (Phuket's tourist mecca), the celebrations are exacerbated by thousands of drunken westerners armed with machine gun style water pistols. A place to avoid at the best of times but especially at times like this.


In March I spent another lonely two days in hospital. This time I had some kind of tropical fever compounded by tonsillitis. These illnesses are totally debilitating. The bill from Phuket International Hospital was 21000bt (420gbp) but luckily the school insurance picked up the tab. That is unbelievably expensive for two nights in a hospital with a saline drip and some paracetamol.

They couldn't drip the saline into me fast enough at 1200bt (24gbp) for a one liter bag. Remember saline is only salty water - the sea here is full of it! I then went to a dentist for a teeth clean and two fillings. This cost 2000bt (40gbp) which the insurance doesn't cover. I nearly went for laser-whitening but wrenched at how much booze I'd have to sacrifice to pay for it. As a teacher I don't need teeth like Cheryl Cole.

Geordie Penguin Steve This title doesn't refer to me wearing a tux. Rather, Geordie Steve from North Shields. He has a bar in Chalong called The Lost Penguin. Like myself he's a Geordie. Like myself he's travelled to many fascinating locations. He has many pics of penguins in his bar from his time in Antartica. We've shared many beers and tales over the last couple of weekends.

Armin the Austrian polyglot is back. He's spent the last week in Patong. I've taken him around the island on the bike. He's hindering my progress with my PGCE. I must finish the third assignment before returning to work. Here he is below with a creature of dubious gender.

This is Ann. She's just gone home for the Thai new year. Nice lass. I miss her.

The family from my local bar in Chalong.

And here they are finally replacing the pool table cloth.

A random pic of a Patong sexbomb. 50yo Phil and I had a mad night there at the start of March.

As for now I intend to spend Songkran working on my studies. This is difficult with Armin tempting me to go to Koh Phi Phi with him. This is a famously beautiful island near Phuket that I have never visited. Perhaps now is the time.

NUFC look like they have secured another season of EPL football. However, SAFC seem to have gone into freefall. This does not please Guy, the Mackem owner of Sh-Bang bar in Chalong although Geordie Penguin Steve seems to be smiling more than before?

Ko Phi Phi

I finally managed to escape Phuket during Easter break. We left Rassada pier in Phuket Town and headed for Phi Phi Island (where Leonardo DiCaprio starred in The Beach). You have to run the gauntlet of touts on the jetty.

A very steep path towards a viewpoint.

We then proceeded to explore some lesser visited parts of the island. I had to dress like an Arab in the insane heat.

This is the modern tsunami village built after the devastating 2004 destruction. At the top of a hard-to-climb hill.

Water shortages are common.

Telephone and electrical wires strung thoughtlessly through the jungle.

This is one of Phi Phi's power stations. You can see an old diesel generator in front of a barrel of oil.

After trekking to Phi Phi's lesser visited parts (we didn't meet anyone out here) we had to stop for a water refill. In the shops on the island 0.5L = 15bt, here in the jungle 1.5L = 5bt.

BOT BOT BOT BOT. This is the constant cry from the predators praying on tourists. These are longtail boats with Ko Phi Phi Leh in the background. Pretty nice eh? I snorkelled near here.

After getting drunk watching Citeh beat Manure in the FA Cup semi-final I had to be carted back to the jetty. Much luggage weighing me down:


Armin and I went to Laem Panwa on Phuket Island to eat some Tom Yam Goong in an Isaan restaurant. The menu was Thai but the staff were surprised to discover I could read it. Words I could read but couldn't understand Armin translated. What a team. On the way there my bike passed 25000km. I had a bottle of cold Leo to celebrate.


This is Nui who works in Chalong. She's a canny lass but she's going home to Nakon Phanom soon.


Early days in the Royal Navy. Neil, Jez, Daz and myself enjoying a night out in Pompey. I have no idea why I'm wearing a suit?

Back-breaking labour

In my homeroom class I have 17 students including: Thai, Russian, German, American, English, Australian, Italian, Pakistani, French, Irish and Korean. To think these kids will leave school with knowledge of Geordie warms my heart!

I have already taught some basic phrases - to say they were perplexed is an understatement. I showed them a clip of Oz on Aufweidershen Pet and even the English kids were couldn't tell it was English??

We start the third term on Monday and I've failed miserably with the PGCE work. Instead I got pissed and toured the Island. On parents evening I had to deal with two knobhead parents. This isn't too bad considering the amount of parents I spoke to. Suffice to say one was from the North American continent and the other was from somewhere on the Rhine, mmmmmmmmm?

Toon - the real United

United secured a draw against Manchester United on Tuesday night. We've reached 40pts and should have secured survival.


kaijeow sai song fong = two egg omelet

heng/biak = dry/wet
mai dong jing jang ngai gor dai = don't take this relationship too seriously
tanakan tang bai nai = which way is the bank?
Wan nee wan sook, pom ja bai gin bia = today is Friday and I'm off to drink some booze.

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