|Our adventure started with farewells to our neighbours, the last chores completed and the house closed down. The final jobs of draining of the central heating and the water tanks had gone smoothly. Our bags packed and ready when the taxi booked for 4pm arrived early.
We were mindful not to tell the taxi driver too much about our trip as we had heard tales of people being burgled and the suggestion being that it was as a result of loose lips from their taxi driver. On route we received a phone call from Arlinda, Ian and Thomas wishing us bon voyage . As we were so excited by Thomas's suggestion we should hug a Koala bear when we get to Australia, Helen explained about our plans and Thomas thought we were "cool" ,what better accolade from a 10 year old!
As the M25 was the usual carpark we took the perimeter road around Heathrow airport and saw a plane coming into land over us. We both decided that yesterday had not been a good day to have watched the film "Flight" before starting our trip.
If you're a Denzil Washington fan we can highly recommend this film and at least the plane which passed over us at about 500 feet wasn't upside down!
We arrived at the Premier Inn hotel near the airport. This is a very pleasant modern building and we almost expected Lenny Henry to be booking in alongside us. After being issued with our keycard we then played hunt the room and after a long walk down some enormous corridors we managed to find it at the very end. A very good standard of room which had a choice of soft or hard pillows. We tried the in-house restaurant and then fell asleep watching Downton Abbey our last British TV for 12 months.
Nigel was so excited he woke up at 3am so he logged onto the free wifi, updated the IPad apps and started writing notes for the blog.
In the morning we managed to log into our flight and select our seats for the 12 hour flight to Bangkok.
The flight to Bangkok was fairly uneventful.The Thai air flight had seats to spare, the in flight food was good, we arrived early and easily met our transfer to Phuket.
We were both worn out and slept the entire flight from Bangkok to Phuket.
Our planning worked out well with our pre ordered taxi waiting for us as we left the airport and this delivered us to our small budget hotel at Kata beach.
We slept the rest of the afternoon and then went out to explore in the evening finding two lovely sandy beaches and the diving shop. We finished the evening with some dinner in a restaurant that was buzzing. We had some local dishes and a couple of beers but with the time difference we had trouble sleeping on the first night.
Our first full day in Phuket involved booking activities and a sunset stroll along the main beach (see photograph) we woke the next day and the seasonal weather had arrived.
We could hear the heavy rain on the roof but as we were booked for a day of diving and snorkelling all was not lost. We got ready for our early morning pick up and delivery at a bustling sea port.
A 90 minute boat ride took us to our dive site by an island and a good day was had.
Helen saw a variety of fish while snorkelling, including a Moray eel and Nigel did some diving on a small wreck. When it was time to head back the sea swell had got much larger and the boat was flung about a bit but luckily neither of us suffer from sea sickness.
On return to Kata we tried a recommended restaurant and had some more Thai food this time being a little more adventurous eating the green curry.
The next morning we woke to another cloudy day and after a few chores we set off on a walk to the next town up the coast called Karon. As we reached the town the heavens opened and we found some shelter and purchased the locals version of a plastic cape. We continued our walk and then had lunch during which the heavens opened again (see photograph) so we returned to our hotel room and chilled out listening to the rain.
We found that our booking with John Grey's Sea Canoe was confirmed by fax to the hotel and a special day was expected as well as some very good seafood.
We woke to more rain, met our pick up which took us to the Marina where we had a one hour boat ride and a light lunch before our first trip on the inflatable kayaks which took us into a Hong via a cave system. A Hong is a collapsed limestone cave which has become totally isolated and has its own Eco system. The caves are very small and can only be accessed at certain times due to the tides. As we were lying on our backs to clear the cave ceiling we saw some bats and some monkeys in the Hong.
We then paddled for a while before entering a lagoon which was very similar to the one in the film " The man with the golden gun" with the mushroom shaped rock in the water (see photograph). We had a very good seafood & chicken buffet while making Kratong which are flower sculptures with candles made out of Banana leaves, orchids and marigolds (see photograph). Lim our guide did most of the work but we became very good at banana leaf origami.
With heavy rain falling we went on a short kayak trip to set our Kratongs sail (see photograph)
Then headed back to the Marina and the hotel.
We're both well, having adjusted to the food and the humidity and heading back to Bangkok on Tuesday 8th October and then joining a 28 day trip through Cambodia and Vietnam.