A Travellerspoint blog

Paradise Found

Snorkelling, Seafood & Mai Tai's

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I'm not too sure if I should be blogging about my newly found paradise - Ko Lipe - although most of Germany and Sweden have already arrived at its powdery white sands and shimmering aqua-blue waters long before I rocked up on the beach, so I doubt one more online mention will make much of a difference?!

We spent seven glorious days and nights snorkelling, eating fresh fish on the beach and hanging out at the Monkey Bar - Ko Lipe's original beach bar - and home to the island's best Mojito maker; Kim.

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"I hate my life" became the motto, coined by our new German friend and restaurateur Jean, whilst sunning himself at the front of a longtail boat, as we made our way to one of the deserted islands for a spot of snorkelling.

Our fortune of meeting Pete from Margate who has been coming to Lipe for years and Til from Berlin who has also been visiting the island from 'back in the day' meant that we could rent our own boat without taking a regular tourist trip as they knew all the best spots.

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Evenings began with a couple of beers on the beach to watch the sunset before choosing the beach bar with the best looking fish for dinner. Jean and Til had the art of selecting the freshest 'catch of the day' by shoving their hands in the gils of the fish and poking them around a bit before loading it all up on the scales. The restaurant waiters then whisked it all away to be barbequed with chilli, garlic and fresh lemongrass and Thai spices. To the German's great excitement this included a freshly caught Eagle Ray one evening, which they couldn't keep their hands off - Jean even insisted on helping prepare it! Mmmmm... meaty!

Our stay in Lipe co-incided with the annual festival which marks the end of the rainy season. We joined in the action up and down the beach, where people set off lanterns for good luck and their bad-luck away on candlelit and incense filled banana-leaf boats out into the ocean.

When we weren't busy snorkelling, we roamed Lipe's beaches picking up shells and reading in the shade of the palm trees.

Anyone want to hit me yet?

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Posted by aspindi 22:56 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

By-Georgetown!

Colonial Malaysia and the tastiest tandoori in the East!

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We rocked up to Old Panang guesthouse, a hotel made out of one of Georgetown's romantic old colonial-style houses. Inside, original tile floors, stained timber staircases and old window shutters made Old Penang one of the nicest places we'd stayed so far. We found the guesthouse to be a hive of activity with some longer-term residents staying 3 months or more, one of them, Will, who showed us the culinary sights:

Kapitans - the Best tandoori restaurant in Little India. For under 2pounds you could get a quarter tandoori chicken, grilled in a fire pit, with delicious naan bread, chana dahl and sweet mint sauce. (we went back for more the next day)

Old Trafford - the best burger van in the whole of Malaysia (and maybe the world?) - Jo will have to testify as I didn't actually have one, but I heard the rave reviews. Three people tend to each burger, slicing it in half to add the cheese in the middle and topping it off with three sauces!

The Off Licence - this one may not be in the guide books, but it a country where drinks our expensive, it was useful being shown the well stocked, friendly, late opening off-licence.... it even had wine! (a rareity in this part of the world)

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Posted by aspindi 16:07 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Danang to Panang in 48 hours

The second leg of our journey starts

With the near constant rain and the departure of our travel buddies, Hoi An started to lose its appeal. But with flights booked out of nearby Danang airport we had to stick it out a few more days. On the day of our flight the skies brightened and the rain let up, and we flew back to Saigon to be met by a driver holding our name in the airport (exciting!) who drove us back to my friend Duncan's flat in Saigon. And after a night in the luxury of separate bedrooms, courtesy of Duncan, we hopped a flight to Kuala Lumpur.

Arriving at night, we checked into a hostel then got up early to get a bus to Panang. All in all we saw nothing of KL, absolutely nothing. Just another big city we expect and we've seen plenty of those.

Posted by aspindi 15:51 Comments (0)

Hoi An

Cooking up a storm in Vietnam's most beautiful town.

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Hot on the tails of our new friends, we followed them next to Hoi An, a town to fall in love with.
After a gruelling 12 hour night bus we brushed the sleep from our eyes and set off to explore the old-town: small streets lining the riverside with ornate buildings made of dark timber and a pastel yellow plaster, decorated with chinese symbols and red silk lanterns. Ahhhh, beautiful.

We got to work instantly on what Hoi An is famous for, commissioning some tailor-made clothing: a daunting process for us, with, it turned out, mixed results. We returned the next day to find all seven of our items ready to try on! Quick work. I loved my new dress, skirt and shorts though was undecided about my final dress. Jo, on the other hand, decided she disliked all three of her items and has since vowed never to wear them.

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The real highlight of our Hoi An stay, however, was our cooking class at the Java Minute restaurant. We had a private class with our three travel buddies: Jess, Oli and James, accompanied by beer and music. Our menu: fresh summer rolls, green papaya salad, bun xao (vietnamese savoury pancakes), catfish grilled in banana leaves and beef pho, was as much fun to make as it was to eat at the end of the class! Whether we'll remember what we learned on our return home remains to be seen, we hope so. Anyone know where to buy green papaya and peanut oil in London?

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Posted by aspindi 21:33 Archived in Vietnam Tagged cooking class hoi_an pho Comments (0)

Nha Trang

Jaeger bombs & mud baths

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When we finally rocked up at the beach resort of Nah Trang the floods were gone but so were most of the travellers. Our merry band of friends however, (Schnitzel, James, Jess and Paul), had all arrived the day before and were waiting for us to arrive so we could have dinner together. Ahhh.

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We had a garlic-filled meal at some joint across from our hotel Blue Star and then checked out the Nha Trang nightlife. Cocktails on the beach, Jaeger Bombs at the Why Not Bar, song requests and hookah pipes with a guest appearance from Jethro Tull (India on one leg clutching the hookah pipe), a visit to the local kareoke bar and a couple of games of connect four all resulted in one of our best nights out yet and our gang's very own theme tune: http://vimeo.com/15337353

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Nha Trang's other highlight was the nearby mud spa. We hired a couple of Easy Riders who took us on the back of their motorbikes and had a heavenly day of pampering ourselves in hot springs and mud. Our 20 minute mud bath was divine and smelt of cinnamon and eucalyptus. Afterwards we dried the mud in the sun before washing off and jumping in a hot mineral pool. The rest of the spa had a large hot mineral pool, a large cold mineral pool and jacuzzis. Mom - we thought of you, you would have loved it!

-- more photos to come --

Posted by aspindi 01:45 Archived in Vietnam Tagged party mud drinking spa cocktails Comments (1)

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