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Playing about in the waves after a long day of kayaking.

Click here for my post about kayaking in Koh Chang, Thailand :)

Click here for more information about the weekly photo challenge.

Messing about in boats

“Mmm, you’ve got to have confidence in your spray-skirt”, J agreed.

I took a sip of water. The hum of conversation continued around us. It was getting darker, and if I twisted around ever-so slightly behind me I could see the amber glow sinking at the mouth of the river. Someone had sketched on the palm trees in charcoal.

Cross legged on the floor we passed around the bill and managed to work out what each of us owed. We traded our table for a wooden boat, and as the dusk turned black we sped up the river. A breeze stirred the humid air. The twinkling lights from the fireflies reminded me faintly of Christmas.

Back at my hotel I considered S’s story. Held tight in her kayak, she had braved the waves, only to get tossed about and lose control under a vicious wave. To be honest, however big the wave had been, didn’t seem to matter to me. She couldn’t get out of her boat. She couldn’t roll well enough, and her spray-skirt was too tight. She panicked.

Several times that day I’d got flipped upside down while attempting to surf for the first time ever. It was fine, fun even, I pulled on the handle of my spray skirt and I could breathe air again. But once already, I’d gotten into my kayak and secured my spray-skirt only to have paddled for a little while and have someone point out that I’d gotten the handle stuck inside. I tried to open the seal from inside with my knee, but failed. “People drown that way.” Her panic seemed quite real to me.

We had three more full days at the symposium, and in that time S hoped to regain some of her confidence. I hoped to learn some more about kayaking and experience less than flat water. A few of the other people hoped to achieve their BCU 3 star qualification.

By the end of the week, I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t done more sea-kayaking sooner. I got flipped out of my kayak an uncountable number of times, and the bruises on legs got bigger. I kept going back in. My nose and throat burned from the salt water, but I pulled my white Tiderace to shore, emptied it and fought through the waves again and again. And I started to actually brace properly. I managed not to get flipped over a few times. I started to win!

With the aid of our wonderfully qualified instructors, S managed to improve her rolling technique. She flipped herself over and back up again while A adjusted her paddle and gave a bit of a tug on the side of her kayak. While still not fully trusting her spray-skirt, her confidence was growing bit by bit.


This was my first ever ‘Sea Kayaking Symposium’. It was run by Kayak Chang in Koh Chang on the east coast of Thailand. They’re based at the Amari Emerald Cove Hotel at Khlong Prao beach, which is a beautiful hotel (though I stayed elsewhere).

I would highly recommend Kayak Chang as a company for some serious kayaking trips and journeys around beautiful islands. The company is very professional, with well looked after, good quality and practically new equipment. The guides have been kayaking for years and know what they are talking about.

These aren’t sit on top tours that you can do in a bikini though – note. You pay more for a reason. For me it was worth every single penny.

I really hope next year I will be able to kayak again with Kayak Chang. The symposium was brilliant – my love for Koh Chang has increased, and I know I need more kayaking in my life.

Click here to find out more about Kayak Chang and the tours and courses they offer :)

Please note – this is completely my own genuine opinion!

ไปเที่ยว – Candlelight Beach, Koh Samet

Following on from my last post, I took another trip to a beach a week or two ago. This time I went to Koh Samet.

I’ve been to Koh Samet lots of times, but only ever to Hat Sai Kaew, which is the biggest and most popular beach on the island. It’s fun, but this time my sister and husband were coming along, so we checked out Ao Sang Thian which is a bit further down the island. We got a green songthaew/taxi to Ban Khiang Talay. I’d seen some bad reviews of this place online, so I was a little worried. But it was so lovely! The staff were very friendly, and the food was great with veggie food too.

We went snorkeling, swam and relaxed on the beach. We pretty much had it to ourselves, the same as in Prachuap. It’s so beautiful, and a completely different feel from Hat Sai Kaew. The beach here is a lot smaller, and a bit rocky, but with clear blue warm water and only the sound of the waves, what more do you really need?

The thing with Koh Samet is that it’s one of the driest places in Thailand, so you can go there in the low, rainy season and still be blessed with lovely blue skies.

In the evenings we opened a beer or 3 and sat on deck chairs on the beach, with the soft glow of a few lights behind us. It was just about dark enough for us to clearly see stars, and once our eyes adjusted we saw the crabs come out to explore the sand after the tide had gone out and the hot sun had gone in.

If you’d like to party and meet new people, head to Hat Sai Keaw. But if you’d rather some peace I suggest going to one of the other beaches! I’d completely dismissed the other beaches, thinking they were too small, or not beautiful. Instead, it was totally worth it.

Have you ever been to Koh Samet? Where did you go? Or do you know of any more small, quiet beaches in Thailand? Let me know!

ไปเที่ยว – Prachuap Khiri Khan

Things have started hotting up in Thailand, in more ways than one. But with regards to the coup d’etat, for me, and most people I believe, day to day life is as normal.

The weather though, is sweltering. It hasn’t rained much yet which, If I can remember from the past two years is a little odd. Let’s hope the heat breaks soon!

I went to a new beach last month, which I thought I would share. Perfect for anyone who likes a bit of peace and quiet and not to far away for a quick break from Bangkok. It’s low season right now, so that’s one reason there weren’t many people when I went.

Phu Noi Beach, Prachuap Khiri Khan

It’s very near Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, and the town of Pranburi. Our minibus from Victory Monument in Bangkok took us right to Blue Beach Resort where we were staying. It’s a lovely place to stay, family run and good food (they know how to please westerners; they don’t use MSG). There are also kayaks for you to use for free, which me and my girlfriend made good use of.  We kayaked to the two islands in the pictures below, where there were a few monkeys.

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Look at the beach! An empty stretch of sand! It might not be the clearest water or the whitest sand in Thailand, but we had it nearly to ourselves. Wonderful.

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We didn’t do a lot, just kayaking for a few hours every day and swimming! Next time I’d like to explore the national park some more, I’ve heard good things.

I love that there are quiet little hideaways like this within reach of Bangkok. Why are we all working so hard if we can’t spend a little of that hard earned cash on some recuperation every once in a while?

I’ll write my next post about another quiet beach I went to on Koh Samet when I’ve uploaded the pictures.

Has anyone ever been to this area, or Sam Roi Yot park? Where did you go, what did I miss? Leave a comment! :D

Poppies at Doi Mon Jam

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I recently went camping at Doi Mon Jam – near Chiang Mai. It’s such a completely different atmosphere from Bangkok – lovely. And cold! :D

Poppies Doi Mon Jem

Poppies Doi Mon Jem

I love how delicate poppies are…

Poppies Doi Mon Jem

Poppies Doi Mon Jem

This website has a little bit of information about Doi Mon Jam, along with some great pictures of the area!

A hike to the top

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I am surrounded by mountains, and every ten days we hike across the forest (Taiga) and climb up to a cross on the top of one of the mountains. I say climb, and I mean it. There are lots of big boulders and rocks.

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It’s not easy, but not too difficult either. At the top, it makes me feel very small. It’s so quiet. And there is nothing but mountains, trees and silence for a very long way.

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Of course, we are the main characters in our own lives, but just one tiny part in the grand scheme of things.

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I’ve been up 3 times, and the last 2 times, even though I kept reapplying factor 50 suncream I got quite sunburt. Mountain sun is strong…

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“I love the mountains, I love the rolling hills, I love the flowers, I love the daffodils, I love the fireside when all the lights are low… Boom-di-ada, boom-di-ada, boom-di-ada, boom-di-ada…”

Under frozen soles

Drawing Cows in Bruges

Woops I haven’t written a post in an awfully long time. Sometimes life just runs away with me. I have no idea what I’ve been doing in the time to be honest. Working and sleeping mostly. Life can get kind of mundane sometimes, even in Bangkok.

Come to think of it, I have moved apartments, which I suppose is a pretty major event. Just over a year ago I found a cosy apartment on Sukhumvit Road, and moved in with 1 suitcase, and 1 back pack. Moving out I used 3 suitcases, 3 backpacks, and numerous other plastic bags of bits and pieces.

I’ve collected a lot of ‘stuff’. Oh stuff. How I wish I didn’t need you, yet I always seem to want more of you. I suppose it’s not too bad, though. Most of my acquired ‘stuff’ is books, bottles of wine… fairy lights, water guns and orchids.

November is fast approaching, and I’ve been reflecting on how much I miss autumn – even though as my friends and family in England point out to me ‘it’s cold!!’. But I miss the (ok I think this is pretty clichéd …) colours of the leaves and stuff. Plus I get to wrap up in a coat and scarf and drink gingerbread lattes and think of Christmas.  And make apple crumble. And I make a ruddy good apple crumble.

The main thing I miss is the sea. Living in Brighton, the seafront was my thinking spot. I often paced up and down, sometimes walking vast stretches, emptier – apart from the odd runner – with the onslaught of winter approaching. The waves’ mood became unpredictable, changing day by day from calm and pleasant with reflections of cobalt and an amber sun, to heavy and crashing, the colour of a dull, mottled sky. I often associate music with memories, and ‘Foals’ is my music of choice for this one, specifically ‘Total life Forever‘. It helps me recreate narrow streets and very steep hills, crunchy orange leaves on the ground against a backdrop of white terraced houses, pebbles, seagulls, and relinquishing the achingly long days of summer sun.

In Thailand, people look forward to less rain, less humidity, slightly cooler weather, and clear blue cloudless skies. It’s refreshing, and weather I look forward to immensely. Inevitably though, I will be caught wistfully thinking of gloved hands and cold noses, being given hot cups of tea by friends, wearing fluffy socks and going inside because it’s warmer, not cooler.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Free Spirit

Well, nothing is freer than clouds, in my mind. They’re easy to photograph with their effortless beauty.

These were taken over the sea at Koh Chang (more photos of the trip will follow at some point…). It’s rainy season so the sky was never clear. Suddenly it would get windy and the sky would turn dark… and the heavens would open.

I didn’t break any rules as such… but hopefully people will enjoy :)

For details of the Weekly Photo Challenge, click here.

Early bird

 

CowsinBruges

One of my favourite things to do on my days off is get up early.

Let me explain. My working week consists of midday starts and 9 pm finishes, meaning that by the time I get home it’s half 9 at least, if I’ve gone to get some food it’s 9.45, by the time I’ve eaten it, probably 10.45 to be honest. And I find it almost impossible to go to bed straight after I’ve eaten. All in all it means I go to bed relatively late. And so inevitably… get up late (ish) the next day. I leave my house at 11, I do have time to do some things in the morning, but always have to consider work, what time to start getting ready… etc etc.

I deliberately set my alarm early on a day off because that whole day is mine. I get up, and do things that need to be done – and do far more in the morning than I would on another day. Then, the time when I would usually be at work is time for relaxing, doing whatever I want to do. I don’t have anything hanging over me.

My days off are often not at the weekend either. This month I have Thursday and Friday off. Meaning that I am relaxing while my colleagues are at work, and while most other people are at work.

There’s something I love about not working when other people are. It feels almost naughty, and somehow makes me relish my free time even more than if everyone was off too, like at the weekend.

I remember being ill one day, not going into school and staying at home. I must have been… in year 7 or 8 I think, so maybe 12. My dad had the day off too, as he works shifts at the airport, and so he looked after me. He had a dentist appointment – and took me in the car with him to where his dentist had a private practice in a housing estate. I sat in the car when he went in. And… there was silence. Everyone else was at work. The dentist was at work. There were no cars at any of the houses, no people walking on the streets. It was an eerie kind of silence – and I loved it. What was everyone else doing? Rushing around, thinking about things they had to do, maybe feeling stressed, finishing things for deadlines… and I could just sit here. I wasn’t bored, I wasn’t lonely, I wasn’t fed up (though I suppose I must have felt ill). Just content.

It’s the same feeling I’ve had before when I’ve had interviews in London. I lived close, but not in London so I had to take the whole day off, (or I was unemployed at the time). I would go up on the train, to London Bridge, or Victoria, get the underground, go for the interview. And then, because I had no real reason to get back.. and the train journey probably cost me a fortune… I would stay in London for a bit. Sure there were tourists around and people in suits on the phone, people meeting other people… but, especially around London Bridge and by the river, it was considerably quiet. Around the docks too, Canary Wharf. I could feel the low gentle buzz of the city, coming from inside offices and tall buildings, all the thoughts going on, the strategies and new ways forward being created.  All the quiet energy. And then suddenly at lunch time it would come bursting out onto the streets. An hour of free time was grasped and people would make the most of it by rushing around to get food, get things done, talk to friends, anything they needed to be done. Then back to work again.

This morning I got up and went out to buy breakfast. A bit later than usual on a day off I have to admit, the early morning fruit lady was packing up her stall and the daytime fruit lady was just setting hers up. ‘Sawatdii ka’ to the daytime fruit lady as I walked past and popped into 7/11 – I hate them and I love them at the same time. I hate them because they are a chain, and I’d rather not take business away from little corner shops. However – they do sell some amazing stuff…and so a Big Pao Moo Deng (Red BBQ pork steamed bun), a yoghurt and a bottle of green tea richer, I stepped back outside onto the pavement (sidestepping the rather porky soi dog that lazily sleeps outside the entrance). I can’t not buy some fruit now… it’ll be the second time I’ve walked past fruit lady… and so I stop to get my usual ‘sabarot’, (pineapple) already cut up into bitesized chunks and with a stick so I can eat it without any washing up.

As I walk back up my soi (lane) I am hit with a terrific urge to go to the beach. The sun is shining, so much so that I cross over to the shade, the street barbecues are out, and the smell of charcoal and cooking meat is everywhere. It makes me think of barbecues in the back garden when I was about 8 – me and my younger sister taking control and donning our shades to stop the smoke getting in our eyes. Barbecues on the beach with friends and digging out the sand so the flames wouldn’t go out all the time. Sitting on Brighton beach drinking cider during Pride festival.

Note to self – need to look up any possible daytrips from Bangkok to the beach. I think there are some if your own car is available, sadly I don’t own one.Hua Hun or Cha-am soon. Then Koh Chang.

Now I’m sitting here, listening to Chopin Nocturne number 2 and wishing I could play the piano. The whole day ahead of me, I’m going to go to the park (when it’s a little cooler) and read, practise guitar (just bought a new one and am soo excited to be teaching myself again). I need to study Thai today too, I have been somewhat lazy as of late. If I had a pool I would swim. Unfortunately I don’t. When I have my medical certificate back I’ll sign up for the public pool down the road. Then this evening maybe a catch up with friends.

And you…? Early bird or late riser?

Ahh Samet…

Samet, it’s been nice to  kick back and relax,

Heather Randell

next to the familiar sound of the waves that I miss.

I like your palm trees and coconuts,

Heather Randell

and how you invite people to spend time together.

Heather Randell

You’re beautiful!

I hope to see you again soon!

© Drawing Cows in Bruges