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Where's Jonny? Care to dine with me? You would think that 11 years of daily food tasting for a living might put me off?......au contraire! Chomp away with me across 6 continents. Seduced like a bloodhound to the scent of good food, I anticipate the misty waft of steaming broths, the satisfying crunch of mudbugs and the vibrant aroma of freshly pulverised lemongrass. Buon appetito

A buyers guide to the Thai islands

THAILAND | Saturday, 7 April 2007 | Views [1354]

The best thing about travelling with an ex-Sainsburys buyer is that they are expert negotiators.  JJ, a fellow colleague from my frozen past did great deals from scooter hire to 2-girl massages (although he didn't manage to get me a Harley and both girls were over 40)

We travelled to three islands, all of which could have been used in a Bounty bar advert. First was Koh Phi Phi (devastated by the Tsunami of Dec 26th 2004) then Koh Phi Phi lay (famous for "The Beach") then sleepy Koh Lanta famous for honeymooners (as JJ discovered whe he asked a bikini-clad girl to give him a massage to disover she was some blokes wife)

The only reason that we parted on 8th April 2007 is that Koh Tao had no rabies vaccine and I required shot 4 on the 11th.  Humbug.

JJ met me in Bangkok and after 4 hrs learning how to successfully bargain with Thai people (they all seem to be naturally adept) we set off for the journey south and the less touristy Koh Phi Phi.

This densely tropical island is dominated by two huge banana-shaped beaches that run opposite to each other.  The hospital is fairly clean and they keep vaccines in a fridge. 

Here we met Geoff (a three nippled Cathay Pacific pilot) Celine (slim French girl who loved swimming) Erika (American but cultured) and two Parisian chicks (Vanessa and Laura - sweet with attitude) The latter two were met one evening at an exotic fruit stall as I loudly explained to the locals about their own fruits. 

Our first abode was in the centre of the island near to the water treatment works.  This epicentre of horrendous, sewagey smell required more than just a peg on the snout.  It required a nasalostomy.

Snorkelling was blissful and you can happily gaze at colourful fish chomping on coral just a few metres into the sea.  I watched pufferfish, trumpetfish, angelfish and yellow/black striped seargent fish dart around beneath me unpeturbed by my presence.

Night times could be unpredictable as tropical storms were frequent, loud and unsettling.  However, the cool winds that inevitably followed, sending our mosquito nets dancing were sensationally refreshing. 

During one hurricane (well thats what it felt like) coconuts fell from high above and landed, thudding squarely in the sand like a shotputters balls - and you know what shotputers balls are like? "Please don't hit the hut, please don't hit the hut," you say to yourself whilst cowering inside the fragile bamboo structure.

Island life is also typified by power cuts, lizards and minor birds whose "arcade-machine-like calls," make a bizzare alarm clock.

Geckos often live in the thatch of the bamboo huts and its not uncommon to come home only find a group of them sat round watching TV and drinking your coke whilst you are at the beach. 

Food in the south of Thailand is the hottest in the country.  JJ and I ate what we have termed a, "Satanic salad," on account of its profusely liberal application of the bird eye chilli.  Volcanologists currently employed on Hawaii would have struggled with this one.

The salad comprised no fewer than 10 bird eye chillies chopped with seeds, an onion, token tomato and 5 tiger prawns which appeared to be sweating from the heat.  I am perspiring now just reliving the ordeal.

JJ and I had most fun on Koh Lanta having departed from the, "Phi Phi set."  Phi Phi was where we partied.

Here we hired scooters.  I was offered a bright pink one with the name, "lucky" on the front.  Now I am generally au fait with my feminine side but this was clearly the bike of a ladyboy.  I explained this to the Thai guys at the garage much to their amusement and they promptly change it for a much more masculine aquamarine bike.

We found our scooters to be liberating and fun.  (and bloody dangerous - no helmets or protection were given!) We did however tour the whole island in one day and took in eagles, lazy goats, dusty backroads leading to more palm trees and street vendors selling petrol from Sprite bottles.

It is the 8th April today and I am alone again as JJ has gone in search of diving adventures.  I like the accepted idleness of island life and I have JJ to thank for his advice on negotiations. 

Only this morning I bargained a woman down from 250 baht to 200baht for a T-shirt.  She said it was 100% authentic Thai Armani too.

Quality at a good price.

Tags: Beaches & sunshine

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