Four Islands Trip

Due to the heat we are awake around 6.30am and wait until 8 to rouse the kids. There is a breakfast buffet at this hotel and its very good value at 99 baht. We choose fruit, muesli and hot breakfast for Simon and the kids also. Ali, Maisie and I spend an hour doing literacy. They write a letter to the King of Thailand asking him to set up a karting track in every town. Simon then goes off to the post office, we have more stuff to post home and it costs us 20 quid to send it to Dad and Pauline’s.

When he comes back he has booked us a trip on a boat and we make our way to the pier at 12pm. It costs us 1500 baht which is a good price for the four of us and we have the longtail to ourselves. We set off for Railay, this is where the most spectacular cliff faces are and we’re not disappointed with the stunning scenery. The rocks are jagged and massive and rise up out of the sea. We were considering staying in Railay and we both agree we are glad we didn’t. It is teeming with tourists and the restaurant we have lunch at reminds me of the cafes you get at theme parks like Alton Towers.

When we get back to our boat the fella has got 2 more passengers on it, a couple from Belgium .They’re ok, they’re on holiday here for 2 weeks and we have a bit of a chat. The cheeky boat fella has charged them 1000 baht and so Simon asks him to knock 300 off our price. He agrees readily enough and asks Simon to buy him a beer which placates him!

We stop off at a dive site, the snorkelling is good and we see live coral and lots of brightly coloured fish. The kids seem to love swimming in the open water and are very confident. I remember Maisie telling me only a few months ago that she couldn’t swim in the sea as she was too afraid. Now she leaps straight in off the side of the boat and swims like a dolphin!

Next we visit “Chicken Island” a large craggy rock formation, shaped like a chickens head and neck named this island and if you squint at just the right angle it is reasonably obvious! There is more snorkelling to do here but I stay on the boat and chat to the fella.

One of the first questions Thais ask is how old you are, this is to establish who is senior and who is junior and is necessary for status and obligation reasons. Factors such as wealth personal and political power are also very important. All relationships in traditional Thai society are governed by lines of social rank and there are mutual obligations for both parties. The junior are expected to show a degree of obedience and respect and the senior grant favours etc. This doesn’t apply to strangers but always comes into play with family and friends. For example the senior pays the dinner bill for everyone even if it empties his wallet.

We also talk about his family and he brings up the subject of the tsunami. He points out fallen rocks caused by the wave and tells me he lost his boat. Approximately 8000 Thais died as a result of the tsunami, many of them in this province. I try and tell him how distressing we found it also in the West and convey some empathy to him but I’m not sure he really understood what I was struggling to say.

In the evening we head to a restaurant with live music but unfortunately all the tables are full. Still we have a great Thai meal at the place next door. We are becoming much more adventurous with our food, although we will all try anything we have been choosy about salads but I guess the Thai salads are so hot and spicy no organisms could live for long on them and they are probably safe enough to eat if you can handle the chillies.

We head back next door for the live music, but Maisie and I are really tired and decide to walk back at around 10.30 before the music starts up. At 12.30am Simon and Ali appear back, Ali has been playing the guitar in the bar and they have had a great night.