Phi Phi Island

 

DSC01649Absolute was true to their word and a driver picked us up at 7 am from the hotel to take us to the port.  Once there, we were directed to a three story boat that carried hundreds of passengers.  The boat ride took a couple of hours but we made some scenic stops along the way.  Once at Phi Phi, passengers who were going snorkeling were loaded onto a smaller dive boat.  This boat took us to one of the many coral reefs around the island were we were able to swim in the crystal clear tropical water and observe the hundreds of brightly colored fish who call the reef home.  It was a great experience and well worth the time.

About an hour later, we boarded the dive boat and were taken to the dock at Phi Phi Island where we were then led to the free lunch location.  They had quite a variety of local dishes prepared on a lazy susan in the middle of each table.  Each table held 12 people and refills of dishes were provided so that no one went hungry.

The traditional cruse is a 12 hour one where people visit the island for a few hours and return to Phuket the same day.  We made arrangements during our booking to return three days later so our next mission was to find inexpensive accommodations.  Phi Phi Island has no shortage of luxury beach front bungalows that cost over $100 but we had lower prices in mind.

DSC01703After talking to a local dive instructor, I found the Gypsy II bungalows for $8 per night.  They are simple thatch huts with plenty of ventilation. 🙂 I worried a bit about security since you could break into the place with a pair of scissors…but everything turned out just fine…except for the mosquitos!DSC01705

As you can see, the interior is just basic.  It’s just a step above camping because of electricity and running water.

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Though I did not stay up for the festivities, I understand the full moon parties on the island are world renowned.

DSC01692I witnessed the preparation for this party as many vendors were setting up tables full of buckets with fifths of all types of liquor and mixers.  the early evening fire dancing shows were a lot of fun to watch.

The next day, we booked a beach front bungalow on the other side of the island on Rantee Bay.  We stayed at the Phi Phi Rantee Resort.

They met us at the dock with their longboat but were two hours late.

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Like the reviews mention, the hotel is on a secluded part of the island with only two restaurants and no night life.  The “resort” offers very basic accommodations.

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If you are in a hurry, into night life or need luxury accommodations; this part of the island is not for you.  However, if you don’t mind roughing it a bit and like a quiet beach to snorkel and swim; you might like this place.

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My only complaint was the steep price hike for food and drinks compared to the rest of the island.  I suppose everything has to be brought in by boat so it’s somewhat expected.

They have a great trail leading to the highest point on Phi Phi Island where you may see monkeys along the way.  Some sections of this trail are pretty steep but the view from the top more than makes up for the effort.  It takes about an hour each direction so plan accordingly if you do this because I do not think it would be much fun in the dark.

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Phuket

DSC01633Leticia and I started our Asia tour in Thailand.  We flew from Hong Kong International (HKG) to Phuket International (HKT) on Cathay Pacific.  They are a great airline with excellent service.

Our motto for this trip was “no hurries…no worries”.  In the spirit of this theme we had no reservations and no idea of where exactly we would end up.  After clearing customs, we checked with a few hotel representatives at the airport but decided to just catch a cab to Patong  Beach and just look when we arrived.  Our cab driver suggested a travel agency on the way saying that he could get us a discount.  We ended up booking 2 nights at the Blue Sky Patong.  This was a nice, clean and new hotel with great staff (1200 baht per night).  We also rented a scooter from the company recommended by the front desk staff for $7.50 USD per day.  This hotel was conveniently located by the main road and next to the police station but we realized that we were pretty far from the beach.

On the second day, we checked hotel prices and availability in the area and found the Patong Sub Inn.  This hotel offered everything the Blue Sky offered at a better price (600 Baht per night) and a more central location.  The owner and his staff are great people who take the time to get to know their guests and provide a welcoming environment.  They go above and beyond to provide for your needs.  Since coffee is always a priority in the morning, they lent us a hot water pot so that we could make instant coffee.  We also rented a scooter from the rental company in front of the hotel for $5 per day.

DSC01638Patong Beach is a great location for shopping, restaurants and bars.  The beach is nice but we found other beaches in the local area that were less crowded, more scenic and offered surfboard rentals.

Karon Beach is about 10 miles South of Patong and offers a more resort-like atmosphere but the prices for food and hotels are resort-type as well.

Kata Beach

Kata Beach

Kata Beach is about 10 miles South of Karon and has more of a surfing village vibe.  They rent surfboards and have a younger crowd.  There are plenty of hotels shops and restaurants here but the prices are a bit high.

A word of advice:  You can’t walk 10 feet without running into time share sales people from Absolute.  We consistently told them that we were not interested.  However, one person was pretty sneaky.  She asked if I would participate in a brief survey to better help tourism in the area.  I happily obliged.  That evening, I received a phone call at the front desk of my hotel explaining that we won a prize for taking the survey…an all expense paid trip to visit Phi Phi Island.  She explained that we would need to schedule a 90 minute appointment.  I was skeptical but we arranged a time to meet the following day.  I assumed it was a time share sales presentation and it was.  We planned on visiting Pi Pi island anyway during our trip so we went along with it.  To their credit, Absolute did not use high pressure tactics on us and only highlighted the benefits of their program.  They were true to their word; our appointment lasted only 90 minutes, we received a voucher and were booked on the Phi Phi Island cruse.  On following trips to Kata Beach, whenever we were approached by the time share people we just told them that we already took the tour.

We decided to stay in the Patong area and make day trips to Kata for surfing and enjoying the less crowded nicer beach.  For us, this was the best value for our money and provided the opportunity to explore the local area.

Hong Kong

Flew into Hong Kong and had to spend the night at the airport waiting for our flight to Phuket Thailand.  We checked many hotel counters in the airport and found that an average room is $260/night.  In-airport lounge wanted $160 for 4hrs :(   We decided to camp on the benches.

Afternoon at the dog park

Took Sydney to Lorie Wilson dog park today.  This was our first visit but I’m sure we will soon become regulars there.  They have great facilities for both large and small dogs.  There were plenty of water bowls, a clean grassy area for the dogs to play and even small pools for the dogs to cool off.  Sydney had a great time playing with all of the small dogs.  All of the dogs were so well behaved and their parents were great too 🙂

How to install a doggie door in a hollow core door

DSC01574After Stinky visited his cousins in LA, we decided he needed a doggie door at home too.  He likes to go outside to lay in the sun and chase lizards and bugs.

In stalling a doggie door is pretty easy but there are a few considerations the instructions do not mention if you have a modern hollow core door.

DSC02875Tools required:

  • -Template provided in kit
  • -Tape measure
  • -Tape
  • -Pen
  • -Screw driver
  • -Level
  • -Drill
  • -Dremel or other cutting device

Use measuring tape to find and mark the center of the door with the pen.

DSC02868Tape the template to the door and use the level to make sure it is straight

DSC02869Trace around the template with your pen

DSC02871Drill holes through the door at each corner

   Note: make sure you drill is level and straight

Use holes on reverse side of door to transfer template to the other side

DSC02870Trace around the template with your pen on the other side of the door

Now, you have to be careful choosing a tool to cut the door.  I used a dremel because the outer shell of the door is thin and the foam core will melt with too much heat from a circular saw or angle grinder.  Also, these doors tend to be too flimsy to use devices that cut through both sides such as a reciprocating saw or jigsaw.

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Even the Dremel melted the shell a bit

Cut through the shell on both sides of the door following the lines traced from your template

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Afterwards, use the dremel to cut through the foam from both sides until the core pops out.

Last, insert the pet door and install as per manufacturer’s recommendations

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Now Stinky can come and go as he pleases 🙂