Wednesday, December 31, 2014

INDEX

THAILAND

Ao Sadet from Silver Cliff's restaurant - east coast of Ko Phangan

INTRODUCTION - WHICH ISLAND OR BEACH?
ADANG
BU BU
BULON LAE
CHANG (big Chang eastern Gulf)
Little Ko CHANG, Andaman side
CORAL ISLAND
JUM
KANCHANABURI
KRADAN
KRABI, RAILAY, TON SAI
KHAO LAK
KHAO SOK NATIONAL PARK
KHO KHAO
KUT (KOOD, KUD)
LANTA
LAO LIANG
LIBONG, HAT YAO
LIPE
MAK (MAC, MAAK)
MAYA BAY/THE BEACH/PHI PHI LEY
MUK (MOOK)
NANGYUAN
NGAI (HAI)
KO PANYI/PANYEE
PATTAYA
PHANGAN
PHANGAN PART 2
PHANG NGA BAY
PHAYAM
PHRA THONG
PHUKET
PHI PHI
PHI PHI NEWSPAPER ARTICLE BY TEZZA
RAILAY, TON SAI AND KRABI TOWN
RAYA/RACHA
ROK
SAMET
SAMUI
SIBOYA
SIMILAN ISLANDS
SIMILAN ISLANDS LIVE-ABOARD 
SUKORN
SURIN ISLANDS
TARUTAO
TAO
WAI (WHAI)
YAO NOI
YAO YAI



General Thailand Information

SOME TIPS ON NOT DROWNING
WET WEATHER INFORMATION
SNORKELLING IN THAILAND
THAILAND'S NICER BEACHES


INDONESIA:
Approaching Gili Trawangan, Lombok on Perama's direct boat from Bali

BALI
BALI'S BEST BEACHES - incl THE BUKIT PENINSULA
BALI - AMED
BALI - BEDUGUL AND LAKE BRATAN
BALI - CANGGU
BALI - JIMBARAN
BALI - NUSA LEMBONGAN
BALI - NUSA DUA, TANJUNG BENOA AND GEGER BEACH
EAST BALI - PADANGBAI AND CANDIDASA
BALI - LOVINA
BALI - MEDEWI
BALI - MUNDUK
BALI - PEMUTERAN AND MENJANGAN ISLAND
BALI RICE TERRACES EAST - SIDEMAN
BALI RICE TERRACES WEST - KEBUN VILLAS
BALI RICE TERRACES TIRTAGANGGA + WATER PALACE

BINTAN

LOMBOK - THE GILI ISLANDS
LOMBOK - THE KUTA LOMBOK AREA

PERAMA SLOWBOAT - FLORES/KOMODO/LOMBOK

SERAYA & KANAWA ISLANDS + LABUANBAJO - FLORES



MALAYSIA
Taking it easy on Tioman Island, Malaysia

GORGEOUS TIOMAN ISLAND
CHERATING BEACH
KAPAS ISLAND
LANGKAWI
LANG TENGAH
PERHENTIAN ISLANDS
REDANG ISLAND
SIBU ISLAND



AUSTRALIA


Cruising down Whitsunday Island

CRUISING TROPICAL ISLANDS ON A BUDGET
BUDGET RESORTING ON THE WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS
SPENDING TIME AT AIRLIE BEACH
BYRON BAY - BEACH PARADISE
NOOSA HEADS - MY ALL TIME FAVOURITE


GREECE
Cute church - Naxos

GREEK ISLAND HOPPING


TURKEY

Beach, forest-clad medieval ruins and up-valley budget accommodation at Olympos in Turkey
BUDGET CRUISING AND PARAGLIDING THE TURQUOISE COAST
THE NORTH AEGEAN COAST
THE SOUTH AEGEAN COAST



SPAIN
Looking south to Tossa de Mar
INTRODUCTION
BARCELONA
IBIZA
L'HOSPITALET DE L'INFANT
MALLORCA/MAJORCA
MONTSERRAT

PYRENEES
SAN SEBASTIAN
SITGES
TOSSA DE MAR


READERS' TRIP REPORTS
Trip reporter Rachael and Andy on Ko Muk

Read the trip reports or submit your own


THE FORUM


Yon Cassie has a lean and hungry look (image Deco Dermots)

Questions, comments, shoot the bull.


GENERAL

Sammy BinLiner steps out to the hot-tub seminar in The Worry Collective

JUST FOR LARFS - PART 1
JUST FOR LARFS - PART 2: STONES FROM THE JOKER IN THE GLASS HOUSE (1 thru 11)
JUST FOR LARFS - PART 3: THE WORRY COLLECTIVE

ABOUT THIS SITE


LADY TEZZA'S TRAVELLING JAPAN

Sumo grand champion Hakuho

The basics - Osaka - Kyoto - Hiroshima & Himeji - Takayama - Tokyo - Kyushu - Daytrip to Mt Fuji National Park - Accessing your money - Other helpful stuff







Friday, December 12, 2014

KO BU BU


visited late November 2014


There are not too many one-resort islands these days in Thailand. Even fewer with only one budget resort. And Bu Bu is the only one I can think of with nothing else on the island - no village, roads or other activities.

Bu Bu is between the less visited east coast of Ko Lanta and the mainland. It is about a 6km tip from Old Lanta Town.


Ko Bu Bu far left from the wonderfully good value viewpoint restaurant on the cross-island road between Klong Nin and the east coast. Ko Po/Por is the bigger inland at central image. Old Lanta Town's pier extends from the far right of image just right of that small headland - may best be seen if you click-expand shot.


A longtail from Old Lanta Town's pier costs 300b per person (reductions for big groups). Total trip time a little over 20 minutes. This stretch of water tends to be sheltered in dry season.


Approaching the front beach. The resort is under the trees behind the beach.


Bu Bu Island Resort restaurant at left. 6 bigger 600b bungalows nicely shaded by trees start at right and are spaced up a low hill behind central area. 9 smaller 500b bungalows are out of frame to right, also nicely shaded. The two most distant are about 10m behind the sand with vegetation-filtered sea views.


Restaurant area lower left - part of the family compound. Prices the most reasonable I have found in the past 2 years of budget island resort stays. Bangkok regulars might not be impressed but 70baht for a big Chang (normal island budget bungalow 100-120) and 50/60 for chicken/squid/etc on rice (90-100 normal) is seriously inexpensive in the islands. I'm no gourmet but it tasted pretty good to me. Bungalow family staff lovely but English skills very limited. Late diners should note the 2000 closing time.


I was the only guest at the resort, but the island and restaurant were popular with day-trip groups


Day trip boats. Check the kayaks. An American NGO from Bangladesh told me the kayaking at the nearby mainland coast mangroves was very good.


Chez tezza at Bu Bu Island Resort (right). This 600b bungalow was much bigger and better fitted out/finished than similarly priced places I stayed at back on Lanta and Phi Phi this trip.
These are spacious concrete walled/tiled floor bungalows which would easily house a family of 4 with extra beds. Mine was set up with twin beds - comfy. Good insect screens. Good lights but tree shade made daytime interior a bit dim before generator cut in at 1800. Quiet fan but shading from trees meant I hardly used it (note generator runs to mid-night). Big spacious cold water bathroom with western wc. Broom. Clothes storage. Needless to say, the area was very quiet at night.


The 500b bungalows were of identical concrete/tile construction but considerably smaller - just big enough for 2 people and their gear. Cheapskate tezza considered the extra 100 for the big one was money well spent - 20% more baht for 70% more space.


Front (western) beach low tide. Sand tends towards white/yellow when it is dry. Note some exposed rocks low tide leading to rocky bottom immediately in water but plenty of in-water sand undefoot when tide is up. Snorkeling off here not great - water tends to be the usual Ko Lanta area not so clear stuff which doesn't support good living coral. In the far background the beach continues around the corner of the island.....


....to become the southern beach. Once again low tide in shot - a bit more sand into the water then a similar rocky bottom. At highest tide mainly patches of sand between shoreline trees were left. These sections are suitable for naturists - a couple of whom had come over from Old Lanta Town. Resort staff and daytrippers didn't seem to venture around here and there was only the need to cover up for the occasional passing fishing boat.


Bu Bu is compact - 400m east-west and 460m north-south.  
It is possible to walk around the coast in about 45 minutes. Anticlockwise from the eastern end of the south beach is a tilted section of rock which ends about half-way up the eastern coast where a series of low tide only coarse sand beaches start. These end at the north-west corner past where it is more rock-hopping/ small sandy patches back to the northern end of the front beach. This circumnavigation would be difficult above half tide. Flip-flops etc are not particularly suited to the rocky areas at any time.
It is also possible to circumnavigate the island on a rainforest walking track. This takes about 25 minutes, has no challenging slopes and is not very rough underfoot. At one stage it comes down to the low-tide beach in the north-east of the island. There are another few opportunities to access the coast by side tracks.


Low tide only beach - north east of island


Rainforest track. Interestingly, the forest seemed to be secondary growh - there were few big trees, suggesting most had at one stage been cleared. An expat back on Lanta told me Bu Bu was once a communist commune.


From the track in the island's north-east I spotted these snorkelers (click-expand). They were later taking lunch in the resort clearing - they told me the fish in the above area were okay but otherwise there was nothing of great interest.


Sunset behind Lanta from the front beach

CONTACT INFORMATION
Bu Bu has a website but I found no-one was answering the two phone numbers listed there. Even if successful I doubt I could have communicated with the owners - their English is poor and I'm hopeless in such situations. Travel agents on the busy west coast of Lanta similarly had no luck getting the numbers answered. One suggested I should go over to Old Lanta Town where they have local knowledge. So I grabbed a moto and shot across to the nearest travel agent to the pier. This worked a charm:


Opal Travel on the big roundabout at the southern end of Old Lanta Town's main street (and about 70m north from the street end of the pier) - the guy there speaks excellent English and has a wealth of info about all aspects of Lanta travel. He had no trouble contacting Bu Bu Island Resort, booking me a 600 bungalow and arranging a longtail for my transfer the following day. His commission comes from the resort's 600 - you pay no exta.
On departure he also phoned one of the hop-on hop-off share taxi trucks which took me across to Klong Dao in Lanta's north-west for 150b vs the 400+ for a normal taxi truck.
Theerasak Sawangchob
veerandej.innna@gmail.com
087-2723007

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IF YOU SEE MISTAKES OR HAVE EXTRA INFO PLEASE POST BELOW. BUT IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS PLEASE POST THEM IN THE FORUM WHICH I CHECK MOST DAYS - I RARELY RETURN TO THESE INDIVIDUAL LOCATION PAGES.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

THE PYRENEES

visited August 2014


Not exactly beaches and islands. But any visit into Barcelona for someone who likes mountains and walking should include nearby locations like the Pyrenees and Montserrat if time permits.
My time was quite limited so I decided on a day-trip and one which would lay on some expertise in knowledge and getting there and back quickly - so instead of doing myself I chose Viator's paid offering.

Girona and France have been included for perspective - other places are included in Viator's tour.

Viator offers excursions in many European and other countries. Its operator for the Pyrenees trip is Explore Catalunya. Kick off was around 0830 from its central Barcelona office only 10 minutes walk from Pl Catalunya and even closer to Via Laietana Urquiaona metro station.

VIC
First stop was Vic, a service town of about 40000 people in the sub-Pyrenees region. It's about 70km from Barcelona and a nice call in for a) people who have not breakfasted because of the early start and b) a chance to check one of the better old-town areas of central Catalunya.  Our very good guide (who filled the trip from Barcelona with an excellent commentary on that city and the areas we were passing thru - lots of  new info for me plus stuff I knew made more interesting) took us on a walk thru of some of the more interesting sights and then gave us an hour or so of free time.

This is the placa major (main square) - Viator tries to co-ordinate its visits with market days. Plenty to see and buy here including no shortage of food. Some excellent food shops in the nearby alleys too.
If you click expand you may see the Catalunya independence flags hanging off the sides of some builidings - there were hundreds around the square; apparently the independence movement is much bigger in the regions than Barcelona.


Vic old town also has a famous cathedral. First construction was in the 7thC - lots of sackings, reconstruction and additions sees a real hodge-podge of styles. The exterior is nothing to write home to mum about but inside looked pretty impressive to me...


...as did the exterior of the 2ndC Roman temple.

QUERALBS
Leaving Vic we travelled on to Ripoll. This 35km trip on good roads is relatively flat for the first half and then starts a steady climb into the lower Pyrenees proper - Ripoll is over 700m (2300ft) above sea level. The tour itinerary mentioned a stop in Ripoll, but we rolled thru this town of 1200 people and continued another 22km up the alpine river valley to Queralbs - a fair bit higher at 1236m (4050ft),
What appears to be cloud north of Queralbs turns out to be snow after a closer look at Google Earth from which this image is modified. I didn't add a distance scale - it is 16km in a straight line from Ripoll place marker to Queralb's.





Queralbs is a sweet alpine village with a permanent population of only 200 people - this is expanded in winter when transhumance graziers (it seems cattle is the go in this region rather than sheep and goats) bring their animals down from the heights and ski bunnies move into their converted town apartments. Apparently the latter trade has been knocked around by the opening of accommodation higher on the slopes.
The town is one of stone walled slate roofed houses and narrow streets, very attractive.


Our guide told us school holidays start a week or so before adults' traditional summer break. Therefore many activities are organised for kids. This group look to be well equipped for an overnight trek somewhere higher up.


Queralbs is literally the end of the road to Nuria. To get there you need to walk (lots of trekking trails start here - Nuria is about 3  hours) or catch the rack railway - inclusive in Viator's price. That's the approach to the station above - the track heads up that valley to Nuria. Note the rack railway starts at Ribes de Freesser a few km down valley, but that makes a tour of Queralbs town more difficult.


The train to Nuria is Spain's highest rack railway - the rack is the central cogged track which the train hooks into on steeper parts. The line snakes up the valley, often some distance above the river. The best views are from the right hand side for at least 3/4 of the upwards trip.


It's a little over 5km in a straight line from Queralbs to Nuria. Gaps in the yellow track rout are tunnels. The train climbs over 700m (2300ft) between the two points - Nuria is 1964m (6442ft) above sea level.

NURIA


The ski resort at Nuria was our final destination. We had a bit less than 3 hours here - plenty of time to do the lake walk from which this was shot, take the ski lift up to the right for some panoramic views and to have some eats/drinks at the resort's several restaurants and cafes (although our guide advised the cost-conscious among us to buy some eats down in Vic - I'm cost conscious but always default to no lunch when travelling: I tell a lie - it's usually a liquid lunch. Beers at the ski resort were not over the top price-wise.
Note, fine, warm non-windy day in the lowlands, decidedly chilly and sometimes VERY blowy up here; even a few spots of rain - I had my warm jacket as advised by Viator. Definitely needed.


A 10 minute detour off the lake circuit gets you to this rather good viewpoint, although wind gusts were so strong up here that I had to wait to take a steady shot. The French border runs across those ridge tops in the background - only 2.9km center-right and 2.5km up the valley background left. There are many trekking paths leading away from the resort flats - one would be sure to go to the border. I didn't realise I was so close or I would have been tempted to check it out.


Turn 180 degrees from the previous shot for this view down-valley towards Queralbs.


Remnant snow high up - not bad for the start of August.


Ski lift price included in Viator deal. I rode up, walked back.


Cafe and accommodation top of the ski lift. about half a dozen trekking tracks left from up here but I wasn't sure how long they would take - I did want to do the lake circuit/lower viewpoint. Some panoramic views up here but not unique - kinda like higher versions of the one 3 above.


Panorama half way down the slope - these are usually good shots to click-expand.


On the return run to Queralbs I found the outlook up front pretty interesting.

In all a good day. We were back in Barcelona by 1830, plenty of time to take a cruise thru the town's old gothic quarter which is close to Explore Catalunya's office.

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BACK TO THE INDEX


IF YOU SEE MISTAKES OR HAVE EXTRA INFO PLEASE POST BELOW. BUT IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS PLEASE POST THEM IN THE FORUM WHICH I CHECK MOST DAYS - I RARELY RETURN TO THESE INDIVIDUAL LOCATION PAGES.