Vomit Comet & Lotus Everything

Day 26 – Chumporn to Koh Tao – Sunday March 27th 2011

Our bus arrived in Chumporn at 5am, but we had to wait on the pontoon until 7am. It had rained all night, and was still raining. We were all huddled under a tarpaulin shelter.

The sea didn’t look too rough, but when the catamaran arrived it nearly smashed the jetty to pieces before they managed to get it secured. They loaded and unloaded supplies before letting us board. We were a bit late setting off.

Welcome to the Vomit Comet

After a minute of intense seas, the staff came round handing out sick bags. Nic and I both took one as a precaution. I wasn’t too worried, as I’ve been on boats before and never been sick.

After twenty to thirty minutes of being thrown from side to side I couldn’t take it any more. Along with most of the boat I was soon throwing up. Frank somehow survived the whole trip without being sick and Chick lasted until right near the end. Frank was almost overcome when he made a brave dash for the toilets, which were located outside, but somehow regained his composure. He’s pure man that fella.

I could barely stand by the time we reached the dock, but almost ran off the boat. I couldn’t get on solid land quick enough. Nic was even worse than me, and I felt bad that I couldn’t help her more. I was in no state to help anyone.

We ignored the row of taxi hawkers outside the building, and walked into Mae Haad. We asked a travel agent about accommodation and she advised us to head towards Sairee. She flagged down a Songthaew and within a couple of minutes we were there.

Lotus Everything

We were dropped at the top of Soi Lotus (Lotus Road). We soon realised where it got its name. Everything was named lotus, from restaurants, guesthouses, massage places and tour offices it was all lotus. Naturally we checked in to Lotus apartments. We paid £3 each for double rooms, which was really good, considering we had been told the whole island was fully booked. We had also been told that rooms start at £8 per person, so even better.

We slept for a while to recover from the trip and then went out to explore. Since Vietnam we had got quite attached to our rain Macs and would be using them a lot.

Ignoring the torrential rain for a minute, this island looks really nice. There are beachside bungalows, restaurants and shops, and it all feels welcoming and laid back. If only this rain would stop.

One negative is the beach nearest to our rooms was strewn with beer bottles. It also seems like everyones sewage runs into the sea. If the weather gets better we will try to find a better beach.

Full English

I had a big breakfast to help regain my strength. Washed down with a sugary coke, it was just what I needed. We went back to our rooms to get changed before going for dinner later.

We were aiming for a big restaurant on the main road called Hippo, but the main road was now a river which we didn’t fancy swimming across. Instead we turned back and went to Porto Bello, a really good Italian restaurant with a lovely atmosphere.

We walked to a bar on the waterfront for a few Changs before trudging back through the knee high water to our rooms.

News from back home is that there is a mini heatwave and everyone is already getting a suntan. We are as white as ghosts.


Caves and National Park

Day 22 – Ninh Binh – Wednesday March 23rd 2011

Please, Take A Safety Belt
Please, Take A Safety Belt

Our drive to the national park took about an hour (In the car above).  It cost about a pound to get in to the park, which included a guide for the primate and elephant conservation areas. Elephants and primates were rescued and returned to nature wherever possible.

We were driven to cave where ancient human remains had been found. We got to just go in and explore. There were hardly any other tourists in the whole park.

We had lunch at the top of the park and then went for an unguided walk through the forest. The start of the walk was on a concrete pathway, but it soon gave way to dirt tracks. Along the route we saw a big old tree, some scenic views and another cave. Palace Cave.Luckily I had my head torch so we were able to go into the cave and have a look round. We were only a few hundred yards in when I couldn’t even see my own hand in front of my face.

Frank went off a little further into the cave, with only a tiny LED light, which stopped working halfway. This cave seemed to be sucking the light from our torches so we made a speedy exit.

Thinking about Vietnam

If we hadn’t left Hanoi, then I would have much positive to say about Vietnam, but Ninh Binh has shown me a different side. Maybe Hanoi is just another big busy city. Maybe we were silly and unlucky. We definitely didn’t have a great time there and can’t wait to get back to happy, easy Thailand. I can’t wait for another happy Sawasdee from a smiling Thai.

Tomorrow we will hire some bikes or mopeds to have a look round Tam Coc. I am thinking of trying a geared bike, as I’ve always wanted to learn to ride. The main problem is navigating the busy 1A road to get fuel before we leave. That will be fun.

Save The Planet – Scrap Green Traffic Lights

Why not remove the green light from our traffic lights?

Scrap Green Traffic Lights
Scrap Green Traffic Lights

A quick search suggests there are around 25,000 sets of traffic lights in the UK, with each set containing multiple lights. One estimate says 420,000 lights in total.

If we were to scrap the green light from all these junctions, we could cut the number of bulbs by 33%. Also, as it is the green light that stays on when idle, the energy saved would potentially be much more than 33%. The red and amber lights would only be illuminated when required.

There is the potential problem that you would have less time to react to a traffic signal if you hadn’t seen the green light, but we could just make the amber display slightly longer to compensate for this.

The energy savings could be massive, and it could also help contribute to darker skies at night, and reduced light pollution.

Maybe I have missed something glaringly obvious with my logic here so hit me up with some comments if you don’t agree.