Thailand

Dreams of Thailand – Khaolak Finale

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The final chapter of an amazing adventure

We got back to Thailand the second week in December for the last stretch of our very long honeymoon. We got to Keith and Alex house in the afternoon and a new furry friend called Pippa greeted us as we arrived. It is one of the great things about living in Thailand, the animals that choose to come and live with you. This border collie looking creature had apparently decided to move in a week earlier and she was just adorable.

We wanted to end this trip where it started almost 10 months ago and it felt nice to have time to once again get to enjoy the beauties if this great place. We managed to fit in a dive at Richelieu Rock, and even though the currents were quite mad, it was wonderful to see that beautiful site again and see how well it looked after the low season. The ocean also treated us to some waves and we got to hang out with our friends up at Memories for a few surf sessions. Most of the evenings we spent with Keith and Alex and it’s been wonderful to have so many nights with them where we once again enjoyed some delicious food together and of course a few great nights at the Happy Snapper.

Leaving Thailand is always an emotional ordeal as we have so many friends here and feel so much at home, but we also can’t wait to get back to Sweden to celebrate Christmas and New Years with our families and see our amazing friends in Sweden again. When we look back on our trip we realise that in all the places we have visited we have had friends welcoming us and sharing our adventure and we feel truly blessed to have friends all around the world.

It is very difficult to describe how great this experience has been. As we draw to a close we feel that our brains will need some time to process all the impressions and memories we’ve gained this year. We’ve visited so many beautiful places, met so many amazing friends, both old and new, gone through a few challenges times together and we’ve grown so much as a couple.

If you ever get the opportunity, or feel that you want to have the opportunity to do something similar then all we can say after this 10 month wonderful whirlwind, is do it, do it, do it.

Dreams of Thailand – Andaman Sea Surf Competition

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Surf festival

The last few years Pakarang Surf Shop has been part of the Andaman Sea Surf Competition Tour and this year they were going to hold the last competition of the tour and were planning to finish in style with a big surf festival.

Linus helped them with all the artwork for the competition, and as we wanted to experience the festival and Michael and Linus were keen to compete again we flew back to Thailand after 4 amazing weeks in Medewi. Ef and Pat came and picked us up at the airport and drove us to Keith an Alex house before taking Michael to his hotel in Bang Niang. Keith was waiting up for us, but as we were all feeling really tired we soon said good night and went to bed.

Linus got up early the following morning and head off to Memories as the swell was looking promising. Malin stayed and had a quiet relaxing morning together with Keith and Alex before they head off to the office. They had been going through some pretty rough times as the company they’ve worked for for the past 5 years had gone into liquidation and they were on the last stretch of the process as they were preparing for a final sale of all the company’s equipment and supplies. After Linus surf session we head over to help them prepare for the sale and spent the rest of the day in the office carrying mattresses and sorting out equipment. Michael came over to help as well and it felt good that we were able to give them a hand in this rather shitty situation.

The first day of the surf festival arrived and we drove out to Memories early in the morning so that Linus and Michael could catch some warm up waves before the competition began. It was amazing to see all the artwork in place and the effort they had put in to the festival area. There were food stands and small shops along the beach and each surf crew had their own area to sit in and they had also built a really tall judges tower. The competition started and Linus and Michael both made it through to the second round but unfortunately they lost in their second round heats. It was an awesome weekend and the ocean was on our side as the waves stayed big enough during the whole competition and the biggest sets came during the final which we unfortunately missed as we got stuck at home in a thunderstorm and were too knackered to head back to Memories in time, but hey you can’t have it all! 🙂 The boys from Memories did really well during the competition and Nai won the grom division and Pat came second and Pai third in longboard.

Apart from the surf competition there was a lot of excitement at Memories as their most recent project Khaolak Elephant Home, started to run during our time in Thailand. It is a 900 Rai (144 hectar) large elephant retirement and rehabilitation home in the jungle behind Memories that Ching has started with his friend. It was amazing to see these giant creatures and as we were there they had one 60 year old elephant and four 2-year old elephants staying in the home. Tourists can come and visit and get to feed the elephants and take them bathing, but there is no riding allowed. It was great to see how much Ching and Door and their daughters were enjoying this new venture and every day we came to Memories we could see them there saying hello to the elephants.

It was awesome to get to spend some more time with Keith and Alex and to help them with their new venture Diving Belle. We also got to celebrate our first Guy Fawkes night as Keith and Alex needed to get rid of their old bamboo sofa and what better way than to honour the bon fire night and burn it. We had so many awesome evenings together and Keiths Lamb Korma, Alex chilli con carne and the very lucky mishap when we managed to buy 9 kebabs for us to share from the market are some of the greatest and most delicious memories we have.

Every time we come to Khao Lak we feel how much of a second home it is, and we feel really blessed to have this place on the other side of the world where we can be surrounded with so many great friends that make us feel so at home.

Thailand dream

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Monsoon, surf, creativity and a kitten

The last 2 months we have been back in our beloved Khao Lak and it has been really nice to experience another low season here. Most of the dive staff have left to work in other areas of the world so it is very calm and quiet with only a few tourists around and everything is moving at a slower pace.

The low season is also the surf season and the last 2 months the monsoon rains have been frequent and the ocean has given us plenty of swells to surf on and we have been up to Memories several times a week to play in the waves.

 

About a month ago we went with the whole Memories gang down to Phuket and Patong Beach for a surf competition and Linus broke new ground as he entered the long board division. His goal was to get 1 point and he scored 4 in his heat so he was well happy even though he unfortunately didn’t go through to the next round.

The competition left Linus hungry for more so the next weekend it was time to compete again but this time only Linus went down to Phuket as the week brought us a surprise. Linus smashed his own record and received 7 points and got ranked nr 18 after the first leg of the tour which he was very happy about.

During our stay we have been house sitting for our friends Keith and Alex as they are back in England for the summer and it has been such a blessing to stay in their amazing house, especially as it comes with two wonderful furry friends to keep us company.

The week after the first competition we all of a sudden heard a strange squeaking noise outside our gate and as Linus looked out a tiny kitten sat there looking at him. It was incredibly sweet with absolutely huge ears but it was really malnourished and seemed really weak. We couldn’t see the mother anywhere so we took it in and gave it some food and water and made a small home for it in a trash bin which it snuggled into happily. The next day we brought it to the vet and learned that it was probably between 4-6 weeks old and we got some goats milk to feed it with. It was incredible to see how quickly life started to return to this adorable creature and in a few days it was running around happily.

Keith and Alex cat, Smokey, was not too impressed with the newcomer at first but after the 3 weeks that have passed since the kitten arrived she has started to warm up a bit towards her. Their dog on the other hand is one of the sweetest dogs we’ve ever met and he was super excited from the start with the tiny new addition to the pack and they play and sleep together and when the kitten goes out on the street the dog very often follows her there and it seems like he’s keeping a protective eye on her.

The past two months we have also been busy helping friends down here with some new websites and design stuff and it has been really nice to put the creative hat on again.

Thailand was already very much a second home for us but after spending so much time here again it has been reaffirmed as a very precious place in our hearts. <3

Dreams of the Andaman Sea

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36 amazing dives

In the weeks after the wedding we were lucky enough to go out on 3 wonderful liveaboard trips and do some awesome diving.

It was amazing to see all these great divesites again and we were so happy to see how well the coral was doing. When we left Thailand in 2012 it was quite damaged because of the bleeching and to see the amount of regrowth that has happened in a relatively short space of time was amazing!

Not only was the coral looking great the sea was teaming with life and we saw eagle rays, reef sharks, guitar sharks, whale sharks and humphead parrot fish which we have never seen before in the Similans and the pelagic fish were abundant and active.

Being back in the Similans again also brought back many memories of our first time together as we started our relationship working out here.

Watching the sun rise over a calm ocean is an breathtaking experience that we never grow tired of and to share it with so many new and old friends is amazing.

A big thank you also to Wicked Diving Thailand and Big Blue Diving Khao Lak for the amazing trips!

Linus took the GoPro for a spin and you can watch the highlights from our diving adventure in the video below.

Daytripping with family and friends

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Two days of amazing nature

After recovering from our amazing wedding day and party it was time to do some exploration.

On the first day of exploration we head out to the Surin National Park to do some snorkeling and we were amazed to see how well the corals were doing. When we left Thailand in 2012 much of the shallow parts of the reed was badly damaged and bleeched and now even the coral at 2 meters depth were very healthy and abundant.

The second day we head up to Khao Sok National Park and the Rachaprapa Dam which is an artificial lake surrounded by djungle and lime stone mountains. We head out in long tail boats and had lunch at the floating raft houses. It is such a stunning scenery with the turqoise water, grey mountains and thick rainforest all in one place.

It was really wonderful to spend these two days with many of our guests and explore these two beautiful national parks together.

Malinus said yes!

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A magic night

The big day had finally arrived when we got to celebrate our relationship with so many of our family and friends.

The ceremony was planned for 5:30 pm and during the afternoon the sky opened and we thought we might have a very wet ceremony. However the weather gods were on our side and the rain held up so that we could have our ceremony and get a few photos taken before the sky opened up again. Our good friend Keith was our celebrant and we loved the warm relaxed and happy atmosphere he created during the ceremony. We did our walk in together after meeting up on the beach to a medley from the soundtrack from ”Finding Nemo”. We both felt very teary and quite nervous as we walked up towards the ”gate”, but as the music was turned down the keyboard standing next to us surprised us by playing an elevator auto tune which blew away any sense of nerves and we all had a good laugh.

We were amazed at the amount of detail and effort our incredible wedding planner and her team had put into the wedding area and decorations – it was stunning!

The rain contributed to creating a warm and fuzzy feeling as everyone huddled up below the roofed area around the bar and we enjoyed delicious Thai food, pancakes and coconut icecream followed by adorable cup cakes.

As the night progressed the rain disapeared and the boys at Memories held a fire show for us which ended with us setting fire to our initials and a heart. After that the dancefloor opened and we danced barefoot in the sand under the stars.

As a final blessing the ocean was filled with bioluminescense that night and Linus and a few friends played in the water for an hour marvelling at the light show their movement created.

It was a magic night that gave us so many great memories of laughter, love and friendship. Words cannot express how grateful we feel to get to share this life with so many awesome people and that we are now starting this new chapter of our lives <3

Wrecked – Our first dives back into the blue

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Bonsung Wreck

After a few days getting settled in down here we had the opportunity to visit one of our favourite dive sites, the Bonsung Wreck with our friends from Wicked Diving. Most dive sites in the Khao Lak area are quite remote but this one is easy accessable with a long tail boat, just 20-30 minutes boat ride from the shore.

There’s a sandy bottom around the area with not many features so this wreck has turned into a perfect artificial reef and now host more fish per square meter than any other site we’ve been to. The juveniles move in there for some shelter, which attracts predators and just watching the hunt and gigantic schools are something we’ll never get bored of. Our first dives also meant the perfect opportunity to try out the new camera and it’s looking promising. Linus took these photos and made the video without the dive light, when we have that installed it should make for some spectacular footage during the trip 😀

So happy to be back in the water again!

Koh Phra Thong camping trip

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Island paradise

Sitting in our bungalow one afternoon our friend Ching came by and asked us if we wanted to go to Koh Phra Thong. We never heard of the place so naturally we said yes! The trip was going to take place in a couple of days, and apparently we were staying overnight as well.

When the day finally arrived we found out that we were picking up some local kids and Chings daughter that were going to join us for the trip. Ching explained that he does a couple of camping trips like this every season with local kids to let them go out on an adventure that they normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to do and learn a few basic things about camping while doing it.

Awesome!

It took us about 2 hours to reach the island, 1 hour in car and 1 hour in a long tail boat. Our jaws dropped when we saw the set up of the island and Tawan Bar where we where staying. Perfect empty beach with a tiny island outside with a surrounding house reef next to a post card perfect crescent bay. Absolutely stunning! The day and night where spent fishing, snorkelling, kayaking and even a safari trip with Pih-Sak, the owners, home built tractor.

Pih-Sak and his wife were the only people working in this beautiful wooden bungalows, bar and restaurant of which they had built everything by themselves and they where super friendly.

We are definitely coming back to this secluded paradise again!

Back to our Thailand home

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Back to our Thailand home

This past Sunday the time had come – next stop Thailand and the start of our 10 month adventure.

We were very nervous about checking in our bags as we were quite certain that their immense weight would give us some nasty financial surprises, but our joy was complete when we realised that we could use a self-service bag drop and the machine accepted our bags without fuzz – phew!

After a surprisingly comfortable and quick flight where we enjoyed a couple of movies including ”3 billboards outside Ebbing Missouri” (strongly recommend seeing it) we breezed through immigration, got our bags and as we walked outside the airport to meet our pick up we were stunned by the heat and the smells that brought back so many memories. It felt so amazing to be back and even more so as we took our first steps on the beach at Memories and felt the sand between our toes.

We have now been here 5 days already and we have spent our days surfing, catching up with old friends, having delicious food, sunset drinks and our ghost-like skin has slowly started to tan.

The day before yesterday our friend Bibi took us to a temple in Khuk Khak where 150 monks from all around Thailand had gathered. It was extremely hot at the temple and basically no wind so we tried to find as much shade as possible as we listened to the prayer and words of wisdom delivered by the head monk. After this all of the 150 monks walked past us in a row and it was our job to give each monk some of the rice we had brought with us. It was quite difficult to keep up and apparently we gave the first ones too much and a kind Thai lady standing next to us told us how much to give each. It was great to experience this as neither of us had been to temple before and it felt good to get a bit closer to our Buddhist friends culture.

Tomorrow we will have another reunion as we take out our dive gear and visit the dive site Boonsung Wreck which used to be the final dive of the liveaboards we used to work on. We have probably done this dive between 50-100 times and it will be great to see this old friend again.

Life is good 🙂