The 'All out of witty titles' Tour travel blog

Ao Nang sunset as lovely as ever.

Just because all the other tourists were doing it!! Ao Nang

Check out the leg stretches! Daily oil massage, Ao Nang

Yet another sunset, Ao Nang

Long-tail boats waiting for the start of the day, Ao Nang

It’s 8am on Sunday, I’m sitting on the patio at Yu Bungalows listening to the long-tail boats buzzing back and forth from the islands, birds chirping, banana leaves flapping together and Peter snoring…..much different from 2 weeks ago....

Arrived in Ao Nang in the late afternoon, as usual without booking any accommodation as we have 2 reliable places and you can do better deals face-to-face. That was mistake number one! For You House (our usual doss) had closed down and Yu Bungalows (another regular) was full. Took 3 hot frustrating hours to find a tiny stinky little room, and at $35 per night, the cheapest!!! Most places were full, the rare available rooms were over $50 per night.

Quite simply...THE RUSSIANS HAVE ARRIVED...wall to wall, packing out the hotels and restaurants, shoulder to shoulder on the footpaths and on the beaches. Must confess our first reaction was to high-tail it out of there. To add to our misery the street food vendors have been dispersed, footpaths widened, yet more shops and huge hotels built. Essentially, Ao Nang is being gentrified at an unprecedented rate, pushing the backpackers and cheap eats out of the beach area up the hill a few kms away.

Managed to get into Yu Bungalows the next day, deciding to stick it out as we’d booked flights home starting in Krabi. Started our “getting fit” regime, from 7.30am, 3 hours of fast walking, hill climbing and beach pounding ending in a swim, then a massage (much needed!) Whilst that makes us feel very good and virtuous, seeing mammoth buses (6 in a row yesterday morning) delivering yet more package tourists does not. According to locals and ex-pats the Russians are squeezing out everybody else and with their brusque manner, aggressive bargaining (even in restaurants with printed prices) and general unfriendliness aren’t making themselves very popular.

I’m being PC here – of course not all Russians are fat, hostile, rude and tattoo covered - unfortunately though it’s those ones that everyone remembers. According to local gossip Au Nang is copping the overflow from Pattaya and Phuket where they already control much of the, umm, underworld.....only rumours of course! We feel quite sorry for the Thais who are smilers, always looking directly at you and just very friendly – it’s them who have no choice if they want to survive.

The upshot is that Peter and I will probably have to find another piece of paradise for our R&R. Very sad as we’ve made many friends and acquaintances over the years, always being greeted like family. Not sure we really want to put up with the absolutely no eye contact thing, rigid faces, beaches like the morning after – beer bottles and cigarette butts ankle deep – not that this is necessarily their fault, but it’s just the sheer numbers we find quite intimidating, as does everyone else.

Arriving in Brisbane this Friday, then Hobart on Thursday 20th Feb. Been a great journey, again!

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See ya…

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