Limestone karat, West Rallay beach
Koh Tao and Koh Pha-Ngan are both a long way from Bangkok. But Thailand's efficient transport system means you can buy a joint bus-boat ticket to get you to either destination overnight. A bus from Bangkok's Khao San Road takes about seven hours to reach the port of Chumphon, from where it‘s a three-hour trip to Koh Tao's Mae Haad pier. One warning though: Thai buses are notorious for thefts from the luggage locker. Keep all valuables on yOur person.
Although Koh Tao has perhaps a dozen different dive operators. prices have been fixed across the island. Expect to pay just over 7000 Thai baht for the open water c0urse and slightly less for the Advanced add on. Once you're certified. 1/100 baht \Nl“ buy you a day out on a boat with two dives. all eduipment and an experienced guide to make Sure you don‘t end up swimming to Cambodia. Planet Scuba has friendly instructors and smaller groups than some of the island's ‘dive factories'. For up to date prices check wwwplanet-SCuba.net
If you're planning to VlSll Thailand as part of a longer overland trip. land borders are
116 THE LIST 11'; “29 Nov 2001
Emerald Pool, near Krabi
currently open to visit Malaysia. Cambodia and Laos (check www.fco.co.uk for updatesl. Dictatorial Myanmar (Burma) remains off-limits to visitors and is the site of frequent border skirmishes. but Vietnam‘s Ho Chi Minh City is just a short plane ride from Bangkok.
Bored of the beach? It happens. Try a trip south to Krabi to try yOur hand at guided rock climbing on the spectacular limestone cliffs. or head north from Bangkok into Thailand's Jungle interior to trek through hill tribe villages or learn mouth-watering Thai cookery in regional capital Chiang Mai. Bangkok‘s spectacular temples. girlie bars and shopping centres are worth a look. but in the heat of the monsoon you probably won't want to hang around for more than a couple of days.
Searching for the original Beach? Rampant tourist development through much of Thailand means that real life hideaways will be
ard to come by. A0 Maya. in the SOuth of the Phi Phi Islands off the west coast. is where the film was made. But gun-toting locals connected with the super-valuable export of bird's nests for the Chinese soup market will take a very dim view of any long-term visitors.
The Thailand Tourist Authority's website is wwwtat.org.th/. or y0u can contact their UK office at 49 Albemarle Street. London W1X BFE. 0207 499 7679.
Festivals, flights and fabulous fares
NEXT ISSUE WE’LL be pointing you in the right direction to book that last minute Christmas or New Year break, but if that’s not soon enough for you here are a few suggestions for the world’s biggest and best Hogmanay parties. It goes without saying that cities are where the action is. New York’s Times Square has always been huge, but this year there’s bound to be a slight atmosphere of apprehension. If you’d feel safer elsewhere in the US you could go see Tony Bennet in Vegas or soak up the jazz in New Orleans. Down under, Sydney is always the place to be, white Rio de Janeiro’s party on Copacabana Beach is a Sizzler. In Europe you could try Germany’s celebrations at the Brandenburg Gate, enjoy fireworks and champagne stalls in Prague or take
Mother Tongues - Travels Through Tribal Europe (Picador £16.99) coco
Camper vans are cool and if you are a restless journalist with a portable family and a fascination for the ethnocentric make-up of Western Europe they are the best way
advantage of cheap flights to Amsterdam. 85% OF YOU WON'T be put off travelling following the events of 11 September. That's according to research undertaken by STA Travel, which also found that Europe will be the most popular destination to visit in the next year. followed by the US in second place. Based on this. the company has joined forces with several airlines to put together a range of special offers for students and under 26s. Deals include Barcelona and Madrid from £56 and Los Angeles from £210. More details on www.statravel.co.uk
IT’S ALSO THAT TIME of year when some people’s minds turn to glorious snow, and all the ways they can enjoy/injure themselves on it. With this in mind, WsitScotland have launched their Scottish Snowsports & Winter Activities 2001/2 brochure. For your free copy call 08705 511 511 or log onto www.visit scotland.com, where you can also find last minute winter deals.
to journey into nationalist heartlands.
Drysdale is an acute and funny writer who knows the template for this sort of Zen And The Art Of. . . quest has long since been pressed thus allowing her to play on the vanity and irrelevance of such journeys. In doing so she uncovers fascinating truths about the Basque, Corsican, Frisian, Sami, Catalan and Ladin peoples. Always grounded, but with her demanding family this is no voyage-to-the- heart-of-a-warzone travelogue but more a gentle witty family memoir that occasionally opens out to draw parallels with the bonds that tie the larger clans of the continent.
As refreshing as it is different, this delightful book makes a strong case for the need to protect the language, identities and culture of Europe’s indigenous tribes in the face of an increasingly homogenised world. (Paul Dale)