Podcast: Koh Lipe, Tarutao marine park

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Koh Lipe (also spelt ‘Lipeh’ or ‘Leepae’) is a small island in Thailand (Satun Province), near the Tarutao National Marine Park, on the Andaman (west) coast of Thailand adjacent to Malaysia. It has a small local population of Chao Ley – otherwise known as ‘sea gypsies’ – who inhabit the island throughout the year making a living from fishing in the low (tourist) season, and from tourism in the high season.

Click above to hear our Koh Lipe Podcast. This podcast includes a short interview with Pooh from Poohs bar and restaurant, as well as Tina getting bitten by a bunch of angry mosquitoes, again.

Koh Lipe island Thailand

Two years ago I visited Koh Lipe, and it conjured up memories of the time I spent island-hopping in Thailand in 1991 – a time when even Koh Phangan didn’t have sealed roads. It had that laid-back, lost-in-time feel to it, something I feared could no longer be found easily in Thailand.

Tina and I decided we’d head to Koh Lipe this year for a couple of weeks over Christmas and New year. We knew the island would be at its busiest over this period, but had to go over New Year due to work commitments.

As soon as we arrived, a few changes struck me – firstly, there was a lot more development taking place – with buildings and bungalows springing up around the island. Secondly, the holiday-makers on the island had, in the space of two short years, changed from being comprised mostly of backpackers & travelers to being more noticeably made up of couples & families. In particular, it was obvious that a few tour operators from Scandinavian countries had started shipping families out to Lipe by the bus load.

The increasing numbers of tourists to Koh Lipe has obviously resulted in more rubbish being left behind on the island – and this became more evident the more time we spent walking through the sandy paths criss-crossing the island. Particularly in peak season rubbish-disposal seems to be posing a bit of a problem.

Koh Lipe has no sealed roads, and no cars. Yet. A few locals own Honda scooters and they sometimes drive these at break-neck speed down the sandy paths. In the next 1-2 years I expect the first sealed road will be built linking the Chao Ley village to Pattaya beach – the main beach on the island.

Despite this development, I felt Koh Lipe still retained its charm. The scenery as a whole in Taratao National Park is stunningly beautiful – with emerald green seas and white sandy beaches in abundance. Koh Lipe and the other islands in Taratao marine park have some of the best diving and snorkeling in Thailand. You can either snorkel straight off the Koh Lipe beaches, or head out on a snorkeling trip as we did. The coral and underwater life was breathtaking and in my opinion it was on a par with Dahab in Egypt where I learned to dive a few years ago.

Getting there

There are several ways to get to Koh Lipe but the most popular are:

1) Taking a train or plane from Bangkok to Hat Yai followed by a minibus/taxi to Pak Bara on the Andaman coast, where you take a ferry or speedboat to Koh Lipe. We flew Airasia and Nokair to & from Bangkok. Air Asia suffered from chronic flight delays.

2) Taking a ferry or speedboat from Koh Lanta.

There is more information on getting to and from Koh Lipe on the Koh Lipe Thailand website.

Where to stay

We’d recommend Mountain Resort (where we stayed) – fan huts during peak season were 600 baht a night – they would be cheaper at other times. Mountain Resort has a great view of the sea looking towards Koh Adang, and in our opinion, although not directly on the beach, it is located above the most beautiful beach on Koh Lipe.

Useful links

Poohs – If you need accommodation, the internet, somewhere to change money or book onward travel, or just a friendly bar and restaurant to hang out in, Pooh’s is the place to go. Following the interview I did with him in the podcast, he asked me to pass on his phone number +66 (0)89 5953737. If you need help – contact Pooh- he’s incredibly friendly and a bit of a Mr Fix It!

Dang Dee Tour Services – We did our snorkeling trip through Annie at Dang Dee (+66 (0)89 4637801). Her email is dangdeeservicelipe@hotmail.com. The price is about 500 Thai Baht a day, including lunch for a 4-stop snorkeling trip amongst the neighbouring islands.

Podcast: 1483km by motorbike in North Thailand

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Last week I completed a long 1483Km motorbike trip with my sister Laura through the mountains of North and North West Thailand, you can listen to the podcast we made along the way by clicking above.

The road between Mae Sot and Umphang

Setting off from Chiang Mai, we headed North East through the mountains to Mae Hong Son (via Pai), before heading South to Mae Sot and about 650KM along the Thailand/Burma border to our final destination – Umphang. Surrounded by national parks and wildlife reserves (and classified as a UNESCO World heritage site), Umphang is one of the most beautiful, but least accessible districts in Thailand. Nevertheless, it has one major tourist attraction, Thi Lo Su Waterfall, the largest waterfall in Thailand – 200 metres high and 400 metres wide.

Remarkably, Laura had only learned to ride a motorbike two weeks prior to the trip – she drove a 125 CC Honda Dream Scooter and I drove my 200CC Honda Phantom. In total, the trip took seven days of actual driving, with two days ‘resting’ in Mae Sot and Umphang.

This podcast features a lot of the sounds we heard along the way, from the jungle sounds of cicadas & birds of paradise, to frogs, Lisu musicians, a Thai kick boxing match, rafting near Umphang, and an interview with Tasanee at Safe Haven Orphanage.

You can view photos of the trip by visiting our Flickr account.

Route information

Click here for the motorbike trip route mapThe route we took was Chiang Mai – Pai – Mae Hong Son – Mae Sariang – Khun Yuam Sunflower fields – Mae Sariang – Mae Sot – Umphang – Mae Sot – Chiang Mai. (See the map on the right courtesy of Travelfish.org)

The approximate distances are below.

Chiang Mai to Pai – 135KM
Pai to Mae Hong Son – 139KM
Man Hong Son to Mae Sariang (via the sunflower fields) – 250KM
Mae Sariang to Mae Sot – 242KM
Mae Sot to Umphang – 176KM
Umphang to Mae Sot – 176KM
Mae Sot to Chiang Mai – 365 KM
Total: 1483KM

Podcast: Loi Krathong Festival in Sukhothai

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Loi Krathong festival (also commonly spelt ‘Loy Kratong’) is celebrated in Thailand on the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar – which means it usually falls in November in the Western calendar.

Loi Krathong Festival at Sukhothai, Thailand

“Loi” means “to float” and a “Krathong” is a small raft, traditionally made from a section of banana tree trunk decorated with elaborately-folded banana leaves, flowers, candles and incense sticks. The Thais float these on rivers and lakes throughout Thailand during Loi Krathong. The Thai tradition of Loy Kratong started off in Sukhothai, but it is now widely celebrated throughout Thailand, with the festivities in Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya also being particularly well known.

Apart from venerating the Buddha with light (the candle on the raft), the act of floating away the candle raft is symbolic of letting go of all one’s grudges, anger and bad luck, so that one can start life afresh on a better foot. People will also cut their fingernails and hair and add them to the raft as a symbol of letting go of negative influences.

I have wanted to experience the Loi Krathong festival at Sukhothai since I first arrived in Thailand more than two years ago, and this weekend I finally made it! This podcast begins before I traveled to Sukhothai, sitting on a sunny bank by a lake in Mae Sot near the Burma border…

Podcast: Road trip to the wild sunflower fields

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This weekend, we completed a 700KM round trip from Chiang Mai via Ob Luang National Park, to Mae Sariang and onto Khun Yuam and the Doi Mae U-Kho sunflower fields in Northern Thailand. We made this podcast along the way, and Tina will soon also be uploading a video she made of the trip…if flowers and blue skies put a smile on your face, you’d better head there quickly as this magnificent spectacle only lasts until early December.

Doi Mae U-Kho sunflower fields, Thailand

Map showing the sunflower fields in relation to Chiang Mai


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Podcast: Coffee enema – do it yourself detox

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Coffee Enema bagCoffee Enemas have been used for over a hundred years as a generalized detoxification procedure. I do a DIY coffee enema every two months or so. The procedure stimulates the liver and gallbladder to release stored toxins and wastes and liver function is enhanced. The immediate benefits for me are always a relief in my stomach, a feeling of well-being and increased metabolism.

It is also a very cheap procedure because you can do it at home yourself and all you really need is a special enema bag (which costs about 130 baht or $4), purified water and some organic coffee.

It is interesting to note that drinking a cup of coffee has an entirely different effect from that of using it as a cleansing enema.

At the top is a podcast we made about coffee enemas. Enjoy I did 🙂

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Podcast: Peace in Burma protest, Chiang Mai

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Last Friday evening, straight after putting the Givetoburma.org website live, I raced down to the Three Kings Monument in Chiang Mai to meet Tina and attend the Peace in Burma protest. You can listen to the podcast we made at the protest below.

Peace in Burma are a Chiang Mai-based coalition of people and organisations who support peace, freedom and democracy in Burma.

Peace in Burma protest, Three King

Since August 15th, when the military government dramatically increased fuel prices in Burma, thousands of monks started to lead peaceful demonstrations through the streets against the Burmese military government.

The fuel price rises were the catalyst that brought a population already striken with poverty onto the streets. The hikes hit Burma’s people hard, especially the poorest, forcing up the price of public transport and triggering a knock-on effect for staple foods such as rice and cooking oil.

For more information about the protests and fuel price rises, the BBC website has an informative Q&A here. To make a donation to help the protesters, please visit the Givetoburma.org website. To find out more about some of the Human Rights abuses against the ethnic minorities in Burma, please visit the Karen Human Rights Group website (the group I volunteered with when I first came to Thailand). Finally, on the BBC website is an interesting article called Burma unrest: Account from a monastery.

You can subscribe to the Earthoria podcasts in Itunes by clicking this link.

Podcast: The Sunday Market, Chiang Mai

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Every Sunday in Chiang Mai, from about 4pm until as late as midnight, a market known variously as the ‘Sunday Market’, or the ‘Walking Street Market’ takes place in Chiang Mai. The Sunday Market has, in recent years, become a bit of an institution in Chiang Mai – with many thousands of locals and foreigners turning up to browse, buy, and eat from the various street stalls or simply socialise with their friends.

The Sunday Market, Chiang Mai, Thailand

The Sunday Market is also the best place in Chiang Mai to see genuine Thai style street entertainment. Right along the length of the Ratchadamnoen Road are pavement artists – from traditional musicians, Thai dancers and living statues to puppet shows and busking bands.

This weekend Tina and I headed to the Sunday Market with our recording equipment in hand, in an attempt to bring you some of the sounds and atmosphere. We hope you enjoy it!

Sunday Market location

Ratchadamnoen road, running East-West from around Tapae Gate (the East gate of the Chiang Mai Old Town) – every Sunday from about 4pm.


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