Touring Phang Nga Bay in Phuket with Simba Sea Trips

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Mention “Phuket” and eyes light up at the thought of shimmering beaches and aquamarine sea waters. The island has been immortalised in movies and regarded as the perfect destination for an “exotic” beach getaway. Google images depicting day cruises, sunbathers and picnics on the beach convince you that yes, this is paradise on earth.

The allure is slightly diminished with the volume of tourists in Phuket during busy seasons, but with the right tour company, you can still have a sandy-beach perfect vacation. I was struck when I came across rave review after rave review for this tour company called Simba Sea Trips, when scouting for a good tour of Phang Nga Bay. So I booked, with confidence, albeit with a tiny sliver of too-good-to-be-true doubt at the back of my mind. Plonking down mucho money for two (4,200 Baht per person) via PayPal can make you a bit nervous. Continue reading

Monkeying Around On The Steps of Batu Caves

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Batu Caves. Lord Murugan, in all his golden splendour, stands watch as visitors flock to pay their respects. Or to use that flight of stairs as a free stair stepper…

A myriad of bright colours await those who go to Batu Caves in Gombak, the country’s most well-known Hindu worship site that’s nestled within 400 million year-old limestone caves. In order to pay to your respects to supreme Hindu god Lord Murugan — whose towering, 140-feet tall gold statue greets visitors as they approach the entrance — you’ll have to brave a steep ascent of 272 steps. But it’s well worth the trouble.

In addition to the robust workout you get from climbing the stairs, you’ll be accompanied and entertained by a fair number of macaques who’ve long made their home at Batu Caves. Ambling about nimbly on all fours, the monkeys seem like they’re constantly on a mission. Unafraid of humans, they scamper up and down the stairs and banisters, stopping to feast on coconuts or eye things carried by humans. Some of the mama monkeys even have adorable baby macaques with them. Little arms are wrapped around Mama’s belly, clinging tightly for dear life as Mama and the rest of the clan clamber upwards to wherever they are headed.

While there are other very eye-catching things to photograph there, I wanted to zoom in onto these adorable monkeys who would surely charm even the cold-hearted — I saw a tough-looking man try to share his ice-cream with one spiky headed little macaque! Overall, the macaques are even-tempered and friendly towards humans. Be warned, however, this does not mean that this is a green light for you to touch, pet or annoy them in any way. Keep a safe distance, and no one gets hurt. Continue reading