Hoping you are all happy,  healthy and well.  Thailand has been treating me very kindly and I continue to have many entertaining and educational expeiences when I’m not laying around on the beach all day.

Recently, I have travelled to the island of Koh Tao as well as the Ang Thong Marine National Park.
Koh Tao is renowned within the international scuba diving community as one of the best locations in the world to dive. And that is the main industry on this beautiful island- dive centres, dive schools, dive charter boats- they are everywhere in the scattered seaside villages. 

Although my budget at this point does not include dive lessons (perhaps toward the end of my trip), I have thoroughly enjoyed snorkelling for hours amongst the reefs. It’s kind of like swmming in an immense tropical aquarium, with brilliantly coloured fish surrounding you and amazing coral and cave formations to explore along the shore.

The Ang Thong Marine National Park is a breathtaking ancient achipelago of around 40 islands, weathered at their base by the ocean until they formed countless alcoves and caves from the limestone.  Here I toured by speedboat amongst the isles, all limestone based with sheer cliffs covered by jungle, hidden lagoons and small remote beaches tucked away from civilization. It is here that Alex Garland based his famous book ‘The Beach’, about a well hidden,perfect beach inhabited by only the most fortuitous travellers who have discovered the secret location.
My tour included several hours of sea-kayaking amongst the sea caves and jungle hiking to some amazing lookouts. When I finally work out how to use my camera I will send pics.

The national sport of Thailand is the brutal but amazing martial art of Muay Thai Boxing.  On Kho Phangan there are regular evening tournaments held at small stadiums which are really just open air grandstands surrounding a boxing ring in the jungle. 
To find out when and where the next fight night is you need to try and decipher what one of the roaming pick-up trucks with really tinny speakers is blaring into the streets. 
A Thai boxing match is worth attending for the pure spectacle.  The fighters are very respectful of ancient tradition, in the lead up to their fight they perfom a kind of ceremonial dance to the accompaniment of wild, snakecharmers type music.
They weave, they stretch, they rythmically bow to all four corners of the ring, the crowd and each other in an expression of deep respect for their guru and the guardian spirit of Thai boxing.When the fight begins they just keep dancing and weaving around the ring before unleashing fast and powerful strikes on their opponents.  All surfaces of the body are considered fair targets and, apart from headbutting, any part of the body may be used to strike the opponent.  Punching is considered the weakest of all blows, and kicking merely a way of softening up an opponent- knee and elbow strikes are decisive in most bouts.Although these were only provincial matches, the quality of martial arts I saw was very high and I loved it. So much so that i have tried some classes at the local Thai boxing school.
My own Taekwondo training held me in good stead and I found I could quickly adapt to the Muay Thai techniques. Apart from losing a lot of fluid in the humidity and taking a few bruises I was able to hold my own.
I feel this has been a great cultural experience and hope to learn more during my travels in Thailand.
I continue to enjoy and learn from my Thai massage experiences.

Some therapists try very hard and will give you a serviceable treatment, you will leave with a good feeling, yet the effects are unmemorable and dissipate soon after.
And then sometimes you will find someone who when they place their hands on you and begin a treatment you understand that they are a truly gifted healer.
I have found perhaps the islands most gifted therapist, she gives more than just a brilliant massage- she twists, pulls and manipulates each joint until it adjusts with an exquisite crunch. 
As I leave her shop I feel as if I am floating out of there and stay that way for many hours thereafter.  The perfect remedy for my sore, kickboxing/kayaking/swimming muscles, I have been the past 3 days in a row and am hoping to take some of her technique with me to practice.

Finally, most of my homesickness has now dissipated. I now feel like a free-spirit and enjoy living such a simple existence with few responsibilities and belongings. It’s refreshing to say the least.

Lots of love and light going out to you all,

Paul