Wednesday 27 February 2013

Travelling & Living: Ayara Kamala Resort & Spa

View from the lobby
Image from Locky's English Playground
The entrance of Ayara Kamala Resort & Spa was by the right side of the uphill Road.

Entrance of the resort to lobby
Image from Locky's English Playground
Judging by the exterior it was hard to imagine what a magnificent scenery this resort embraces

Panorama of the view from the lobby
Image from Locky's English Playground
Front facing the vast blue Andaman Sea and engulfed by dense vegetation on the hill side, the resort lies in the heart of mother nature, blessed with tranquillity and utmost beauty of the west coast of Phuket. Simply irresistible to anyone with a camera. 

View of the hillside villas from the lobby
Image from Locky's English Playground
Having spent 4 days in Bangkok, this is a heaven, an ideal place for a relaxing honeymoon stay.

Panoramic view of the hillside villas from the lobby
Image from Locky's English Playground
It was nothing short of a shock to see the resort in person. Makes me wonder how different it was when I saw those promotional photos on the resort's website.

The welcome flower and drink
Image from Locky's English Playground
Checking-in didn't take long and soon my wife and I were driven to the doorsteps of our room -- Grand Pool Villa Ocean View.

The room
Image from Locky's English Playground
The room itself was amazing, but my attention was already snatched by the combined elegance of the evening sky, the sea and the infinity pool.

Image from Locky's English Playground
In the morning, the view was just as miraculous! And I certainly, could not do without a morning swim.

Image from Locky's English Playground
There is only one restaurant in the resort, offering from Thai to Western food such as pizzas, pastas, burgers and steak, all at reasonable prices. The fact that everything is cheaper than a usual restaurant in Hong Kong is encouraging enough. Of course, breakfast is also served here.
Breakfast at the restaurant, next to the public pool
Image from Locky's English Playground
The public pool is right beside the restaurant, which means that if you do want to swim in the public pool, you will be putting on a show, but hey, if you want to stay in this resort, why not just get a private pool for yourself?
Swimmers enjoying the water of a suspected Deluxe Access Pool Ocean View room
Image from Locky's English Playground
If you happen to be travelling as a huge family, or with several families and you wouldn't mind sharing a large pool, you can book several Deluxe Access Pool Ocean View rooms, then you can all swim at the same time in the same pool with a bit more privacy compared to the public pool, although you can still be seen from the restaurant level above.

Suspected Family with Pool 2 Bed Room Suite
Image from Locky's English Playground
The resort offers several types of great rooms, most of which come with a private pool, and they are also what I highly recommend, because with every private pool comes the brilliant ocean view.

Suspected Family with Pool 2 Bed Room Suite
Image from Locky's English Playground
Because all the rooms and villas are on the hillside, you can almost guarantee that no one will be blocking your great ocean view.

My room as seen from the restaurant
Image from Locky's English Playground
I was lucky to have stayed in Room 301, and this was a villa in a great location, right in the middle of the bay.

Suspected Deluxe Ocean View
Image from Locky's English Playground
Suspected Grand Deluxe Ocean View with Pool
Image from Locky's English Playground
I suspected that the higher you go, the better the view, but I could be wrong, that's because if you go lower, you might get a closer look at the private beach.

Manual elevator to private beach and back
Image from Locky's English Playground
Some villas have a staircase that goes down half way to the private beach, as the remaining half, you can use the manual control elevator. With two buttons (Up and Down) to operate, you can't get much wrong with the machine.

Image from Locky's English Playground
What's more, the private beach is not just nice for sunbathing, but also snorkelling! I tried once and the snorkelling gear, including life jacket, swim fins, snorkel and mask, is free. I got to see some huge silvery spotted rabbitfish, and it was amazing, but without other snorkellers nearby, I didn't dare to go too far, and the current is actually rather strong, so if you are not wearing swim fins, you probably can't even get pass the rocks. The rocks aren't sharp with shellfish, but I did get a couple of cuts on my arms. Thus, wetsuit is advised.

As for transportation, there are free shuttles from resort to Kamala beach at 10:30am and 3pm, and from Kamala beach to the resort at 12pm and 6pm. If the time doesn't fit you, simply call the lobby and pay THB150 for Kamala beach pick-up at any other time.

Shuttle bus timetable
Image from Locky's English Playground
As for getting to the resort to and from the airport, I consider the THB 1100 limousine was worth a ride. Although it is much more expensive compared to taxi ride from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport to Centralworld, which costs around THB 400, the ride on a limousine was much more comfortable and I needed not worry about the hassle of bargaining transport fare and risk being cheated.

And also, a ride on shabby "taxi" to Patong beach, roughly 1/3 the distance from airport to the resort, costs at least THB 400!!! So why wouldn't anyone book a limo?

Overall, it is a luxurious resort with an extremely romantic view at a reasonable price. Facilities were awesome and the people were nice.

Minor problems include a half-stuck overhead shower head, weak hot water pressure; lack of information on the torch which was hidden in one of the cabinets near the bed, free private beach elevator, free snorkelling facilities and omelette at breakfast were also areas which can be improved.

embrace -- (vb) [T] formal to include something, often as one of a number of things 
engulf -- (vb) [T] to surround and cover something or someone completely
vegetation -- (n)[U] plants in general or plants which are found in a particular area
tranquillity -- (n) [U[ (US usually tranquilitya peaceful calm state, without noise, violence, worry, etc.; the quality of beingtranquil
irresistible -- (adj) impossible to refuse, oppose or avoid because too pleasant, attractive or strong 
nothing short of sth -- strongly showing this quality
snatch -- (vb) [T] to do or get something quickly because you only have a short amount of time
hassle -- (n) [C or U] informal (a situation causing) difficulty or trouble
limo -- (n) [C] (informal limo) limousine a large expensive car, often driven by a chauffeur (= a person employed to drive a car for someone else)

Ayara Kamala Resort

Virtual Tour of Grand Deluxe Villa Ocean View @ Ayara Kamala Resort

Monday 25 February 2013

Technology: My First Galaxy S2 Surgery -- Sea Water Damage S2 Fixed!!

Getting ready for surgery
Image from Locky's English Playground
Today, I'm taking a break from the Phuket - Bangkok talk.

Most of you know that I am particularly interested in mobile technology and medicine, but I have never expected that one day I would carry out a mobile phone surgery.

I took my Galaxy S2 to Phuket instead of my Note 2 as planned, thinking that if I lose my S2 for whatever reason I would not feel as painful as losing a Note 2.
7D Underwater Gear
Image from reefphoto

Why the thought of losing a phone? Well, you see, I have always wanted to try underwater photography, so supposedly, taking my Canon 7D underwater will be an achievement! The problem is, the gear costs at least US$3000, that is HK$23340, with my current financial situation, I don't think I will spend this amount. Sitting around the home is a lonely Galaxy S2, so naturally, it becomes the best candidate to take the dive. 

Phone in Ziplock Bag
Image from
I did my research before my S2 went for the swim, of course. Ziplock bag seems like a choice, but I didn't have one and I couldn't get one in Phuket.

Condom could work! But I don't read Thai so it is hard to find one without lubricant, colourless and transparent enough to take great videos.

Plastic wrap(per)
So at the hotel restaurant, the easiest thing to ask for is plastic wrapper, and that's what I did. I placed two small pieces of tissue top and bottom of the phone to absorb some moisture and then wrapped the S2 with 2 layers of plastic wrap, tied two knots on both ends and then fit the phone back into the phone case.

For the first 5 minutes or so underwater it was great, and I took photos and a few videos, then the phone went unresponsive and wouldn't come back on. Immediately, I removed the wrap from the battery cover, The tissues were wet and some seawater had gone inside, so I dried it with a towel and rebooted it once, it came back to life without problem, so I switched it off, but I forgot to remove the battery from it.

After 20 minutes or so, I realised the phone was burning hot and knew it it must have been short-circuited, the heat did dry up even more moisture but at the same time, the S2 wouldn't boot up again, so for the next two snorkelling islands, I couldn't take any more photos.

Luckily, just before I bid the islands goodbye, S2 came back to live once more indicating just 2% of battery left from almost 90% before getting wet. The screen was covered with greenish lines hence something must have been damaged during the short-circuit, still the camera was working and I managed to take a few more photos before the battery went dead.

Koh Khai Islands (Egg Islands), last photo of S2 in Phuket
Image by Locky's English Playground
When I returned to the resort, the phone wasn't charging battery at all, so I was sure that the USB socket at the bottom of the phone was fried and a surgery was needed, quick!

Still, I had to wait for 3 more days before I could find the right screwdrivers back in Hong Kong to open the phone up. Since the phone wasn't charging battery, I had to resort to using my Note 2 charger for the S2 batteries. Although a S2 battery only has 3 contact points instead of 4 in the Note 2, I could still charge up the phone to about 80-90%! Interesting finding!

Phone's USB not charging, so I use Note 2 charger and
a piece of wooden chopstick to fix the battery in position
Image from Locky's English Playground
When I opened it up, it was a horrible sight! There were multiple corrosion sites, mainly at the bottom and where the connectors are. a really bad side of the phone to get sea water in.
Corrosions mainly on the right and bottom sides
Image from Locky's English Playground
The volume buttons, near the screen's connector, were badly corroded, which explained why the screen went green and blue.

Backside of mainboard (left), obvious sea water damage
Image from Locky's English Playground
Some other parts are so mouldy and damaged too, so I had to find a way to solve this fast. Fortunately, I found the video for that. It says that the phone can be revived by giving the damaged parts a good scrub using a toothbrush and thinner, and so I did the same, and miraculously, the screen came back perfectly! Some buttons were still not working too well at first, maybe the alcohol I used hadn't completely dried off yet, but after awhile, the buttons were back too!

I have yet to test the bluetooth, the 3G and the phone's reception, but as long as the screen, the buttons, and the Wi-Fi is working, I have a phone enough to do its job!

I suspect it can still be used for another year until the mainboard continues to decay (if it really does), but till then, S4 should be out and it would be time for me to upgrade my data plan.

Although it was kind of a silly thing for me to do to take the phone into the sea with just plastic wrapper, had I not done that, I wouldn't have learnt so much about the condom water protection method and definitely would not have learnt about phone fixing.

The success has got me to make YouTube's first ever Galaxy S2 Seawater Damage Fix video below. This is the first time I make a video with my voice in it. Hope you will like it.

candidate -- (n) [C] a person or thing considered likely to receive or experience something
lubricant -- (n) [C or U] (US informal lubea liquid such as oil which is used to make the parts of an engine move easily together, or a substance put on any surface to help it move more easily against another one
resort to sth -- (phrasal verb) to do something that you do not want to do because you cannot find any other way of achieving something
corrode --(vb) [I or TIf metal corrodes, or if something corrodes it, it is slowly damaged by something such as rain or water
miraculously -- (adv) very effective or surprising or difficult to believe 

Samsung Galaxy S2 i9100 Water Damaged Repair - Sankey @ YouTube

Galaxy S2 Seawater Damage Fix [First Ever On YouTube] @ YouTube

Condom Underwater Waterproof Phone preservativo cellulare subacqueo @ YouTube

Koh Khai Islands - Half Day Tour by Speedboat

Samsung Galaxy S2 i9100 Water Damaged Repair - Sankey @ YouTube

Thursday 21 February 2013

Travelling & Living: Investing In Phuket's Real Estates?

Can you see those advertisements ahead? Do you know what they are?
Image from Locky's English Playground
Very different from Bangkok, there is nothing Japanese in Phuket. It has become a paradise for property development.

Nature and Town coexist?
Image from Locky's English Playground
Everywhere you go, there are huge boards promoting their luxurious condominiums in the making. Unlike the colourful promotional AutoCad images presented in the brochures made by the Hong Kong developers, the designs you see on the ads in Phuket are 100% delivered to match the drawing. No tricks here. 

A really new villa behind a not-so-new roadside shop
Image from Locky's English Playground

Immediately, I want to become an property owner in Phuket.

Seaview condominium
Image from Locky's English Playground

The sights of real estate development generate immense hope to the outsiders, making everyone thinks that this island of Thailand can really make gold.

But the longer the journey went, the more I felt a chill down my spine. 

More flats in the making
Image from Locky's English Playground

There may not be a 7-11 around every corner, but you sure can find a piece of land or a building for sale. Street after street, construction sites after construction sites.

Image from Locky's English Playground

One construction plan more shockingly beautiful than the one before. Then how can anyone earn more building an earlier villa if the next one is always better? The business seems attractive on the service but it feels like a cliff waiting just in front.

What the use for this piece of land? Your guess won't be too wrong
Image from Locky's English Playground

In Phuket, every piece of wood or grassland you see that still belongs to Mother Nature is bound to be scraped away by heavy machinery and hammered by iron bars and concrete.

"Give me a break", says Mother Nature
Image from Locky's English Playground
There is some sort of local heritage, but it is of little importance in front of the mighty money which the valuable Phuket lands bring.

TESCO in the background
Image from Locky's English Playground
Are local investors investing in Phuket, or foreign ones? I have no idea, but sure enough, Phuket does attract planeloads of Westerners, tourism has got to be the key income of Phuket. Do any of the local people benefit from this development? I seriously doubt it.

local roadside shop with a real estate banner ad
Image from Locky's English Playground
If things continue to go the way they are heading right now, how much longer can the local shops and homes last before they all turned into modernised supermarkets and luxury resorts?

Coconut plantations waiting to be demolished
Image from Locky's English Playground

How tolerable is Mother Nature? How much development is enough? How many investors will be sorry for the move they have made?

Only time will tell.

paradise -- (n) [C usually singular U] a place or condition of great happiness where everything is exactly as you would like it to be
Mother Nature -- (n)  [U] often humorous nature, especially when considered as a force that controls the weather and all living things
scrape -- (vb) [T] to remove an unwanted covering or a top layer from something, especially using a sharp edge or something rough 
machinery -- (n)[U] a group of large machines or the parts of a machine which make it work
mighty -- (adj) literary very large, powerful or important
condominium -- (n) [C] US an apartment building in which each apartment is owned separately by the people living in it, but also containing shared areas
planeload -- (n)[C] a plane of people, from -load -- (suffix) all the people or goods in the stated type of vehicle or container
tolerable -- (adj) of a quality that is acceptable, although certainly not good


Travelling & Living: Bangkok...or...Japan? @ Locky's English Playground

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Travelling & Living: Bangkok...or...Japan?

Masked Rider in Bangkok
Image from Locky's English Playground
There's something very Japan about Bangkok.

You may argue, Japanese culture is almost everywhere around the world and it's definitely more widespread than Chinese culture. True, Taiwan and Hong Kong, for example, both enjoy such cultural merger, but not quite as apparent as Bangkok does.

One Piece packet drinks
Image from Locky's English Playground
First, we don't get drinks with One Piece printed on the packet. Sure you may say there's probably Hello Kitty ones, but we are not talking about cuteness here, it's coolness!

Second, you don't get 1-to-1 ratio Ultraman and Masked Rider from mall to mall.

Third, shops are almost duplicates of what you get to see in Hokkaido or Tokyo too, although the staff still uses Thai as their main language of communication after the not-so-accurate "Irasshaimase!"

Hokkaido ice-cream cafe in Bangkok
Image from Locky's English Playground
Everything including the decor to atmosphere gives you that very Japan-like feeling, makes you want to go in and relax. I wonder how come they can make such amazing copies. Has to be funded by Japanese investors, right? I suppose so, because some massage and spa centres have only got Japanese words on their walls and no Thai or English. If they don't have enough business in Thailand, who will open shops like that?

Image from Locky's English Playground
Fourth, architecture wise, what do you think about the Toyota showroom building as well as the line of Toyota cars in front of the building? I think that's highly fancy, nothing Thai at all!
Toyota Showroom
Image from Locky's English Playground
Let's not forget, there is always some oversized product that sticks out of the building to remind you what is the latest Japanese hip in town.
Care for an EOS-1DX? The guy standing next to the post wants one.
Image from Locky's English Playground
Fifth, is it just food and technology all the way? Nope, even apps have ads here. There are hugely enlarged LINE sticker signs in every large shopping mall I visited, there's no way you can miss it.

Me and James of Naver LINE
Image from Locky's English Playground
Even if you do miss them, your phone will get SMS to remind you that by adding the official account only available in Thailand, you will get Thailand-only LINE stickers. I've got a set from Singha the water/beer company, Vogue and Thai Airways.

LINE stickers from Thai Airways
Image from itallnews
And with this push in LINE stickers joint promotion, you can guess what messaging app the Thai use quite easily, can't you?

Thailand-only LINE stickers
Image from Locky's English Playground

Finally, believe it or not, I have even seen Japanese transvestites on the BTS! Can't get more Japanese than that!

duplicate -- (n) [C] something that is an exact copy of something else
decor -- (n) [S or U] the colour, style and arrangement of the objects in a room
transvestite -- (n) [C] a person, especially a man, who wears the clothes of the opposite sex, often for sexual pleasure

Line Sticker การบินไทย " Line in the Air "@

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Message: Locky's English Playground Back In Business

Image from

Hi English Players,

I'm back from my honeymoon and I have tonnes of things to share, so do expect loads of sharing related to Bangkok and Phuket, the country and the culture.

Here we go!


Wednesday 6 February 2013

Business Vocabulary: Types of Leaves

Paternity leave, anyone?
Image from
Chinese New Year is coming and some of you might have already applied for leaves in order to enjoy a long holiday.

But have you ever wondered what are the types of leaves available for application?

In fact, the types of leaves differ from country to country, company to company, so the list will be too long to list out, but here are some useful and interesting ones I came across in my little research.

Take for example, the types of leaves available to the staff working for the Hong Kong University,

  1. Annual leave
  2. Compassionate leave
  3. Sick leave
  4. Maternity leave
  5. Paternity leave
  6. Professional leave
  7. Sabbatical leave
  8. Long leave
  9. Personal leave
  10. Leave for jury service
  11. Leave for Auxiliary Defence Services

Among these 11 types, paternity leave can be granted for up to 5 days, which is not bad, but compared with Sweden's 480 days shared between father and mother, er............

Yes, all these Hogwarts professors could apply for sabbatical leave too!
Image from
Sabbatical leave is a kind of study or research leave for the professors who are entitled to one month leave every 6 months, cumulative!!

For staff at the New Nouveau Brunswich of Canada, the staff enjoys

  1. Bereavement leave 
  2. Compassionate leave
  3. Emergency leave
  4. Family leave
  5. Funeral leave
  6. Jury and Witness
  7. Medical/Dental appointments (included in ‘Emergency’ above)
  8. Pallbearer leave 
  9. Paternity leave
  10. Volunteer leave
  11. Voting

Bereavement leave (up to 5 days) and Funeral leave (up to 1 day) are separated and listed clearly. Basically, bereavement leave is for the death of

- husband/wife
- father/mother/stepfather/stepmother
- son/daughter (including stepson, stepdaughter)
- son-in-law/daughter-in-law
- brother/sister/stepsister/stepbrother
- grandmother/grandfather
- grandson/granddaughter
- father-in-law/mother-in-law
- brother-in-law/sister-in-law
- other persons living in the household of the employee

whereas the funeral leave is for the death of
- aunt
- uncle
A pall-bearer
Image from georgetwopointoh

There is also a pallbearer leave (up to 1/2 day) if one chooses help carry carry or officially escorting a coffin at a funeral.

Carer's leave
Image from

In Australia, there are leaves as such

  1. Paid personal / carer's leave
  2. Unpaid carer's leave
  3. Paid compassionate leave
  4. Unpaid compassionate leave

Actually, the leaves are more or less the same as the usual personal or compassionate leaves but I quite like the term "carer's leave", because it gives me a feeling that as long as you care for someone you love, you get to apply for such leaves.

paternity leave -- (n) [U] a period of time that a father is legally allowed to be away from his job so that he can spend time with his new baby
sabbatical -- (n) [C or U] a period of time when college or university teachers are allowed to stop their usual work in order to study or travel, usually while continuing to be paid
cumulative -- (adj) increasing by one addition after another
bereavement -- (n) [C or U] the death of a close relation or friend
pallbearer -- (n) [C] a person who helps to carry a coffin at a funeral or who walks at the side of the people carrying it
escort -- (vb) [T] to go with someone or a vehicle especially to make certain that they arrive safely or that they leave a place

Welcome to the Human Resource Section Homepage @ HKU

Paid Leave for Personal and Other Reasons @ New Nouveau Brunswick Canada

Personal, carer's and compassionate leave - Leave @ Fair Work Ombudsman

What is personal leave? definition and meaning @ Business Dictionary

Paternity Leave @ Wikipedia

Sick leave @ Wikipedia