Elcidium Boutique Guesthouse, Kata Beach, Phuket

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So, according to Wikipedia the term ’boutique hotel’ was harnessed, initially, by USA and UK to describe intimate, luxurious or quirky hotels. Typically, these places are fashioned in a themed, stylish ‘and/or aspirational’ style.

So, I chose Elcidium (still no idea of what this word means) because of the Trip Advisor reviews and because it was within my budget, at £14 per night/low season.

Leo, the man who looks after the four bedroom property (intimate, yes, a tick on the ’boutique’ front), lives up to the positive comments that these reviews hold about him. He was quick to get me a towel when soaked by the rain, a lantern when village electricity died, a mat for the beach and he literally got me out of a hole.

The rooms are spacious, with large double bed, desk, coffee table and chairs, balcony (with table and chairs) and a private bathroom. Perhaps the drapes, red and gold finishes and dark wood are aspirational; I don’t know. But the air con works well, there is a fridge, fresh drinking water daily and a flat screen TV. WiFi is free and reasonable. So, the rooms look like this:

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And here are the downsides, sorry, here have to be some.

1) With no real communal area (reception does have seating but with no bar or cafe people do not congregate there) this is not a place for a lone traveller looking to hook up with other travellers.

2) Sorry, but I have to be honest, Leo’s cleaning could have been a little better (dust on electric sockets, toothpaste on the mirror), but there is no doubt his intentions are good, his personsl touch largely makes this place and hey, he is a guy!

Situated on Khoktanord Road, the guesthouse is away from the main beach strip but you have everything you need nearby and there are some good (and cheap) restaurants all within a two minute walk of the front door.

So, just to be clear, a whole-hearted recommendation.

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Survival 101: Ko Lanta

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Note: if Trip Advisor reviews read ‘simple’ or ‘rustic’ you may have to prepare to ‘survive’. We are not talking Bruce Parry SAS-style but that does not mean it cannot feature in the general ‘survival’ dialogue, does it? DOES IT?

I am writing in my hard wood room (yes, I know Parry would not even have a room) in a century old fishing inn, which juts out across the Adaman, whose waters shimmer below, between every plank and joist. I share my room with a spider, evidenced by her webs and an incense coil smoulders in a corner to ward off my other companions, the mosquitoes. Cue survival.

To survive, you will need the following:

Mosquito net
Travel washing line
Swiss Army knife
Common plastic water bottle
Old sarong

    The Scenarios:

Blood Suckers!

The bedroom window has no actual glass, only bars, like a cell. The walls are made of century old planks and there are significant gaps between them; endearing, rustic, indulgent sigh. I began to worry about what would be visiting through these holes. From spiders to mosquitoes, from bats (wheeling in the corridor outside my room, I am not being dramatic) to rats or even the leg-humping chihuahua that belongs to Pao, the guesthouse owner (more on him – the dog – later).

I was not content with the incense coil, nor with the mosi plugin I bought with me. I needed a net, a force field against the the things that go bump and slurp in the night. Luckily, I had said net, but unluckily, not a clue as to how to erect it. The bedroom ceiling is palatially high, the vertical beams so hard that they could be made of stone…what to do with my four cornered box net?

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This…

In sequential moments of genius and extreme insectophobia I realised I could anchor the corners of the net around the wooden beams instead of driving the little hooks that came with the net into the wall. Carefully, with much tongue biting, I poked the little threads behind the posts, using the Swiss Army knife to tease them through. And the washing line? Stretched across from the bed to the barred window (those bars came in handy for something, at least), it provides my fourth anchor point.

Have it, all creepy species that may want to share the room and blood without paying

Wine-oh!

Now this clearly became a survival situation when I paid 650 THB for Jacobs Creek Shiraz Cab Sav from here:

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Says it all…they know how to get the tourists’ attention

Now, you may think (or even say), ‘you’ve been ripped off.’ And paying through the nose is not survival. No it is not. But in my defence this is the cheapest I have found wine out here and what is drinking Jacobs Creek (at all) if not survival?!

When I got back to the guesthouse with the stash the plan was to imbibe it from a coffee cup, seated on the stilted decking area. Yawn of decadence.

Instead, the rain lashed and the wind howled through cavernous and confused building (what’s outside is inside and the other way around). So, my plan was out and I did not feel inclined to go fetch a coffee cup, watched as I would undoubtedly be, by Pao, seated before his laptop and horrendous Thai soap. But my days of slugging wine from the bottle have not yet arrived: I needed a receptacle.

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Created in seconds: a wine tumbler fashioned from my water bottle. Civilised sipping could commence!

Pesky Pup

He ain’t much of a guard dog, although he has his serious face on here.

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And there’s something effeminate about him (apart from when he’s chewing on the long suffering cat, and then he’s simply disturbing). In fact, he has bad thing-chewing and leg humping habits.

So, lonely as I am, I am delighted when he pays me some attention. I am less delighted when he embraces my leg, clasps a mouthful of legging between his incisors and proceeds to hump. When he wasn’t doing that the leather thong on my new flip flops proved great for assuaging his chewing fetish.

Now, I want to keep my new tiny dog friend (although at the same time I feel a little used) but I cannot put up with his dirty habits. Survival is required.

An old sarong and the trusty Swiss Army knife. Don’t worry, no animals were harmed in this survival task, but at the close of business I had a shabby chic, beach fashioned, dog ragga toy made from plaited strips of shredded sarong. Perfect for taking out those tiny doggy frustrations on and I got to keep my friend!! Not extreme survival, I grant you, but innovation. Beat that Parry.