As WPA photographer Rob Irving comes to the end of his ‘Dry Run’ trip to Thailand, a country he has visited before but this time it was work, or so he tells us!! He visits some of Thailand’s hidden gems and enrolls in a cookery class. Don’t be fooled because this is part of making sure that our forthcoming Photo Workshop Tour will be filled with interesting subjects to photograph as well as interesting pastimes to get involved in whilst having your camera on hand to capture the moment, not to mention the added bonus of a tasty bite along the way.

Leaving the Hill Villages behind me, I headed for Chaing Mai Airport where I took the very easy internal flight to Phuket (around 1.5 hrs). I spent a day there, which was ok, but quite busy, in your face and touristy. But it has the airport which allows not only a quick transit from the North of Thailand, but also International flights back to Europe.

The other bonus though was that Phuket is only forty minutes by boat to the hidden gems that are the neighbouring Islands (Kohs) of Noi Yao and Yao Yai. It’s quite strange how these Islands have been overlooked by tourism; it exists there but is thoroughly low-key and un-developed. Completely charming. The pace of life is slow, everyone I met was at ease, with plenty of time in their lives to share with the traveller. There’s really only one road on each of the Islands, but with pretty much no traffic. I believe the Islands only got electricity a decade ago.

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Something I was very keen to do whilst in Thailand was a Thai cookery class, which I found on Koh Noi Yao, run by Mina in her home, where I spent a very pleasant afternoon learning about the flavours and details that make this cuisine just so palatable. Mina also has the simplest of restaurants on the Island, where I pretty much ate my every meal, which included curry for breakfast. Though a little incongruous, opposite hers there’s a “proper” coffee shop run by a Dorte, a Dane from Copenhagen, who also has a Thai / French fusion restaurant on the same street (the only street on Ko Noi Yao).

I spent a short week exploring the two islands by motorbike, checking out their accommodation options, trying the food, and meeting its people; catching the sunrises/sunsets, generally absorbing the incredibly laid back feeling of these Islands. And after a fairly adventurous and fast-paced trip to date, it was just what I fancied….

Check out the dates and the itinerary for the Thailand Photo Workshop Tour or download a copy of the itinerary…

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