A Travellerspoint blog

Day 150 - 152 - Paradise Lost

sunny 27 °C

Thursday we packed & ate breakfast cereal just after 9am then took a walk to a temple north of the town. It was less remarkable than those we'd seen elsewhere but it was nice to do something different on the island, to explore somewhere more remote. Back in town we bought rice microwave lunches & pao then caught the boat from the beach, struggling to keep our stuff dry as we waded into the sea to our ride at midday. An hour later our ride reached Hat Thien Beach, in Koh Pha Ngan. From here was a tricky ten minute trek up steps, along a path, over a bamboo walkway & climbing up a boulder to Bamboo Hut, where we were helped up criss-crossing paths to our bungalow (prebooked the day before owing to the popularity of the island round fullmoon). As I unpacked Vicky used her firstaid training to clean & bandage up swedish girl Matilda's toe. We hung out with her an her American friend Lauren in Bamboo Restaurant, enjoying the astounding view from the bamboo platform of the bay below us which looked like a perfect watercolour painting with vivid blues, yellows & greens as well as reddy/grey cliffs. With so few people (the resort was isolated from the rest of the island as there were no roads, only taxiboats) but so much beauty it felt like we had discovered the ultimate paradise!
Expensive food prices at the restaurant encouraged us to ate elsewhere & so we stepped down, around the boulders then followed another walkway all the way round the cliff & down to the beach where we lay till 2.30pm. As the sun got too hot we jumped into the sea & for five minutes we were in heaven. Pleasure turned into pain as we were attacked by an almost invisible enemy - sea lice. The stinging was not as bad as that in Krabi but we could only tolerate it so long before we were driven from the sea. We chatted to a cool American guy Steve then had chinese sausage with rice & pad thai & beers at Big Blue Restaurant & Guesthouse. We walked off our full stomachs enroute to our place then had drinks at the funky, psychedelic Eden - a lethal whisky & coke combo.
At 10.30pm we shared a boat taxi to Haad Rin, the most popular of the island's resorts just round the next cove & saw for the first time the mayhem that was the Full Moon Party.
The event consisted of one almighty p*ssup all along the beach, chocked full of people & makeshift 'bars' (whiskey/vodka bucket stands). Even at that time we could barely move amongst the throng who were dressed in anything to nothing, uniforms, swimgear & caked in blue, green, red & orange flourescent body paint. Numerous D.Js kept the beats coming but in the hour it took us to walk along the beach all the dance, r 'n' b & techno beats merged & became indistinguishable. Further back from the beach the proper bars were also full & even the narrow streets were virtually impassible. It was fun but completely mad. We eventually found our friends Steve, AJ & Chris (other Yanks) & even bumped into Alexandra & Irish Fran from Koh Phi Phi. We got pretty drunk but the huge crowd left us feeling vunerable about pickpockets & beatings so we were completely wasted nor tempted to join those in the designated 'sleeping area' who were passed out or being looked after by medical staff. After watching a few drunken antics (people falling over, fights) we caught a taxi boat back to our resort, passing an intimately amorous couple deeply engaged, in the sea.

Friday we got up at 10ish after 5 hours passed out from the party. We checked out of Bamboo & cut across the boulders round the other side of the walkway & up to Eden to check in. The 150BT rooms weren't brillaint but suitable for us. At the restaurant we ate fruit porridge, beans on toast & hot drinks for 190BT, while chatting to the host Peter.
We walked back along the walkway to the beach & lay on sunbeds by Big Blue risking a very brief dip in the sea lice infested sea. We chilled on the beds from 12pm, dozing through a combination of lack of sleep, alcohol & the heat then met Steve & AJ & shared a pizza, & had a chip butty (with few chips) for 60BT, whilst playing a competitive game of cards.
We lay back on the sunbeds till 5ish, catching up with Chris on his fun night looking after a drunk Austrian girl whose boyfriend had abandoned her & caused her to miss the boat back. We showered & ate at Eden 8ish - coconut soup with tofu, vegetables & steamed rice; fried noodles with chicken & coconut shake - 200BT. We hung out with AJ & Steve for beer & pool then at 12.30pm trapsed through the jungle to Guys Bar, where there was a more cilivised 'locals full moon party' - even Peter was there. After the chaos of the previous night the place was pretty tame, although the chillout mood & funky music was fun, so we left at 2am.

Saturday was our final day in paradise. We got up at 10.30am after the strong wind had caught the back door & caused it to bang all morning. Filling ourselves up on full english breakfast at Eden for 150BT each we chilled on the beach till it started to rain then hid in an old cart trying to play cards until the wind blew them out our hands. The rain got heavier so we sat in the restaurant, ate pancakes & drank beer, playing pool till 4ish. We spent some time in our hut & then enjoyed schnitzel sandwiches with salad 7ish. The rest of the night we watched movies with Chris, Matilda & Lauren until the three passed out in a hammock.

Posted by Eemail2004 22:01 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Day 147 - 149 - Koh Samui

sunny

Monday we awoke wearily round 8am after being kept awake most of the early morning by torrential rain. We packed & bought breakfast cereal & snacks from the 7-11 (115BT) & sticky rice for the trip. We waited till 9.45am, believing we'd been forgotten by the company when the minivan turned up. Two ferries & a bus ride later we were back in Krabi. We bought tickets to Koh Samui at 500BT each, got a taxi to the agency, a minivan to Dansak (back across the mainland past Suri Thani) & were at the ferry port by 3.20pm. 5pm the ferry left port & we chilled on the top deck. Unfortunately the journey became less relaxed as I realised we'd put our luggage in the wrong place - with that of a group going straight to Koh Phangnan! I dashed around like an idiot scrabbling through the pile for our bags & relocating them just as the ensuing dark clouds unleashed a monsoon. At the ferry port the storm was more fierce & it was no fun carrying all our stuff along the jetty in the rain & dark, especially when at the other end the taxi's tried to charge us 600BT each. Luckily a sangthew turned up & we paid 100BT each for the twenty minute ride to Mae Nam Beach. The rain followed us so as we stepped off the vehicle we had to dash for the cover of the pharmacy canopy. Vicky waited there whilst I searched for a place to stay. There were no guesthouses.
We had picked the wrong resort! The only place I could ask was Triple S, a travel agent down a side road, who by fortune had somewhere. Agreeing to his 350BT a night for a minimum of two nights we were taken to a building round the corner. The villa-style bungalow was small but perfect for us (anything would have been). It had a lounge with t.v. at the front, a bedroom with double bed (not two singles we'd have to push together) & bathroom & a little kitchen at the back. Across the road we ate pad thai (40BT each) at a restaurant run by the mother of a famous local tatoo artist Dragon Man.

Tuesday we were up early & ate breakfast cereal but the heavy rain kept us from leaving our home till 9ish. After taking advantage of the break in the weather to dry our laundry we stopped at a 7-11 for pao & sandwiches then walked along the beach past a few bars to a quiet spot. We ate our lunch then as the sun heated the sand swam in the shallow, murky sea & lazed on the beach till 4.30pm. We bought provisions & 6 packs of water from the 7-11 (it worked out much cheaper buying water in bulk especially as we went through a lot) ate the most delicious noodle soup with beef, crackling, potato, ravioli in it at a street cafe then went on a mission to find thai dessert, walking through the town & out both sides, then settled for chocolate pancake at 30BT.

Wednesday we got up at 9am had breakfast & caught a sangthew to Samai Beach (changing sangthews halfway to get there quicker) for 100BT each. It was nice to be in civilisation again. This was the resort we should have stayed at with shops, a multitude of bars & restaurants & lots of people. Vicky bought a bikini (100BT) & me swim shorts (150BT - the others were looking quite tatty now) then we found the beach & ate burger & chips (90BT each) at Utopia Restaurant. We had a quick swim then set out looking for replacement sandals for me, only finding expensive or crap ones. We caught the bus back to Mae Nam Beach, prebooked our places for the Koh Pha Ngan boat through Triple S at 220BT each & enjoyed the noodle soup again followed by banana & chocolate pancakes (25BT) at Mr Pancake Man.

Posted by Eemail2004 20:51 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Day 144 - 146 - Island Washout

storm 25 °C

Friday we got up at 5.45am to try to catch the sunrise. Near to our guesthouse we climbed up steep, windy stone steps that became a path at the top through forest to a plateau where we could see both sides of the bay at once which was cool but for some reason we could not catch the sunrise. Once back at the bottom we had banana porridge & omlette for 110BT at Panda then we followed a cart with our stuff in it being wheeled down to the harbour. The ferry left at 9am & soon after we were taken by minivan to the travel agency (we'd already paid 350BT each to Koh Lanta). We nearly became the victims of another con as the rep tried to sell us expensive accomodation & refused to take us further. We called his bluff & after thirty minutes were driven to another ferry port & ate lunch from stalls (2 corn on a cob, chicken balls, chicken leg, tofu, battered egg for 65BT & coconut rice, egg custard onion cake & thai sweets for 30BT). Once we were on Koh Lanta Noi we drove up a road & round the corner to another ferry port - taking the wooden rickety craft across to Koh Lanta Yai, the larger, more popular of the Lanta archipelago. Arriving at the bus station round 2pm we took a tuk tuk to Good Days Bungalows for 100BT & checked into a small, cosy bungalow for 300BT. After a rest we took a dip in the pool, which wasn't particularly clean but refreshing in the hot sun then scrambled through undergrowth down to the scruffy beach. Like the resort it was empty. As we chatted to the manager it became apparent we'd picked the wrong time to come to Lanta as most of the resorts were closed for the wet season. We were determined to make the best of our time there & enjoy the peace & quiet, but not at Good Days. We wanted somewhere cheaper but with people so checked out a few places along the one road past the expensive Moon Walker Restaurant where there were tucked away bungalows for 150BT. We ate at Country Lao Restaurant, one of the few restaurants around & petted the numerous dogs & cats that lived there.

Saturday we got up 8ish did our meditation & enjoyed one last dip in the pool before packing & moving across to Lanta Sunny Days. We found Sweet & Sour Restaurant by the road & bought three lots of sticky rice & two chicken legs to go then sat & watched a movie in the Sunny Days communal area (until a thunderstorm caused a powercut). By 4.30pm the rain had stopped but the event had unleashed hundreds of mozis that savaged us as we raced to immerse ourselves in repellant. That evening we wandered up & down the road to find somewhere that hired bikes so we could get out the lonely resort & see the island (there were no buses) but the only place had closed for the season. As the restaurants were all too expensive we had omlette & chips at Country Lao again under the watchful eye of a rat poking it's head out the rafters above vicky & then settled down at Lazy Days with a cup of Milo hot chocolate to watch another movie.

Sunday we were again up by 8am, enjoyed a cereal breakfast then walked along the road to get a tuk tuk. Amazingly there were none so we drank lattes at Coffee Cup Club, using the free internet whilst Vicky watched Twilight on the huge screen as the heavens opened outside. At 12pm we tried again to catch a ride walking right out of the resort & found a rank of tuk tuks but we couldn't justify 300+ BT to take us to the Old Town, where the gypsies resided. Instead we had stick rice & chicken & attempted to swim in the sea which soon became too rough & rocky. We lay on the beach & admired the beauty for a while then after we had cleaned up spent a few hours at Coffee Cup, drinking cappachinos. Not wanting to eat yet again at Country Lao we bought rice & beef/chicken microwave meals & a banana pancake & as we tucked in found the meals tastier than the undercooked pancake. We chatted to the lady running our place about how to make sticky rice & she let us sample her coconut rice dessert which was delicious! We paid for tickets back to Krabi for 300BT each & settled down to read.

Posted by Eemail2004 19:58 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Day 140 - 143 - A Thai Paradise

sunny

Monday we were up for 8am, had a cereal breakfast & were picked up by sangthew at 9.10am to arrive at the ferry port twenty five minutes later.
The ferry left port at 10.20am & we crossed smooth seas to reach one of Thailand's jewels, Ko Phi Phi Don, at midday.
It was a very small island, just a kilometre across, with no motorbikes, cars or roads - just paved paths & bicycles. The buildings on the narrow 'streets' were very close together with evidence of a big dive culture from all the dive shops
& tours. The rest of the labyrinth consisted of general tours, restaurants, convienience stores, bars & hostels. After nearly an hour trawling down the streets laiden with our backpacks we found Harmony House at the northeast end of the island - the cheapest place to stay at 200BT a night, close to the beach, with shared bathroom but seperate rooms. Dropping our things off we lay on the quite crowded white, sandy beach just past Ibiza Bar & paddled in the shallow, clear blue sea. We ate lunch at 2.30pm at Panda Restaurant, a friendly little cafe that seemed one of the cheapest, laughing at the little white dog sliding on it's itchy bum across the white tiled floor. Hopping back along the beach onto patches of sand that didn't melt our feet we took another short swim but realising that a layer of grime & oil lay on the surface we soon came back out & dozed till 6ish. In the evening we ate at Samee/Soda's 'thankyou' restaurant (it didn't really have a proper name) & for the first time understood the impact of the 2004 tsunami. Samee had been working on Koh Phi Phi Don when the island was devastated by the huge wave. The island had been completely flattened but he & a few others survived. Samee was one of the lucky ones dug out from beneath building rubble by rescuers from Britain, Australia & other nations. As a tribute to them he opened the restaurant, thanking the tsunami for his new lease on life.
The food was delicious - thai chicken curry & two lots of sticky rice at 160BT & we vowed to eat there again before we left.
By the beach on the south side of Phi Phi we took in an awesome fire display at Bora Bora where five talented performers spun balls of fire on chains, swallowed fire & jumped over burning poles, enjoyed free vodka buckets. Back on the backpacker side at Ibiza we watched the drunk antics of people playing balloon games & doing a fire limbo then consumed two more vodka buckets. It was safe to say we were drunk by the time we crawled into bed at 1.30am.

Tuesday we got up 10ish hungover, tired & snappy. Calming ourselves through meditation we managed to stomach scrambled egg & jam & toast at Panda before walking to the other beach in the south that was cleaner & quieter (apart from the occasional ferry or boat). It was pleasant to spend some time away from the crowds & just take in the beautiful scenery surrounding us.
For lunch we grabbed 3 pancakes from a stall & sat on the ground to enjoy the egg & cheese, potato & cheese & banana & chocolate that had only cost 110BT. We part exchanged our books for 100BT each then walked to Ibiza beach which was busier & dirtier probably due to all the parties. We sunbathed a bit & chatted to two girls & a guy at Harmony.
In the evening we paid 480BT each for the Four Islands boat trip & ate & watched movies at Banana Sombrero (burritos - 330BT).

Wednesday we were up at 8.30am but still restless after kindly noisy neighbours chatting outside our room from 3 to 4am. We meditated & backed up our photos onto DVD for 150BT then ate toast & jam at Panda.
10am we waited for the captain at Harmony then set off in his long-tail boat round 11am. Our group was small & other than us, consisted of 2 British girls, a young British couple, 2 girls from USA & a guy.
Within thirty minutes we had arrived at Monkey Beach which was unsurprisingly a sandy beach full of monkeys. The creatures appeared out of logs & the cliffs but were not the friendly sort we'd encountered in Lopburi. These were clearly cheesed off by tourists gawking at them, taunting them & littering the place so under the influence of the alpha male attacked us, biting one of the poor British girls on the bum & chasing us off the beach to the safety of our boat. After recovering from the shock of what had just happened we were given the opportunity to snorkel with mask & flippers at Shark Point. We loved the sensation as shoals of yellow, flourescent fish swam towards us & nibbled at our dead skin like happens in a fish massage, missed by the British girls who were dropped off at Long Beach for rabies shots.
We had a free fried rice lunch on Bamboo Island & enjoyed the most beautiful beach we'd ever seen for an hour. The clean white sands stretched into oblivion & the sea was a clear turquoise & pleasantly warm. We wanted to check out the national park as well but the 400BT entry fee seemed too steep for our short time-frame.
Back on the boat we passed a big cave with bamboo structures on the edge called Viking Cave, took another snorkel session in Pi Leh Bay & Loh Samah Bay, where me & Vicky enjoyed in vast lagoons the world of sea anomies, tropical fish (some neutral or white) & coral reefs.
Round 5pm we sailed round Koh Phi Phi Don & landed at the infamous Maya Bay, where the movie of 'The Beach' was filmed. Now don't get me wrong the location was amazing a strip of white sandy beach overlooked by a lush rainforest & small caves at the base of small cliffs yet it didn't seem as special as we had imagined. Disappointed we headed inland & followed a dirt path through the forest to a pebbly area where a ladder led up to a viewing platform where you could see the lagoon. It was coming back we saw how special Maya Bay was as we stepped out of the forest & this whole paradise unfolded before us. We should have come across this way from the start but the choppy sea had made such an attempt suicidal.
We gathered with our new friends Matthew, Lara, Andrew, Alexandra & others & watched the sunset across the bay.
Just after 7.20pm we had pad thai & fried rice at Khunva then met up with everyone for cocktails - dojo & jungle juice (it tasted crap but was cheap alcohol so who cares) - at Dojo Velvet followed by another heavy vodka bucket drinking session at Ibiza & other bars nearby.

Thursday was our last full day on Koh Phi Phi & we had planned to do plenty of exploring. Waking up at close to 11am with the hangover from hell wasn't part of the plan. Surprisingly managing meditation & breakfast at Panda we tried to make the most of what was left of the day by walking to Long Beach, the posh, exotic part of the island we'd seen from our long-tail. Unfortunately a long walk with only a vague idea of the direction in 30+ degree heat with a hangover was not the best idea. It took 45 minutes scrabbling up rocks, round narrow paths & ledges, through dense jungle & up & down several beaches to get there.
The beach was nothing spectacular but nice & clean with small groups of people bathing, an area cordoned off for swimming & behind luxurious appartments. After a long rest we ate pad thai & noodle soup (60BT each) at a beach restaurant then went for a swim, noticing how the tide was much stronger & the sea much deeper here. Burrowing into the sand we snoozed till early evening then prepared ourselves for the walk back. Luckily we found the correct path so it wasn't so long or difficult & we were soon back on the main street by the harbour. We took a shortcut through the village & were shocked to see how much damage was still evident of the Tsunami. Buildings were still being repaired or demolished five years after the devastation. Even with all the help there was still a lot to do.
We enjoyed coconut curry & steamed/sticky rice at Samee's 'Thankyou' Restaurant & had beers with Lara, Andrew, Alexandra & their friends at Dojo & Banana Sombrero.

Posted by Eemail2004 06:43 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Day 137 - 139 - Krabi

sunny

Friday we got up at 8ish, did excercise & meditation & had breakfast then walked to the bus stop on the main road at 9.15am. We had an hour wait & when it did arrive the bus was full so we were forced to stand on the outside, precariously balanced on the rim. Vicky chatted to a couple she knew from her folk festival days, Drew & his girlfriend Mel, whilst I concerntrated on not falling off. We arrived at the bus station just after 10.30am (80BT) & got a minivan straight away to Krabi for 120BT each. We had a stop off for food at 12.30pm where we bought sweet rice sticks, ricecake/prawn crackers & cashewnuts.
We caught the local bus to Krabi town from the bus station on the outskirts for 20BT each at 13.45pm & walked round the streets finding Hollywood Guesthouse for 200BT down a side street at the edge of the town centre.
6.30pm we walked through town browsing the street stalls where we ate corn on a cob for 10BT each then found the 'walking street' in the town square, many stalls selling different foods, trinkets, plants, allsorts. We took full advantage buying chicken & pork, macaroni, omlette & rice, beer, a smoothie & chicken & pineapple samosa puffs - all for 150BT!

Saturday after a rude awakening by a group of Germans we got up at 8am, showered in the communal bathroom then had a cereal breakfast. We took the local bus to AO Nang beach for 50BT each & arrived 11ish. We walked to the end of the beach by Golden Beach resort & noticed how few people there were & that most of them were being covered with some kind of green gunk. A dip in the sea & it became clear why as we were stung several times by invisible jellyfish! The local masseuse ladys offered to help us by covering us in the same green gunk - some kind of herb/ointment combo. Two hours sat in the shade with the smelly, slimy stuff on our legs & arms helped clear up the bites so we were able to walk back from the beach along the main road to Le Casa Restaurant where we shared a 150BT calzoni pizza.
We walked by the beach away from the resort & sheltered by a 7-11 as the rain began. Once it had stopped we had banana & chocolate pancakes for 25BT at a street stall & caught the bus back to Krabi Town 5ish.
In the evening we ate again at the walking market & watched groups of young dancers in traditional display.

Sunday was a lazy day. Up at 9am, cereal & a stroll round Krabi town to find a bike hire & to exchange our books (we'd found books invaluable on our travels). We finally found a guesthouse willing to exchange on the road out of town. Across from the guesthouse was a ferry port where we looked into costs to get across to Ko Phi Phi.
We grabbed some food from a 7-11 & walked along the shore to a mangrove forest but the wooden bridge walkway was too damaged to cross so with nothing else to see we returned to the guesthouse then ate at the walking market, booked a ferry to Ko Phi Phi for 350BT each & packed & played cards till 11ish.

Posted by Eemail2004 04:58 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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