11.01.2007 - 09.02.2007 -17 °C
Yes i am still alive...just. Sorry for the lack of blogging of recent weeks or has it now been a month? Time doesn't matter here. I have been in a drug induced headonestic, hippy free love kind of spirit for the past few weeks in 6 Thai islands. Only joking rents (well about the free love and drugs anyway!!)
I cannot begin to explain what an amazing time i am having. My days are spent lazing on the most beautiful beaches in the world and by night i check out the varied nightlife or beach bars and lovely restaurants.
I don't think I can cope with being on the computer too much longer so here is a quick list of where i have been...
...Ko Chang, Krabi, Ko Phi Phi, Ko Samui, Ko Phangan, Ko Tao.
Here is a rundown of each (i will add to this i promise):
We stayed in a lifesize coconut for our first night. It was a bamboo hut which was really basic but like nothing i've stayed in so far. Sadly we moved on as Emily spied the biggest spider and we ended up having to get a lady boy who worked in the resort to come and chase it away for us. This involved her weilding a broom in the air shouting "spider,spider". If the broom wasn't enough s/he decided to spray it with the water hose used to clean the floor and toilet!
So due to the spider incident we decided to move to some other bungalows down the road. These were buit with bricks and motor so Em was happier! The bathroom was ace with a open air shower. When i looked up the sun was shining and a palm tree hung over...worringly with coconuts that could fall at any moment!
We stayed on the south west of the island called lonely beach. It was a 5 minute walk for us to reach the beach, and what a stunning beach it was. There were a few cool bars and restaurants along the stretch but not built up in any way. On a few of the days we got a shared taxi (back of a 4x4 with a canopy and benches in the back) to White sands beach. This area was more built up and had a real strip of market stalls.
The island seems to have one main road that runs around the island. We have been told not to hire a bike unless skilled as there are severe hair pin bends and the gradients are steep!
Back at lonely beach there was plenty of nightlife on offer. Lots of bars were stilted bamboo style huts. One problem, not enough people to fill them! There would only be a few people in each and even though each venue would take it in turns to have a night, it still wasn't rocking. To be honest i think we all enjoyed having a chilled out couple of days not drinking and partying too hard. One night i went to the Magic garden where they were holding a Maya thai boxing night. Great to watch, they start by doing ceremonial traditional dances before they fight. It is no holds barred and a lot tougher than western boxing!
Saw some great sunsets and enjoyed some great food whilst on Ko Chang. All along the beach each restaurant have a seafood BBQ where you dine, alfresco on the beach.
After a nightmare 25 hour journey we finally reach Railagh, Krabi. This island was affected by the Tsunami and building work and clean ups were still apparent. The east side of the island is made up of mangroves and mud flats...not really the place for sunbathing. However the west side has a glorious beach that we walked to most days. Quite a small island with no cars or bikes that we came across. The islands nightlife was one strip of bars and restaurants. Many of the restaurants show films in the evning which was cool for relaxing nights. The strip was not neon clad, more twinkling fairy lights and bamboo huts, lots of chilled out cushion seating looking over the sea!
Em and I went on a 4 island tour whilst here. By long tail boat we first went to Poda Island. The snorkling was fantastic with lots of colourful coral and fish, the beach idillic...a real retreat.
Next was Chicken island, so called as one of the rock formations looks like a chickens head. Here we got off the boat in the middle of the ocean and did some more snorkling. As this was much deeper waters the visabillity wasn't as good but the range of fish and coral was amazing. We then went to Tup island which took my breath away. We ate lunch on the beach and were able to walk between two islands along a sand bar. I snorkled right around one side of the island seeing so many fish and coral. The last part of the tour was to Pranang Cave where Em had taken me to the previous day. Lots of rock climbling goes on here and whilst we were there the heavens opened so we had a swim in the sea...something i've never done before! We explored the coastline extrensively and generally relaxed on the beach.
So yet more relaxing times were had on Krabi...no mad nights out just lovely meals at sunset and strolls along the beach.
Ko Phi Phi
Let the partying begin! Now we only planned to stay in Phi Phi for a couple of nights due to it being one of the most expensive islands to stay on....this place is impossible to leave. A few days turned into 8 nights and even then we weren't ready to leave. Everyone ends up staying here longer than planned it seems.
My first day at the beach disappointed as the tide was really far out. Emily was here just a month before the Tsunami and she could see major differences in the landscape and the damage it had caused. Phi phi is a small town in the centre of a very narrow piece of island. This was the reason it was so affected by the Tsunami, as it was hit from both sides. Lots of construction is still going on and Emily pointed out the now unused land where bungalows and huts used to stand. I did visit the memorial garden whilst on the island and it was really moving.
Onto a happier note, this is an amazing island, my favourite so far. There are no cars or roads on the islands and the locals mainly get around on push bikes. There is a maze of narrow streets in the town part, bursting with cafes, restaurants and shops. We were told about an amazing restaurant called Papaya...and believe you me when you have eaten there once you will never go anywhere else. I can't neglect to tell you that the resident cat (who had just had kittens) likes to sleep in the fridge at any opportunity! Only in SE Asia!
I met some amazing people in Phi Phi. First was Consi, an Irish guy who had been living in Sydney for the last 7 years. Second was Kasey, a 21 year old girl from sydney also. These were the two that i made the greatest bonds with but there were so many others i would be here all day naming them!
So days were spent on a beach or exploring the islands. Long beach which you could either walk to, around the headland, over the rocks (which i did most of the time) or by longtail boat (which i did once when i was feeling lazy). This beach was stunning, really quiet and was picture perfect. The waters were so clear and the sand just heavenly!
Myself, the girls, Kasey and Consi went on a island tour. We got to see and touch monkeys on monkey island, swim in a beautiful lagoon and the highlight that is a must while in phi phi, snorkle and chill out in Maya bay. This is the island that was used in 'the beach' (the Leonardo caprio film). I discovered that some camera trickery had been used as they had super imposed cliffs to make it a completely sealed off from the sea when really there is a 50meter gap in the cliffs for boats to get in and out of. The swines!!
By night there were so many cool bars along the beach to go to. Most notably, Hippies bar, Apache bar and carlitos. All the bars offer great entertainment, fire dancing, maya thai boxing, lady boy boxing and even a wet t-shirt competition in the irish bar...i steered well clear of that one! I have no idea where most of the nights went to, one minute it would be 2am.. the next the sun would be coming up. This may have something to do with the Samsung buckets. What are they I hear you say! Well, these things are sold everywhere, all the shop keepers have cottoned onto the demand. Imagine a childs sand bucket as in a bucket and spade that you would take to the beach. Replace the sand with a bottle of samsung, a bottle of mixer (coke sprite or this lovely refreshing lemon drink which we termed lemonoy freshness goodness!) and a medicine bottle (note not a can but what looks like a medicine bottle)of red bull. They will have all sorts of drink combintations and you pick the one you want and they pour the drinks for you and add ice....all for 200 bhat (just under 3 quid!) Most evenings were spent wandering the bars with a bucket in hand. Strangely enough it doesn't seem to be quite as chavvy as drinking fish bowls in Magaluf as everyone is doing it.
Sadly since i left Phi Phi the place has been hit again with a distater and a fire broke out which has seriously damaged the costal path between Apache bar and Hippies.
My least favourite of the islands. This place is so commercialised and the sex indusry is still very much an important part of the scene. There are several Mcdonalds, boots, starbucks and it is rumoured to have a M&S...not that i saw it. To give you an idea of how little there is to do, they include a trip to the Tesco Lotus on the island on their tours!
We only stayed three nights in a bungalow within a resort by the beach. It was very twee and we had a little balcony. The weather wasn't great and we had a few showers....not the best when you hire a jeep with only the front seats covered! Guess who drew the short straw and sat in the back!! No actually luckily the weather held out once we picked up the jeep and we had a lovely day exploring the island, stopping at secluded beaches, lookouts and sights. We saw a giant buddha shrine which stood about 100 meteres in the air.
I celebrated my birthday while in Sumui. The girls bought me breakfast and we had tea and cake. I had to go for a birthday swim and had a few cold beers chilling out in the eveing sun. That evening we sampled the neon strip of bars. We found a reasonably classy one and with a few other fellow travellers we had met back up with and a good cocktail menu a good night was had.
The area we were staying in was Chewang beach. It was one main street that ran parallel along the beach and a horseshoe shaped street ran off the main street that had all the bars and clubs in. Everyone ends up in the open air club called Green Mango which has both a chart/pop area and a dance area. Not a bad spot.
I'm glad i have see Samui but i can tell you i will not be returning.
The island that is famously known for its Full moon parties. We arrived a few days before the next one. Another hilly island with lots of dense palm forest areas. We were taken from the port to our accomodation in the back of a 4x4 pick up truck. Great way to travel, cruising along the windy lanes with great views all around you and the wind blowing in your hair.
We stayed close Had Rin in a resort called Coral Bungalows. Our room was very new and it looked like something from the Aztec zone of the crystal maze. We weren't very chuffed to see that building work was going on right by our room so yet again we would be awoken by banging and drilling.
On our 1st night the bungalows was having a pool party. We did plan to take it easy in the run up to the full moon but needless to say it ended up being a messy one. I had blue body paint all over me, played sitting on shoulder wars with a buch of people and general pool drunken fun was had. Not sure how safe the combination of alcohol and water is!!??
The area of the island we were in had a cool town. There was a cluster of bars and resturants where like in Vang Vieng in Laos, the restuarants all played movies, the simpsons, friends or family guy. Very relaxed atmosphere and some great boutiques.
The days in Koh Phangan were spent on the beach or wandering around the town. Found a lovely beach by Coco Huts resort where we had made friends in which was much nicer than the beach by Coral bungalows. It was called Leela beach and althought it was only a very small stretch it was shaded by palms and had a volleyball court. Jet skis are very popular here and are great to watch.
Not a massive fan of this Island and i think the full moon is the reason everyone comes here. Should have explored more of the island really and would probably have a different view if i had. It is one of the larger islands and extremely hard to get around and it is advised against to hire mopeds or jeeps.
The full moon party is the same as any other night along had rin beach which has a collection of bars along the stretch, it is just that it is a full moon and everyone gathers here. It is a massive party scene, body paint, whistles and mad clothes and hats worn...it was like being back in my raving days!
Had a really fun night, each bar plays different types of music so once you are bored with one bar you just move onto the next. Like Ko Phi Phi, buckets are everywhere. Here they are sold on stalls along the beach. There was a really good crowd of us, people we had met in Vietnam, Samui, and Phi phi were all there.
After the full moon, Emily and I were alone. Kelly was still with Anth and Lucy wenrt off to meet Pete. We decided we wanted to see Ko Tao.
This has to be a close second if not equal best island with Phi Phi for me.It is totally beautiful and i saw some of the best sunsets of my trip so far here.
We were staying in an apartment which had a balcony which overlooked the beach. The beach was literally a few metres from our front door. In central view from the balcony was a palm tree with the sea and sand behind and a camper van that had been turned into a beach bar to our left. Running parallel to the beach was a lane that ran the entire length of Sairee beach with bungalows, restaurants and diving companies either side of it...oh and of course a couple of seven elevens!
Again, days were spent on one of the many beaches that were worth checking out on the islands and one day we hired a bike and drove pretty much from the centre to the south of the island. Again the roads on the island are not gereat and it is recommended that we only stuck to the main ones so we were a bit limited. I had my first go at riding a moped and after a shaky start i was ok...really enjoyed zipping around.
We had lunch in the south of the island overlooking shark bay, freedom beach and Chalok Baan Kao. We did a bit of beach hopping too.
At 6 o' clock most nights it became the routine to make our way to a french couples bungalow that Consi knew, right on the beach front. A big group of us would gather (French, German, American, English and Irish) and have a few beer changs as the sun set. A great start to the evening which would be followed by a meal and usual meeting up at Lotus bar (located on the beach) at 10pm. Ko Tao has the best selection of beachside bars where you sit on throws and cusions and drink by moonlight and candles in wells in the sand. There are some pretty mad palm trees that come out horizontally and really add to the beauty of the place.
Firedancers were everywhere here too. Strangely enough a guy we met in Vietnam was now firedancing at Lotus bar....small world! The atmosphere here was fantastic and so chiled out. There was a small town too in Sairee beach which had an array of restuarants and a few bars.
We went to Koh Nang Yuan which is a short longtail boat ride away. This has to be the most beautful place on earth...well what i have seen so far. It is three islands that are all connected by sand bars. You can walk between them and for a spectacular view you can climb to a viewpoint to overlook the islands. Went snorkling in one of the bays of water and it was like being in an aquarium..so many types of coral and fish...amazing!
It cost 100 bhat to enter and they are strict on what you can bring to the island like plastic bottles are banned. We spent the entire day here, exploring, snorkling, swimming and sunning oursleves on the perfect white sands.
Was very sad to leave Ko Tao, not only because of it being so relaxed and somewhere I could stay in forever, but because we were leaving Thailand! This day seemed so far off and to think i ever questioned was a month island hopping too long! Great memories and times!
There is no doubt about it that I will be a frequent visitor to Thailand in my lifetime.