Mar
27
2013

The Islands

So this blog is going to be fairly short as we really haven’t done anything for the last 3-4 weeks except, sunbath, swim and sweat!

Ko Tao

So a plane, bus and boat later we arrived at our first island, Ko Tao! It’s a really small island in the middle of the gulf of Thailand next to the two main famous party islands Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Samui. We stayed well clear of these as we weren’t interested in the Full Moon parties and just wanted a nice place to relax and chill out.

We met a cool German couple on the boat that we got talking to and ended up following them to Freedom beach as Antya had been there 5 years ago. We hung around with them for a couple of days before they continued on with their travels.

Ko Tao was definitely the place we were looking for with a couple of lovely quiet beaches and a couple of really nice but cheap restaurants. There were a few bars a short walk away so you weren’t completely away from nightlife. The snorkelling was amazing and Abby even strayed too close to a reef with a very protective fish that tried to nibble her leg!


Railay

After 6 nights in Ko Tap we got an overnight ‘Slow boat’ to Krabi and then a Long-tail boat to Railay beach. I got a couple of pictures of a squid boat that we passed around 3am which looked cool with all its green glowing lights.

We had met loads of people that said Railay was like the new paradise island in Thailand. Railay is strictly not an island as its part of Krabi mainland but completely inaccessible by road because of its mountains. There are two sides to Railay, East which is pretty rough still after the tsunami in 2004 and doesn’t have any real beach area. A few bars have sprung up and it has quite a bit of cheap accommodation perfect for us backpackers.

The West of Railay is a different story with 2 beaches (a really big one and a supposedly really beautiful one) with a few big and expensive resorts separating them. The bigger of the beaches was quite busy but it didn’t seem overcrowded as it was a fairly long stretch of sand. Railay is also perfect for rock climbing fanatics and offers a lot of beginner and advanced climbs so it attracts a lot of people and it is littered with rock climbing schools offering half or a full day climbs.

We decided to go to the better of the two beaches on the second day but we must have only been there for 45 minutes before we left. There was just boat after boat load of tourists arriving for a day trip and Abby got quite naggy with people walking past kicking sand over her, purely by accident of course. We decided Railay wasn’t what we were looking for so left on the third day.


Ko Lanta

We had heard good things about Ko Lanta which is a fairly big island located on the Andama coast. People we had met said it was lovely and probably just what we were looking for, but after being disappointed with Railay, we weren’t getting our hopes up too much!

When we got there we headed for Long beach which really was ‘Long’ and it seemed fairly empty at times. We found a perfect little bungalow on the beach for £12 a night, complete with hammock hanging from the porch and fan in the room. A good selection of restaurants and bars along the beach meant we had plenty of choice when it came to eating.

We quickly found our favourite place and spent quite a few nights dining on the beach, eating Barracuda and Shark cooked on the BBQ while watching the odd lightning storm out to sea. Abby has got a bit obsessed with fish and prawns which is a good thing considering she left home nearly 7 months ago not really liking anything like that!

We did hire a scooter for a day and explored the island and found a lovely little beach we had pretty much all to ourselves!

Before we knew it we had spent 13 nights here so decided to move on for our last few days. This is definitely a place I would recommend for people from the UK looking to see what Thailand is like. Flights into Phuket and then a 1.5 hour ferry to Ko Lanta! Easy! We will most certainly be returning here at some point in the future!


Ko Phi Phi

We left beautiful Ko Lanta for Ko Phi Phi famous for having ‘The Beach’ and for supposedly being paradise. We had been warned by many other travellers that it wasn’t a great place anymore and so expensive for what it was but we went anyway. I would advise people not to bother. We stayed for one night and left! If you are in your late teens or early twenties looking for 24 hour parties on the beach then yes, it would be a good choice!

Over-developed, dozens of bars and ruined beaches by just the amount of people present, empty beer bottles, litteretc … not our idea of paradise. We got a couple of nice pictures of Abby the beach but it was due to clever photography from me cutting out everyone else around us!


Phuket – Nai Yang

We left the spoilt Ko Phi Phi hoping our last few days in Phuket would be better. Again we had heard that south Phuket was like a mini Bangkok so we headed right up north (all Abby’s doing) and headed for Nai Yang beach! The beach was massive with some very expensive resorts along the edge. We found a nice little place 5 minutes from the beach with a pool and it turned out that we had the hotel all to ourselves except another couple that arrived on our last day.

Lots of seafood restaurants on the beach and a few bars meant that there is quite a bit to do. Again another place I would certainly come back to in the future!

So that’s pretty much it for this trip. Flying home tonight via Dubai so looking forward to the snow waiting for us back home!

Mar
5
2013

Bangkok and Chiang Mai

So we flew into Bangkok from Hanoi and I don’t know what it is about this place, but whatever time you land its always bloody hot. As soon as they open the airplane doors, the heat hits you and you instantly start sweating!

We were hoping to actually see some of Bangkok this time instead of the inside of a guest house but again, it was not to be. Unfortunately Abby’s stomach bug hadn’t got any better since Vietnam so we when to the pharmacy to get some antibiotics and spent the next few days just hanging around the room waiting for them to kick in. We also missed our chance to do a trip to see the bridge over the river Kwai and a ride on Death railway which was something we were both looking forward to. Oh well, we’ll have to come back at some point!

So from Bangkok we headed north to Chiang Mai putting our Vietnam night bus experience behind us, we thought we’d give the Thai night bus a go – plus the trains were all sold out and flights were too expensive for when we wanted to go. Not making the same mistake twice we went for the “VIP” night bus. This was so much better than we thought. This was luxury. We actually had seats, they reclined all the way and even had a little TV to watch – ok it only showed TV shows in Thai but was better than nothing. We even had a bus steward who came around with water and snacks! We actually got quite a few hours’ sleep and before we knew it we were there.

Chiang Mai seemed to be quite busy in terms of available hotels and hostels and we spent a good few hours wandering round trying to find somewhere we could stay. After asking at numerous hostels we managed to get a room in quite a dingy place but the room was clean enough, we only saw one monster cockroach.

We visited some of the temples around the city which were pretty extraordinary, much more exquisite than the ones we’ve seen before. Not having her glasses, Abby thought statues of some monks were of real people therefore was completely astounded when tourists were going up close to them to take pictures!

We did a day’s cookery course which was fantastic! Both Abby and I finally learnt how to cook our favourite Thai dishes properly, which we’re going to perfect even further when we get back home. Our host, Yui, was brilliant. She was so funny and knowledgeable about the ingredients and processes etc, the day went so quick! We even learnt how to crack and egg with using only one hand and without hitting it against anything. Abby managed to crack it in a way which saved the yolk – pretty hard to do, Yui was impressed.

A trip to the market introduced us to some of the local delicacies, bee and ant lava. Neither Abby nor I tried them, they looked disgusting. The market also sold pink eggs, which were left to ferment for over 12 months and we got the impression they’d be bloody horrible too so we stayed well clear.

The next day we visited an elephant orphanage which was such fun! We were a bit sceptical at first as we weren’t sure how well the elephants were treated but we could easily see that these loved their environment. Each elephant had a Mahoot (a keeper) who pretty much looked after them 24/7. We were in charge of looking after Niaomi for the day. She was very friendly but very big and uncomfortable to ride!

There was also a baby elephant of only 3 years old who would give out free kisses for a banana. It was the funniest thing ever watching Abby received her kiss!

We got to feed the elephants for 45 minutes (they eat so much!) and after riding them through the jungle for an hour we took them to the river to wash and bathe them. It started off ok and Niaomi was enjoying it, but then it just turned into a big water fight and she nearly drowned us. So what do you do in a situation like that? Well I seized the opportunity of having a 4 tonne water pistol under my control and declared war upon the other people washing the other elephants. Great fun and I do believe we won!

So we left Chiang Mai after a couple of days and flew back down to Bangkok for one night before we were due to get a bus even further south and a boat to our first island! You’ll be glad to know neither of us was ill this time while in Bnagkok (third time lucky) so we had a proper sample of the nightlife and food! Also Abby dragged me round the biggest market in Bangkok with over 8000 stores selling the same crap! Hopefully she has had enough of markets now for the rest of the trip… I doubt it!

Feb
4
2013

Bangkok

So we finally left the chaos and cold of north India and headed for the much needed warmth and easy going lifestyle that Thailand hopefully had to offer. Unfortunately my body had decided that it was going to choose today to be as ill as it could possibly be and it made the 3hr 40min flight hell!

We flew with Indigo airlines (India’s budget airline) as the flight was relatively cheap and boy could you see why once we had boarded. It made Ryanair look like Emirates and that is no understatement! It was also bloody hot on the plane and at this point I had a raging fever. The air vents above the seats was like having an asthmatic mouse blowing on you! Not the best experience of my life! Needless to say, I spent a bit of the flight throwing up in the toilets. Nice!

We eventually got Bangkok airport at 1am and headed straight for Khao San Road hoping to be able to stay close but not too far away. It was amazing to experience, the road was heaving with more drunken nationalities than I could probably name, music blaring from everywhere and police wrestling some drunken English guys to the ground. The smell of the street food was amazing and it was a mission to pull Abby away from the midnight market stalls! After 10 hotels/hostels turned us away due to being full, we finally found somewhere on a quiet road just off Khao San.

I spent the next 3 days in the room, not too far away from the toilet and still with a really bad fever. Additional stomach cramps, muscle and kidney pain, plus a fair bit of blood were it shouldn't be added to the mix made it not a great experience at all! Abby took good care of me but we were both quite worried at one point and if I hadn’t shown any signs of improvement then we were going to hit the hospital. Anyway, I’m still alive so all is good! We are not too sure what it was, and yes, before you start mum, we have had all our jabs but, Typhoid was the only one of mine that ran out while we were away, albeit, I was supposed to be covered until the end of Feb…

Abby managed to do a small bit of exploring herself but we only really had one day were we went to the markets to do a bit of haggling. We bought a few things and Abby sampled some of the delicious smelling food that was available as I still couldn’t keep anything down.

We will be hopefully coming back to Bangkok on our way from north Thailand to the beaches so will explore it better then. All I can say is, it’s a fantastic place to go and I’m a bit sad that I have only just been to Thailand now. Everyone is so friendly, it’s so relaxed and the weather is amazing! If we (the boys) had gone when we were younger, JC would have certainly either:

a) Never come home
b) Married a stripper
c) Been arrested

But more realistically, all of the above!

Oh and Dan, we have to start ‘Project Camper’ when I get home, so start warming Jo up to it!

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