A Travellerspoint blog

Sunday 28th October 2012

Friday 26th October we decided to go for a nice walk to get to Long Beach. We left at about 10:00 and the walk was just over an hour. It was already extremely hot, so we kept stopping in various shops along the way to get drinks and ice lollies and also to enjoy the air con for a couple of minutes :).

Once there we laid down our towels and had a look around. There was nobody anywhere near us. It was beautifully quiet and the sea looked extremely inviting after the long sweaty walk. We didn’t waste any time and went straight in to cool down.

Our day here was hot and lazy. Mostly lying in the sun, with regular intervals in the water for a swim and a splash about. When we’d had enough we thought we would walk down the beach to get back instead of the road as there was more of a breeze.

We walked as far as we could before we reach some rocks. Mark climbed up a couple but couldn’t see where it led to, so we decided to cut through the resort we were in front of. As we started to walk across the sand, we came to the grass of the resort. I went to take a step but out of the corner of my eye at that split second saw something move right where my foot was about to land. It was a snake and it had lifted its head and coiled back into a spring shape. It looked about ready to strike. My heart felt like it stopped and I jumped back with the word ‘SNAKE’ just about escaping my lips to warn Mark. It quickly slid off without hesitation, probably just as glad as I was that I hadn’t actually trodden on it! Safe to say I paid a little more attention to where I was walking after that.

Unfortunately on the route back, as we did not come that way, we ended up walking the LONG way home. Not that we really minded, we had no time limit. We just enjoyed the scenery. The sun had started to go down so the heat had subsided somewhat.

We had our dinner at a local market nearby to our hostel. The food was authentic, cheap and delicious. Whilst we ate the heavens opened and rain came down, refreshing the air and coming to an abrupt end just in time for our walk back.

Saturday 27th October was another pretty lazy day, catching up on uploading the photos for everyone back home (it is so time consuming!). We Skype’d quite a few people and had dinner at the same place.

Sunday 28th October was our last day in Koh Lanta. We were browsing the shops and I spotted a place where you could get a bracelet made. I picked out the different beads myself (with Mark’s help) and placed them in order on my hand. The lady then used three strips of leather (I had picked a brown colour) and began to weave and tie it, feeding the beads on. She made it look extremely easy.

The bracelet was really cute, just as I had thought it would look, maybe even better. I immediately added it to the ever growing collection on my wrist.

That evening we chilled out and packed our bags, ready to leave early in the morning. We were off to Phi Phi! Yaaay!

Peace Out!

Posted by jenniatkins 04:48 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Thursday 25th October 2012

Tuesday 23rd October 2012 was our Four Islands trip. This consisted of; Pick up from our hotel, then a speedboat to Phranang beach, Tub Island, Chicken Island, Yawasam Island, Poda Island and Koh See Island. I know that is more than four islands, but for some we just stopped nearby to take photos or snorkel. The others we actually got off the boat and had time there.

Once aboard the speedboat, I thought I would give my waterproof camera a try. As I pulled it out of the case I realised it was already on. I tried to turn it off, but it just was not happening. The only way I could get it to turn off was by taking the battery out. Thinking that I would just leave it on and use it till the battery run out, I tried to press the shutter release to take a shot. Again it was just focussing. So I tried the on/off button to see if that would take a photo, nope! Now that wasn’t doing anything either! The only thing I could do was take videos. My camera was officially KAPUTT!

I sulked for a couple of minutes, annoyed at myself for not being more careful with it in the first place. But decided that maybe we could try get it looked at somewhere, get a new one or if they were too expensive we would just have to stick with Marks alone. Shame really, as I had wanted us both to have our own so we could get pics of each other as well as capturing our journey from our different perspectives :( Hey Ho!

On our trip Mark and I were the only English people. There were mainly Chinese tourists and a Thai family with a very cute little boy. As you’d expect the speedboat was great fun and extremely fast. We were soon at our first destination. We all clambered off the boat one by one and made our way on the beach. There were some caves to one side so Mark and I decided to head in that direction.

When we got to the edge of the beach I could see a cave full of penis statues?? My first thoughts were that it must be something to do with fertility and we moved closer to see if there was any information regarding the cave. Thankfully there was, and I had been right. People were praying and lighting incense sticks (I could only see women doing this), obviously in the hope that they would then be blessed with a child. We took in the scene for a moment or two then headed round towards the rest of the rocks.

I started to snap away, enjoying the scenery when I was interrupted by something I really did not want to see…

…Memory Card Full!

Usually this would not have been an issue. I would change the card for a new one and continue without a blink of an eye, but not today. I had stupidly forgotten my spare cards. I could see in my mind where I had left them. FAIL!

Had it have been the end of the day I would have just accepted my silly mistake but this was our first stop! I found some shade and quickly started looking through the photos I had stored on the card. I needed to delete the ones I thought were not likely to be of any use to make space for the day. I hate deleting on camera. The screen is too small to really see the image. I much prefer to look at them on the screen before making any decisions but I didn’t really have much choice due to my rookie error.

Please let this be the last camera related incident of the day! I couldn’t take anymore! Ha ha!

Before we had to leave Mark suggested we get some snaps of us there on his camera. So we started trying to get a half decent photo of us both with his arm holding the camera out. Luckily our guide from the boat appeared (a very smiley, friendly Thai man) offering to take the photo for us, then it was time to head back to the boat.

The next stop was snorkelling, just off the rocks of one of the islands. Mark and I don’t like to wear the life jackets, we can both swim and I personally find that they just make it more difficult. Everyone else on the boat obviously did not feel the same and were faffing about trying to get them on and sort out their snorkelling gear. We were stuck towards the front of the boat unable to move. The guide obviously noticed this and made his way over asking my name. Once informed he proceeded to shout at the top of his voice ‘Everybody move, Jenni is ready! Jenni coming through! Jenni will go first!’ before quickly glancing back to look at Mark before continuing ‘Jenni’s friend will go second!’ It was highly embarrassing as everyone looked at me, probably very confused as to why I was getting special treatment and being pushed ahead of them.

Once I was in the water he kept calling my name and throwing bread and biscuits into the water where I was swimming so the fish would surround me ha ha! It was very nice of him as I got some great photos!

For most of the time in the water Mark and I just paddled around slowly exploring the rocks and coral without any problems but at one point a fish went under me and I continued to look at it a little too long. My snorkel went under and I got a mouthful of water. Choking and trying to sort myself out I went upright for a couple of minutes treading water. I must have been moving with the current because I ended up being over some rocks without realising and hit my foot on them.

It was stinging a lot so I knew I must have cut it but didn’t want to lose any time in the water so ignored it and carried on.
Once back on the boat my new friend spotted my cut straight away saying ‘Oh No! Jenni! What happened?’. He ushered me to the front of the boat and went to fetch the first aid kit. On his return he started to clean the cut putting various liquids on to it. One of them was 100% alcohol and I nearly flew of the seat! Wow it stung!

Whilst he was busy tending to my toe the others had come back on board. The little Thai boy was watching him intently and the guide began to tease him, telling him I had been bitten by a shark! Ha ha! The boy’s face was a picture! He then covered it with a bandage and secured it with waterproof plasters.

The next island consisted of two sections joined by a sand pathway under only a couple of inches of sea water. Mark and I explored one part before making our way over to the other for our lunch. Lunch was a Thai curry and rice, yummy! After we decided to chill out on the beach for a while, so I put my sarong down (best purchase ever by the way, so many uses!) and laid back, closed my eyes and enjoyed the sunshine beating down on us.

Next thing I could hear our guide shouting from across the beach ‘Stop sleeping Jenni! Time to go, c’mon c’mon’ ha ha. So we grabbed our bits and headed for the boat.

When we were all on board my new friend came to sit with us. He asked where we were from and how long we had been in Thailand. We told him all about our travelling trip and he proceeded to ask if it was our honeymoon. Mark laughed and I said ‘no not yet ;p’ whilst winking at him haha! This was followed by my new friend telling Mark ‘Marry her! Ask her! Ha ha! Will. You. Marry. Me! Ha ha! He found it very amusing that Mark was laughing and replying ‘Ssshh’.

Shortly after we pulled up near Chicken Island. It was a very brief stop, so everyone could get photos of the rocks that looked like a chickens head. My friend offered to get a photo of Mark & me with the rock in the background, so we jumped up onto the front of the boat. He took one shot and then shouted ‘One more! Kiss! Pre-Honeymoon kiss! Ha ha!’ I think he was really enjoying winding Mark up and I can’t lie, I was finding it highly entertaining also! :)

Our final stop was another island where we got off the boat and spent time exploring the area. Unfortunately as we were climbing down from the boat, Mark stubbed his toe on one the metal bits, nearly ripping the nail off. It was bleeding and instantly went a lovely purple colour. We sat down in the shade for a couple of minutes until the throbbing subsided a little. What a pair! Both now with injured toes!

We didn’t want to waste our time so decided to get on and have a look around. Escaping the crowds, we headed in the opposite direction to where they all seemed to be going and found ourselves walking up a stretch of beach that we had all to ourselves. That was until we came across a massive puffer fish on the beach. Of course it was dead, and wow did it stink! I had to hold my breath to get close enough to quickly snap a photo.

It was so peaceful, no sounds other than the waves gently hitting the sand. We walked quite far up towards a point where we could see a nearby island. I decided this was a photo moment and reached for my camera. It was so beautiful.
The sun was extremely hot so we nipped in the water to cool down. Then we messed around taking photos of me doing my fave move, the star jump!, with the view of the island in the background.

Time flew by and it was soon time to get back to the boat, ready to head back to Ao nang.

Once back on land we got a transfer back to our accommodation. When we hopped out of the van my new friend couldn’t resist one last laugh. He wound down his window and shouted across the street ‘Bye bye Jenni! Bye bye Mark! Remember, ask her! Will. You. Marry. Me!!’ ha ha! Such a funny and nice man. It had been a great day and was a lovely way to end our time in Ao nang. It was off to Koh Lanta the next morning.

Wednesday 24th October, we were picked up early in the morning. Late as per usual, but we had got used to ‘Thai time’ ha ha. If they told you a pick up time was at 8am, they could arrive anytime between 7.45-8.45am and it was almost always late. We always got to the meeting point early just to be on the safe side :).

We were in one van for quite a while until we reach what we all thought must be the pier we would be boarding our ferry to Koh Lanta. The driver emptied everyone’s bags onto the pavement and walked into a shop. We noticed it had a ferry timetable so went in to check it out.
No one was communicating with us about what was going on, so Mark decided he would ask the lady at the desk. She slapped a sticker on him and said to take a seat and wait as we would be going back in the van we had just got out of.

We sat for quite a while and nothing seemed to be happening, so Mark approached a man at a different desk to enquire further. He then slapped another sticker on to Marks stop stating ‘Lanta House’ our next accommodation and shouted over to the driver. He told Mark to take our bags to the van.

Once Mark and I started putting our bags on the van, everyone started to try and squeeze in even though they had not yet been told if they were getting back in. The driver was getting quite huffy but still did not speak to anyone.

It turned out that everyone was getting back on the bus so why the driver had taken all our bags off I am not sure. I still question whether he actually knew what was going on himself. It all seemed to be very unorganised with very little communication. All bums were on seats and the van was full and ready to go when the door slid open once more. An eastern European girl was told to get on and sit on the floor as there were no seats left.

At first she did as she was told, then after a couple of minutes while we were waiting to leave she rightfully started to question why she had been placed on the floor of a full up van when she had paid the same amount for her ticket as everyone else. The response she was greeted with was less than friendly and I think unacceptable; aggressively the man told her ‘if you do not want to sit then you can wait here for next bus’. He had completely ignored her question. She asked how long that would be, but he shrugged and huffed and said he didn’t know and it was her choice. He was completely uninterested and obviously knew there had been a mistaken overbooking but he was not going to acknowledge the fact and just wanted rid of us.

She didn’t really have much of a choice. Who in their right mind would want to wait on their own with him? Not knowing whether the next van would be a couple of hours or even the next day! She climbed back onto the floor shrugged her shoulders at everyone and simply stated ‘oh well, I just had to say something’. I did feel sorry for her, but I was secretly glad that it wasn’t me down there.

The rest of the journey was pretty uneventful. Slightly different to what we had come to expect; getting dropped at a pier, boarding a ferry and then picked up at the other end. This time we stayed on the same van the whole way and went on two short Car ferries instead.

We arrived safely at our new accommodation and got checked in without any problems. It was a very basic hostel at only £2.54 each a night! Bargain! We had a private room with fan and shared the bathroom. I was very impressed that included also was; free shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, toothpaste and tea and coffee!

We chucked our bags in and headed out for a walk to check out the area and get some food before relaxing after our long day. The next day, Thursday 25th October, we didn’t really do much. We were in need of a lazy day as we were both pretty tired.

Peace Out!

Posted by jenniatkins 07:55 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Monday 22nd October 2012

On 21st October we decided to get a longtail boat to a nearby beach called Railay Beach. It was only a very short ride for 100THB each way per person. When we arrived, it was a little busier than we had expected, but we still found a small spot on the beach on our own. The weather was lovely. Mark gets a bit bored just laying around (he has ants in his pants :)) so went to buy a small wicker ball that the Thai’s play a keepy uppy game with. We both played this for quite a while (I was pretty good, even if I do say so myself) with quite a few trips into the sea to cool down. We were both pretty hot so went looking for an ice lolly.

As soon as we sat down to eat our ice lollies, we noticed that the sky was starting to become overcast with some very dark grey coloured clouds. We looked at each other and started walking back towards the beach to try and get the boat out of there before it began to rain….NO CHANCE!

We had taken only a handful of steps before a massive clutter of thunder erupted right above our heads and straight after huge bolts of lightning lit up the dark sky. The rain came down like I had never seen, it made the Bangkok rain look like a shower. We ran for the boat, as we were practically by it anyway, hoping maybe that the driver could get us outa there! The visibility had rapidly decreased and we could no longer see the cliff at the edge of the beach. We were stuck here till the storm passed.

The boat offered little shelter. There was a Thai family already seated under the cover with quite a few small children, so Mark and I squeezed on the edge half in, half out. I am NOT a fan of thunder storms, never have been. I felt pretty silly sat among the children being the only one holding my ears haha. I didn’t like the fact we were on a small boat with lots of metal bits, including the frame that I had to lean on, in the torrential rain with massive bolts of lightning flying around everywhere! Not an experience I’ll be looking to repeat any time soon.

Monday 22nd October was our Thepphanon Travel and Tour full day trip. We were collected from our hostel and headed to our first stop of the day, the Hot Springs. They are naturally hot pools of water in the middle of the forest. It was pretty busy when we got there, but there were quite a few different sections so we found a space in one. The water was surprisingly hot! I know that sounds silly due to the name, but I was expecting warm not hot bath hot. It was a shock when I first got in and I didn’t know if I’d be able to stay in there, but I quickly got used to the temperature and then it was really nice. We moved around the different sections making sure we had seen all of it. Unfortunately while we were climbing over one of the rocks I noticed the catch had come open on my waterproof camera and the cover to the battery & memory card section was open! I didn’t know how long it had been open for, and Mark quickly took it and laid the bits out and left the cover open on top of our bag in the hope it would dry out and all would be ok. We would have to wait and see :( I ended up staying in the water a little too long, I felt quite funny when I got out and there was nowhere to cool down because it’s so hot, not very clever Jen.

Next stop was the Emerald Pool. Almost like a natural swimming pool, the water was so clear. There was a quite a walk from the entrance to get to the pool, it was quite far into the forest. On the way a big lizard decided to run across the path right in front of Mark and me and scared us half to death. It ran so fast on only its back legs, with the front of its body and legs up in the air. Fascinating to see up close!

It was extremely slippery round the edge of the pool so we had to be really careful. I nearly fell over quite a few times haha. I was happy to find the water was cooler here. Not cold though. We enjoyed swimming around then looked at the nearby streams which also had crystal clear water, it was amazing. We tried my camera while we were there and so far all was ok! Yay! We had our included lunch back by the entrance, Thai green curry, stir-fry chicken with cashew nuts (yummy) and rice.

After lunch unfortunately on the drive to our next stop we got caught up in a police checking point and were held up there for quite some time :(, but then it was time for our third stop Elephant Trekking (yaay! This was always going to be the highlight of my day). We went up on the platform ready for the elephants, and then I could see them coming towards us. I could not believe our luck, it was a family. The dad came first and collected the Chinese couple in front of us and then the mum followed with her baby attached to her by a long rope. This was our elephant! We got to have the baby with us the whole time and it was sooo precious to see. (Quick update on the camera situation, at this point the lens had condensation over it on the inside so was all foggy when you took a photo :( gutted that it had become useless at this point. At least we still had Marks. I did have my DSLR with me but as it was raining I didn’t really want to get it out).

The relationship between the family was lovely. At first the baby was rushing ahead in an attempt to catch up with his daddy but they had stopped so we could catch up and they could all walk together. The baby then became more playful, kneeling down and putting his head in the mud, grabbing at tree branches and bushes, pulling some off and throwing it over his head onto his back haha. Every now and then he would go close to his mum and she would touch him with her trunk then he would be off again, going from side to side. At one point the rope joining him to his mum got caught under his legs so the mahout stopped the mum and said a command to the baby. Hearing the words, the baby first lifted his front leg and then his back, freeing up the rope. AMAZING!

A little bit into the ride, the mahout jumped down of the elephant and signalled for me to climb forward, high onto the elephant’s neck. He then took our camera and started walking along side us and in front snapping away. We were on the elephant on our own and the mahout was using only words spoken gently to direct her. This proves that if you have a good relationship with the animal there is no need for chains and sticks. This elephant was happy and you could see it. She had her family with her and stopped when she pleased.

We got to some water and the baby had a fantastic time. He was rolling over, going under the water, and splashing it everywhere. It looked like so much fun, I wanted to jump in and join in!

The mum found a nearby tree overhanging the water which obviously had a little something she fancied. After she had eaten the bits lower down and knocked some off for the baby, who had appeared by her side, she wanted the food that was higher up. Well, Mark and I had to hang on as she went up onto her back legs and reached up with her trunk. As her head was tilted so far back there was no longer a space where my legs had been, so I just leant back and had one hand on her head and the other on Marks leg behind me ha ha. It was such an experience, I didn’t think it could get any better, and then it did.

After the ride was finished we got to feed the elephants and get up close with them. The Mum’s eyes were so gorgeous and she was so big but also gentle and friendly. The baby, made my heart melt. Those eyes, the playful nature and so small (but big at the same time) and cute, so cute. I had his trunk in my ear at one point ha ha and he also grabbed my wrist with his trunk and was trying to put my hand in his mouth ha ha. Mark wanted to give the mahout a tip as we had really enjoyed ourselves and he gestured at Mark to give to the elephant to take with her trunk. Mark looked at bit concerned that she would just eat it (as was I), but sure enough, she took the money and passed it to her mahout.

These moments with these precious animals was so magical and definitely one of the best moments of my life. I am going to treasure them forever. I just did not want it to end! Elephants are so intelligent, I find them so interesting, and I wish I could do something working with these fascinating creatures.

Our last stop of the day was The Tiger Temple Caves. We only had 50 minutes here (not really enough time, I blame the hold up earlier on in the day) and had two options; 1.We explore the different buildings on the grounds or 2.We climb the steep stairs to the temple at the top of the mountain. Having read about the temple on the top of the mountain and the views you get from being up there we had already decided to take option two. (Camera update; it was now switching on but to take a photo you had to press the off button. It would then take a photo and then switch off :( the actual shutter button was not doing anything other than focusing).

To get to the Temple at the top we had 1,237 steps to climb. Full of energy and on a high from the elephant experience we both joked and started to jog up the first flights of stairs. This very quickly turned to a walk and then to a struggle! Ha ha!

Wow we had completely underestimated just how hard it would be due to the fact we had a limited amount of time to get up there, enjoy it and then get back down. The steps were so big and steep we kept needing to stop as we were sweating so much due to the exertion combined with the heat. I don’t know about Mark but I know the only thing that kept me going and keeping some sort of pace was the fact I didn’t want to have to turn straight back round to come down as soon as we reached the top. I wanted at least 5 minutes to enjoy what we had worked so hard to see. It took us 25 minutes to get to the top, so we spent 10mins at the top before we had to rush back down. We were practically running down the steps to get back in time. Our legs were all shaky, we’d had a bloody good work out!

We were the only ones out of our minibus that had attempted the mountain, the others said they knew they wouldn’t have got up and back down in time. We were so happy to get back on the bus to cool down in the air-con. Safe to say we both slept well that night! (We left the camera open, hoping that it would dry out some more overnight and be miraculously fixed and in full working order by the morning).

Peace Out!

Posted by jenniatkins 01:08 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Saturday 20th October 2012

Sorry it's been so long!

View RTW Trip :) on jenniatkins's travel map.

Ok due to us having too much of a good time, we haven’t updated the blog for a very long time! So, for this entry it’s going to have to be more of an overview of what we have been up to.

So Bangkok.

People say you either love it, or hate it. We LOVED it! The people are so friendly and helpful and coming from London the amount of traffic and people really did not bother us. We were staying in a very cute little hostel called Khaosan Baan Thai. The sweetest lady ran the hostel and we had a room that looked more like a bedroom. Plus we had the added bonus of a free (very cute) breakfast.

We definitely made the most of our time in the city. We walked around lots, often getting lost (but that’s half the fun and you see more :)).

Muay Thai Boxing was fantastic! The atmosphere was brilliant. The fighters were so small, but so fast and strong. I liked that although it was so violent, there was a very respectful side to it also. Before every fight the competitors would do a ritual dance and visit each corner and the centre of the ring to pray. Their coaches would also pray for them and splash water on them in a certain way and in certain places. The fighters were touching gloves & nodding and smiling at each other before and after the match. They were focused and in control, not like normal boxing where they are trying to wind each other up and psych the other one out. We were also very lucky to meet some of the fighters after. They looked tiny next to Mark and were about my height.

We visited lots of Temples and in one of them we were given the three incense sticks each to do a prayer and make a wish to the lucky Buddha. The temples are beautiful, very colourful and calm.

We were very lucky with the weather, it only rained once but WOW did it pour down! It lasted for about half hour, which we spent with lots of other people hidden under any shop cover we could find.

The Floating market was an experience! It was mad. At one point we were one of six boats wedged because they were trying to get through at the same time. Our boat was tipping and I was getting very concerned that Mark, myself and my DSLR were going to end up in the water, that would have been bye bye camera!

Once off the boat we went on a nearby elephant trek. We bought a basket of bananas to feed to it as we were going around. About 5 minutes into the ride, the mahout said I could get out of the seat & scoot down onto the elephant’s neck so I could feed her. I loved it! She took a whole bunch at a time and I got to stay there for the rest of the ride. I had her lovely big ears flapping on my legs but by the end I thought I was going to have a rash on my legs from her hair but luckily I didn’t.

While I was enjoying myself Mark was still back up on the seat, now having to hold all the bags and the basket of bananas (oops). At one point I could hear him flapping about & swearing. The mahout and I turned round to see what he was up to. Ha ha, he had what he thought was a great big yellowy-green coloured bee on him, the mahout started laughing and picked the insect off him & stated that it was just a big flying ant and he held onto it till we got to the next tree where he placed it on a leaf still chuckling to himself. (Mark just told me to write ‘it was massive though! Ha ha)

When the trek was over we were taken back to the market where we could browse the lovely clothes, souvenirs, shoes, jewellery and bags (I got some baggy trousers). I also held a very big snake! It was then back on the bus to Bangkok.

Whilst in Bangkok we met lots of lovely people, but two in particular. They were both travelling alone, Sue (from Brighton) and Simon (from Australia). We met them both in a bar while we were having a quiet drink after dinner. This ‘drink’ then turned into a 12 hour drinking session! We didn’t get back to our hostel till 7am the next morning. Sue showed us a really cool little bar on the street (Anne you would love it!!) it was a VW Campervan that had the back converted into a bar! It was brilliant just sitting on our stools in the street chatting & drinking, such a chilled atmosphere.

They were both great company, we all got on really well and had a lot of laughs. We also ended up with a local Thai man who was really nice too and Mark said once I was drunk it was like I could miraculously understand a little & speak a little bit of Thai. He said me & the Thai man were chatting away and he couldn’t understand what we were saying! Weird! Ha ha.

The next day we were wandering around trying to find a tattoo shop when we happened to bump into Simon! He then joined us on our quest & we all walked round for hours seeing even more of the city until we found THE ONE. It gave us even more confidence that the place was a good choice when a German girl that was also in the tattoo shop had already had a tattoo there the previous year & had come back for another one.
We had both already decided what we wanted so the tattoo artist drew them up and then an hour later we were done! I have a cute lil elephant and Mark has Thai script saying ‘A journey of a thousand miles must start with a single step’ (we have had this confirmed to us many times since, with random Thai locals grabbing Marks arm and reading it out to him and telling him that it was very good!)

We spent the rest of the night with Simon, part of it on the famous Khaosan Road which is basically backpacker land. Simon was extremely adventurous and bought a bag full of bugs to try. YUK! He first tried a small maggot, then a bigger grub thing and then a big cricket! The cricket’s leg got stuck in his teeth! Eew! I don’t know how, but he also convinced Mark to try one and Mark decided he would go for the grub, which he tells me tasted quite a lot like batter. I think it comes down to mind over matter, but my mind was not getting over what it was! The guys then had some nice tasting food from the street stalls to get rid of the taste and then we went to a bar.

There are ladies that walk round selling things and Simon humoured her for quite a while we were having a drink as she dressed him up in hats and bracelets trying her best selling techniques, it was very funny! At the end of the night we had to say our goodbyes to Simon as both he & us were leaving Bangkok the following day. On our way home we stopped off for a foot & leg massage (which are all along the small streets), it was a nice relaxing end to the night.

Our journey to Koh Tao was a loooong one. We had a night bus that left Bangkok at 18:30 and we were all settled in getting a bit of shut eye when all of a sudden we were awoken at 03:00 by a Thai man shouting ‘KOH TAO KOH TAO KOH TAO’ at the top of his voice and we had to scramble our bits together and hop off the bus.

Once off we realised we were in the middle of nowhere and had, along with about ten other people, been dumped at the side of the road and told to wait there for the next bus. Well the next ‘bus’ was not a bus, it was a small truck from which another local Thai man jumped out shouting ‘KOH TAO KOH TAO KOH TAO’ and bundled us all in the back like cattle. Everyone was looking sleepily at each other laughing. A worrying thing was all the bags were balanced at the back, held in by only thin rope, the people closest to the back kept an eye out in case we started to leave a trail of baggage.

This ‘bus’ then took us to the pier in Chumphon where we arrived at 04:00. We were then informed that our boat was not departing until 06:30! Mark & I smothered ourselves in insect repellent and I somehow managed to fall asleep sitting up leaning on a table. Mark watched Halloween in Thai haha and kept an eye on our bags.

We arrived in Koh Tao at 10:00 and got a lift for cheaper with one of the diving companies as they were based next to our hotel. Unfortunately we arrived at 10:30 (after our 16 hour journey) but our room was not ready until 12:00 (brilliant) so we sat in the bar very sleepy and had a well-earned big fat fry up!! YUM! I had extra hash brown (of course) and Mark had extra mushrooms (of course) :)

We were so glad to finally get to a beach that we were aloud to sunbathe and swim on that in Koh Tao we didn’t really do much other than relax and chill out and walked about a little. Although we did try a fish pedicure which was very tickly to start with then was ok and we both got a massage to loosen up our muscles after carrying our bags.

Koh Phangan was our next island. This is where we had A LOT of fun. We arrived there early evening on 8th October which was the date of the Half Moon Party, so we had no time to rest. It was get there, sort out taxi to get to half moon, have dinner, get ready & party time! We were out drinking at the bar for 20:00 (I was very impressed with myself!) We got chatting to quite a few people while we were having our body painting done and hopped in the taxi with two Canadian guys.

Once there we drank outside with them and more body paint was getting handed around so we took to decorating each other, then we headed in. We quickly found a couple that we had met at our hotel, Chloe and Ryan. This was our little group for most of the night, with others coming and going. It was such a great night, so many laughs. The location in the jungle was really cool and we enjoyed all the food when it got to the early hours. One of the Canadian guys hooked up with a girl so his mate came back with us, where we carried on drinking until I fell asleep on a sun lounger and Mark had to carry me back to the room. The next day was pretty much a write off, we only went out of our room for brunch and dinner ha ha.

The day after (10th October) we went onto our beach for some sun worshipping. Chloe and Ryan were already out there & another couple we had met before, Jason and Nicola came a little later. There was a bit in the sea where we could walk/swim out pretty far from our beach and then reach an underwater kind of island where the water went really shallow again and the white sand below your feet felt like flour. Me and mark stayed out there for quite a while enjoying the view & the sun.

We spent the rest of the day chatting to Nicola and Jason (mainly in the sea whilst turning into prunes! We didn’t realise how long we had been in there!) The reason we got out in the end is because we were bobbing around chatting when I noticed something swim through my legs that was now in front of me. It was pretty big and it started swimming towards Mark & Jason. Now, we don’t know for sure but it looked a hell of a lot like a baby shark from the shape, colour and the way it was moving. We looked at it for a little bit until we lost sight of it, then we thought if that was a baby, does that mean the mum is nearby?? Safe to say we were all out of the water in a couple of seconds!

We took photos as the sun went down over a nearby island and organised to go to dinner with them. To have a break from Thai food, we ended up in an American ranch style restaurant, with the Thai staff dressed up as cowboys and girls. Not something I was expecting to see in our time in Thailand haha. We all decided to go on a boat trip together the next day.

Thursday 11th October, the boat trip was to the Angthong National Marine Park and included snorkelling, kayaking, climbing up what felt like thousands of steps to a view point over a lagoon and also trekking to some caves where me and Mark did a bit of climbing up the rocks inside the caves. It was a fantastic day! The weather was lovely and hot, we were well and truly worn out when we got back so chilled out and got a relatively early night.

Friday 12th October, Mark and I were out having a walk trying to find some markets that Jason & Nicola had told us about when we saw some vehicles to rent at really cheap prices. We ended up getting a 4x4 jeep for 24hrs for just £16! We drove to three different waterfalls and also to a beach in the north of the island called Bottle Beach. It was beautiful!

That night Jason was DJing in a nearby bar so we went along to support him and see/hear him in action. It was such a great night! There were a couple of people there that were quite obviously on drugs so me and Nicola were messing about dancing (all on our own haha) like they would and we were very quickly joined by everyone on the dance floor, out of their faces dancing in very peculiar ways! It was really really funny. Mark and Jason joined in the fun.

The next day (13th October) we felt a bit ropey but were determined to get out early and make the most of the jeep before it was due back at lunch. We drove down to Haad Rin (famous as the beach where the full moon party is held) it was lovely, not what we expected at all. We had assumed that because it was the party beach, that it wold be a mess. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The water was clear and the sand like powder.

Before we dropped the jeep back we gave Jason & Nicola a lift to the pier to get their boat to Koh Tao. They said they might see us in Koh Samui and would be in contact to let us know.

That evening there was a local market held on a road not far from our hotel. It was closed to traffic and lots of stalls were set up. We tried all kinds of foods and looked at all the different stalls. We were so full up from all the food and it only added up to costing about £2 for both of us! Amazing!
Sunday 14th October we got the boat over to our next island, Koh Samui. This was a bigger island and we were on the Chaweng Beach, the busiest on the island. The first couple of days the weather wasn’t great and we got quite a bit of rain. It was hammering it down one morning when we were eating our breakfast. We caught up on doing our washing, which wasn’t too kind on our backs leaning over the bath :(

On 15th October Jason and Nicola contacted us and we couldn’t believe it, their accommodation only happened to end up being the one across the street from ours! And their hotel shared the pool and beach at our hotel! Brilliant! We had already had dinner when they arrived, so we showed them down to the really cheap (but nice food) restaurant we had found and Mark and I went for a drink at a nearby bar; another VW Campervan that had been converted into a bar!! And the cocktails were really cheap. They joined us once they had finished and we all drank there for the rest of the night.

The following day, again the weather was pretty poor so we had a movie marathon day in our room whilst uploading our photos to Facebook. We met Jason & Nicola for dinner again that evening and then visited the VW Camperbar for some more drinks.

Wednesday 17th October the weather was back to hot and sunny so we all chilled by the pool/beach. We were like a load of kids in the pool, timing how fast we could do lengths and also how long we could hold our breath for haha! Later we all took a long walk down the beach. We realised that the stretch of beach that our hotel was on was by far the best bit of Chaweng beach. The other end had lots of seaweed and rocks and the sand wasn’t anywhere near as nice as ours. Again we had dinner altogether and Jason & Nicola decided they were going to rent a car so they could explore the island the next day. Mark & I were really grateful when they asked if we wanted to join them.

They got the car that night and we went for a drive to try and find a cheap bar to watch the England football match in, but ended up in a bar right next to our hotels, who put the game on especially for us. The game was rubbish!

Thursday 18th October was all of our last day in Koh Samui. Luckily for Mark and I our adventure continues but for Jason and Nicola this was the very last day of their month in Thailand. We definitely made the most of it. Me and Nicola were in the back and for some reason were left in charge of the map reading ??? Although I must say, we did a very good job!

We visited loads of temples; at one we had a very special experience. This particular temple was home to The Mummified Monk. It was here that we all got blessed by a Buddhist monk. He picked up four bracelets and held them as he prayed to the mummified monk. He then called me forward and signalled for me to hold out my left wrist. As he placed and tied the bracelet around my wrist he said a prayer/chanted out loud and then smiled and I thanked him. I then stepped back and he signalled Nicola to go forward. When he called Mark and Jason forward he placed the bracelet on their right arm. It was such a lovely gesture, we were all very touched.

As well as temples we had intended to visit a couple of waterfalls. When we arrived at them, near where you park your cars had been turned into a mini tourist attraction offering a couple of different activities. One of which was that you could have your photo taken with a tiger. We were all horrified and upset to see these poor animals, obviously drugged, chained to these platforms. Two of them were completely out of it and the bigger one was laid down with someone posing behind. He had a massive metal collar around his neck which was also joined to a chain & platform. It was horrible to see :( We spoke to a couple in the car parked next to ours, and they informed us that the waterfalls were more of a trickle at the moment so we decided to leave it.

We stopped at a local market which was very, erm, interesting. There were all kinds of fish & seafood for sale. Some dead, some still living. There were even live toads! Eew! It was very smelly! When we left there we saw the funniest thing; we walked past a pet grooming shop and in the window was the ugliest cat I have seen haha. The poor soul was all shaved apart from his head and feet and did not look happy at all! I will upload the pictures and you will have to look because it makes me laugh every time I look at it ha-ha! We got back in time for dinner so had our last supper together :( and then had to say our goodbyes :( We will definitely keep in contact though and hopefully meet up next year when we get back.

Friday 19th October was an extremely long day! We were picked up from our hotel at 10:30am and taken to the pier to wait for our boat to the mainland. From Suratthani (Donsak) we got on the first bus that took us a certain amount of the journey over land, we were then kicked off in a petrol station where a tiny little truck picked us up (it was way too small for the amount of people that had to get on it and our backpacks had to go on the roof without any straps holding them on!), this took us about 5mins to a restaurant looking place where we had to wait an hour before we got on the next bus to take us the rest of the way to Krabi.

From here we then got put in a minivan to take us to our hotel. While we were sat waiting in the minivan I was fiddling with the leaver to make the seat recline a little. I didn’t realise that mine and Marks seats were joined and when I pulled the leaver hard both Mark and I flew back to a laying position! We were both in fits of laughter, as were the people in front of us who had turned round to see what was going on. Thank god there was no one sat behind us at that point! What made it even funnier for me was that Mark had no idea that I was fiddling and was just staring out the window day dreaming one second and facing the ceiling of the van the next with a very shocked look on his face! Ha ha ha it’s even making me giggle now!

We got to our hotel at 18:30 after our 8 hour journey, dumped our bags and headed straight out to get some dinner, we were so hungry. All you can eat buffet, don’t mind if we do!

That leads us to today, Saturday 20th October. We went for a walk on the beach and chilled and also booked up two trips for this week which you will hear about very soon. We got fantastic prices and are really looking forward to them. We also managed to skype a few people; I was particularly happy to see my Nanny!

Peace Out!

Posted by jenniatkins 09:33 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Saturday 29th September 2012

View RTW Trip :) on jenniatkins's travel map.

Monday 24th September we thought we would walk into town to check it out during the day. It was very busy, but everyone is still very friendly, a local man was chatting to us about the cricket. While we were there we had to pick up some more shampoo & face wash.

Mark was feeling quite drained, we think due to Mossy bites (he got quite a few in one go, the night before when we were having dinner. Although we both have been feeling quite coldy, which I have recently read can be a symptom when your body is adjusting to the food. We had dinner at our favourite, Garden Café.

Tuesday 25th- We walked round into the mountains, for a good couple of hours and accidently found a new way to town. Got quite a few more photos. As I mentioned before Sri Lankan's seem to love to have their photo taken. We had giggly school kids posing for us and even the prisoners from within the jail were waving up at us! everyone loves a photo. At one point we had stopped to get some pics of monkeys, I got pretty close to them, but one of them chased Mark haha. There was a big football stadium (mark wanted to go play), it had the gorgeous background of the mountains behind it.

On the way back we walked on the opposite side of the lake for change, the temple looked a lot quieter during the day when it is not service time. Once back we got our bags packed up ready to leave at 9am and made our last visit to the Garden café.
Mark got talking to an older couple from Adelaide, Australia. They have an adopted daughter & son here in Sri Lanka. The daughter now has her own kids, they were in our guesthouse for dinner one night. The couple also told Mark that they had got talking to a German couple who hadn’t heard of Australia!! Shocking, but funny!

Wed 26th- Today we were picked up by our personal driver to travel to Nurawa Eliya, Sri lanka's highest town. Enroute we stopped off at a Tea Plantation and saw how Kim’s beloved TEA! Is made. Also Green tea and silver tip tea (sun dried) This is also to the tea that I had when me, mummy and nanny went to afternoon tea in london, it is expensive as it has to be separated from each bunch of leaves by hand as it is processed completely differently. They have 300acres of land that are picked by hand. The leaf pickers have the bag hanging down their backs off their heads. Parts of the process are done by hand, others by machines. We had a free cup of green tea each and wanted to buy a box to take with us but they only had really big boxes that wouldn’t fit in our back packs :(
Our driver also stopped at different viewpoints and waterfalls of varying sizes which were gradually reducing in size until he pointed out a dribble lol.

When we arrived in Nurawa Eliya it is way way up in the mountains. The summit has been taken over by the government for air traffic control. It is like colonial Britain here. It’s very strange to see houses that look like they’ve been plucked out of the British countryside & plonked in Sri Lanka. My dad would approve of the very British style gardens, with roses as well as many other very colourful flowers and hedges pruned & trimmed into various shapes & sizes and perfectly mown lawns. I even saw hanging baskets! IN SRI LANKA! There are horses instead of cows around and they even have a horse racing track that looks very British.

The temperature is more like England on a hot spring/summer day. As we were walking we wondered why there were loads of jumpers, thick woolly knee high socks and woolly hats for sale everywhere, were they mad?! We soon found out when it started to get dark and the temperature dropped. Me and Mark both went to bed with our fleeces on.

The next morning Thursday 27th, we had brekkie, got ourselves ready & met our driver out front ready for the long drive to Dambulla and then onto Sigriya where we were staying for the next couple of nights. Enroute we stopped at the spice & herbal gardens which were very interesting. We got shown all the different plants that ginger, cinnamon, pepper, vanilla, cocoa, curry powder, caramel, nutmeg, red banana (you cannot eat it as it is too acidic), curry bay leaves etc come from. They have various natural products that they make from the spices including hair removal cream which mark tested on a bit of his arm. It worked, he has a smooth patch.

You then get to meet one of the ‘spice doctors’ who grabbed hold of my wrist felt my pulse and proceeded to tell me that in general I eat healthy but my body holds onto the toxins in my intestine so I have a build up like a fungus that I need to flush out!! He also noticed the tiny bit of eczema on my arms and told me I need to drink lots more water and avoid vinegary foods. He then scared the hell out of me & Mark by asking “when you have child?” to which me & Mark went silent, thinking he was telling us that he could tell I was pregnant! Haha Thankfully he was just asking when we were planning to have a baby. We said in the future sometime, to which he then told me I had to “clean da dirtys from your vhoomb before you conceive child” (haha) so that I have a healthy baby. After this he told Mark I was a gift from God to him and that I would bring wealth and good fortune to our family after I had my first child, he said the reason for this is because (apparently) I have a big forehead! Haha!
So from this experience I have learnt that;
1. I have a fungus in my intestine.
2. I have dirtys in my ‘vhoomb’
3. I have bad skin on my arms
and 4. A big forehead.


Of course after this there were many products you could by to ‘body balance’ your insides to detox them and stuff for my skin but I have taken what he said with a pinch of salt and will worry about detox another time :) I do believe in herbal products & I do believe that they work but I also know that they are expensive and that I can’t afford them right now!

Before we left we were given a free lunch of curry & rice (very spicey) which was very nice, followed by fruit. I attempted to eat the pineapple but I couldn’t and discretely spat it out into a tissue. I am just not a fan of fruit! The locals are all very puzzled as to why someone would not like fruit, ‘not even banana?’ they asked. Nope I’m fussy!

I will quickly add that I did drink from a King Coconut, which I really liked!! But then when they chopped it open so I could eat the inside, it tasted nice but I just couldn’t deal with the slimy texture!

We then continued our drive with a quick toilet break, where I came face to face with my first hole in the floor!! :o Luckily I have good balance.

Our next stop was Dambulla where we visited The Rock Temple (Buddhist). Oh my, there was a hell of a lot of steps to get up the mountainside to where the temple is built into the rocks. The heat made it even more of a task. Once up there it was very interesting to see the caves with the walls all decorated with drawings/paintings and the many Buddha statues that lined them. It was a very peaceful place. Again we had to leave our shoes outside, but this time we had to pay to get them back.

Our final stop of the day was our accommodation for the next two nights in Sigriya. It is in the middle of nowhere and our driver informed us that sometimes wild elephants come nearby, though he did say there was no water at the moment due to the lack of rain.
We had our dinner and decided what to do the next day. We were planning to go to Polonnaruwa to see the ancient city ruins but our driver found out how much the tickets were and we didn’t think it would be worth the money they were charging and we decided we would rather go on a safari to see wild elephants as we would find this more interesting. Our driver thinks it is sad because the prices just keep rising and rising and it is stopping people from visiting the places.

Fri 28th September. Today we went on the Safari to see the elephants in the wild. We got picked up by the jeep from our hotel. Luckily it was just us two so we had it to ourselves. When we got there, at first we saw a very small family of elephants, just four of them together. We sat and watched them for a little while and took photos of them. Our guide then said we would move on as there was a bigger herd further on.
He was right, there was a massive herd altogether, with all different ages. It was so lovely to see them happily breaking up the grass with their feet and then using their trunks to pick up the loose grass to place it into their mouths. Others were covering themselves in mud and the younger elephants were exploring.

There were two very young elephants, one about 2 and half months old and another smaller at approximately only one month old. The mum with the one month old was very protective of her baby (rightly so) and when the herd was moving, they came closer to where all the jeeps were parked up. She obviously felt threatened by all the vehicles as she charged at us. She came pretty damn close to our jeep, and she was surprisingly fast when she wanted to be. She was also very loud! The guide said the females with the babies are very dangerous. I can see why he said that! It made me feel happy to see her protecting her young.

I snapped so many pics of them, I can’t wait to look at them properly when we get back home. Unfortunately because my photos from from my DSLR are in RAW I cannot open them as I don’t have my software with me :(

After we got back we had dinner then had a drink with our driver. He is a very nice man, he joked with us & told us how to say things in Sri Lankan. It is a very difficult language. He offered to take us directly to our hotel in Negombo tomorrow if we didn’t mind leaving at 8am. It would be a lot easier and nicer than getting the train from Kandy to Colombo then having to get the bus to Negombo, so we said yes straight away!

That leads us to today Saturday 29th September. We were up, fed and on the road by 7:50am. The drive is around 3 and half hours. Me and Mark fell asleep for a bit then played games on our phones to make the time pass quickly.

We arrived in Negombo just after 11am, our driver had made good time. This is where we said our goodbyes and he went back to Colombo. We checked into our last hotel in Sri Lanka. We went for a walk down to the beach. Again we didn't feel like we could sunbathe or go in the sea, so we just decided to get some lunch instead. The last think we wanted to do on our last day is offend people by me showing to much skin in a bikini!

When we got back to the hotel, we had booked into the dorm room as we have to leave at 4.30am anyway to get to the airport. We were sat in the lounge area where we can get wifi and I needed to fetch something from our room. I went to the dorm room and it was very hot inside so I decided maybe I would open the window. Well..... I turned the handle and it must have already been broken because it just fell out of the frame and smashed onto the floor! Petrified that we would be charged, when Mark and the lady came running to check what the noise was, I told a little white lie and said that I had closed the door strongly and it had fallen out! LOL she believed me and I told Mark the truth when she had gone to sort it out. He laughed and said that it shouldn't just fall out when you open it anyway, so it must have been broken already.

It worked in our favour as we then got moved to a private room with better fans so it was cooler. Oopsie!
Mark is now watching the Arsenal-Chelsea match and I am updating you. The next time I write we shall be in Thailand!

Peace out!

Posted by jenniatkins 05:38 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

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