Sorry it's been so long!
30.09.2012 - 20.10.2012
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.
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!