A Travellerspoint blog

April 2012

Chapter fifty one - Krabi

rain 26 °C

Day 193: Krabi, Thailand 09/04/2012

For the eagle eyed readers out there, you may notice that the day numbers don't follow on from the previous chapter. This is because I cannot count and the days have been out for months.

So, up very early for the bus trip to Krabi and after a quick run to 7/11 we are joined at the bus stop by the Plymouth lads, who are heading to Koh Tao. We get the minibus to the ferry point, grab a quick breakfast (asked for poached, got scrambled) and depart the island with a literal boatload of tired, hungover, douchey looking young travellers. We naturally fit in here. The boat leaves the dock and the heavens open, soaking everyone on the open deck, including us. Everybody takes refuge under whatever shelter they can and eventually the sun comes out and dries up all the rain and incey wincey spider...

Some outstanding scenery to be seen on the way into the mainland and we are greeted by some odd looking dolphins playing in the shallows (Irawaddy dolphins no less - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Orcaella_brevirostris_1878.jpg). We then take our seats on the bus damp and tired and sleep most of the way to Krabi. Wake up to find we are almost there, a couple of hours earlier than expected. The people touting for business at the bus stop put us in the direction of a half decent looking hotel and despite thinking we had treated ourselves, it is a bit rough round the edges. After a mammoth afternoon nap for Gem, we have a very ropey tea and then skype the folks at home.

Day 194: Krabi, Thailand 10/04/2012

After a very good night's sleep we watch a bit of Real Stories (the only English channel) and laze about. We then take a trip into the town (Ao Nang) and despite the stunning natural surroundings, our first impressions are not good. The whole place is overpriced, the touts and stallholders are very pushy and the whole town has a bit of a chip on its shoulder. We have an overpriced pizza/pasta combo for lunch and then book our ticket out of here. On the way out we see all the bargain food stalls we should have visited. Grrr!

Head back, have a quick dip and back into bed for some more Real Stories as the heavens open outside. Decide on a takeaway and gorge ourselves on our last night in Thailand. Pad Thai, chicken and cashew nuts, spring rolls, corn on the cob, banana and chocolate pancakes and a snickers are demolished. Pack then sleep.

Posted by tevs 09:09 Archived in Thailand Tagged beach thailand krabi Comments (0)

Chapter fifty - Koh Samui

sunny 30 °C

Day 180: Koh Samui, Thailand 28/03/2012

The bus stops and we arrive somewhere about fiveish, are ushered off the bus and told to wait around for an hour or so. We are then back on the bus and back off it again, this time for a couple of hours, where I am able to have a little sleep on the grass in the sun for half an hour. This is more than welcome, but then poked back onto the bus and we eventually arrive at the pier, ready for the ferry across to the island. We board the open top vessel, everyone sat on the deck around the inside bit (not sure what you would call it on a boat - a cabin?) where you have to pay extra. Feeling thoroughly furry of tooth at this point and in need of a shower, we make it across to the island in one piece and into a minibus for our hotel. We are accompanied to Chaweng Lake by a group of annoying, posh gap year British girls, whose innane drivel is enough to drive us all mad. Luckily, I was sat in the front, where I was out of the firing line just about...

We finally arrive, a full seventeen hours after departing Bangkok. Now that wasn't so bad was it? Immediately, the teeth are brushed and we all jump into the amazing swimming pool at Nid's Bungalows (recommended accommodation) and we spend the day in the sun soaking in the water. We eat at the hotel - good food - and end up the evening taking some of Tesco's finest selection of beer and alcopops into the bar area for a game of charades. At the hotel, they have three huge fish in a pool (Alligator gar - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alligator_gar) who I tease by wiggling my fingers across the surface of the water. They have the last laugh however, lunging for me, and it is only my superhuman reactions that mean I am not sat here typing with a hook for a hand.

Day 181: Koh Samui, Thailand 29/03/2012

Up after a well deserved night's sleep and drop the laundry around the corner at the cheapest place around. We then all take the ten minute stroll to the beach for a day of sun, sea and sand. Chaweng Beach is fairly busy but a beautiful beach, with turquoise water and a lot of good food for sale it seems...

After lunch we head to Tesco to stock up on supplies for the evening, hit the pool again and then play curby and watch two young boys (Nid's grandsons) Thai boxing each other. We then go to the night market and have a few cocktails and some amazing food (Pad Thai all round). Demolition Man strikes again, knocking over a postbox money bank. I then try to escape before being collared and forced to pay. I am so clumsy. There is also a stage at the market, made for karaoke pros like us, where we belt out Backstreet Boys and Chumbawamba to the masses. Back to the pool, where we have an aftershow pool party. Too much vodka. Ok, Thai 'white spirit'...

Day 182: Koh Samui, Thailand 30/03/2012

Next day syndrome again - these visitors are a bad influence - the pool party catches up with some of our party and affects some of us much worse than others (read Gemma). A day by the pool it is and the water could not be more welcome and more of a contrast to some of the dry mouths using it...

Go for lunch and there is an abundance of comfort hangover food being consumed by our table - burgers, pies, steak and chips all feature. Back to the pool for the afternoon and we are all a bit knackered. Gemma goes to sleep and then comes back out having fallen out of bed!

Day 183: Koh Samui, Thailand 31/03/2012

A nicer day than yesterday, with some of last night's storms seemingly blowing away the hangovers of yesterday and after breakfast we decide to head to the beach for some more good times. Seduced on the way by the Rocky theme tune outside the boxing stadium ('Real international Muay Thai comes to Chaweng Beach....[on loop]) we end up buying tickets for tonight's bout. After stepping into the ring and knocking Ryan out and posing for pics, we evenutally reach the beach.

Quiet afternoon on the sand, Gemma buys us an American Football and the second coming of Dan Marino is witnessed. Have some barbecued chicken skewers cooked on the beach and I somehow find myself holding a baby chipmunk when we go for water. We head back to the market for food again and after Pad Thai and cocktails we take our seats in the stadium. The boxing is a real spectacle and the fights vary in quality, from the two babies (about sixteen) in the first fight to the brutal Thai and Russian champs in some of the later bouts. The best bit however, is the kid who does the half time entertainment, tightrope walking across the ring. Good, clean fun.

Day 184: Koh Samui, Thailand 01/04/2012

A reasonably quiet day today and with the weather a bit overcast and muggy we hit the pool again. We have lunch at another nearby market and the head over to the internet cafe, where we skype and introduce everyone at home to the shop's resident Chihuahua. In the evening we head out to watch the football, and end up in the nearby Irish bar, where Ryan teaches us all the rules of league pool...apparently. I sit out and have a drink on the balcony with the girls.

Day 185: Koh Samui, Thailand 02/04/2012

We have a bit of an eventful morning, having last night overlooked the fact that our keys were left on the balcony table under a leaflet. In searching for our keys after breakfast, we find the keyring, to find that one of the keys has been taken off by someone in the night. Nid is absolutely brilliant about the whole thing and the lock is replaced within ten minutes of bringing it to their attention. A bit worrying really and certainly a lesson learned.

After this drama, we take a walk up to the golden pagoda at the top of the hill we can see from the pool. The hill is steep and the walk makes the legs burn and starts a serious man sweat but it is definitely worth it! The temple itself is beautiful and the views over the island are spectacular, with the airport and Koh Phangan in full view, as well as Chaweng Lake and most of the north east of Koh Samui.

We walk back down, have a well earned lunch and head back to the pool. Dinner is one to behold - all you can eat BBQ ribs and chicken. The restaurant didn't know what had hit them as Ryan and me are ordering more and more platefuls after the management have tried to shut up shop. I don't think it had ever been quite abused this way before...

Day 186: Koh Samui, Thailand 03/04/2012

All awake early today and Ryan is extremely chipper to be up and about before nine. We hitch a lift to the Big Buddha a bit further along the coast and are greeted by a twelve metre gold Buddha, again a shrine with incredible views. There are fortunes being told here, which point to enduring misery for all of us apparently!

After leaving the Big Buddha, we take a real long walk along the beach to Bangrak, Bho Put and beyond, having to walk through a posh hotel to get to the road. The girls of course befriend every dog and animal we encounter on the journey. We end up back at Chaweng Beach for the end of the afternoon and have a bit of time in the sea here, which is much cleaner and clearer than the water around the expensive resorts at Bangrak.

Back to the night market again tonight. Spicy food and strong cocktails leads to another session on the karaoke stage. Another excellent performance. On a sadder note, the old pull the chair away schoolboy prank works too well for me and Gemma crashes to the floor. Feel a complete dick.

Day 187: Koh Samui, Thailand 04/04/2012

Wake up this morning still feeling a bit stupid for my pulling of the chair ceremony last night. We get up and have a spot of breakfast before heading to the beach for a bit more beach time and some more oceanside grilled chicken skewers. Leave around fiveish as me and Ryan are off for a bit of Extreme Fishing with our mate 'Kevin' (real name is unpronounceable Thai) from Nid's and we buy some fishing line and hooks from the fishing shop. We cast off with our beer bottle reels and guess what? We catch nothing.

Kevin does catch a couple of shrimp in his net and I try one of these raw. In fact, it is still wriggling as it slips down my throat. We have a few beers and the girls go out to get dinner, bringing us back some green curry and pad thai. In the meantime, a couple of rather strange locals take a shine to us and after bidding them farewell, we have a few drinks on the balcony, with Gemma and Paula staying up until all hours.

Day 188: Koh Samui, Thailand 05/04/2012

I wake up around tennish and Gemma is nowhere to be found, despite being up all night talking to her mum. I think that everyone has had enough of me and all gone out together (as Paula is not in her room) so I go for breakfast alone. Ten minutes later, Cesca and Ryan emerge furious I didn't knock on for them. Didn't know I was so popular.

Straight into a two hour game of curby in the pool after breakfast, all the while wondering where Gemma has got to. They arrive back around half twelve barking orders and telling us we have an action packed afternoon ahead of us.

And action packed it is too, as we go elephant trekking on the back of an elephant in the jungle a bit further down the island. A much better experience than the one I had last time I went on an elephant in Phuket. At the end of the trek we headed onto Nua Muang waterfall, which is a beautiful waterfall not far from where the forty two year old jumbo dropped us off. We have a dip in the plunge pool and we jump in off a big rock. A great way to cool off, the only problem being that we wanted to spend longer there. After the swim, we are taught how to make a yellow curry paste from scratch and I end up staining my teeth yellow on the fresh turmeric...hopefully not a sign of things to come later in life. The curry meanwhile is extremely spicy and we all stand with tears in our eyes as we witness Michael the monkey collecting coconuts. Back to the market for tea and cocktails, crocodile kebabs and pad thai, which tonight are sadly not accompanied by karaoke. The German tourists in the crowd breathe a sigh of relief.

Day 189: Koh Samui, Thailand 06/04/2012

A lazy morning then back to chill on Chaweng. Some interesting people around today, my personal favourites being the Essex boys in the sea, one of whom announces to everyone that the worst day of his life was when his mum told him WWE wasn't real.

Good day on the beach (are there any other sorts of days to be had on a beach?) gearing ourselves up for the Full Moon party looming ominously on the horizon. Gem and me look into the boat arrangement for getting to Koh Phangan and before long there are ten of us from Nid's booking ourselves onto the speedboat for the big night. We line our stomachs and then this is where there is nothing more to report as I simply can't remember anything, having gone from sober to paraletic in seconds. Still, good night I hear.

Day 190: Koh Samui, Thailand 07/04/2012

The day after the night before...we wake up about one in the afternoon after a solid four hours sleep and it is lucky that we are all friends this morning, especially as Cesca awoke curled up at the bottom of our bed like a house cat. Straight into the pool to try to rehydrate the skin and regulate my soaring body temperature. We have some food and start to kid ourselves that we feel better. The second wind of this hangover hits me hard around fourish and it takes some serious PMA to pull through to the other side.

The girls and Ryan head to the shops, and I stick around as Nid's grandsons, Am and Em, are playing on the iPods. I eventually go to catch the others up and eventually find them in a handbag shop. However, I must have passed Ryan on the way and I end up jogging back to the accommodation, where I find him scratching his head. After this nice sweaty affair we head to the night market, have Pad Thai and endure the ordeal of some last minute shopping. At least I get to watch the footy I suppose. One last dip with our guests and we retreat for the night.

Day 191: Koh Samui, Thailand 08/04/2012

Up early to say our goodbyes and see the rabble off. We help them up the road with their bags, bid them adieu and go straight back to bed. Second wake up is about twelve and Am and Em are around angling for a bit of iPod action. Lovely kids, so we ask if we can take them to the beach. We take them with us and they are so excites! Not sure how often they have ever been out like this but their faces are a picture and their bucket and spade work is incredible. We spoil them rotten, skewers, ice cream, coke and chocolate, but they have been very good for us and we know we will be sad when we leave Nid's behind. The man on the beach in a rather inappropriate posing pouch cannot even spoil the mood for these two.

We have a quiet evening, pack the bags, go for tea and then watch the first half of the Arsenal Man City game. Early morning departure tomorrow.

Posted by tevs 07:33 Archived in Thailand Tagged beaches beach thailand island koh_samui Comments (0)

Chapter forty nine - Surat Thani

sunny 25 °C

Day 179: Somewhere between Bangkok and Surat Thani, Thailand 27/03/2012

So a long day ahead of us we know, with our journey to Koh Samui booked for this morning. We check out of the hotel and leave our bags at the travel agent we booked our bus/boat ticket through, run back to the hotel to retrieve our deposit, then take a stroll to the wholesale market we loved so much last time. After some incredible spring rolls to fuel the trip, we have a few hours around the market, buy some trinkets and seemingly spend forever lost in the warren of stalls and shops. A quick trip to a nearby shopping centre to see the wedding dress shop sees me and Ryan on the Playstation booth playing Pro Evolution Soccer. 1-1, great game, miss a last minute penno.

We have a quick trip to the Khao San Road and then an even quicker tea, before getting on the bus. The bus is very comfortable and we all have a few drinks to help us sleep. Two nameless young men then proceed to drink and talk absolute shit for the next six hours, fuelling the annoying Brit abroad fire and quite rightly so too. We eventually fall asleep.

Posted by tevs 07:07 Archived in Thailand Tagged bus bangkok surat_thani Comments (0)

Chapter forty nine - Bangkok the second

overcast 28 °C

Day 175: Bangkok, Thailand 23/03/2012

Wake up very sore after yesterday's trip to the gym and I hobble to the internet cafe to type the blog after last night's disappointing power outage. It is a bit hot at the computer screen, triggering a huge sweat. Another Vietnamese for lunch before we check out, say goodbye to our friends on reception and get a tuk-tuk to the airport. Arrive nice and early and have a look around the shops, which in true airport style are very expensive, although I do manage to wangle a free taster of vodka.

After a very turbulent flight, that sees the fat man in front of us gripping the seat in front of him until his knuckles went beyond white, we are back in Bangers and looking forward to taking the colossal city on again! We are through immigration and baggage collection in record time, a fraction of the time it took us last time, and we get the train back to Hua Lamphong to check in at the Train Inn again. Dinner at the roadside is made marginally less enjoyable by the cockroaches and huge rat that make an appearance.

Day 176: Bangkok, Thailand 24/03/2012

After a bit of a lie in and a quick breakfast we buy a three day travel pass for the metro system and make our way over to the airport to meet Paula, Francesca and Ryan. We arrive, wait a while for them, try to find them and are found by them. Apparently they flew through customs, etc. and were waiting for us for a while. The train ride is a bit daunting for the zombie like Francesca, who seems to speak another language as she reels off question after question about any manner of stuff. My favourite was when talking about 7/11 convenience stores, she thinks we have our dates wrong and are referring to the World Trade Centre attacks (9/11)...We arrive at the Train Inn and after they check in it is like Christmas as we see what gifts have been sent from home...a packet of flumps, a box of malteasers, a sack of mini eggs, a yard of Jaffa Cakes and a Cadbury's hot chocolate later we are ready for lunch.

As tour guides, we break the newbies in with a tour around Chinatown, visit the golden temple and mooch about by the river. Go for drinks by the hotel, where Ryan pulls the waiter and then visit Patpong night market. Head back, a few drinks then bed.

Day 177: Bangkok, Thailand 25/03/2012

A lie in for the travel weary and then we jump on the train to Chatuchak Market, allegedly the biggest market in the world. The food here is amazing and the girls discover Pad Thai, which they will probably eat for the rest of the time in Thailand they say. There is absolutely loads at the market to be seen and bought, including the puppies at the puppy stall, which are pretty cute.

We head back towards the hotel and have a drink again at the place with Ryan's new 'friend'. After dinner here, the festivities begin and we buy some drinks from 7/11. The girls are on the Spy Wine Coolers and we buy a bottle of whisky and a shedload of M150 energy drink as a mixer. They go down a bit too well as we sit downstairs playing cards. There are some Malaysian students staying at the hotel as well, or Malarias as Cesca thinks they are called. All fun and games cease at the reasonable hour of 5.30am.

Day 178: Bangkok, Thailand 26/03/2012

Get up feeling great and take a walk to the noodle place we visited in our first visit to Bangkok around the corner in Chinatown. In our akert state of being, we try to find the big reclining Buddha and end up being ferried from temple to temple for a bargain price by a tuk-tuk. The price is of course too good to be true and after a stop at a temple, we are taken for a stop at the local tailors. 'How did you know that it is 50% off day today?' we are asked. The word awkward doesn't quite cover it as we ignore their spiel, stare at the walls, floor, fingernails and try to politely leave.

We tell the driver no more stops and after a visit to the next temple he pushes his luck by saying 'one more stop'. Threatening to get out does not dissuade him, in fact resulting in him driving off angrily after kicking us out. Bargain fare of zero baht. We then walk around a bit (in fact bloody loads) and get rained on in central Bangkok. With Gemma's shoes hurting and my flip flops aquaplaning, we both end up barefoot and end up with black feet. Gemma also manages to get splashed by a bus to huge sniggers from the rest of us...

After a quick shower and haircut we are all dolled up and ready to visit the Skybar, and after a difficult time with the taxi driver initially, he turns out to be quite the entertainer. We arrive and Ryan is refused entry to the 64th floor bar on account of his shorts, so it is a trip to the local department store for us two as he buys some trousers and has them taken up. We eventually get up there and the views and the cocktails are amazing. Definitely worth scrubbing up and splashing out for! We grab a takeaway, speak to Andy la' on his birthday and have a couple of drinks back at the hotel. Good times!

Posted by tevs 06:11 Archived in Thailand Tagged thailand city bangkok skybar Comments (0)

Chapter forty nine - Phnom Penh (Act II)

sunny 29 °C

Day 173: Phnom Penh, Cambodia 21/03/2012

Up early for our bus from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh. We grab a tuk-tuk to the bus stop, get a noodle soup for breakfast and I am told to eat it outside by the bus driver. I manage to wolf down the piping hot broth in record time, managing to only spill about two thirds of it down my shorts and take my seat next to Gemma, who has already made herself comfortable. Our travelling companion for the day is a rather portly young man of about three, who is overweight, hyperactive, disobedient and hilarious in equal measures. His mother has absolutely no control over him and he returns to the bus a triumphant man after the food stop, grinning to us as he shows off his snack for the next ten minutes - a healthy six boiled eggs.

After a brief nap, during which I repeatedly headbutt Gemma as my neck fails to support my lolling head (sorry!), we arrive back in Phnom Penh and take a tuk-tuk directly to the same hotel we stayed in before. They seem amused to see us so we must have made an impression first time. A trip back to the market sees me purchase some fine fake Louis Vuitton ankle socks to wear to the gym, which I visit whilst Gemma stuffs her face in the room. We watch a good couple of hours of Fox Crime channel and then head for some dinner, Vietnamese tonight where Gemma drinks bright green, deep heat flavoured Fanta. Bed.

Day 174: Phnom Penh, Cambodia 22/03/2012

Our last day in Cambodia today, so we make it a good one! A visit to the Russian Market (virgin territory) results in a fine bag made of an old cement packet being purchased, which we have wanted for a while now and us getting lost in a real maze of market stalls, selling everything from noodles to clothes to motorcycle parts.

Lunch today is a bit posh, in a social enterprise cafe across the road from Tuol Sleng, red Cambodian curry and something 'deliciousy' for Gemma (chicken baguette), a term she has been bugging me with as we have searched high and low for something to fill this description for days. Dinner at the Vietnamese place again after another gym session and I end up with a dinner that I think was intended for two given its size. Get online to update the blog and we experience a power cut so straight to bed.

Posted by tevs 05:39 Archived in Cambodia Tagged markets cambodia phnom_penh city Comments (0)

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