Thailand, Cambodia ·
20 Days ·
52 Moments ·
20 June 2017
Whilst in Phuket we decided to sample one of the nearby beaches which I've heard are stunning and the beach nearest us was also a national park so we expected big things. Upon entry to the beach a government official asked us to pay 400 baht for entry to the beach, as it was already late in the day we refused and were told we could come back in half an hour when it would be free as it would then be 4pm. Thank God we refused, the beach was covered in rubbish I'm not too sure what the fee for the national park covers as it was not well kept.
Typical Thais! All in all not a terrible day to end our last few weeks in Thailand! Cambodia here we come!
Moved on to our final island of Phuket. Doesn't feel like an island it's huge! To be honest didn't get to see much of it at all the places to be are in the south and we had decided to stay in the north a place called Ni Yang beach as it's right by the airport and we had an early flight booked. Where we were staying is off the beaten track with nothing around at all. However the hostel was very cute and back to nature as we were staying in a log cabin on the edge of the complex. The hostel with its ornate garden ornaments and swings etc was adorable and to say we were staying in a cabin it was well kitted out. The hostel owners even took us to the airport for free at 4.30am!
18 June 2017
We were starving when we got home so had a quick turn around, quickly researching where to spend the next night in Phuket and dashed out. We ate at a place we'd had lunch before which was very European friendly so pretty busy all the time. I decided to try their pasta as it was reasonably priced compared to what we'd seen before. It was as I'd expected, overcooked and bland, but fine for some quick scran when I was very hungry.
The overcrowded nature is to be expected. However there was rubbish everywhere and the place wasn't well kept. Entry fees to Thai national parks are justified as keeping them beautiful attractions. 400baht per person, I'm sure they can employ some litter pickers who actually pick litter. One of those rip off Thai things you just have to put up with. Needless to say I was bored there after 5 minutes and was not interested in Laura's photo shoot she had planned so went back to snorkel a bit more. Laura joined and on the swim back to the boat we saw a pretty big jellyfish, this was cool as it was a new species to add to the list for the day.
It must have been about6pm hen we left, perfect for us to stop just outside Phi Phi bay to catch the sunset over the water. That was a special end to a brilliant day. Perfectly encapsulating the serenity of day's end and lighting the sky in stunning oranges and pinks, it offered time for reflection on how lucky we are to have these experiences.
Phi Phi Ley was the next stop. This island lies a few kilometres south of mainland Phi Phi and had a few areas of interest that we stopped at. A few brilliant dive sites, 'Pirate Cave' and the beach where they filmed 'The Beach' was basically it but we spent the most time around here and it was awesome.
All the snorkelling we did we saw largely the same species of fish but for me, as a novice, it was so much fun. My nose and sinuses and ears are crap when I dive even slightly deep but I was giddy enough to forget about it when I was in the water.
Pirate Cave we only sailed past but it looked cool. If there was a decent story behind it I can see it being an attraction but we didn't know of any and it was just a cave with what seemed to be random bits of wooden beams stuck around it. I didn't get it.
The penultimate stop was Maya Bay. Made famous by 'The Beach', it was a very pretty cove and worth seeing... For about 5 minutes...
It wasn't a place with much to do but it was certainly beautiful. We stayed about 40 minutes here, enough time for a bit of walk along the beach and a dip in the sea, nothing more needed.
We had lunch and sailed past Mosquito Island which is located just north of Phi Phi, next to Bamboo. It looked brilliant, as did all the islands, but we didn't stop here, not a great deal to say about it.
On the way back south, we stopped at Monkey Beach which is on Phi Phi. Actually we'd been there the day before when we rented the kayaks. However this time there were actually monkeys! Cheeky little shits. They were obviously very used to humans and pretty much just tried to steal things. One made away with someone's pack of biscuits straight out of their hands, and another opened someone's bag that was left and tried to steal their phone, thankfully it dropped it eventually so the owner could get it back. They're quite aggressive too, if one stole something it would fight for it... Little shits.
Drinks with an old ski buddy and her pals was a nice way to finish the evening. Bit of beer pong, drinks served out of buckets (the way it's done in Thailand) before listening to some live music which was actually quite good. A Thai guy doing all oasis covers, and other hits that really got the crowd going.
The nightlife in phi phi is what the island is all about, lots of bars, clubs, beach and pool parties with drink offers on buckets on every street corner. For a holiday, it would be great but for those on a budget alcohol is quite expensive and not something we could sustain every night.
Boat trip day! Anyone who's ever taken a boat tour before knows they're wicked, and this being our biggest single expense so far, we were well excited. We'd organised it with a mate of Laura's from a ski season and her two friends she was travelling with, so we all met at 9:30 and walked to the pier to start the trip. The boat was a great size for the number of people that came, loads of space.
The first stop was 'Shark Point'. There were no sharks. Apparently word got around the shark community that I'd be in the water and they were all scared off. Shame. It was still a good snorkel though, plenty of fish and coral to be seen. To speed along the process of actually seeing fish, the guys on the boat threw little pieces of biscuit into the water, not exactly natural but it did the job, hundreds of them swarm for a bite so you get completely surrounded.
Next stop was Bamboo Island. This is part of the national park, same as Maya Bay (setting 'The Beach') so incurred an extra fee...
We went and got some lunch in some shade and to find air con or fans. Lunch was delicious in a place called Cosmic which is always busy when we go past, it does big portions and although not the cheapest in comparison to other islands quite cheap for phi phi!
A little meander along behind the pathways of the beach we found a nice little bar with a great view point, with beers for 65 baht, Josh was very pleased with this!
In the evening we headed to a recommended restaurant from one of my friends called Papaya. It was quite expensive to what we usually pay for food but it was delicious to be fair! All along the walls of the restaurant were notes, illustrations, letters from customers who had eaten in the restaurant, praising or thanking the restaurant for the lovely service and food which was quite sweet.
We woke up quite early (well aimed for 9 but got up at 9.30), I was a nice girlfriend and went and got us both breakfast smoothie shakes...Me a fruit smoothie, Josh oreo and banana...still a big kid! We headed down to the beach and decided to rent kayaks and row round the bay to Monkey beach. It was 200 baht for an hour for a double kayak, we donned our oars and set off.
The trip takes about 20 minutes, and that was long enough for Josh, he kept slacking so good job I was there to take us to our destination 💪
Unfortunately we didn't see any monkeys and the bay wasn't as secluded as we would have wanted due to it being a snorkeling stop for boat trips but sand and the water was lovely. Josh had a bit of an explore up the beach,I sunbathed of course. We headed back and chilled on the main beach, slipping in to the water to cool off every 15 minutes. Didn't offer much respite as it was as hot as bath water. Today was HAWWWWT!!! Even too much for me.
15 June 2017
...and we were charged entry when at no point was it stated that there was an entry fee until.you get up there! Pesky little Thais. Either way, we had thoroughly earn our dinner so set off back to the hostel which thankfully was a quicker way down.
After the brilliant exercise wed just enjoyed (endured) we felt that we'd earned a burger and chips - usually something we avoid as it's expensive and generally not great from what we've seen. But with phi phi being so tourist heavy and English friendly meals of burgers or Italian food being a lot cheaper here, we have it a go. It was distinctly average and I think both would have just preferred Thai food for half the price. Oh well, we know not to waste the money again, and as average as it was, we were both so happy to be eating it was still quite enjoyable.
We took a nice stroll through the markets on the way home to get Laura a new beach dress thing (I don't know what that is either), and are trying to have an early one tonight.
A wise old south African bloke on the beach gave us a run down of the best snorkeling places without paying for a boat to another island when he saw my snorkel. He was really helpful and friendly (for a bloody springbok). We took him up.on his advice to a spot on the northwest of phi phi and sure enough there does seem to be a reef there. Just the type of reef that I was too scared to swim out to alone! Maybe I'll try it tomorrow... Getting there was brilliant, a good forest trail and some fun rock hopping, looking at the crabs on the way. It was all pleasant enough, until we decided to follow signs for a viewing platform in the way back. Both very much up for a nice view, neither of us were up for the 40+ minute trek up and down, round and round, to get there.
Granted, when we did get there, it was nice. However, we'd been bitten to hell, we were knackered and blistered as we only had sandals / flip-flops because we were only going to a beach originally...
Pre 6am wake up this morning. I'm used to it, up early doing work etc all the time, but I think Laura really struggles with the mornings. This morning however she was actually okay, so we were ready in plenty of time for the taxi to the pier we'd arranged. It isn't a long journey from lanta to phi phi which meant that for the first time wed arrived in our new destination with the whole day to play with. We promptly found our hostel (I did) and dashed out for some breakfast, then to the beach.
It is stunning here, scenery like neither of us have seen before. The bay has towering mountains either side completely covered in greenery, it is quite special. The water in this bay was okay a little further out, but near the shore was a bit littered and felt dirty. There are no roads or cars for the mostpart here, so water taxis are abundant, and I feel like they don't have the cleanest engines as far as water pollution goes. But like I say, further out was much clearer...
Yesterday morning we booked our ferry and grabbed a few things from the ship, food for the journey etc, and a snorkel! Then we shot straight up to a peninsula north of our hostel that was supposed to have a reef to check out some fish. When I saw it, I didn't fancy it really, big waves with jagged rocks and the water didn't even seem clear enough to see anything assuming there was a reef there. Therefore we just got some sun loungers at a nearby holiday resort and made full use of their pool to have a really top day in the sun reading our books. The weather turned a bit grey late in the afternoon and we were getting hungry so left to head back to our town get dinner and packing sorted before our early bedtime for today's travel.
Dinner was nice, really cheap which is, of course, all we were looking for. It wasn't in an actual building though, just seating outside under cover, so we were eaten alive by insects.
Doesn't sound like much but it was me of both our favourite days yet!
13 June 2017
50 baht (£1) for a massive plate of pad Thai. So tomorrow night Josh will be put to good use in the kitchen!
Once we arrived we went along to the beach, little dip in the waves...I didn't go right the way in it was VERY wavy and therfore couldn't see if there were sharks around. We did have a lovely stroll with a jog on the waters edge on the way home. Loved it.
First impressions of Koh Lanta. So so quiet, there was virtually no one on the beach, very chill, no one's trying to sell you things all the time and what we wanted island life to be. The island seems to have a strong Muslim influence, a lot of thai's in burkas or long robes which we haven't seen before other than for monks. We're looking forward to snorkeling tomorrow and to hopefully not be interrupted by hoards of tourists!
Travelling today was not great. We set off at 6am this morning and have just been passed from vehicle to vehicle being shouted at in Thai to stand somewhere or wait somewhere. Although the travel is cheap you just get passed onto people for different legs of the journey with no one who speaks English telling you what the plan is or why you're getting into yet another minibus. You even have stickers stuck on your chest to which destination youre going to and just get rid referred to as 'destination name'. We finally arrived across the ferry to Koh Lanta at 4.30pm and got a tuk tuk to our hostel.
Our hostel is great- Let it bee econo hostel. Private room with all of the air con, TV, fridge, WiFi and even has a communal kitchen downstairs if we wanted to cook our own food which I am more than happy to do. I love Thai food, however I am craving something like a sandwich or pizza. Those "cheap" food items in the UK such as bread, cheese,pasta are so expensive here and you can't argue with
Isn't supposed to be stretched into. And the cracking...oh the cracking of every joint. Only joking, it was all of the above however it wasn't painful and eventually kind of became relaxing. All though the Thai ladies look small they are rigorous and it was the most physical massage I'd ever had! I couldn't stop giggling though as the man next to me had, let's say a rather large Thai lady massage him and when it came to her standing on his back it was hilarious. Not sure if he had his happy ending as my time was up! Tonight was our last night in the East coast of Thailand, we've loved it. Definitely preferred Koh samui to Koh Phangan, both a little too touristy for us but the beaches are gorgeous. We wanted to visit Koh Tao too and do all 3 islands but it didn't make sense logistically for our plans, so we say goodbye and head West tomorrow!
We decided to go for food in the restaurant we ate in on the first night, the food is delicious and cheap. I ordered the same thing which is my new favourite...Thai massaman curry it's so good it takes a lot of restraint to not drink it from the bowl.
After dinner we decided that it was only fair that I got a Thai massage, this travelling malarkey has been ever so taxing and I'd waited nearly 2 weeks into our trip without getting one. Josh was quite happy to chill with the ladies getting pedicures on the reclining chairs whilst I was led upstairs. I wasn't sure what I was walking into at first, just an array of bodies, Thai women throwing men around and standing on them and deep grunting. They were all just getting massages thankfully. So I'd never had a Thai massage before and didn't know what to expect...it's basically a little woman who looks sweet and innocent who punches. Judo chops, stands on you, stretches you in every way possible even into positions I'm sure your body...
12 June 2017
... It was still really ornate, and inside the main building was beautiful. With painted walls depicting different looking figures of warrior god style and a really delicate shrine to Buddha as the focus, it was quite serene and peaceful to enter.
Most interesting to me however was the pond on which the temple buildings were set. It was full of catfish, I mean FULL. Somewhere was selling pellet type feed and when people threw it in it was a real frenzy, awesome to watch and in my opinion way better than the temple 👌
We'd had our fill of looking at Buddha statues for the day and I really needed to cool down and rehydrate so we hailed a cab back and found a bar with fans to have a drink. We actually got dropped off at the far side of Chaweng so had a half hour walk back, which wasn't as unpleasant as I thought it would be, temperature had dropped off so I was happy. We stopped and took a dip in the sea, catching the last of the sun, and headed home to finalise travel plans for tomorro
Today seemed hotter than usual. I'm not sure why that is as I doubt the temperature was any different, but I was struggling today, big time. Laura had to even carry the bag herself a times 😱 It was one of those 'stop in every supermarket to enjoy aircon' days.
The first stop was a giant Buddha at a temple up 70 odd stairs with a nice view over the bay we'd just driven around. It was cool, no price for entry and worth seeing. Where the Buddha sat had bells hanging around the outside so I really just stuck to the shade and knocked on the bells to see if any monks came running out to pray. They didn't 😟 Probably too busy selling figurines of Predator made from scrap metal to tourists who really didn't want them.
15 minutes up the road, leaving a trail of sweat behind me, we found the next temple of our journey. Called Wat Plai Laem, it wasn't as well kept as other temples we'd seen in Bangkok for example, but again, it was free to enter so I shouldn't complain...
This morning we had a little look around travel boutiques to challenge the price we'd found online to move from here in koh Samui to koh lanta on the other side of Thailand. The hostel owner advised us to shop around as the online price seemed pretty steep. Thankfully she was right and we saved a good 400baht, probably a fair bit more actually, paying 700 each for taxis across Samui to the pier, the ferry to mainland, bus across it to the next pier and the final ferry to koh lanta itself. We're really pleased with the saving and after a lovely stay in Samui with a heap hostel, our finances are looking far healthier - maybe I won't have to send Laura home after all!
We then embarked on the little trip north via taxi to check out some big Buddhas and temples and that.
11 June 2017
We had a couple of ideas in mind for dinner and chose, in the end, to head towards our lovely food market area that was recommended and are almost always good quality and the cheapest stuff you can buy. A cocktail each and some good grub, even spring rolls on the side to share, only set us bak around 360baht. Just what was needed. We continued our wandering a after dinner to a bar known as the reggae pub. Apparently it gets quite busy after about 10pm but we were there by 8 so it was dead. Cool as it may be,it was crazy expensive so we made the most of their cheap deal and played some free pool then moved on. It wasn't hard to imagine how much fun the place can be when it's busy though, it was massive and decorated in typical Jamaican bar style, Bob Marley everywhere, with an open dance floor the looked over some water to the other side of town. Big stage for live bands too!
Looking forward to an early night and getting some travel miles under our belt in Samui tomorrow.
With nothing much planned for today other than chilling by the sea, we had a lie in and made our way out of the hostel by around 11. Stopped in a modern looking coffee shop that looked for sure to have air conditioning to grab a spot of breakfast. Sadly there was no aircon but we say by a fan and shared a pretty good sandwich so it was all good.
We took our place on the beach (Laura in the sun, myself in the shade) and literally watched the sun move across the sky. I think I moved a total of 10m all day. I finished my book! Not a big accomplishment by normal people's standards, but as a man who averages about 2 years per book, I was pleased to have nailed this one in about 10 days 💪
We returned to the hostel by half 3 / 4 ish with the intention of showering and jetting off to the next village but after relaxing a bit we chose to plan the next few stops of our trip an leave the exploration for tomorrow. Why not have a full day of stagnation when we'd started so well?!
Needless to say, the next morning we both felt a little under the weather. Laura struggled to get out of bed so I had to pack for the both of us but we made it out of the hostel and to the pier in good time to have a little sandwich before boarding the ferry. The boat was packed to the rafters with backpackers, all tired and hungover from the night before it seemed! After taking our seats on the lower deck we had to move as Laura began to feel quite sick - the windows looked out to around water level making the waves seem huge and it did funny things to her tummy, poor thing. Onto the pier at the other side after around 45 minutes, we had already sorted out our ride across Ko Samui to our next refuge for three nights. The place is basic but ran by a really nice girl originally from China, and we have aircon which is all we need.
After a good nap we set out to explore and found a great, cheap restaurant for some dinner before turning in for an early night.
10 June 2017
We all went back and had a few more drinks before Josh fell asleep and we decided it was a good time to go home. We unfortunately didn't stay anywhere near sunrise which I believe is a rite of passage of the full moon party, but this being our first night out in Thailand and my first alcoholic experience since being out here, I think we may have over shot. Ever so slightly.
I enjoyed the full moon and I'm glad we went along and witnessed all that goes on with the new friends that we'd met. Did it live up to the hype? For me probably not. But full moon, ticked off the bucket list ✔
We headed onto the beach about 10.30pm and the party was already in full swing. Crowds of people dancing to the different djs along the beach, little congregations around people doing jump ropes and limbo sticks (all blazing with fire I might add). There didn't seem to be any police presence or control in place and anything seemed to go. Stalls set up in the sea selling buckets of alcohol, artists set up on all corners to cover you in neon paint and swirls of fire with drunk people attempting to jump a skipping rope on fire...a lot of people tripped up and ended up falling over I dread to think of the burns this morning. We headed to a place called the Rock which is a bar set above the beach so you can see for miles the debauchery below you. We had a good dance and sweated a lot. With the ridiculous heat anyway,plus thousands of people and roaming fire sticks everywhere the heat was insane. Josh had enough of the heat so we left and went back to the hotel to get a blast of air con.
We woke up and decided to have a bit of a lie in as we knew we would be partaking in full moon antics in the evening, before spending a few hours at the beach. Weathers been HOT! Over the last few days and getting in the sea was just like having a bath so no respite there. We left late afternoon to start getting ready for the evening. Josh was being boring and wouldn't let me buy any full moon outfits as it's apparently "a waste of money" so luckily I already had some tie dye clothing and Josh had fluro shorts so we looked the part. We headed over to Hat Rin (about 30 mins away in a taxi) with our room mates and joined up with our American friends from the sleeper train for some pre drinks. Jeff and Katie had splashed out and had a fabulous hotel right on the beach and in the thick of the action. The entire town was heaving. Approximately 30,000 tourists and locals travel from all over to attend the Full Moon party so you can imagine how busy it is all adorned in neon!
8 June 2017
Today has been nothing short of lovely. We decided against renting a car due as it was a bit out of our price range, the was the option of the moped which was ridiculously cheap to rent...but we all know how that ended last time. Instead we opted for a day of relaxation to enjoy the gorgeous weather and work on the ever important tan. We were recommended Bluerama from the reception in our hostel and it did not disappoint. We got our breakfast smoothies and headed up the beach to find the bar/pool. We found it pretty easily after about a 40 minute walk, and what I can only describe a complete vertical drop of a hill to overcome until we reached Bluerama. Despite the panting,sweating, and out of control hair the place was completely worth it. We pretty much relaxed in the infinity pool, sunbathed and remained horizontal for the entirety of the day 👙we stayed and watched the sunset before walking home. Dined in our favourite market and even treated ourselves to homemade ice cream 😍
7 June 2017
There was a taxi rank at the bottom of the trail but they clearly were just there to rip people off, trying to charge us what would be an expensive ride in the uk, let alone here (6 quid for about 4km). We'd been passed by plenty of taxis on the main road on our way to the park so took our chances at flagging one down on the way back. We were successful. And for about a third of the price, we got our lift home in an open backed cab.
We had a bit of a rest and a well earned Coke before getting sorted and heading out for dinner this evening. I even got a quick call in to Mum and my granddad which was really nice and I'm sure will place me in the good books.
On our tight budget that we'd successfully stuck to today, we went straight to the food market where we knew bargains were abundant. I had a cracking crispy pork dish and Laura got a nice noodle soup, we were both very pleased and ended the day having spent hardly anything. Nice one, us!
Tomorrow we rent a car to see the island.
And thank god we did! I can honestly say that even in all my mountain experience and living in the most beautiful place on earth (Yorkshire), this was one of the most spectacular sights I've ever witnessed. I wouldn't like to hazard a guess at our altitude and I'm sure it wasn't that great, but this climb was the first bit of raised ground from the coast. This meant that we could literally see where we had walked from, climbed up and pretty much make out where our hostel was around 5k away. Then, to the west, we could see the towns that are to be our next destinations, and to the south, over the water to the nearby small islands of Ko Tae Nai and Ko Tae Nok and even as far as Ko Samui about 15km away. Naturally we stayed at the top a little while to take in the views, and cool off in the lush breeze, but had to head back down as there was every chance we were walking all the way home again!
By all accounts, the maps and road signs said it was around 4.5km to the start of our climb to this waterfall. And by all accounts that was fairly accurate. However the tour guides '250m climb' to waterfall and '600m climb to viewing point seemed slightly bogus to me. It wasn't that it was a challenging hike up through the national park for the final bit. It was just that we'd chosen to walk to the national park, whereas you're more normal person would have just got a taxi or ridden a scooter there. We were a bit knackered at the start line! Adding to this Laura's blistered feet, it was actually quite an effort, especially coming down.
I should mention that the waterfall was barely even that due to it being quite dry for this time of year. However it was still a pretty course through the rocks that the streams would take and it was pleasant to watch and listen to. Slightly let down by it, however, we persevered on to the opening in the tress that was the viewing area...
The plan this morning was to drop bags in the new hostel and set off on a walk up to a waterfall by the name of Phaeng (not how Laura spelt it on her Facebook post). However as we were to leave the sun crept through so we decided to head to the beaches and do a bit of browning while we could; the weather has been pretty stormy here until today. After we caught some breakfast in the form of a quick smoothie (avocado, coconut, banana and mango 😍😍👌) and locking valuables away etc we made it to the beach. Probably only spending an hour or so there, we just relaxed and had a little paddle and a read, shared lunch with a dog, the usual bohemian things we're into as travellers. It was rather pleasant to take it easy for a bit.
Then we'd been still for too long and it was time to begin my 'get off your arse and get fit' trek 💪
We rose this morning pretty well rested - I'd say for the first time all trip really, perhaps we're catching up with the jet lag. Sad to leave our lovely hostel we signed out and headed straight over to the new one which we'd scouted the day before so it was an easy trip, 10 minute walk. New hostel is nowhere near as nice, still fine by all standards but we're sharing this room with an American couple and we're paying more to do so as it encroaches upon the full moon party date. Bunk beds in a small room but the aircon is decent and the showers are actually pretty nice too; plus they do washing here so we've dropped off a bag of laundry at reception that will hopefully only cost 100 baht or so. Not a bad place o rest our heads but not as nice as we're used to, probably spoiled early on!
We unpacked and freshened up, had a MUCH needed shower and set off getting our bearings. We're currently staying in a town called Thong Sala which is right by the port, not known for having the best beaches or anything but a nice little village all the same. From first impressions Koh Phangan has a bit of a Classy Malia vibe going on, lots of mopeds and tourists and seems to be a big worker and ex pat culture. People flyer ing around town, advertising pool parties and that sort of thing however I think we're a bit away from that where we are staying. After roaming around for a couple of hours we went for dinner on a beach front restaurant (bit out of our price range but we thought we deserved it) and had a delicious meal with excellent service! Josh even got to relay a bit of his French with the owner who was from Marseilles. Pleasant evening, early night!
After our sleeper train journey, we arrived into Suranthani which is a little town not far from rhe coast. The rain had started to pour which I was super excited about as it meant I got to use the cool bag protector which comes with my new back pack 🤓 we were bundled onto a coach and then taken to the nearest port where we boarded our ferry to Koh Phangan. The ferry was pretty old not much to report, and when weather was drizzly but we did get to see a couple of dolphins during the 2 and a half hour ferry ride. We arrived into the port and made our way to our hostel for the night...we were adamant we didn't want to get a taxi and we could walk to the hostel ourselves however I was tired and moany so Josh offered to carry my luggage as well as his own...good boy 😘 we arrived to our hostel for the evening which was called West Side story which is my favourite so far! Big, spacious very very clean and a very comfy double bed with killer air con!
5 June 2017
At around 8pm the guards come through the carriage and turn all of the seats into bunkbeds! The beds all have clean bedding, curtains and are basically just so cool! I was far too excited! Because I'm so super organised and booked the train in advance I organised 2 bottom bunks (which are much bigger) but the guy we had met was 6ft 2 and couldn't fit on the top bunk so me and Josh gave one of our beds up and shared so he could have ours...good deed for the day ✔
Good company, ridiculously comfy for our surroundings and would definitely travel the sleeper train again!
We picked up a taxi very easily and were pleased when he agreed to use the meter (the taxis we have encountered so far refuse to use the meter and then barter for the price instead). Found the ticket office to collect our train tickets, no dramas! Well apart from Josh's incessant moaning about the heat of course, and my over planning which led to us being 4 hours early for the train but we found a nice cafe and then used the time to plan for the next part of our adventure 🤓
So the sleeper train....I love it!!!! Full of travellers heading down south so a really fun vibe! We were sharing our bunks with another American couple who are a similar age to us which made the journey much more interesting. The American guy was as just as much of a geek as Josh is so he was wittering away with him on a manner of all subjects which send me to sleep.
So back to the sleeper train,basically a normal train and you are sat in 2 per seat, dinner is brought to you from a waitress to your seat.
Travel, travel, travel and more travel today. We had a bit of a lie in this morning as we knew we were going to have a long journey today. What a journey, I think we have done all of the different types of Thai travel in one day alone apart from journey by water which will be tomorrow. Started off on a motorbike taxi - our favourite (tried to charge us 80 baht, should have been 60 but because we are now efficient travellers we set him straight and got the correct price...go us). There was no waiting around at the bus station before we were bundled into a minibus back to Bangkok. Not the most comfortable journey, I was sat on the wheel arch with my head bent on the ceiling whilst Josh was squashed into our bags. The air con was acceptable however until the fan stopped working half way through 😭. Two hours later we were dropped on the side of a busy dual carriageway and told this would be the best place to get a taxi to the train station.
4 June 2017
Dinner this evening was the second recommendation from the nice receptionist who pointed is towards the brilliant veggie place last night. It was called Zag Zag's. About a 10 minute walk from the hostel, it was full of locals and mostly families so we knew we were onto something good. A quick flick through the menu showed that this was also half the price of most places we'd eaten so far and the were attentive and friendly. I had fried chicken with cashew nuts and rice which I just loved! Laura's chow mein was average but at just 50 baht (a quid) we weren't complaining. We hated spring rolls to start, I got a beer and Laura had a passion fruit smoothie that was out of this world, really special.
We've had a great time in Kanchanaburi and would like to return, but tomorrow sees another day of travel, the longest and most daunting yet, so roll on the islands!
... Laura tells me it's good for you and that people actually pay for it as they eat away your dead and hardened skin. I don't believe her. Idiocy. It was a grand old day and we even managed to get off the bus at the correct stop to avoid paying a taxi from town back to our hostel, great success!
Oh, and we saw a wild boar! Massive hairy thing, quite chilled out eating bits of stuff that people had dropped by bons etc. Cracking beast!
... And we arrived at about 12:30 in the afternoon - plenty of time left to explore the Erawan National Park and its waterfalls. It was very busy, not only is it a tourist attraction, but it is clearly popular among the locals as a weekend / holiday trip. Obviously peaceful serenity in the mountains would have been preferred but even the busy trails didn't steal the magic away from the scenery and the nature.
We (I) elected to hike all the way to the top of a series of 7 waterfalls and natural pools before taking our first dip. This was a smart move, as by the top I was near delirious with dehydration due to the sweating that the pool was even more refreshing when I finally got in. As far as the exercise goes it was quite pedestrian but the heat and humidity left me able to wring out my t shirt and have a good puddle on the floor by my feet. In the pools were fish that were more than happy to chomp away at your feet while you tried not to fall navigating the clouded water...
This morning was a slow starter. Groggy to wake after little sleep and with the terrible news from London to catch up on we headed to breakfast a little late and resigned ourselves to catching the bus an hour later than initially planned. With vague instructions of waiting for the bus outside the garage on the main road, we set out as intrepid explorers to the tune of more moaning about the heat and 'how the f*ck am I going to last 3 months of this sh*t'.
After waiting until about 20 minutes after the due time we went back to the hostel to have a scooter-and-sidecar taxi booked to get the bus directly from the station. By some inexplicable fluke, the bus drove past us going the opposite direction on a dual carrigeway, shouted at us to offer a lift and proceeded to wait while our scooter driver man made a gut wrenching u turn through 4 lanes of traffic to drop us off at our next ride. Once on the bus it was plain sailing: bit of a read, bit of a sleep, look out the window for a bit.
3 June 2017
After visiting this bridge, we were both hungry and hot so aimed back down the street to our recommended restaurant. We opted against heading to the night market, interesting as I'm sure it would have been, we'd have circled the place for hours deciding what to eat, and the hunger had already set in.
The restaurant was called On's and was referred to in our guidebook as well as being our receptionist's recommendation. It was fantastic! All veggie and thoroughly Thai, it was cheap and delicious. I went for a ginger stir fry and Laura had a Penang curry, both served with tofu, and we shared brown rice. It's only downfall was that, being a healthy place, it didn't serve beer. Luckily I chose not to leave immediately when this was revealed. It was a great experience, family run with the kids playing in the restaurant which Laura didn't even mind as 'Thai kids are cuter than normal ones'. Quiet night saving pennies as travel is expensive and we need to make up for the last couple of days.
Not enough characters in my last 'note' to give due credit to this hostel. It really is beautiful, perfectly maintained and very pretty, with the warmest of staff who were more than happy to show us how to catch our bus for tomorrow and recommended a brilliant restaurant for dinner this evening.
So, after another shower, (we will start cutting down on the water wastage soon but it's obscenely hot here and we're not used to it), we went out for a walk to find out where exactly we were in little kanchanaburi. We're north of the main town but in a decent area for food and drink. Also nearby one of the main tourist attractions here which is the POW-built bridge, basis for the film 'The Bridge Over The River Kwai'. What should be remembered and considered here is the cruelty to and resulting deaths of the POWs and slave workers in building this railway line. However, it was surrounded by a street market aimed at camera-bearing tourists so it proved hard to channel the traumatic past.
Laura forgot to set our alarm this morning. I asked her many times last night if she had done it and he told me it was sorted, so imagine my surprise waking up at 12:30 (rather than 07:30!) having missed all early buses and being late for checkout. Anyway, I forgave her and managed to win over reception so they didn't charge us and gave us the deposit back. Loved that hostel! An it's named after my favourite bar in the world, Greenhouse.
We got a taxi to the bus station at a fair rate, quickly bought our tickets and were left with only a ten minute wait before we were to depart. The bus was old and knackered but loads of leg room, decent aircon and nothing to moan about at all. Only a 2 hour drive to kanchanaburi too so no drma there and our taxi to the hostel was open backed, just sit on benches in the open which was really fun and refreshing to have a good breeze. Hostel is gorgeous, great garden, rooms and even a patio for the breakfasts which are included. Love it already!
2 June 2017
After having showered and complained profusely about the climate, I got dressed and we aimed for the Chao Phraya river to try and take a boat ride. We got nowhere near. I can only assume the maps for Bangkok are outdated and the river, through erosion, now runs a completely different course than that depicted in guidebooks, because I did NOT take us the wrong way. Happily, as we were on the verge of turning and heading back the way we came, we found a quaint park that was surprisingly busy with people taking part in all manners of exercise. It was really cool to see Thai people who weren't trying to massage me or drive me somewhere in their death trap tuc tucs. We even saw an old timer practicing some Thai chi with a strip of plastic piping that, to him, was a battle staff. Then Laura wanted pizza so we left.
The main focuses on the temples were the huge golden spires that climbed high above the rooftops. When the sun broke through they were quite dazzling yet none of felt as tacky as you might expect - this is considered the most important temple in Thailand and it demanded that respect. Practicing Buddhists were roaming, there was a ceremony of some sort taking place and even the tour guides were quiet and respectful inside the central courtyards. The strictest place was the Temple of the Emerald Bhudda. Shoes removed before entering and no photography indoors, people actually praying and saying blessings inside. I liked the elephants on the walls 🤓 🐘 The Grand Palace was exactly as it says in the name: grand, palacial. Cool mixture of European and Thai architecture though, it looked just like a Czech government building but with three big gold spires above it. From there we left, got some juice and went back to the hostel to cool off.
(cont.) All in all, a really pleasant way to escape the heat and have a meal of cracking value (260ish baht).
We entered the compound of the temples and deliberated if it was worth the 500 baht each to enter the temples themselves. It is pricey but we both have no doubts that it was money well spent. The sheer intricacy and detail is astounding, even more so when you consider the scale of it all too. The full wall that encompasses the inner temples is decorated with an amazing mural that depicts some fella beating off loads of demons. The story itself is actually a really engaging interpretation of an Indian epic and was genuinely interesting to try and keep up with whenever it was viewable (some parts were covered for maintenance / private religious ceremonies).
A simple walk from the hostel of no more than 15 minutes brought us to Wat Phra Kraew and the Grand Palace (same complex and admission covers both). Initially we were denied entry due to my shorts and presumably the impressive knowledge of scourers of the Bangkok official who was manning the gate. Fortunately there was a shop selling long trousers just opposite. This provided me with the perfect excuse to buy some silk, elephant-embroided, pyjama-resembling trousers. I am now an English traveller. In the time it took to point at my desired style of legwear and hand the woman 100 baht, I had developed a firm belief that it was too hot; aircon and a drink were needed. We stepped into a small restaurant nearby and after changing into my child of the earth pants in their toilet, ordered our lunch. Laura had a noodle soup and I chose a green curry which, in retrospect, I shouldn't have whimped out of ordering spicy. It was tasty but just contained less chilli so lacked depth.
1 June 2017
After getting off the public bus we were lucky to see our hostel from the main road. First impressions - Koh Sahn Road is busy, mopeds weaving through traffic and people, locals shouting 'tuk tuk' at you as you walk by, and hundreds of sights and smells of the street food vendors offering everything from pancakes, pad Thai, coconut ice cream and the mouthwatering scorpion.
We check in to our hostel 'the green house' which is a bustling venue with music blaring, and plenty of other backpackers chilling with drinks and food.
Our room is a private room with en suite and for a bargainous price of £10 per night with clean sheets, free safe, free WiFi and delicious food you can't go wrong!
After a long nap, we had our first Pad Thai in the hostel and meandered around the area to get our bearings. Coming across lots of vendors, suit shops, bars, Thai massages and Tuk Tuks!
So after a long sleepless journey we have into Bangkok and into the longest immigration queue possible. Takes a good while but through with no problems.
Had a slight panic, regarding the fact I hadn't researched at all on how to get from the airport and discovered (after a quick look in my trusted lonely planet) that Bangkok has Uber?! However we stumble accidentally across a bus service taking us to Koh Sahn where our hostel is located just outside the airport. Decided not to cheat with uber and start getting used to the local transport.
Arrive safe and sound no drama at all!
31 May 2017
The start of our journey. After a whirlwind of emotions and a roller-coaster of events we are finally en route to London to start our journey to South East Asia. With some unfortunate circumstances in Josh's family life which left our trip in the balance, we were considering postponing the trip. This led to uncertainty for a few days but decided after no help whatsoever from our booking agent (Omega flight store - WARNING AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE) and with well wishes from Josh's family we decided that continuing on with our trip would be the most positive move. After what seemed like a crazy unprepared rush we were seen off to the station with our sturdy backpacks in tow and wished farewell by my little mum. Getting in some slight practice of the long journeys to come with a painful 4 hour slow but cheap journey to London Heathrow!