A Travellerspoint blog

January 2012

Christmas on Koh Phangan

This next stop on the travels doesn't need much explaining I suppose to the people who are aware of the location of the full moon party! We had decided to head south for Christmas to an island called Koh Phangan. We had booked well in advance a hotel that like all accommodation in Thailand is massively inflated price wise by the time of year and the influx of tourists. However, we considered it to be a Christmas luxury! I apologise in advance for the lack of cultural insight you will experience from this blog!

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(view from the hotel, a little overcast!)

So the first night out wasn't really a night out, we just had a meal and then proceeded to chill out in our luxury hotel rooms on top of the cliff that looks over both the bays in the Hat Rin area. A friend called Jamie we had made on the way, through Sammy, had suggested he came join us during the Xmas period, and he turned up that evening.

The following day we got up late and mingled around the swimming pool, after a while Smith and I decide to have a wonder and explore the area. After coming back excited about the fish we had seen along the wooden walkways that skirted some of the rock faces along the coastline we decided to explore the town to see if we could invest in some fishing rods. After a little while we found some telescopic fishing rods and bartered a good deal on two of them! We set about working out how exactly we had to set up the rods with our trusty friend google! And went off to fish, that first day I managed to catch two fish and smith caught a one too, all very tropical looking, granted his more so than mine, in fact, his caused a slight panic in getting it off the hook, with it's leopard print spots and it's aggressive spines on it's dorsal fin! That night we went out to celebrate our traveling buddies Dans birthday. I'd be lier if I said I remembered much of the evening, I woke up with some funny stories from all sides of our group of friend of different capers people had got up to and I had a badly grazed knee, and I'm still trying to remember the exact manor in which I received it! 

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So after a day off and some more fishing Christmas eve came round and other night out ensued. We all wished each other an over emotional happy Christmas once it turned 12, especially for a group of people who had only been friends for a short time, thats what traveling and alcohol does to you! The following day we spend round the pool, an exciting prospect, and a first for an Xmas day! We had all arranged, a group of about 16 of us, to go for a traditional Christmas diner, I wore my Santa hat! The dinner I was surprisingly impressed with, it was a little cold, but unlike anywhere else in Asia they had managed to bring everyone's dinner out at the same time, so maybe that was their poor excuse, but I'll allow them it! Need I repeat myself, we went out that evening, and had a wicked night out!

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I'll be honest the next day was a right off! Two days solid partying is going to take it's toll on an old codger like me! The following day we spent around the pool once more and then some further fishing, by this time both Smith and I were up to 6 fish each!

The following day we headed for our next destination, Krabi, and more precisely Ao Nang, were had planned to stay there for New Years, but there will be a slight twist to this tale!

Posted by Christian25 07:43 Comments (0)

Bangkok - Thailand

sunny

We arrived in Bangkok after a relatively smooth boarder crossing. The journey into central Bangkok reminded me a little of our first experience of Asia when we sped along a four lane motorway towards Beijing. Bangkok looked a world away from the other capitals we had visited in south east Asia!

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(roof top views from our guesthouse)

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We arrived without accommodation, we had been reassured that we would have no problems. We were dropped a stones throw away from Khao San road, the most notorious of backpacker destinations in Bangkok, riddled with bars, shops, a few restaurants, including Macdonalds and Burger King. Peppered between the 24 hour hubbub are guesthouses, however we decided against it and ventured onto the less well known and slightly less busy  Rambutri Street which is a little more toned down!

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(the infamous Khao San Road)
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We decided to go out that first night, the girls decided they wanted massages and pedicures and smith and I met up with a friend we made in Sihnoukville called Dan and his Canadian friend Shaun. The girls eventually met us out, I recall them laughing about our inebriated state. I ended up at a nightclub which was also a good laugh, then walked back and grabbed some of the famous Bangkok street food with Sammy at 3 in the morning!

The following day the Girls had decided they wanted to go to MBK. It's the largest shopping centre in Thailand as far as I'm aware. Smith, Dan and myself were a little less excited so we split up from the girls, and after some food we headed to the arcades to waste away the time. The hostel we were staying at put films on every night, and that's what we did after grabbing some food once returning from MBK.

The following day, a little more interesting shopping day had been planned to Bangkok's famous Weekend Market. We got a Taxi there and were dropped off on the outskirts, from there the expanse  of the market cannot be fully realised, only once you venture into the Bazaar like passage ways between small shops with good spilling out creating and archway over the narrow paths. Again the girls did better at the Market than the guys, but it wasn't for trying, there were plenty of nice clothing, just difficult to justify spending money on making your bag heavier!

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The following day, a Sunday, we decided to do the cultural things Bangkok has to offer and visit it's many temples and statues. We were told by a nice Thai man that Sundays were a special day for tourists as the government funded the TukTuk drivers to drive tourists around in return for petrol vouchers. This sounded excellent, however, the catch is that in between what the tourist wants to see, the TukTuk drivers take you to different tailors, jewellers and whatever else they can, in return for commission and their petrol vouchers, this did make for a tedious hindrance to otherwise interesting day! We went first to the Lucky Budda, a place that can be visited only one day of the month by tourists and we were lucky enough to have picked that day. We were given incense sticks to light to wish us luck on our travels. Next was the huge standing Budda, then the sitting Budda. I'll be completely honest, although impressive, it might have been the TukTuk scamming in between the temples, but the temple I found most impressive that day was Wat Saket which has an amazing view of the city was well as the Buddhist prayer bells which you ring as you ascend and descend the hill. We finished off with the sitting Budda temple before calling it a day exhausted with pretending to be interested in silk shirts! On the plus side our travel didn't cost us a dime that day!

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(the lucky Budda)

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(standing Budda)

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(this little chap had obviously decided to live in the temple, smart hound, get in with the Buddist monks and your on easy street!)

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(the sitting Budda)

(these following pictures are of Wat Saket)
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(me and Smith took a leaf out of the hounds book from the other temple and decided to muck about with the monks!)

The following day we decided to do the things we missed out on the previous day, due to time been eaten up explaining that we didn't want a tailored suit! We went on a Bangkok river trip which was quite interesting, it was shocking to see the water line on the side of the housing that overlooks the river from the resent flooding Bangkok had suffered, which we had feared would stop us making it here. In places the water line was several metres higher than it was presently, and I'm not entirely sure it was at it normal level when we were there! On the trip there was a point where we could buy a loaf of bread to feed the fish in the river, I assume they were cat fish, but the amount of them which flocked to eat the bread, you could hear them bashing into the side of the boat. After the river trip we had lunch and then headed to see the only temple we missed the day before the famous and largest in the world, Reclining Budda, it was huge and the pictures don't do it justice, you cannot stand far enough away to fit it all in!

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( the royal palace!)

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(Fish in the river, on the river tour!)

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(the temple of the reclining Budda)

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The next day was time to leave, to head south for Christmas! We had arranged a treat for ourselves in the form of luxury accommodation on the island of Koh Phangan. 

Posted by Christian25 22:32 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok Comments (0)

Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

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Siem Reap was only ever going to be a fleeting visit, we only had one desire while we were there, to visit Angkor Wat and the other temples. The first day after travelling overnight was taken up with just a wonder around the town. Unfortunately as the day progressed as did me feeling poorly, and unfortunately that night I spent in bed recovering and hoping that I would be well enough to go visit the temples the following day!

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Luckily sweating it out paid off and we got up early enough it head to Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples while it was still dark with the intention of seeing the Sun rise. Our TukTuk driver drove us to a temple which is located up a large hill. He pointed up a dark pathway and told us that's where we needed to go. He must have realised that we were not convinced so said he would guide us. Once we got up there there were a few others waiting for sunrise and it eventually came. Cloud cover interrupted the spectacle, but it was a good way to start the day. After that our driver took us to get some breakfast. During the chaos of a tomato sauce bottle exploding and causing great amusement at our table I noticed a monkey about 100 metres away and decide to steal away mid breakfast to take a picture. It started towards me with conviction and I feared I might get accosted by it, when it charged passed me towards the breakfast table and shimmied up one of the legs and stole Kaileys baguette. This obviously caused a greater eruption of laughter to explode over the group of us. 

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(the culprit!!!)

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(this picture doesn't do justice how large this spider was, it had made it's web between two trees and was sitting in the middle of it waiting for birds I expect!)

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(the temple with the trees growing out of it is where Tomb Raider was filmed, it's called Ta Prohm).

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The temples are arguabley some of the most impressive temples I have ever seen, and although many are ruins the place is still considered a religious area and is still in use for Buddist Monks. There is a large distance between the temples an each one is different, some have large moats around it, and others have trees that have become rooted in the fabric of the building, pulling it over or sitting on top of the large stone walls. The Cambodians proudly call it the 8th wonder of the world, and in all honesty I felt that it would be ranked in the official 7. 

The Cambodians seemed to have only very recently realised what they are sitting on in terms of tourism, and there is now efforts to repair the temples and make sure that nature doesn't damage too much of it. I expect in years to come the place will, if not protected, turn into somewhere much like the Pyrmids or the Great wall, where some of the magic is lost because of the comercial element that comes with popular tourist attractions, sone I'm pleased to say I have seen it before that potentially does happen. It was arguably the most interesting place I have visited on my travels so far!

The next stop is in a new country, Thailand!

Posted by Christian25 19:27 Archived in Cambodia Tagged travel cambodia angkor wat reap siem Comments (1)

Sihnoukville - Cambodia

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Sihnoukville is one of Cambodias most popular seaside resorts. On arriving we headed to try and get accommodation at one of the most popular hostels in the town Monkey Republic, we were already sure that three of our friend were already there and Smith, Kailey,Emma, Zoe an myself were lucky enough to pick up the remaining beds available and meet up with the other Emma and Leanne and Sammy.

Our first full day in Sihnoukville we headed down to a beach called Otres beach. The sand was warm white and the water was calm, clear and a beautiful inviting blue. We spend the day by the beach and ate at one of the restaurants overlooking the sea. I mentioned to Smith how guilty I felt sitting there hot and sanding in my swimming shorts while everyone back home was working, it honestly did bother me and it pleased me that I haven't forgot about everyone or the desire to work. Feelings like this are easily forgotten however when you are being hugged by the warm embrace of the tropical sun and repetitive swell of the waves.

The following day after a heavy night out with a large army of fellow travellers, our group, growing larger by the day surfaced late and headed for a local hotels swimming pool. The evening is Sihnoukville are taken up at the beach bars or across the road from Monkey Republic is a place called TopCat's. A little cinema with private booths for about 5 or 6 people maximum. Any film they don't have is not worth watching, the American owner is happy to find you anything on his huge database of movies. Or as was the case a few hot afternoons, me and Smith hid ourselves away and played FIFA 2012.

I hadnt been massively keen on the idea of another boat trip but everyone we had made fiends with was going and dinner on return was included so it sounded more inviting. As it turned out, even with the freak weather conditions that came over the boat, apparently massively rare in Sihnoukville for the time of year we embraced the different nature of the trip. Lashing down with rain it was warmer to be in the sea so we continued to jump off and back onto the boat throughout the afternoon. Nobody seemed to care that it was wetter aboard the ship than it was in the sea. Plenty of beers were consumed on the trip back while dancing away on the packed deck!

By now we had been joined by our German friends who had been traveling along the coast with a friend they met on the road Tom. Off Sihnouville are several islands, and one in particular Koh Rong has several small beach resorts where you can stay in bamboo huts on stilts. Monkey island was the name of the bungalows we decided to stay in, run by the same guys who own Monkey Republic. Our whole group decide to go and spend a couple of nights on the beach front. The boat trip was set to take about 2 hours, but when we arrived at the port, we were informed it was likely to take longer because the sea was particulary choppy. The boat ride was an experience, with several people being sick, I managed to keep my breakfast down and relatively enjoy the trip. Once we arrived at the island we had to walk across the beach following a resort employee. The place looked close to paradise, and as we walked along the blindingly white fine sand, close by the little jetty, standing in the surf with it's owner was a massive water buffalo. I'm still upset I didn't get a picture as it was quite a surreal sight. A short walk along the shoreline and we arrive at Monkey Island. We dumped our belonging in our little bamboo hut and ran down to the beach to jump in the sea. After we washed up and went to get some food and relax. During my washing up process, in the little bamboo bathroom something caught my eye. On the back of the door, relatively well camouflaged was the largest spider I have ever seen. I promptly dried myself and got out of the room, then explained to smith the size of it, and he looked sceptical until he shimmied in and peered round the door. The thing was bigger than my hand and we decide it wasn't allowed to stay rent free! Standing in the bathroom with our weapons, me a bin and Smith a broom, we had decided to knock it into the bin and chuck it outside, until I gave it further thought and didn't like the idea of holding something as small as this little bin with a potentially poisonous and disgruntled insect inside, so smith went ahead and hit it with the broom. In all honesty I'm surprised it didn't whip it out of his hands and snap it over one of it's many knees, but it scurried off shocked but unharmed under the bamboo wall.

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(our bunglow)

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The following day we got up early to watch the sun rise, it was a little cloudy so not quite as impressive as we had hoped, then later in the morning me and Smith went on a little trek along the coastline, dipping in and out of the rainforest. It was like the film 'The Beach'. The rest of the day was spent either sun bathing or playing volleyball until the sun went down behind the island.

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(you might just be able to spot a water buffalo!)

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The following day it was time for us to leave, the Germans and their motorbike buddy Tom decided that the island was too beautiful to leave behind and decide to stay on, so we begrudgingly said our fairwells to them, knowing we wouldn't see each other again until potentially the New Year due to our directions changing.

The boat trip was a little rough again, but more pleasant, and once we were back on dry land we had to wait around until the evening to be picked up to move onto our next destination Siem Reap, where the famous Angkor Wat temples are situated.

Posted by Christian25 20:03 Archived in Cambodia Tagged travel cambodia sihnoukville Comments (1)

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