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Thailand

The final leg of the Thai aventure, Koh Samui.

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Koh Samui was our last leg of our Thai adventure, I had had mixed reviews of Samui, my sister had been there several years ago and said it was an island paradise, however people we had been traveling with that had previously gone there said that it was very commercial and touristy now, not that Thailand isn't in places, but more so that others. I suppose it being the largest island in the Gulf of Thailand and also having it's own airport adds to the islands accessibility to holiday tourists rather than just travellers. I believe that when my sister went there it was probably a much different place, but it certainly wasn't a Phuket, which I was worried about!

We travelled after the night of my birthday so everyone was feeling a little delicate, it surprises me, but I don't remember a great deal of the boat ride. Not that I'm complaining, and once we had arrived after about a three hour boat ride we hopped into a taxi and headed for Chaweng beach.This is admittedly the most touristy area of Samui, if you wanted to go there and relax and avoid the tourist trap you could do so in some of the small beach resorts. The first day after checking in at Coconut Lodge was taken up with readjusting ourselves and making sure we were on top form for the next day!

The following day we decided to try something a little unique Football Golf. It was a little drive out of town. Being keen on both sports, more so football, I was expecting to take to it quite quickly, but I'm pleased to say we all struggled! A few times getting a little frustrated and kicking it a little harder than recommended! A few of the 18 holes were holed under par, but thank goodness that the most strokes or kicks, however you want to call it, you were allowed per hole was 7! I'm saying that for all of us! The course itself, although very difficult, (especially with a football as soon as it touches a hill it's back down it but twise as far away!) was very nicely set out and did resemble a tropical golf course. It proved to be a great laugh, or source of great frustration, whatever way you want to look at it. I think some of mine and Smiths language took in the etiquette of football rather than golf!

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That afternoon we went down to the beach to find the waves were pretty strong. Smith decided he wanted to rent a surf board and got in the water quick, after a little while i decided to have a go with a bodyboard, catching a good couple of waves that took me right in to the shore. After a little while due to the fact they had no rash vests to rent it felt like i had napalmed my nipples, so had to stop!

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(Smith in the surf, he caught a couple of good waves!)

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The resort area was particulary expensive for food, well compared to our budget, but we found a side street with some cheap and cheerful restaurants on it, selling some meals for less than a pound! It was good food and at a price not to be scoffed at, quite literally.

The next couple of days were spent on the beach soaking up the last Thai rays before moving on to our next destination, Malaysia!!! 

Posted by Christian25 20:28 Archived in Thailand Tagged thailand samui koh Comments (0)

New Years on the Andaman. (Part I & II)

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PART I

We arrived in Ao Nang, the beach area of Krabi, and we were greeted by an amazing beach, after a first night out though we decided promptly that the area was not quite what we had hoped for, while beautiful we missed our group of friends who had moved on to Phi Phi an island off Krabi. After spending a few glorious days of sunshine on the beach at Ao Nang we decided to pull some strings and get ourselves out to the island of Phi Phi Don for New Years to be spent with our friends. 

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(the above pictures are all of Ao Nang -Krabi)

We received a message from them informing us of a boat trip they were taking on New Years Eve afternoon before the celebrations so we asked them to book us in too. We arrived on Phi Phi on the 31st to be greeted by the dilemma of everywhere being booked up, Phi Phi being a tiny island in the Andaman sea, literally too large rocky outposts with maybe just under a half a mile stretch of a sand bank in between that is full of places to stay, restaurants, bars and shops! We found accommodation albeit one night in a dorm and then booked a following two in a bit of a box room, we dumped our stuff, got ready and met the gang.

The boat trip took us to the infamous 'Beach' on the neighbouring island of Phi Phi Lay, made famous by the film which shares the same title with Leonardo Di Caprio. I have read the book too while I have been away traveling, the island is actually fictitious, and supposed to be an unknown paradise in the Gulf of Thailand not the Andanaman. I expect once upon a time Phi Phi Lay would have been like this, but due to the film being filmed on this island it has made it a tourist destination, even though you cannot stay there for more than a day and the island has no accommodation it has become in some respects everything that the book and later, the film, is attempting to depict an unspoilt island with no tourism where people who want to escape reality can. Ironically,  in reality the setting for this had becoming exactly what the characters were striving to avoid. However, it was still remarkably beautiful. We jumped off the boat and swam to some steps that went up the side of the steep cliffs around the islands so that we could enter the beach like Leo did in the film. It was a cool experience, unfortunately though I was unable to take my camera so I have had to steal pictures of the beach from friends who have waterproof cameras.

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(the gang on the boat before departure!)

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During the boat trip we pasted a Cave which has the bizarre name of Viking Cave, this is not because the Vikings ever made it to Thailand, or were even the first people to develop the package holiday. Apparently inside the cave is a painting of a viking ship that one of the first people who used the cave as shelter during a storm drew on the cave wall, however, I'm not sure why they chose to draw a Viking ship. This cave though is now inhabited by a few brave people who live there all year and pay the Thai government a substantial annual free of around a Million Thai Baht (over £20,000). The people who then live there, in return are allowed to harvest the birds nests of the birds nesting in the cave. These are used in the famous Birds Nest soup, a very pricey delicacy in many of the power nations in Asia such as China and Japan.

New years eve was an amazing night out, all along the beach bars where we were located when the clock hit 12 they let off fireworks. Although, at times, they almost seemed out of control, particularly as the bars were attempting to out do each other, it was a great place to see in new year! The weather the next day was very wet, and the island with it's poor drainage got pretty flooded resulting in a common practice in Thailand of taking your flip-flops off and leaving them outside shops or guesthouses. This prompted some bastard to steal my trusty flip-flops, I couldn't get it into my head why someone would as they were horrendously worn and shabby. After a couple of days they reappeared outside the guesthouse, muddy and dishevelled. I was planning on waiting in a bush nearby to see who came out and put them back on, particularly seen as they had been that 'ballsy' to wear them to where they stole them from. I had the intention of clubbing them round the back of their head and stealing their shorts or something. I decided to let bygones be bygones and except that my flip-flops had a little fun without me but were back in possession to cushion my tootsies on the road again!

The rest of our time on Phi Phi Don was spent on the beach, one day Smith and I hired a sea kayak and paddled out of the cove and around the headland to a secluded beach called Monkey Beach, I don't expect it would take a lot of guessing to work out what was there. One of the other days after spending a day on the beach, the weather became a little over cast and we headed up to the view point on the island and got some amazing views across the island and across to Phi Phi Lay.

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After spending a little while on Phi Phi and our group gradually getting smaller as people headed off to other places, some before going home, others heading back up to the north of Thailand and some getting ready to move on to pastures new. We decide to check out Phuket which has a reputation as a popular tourist destination and is only a couple of hours away by boat from Phi Phi.

PART II

Phuket like the Phi Phi islands is located on the Andaman coastline, and although an island it is connected to the mainland in the north by a bridge, due to it's close proximity. Phuket didn't have the same vibe that we had experienced on the previous island we had been to, it felt more like a Coastal Bangkok. Packed full of westerners and families clearly on holidays. 

We spent a couple of days down by the beach which was packed full of sun-loungers and the water front was bustling with people doing various water sports. After a little while on Phuket we decided it wasn't for us, just a walk down the some if the streets became a challenge, being accosted by Thai girls outside countless massage parlours trying to pull you in or physically standing infront of you. Our hotel too, although we had no problems and the room was cheap and cheerful but pleasant enough, we were quite convinced some of the rooms where being used by prostitutes. The bar street in Phuket was huge, we had a couple of beers there while watching some football, but it arguably made Khao San road in Bangkok seem a little tame, which I never expected to say.

I'm painting a bleak view of Phuket, to some its got everything they would want on a holiday, but it is more of a Magalouf kind of destination, and is a poor reoresentation of Thailand, even more so if you have experience the North, which unfortunatly we were unable. It was one of my least favourite destinations, it did have somethings going for it, but we had decided we had enough and decide that we would head back to Phi Phi for a couple of days before heading off to the otherside of Thailand, back to the Gulf to explore the two islands we still wanted to see, Koh Tao and Koh Samui. Going back to Phi Phi was nice, but arguably we had exhausted the small island the first time, so other than a couple of nights out it was a relatively familiar existence and we booked our tickets to take us to Koh Tao. They had been experiencing poor weather conditions in the Gulf and we had no choice but to take a boat to Ao Nang, where we were before new year, and then stay for a night before heading off early in the morning as to make sure that we caught a boat in the gulf during the day when it was safer and less rough. Once in Ao Nang we went out and had some food at a Resturant we enjoyed the first time, watched some football and then got an earlier night before a day of travelling back to the Gulf!

Posted by Christian25 06:15 Archived in Thailand Tagged thailand krabi phi phuket ao nang Comments (0)

Bangkok - Thailand

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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)

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