A Travellerspoint blog

Phuket

another delayed blog!

Why on earth does it always seem like I have left it ages between these and have loads to say which i cant fully remember - mean while in the same time Leanne has written a few small essays in the days in between. Its a little like being back at school and not doing your homework till the last minute by which time it seems almost too much to do!

From finishing my dive course in Krabi and a few drinks to celebrate (mine had a flower in it!) we got a transfer the next day from our guest house to Koh Phi Phi. Getting off the boat was very hectic, the small pier is full of people getting on boats, getting off boats, people trying to get you to stay at their guest house, taxis, taxi boat drivers etc etc etc. I should also point out once you've dug your bag out of the pile and loaded yourself off, to get off your boat you almost always have to climb across a gap to the next boat, go up and/or down some small spiral stairs onto the next boat and on to the pier... its exciting... in a way!
We ignored all the touts and flip flopped into Phi Phi town which has lots of narrow ish but paved streets. Since it was completely devastated in the Tsunami everything is relatively new like the streets and buildings, the lay out etc. This means they cater very well to all the wester toilets but does make it a lot more expencive. All the rooms come with cable, air con, hot showers which we had been doing quite happily with out. We decided given the smallness of the town the best thing to do to find accomodation here would be to leave Leanne with the bags and a coke in a cafe and I would flip flop about asking prices etc. The standard reply is always 1000 bhat or 600 for a fan room, which were very few and far between. Eventually as we ummed and ahhd the woman from the restaurant came up to us and offered us a room there, air con etc for 800... happy with this compromise given the blistering heat that day we accepted and heaved our bags up the narrow stairs to the room.
That evening we booked ourselves onto a big boat tour of the area the next day with snorkling and trips to Maya bay (from the beach) and monkey beach (to see more monkeys) etc etc etc they would also then take us on a drive about the sites again in the evening at sunset. However the next day proved to be cloudy cloudy cloudy. This didnt interrupt our snorkling too much though.
The first stop was around the corner from Maya bay on Phi Phi lay - the smaller island. The guides told us to leave our flippers for this one, to take our flip flips and mask and to swim over to the rocks -being careful - climb up to the step and using the rope clamber up through a hole to go walk over the island to the beach that was the setting for the beach movie. They explained the boat wouldnt stop there though it would go past it - so sure enough off we set. I was swimming slowly having a look at the fishes mean while Leanne had sprinted off leaving her a little breathless in time for our scramble. I put my flip flops on in advance as i saw it becoming more shallow, sadly for Leanne she didn't and so got a few scrapes from the coral. We very ungracefully crawled along with the rope for support and scrambled through the hole with the waves lapping rather more forcefully than necessary around our feet ( "eeeek crabs!!")
we walked over the island to survey the famed beach. Never having seen the movie this wasnt all that big a deal for me. While it was breathtakingly beautiful with the white sand and the limestone cliffs covered in greenery - it didn't hold any previous thoughts for me. The movie the Beach was one of the reasons Leanne decided she wanted to go traveling so the fact that the bay was packed with speed boats and tourists was a bit of a disappointment to her so we flip flopped /swam back to the boat and then snorkeled around the area till it was time to go. The rest of our tour was filled with more snorkelling and other beach trips. One of our snorkels was at a site that is often visited by reef sharks but we didn't see any ourselves. On another stop we could use the sea Kyaks and Leanne has some rude things to say about my ability here which are totally unfounded and if she wasn't such a sporting control person she would see i am clearly excellent and the one doing all the work and she was wrong wrong wrong. but whatever. I'm not one to hold a grudge ... or say ... refuse to paddle at all on the way back!
Sadly at monkey bay, all the monkeys must have been napping but we had a nice snorkel anyway - where one of the fishes BIT ME!!! ok so it didn't have teeth, but it sucked on my leg!!

We decided to skip the sunset bit as it was cloudy and we headed back when we could and grabbed a shower and some dinner.
The next day as we had felt a bit home sick we found a mobile phone place and got ourselves some. We spent the rest of the day snoozing on the beach and reading our books as it was sunny again. That evening after charging and working out how our phones worked we got some credit and immediately text our mothers and had a small competition about who's would reply first... Much to my displeasure Leannes mum text her back TWICE before my phone had even bleeped at all... but then luckily my mum called so that seems to be even. Its nice knowing we can be in more direct contact than email now.
AFter that we headed over to the irish bar for a few drinks then to another one to see a lady boy show. They were late, in retrospect this is not surprising really and the show was ... interesting. There were obviously the fantastic costumes ... some of the transformations were less than complete leading to bouts of hysteria from us in the middle row. We had refused the front seats just incase of such an occurrence! we have some absolutely priceless photos and videos though.
When it was all over we got chatting to the people who were sat in front of us and after that headed down to the beach party. However we didnt realise given the ladyboy's promptness, the chatting etc that it was 1:30 so the beach party promptly shut down around us! Never ones to be thwarted in the hunt of a party we set off with many other revellers to hippies bar further down the coast which reportedly kept going till 4 am. This is an interesting concept. They turned off all the lights and had a screen showing the football. The bar was closed but men with bags of cans of beer strolled about selling them at extortionate prices. EVentually we decided to call it a day as we had a boat to Phuket the next day and should really get some sleep before having to pack and check out. The next day was a struggle, we're not going to lie. AFter fortifying ourselves with breakfast from the "little brittain cafe" who import heinze beans for these occassions we grabbed boat tickets and got on board. However the effect of last night was felt and Leanne promptly felt queezy... i was mostly fine so decided to read - obviously the best course of action. AFter about 20 minutes i could no longer remain downstairs at eye level with the waves and escaped for fresh air and to see a horizon that was not moving so much. Eventually wondering where i was Leanne found me and we lay on the deck (ok i lay) untill we arrived at Phuket.

We are staying in Phuket town in a guest house called the Thalang guest house. Round the corner is one featured as a koh san flop house in the beach but given the fact it hasn't done anything to improve its appearance we decided not to stay there!
I went for a flip flop, Leanne napped and then we dined and slept tired out after our wave rolling day.

We woke up to the sunshine and jumped on a local bus to one of the beach resorts down the coast. Not really my thing i have to say, a bit like a cross between Majorcas trashy bits, brighton and blackpools illuminations. Package holiday ers eat your heart out. We flip fopped down through the thousands of stalls and bars and bars and bars and bars and some more bars to the beach ... where... there was surf! Joy not being the surfing experts we instead got a body board and faced the waves... which were bigger than me! i jest not! Thoroughly exhausted we collapes on a sun lounger so i could devour my trashy novel, it was great, and then lunch then back and a nap and then some beers and then out again...
ahh i have 8 minutes left of my hour i had better go,
in good news as we cant get a direct flight to Chaing mai we are having to stop over in Bangkok and going there by over night bus so we can spend the day getting a Vietnamese visa and then another night bus to chaing mai and then on again from there to where we are not quite sure but Laos will follow on!

ah it also appears to be the second not the first as i thought. blast!

Posted by eralc 23:05 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Krabi from Koh Phangang and inbetween

Scooters and Scuba Diving

We are now in Krabi and there is a whole lot to say in the inbetweens - it almost seems like to much to work out and write it down so I am starting with bullet points and going from there.

From Bangkok we got a night bus to a bus at dawn to a ferry to a lift to our guest house in Koh Phangang. I slept on all methods of transport and at bus stations along the way as well making me a great companion!

On Koh Phangang we mixed the local taxi vans for 100 baht each with renting a scooter fro 200 baht a day (yes they also provided helmets at our guest house where we rented it from) during our stay there. We went to a full moon warm up party on the first day we arrived and then the full moon party itself in between our adventures around the island. I have to say if you're staying on the island or almost anywhere in Thailand it seems the best way to see anything is to hire a scooter. They're not very powerful true, but it gives you ultimate freedom to get about in the heat. We covered the whole island that was serviceable by roads and saw elephants, waterfalls, beaches, different resorts, terrifying hills - the lot. Though at points I was fearing for my life given the 20% incline road signs it was well worth it to get to some of the places we did and see the views across the island.
The Full Moon Party is a little overrated. While it was absolutely fantastic watching the dawn rise over the beach, seeing all the people filling the beach painted up in uv paints there were also some down sides in the people who had a little too much and were littering the beach. The warm up party was a bit less crowded and a little less over indulged making it more enjoyable for me. But it was still worth the experience of getting a taxi van back at 8 am to our guest house to sleep all day till 2!

From Koh Phanang we got a lift to the ferry port to a ferry to Surathani then a bus to somewhere to a mini van to a bus to Krabi. Once there we had a bit of a stop in the pharmacy as it appears Leanne is allergic to Mosquito bites. A nap, some food and an anti histamine (glad we packed them) later and we were back flip flopping around. While taking in the sites of Krabi on foot we passed a scuba diving bar. Earlier in the afternoon as Leanne napped I had googled our next stop and diving, however as it is just me doing the diving I was beginning to wuss out, but Blue Juice in Krabi had helpful staff who let you take your time to think it through and didn't rush us which was nice. And the added bonus was not being on an island there would be more for Leanne to see during the day. They also offered to let me do it in 3 days not 4 if i worked hard... which i did! So i signed myself up starting at 9 am the next day which a book to read the first chapter of before bed.
While i sat in scuba school and watched a dvd and read the text book Leanne hired another scooter to check out the beaches in Krabi. On my way to the pool to do some practicing i passed her on the side of the road with the map, reassuring me she hadn't come a cropper yet and was still tootling around. However apparently 5 minutes after i went passed she got a flat and was saved by a very nice ice cream man and his side car ice cream motor bike, he pushed her to the nearest repair shop and she got fixed up and back on the road. Not trusting her navigation, the bike and the time left till i finished she called it a day. There was also some torrential rain... which meant that I got trapped at the pool. We had set out in a scooter and side cart but they were uncovered and so we couldnt get back in the down poor and had to wait either for the rain to stop or for the truck to come get me .... and hour later i was back in the class room doing my last bit of work.

After my school from 9 am till 6pm i was pretty tired so we just grabbed some food from the night food market and went to read my text book some more... Up for school the next day to do my first dives which were... strange to say the least. The sensation of swimming and breathing underwater takes a while to get over so i missed a lot of the first dive by just being shocked. Equally the time it takes for my ears to stop hurting and adjust was a bit of a shock as well. I don't know if this changes the more the dive or you get used to it or if i just have sensitive ears and was hypersensitive on my first dive. Either way, it was completely mind blowing. We circled the little island and went through a cave/tunnel thing then carried on to the next dive after lunch, more confusion and awe and then the boat ride home where i promptly crashed out asleep on the deck still in my wet suit. I was released from school to go and get a shower and then come back to do some questions.
However on getting back to the guest house I found Leanne who had not scootered about luckily so i could get in the room. The reason for the lack of scooter-ing was because she witnessed a road accident - a pedestrian got hit by a van - the police were on the scene with in seconds and the pedestrian got up and walked herself in to the van... but it left a bit of a shock. So after the showering we both headed to school and she took up residence in the bar while i did my quiz's. I returned to find a major pool tournament underway with some other girls staying in the guest house attatched to the scuba place while my poor little brain was fried.

Up early again the next day for my last day of dives and Leanne was coming with to snorkle. These dives were much better, the visability was better to start with but also I was more used to the sensations of sinking and breathing and looking around so could take in so much more! THere were all kinds of exciting fish and a sea horse. My instructor is facinated by them and so we spent a while there while he video'd it swimming. Up again for lunch and a chat and then down on the next island for another dive all the while practicing different skills for my qualification. This time Leanne watched and followed me round by my bubbles waving when i came close to the surface, all i could see were flipper tips she assures me she could see me for some of the dive. I saw lion fish, a ray, conch shells, nemo's (clown fish) all kinds of plants and swam in a school of mini baracuda... Leanne saw a needle fish (small sword fish) which i didnt but she didnt get to see a sea horse so the jealous was kept at bay! Eventually back to school for my exam which i passed with 92%!! i am now a qualified diver and mum the card will be in the post with in the month!

My brain is still a bit fried so thats as much as i've got at the moment but i will try to fill in the gaps soon when more memories come back to me and i look at what we've done in my pad - which obviously i have forgotten! Some photos from ages ago are going online at photobucket with my name as eralcnitram and i will work on more photos and words soon once i sleep, and maybe have a cocktail. who knows!

Posted by eralc 04:45 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Bangkok mark two

nearly leaving

rain

We've checked out of the nice hotel and are waiting for an over night bus to take us to the islands for some sunshine, sunbathing, scub diving and book reading. It is now pouring with rain in Bangkok so deffinately a good time to leave.

We've had our suit fitting which was exciting and now they will be finishing them off, I have to say to have two suits made (practically) in 3 days was pretty shocking, i didnt expect them to be as done as they are, the only thing they need really is arms! A few adjustments in length and width were made, some should pads fitted, sleeve lenghts done and belt loops to be added and they will be good to go. I think mine is the nicer coloured stripe - its blue, Leannes is a lilac but not as strong.

Last night we pretended it was my birthday night out just a day late as on my actual birthday it was still waterfighting so hard to get out - though i did celebrate with a banana split from room service! We took our journey into Bangkoks red light district. It is a bit of a strange mix really witht he tourist markts and the people trying to get customers in to the sex shows or sell x rated dvd's wondering quietly among the croud of families. We had a few drinks and people watched a bit like in parisian bars where the seats are set up like a theater to watch the passers byand a bit to eat before heading back to the Khao San Road and home to bed.

Our tuk tuk batering has also gotten a lot better, last night we got it form 350 to 150 to take us home. Given that we now know they can run all day on one tank of fuel and that they can get fuel stamps for taking tourists to national sites we've become more circumpsect in our dealings!

Next stop Kho Pangang!

Posted by eralc 00:44 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Songkran in Bangkok

new year or a waterfigh /war?

It would appear i've been a bit remiss, Leanne is on to her second blog from Bangkok while I have yet to do one. So incase this happens again and I get distracted doing other things online, also see http://garvie.travellerspoint.com

We are now in Bangkok where we have been for a few days. We stayed in Georgetown on the island of Pengang for one night only, mainly to break up our journey between the Cameron Highlands and Bangkok as we knew we wanted to get here in time for the Thai New year (more on that later) From Pengang we got the ferry to the mainland town of Butterworth and boarded a train direct to Bangkok that was 20 hours long. Along the way we had a small tropical storm which stopped the train for about 40 minutes till the trees stopped leaning at 40 degree angles due to the wind. The thunder and lightening cracked right over our carrage which was fun. I didnt scream at all... We then got off got on got off to clear customs for Malaysia and Thailand which was just a quick stroll through a room to collect more stamps, we didnt have to take our bags through either... Then the space between our seats turned into a dinner table and local street stalls arrived to us in baskets. Later on the table dissappeared and the bed man arrived to make up our beds for us. Not quite like english sleeper trains - oh no, we had curtains, pillows blankets and the bed pulled down, made the pillows put in pillow cases for us all in the space of about 7 minutes.

Our arrival in to Bangkok station was pretty hectic - the main train station is a very busy place! Eventually we got a map, got a taxi and got to our hostel. However as the hostel was in the middle of Bangkok and the area we wanted to see and spend more time in is in the west, we moved the next day after a visit to Jim Thompsons house which was very beautiful. He had transported 6 teak traditional style thai houses to one site and combined them reversing some walls and creating corridors to make his small mansion.

We headed to our next hostel on what turned out to be the start of the Thai new year or Songkran and there are no words to describe accurately what it is... essentially picture a water fight between oh... 50 000 people. Not just with water pistols and super soakers but ice water buckets, hoses, crates that held beer .. anything that holds water is used to soak those crammed into the streets with you... And chalk. they enjoy smearing it on your face, traditionally you're suposed to do yourself however the younger generation enjoy slinging it at others.. specially foreigners! It is huge fun for the first 36 hours.. then you start to wish you could be dry, or not damp and that you could cross the street with out getting caught in the action..

After a day and half of this we left the Khao San road which is the focal point and grabbed a tuk tuk to some sites like the giant golden budda and lucky temple. My favorite was not the giant golden buddha but the smaller life size buddhas that the people dedicate a flake of gold leaf so that over the day they become covered in gold leaf leaving them with a slightly patchy but still all over golden look.

We then went to the suit people tailor place as there was a promotion on for new years day and got some measuring done for some made to measure suits. We go back to the tailors just before we leave to get fitted then collect on the way to catch our flight to sydney in a few months time, or get them posted back to england by the tailors, not sure which one yet.

Today Leanne checked us into a fantastic hotel near by with a POOL as my brithday treat so i can wake up there, it has airconditioning that works, windows and more than 2 foot around the bed... then there is the pool which is fantastic in the hot and the hotel has windows that shut and dont rattle so that in our room we dont hear the chaos and music from the local rock band performing outside the front door... we made a quick escape down the road the internet cafe almost unscathed bar a shot in the back (cheating i think) but there you go!

We've booked our trip to kho pangan for the full moon party and a transfer from there to Krabi and five nights stay for about 50 pounds which is not to be sneezed at.. So we get some beaching done then we think we'll fly to chaing mai to save time before our thai visa runs out, means we'll miss a bit of the country side but can cross into laos on the river apparently..

but anyway, that seems like ages away, right now we have to navigate the streets and people to find dinner cos we are starving hungry.. must be nourised to be able to face the locals! We may even take a trip to the famous Bangkok red light district if we're not too wet

Posted by eralc 04:19 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Cameron Highlands

where I wore my hoodey, twice

storm

Not entirely sure where I left this to be honest, we are now sweating in Penang.

We left KL after a quick trip to the Batu caves with about 300 stairs. While there we played with the monkeys, from a distance they arent actually very friendly at all.. and then went on a tour of the dark cave so I could marvel at the stalagmites and stalactites etc etc etc. There is a very fetching photo of the two of us framed by the tunel in the shape of a heart, what really makes the picture attractive is the wellies i'm wearing and our hard hats! I have to say though, I did enjoy it.

We then bolted back to the city for lunch and to board our train to the cooler highlands. We were arriving after dark so had followed up on a recomendation and been in touch with Fathers guesthouse in Tanah Rata who sent a mini van to collect us from the bus station.

The trip up to the town was absolutely amazing as were the daily storms. The first day there we decided to take it easy after the busy heat of the city and my unrelenting desire to be walking everywhere at once. We tried some local restaurants, watched a movie in the hostel and watching lightening for hours. The next day we got ourselves a bit more organized to do a tour of the countryside, after reading about Jim Thompson disappearing on the trails we decided a tour might be a better idea for us! We visited the butterfly farm, rose farm, honey bee site and a tea plantation which was absolutely amazing. As were the weird and wonderful beetles we saw at the butterfly park. Another afternoon and another tropical storm. Then we went to bed early to be able to get up to get the bus to Penang Island at 8am. Unfortuantely we noticed on the second night that we had made a friend, skippy the jungle cockroach. We're not entirely sure where he lived, he appeard to like scutteling between our beds in the dorm... which resulted in Leanne sleeping in her hoody with her hood up (it was quite cold, i slept in mine too.. hood down) - this will further result in mockery of her and me being a generally brave and wonderful (forgetful) person!

In Georgetown in Penang where it is absolutely boiling hot. Looking at the photos of snow in London is not really helping very much! We're only here one night as we shoot off to bangkok next to see all the sights of the city before scooting back down to the beaches and islands to chill out and do some scuba diving lessons.

Posted by eralc 01:14 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

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