A Travellerspoint blog


Koh Phangan and Koh Tao

sunny 30 °C
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When we first got to Koh Phangan, we had to find accomodation for a night, and found a delightful beach bungalow resort but were disappointed when the lady on reception informed us a double room would be 900 baht. As we turned to leave, she knocked it down to 800, and when we told her we'd found somewhere for 400 she miraculously came up with a room for 300 kindly letting us know that it was shit. We told her that was exactly what we were after and proceeded to our new accomoation very happy with ourselves and pleased to find that the toilet had a manual flush which didn't work. We went out to investigate food and drinks to see in Laura's birthday and were thrilled to discover Haad Rin beach was basically Queen of Hearts on a beach. Definitely our new spiritual home as they played Flo Rida at least three times every hour. Because we had to check out at 11am the nest day to move to our new hotel and grace the Half Moon party with our presence the next night, we decided to keep our evening low key. But then we discovered Sangsom buckets...our new favourite drinks and next thing we know it's 4.30 am and we can't find our way home. Needless to say, we made it eventually promptly passing out as soon as we laid down our heads.

On her birthday morning, Laura woke up in exactly the same position without a pillow as she had concluded it was far too hard for use the night before and tried to turn over but soon realised she was incapable of doing so - it appeared she had broken her neck during the night. Just before she was about to wake Donna, she realised she was able to move and that it was just the result of an uncomfortable bed...phew. Once awake we were pleased to be moving to Sarikatang, our gorgeous hotel booked for Laura's entire birthday ten days. It was absolutely gorgeous, our bags were carried to our rooms, we were given free drinks, we had air conditioning, television, a beach bag and towels provided and a safe! Also the restaurant was situated on our very own private beach where we spent a lot of the next ten days.

To be honest, the rest was a bit of a blur so we will do our best to construct a list of highlights and hope to cover as much as we can remember.

1. Deciding that fire skipping rope was a bad plan...Laura declaring that her hair was too big and would catch fire. Fire limbo was ok.
2. Meeting a guy at Half Moon and being introduced to his new favourite game: throwing ice over the balcony at the dance floor below. He was thrilled that we joined in with such gusto.
3. Discovering moped taxis when we, typically, had to make a quick trip back to Sarikatang following our failure to bring enough money for the entrance to Half Moon. On the way we saw a lot of fireworks which Laura was convinced were being released in her honour.
4. The obese dog at Sarikatang 'Hello, please do not feed me, I am on a special diet from the vet and am trying to get my weight down from 35kg'.
5. Donna's failure to make Full Moon, after consuming too much Sangsom, even though she dropped a lot of it. In the hour she was there, however she did make gallant attempts to lose her flipflops. Bed by half 1. Laura found ice guy and made it to half 4 (but still not sunrise).
6. Our new friend Ose. Laura introduced Donna to Ose, and then made him down his drink. To encourage him Donna sang a song for Oscar. Laura then informed Donna that this was not his name.
7. Koh Phangan indulges in 'hangover days' following each moon phase party. This consists of bars showing films and having cut price hang over food. We recommend Bongo where we wasted half our week. We can recommend seeing Shutter Island.
8. Massages. Thank you G for creating our addiction. We indulged oursleves to 2 Thai massages and 4 Aromatherapy massages and 2 manicure and pedicures. Now we are smelly and ugly we realise how much we loved them!
9. Donna being unable to learn the geography of potentially the smallest town in the world and always failing to know the way home.

We were very sad to leave but headed off to Koh Tao rather stupidly two days after Full Moon and joined the hoards of people doing the same thing. We started off trying to find a guesthouse in the blistering afternoon sun and successfully found a complete shithole. We found it hard to leave Koh Phangan so we both moped around on the first day not feeling particularly good. We went home fairly early to discover the power in our guesthouse was off. This was a massive problem since in was pitch black inside and the reception downstairs had been closed all day. Having already had a completely sleepless night due to the heat and noise from keeping the door open for a breeze we did not relish the thought of doing it again but without a fan. We went next door to ask if they knew where the woman from our guesthouse was and we were told she was on holiday. Fantastic. We explained the problem and they phoned her telling us she'd be there in ten minutes. Two girls appeared, neither of which we'd seen before and began poking around in the dark before passing Donna a phone with the guesthouse woman on the other end informing us that we would have to leave. Laura meanwhile had discovered a cheaper room down the road so we declined her offer of somewhere else to stay. We asked for a torch so that we could pack our things and were given a keyring, possibly the smallest torch in the world which we amazingly managed to pack with.

On arrival at our new guesthouse, pleased and eager to wash after a hot and sweaty day our new lady tried to sell us a 'nicer room'. Laura was keen not to take that room after seeing a huge cockroach running around on the bed. Laughing to ourselves, we went for the cheaper room, paying less and with the absence of a cockroach. Donna went to take a shower, but soon came hurtling out of the bathroom. Apparently we weren't cockroach free at all and one had been lurking behind the shower tap. We debated what to do about it before deciding that, given we'd booked a Discover Scuba Diving course for the next day, we didn't need to wash, and did our best to use the toilet in the restaurant owned by our guesthouse. The rest of our trip was spent in Crystal Diving Resort to satisfy our new addiction. They gave us a really good offer in their accomodation, presumably as we were already spending so much on the diving! We got a beach side bungalow, definitely the best accomodation that we'd had on the island and half the price. Also we could wash...bonus.

Our diving experience was truly amazing, we got on so well with our teacher and group and spent several evenings eating and drinking with them. We ended up signing up to do Open Water after our Discover course, and following that, Advanced Open Water, along with the rest of our original group. Three days in Koh Tao swiftly turned into nine. Following this, we decided travelling the entire width of Thailand to to Koh Phi Phi and seeing north Malaysia was a bit ambitious given our remaining time before our flight out of Kuala Lumpa. We narrowed down our options and the clear favourite was returning to Koh Phangan. This turned out to be a fantastic decision as two of our diving group, Kat and Martin, were also travelling, so we went with them. This also meant that we could complete the trio of parties and go to Black Moon as well as experiencing the Thai New Year, Songkran.

Black Moon was by far our favourite and we made it through to sunrise, successfully covering complete strangers in neon grafitti. We are confident many people woke up wondering who the hell Donna and Laura are as Donna's favourite trick was to scrawl 'Property of Donna and Laura' across everyone's chest. Songkran, the Thai New Year was absolutely mental and so much fun. We spent the day with the hotel staff soaking passers by, ambushing the open air taxis and mopeds and each other for hours. It was particularly exciting when an ice delivery appeared making it much more pleasurable...until we started on each other. We then moved on to Thong Sala where apparently the rest of the island were and was basically one big party and water fight. What an amazing day.

Gutted to leave the islands, but have made plans to return to Koh Tao to do our Dive Master...shouldn't be too long!

Posted by noodz4loz 05:44 Archived in Thailand Tagged luxury_travel Comments (1)

Chiang Mai, the finale

sunny 30 °C
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Having written our last blog entry, we returned to our guesthouse to give ourselves some time to get ready before taking part in our Thai Cookery Course. We realised a "power nap" was in order and so settled down to sleep. Laura was awoken by Thai screams of 'Donna! Donna!' by Jim and frantic knocks on our door. Of course, Donna slept through this, but luckily Laura realised what was happening...our pick-up for the course had arrived and we nearly slept through the whole thing.

The first part of the cookery course, luckily for us, included tea and very strong coffee before a tour of the gardens and market. Just as we were starting to wake up and feel comfortable, 3 obnoxious American girls settled themselves at our table. From then until the end of the course, our ears bled due to their loud and hideous accents...and then the bitching began. As if the accents weren't bad enough, we learnt that they had been teaching in Thailand for 5 months, and therefore according to them they were Thai, and felt obliged to lead the cookery course, inform us when we were wrong and give us information on the whole of Asia, including Laos, which they had spent approximately 12 hours in, and had concluded was "exactly the same as Thailand". We were concerned about the four hours that were to follow in their company. To our delight, an opportunity presented itself on the market tour...we were given exactly 7 minutes (the Thais like to keep to a strict schedule) to explore and take any pictures. Having taken a sufficient four pictures, we were thrilled to discover a 7/11 around the corner allowing us to stock up on our new Babe on Tour, Chang beer. This thoroughly entertained the Thai cooking teacher, who informed us we could bring our beer with us for every small move around the kitchen. We felt that we were superb representatives of the United Kingdom.

Before the beer had a chance to kick in, we found ourselves preparing the ingredients for Pad Thai. We had both decided that in order to avert disaster, our chances would be vastly improved if we cooked exactly the same dishes (there was a choice), at exactly the same time, and keep as near to each other as possible. Once we'd finished the preparation, we made our way to the hobs and woks. To our horror, we were the last in the group to take our spaces and were separated. Panic struck, however, having survived supposed torture and car crash the day before, we survived...Laura was saved by her litre of oil by our teacher distributing it from her wok elsewhere. What a brilliant start. However, once we ate our concoction and opened the Chang, we realised that our pessimism had been caused only by the negativity of our family and friends and that we are actually immensely skilled in the kitchen. It was at this point that we decided to plan a Thai dinner party for our return, yes, Nancy, Mairi and Kat, prepare yourselves.

We then prepared the ingredients for the three following dishes: Khaw Soi Curry,Cashew Nut with Chicken Stir-Fry, and Coconut Milk Soup. A lot of chopping was involved, and we were aghast to confess to one another amidst the giggles of the American "professionalism" that we were both very much feeling the effects of the Chang. Thank Buddha, our new saying (thanks to Rocky), we made it next to each other for the subsequent cooking. All went very well, until the stir frying of the 'easy to burn, hard to cook' cashew nuts. As our teacher rotated the room, she had nothing but praise, until she moved to Laura's exclaiming 'You like them crispy?!' before moving to Donna's, 'You like them black?!'. Nonetheless we were thrilled with our meals and were the last ones eating as the others all asked for Doggy bags. Needless to say, we didn't exchange emails with the Americans.

We woke up early this morning excited to embark upon our excursion. We eagerly anticipated our companions for the tour, and were not disappointed. We both guessed American, when we saw a group of four people, two of which were wearing hideous Thailand t-shirts. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that they were from New Zealand and absolutely hilarious, as was our tour guide for the day, Rocky. We spent the whole day laughing at all of them. When Rocky informed us that we could ask him any questions throughout the tour, the Kiwis (as they called themselves) led the way by probing as much as possible into his personal life, promising to find him a wife in New Zealand. Rocky loves to talk, and frequently commented on his heart...favourite sayings included: 'My heart is empty without woman', everything was 'given from my heart', 'By day I am sweet, by night I am spicy', 'My name may be Rocky, but my heart is soft'. We loved Rocky. On the journey home, Rocky made the fatal decision to ask if we had any more questions. As he had one headphone in his ear, he was asked what kind of music he likes. He attempted to sing, when we couldn't recognise the song he put it on loud. We were thrilled to discover he had been listening to one of Laura's favourite hits, none other than Ronan Keating's 'Nothing At All'. A classic of our time (Donna may not agree). When asked about Thai songs, he appeared to make up a tune with 'Thailand' as the only lyric. Considering his genius, we decided he should be saved not for a New Zealander, but for our fave single gal, Mazzykins Warrington - be expecting a phone call soon (or alternatively a visit).

Back to the excursion, we had a truly amazing day, with and elephant ride, tribal tour, trekking, waterfall, entertaining lunch (where we were convinced not to touch any Aussies, in particular, surfers, but to go for the much more sensible New Zealanders instead). At the waterfall, we were both left horrifed for completely different reasons. Laura managed to slide onto her arse and straight into the water, in front of many many people. Donna acquired a new friend who without anyone else realising, managed twice to approach her from behind and whisper in her ear 'Mosquitoes love you' in a scary and unrecognisable accent. Donna only admitted this to Laura on the second occasion, when she nearly died laughing as the man had disappeared from sight, leaving Donna left very scared.

By far the most fun of the day was bamboo rafting. They took us through some Thai villages, and with it being a Sunday, many villagers were out by the river drinking beers and, we felt, laughing as they tried, and successfully soaked us as we passed by. Oddly, many of them took pictures of us, and instead of being embarrassed, Laura could only conclude that our ginger and blond locks combined with our porcelain skin made them believe us to be English princesses. We are.

Posted by noodz4loz 07:03 Archived in Thailand Tagged armchair_travel Comments (0)

Chiang Mai, the beginning

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We spent our last day in Bangkok with Warren, as Ed had supposedly set off for Koh Tao, we still wonder whether he made the 6 am bus after we realised we left him quite drunk at 2am the night before. We went to see the reclining Buddha which is pretty scary and we're still unconvinced that Laura's only fact (that the smile is 5m wide) is true. Having walked round various temples for over an hour using that fact as a guide to finding the famous Buddha...we realised we'd walked straight past it at the entrance, heading instead for the souvenir shop. Brilliant.

We then made our way to the river and got a 3 baht (6p) boat across to Wat Arun and ventured into the much less touristy parts of Bangkok. We had lunch there and the three of us managed to eat and drink for less than 5 pounds. It was one of the best meals we've had so far. Laura was thrilled to see White Jew's Ear on the menu.

We got our first Tuk Tuk to take us back to Khao San Road and were pleased that we managed to barter him down, until we arrived at our 'destination' where he waved at the road and insisted this was it. It was a ten minute walk away and we were very pleased we managed to find our way back to our safe space. We said goodbye to Warren who we hope to see again in Vietnam and got a taxi to the train station.

What follows is an unusual tale of three days of Thai people being nice to us and willing to help without charging or seemingly wanting anything else in return. We both remain suspicious and fearful of the consequences of our tentative trust. The first taxi driver was happy to take us to the station on the meter immediately, dropped us off at the correct location and expected nothing but his 66 baht fare. On entering the station, tourist information told us exactly the tickets we needed, led us to the ticket office and waited to make sure everything was ok. Unfortunately, the overnight train was already fully booked, so he led us to the booking office for coaches and told us this was the next best thing. He left without asking us for money. Wowzers. The lady in the ticket office was absolutlely lovely, and offered us a good fare for an overnight bus "with meals" and "leaving from the station"...which seemed almost too good to be true. It was. We were also offered the chance to leave our bags in the ticket office FOR FREE, but neither of us felt massively comfortable and so we waited approximately 2m away for the 2 hours until the bus.

Then to our horror, a taxi driver appeared shouting Chiang Mai and we were the only people waiting to go there. We double checked with our friendly lady who smiled and waved us to follow him 'in taxi'...WHAT? We got in the taxi and spent the entire journey convinced we'd die...in Laura's mind this was torture, in Donna's a car crash. But no, we arrived at a bus station! The bus journey was absolutely hilarious, and the mixture of fatigue and relief made us somewhat hysterical. The conductor on the bus was a very angry woman and apparently very unsteady on her feet...she unsuccessfully carried a tray of drinks past Laura and covered the man in front with coke. We could hardly contain ourselves, but were a bit scared of her reaction if she was to see us laughing.

Concerningly the bus frequently pulled into lay-bys and petrol stations. Laura fancied a toilet break and was shocked to be offered toilet roll FOR FREE from a nice Thai lady. She then got onto approximately 3 wrong buses and nearly started crying when she eventually stumbled across the correct bus. The journey itself was pretty scary, Thai roads are horrifying...this was illustrated when we heard a screech of tyres and looked out of the window to see a car catapult up the curb and into a park, with a massive thud. Everyone carried on driving. Again we laughed.

We arrived around half 6 and made our way into the old town to find a guesthouse. We were absolutely exhausted, so after a bit of exploring and a foot massage (of course), we went back for a "power nap" and reluctantly awoke four hours later. The evening was good fun, apart from a worrying hour when neither of our cards would work and we were left with only 250baht. We went to the night bazaar and feel that our bartering skills have been significantly improved from our time in Bangkok. We had dinner in the centre, a red thai curry which was amazing. Our favourite Chang beer (6.4%) is also a lot cheaper in Chiang Mai, so we kept it flowing. We ended the evening with a 3 hour, 8 match thai boxing experience which was good fun, and not as gory as we'd imagined.

Today, we were given an amazing deal at our guesthouse for a Thai Cooking course and a trekking day for tomorrow, which again has us disconcerted. We've just finished a bit more exploring, seeing all the main sights in Chiang Mai, our map-reading skills have vastly improved, especially with the map our guesthouse man, Jim, gave us FOR FREE. Our excursion included the Wat Chiang Man temple, the Thai Art and Culture Hall, the Three King Monument and the Wat Phra Sing temple. However the highlight was the Wat Chedi Luang including a temple ruined by an earthquake and much to Laura's delight, 'Monk Chat'. She has been bothering Donna about going to this since she first saw it in the guidebook. Donna said it would be ok providing Laura prepared a number of questions vetted by Donna which would not involve us ending up in a Thai prison. She did very well, and we had a lovely discussion with our monk...who suprisingly recommended that we go tubing in Laos. If we get drunk, it's his fault.

Posted by noodz4loz 22:27 Archived in Thailand Tagged women Comments (0)

Bangkok: Grasshoppers and ping pong

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Having woken up several times in the night due to the ridiculous heat in the room, we were thrilled to realise that we had fully functioning air conditioning turned off...this was a brilliant start to the day. After breakfast we met Ed and Warren to go to the Grand Palace only to be told by every Thai person we encountered, that it was shut until the afternoon. Note to self: No Thai can be trusted. We ignored them and really enjoyed our morning at the palace. Lozzy bought an amazing sarong and the boys hired some fabulous gypsy trousers. Laura was thrilled that in our now fully air conditioned room, she could sort out her rusksack, which until now had had its contents strewn about the room, much to her disgust.

We all decided after the last two days that we deserved a foot massage, and Ed led the way, ordering them for us. To our bewilderment, we were led upstairs, past all the foot massage booths and told to lie down on the mattresses found there...as the person before us re-dressed himself after his massage. We were concerned, and Ed confessed he had put us down for a thai massage. What ensues can only be described as Thai torture as we were trodden on, stretched and kneaded. We emerged half an hour later feeling not only sore, but that our thai massagers had found the entire episode hilarious.

Having failed to locate the thai boxing stadium, we decided to go to the night market in Patpong. We got confronted by many people selling ping pong tickets and went with the cheapest at 100 baht...only to be presented 15 minutes later with a bill for 5500 baht. Although the very personal show was priceless...we were completely conned and luckily only paid about 8000 between the four of us. Ed still maintains it was very much worth it, but we were the targets for the ping pong balls themselves.

Feeling fairly disheartened, we returned to our 'safe space' on Khao San Road and our favourite bar to cheer ourselves up with some beers. We also got the most incredible foot massage so are feeling pretty happy. We even dared to eat some grasshoppers on our way back to the hotel...not recommended, although they tasted ok, we can still feel their legs in our throats...YUM.

Posted by noodz4loz 10:24 Archived in Thailand Tagged women Comments (0)

Arrival in Bangkok

sunny 33 °C
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We were both massively impressed by Quantas...Laura was convinced that the fact that the air stewards were old meant that they had survived many flights, this was a positive start. As was the fact that no female pilots were observed. We felt fairly cliched given that the entire flight consisted of backpackers, no Thai people in sight...

When we arrived, we met two other backpackers Ed (18 year old gap year-er) and Warren (a music teacher) who we shared a taxi with to Khao San Road...Laura tested the water by asking them outright if they were killers, they didn't hear and we took this as a positive sign! Luckily they weren't. The taxi driver seemed completely unconcerned that three of us had to squash alongside our rather big rucksacks in the back. It turned out to be a good thing as we paid just over a pound for, what definitely seemed like, a pretty long journey. Looking for our guesthouse was rather challenging, by the time we found it, we had to peel off our clothes due to the disgusting amounts of sweat pulsating from our cores. Nothing a shower can't fix though.

We are now about to go for dinner before meeting the boys for some well-deserved drinks and are feeling surprisingly awake. Don't worry G, we won't accept any drinks from strangers.


P.S. Hope it's raining.

Posted by noodz4loz 04:05 Archived in Thailand Tagged travelling_with_pets Comments (0)

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