Tuesday, 28 February 2012

saturday 26th February - Krabi

Krabi hasn't got much going for it if I'm to be honest. However, we did get an unbelievable Thai massage today, I felt like I was having an outer body experience for about three hours afterwards!!!! We were planning on what to do for the next few days. We only have four days left on our visa so would need to do a visa run to stay an extra 15days...a visa run is where you hire a tour company, travel on a bus with them for a few hours, cross over the border at either Malaysia/Burma or some other bordering country, then they drive you straight back to Thailand and you get a new tourist entry stamp.

Thre more we thought about it we came around to the conclusion that it would be pointless to do such a trip when we could go ourselves and actually spend some time in Malaysia. So that's the new plan. We're leaving at 6am! Bam!!

Saturday 25th February

I'm writing this on the bus to Krabi. We're heading towards Ao Nang for rock climbing but will stop in Krabi for a couple of days to check it out. We just left Eddie at the train station, he must begin his journey home. Was so great travelling with him the past ten days and listening to all his crazy stories from his adventure. He is one funny guy.
Luke is sitting next to me entrawled in his Bear Grylls book. He wants to buy a knife.. hmmmmmmmm..........................

Friday 24th February

Today we got a taxi bike to the village of Ko Mook. It was about 30mins from our hut. As we arrived a thunder strom broke out..what is it with us going place3s and massive storms breaking out! The beach is scattered with tsunami warning signs and we thought it would be exciting to go out to the end of the pier and watch the storm roll in. Initially, it seemed very prospective. Huge claps of thunder and a very unfriendly colour to the sky. However, as it unravelled it was just a lot of rain and we got pretty wet!

We walked into the village then, it was Thailand like I haven't seen it before. We walked down a dirt track and lined at either side are all differnt shapes and sizes of hut thrown together. It is so facinating to me to see how they truely live. Everyone laughs at us because we obviously look ridiculous to them, or perhaps becuase we are so entrawled by what is so ordinary for them!

After walking for some time we came to a bar, obviously we can't pass without having a cold beer! In we go and sit on the floor..next thing we know there are six puppies finding their feet so they can come over to us. COMPLETE JOY! You actually can't beat the happiness a puppy brings to you!!! We sat there and played with them for a while and then headed back for the pier.

The village looked so different as we walked back. The kids had just finished school and as a result there were children eevrywhere. I was so jealous looking at them play in their huge groups, so carefree, and comparing it to kids at home and how they can't be left out of sight..and would prefer to play video games anyway.

There was a group playing rounders on the beach, using an empy gasoline can as a racket. Some were perched up high on make shift tree houses, others practising Mai Thai. Every few minutes three kids would pass on a scooter, none of their feet touching the ground and we were perplexed at how they could even control the thing, not to mention where they took the keys from!

We got back to our little nest and picked up our laundry...getting laundry done is one of the greatest pleasures here, you actually feel like such a better person when you have clean clothes!!

We promised ourslves a casual night tonight so we wouldn't be hungover for our day of travelling tomorrow. We went to the beach bar for a cocktail, lying back beneath the stars questioning the universe and wondering whats out there. We soon snapped back to reality when a fire juggler set up right in front of us, practising his amazing acrobatics, we were completely in awe.

He had a backing track off chart music with added dance tempos and moved perfectly to each beat. As I watched him throw his devil sticks high in the air, to the backing of coldpay's Paradise, I had another one of those, 'I can't believe this is happening,' moments.
These are happening so often I do not feel worthy.
I will be sad leavging Ko Mook tomorrow but gotta see what else is in store!


Thursday 23rd February

Eddie was told to come to the island to see the magical Emerald Cave so today, we set off to do just that. There were two hippies travelling with their two year old staying in the hut next to us. We split the cost and hired a long tail between us to head over to the cave. It worked out really nice beacuse we could stop whenever we wanted and jump in for a swim. The water was so warm and beautiful but not half as clear as Koh Tao, barely saw any fish.

After abouty twenty minutes we got to the cave. The driver pulls un in front of this small opening and tells us to jump in.
He leads us in, swimming in front with a weak torch which gave us brief glimpses of what was around us. 70mts later we literally see light at the end of the tunnel! Emerging from the cave into the tiny cove was by far the most surreal experience I've ever had. I can't explain, I really can't. Especially because we had no idea what to expect. We sort of thought you swim through the cave and emerge at another beach, but what we saw was beyond words. The cove is completely blocked off from all land and surrounded by sheer jungle torrain that was over 100mts tall. The pictures don't do it justice and neither do my words!

We begrudgingly left the cave, we wanted to get cans and stay forever! Hopped back on the boat and it took us around the entire island, swimming at different spots and stopping for a beer at a beach bar on the furthest tip.

this is where we enjoyed a ridiculously priced beer!
sailing back to the island at dusk
We went for dinner with the Sweedish hippies and ended the night with drinks on the beach.
An awesome day!

LOL...quick post!

just reading back and I seemed to have missed out on telling you about that final night in Ko Tao that I thought would be messy.....it bloody well was!!!!
There are lots of messy photos but I think these two will explain quite well...
fireworks and rum!

effects of fireworks and run!
Needless to say it was the most horriffic hangover of all time. I vividly remember saying I never thought I would be somewhere so beautiful and feel so awful!!!! Glad that's over, no rum since and not for a while I think!!!

22nd February - Journey to Ko Mook

This morning we got up super early for our boat, out on the pier for 6am! Boat not coming until 7am. There's three piers, all relatively close but we're unsure of which one our boat departs from. Go to the first information point, have to wake a chap up from deep sleep, he had no idea whats going on. Go to another, still no idea. After an hour of running around we realise that the pier is flippin 9km away!!!!!!!


We hop on a bus and eventually get to the pier for another boat at 11am, beginning our journey to Trang. Slept mostly on the ferry, not before getting a few snaps out on deck!

Once the ferry docked we changed to a mini bus once we got to the town. Sounded great, air con, lots of room, direct transport..perfect. No! We got on for our 4hour journey, the bus already full of locals. We were directed to the back where there was zero leg room and room for three people (just about)..there was four of us though! No air con, our sweaty limbs rubbing off one another, it was the epitaphmy of gross. I have never been so greatful to get off a mode of transport!

on the stinky bus
Eddie's Thai buddy Nicey met us at the station to drive us to the pier for Ko Mook. We thought the pier was just down the road like, it's actually an hour away. Feeling bad for taking him so far out of the way, we set off on our journey. After a few minutes he turns around and tells us with a pleasant smile, that his Uncle died that morning....TRAMPLED BY A BLOODY ELEPHANT! You could imagine how bad we felt then but he just kept smiling and telling us everything was fine so we continued to the pier.
Just as we pulled up a big thunder storm broke out. It was so nice to stand in rain..warm rain at that! The long tail boat couldn't leave until the storm stopped so we sat in the little restaurant, in a local ladies house, and watched the kids dancing and playing in the rain.

rain at Ko Mook pier
The long tail came and off we set.

 It was dusk when we left and the surrounding islands looked so magnifcent as we sailed past. Thirty minutes later we were at Ko Mook. Unreal!! There's no where for the boat to dock, he literally gets as close to the shore as possible and then you jump in, thigh deep, and wade to the shore with rucksack on back! We instantly knew this was a winner!

We found Nicey's Uncle's place and got our hut. It was dark at this stage and the electricity was gone so we couldn't actually see the hut, guessed it was okay though!

we finally got to see the hut in daylight! Luke's vegetating in the hammoc
 Off we set for beer on the beach to watch the sun come down. It was then that Luke discovered the beach is hugely inhabited by hermit crabs, his new favourite creature! We spent the night drinking and analyzing every crab on the beach! We even found a massive one which the lads scared so much he came ouit of his shell, we all felt awful. Luke eventually managed to coax him back into his shell and you'd swear he was Mother Theresa, this was his greatest act of kindness!!! I can write these things bacause I know Luke will never read this!!!!!!!!

crab jumping ship/shell!
We all fell back to the hut and the three of us made ourselves comfortable in our double bed! Ko Mook I am inpressed!!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Tuesday 21st February

We got up early this morning to leave KohTao and head for Trang to meet Eddie's mates (Eddie befriended the mayor of Trang when he was there last and they have taken him in as their son!) So we got up at 8, boat is leaving at 10.30am so we left ourselves loads of time...or so we thought. We still had the quad bike so had to do two trips, with the weight of us and our bags you know! So Luke went in with Eddie first. Took them a bit longer than anticipated due to the ridiculous roads and the silly weight on the quad! Luke got baclk to Tanote Bay for me at 10 and the rush was on. I hopped on the bike and we drove as quick as possible back to the peir. Got the bike back to the rental company and ran down to meet Eddie, delighted with ourselves as we had fifteen minutes to spare! Eddie's defeated look confused as and when we reached him he explained that the boat left at 10....oh joy! The next boat wasn'tuntil 9pm and we dfecided that was just too ridiculous a wait, especially with our backpacks.

We eventually decided to get the boat to Koh Samui at 3pm, stay there for the night then get up early for the boat to Surat Thani and the bus to Trang. We got to Koh Samui and found a nice place to stay for 300baht. Went down to the peir with the boys so they could attempty fishing (again...no joy!) We ate lots of lovely street food and went to bed for our early start.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Koh Tao Continues!!

Wednesday 15th February

We headed off on the quad bike again today, exploring up North this time. First we stopped off in a nice cafe in town for a home style breakfast!!!

We were aiming to get right up to the top to Mango Bay. After about half an hour driving through dense jungle and thinking we would never see humanity again we arrived at a clearing. We could see steps leading down the mountain so hopped off the bike and went to investigate. 378 STEEP steps later we arrived in Mango Bay. It was very strange, it's in the mid stages of construction so was like walking onto a building site!

We hopped over bamboo ladders and scaffolding until we found a clearing to jump into the sea. It is so nice to be surrounded by water in this heat!!!

Thursday 16th February

So Eddie made it here safe and sound. Luke took the quad bike and went to the pier to pick him up. It was so weird seeing him walk into the bungalow! When I went away I set into the mind frame that I would leave everyone and everything I knew behind, for a little while. So it took a few minutes to come around to the fact that we actually had someone from home in our company again!! Brilliant!!!!!!

We went down and started the initiation video for the Padi course. Three hours of absolute torture. I can't say much more but these pictures will definitely sum it up!....

just after signing up...we love life

one hour into the video...we don't love life

I've never been so happy for something to end!!!! We needed a few drinks after that for sure! Before the lads came out to Tanote Bay they got some brew in town. This is the most remote part of the island we're staying on. There's a little shop in a local ladies shack up at the top of the mountain. We trekked up to it one day for some chocolate (you know me and my addiction!) Got up there to find that she is a lovely Thai lady, obsessed by cats, she has 19! So all she sells in her shop are crisps, noodles and of course, cat food!!! Actually the crisps are unreal over here! I've never seen such crazy flavours! I've grown particularly fond of the seafood ones and of BBQ squid!

Anyway, I'm meandering, the lads came back with two bottle of Thai run called Samson. We started drinking on Eddies balcony. Before we knew it one bottle was gone. WE rocked down to the beach bar then with the other. Ordering cokes and filling it up with our whiskey! Second bottle..gone! Before I knew it, we had bought a third bottle from the bar and had a nice group of foreigners and locals sitting around by the water playing games and talking crap, as you can imagine! Wan (the bar man) spent the night passed out behind the bar and one of the travellers from Germany was doing his job for him, it was hilarious. He woke up when we got the third bottle of run, unfortunate for him, as he started drinking again. We all fell back to our bungalows at about 4am, unable to wake him so left him sleep on the beach!

I didn't manage to take one photo tonight....that alone probably sums up the messiness!!

Friday 17th February

So today we start the PADI course. Supposed to be there at 9am, Luke and myself woke, half comatose to Eddie banging on our window at 11.....CRAAAAAPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!! We ran down to our instructor, he was just laughing at the absolute state of us, told us to get some, coffee then come back! So we sit down in the classroom and he says he'll go through the homework...double crap! We had obviously never gotten around to doing it, I swear it was like being in school again! He wasn't bothered and wanted to hurry things along so went through the questions, giving us the answers and got us to sign a form saying we had done it ourselves?!

Next step was to move onto the pool. Got kitted out with all our gear and went down for a briefing on what we would be doing. I never felt anxious until we got into the water and I started breathing with the oxygen. It was the strangest thing I have done and I just couldn't get my head around it. I am a strong swimmer. Have worked as a lifeguard on Bunmahon beach for years and thought beginners swimming to kids....I never thought I would have a problem with this skill.

We had three hours to go through all the tests, pulling off your mask under water and putting it on, clearing the water, running out of air and switching regulators to use your buddies, lots of skills that I could barely attempt because my mind was wiped with breathing alone! In was actually getting worse the more I tried and eventually gave up and got out of the water.

I've never felt so defeated. I'm the kind of person that would take on something new and work bloody hard until I was the best at it, then move onto something else and do the same again. This was a foreign feeling to me and I did not like it. The lads have continued with the course. It lasts another two days.

Saturday 18th February

Today I got a taxi into town and spent the day walking around and exploring Koh Tao by foot. It was my first day flying solo since leaving and it was pretty bloody lonely, mostly due to the fact that I was wallowing in a (i can't say pool can I?!) wallowing in a 'vat' of self pity! I sat in a cafe for reading and drinking coffee. Spoke to the owner for a good while, about all kinds of everything then spent the rest of my time walking around the beaches and scouring through shops chatting to different people on the way. Was a nice day but nothing extraordinary.

Sunday 19th February

I awoke this morning to my first drunken phone call from home!!!! It cheered me up no end! Becky and Cormac had just arrived home from a messy night in the Foundry and I laughed and laughed hearing about their antics!
 I got a set of Poi in town yesterday. Haven't used them since my first year in college so I'm going to spend the day brushing up on my skills when the lads finish the diving course and then we are going drinking tonight to celebrate...I have a massive feeling it's going to be another messy one!!!!!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Dreamy Koh Tao

Sunday 12th Feb

So we woke up and got our bus to the pier at Chumphon. As soon as we got out and the sea air hit us, we immediately felt at home. It was still quite dull out as it was so early and I swear looking out at the water, we could have been at any harbour at home.
The boat across took 3 hours and we slept for most of it, waking up as we got to the pier. Wow! We hadn't even stepped off the boat but this island was already living up to its name! We are staying at the eastern side of the island which is the more undeveloped part. We were looking for a taxi but all we could see was open back pick up trucks. We eventually found one going to our resort. Soon we discovered why everyone drives off road vehicles.....basically, there are no roads, just dirt tracks! I have never seen such a boad road as the one leading to our beach! I can't put into words how severe the tracks are...perhaps this picture will sum it up?!...
After a scary journey we arrived at Tanote Bay. It is literally like something from a movie!! We are staying in a hut on the hill overlooking the beach, even have a hammoc on the porch!
We grabbed our swimming gear, rented snorkels and ran for the sea! I have never had such a satisfying swim! The water was warm and so clear, I've never seen anything like it. The entire floor is covered in all different kinds of coral and every colour fish imaginable is swimming around us. We have indeed reached paradise!!!!!!!!

So we spent the day swimming and in the evening we thought we deserved a few drinks, it had been about a week since our last night out. Jesus did we make up for it!!!!! We sat at the bar on the beach and gradually our circle of drinkers grew. We had two Irish guys, a German, a Swede an American and four locals. I think we drank all the rum and beer in the bar!
We eventually called it a night at 4am! Long but amazing day!!!!!!

Monday February 13th

As you can imagine today was a bit of a write off!!! Just lay by the beach all day, finished my book and swam the length of the beach a few times. Couldn't think of a better hangover day really!!!

Tuesday February 14th

Today we got up early and went into town to rent a quad bike. Scooters won't get you around this island so comfortably so we decided on the bigger more robust mode!!

We whizzed around the roads...actually that sounds too smooth, we uncomfortably chugged along the dirt roads, falling into pot holes and battering our asses off jagged rocks, exploring different beaches and bays. Even managed to get Luke to go for a swim in shark bay...he was terrified!!!!
 we travelled to a view point up in the northern part of the island to catch the sun set...another unbelievable day. Tomorrow, one of  friends from home (the lovely Eddie McKenna), is coming to see us on the island. Were going to do the PADI diving course together...if we don't drown in as bucket of rum!!!!!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

The long road to Chumphon

Yesterday we left Kachanaburi to head down south. We decided on Chumphon because its next to one of the ferry Ports that goes to Ko Tao.

Train leaves Kanchanaburi at 7.30am, we're super organised so get up at 6am...if only we knew what was in store!...

Got to the station at 7am and are told that there was an accident to the rail so it would be delayed by 2 hours. That's ok, we chilled out by the track, had some fried chicken and rice for breakfast, all was fine.

Over two hours have passed, still no sign. The conductor then says another hour, then another...finally at 12 he tells us he doesn't think the train will come at all! Lovely!

We get a tuktuk to bus station and are soon crammed in a mini bus going to the next town, nakthon pathon. Got there after at 1pm.

Check the timetable, there's a train at 2.30, great! Went to buy our tickets and the train is booked out so we have to wait until 4.30!!

There's a huge temple overlooking the town so we decide to walk up to it..in mid day sun with rucksacks..it was tough! Worth it though. Its a big Buddhist temple that holds the relics of Lord Buddha. Was a beautiful and peaceful place. No tourists, lots of monks and religious people.

Luke's favourite new thing to do is sit over the edge of the train smoking fags!
We got our train at last!! Travelling by train is so wonderful, you get to see the people as they really live. The tracks are lined with peoples homes which are basically shacks, crammed with everything imaginable..and often have a massive satellite dish outside!!!  Anyway, we settled into the journey and 7hours later we were in Chumphon!!

Praise the Lord!!!

We arrived at our guest house just after 12pm. Seriously have to stop arriving at places in the dark. We always seem to book somewhere down a really dodgy looking side street...or in someone back yard as this time proved! Seems terrifying at night, literally like we're being brought off somewhere terrible! Our land lady was lovely though and we soon realised we were among good people!
we stayed in the first house. The other two were occupied by some guys from the navy!

Chumphon is nice. Haven't seen one tourist here. We spent the day walking around town, booked our boat to Ko Tao, had a picnic in the park, ate some lovely bananas.. Chumphon is famous for their fruit.

They also love their birds!!! On the main street. each street lamp has a huge ornate bird perching at the top, and they have the same bird in decorative cages hanging outside their stalls and homes.

 So just going out for some dinner now...then an early rise tomorrow to cross over to paradise :)