I seem to be living on buses!! Yesterday I was on one for 10 hours and today I find myself on another one!! Thankfully this one should only be two or three hours!
I have finally left the island life of Thailand and am back on the mainland! Jason arrived in Lanta and of course after a week of not much work when he wasn’t here.. as soon as he arrived i get offered work left, right and centre!! Typical. Well it was too good to turn down so i did 3 out of the 4 days offered and had a blast. I have loved diving in Lanta.. in fact without the diving i get a bit bored.. i have decided that i have to stay busy! .. sitting on a beach and reading a book (or my brilliant Kindle!!) has a place but after a day i need some action! .. preferably diving action!! Anyway after 5 days in Lanta with Jason we headed over to the other side of the mainland... and to Koh Pha-ngan more specifically. I had been warned about the terrible journey and in fact found the journey to be fine.. long but fine.
view of Koh Phangan
A sweltering walk up to this gorgeous view point.
I spent four days in Koh Pha-Ngan which I have to say I really enjoyed. The food there was amazing (found some great places that do some really interesting and unusual vegetarian food.. must be all the tree hugging hippies they have on that particular island!!.. YUM!) the diving, however, was TERRIBLE!! I should have known better.. but I guess I was just plain hopeful! We (Jason and i) wanted to dive the fairly well known and highly considered dive site, “Sail Rock”. So off we went ... only to turn round half way because the crew had heard it was bad visability and strong current. I was very upset.. and a little pisssed off I have to say .. especially as we headed to a local site that was so shallow I could have snorkelled it with the same results! We also had to do two dives on this particular (boring) site. ERGH. I realised that the diving wasn’t what it is on the Andaman Sea side when we came up from the first dive and the dive master said, “wow.. amazing.. that dive was the best i’ve seen it for months”.. myself, Jason and another girl we were
Our fisrt hotel
Yup.. definately 'special' people!!
diving with, couldn’t believe it.. we all thought the visability was terrible (10metres) we saw only the most basic of reef fish and really found it to be a fairly dull dive- if that was the best thank god we didn’t see the average!!! Now don’t get me wrong. I love diving. And any diving is better than no diving... however it galls a little when the first dive you actually have to pay for is the worst dive you’ve done since arriving in Thailand!!! Oh well, at least now I know.
So apart from that we hired a bike and razzed about on that for three days, and stayed at a really nice place (we moved from our initial place as I took a disliking to the western manager and got annoyed that the pool was a very murky looking thing which you couldn’t swim in, the wifI wasn’t free (which we’d been told it would be) and they charged for a ride into town when again, we thought it was free..(cleverly worded in the brochure to sound like it was free!!) wow.. I sound like a right moaning minny!! Anyway. We left there (Haad Gruaad Resort and
The traffic jams are worse than London!!
Spa) and stayed in the Pha-ngan Cabana.. I kid you not, it really was named the Pha-ngan Cabana!! Brilliant!
But I liked Kho Pha-ngan.. it is a beautiful island with some lovely waterfalls (that we visited) and a great viewpoint (also visited!) and some fabulous food (which I ate an awful lot of!!!) So all in all a good place and i’m glad I went. I also feel i’m back in ‘travel’ mode which feels good.
So leaving Koh Pha-Ngan is a bit of a hassle.. the trains were all booked so Jason and I resorted to the buses.. which as it turned out were great.. and quicker too.. and slightly cheaper.. yay! And so it was that after a three hour boat ride and a ten hour bus ride I found myself on the Koa San Road. I have to say that I do NOT like the Koa San Road.. Bangkok has so much more to offer than this very noisy, very Western road.. I stayed here four years ago and had a similar reaction this time.. it makes me anxious! So, needless to say an hour after arriving we booked another bus (!!) ticket to KanchanaburI
for the very next day. (We only arrived at ten pm.. otherwise I would have tried to leave the very same day!!)
So KanchanaburI here I come! Well Kanchanaburi was lovely. It wasn’t quite as easy to get there as we thought because the minivan forgot us and after walking with all our stuff half way across the town we then walked back to the travel agents, got our money back and bought a later ticket... which did get us there! Jason and i stayed at the most lovely hotel (Ploy Hotel – which i thoroughly recommend) which had an infinity pool as well as the most beautiful bathroom and bedroom (finally a bathroom where you don’t have to stand right ontop of the toilet to get under the shower!) I bargained hard for the room and refused to go anywhere else! First off we visited the very interesting and informative museum about the building of the Bridge over the River Kwai – wow, what a sad, interesting and horrifying life those POW’s were forced into. It was really quite harrowing to see how they were forced to live.. and then we visited the cemetery where i have to
Brilliant road signs!!
Sadly we didn't see any cows.. or ELEPHANTS!!
admit i shed a tear. The following day we hired a moped and drove an hour out of Kanchanaburi to Erwan Waterfalls – a 7 tiered waterfall. It is a trek up to the top but really beautiful with clear blue waters at each of the levels... and fish that insist on picking off your dead skin (which would have been fine had i not got two little blisters on my feet which the little blighters insisted on eating off... ow!!)
We finally got a minivan back to Bangkok and stayed in a very smelly room (but a cheapish room!!) in National Stadium area! Bizarrely i happened to notice that Phil (the guy i met in India when i was last travelling and who visited me in Lanta) was staying for one night at the very same hotel!! So we went for supper that evening. These were Jason’s last days so we hung out, went to the Imax and generally just had an easy time before he went. And then i was back to travelling solo!
After trying to get to Cambodia for the past 4 years i finally decided to visit Angkor Wat in the week that
i had spare before some friends arrived in Bangkok. So off i went. And wow. The temples in the Siem Reap area of Cambodia are amazing.. Siem Reap itself is, sadly, full to the brim with tourism and all that brings (children begging on the streets, fairly expensive food (well expensive for Cambodia!), endless curios and hundreds of tuktuk drivers calling out for work every time any one passes. But i guess that is to be expected when you have as many tourists passing through as they do. And you can see why people come. I spent 2 and a half days visiting the temples and i’m so glad i did. They are amazing. Mostly built in the 12th and 13th century usually by Buddhists or Hindus they are huge and spectacular. My favourites were Angkor Wat (absolutely massive, surrounded by a moat .. and strangely with a man selling horse rides in the grounds!!) Bayon (the one with the faces built out of stone.. so beautiful and peaceful. Ta Prohm (in the jungle and the setting for some of the Tomb Raider film) and Ta Som (again in the jungle but with a massive tree which has grown entwined
stunning.. this picture says it all...
with the walls). So beautiful and i met some lovely people whilst here. But on the fourth day i headed back to Bangkok. This time i was able to stay at a friend of mines apartment. So no more hotels for a week!! Woo hoo (i owe you John o’Shea.. thank you a hundred times.. it is always so much nicer to stay in a home rather than a cheap hostel!!)
KD aka the hungry cyclist arrived in Bangkok yesterday and we spent the day wandering the streets near Khao San and China town.. and i have to say i was amazed. I have always despised the Khao San Road but there are actually some really beautiful soi’s around the area.. including a derelict shopping mall which has been turned into a massive fish pond!! (including escalators which descend into the water.. all very “28 days later”!!) Whilst sitting having a drink on the side of a little soi a woman came and led us to a garden her son had planted.. it was beautiful; right on the side of a little canal with a mango tree and endless orchids and fairy lights and so tranquil. Who’d have thought
This was my favourite.. so so beautiful
that my worse area in Bangkok actually could also be my favourite!! This is why i love travelling; you find beautiful things in surprising places.
So my friend Charlie arrives tomorrow and then in a few days i head off to Sumatra; leaving Thailand after 4 months.
Actually as I send this I am now in the airport having spent a lovely few days with Charlie - including a night at the very posh Mandarin Oriental and 2 mahoosive buffet breakfasts!! (well you've got to make the most of the freebies haven't you!!!) So i am finally leaving Thailand.. i'm sad to go, but very excited about Indonesia .. and getting back in the water...
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