Published: May 28th 2010May 14th 2010
Our first port of call in Thailand would be Phuket. As we knew we were just going to be passing through here we decided to stay in the transport hub on the island, Phuket Town. As most tourists stay in the beach resorts the town was pleasantly non-touristy and had a very laid back feel. We wandered around, experiencing our first night market and sampling the local food. We experienced our first dose of heavy pre-monsoon rain and made arrangements for onward transport. The next day we took a very comfortable A/C bus (a novelty at this point!) to Surathani where we caught a night ferry to Koh Phangan (the spelling seems to vary so mine probably will too). I wasn't sure how I'd like the night boat but it only got a bit rocky once and overall was a pretty nice ride and allowed for a decent night's sleep. We arrived at Koh Phangan at sunrise, which was beautiful, and made our way to Leela beach to find accomodation. We got a lovely place (Cocohuts) with a pool, right on the gorgeous beach, for about $18 per night. It's more than we typically spend for a night's accomodation but it
was a lovely place and a great setting. Ko Phangan is where the monthly Full Moon Party is held. Luckily we weren't there for this event as it's easy to imagine the island gets completely over run with annoying people dancing to horrible music! :) There was enough of that eventhough we were there at such a slow time!
We passed our days at the pool and would walk into town to get lunch. We found a little local restaurant that had just opened with a very friendly couple running it. The wife let Matt watch her cook our meals as a sort of pseudo cooking lesson. The food was great and the atmosphere quite enjoyable as well. Other than that we pretty much just vegged. Oh, Matt did get the dead skin eaten off of his feet by some little fish but I'll leave the pictures to tell that story. Suffice to say little fish that suck on your feet apparently tickle quite a bit!
We spent one evening on the beach watching the fire dancers and local call girls enticing unsuspecting (?) Western tourists. It was all a bit disturbing to be honest. Then there was
the guys that decided they needed to breathe fire with the locals. I wonder how many third degree burns there are each year.
Next up we headed to Ko Tao where I was planning to do some diving. Unfortunately Matt has bad ears so he wasn't able to join me but we did do a fair amount of snorkeling in the bay where we were staying which was really good. The beach was gorgeous and the coral pretty impressive. (We had decided to stay in Tanote Bay because it was more remote- and it was!) I had to do a brief refresher course because it had been so long since I'd been diving but I checked out okay and so went off on the boat for two dives. The first dive was at Hin Wong Pinnacle. The seascape was gorgeous and very different to what I've seen before but the visibility wasn't great compared to what I'm used to (spoiled!). However, the second dive in Hin Wong Bay had much better visibility and again, the coral was quite impressive. We also went through two small swim thrus (little caves) that were really cool. We saw a school of squid
7 Eleven- My Saviour
The best place to get an air conditioning fix and break a 1000 Baht bill!! Oh! And my first fountain soda in at least four weeks!!
which I hadn't seen before and that was amazing, to watch the way they move. It was great to be back under again, I just wish I'd had my dive buddies (Dad and Pat) with me to enjoy it with!
Both of the islands were quite touristy, Koh Phangan because of the party scene, Koh Tao because of the dive scene. So, after about four days on the islands lounging around we decided we better get moving on and see some real Thai culture! So, it was a boat to Chumpon, a bus to Bangkok and then a bus to Katchanaburi. We would've liked to have stayed in Bangkok but due to the Red Shirt problems we chose to forgo it this time around.
There are more photos below