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January 13th 2009
Published: March 14th 2009
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After an extensive breakfast we finished our packing and took some final walks along the beach to say farewell to the squeaky sand.

It was a real shame to be leaving as we could easily have spent a couple of weeks at this resort if our finances could have coped with that. Unfortunately for us they couldn’t.

When it came to checking out we were pleased to see no mention of the Emerald Cave trip on the bill. We signed it off quickly and hit the pool for the last hour before a long tail was due to pick us up to take us to Charlie’s Beach where we were due to meet the speedboat. Matt was convinced that they’d felt guilty for the confusion from the previous day so had given us the trip for free. I thought that they’d just forgotten about it but felt that we deserved to get it for free after all of the hassle.

As our long tail approached, so did the man from reception holding a bill for the cave trip. He asked for 700 baht so we explained what had happend the previous day all over again. Eventually he dropped the price to half that so we paid pleased to have finally sorted it out.

Our long tail was at the other beach in no time and the driver explained it would be half an hours wait for the boat as we’d arrived early. We were content to just float around in the boat, enjoying the view of the dramatic green hills and the rock faces that were around us. The beach at Charlie’s looked nice, but nowhere near as lovely as Sivalai.

We waited. And waited. And waited. After more than an hour I asked the driver when the boat would come. He’d been on his mobile so I was hoping he had news for us. He told us it would now come soone. We waited some more and eventually around 3.15pm - almost two hours since we’d arrived at Charlie’s, the speedboat appeared.

We got the last spare seat on the boat and were pleased that it was under a shade as having spent more than two hours on a boat in the heat already we were starting to falter.

I wasn’t sure how easy it was going to be to figure out when we got to the right island but I needn’t have worried as Lipe was our only stop. It was obvious we were there as we pulled into the bay and saw what the guidebook had promised as an arc of perfect white sand before us.

The boat stopped at a pontoon a way off the beach and we had to pay for a long tail to take us from there. Our boat was packed out and we had to jump down into with care it as the waves were making the boat bob up and down fiercely.

The first stop was the main beach of Pattaya.

Once all of the noisy and passionate Italian families had gotten off the boat at Pattaya it felt much calmer. Left on board was a group of Germans who between them had three young children, and us. At first I thought the guy singing to the baby was annoying but then I realised he was doing the best ever job of distracting the children from the enormous waves and spray that kept dangerously hitting the boat as we rounded the corner of the island.

Forget the Phi Phi day trip - this time there was no question that it was dangerous to be in the water in such a small boat. Within minutes I was soaked, but I was confident that soon we’d be on our beach as I could see it only a few meters away. What I hadn’t banked on were the rocks jutting out of the water close to the shore. It meant that although we could see the beach tantalisingly close, we had to go much further out around the rocks before we could turn into the beach.

The driver started looking worried. After a few more big waves he decided it was safer to turn the boat around and do a full loop of the island to come in from the other direction.

As soon as we’d turned the boat the waves felt better and I tried to make the most of our free sunset cruise and island tour. The kids were completely unaware that anything was wrong and carried on listening to the man singing and playing games with them.

An hour later we pulled around to the right side of the island again and the waves were upon us again. There was coral everywhere beneath us and even in the near darkness we could tell the tide was too low for this journey. Our driver tried to maneuver us around some round boulders that were sticking out of the water but the wind was too strong and we hit one of them.

I helped the man getting life jackets on the kids. He didn’t stop singing the whole time and the kids really were unaware that there was even a problem. I started worrying - if the boat went over I knew we could make it to the shore, but the kids were too young to get over the waves that were hitting us in a never ending battle. Also, the low tide and the sheer amount of coral would make it very dangerous.

The boat driver had had enough. It was time to head into the beach.

As we pulled up onto the sand the driver explained that the tide was too low to go any further. Our resort (and the resort the German family were staying at) was a ten or twenty minute walk away, or we could wait for one hour for the tide to rise and carry on in the boat.

The group with us had lost all patience and were obviously terrified for their kids. We all decided it was time to get off and make our own way. We started carrying bags and children off the boat until we had everything. The German family decided to go to a restaurant nearby and try to call their resort for help. We decided to give it a go on foot.

I was so pleased we’d gone for bags with pack away straps. It was the first time we’d used them as rucksacks and secretly until now I’d spent the whole trip thinking it was a waste of money and a waste of extra weight as having straps and wheels meant the bags were heavy before we’d even put anything inside.

Matt lifted the bag onto my back (all 18kg of it!) and then got himself into his. We attached our 8kg day sacks to our fronts and started to trek. I prayed that it really was only twenty minutes away with every step we took.

The problem was that none of the resorts had names outside so every few meters we had to stop to ask someone how much further it was. The beach was in near darkness by now and we could only just make out the boat ropes that were stretched across the beach at regular intervals. Whenever either of us saw one we shouted 'step' to the other so that we didn’t trip. At one point a German couple spotted us and walked with us. They didn’t offer to help; they just asked where we were going and commented on the strong wind that was still blowing hard. At least for a few steps we were able to walk by the light of their torch. I had a torch but didn’t have a free hand or the energy to hold it.

When we finally saw the end of the beach we realised we’d found our resort. It was lit up but the terrace looked decidedly quiet to say it was supposed to be a restaurant. Immediately some staff came outside and they knew who we were so got us some cold drinks and quickly checked us in.

We were shown to our room around the back of the resort. The resort was new and they hadn’t got any garden lights installed yet so our guide had to tell us when to step up and down. I didn’t care whether the room was it was nice or not - I was just so pleased to have made it after six and a half hours of travel. All I wanted was dinner and shower.

We got changed as quickly as possible and set out to find somewhere to eat dinner. Our resort - which was supposed to have a restaurant and bar - was actually just a terrace. They said they offered a set Thai menu but we fancied some choice so took our torch and made our way back up the beach where we’d come from.

It felt nicer doing to the walk without rucksacks on!

We stopped at the first little local bar we came to. Inside was an English girl who said that someone had recommended the place to her so she had high hopes the dinner would be good. We both ordered some Thai food and a large Chang. I felt such relief that we’d made it at last and were going to be in one place for the next four nights.

Our food was simple but good and the best thing was there was plenty of it. It was the cheapest feast of our trip so far (320 baht or about £6.50 including drinks). We also got to enjoy stroking the three kittens that lived there who were all very playful and kept climbing up a coconut tree trunks by wrapping their tiny legs around it and clawing their way up.

We walked back along the beach in the pitch darkness looking up at the stars. I wanted to find Matt a satellite but my knack wasn’t working and I didn’t have the energy to look up for too long.

Back in our room we actually had a look around this time. It was Japanese style, minimalist with bare concrete walls, there was one inside shower and an outside shower with a large rainwater shower head, a massive flat screen TV and a few other luxuries. It was all as the website had promised, yet it felt very strange to actually be in there as it didn't feel Thai at all.

The room had been quite expensive - we’d only stayed there because we found a website offering it for buy three nights get one free so it evened out to £85 per night. By the standards of our Phuket, Ko Lanta and Phi Phi accommodation it was very expensive. With the night free it averaged out to the same price as the Sivalai resort on Ko Mook yet it lacked the details they’d thought of.

For instance there was no information book in the room - we didn’t know how much things in the mini bar cost, what trips were available, whether there was a spa on site or anything at all. We didn’t even know if any of the water bottles in the fridge were free - from experience even the cheap resorts gave you a couple of bottles for free yet here we had no idea! There were no shampoos or shower gels in the bathroom. It was odd to be somewhere so expensive by Thai standards yet to be missing those luxuries that make it worth paying the extra.

I liked it yet I could see there was a lot for them to learn if this resort was going to get good trip advisor reviews. We could tell it was still very new as the turf outside still hadn’t settled out of its neat little blocks and our tv still had a sticker on the front!

Had we not paid up for the four nights I would have considered looking around for somewhere else cheaper, but that coupled with the fact I was pleased to finally have one place to rest for four whole nights made me want to give the place a chance.

Just as I was falling into an exhausted coma, some drums started up. At first I thought maybe someone was just playing some loud music. It was 11pm and nightlife on the islands is usually dead by 9pm so I was sure it wasn’t going to be a party. I was wrong. People started singing and we soon realised it wasn’t a radio or cd, it was actually somebody close by playing the bongos and singing.

I was mad. I was exhausted, I was frustrated. We were playing a lot of money for the hotel, and now I couldn't even get to sleep. I turned our bags inside out until I found the ear plugs and finally managed to drift off to the dull thumps of the drums.

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