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October 3rd 2012
Published: October 3rd 2012
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Day 95 Wednesday 19th September to Day 107 Monday 1st 2012.

Thailand – Beaches, Crystal waters, Resorts, Nightclubs, Ladyboys and Day 100.

Days 95 to 107 saw us push through the magic 100 day milestone of our trip. We also got the news that both the Storm and Swans won their respective Grand Finals while travelling through Thailand.

Our 13 days in Thailand began by arriving into Bangkok after overlanding across the Cambodian/Thai border. Bangkok is a vibrant city with plenty of traffic, noise, colour, food and entertainment (not necessarily for kids). We only planned to spend a few days in Bangkok and get to the southern beaches as soon as possible. 3 nights gave us time to organise our transport south, check out a few sights and enjoy some Thai food in the capital. We stayed near Patpong Road in the Silom District in a decent hotel that had good clean rooms, a good breakfast with a rooftop pool to cool off in each day. This was the first place the boys noticed ‘dancing girls’ out the front of bars and nightclubs. As long as they were back in the hotel by 10:00pm each night, no permanent damage occurred.

During our few days in Bangkok, we explored the city and saw another ‘Big Buddha’, this one is lying down at the Royal Palace. We didn’t go inside the Royal Palace this time as it was too hot for all of us to wear long pants and long shirts. We did however see plenty of ‘sweating’ westerners lining up to go in. The other reason we gave it a miss was we were told it is very much like the Royal Palace’s in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Bangkok is like most other large international cities and like in Asia, a gateway to the better parts of the country. We found the bus station and organised our bus to Phuket. This was a comfortable 12 hour ride that had us arrive in Phuket on the evening of day 98.

Phuket!!! We were quite disappointed with Patong. Too much rubbish on the beach, too many people trying to make money off walking ATM’s (westerners) and just plain sleazy for our likings. I can see why so many people wear the t-shirts with the slogans ‘No Tuk Tuk, no massage and no taxi’. Patong needs to do something now to clean it up. In the next few years it will be empty, as no one will go there. We won’t be back. If we are, it will only be to get to the nicer parts of Phuket like Kata Beach or accessing Phi Phi Island. It would have been nicer to spend the milestone of ‘Day 100’ in a more memorable location. But hey, this trip is about the highs and the lows and everything in between.

Everyone we have spoken to before and during our trip have commented on how much the boys will learn on this adventure. Here are a couple of things they picked up in Thailand. 1. They all know how to spot a ‘Ladyboy’ 2. The Chinese are much easier to barter with to get the cheap prices in the markets and 3. Hunter made an interesting observation that ‘In Bangkok they have girls dancing out the front of bars, in Phuket they also have boys dancing’!!! This trip has been worth every cent and Melissa and I couldn’t be prouder of our boys!!!

We can now tick Patong off the list of places Team Free has been. We will miss our favourite little Thai Restaurant that we found. Number 6 was packed every time we went, but the owner quickly shuffled existing customers along the bench seats to squeeze a few more in. This is always a great conversation starter and we managed to meet some interesting people over the 3 days we were in Patong dinning at Number 6.

After our 3 nights in Patong we took a 20 minute Tuk Tuk ride down to Kata Beach. We found a nice hotel on the hill with great views over the water. First impression, no rubbish on the beach!!! This was a good start. The view the first day from our hotel was the best we would get as the next 24 hours the rain set in. The 24 hours saw Team Free get its 100 days’ worth of rain in 1. We found out a few days later that it was the most rain Phuket had received in a 24 hour period in over 10 years. Team Free were pleased to be part of this record!!!

Days 103 to 106 saw not only the weather improve dramatically, but the scenery. Welcome to Koh Phi Phi. These 3 nights/4 days were among the highlights of our last 107 days so far. The water, views, beaches and wildlife was spectacular. We had a wonderful time exploring different islands and beaches as well as Phi Phi. One of the best things about Phi Phi is that there are no roads. Therefore no Tuk Tuk or Taxi drivers. No rip-off markets and hardly any massages. The only annoyance were the ‘westerners’ trying to get us to go scuba diving every time we walked past one of the many dive shops. We managed to deal with this one annoyance.

It’s amazing to see how Phi Phi and most other areas of Thailand have bounced back after the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. A number of places in Phi Phi displayed photos of the terrible devastation of that horrific morning and the clean-up and rebuilding process. There are still a number of concrete slabs where a small house or business used to be and was never rebuilt because the entire family were washed away and drowned. We went to one restaurant on Phi Phi called Anna’s Restaurant. It is named after the owner’s 6 year old daughter who died on that day. The best thing we can do is keep going to these places and spend our money. When we climbed to a high viewing point on the island, you get an idea of how flat and low most of Phi Phi is where people live and operate businesses. A number of locals didn’t mind sharing their stories of that day. We were just mindful not to ask too many questions, like every other traveller would have in the last 8 years.

Our hotel rooms were quite basic, with an interesting concept to have a hot shower. Here it is and if anyone can explain the theory behind this, please send a comment to our blog. “Turn your air-conditioning down to 18 degrees and leave for a minimum of 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, the hot water will be operational”. Yes, 18 degrees. That’s cold everywhere, even in the tropics of Thailand. The toilet was blocked and there was also a leaking tap in the bathroom in the boy’s villa, but it was easy to overlook these problems when you are staying in such a wonderful location with such wonderful views. We have had all our accommodation in South East Asia at great prices because we are here in the low season. Yes, there is a risk of wet weather, but this was a risk that definitely paid off for Team Free!!!

The day trip around Phi Phi Ley, which included a visit to Maya Bay where ‘The Beach’ was filmed, was a definite highlight. The waters are just as clear as anywhere in Australia, but warmer!!! I won’t say too much, but the photo on this blog will say it all.

Unfortunately we had to leave Phi Phi and in usual Team Free fashion, we don’t back-track, we continued to head east towards the mainland and arrived by ferry to the mainland town of Krabi. Here we found a cosy little guest hotel called Krabi Cosy Hotel. It had a great pool and allowed us to cool off after another hot day. Hunter was sick for most of this day. We were fortunate to have a number of plastic bags that he managed to fill on the boat to Krabi.

Day 107 saw us head south to the town of Satun near the Malaysian border. We caught 4 minivans, a ferry and then a taxi to make it to our hotel on Langkawi. Team Free like to make an adventure out of things. The funny thing was that each mini-van was worse than the one before and so was the driver. Remember, we’re not starting at a high level here, so you can only image what number 4 ends up like. Not only did the vans get smaller, the number of passengers increased. Once we reached the ferry terminal in Satun, Jackson was the one nominated by the driver to climb up on the roof to pass all the backpacks down while all the men were in at customs sorting our exit arrangements from Thailand and ferry tickets while the wives/girlfriends/kids stayed with the bags so they weren’t stolen.

The ferry to Langkawi was full, but comfortable, and took just over an hour to reach the port. Once off the ferry, we quickly cleared customs and were now in our last country of our epic trip. 107 days ago Malaysia seemed to be so far away. None of us can believe how fast our trip has gone. Even the boys are sad to be here. Not because we are in Malaysia, but the fact this country number 20, our last country.

Team Free plan to make the most of these last 10 days...............

Additional photos below
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3rd October 2012

from 'team brisvegas' (doesn't quite sound the same)
Your blogs are great and it is just awesome that you have been doing such an awesome adventure as a family ...'go team free'
4th October 2012

How time flies eh!!! Make the most of your last few days - and relax a bit too!!! xxxx

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