Christmas Time in Thailand

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December 27th 2005
Published: February 27th 2006
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24 DEC 05- Christmas Eve

We arrive in Surrat Thani at 6am, where we have to wait an hour for our connection to Krabi. Once we arrive in Krabi, we decide to move on to Ao Nang- a coastal (quite touristy) area. We stay a bit outside it, at Lakeside GH in Hat Napparat Thara (the next bay on from Ao Nang). The people that work there are just the most willing, helpful, friendly people- they just want you to have the best time possible.

We have brekkie (I have porridge with banana, raisins and honey and it is so tasty!) and then we head off for a wander. We head to the waterfront (we are set in-land a bit) and walk along to Ao Nang (quite a walk)- it's very touristy, and of course it's busy as Thailand is popular at this time of year. We decide to book a kayaking/snorkelling trip for Christmas day- a bit different from the usual! We walk back along the beach, and stop to get an ice cream, where I hear a song from our Christmas CD at home- seems weird to be listening to it in the sunshine looking at palm trees, sea and sand!

Have delicious dinner at the GH, and watch some TV with some beers before heading to bed. If we go to sleep Santa will come quicker!! (wonder if he'll find me here!?!?)

25 DEC 05- Christmas Day

MERRY CHRISTMAS! (I know for you readers this is a bit late!)

After many Christmas greetings from Mee and Joy (the main guys at the hostel) and the other staff members, we get picked up at 8.30am to go on our day trip to Hong Island. There are only 6 of us and 3 guides (one of who is a super-queen/diva!). We get to the beach and no one else is there- everyone is lying in! We hop on a longtail that takes us out to our bigger boat offshore and ride out to the Island, taking in the scenery. The island is beautiful, and the cove we are in is not too busy yet. Luke and I are the only ones kayaking, so off we go with two guides round the island to the other side (Luke and I in one kayak, and the guides in another). We enter the lagoon (the 'hong'- meaning 'room', as the lagoon only has one way in and one way out, and what the island is named after). Unfortunately the tide's out so we can't kayak around the lagoon, but we get out and walk around it instead. All the crabs are out- there are hundreds! We then kayak back and go swimming, where pilot fish crowd around in the shallows- it's awesome! They are so curious about people, and eat bread right from your hand (so maybe more curious about the food than people!). Unfortunatley the area is much busier now- but I guess we were not the only ones looking for a bit of a paradise island on Christmas Day!. We then have a scrummy lunch under the palm trees- when a huge Monitor Lizard appears to join us! It knows it's feeding time! After lunch we head to the next stop on our boat trip- a rocky outcrop in the middle of the sea! We are told it's a great snorkellig spot so off we go- I'm a bit dubious at first, all that open water and nothing but darkness under me, but I soon settle into it (though at times I do feel a bit panicky). A lot of coral was broken in the tsunami last year, but young coral is growing here now. We then head to another cove on Paradise Island. There are only a few others here and we snorkel straight off the boat. I'm much calmer this tme and really enjoy it- the coral is beautiful and we see so many different fish and also lots of sea urchins (so mind your feet!). The pilot fish keep swimming right up to your face, which makes me jump more than once! We have a great time here, but have to head back to the mainland. It takes about 1 1/4 hours, and the ride is scenic- outcrops of islands littering the sea and the horizon. We go back to the GH, and then head back into Ao Nang to phone home. It's great to speak to Mum, Dad and Matt- and catch up with them. This is by far the longest I've ever gone without speaking to them. We then head back to the GH, where we change into our gladrags and head out to dinner in the main area of Ao Nang. Luke's Mum has offered to buy us our Christmas meal, and we go to a small family-run place where we have delicious seafood (I do love tiger prawns!!). Yummo. Then head back and have a couple of beers back at the GH.

It has been a wonderful Christmas day- great to spend it with Luke. And although it was the first Christmas ever without my family (and of course I missed them), it's actually such a different experience to be somewhere SO different from home and the usual Christmas scene- and we actually kept forgetting it was Christmas anyway!!!

26 DEC 05 - Boxing Day

It is one year since the Tsunami hit- and various areas are having a special memorial service. Unfortunately we are too far away from one to go, but we are there in spirit. Joy and Mee knew people who both died and survived the disaster, so they tell us all about their experiences. In fact, all along the waterfront construction repairs are still going on. Can't imagine what it would have been like here a year ago- just complete pandemonium and fear for the welfare of their family, friends and neighbours.

Luke and I have a lazy morning before heading into Ao Nang to catch a longtail around to Rai Lei beach (further up the coast, around rocky outcrops and cliffs). I love the fact boat is the best form of travel here- it's so fun! When we get there, the beach is absolutely jam-packed, so we walk inland and across to the other side, to Ao Phranang cave beach. It's also quite busy with farang (tourists) and hawkers (selling food, drinks, doing massages and hair-braiding). But it is very scenic. And hot. A dip in the sea is lovely; very refresshing (except for the odd -harmless- stinger!). After a few hours we head back by longtail to Ao Nang, where, Chang beer in hand, we watch a beautiful sunset over the sea, and the fisherman heading out to get their catch of the day.

They are having a special BBQ back at the GH for both guests and locals- and Luke and I share a 'Longfin'- one half with sweet and sour, the other with garlic and pepper. And baked potatoes and salad. Simply delicious! Amazing what can be done with an oil drum BBQ and a little basic kitchen! We sit and watch some Boxing Day footie with Mee and Joy and two other English guys who have come here and haven't managed to leave yet. It was just such a great evening- and I can't sing the praises of Mee and Joy enough- they were amazing. They sorted out our accommodation on Koh Phi Phi (they had a friend there) and told us if we had any trouble while we were there, or indeed anywhere in Thailand, they would hop on a longtail and come and sort it out! True sweethearts!

So, tomorrow we are heading to our island paradise- Koh Phi Phi! We are going there for a 'mini-break'- a short holiday from our 7 month holiday!


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