Edit Blog Post
Published: March 16th 2006
leaving bangkok was the easiest goodbye, as after a week in the place viewing temple after temple, being hassled by every tuk tuk driver that you caught eyes with (and more that you didnt) and numerous trips to the quacks it was a relief to be squeezed into a mini bus and back on the road.
here in Thailand nothing is ever as it seems. the common description for a small, insignificant lie being a white lie, the thais have taken the white lie to a different level, providing the westerner with half truth/false information is a highly respected past time, and the need to blag is of a much higher standard than that displayed on pitsea market. in the western world the prices are set, the roads contain signs and traffic lights that represent some kind of order and time is of some kind of relevance. here if people smile at you they know they have a chance of earning a few baht, or they are thinking of a way to earn money from 'the rich farong'.
we left for our intended destination with only four of us in the mini bus, result! a comfy ride to the
next town on the cards we got chatting to a lancastrian called frank who was a retired businessman, and after selling up he decided to travel the world on the proceeds, not a bad move. about 5 minutes into threw conversation we pulled over and six finnish guys got in the van. they weren't the most slender of people so it made for a tight squeeze in the front two rows, and lucy and dave were thanking god they had seats to themselves. the mini bus it turned out only went a short way to the local bus station where we were bundled onto a air con bus. heres the first con. we paid over the odds for a mini bus ride and got a bus ride. seems its more hassle but cheaper if possible to find your own way to the bus station and get tickets there. im sure we havnt learned our lesson and more foul-ups are a certainty! we arrived in hua hin around mid afternoon and proceeded to the nearest guest house to search for a room for the night. lucy thought it would be a good idea to ask at a travel agent, how much
the rooms were in the big white hotel at the end of the road. sensing our lack of funds by the fact that we both had back packs and the obvious 'smell of tramp' she laughed and said 'they start at 7500'. the 500 was in our price range but turns out lucy was asking about accommodation at the hilton. annoyed at the 'so near and yet so far' scenario of a possible 'one night in Paris' david was forced to settle for a small hotel on the sea front, and went for a nose around. small thai towns are much of a muchness. theres shops, markets, Buddhas, a few beggars and endless thai kitchens, so after a while it was time once again for a beer on the beach and time to reflect on the busy day that had passed!
the next day was started late and led us to our favorite past-time of moped rental. after a well needed bacon sarnie and failing to find out the barcelona v chelsea score, a bike was purchased, and after donning Wallace and gromit style head gear, it was off for another day of exploration. hua hin is a small
fishing port overlooking the gulf of thailand. the roads arent all that busy, the streets are lined with bars and flash hotels, and has a whiff of an early pattaya in the air. its a nice stop over for a few days but go soon as im sure it wont be long before there are plenty of 'boy for sale' signs. we traveled south along the coast to see a 15 ft gold Buddha and monkey hill. living up to its name (and finally the rough guide gets something right) monkey hill was littered with the little devils hell bent on causing misery to all who should wish too (japanese accent) 'feed an dake foto'. as soon as we parked the bike up one of the little critters was chewing on a document wallet in the basket of another bike and ran off up a tree with it! another stole our map, ran u the tree and tore it to sheds. for some reason he kept the page with a thai recipe, and id much rather watch a monkey cook than that gnome faced tosser, warrel-thomson any day! we took some pics, witnessed a woman have her ice cream scrumped
and spent the rest of the day exploring the coast. we found an elephant farm with no elephants ( more lies) and the road to know-where, which was paved and led up to the mountains simply stopping halfway up! we made the trip to a hill with a viewpoint over the town (surely this time we hit the jackpot, views are like fireworks, a definite crowd pleaser!)....... which lucy hated because 'i dont like it, it looks like spain!' never the less after a day full of failures, and with a 'its not the winning its the taking part that counts' attitude, we headed to the port to watch the fisherman unloading their days catch. this didnt disappoint as it was fascinating to see how hard these guys work, and as soon as they saw the flash of the camera, realising this was their moment to shine, they worked double hard shouting at each other to 'work, work, work!' they were also keen to point out the 'new' boy by pointing and laughing at him, the kind of humiliation handed out on work experiencee when you are told to 'get a long wait' from the shop next door, and you
actually do it, car crash!
after three days in hua hin we caught a bus to cumphon, a favoured stop off for divers going to ko tao to kill some coral and spook some fish. the bus ride was a bit of a nightmare as (proving chivalry isnt dead) dave let lucy have the last seat and had to stand for about two hours. it gave dave the perfect opportunity to finish reading 'angels and demons' (yes a real book, no pictures that pop up and no oversized letters!). there was a point in the journey where he spotted a vacant seat at the back. motioning towards what he thought would be a place to park his ass, a woman began returning her breakfast to the bag it had been eaten from, rough. standing was the preferred option.
chumphon is a town with no use. its got no scenery, no beach and no bars showing the football, rubbish. we stayed one night in a prison-type cell of a room and moved on the next day.
we got on a minibus to ranong, a town near the Burmese boarder where we would get our new visas. we have
found that for predicted bus times you add 50 mins and for mini bus journeys you take 50 off. (even more lies!) it seemed our driver had either just done a bank job r was on a promise in ranong as he 'drove it like he stole it,' overtaking on blind bends, throwing us round corners and generally driving like he was getting some laps in before the world rally championships! we arrived shaken and in need of new pantaloons and found our driver could drive like colin Mc rae, but cant read a map like him, as he dropped us off in some random spot in the town. we found a guest house and after getting our bearings, got an early night to hire more mopeds in the morning.
mr pon it turn ut is the man in ranong. he can feed you, get you a room, get you a ticket for anything, bet hes even got one for the world cup the scoundrel, o we got a bike from him and headed south to a waterfall described as 'a magnificent 115 ft waterfall' that had dried up (porkie pies). not to be disheartened we found some hot
ko chang sun set
not like southend!
spring by a river, where the water was hot enough to boil an egg and a canyon where the locals come to swim, drink scotch and get laced on different types of hallucinogenics. not feeling much like flying we headed back to the hot springs where we ate bbq chicken by the river. our meal came complete with bbq chicken feet, but as a stray dog looked more in need than us, we fought temptation and fed the to him!
the next day we got picked up by mr pon in his truck to take us to the ort where we would get a boat to ko chang, an island just off the coast. we met an english couple called matt and claire and got chatting. turns out they are doing pretty much that same trip as us and were staying in bungalows just round the headland from us so we arranged to meet later that day for a drink and some dinner. ko chang is a deserted island, that apart from a few bungalow complexes has only a few buildings in the 'village'. it has electricity for 3 hours a day (we found sometimes not at all) and
offers a mass expanse of jungle to explore. claire and matt are keen on wildlife (claire doing her dissertation about bats and matt used to keep snakes and rats) so they took us off into the bush to find some creepy crawlies! lucys fear of boats is only exceeded by that of her fear of spiders so she was well chuffed when we stumbled across a black and yellow monster (the name escapes me) perched on its web, and we all stopped to take photos. lucy stood about 30 yards away not wanting to even see it, but the animal kingdom got its own back later in the day as a black jumping spider leaped onto her left foot. it looked as if she was challenging jonathan edwards in the triple jump as she threw herself along the path as we all watch in complete bewilderment. matt picked up the critter saying 'dont think its poisonous' famous last words dave thought! turns out its the biggest one they've ever found and lucy hopes its the last!
we spent that evening at our hut with a beer, had some thai red curry which was the bomb and sat chatting with the owner of our bungalows on a rusty bed on the beach. turns out the bed was brought in with the tsunami, and they kept it for some reason as a reminder of the events of 26 december. was good to hear her talk about it as there were no deaths on the island and any evidence of damage has been cleared away. we also got chatting to a guy from belgium who has lived there for 3 years and is now so lazy it takes him 2 days to do a visa run (it took us 3 hours!) me and matt joked the next day how it would be great to put him in a really hectic environment like on the tube or in the middle of glastonbury, they guy is so laid back hes permanently horizontal!
we left ko chang on the promise to meet matt and claire in phuket as they were following on in a couple of days. our visa run that day was simple, we had to cross the river border between thailand and burma, and arrive back in thailand with the appropriate stamps and job done. our skipper on the other hand had alternate agendas as we stopped to pick his mate up and drop him off somewhere, drop off someone's lunch, get some replacement decking for the bottom of the boat (a little unsettling!) and to get him some cigarettes from the small town in burma. here we were offered and array of illegal goods including 'man viagra' 'lady viagra' fags, booze and valium! not requiring any narcotics we left the port and headed back to thailand where we got our new 28 day visa with the minimum of fuss.
the next port of call is phuket, we think? wonder how many more lies and scams we will come across this time?...
Tot: 1.245s; Tpl: 0.063s; cc: 14; qc: 82; dbt: 0.0406s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.5mb