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Published: April 16th 2006
we stayed an extra day in krabi town after phi phi island to wait for matt and claire who had been off taming cobras in khao sok national park and snorkeling and living for free on the similan islands. after 2 months deliberating whether or not to spend the money on a camera, dave decided it was time to stop messing around, and after getting a good deal from one of the camera shops in town, a shiny fuji was purchased, should keep him quiet for a few days!
the ride to trang was less eventful than most bus journeys, only a couple of incidents were present that caused fear for our lives and we arrived safe and sound in the northern bus terminal and walked the 1km route to the minibus station to take us to chao mai.
chao mai is a secluded waterfront haven that boasts two simple bungalow outfits that range in price from the expensive but boring, to the cheap, but as it turned out, very cheerful. the cheap and cheerful option was the one for us and we rented a two bedroom hut smack bang on the beach, and ready to crumble before our
eyes! infact the place where we were staying turned out to be a brilliant option, we could have a fire every night right in front of the hut, not too close mind as the place was held together only by the dashing red paint, and were situated with about a quarter of a mile of white powdered sand to ourselves. there is only a simple muslim fishing village in chao mai and we gave the locals plenty to laugh at as we went to the (very) mini mart to get some crisps and drinks everyday. the people who live here were really friendly and always said hello when passing us and gave a warm welcome wherever we went. it seems tourism is missing this part of the country, it is one of the most picturesque and unspoilt places we have been. it was really nice to get off the tourist trail and reminded us of our time on ko chang, apart from the electricity and roads etc!
we found that by swimming around the bay, past the 300 ft tall limestone cliffs we could reach a small beach that is inaccessible by road due to it being incased inside
the cliffs. this felt more like 'the beach' than the one on phi phi, crystal clear waters and an overwhelming landscape that made it a real shame our cameras arnt waterproof. we stayed here for a while messing around in the water playing some games using lucys sarong as a ball and made our way back before the tide made it impossible (though i think we secretly wouldnt have minded being stranded here!).
after the beach had provided all it could, we rented the shoddiest mopeds we have had so far, but they did the trick (after one had to get the front tire inflated) enabling us to drive around for the day and take in the less than inspiring hot springs, get covered in mud in search of adventure in the jungle, and find the most puzzling toilet complete with skids that would make the chavs on southend seafront envious! it did mean that we were able to go to the market and get ourselves some raw veg, some pans and a grill for a barbie on the beach that night. when we got back matt and dave went and made a fire whilst the girls chopped veg
and gossiped on the balcony. once everything was ready and narrowly beating the rain, the feast was ready to devour. hindsight is a wonderful thing and caution should have been taken when lucy was given the job of preparing and adding the chillis. the vegetable stew was probably the hottest this side of bradford, and when questioned as to why SO many chilli's were added, the reply was, "i dont know i was chatting?" the food was salvaged in the end by chang beer and a quick cry, and after the pain had subsided we all agreed we were chuffed with our first "home cooked" meal in 2 months.
we left chao mai with some fantastic memories of the place and headed to trang where dave had arranged to meet up with michael baumber, who he used to work with at the cherry tree. after staying one night and hitting the night market for a feast of pad thai and chicken, and oddly a couple of grubs and a locust, we wondered around trang being stared at and pointed towards by locals (there are not a lot of back packers in trang!). we met mike the next day and
he took us to his house where his partner, mai, cooked us some chicken curry, a really nice and traditionally hot pork curry and vegetables and egg all served with rice. we both could have eaten it all over again and it was seriously some of the nicest food we have had since we have been here. it was a great experience to eat in a thai family home, and we met mike's 18 month old son ben. not sure about dave, ben seemed to take to lucy strait away and at one point i swear she tried to sneak him into her bag! we sat on the front porch of his house and over a few changs spoke about old times at the pub, and his life that he has made for himself here in thailand. he and his family seem truly happy here and i dont think there is anyway he would ever consider a move back to england, and frankly, i dont blame him.
mike was the perfect host and picked us up two mornings in a row, once to take us to the bus station for our visa run to malaysia, and again the next
day to our bus to ko samui. we both look forward to seeing him and having a few beers when he comes over to england next year.
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