Edit Blog Post
Published: January 31st 2012
Now as bus journeys go, this was a big one....total travel time = 33 hours! Siem Reap to Bangkok was 9 hours. After half a day in a very sombre Bangkok we got an 8 hour bus down the east coast to Chumpon. This was followed by a 2 hour catamaran to the island of Koh Tao in the gulf of Thailand. 2 overnight buses was bad enough but the fast boat in rough seas was another experience altogether. This was the first morning departure for days due to the bad sea and we were on it!! A nice chap gave us some tips, he said “make sure you sit at the back, in the middle”. We ensured we were first in the queue and got the best seats to the worst boat trip in history, well for us anyway. Immediately after departure workers were handing out black sick bags which stunk vile of that rancid polymer / bin liner smell. 90% of these were full within the first 20 minutes as the captain clearly made no attempt to steady the ride. Instead he ploughed on full speed ahead into the myriad of swells which were approaching 2m, or so we
were informed! We disembarked covered in a cold sweat but with our dignity intact. By far the worst we had ever felt on any trip, but on the positive we weren’t sick!
Koh Tao, the cheapest place to gain you a Scuba Diving License in the whole world. This is definitely true as since being here we have been to several other diving destinations in Thailand and other countries where the same course is nearly double the cost. The diving school we chose was Big Blue and it included free accommodation for the 4 nights in a prime beach front location, how could we refuse air conditioning!
After all the rough weather the sea was particularly murky but we were told that it was picking up for the time we were due to go diving. Once we had finished the theory part, we attempted our first dive which was a shock as on the way down to 12m we could not see each other as the visibility was so bad so we surfaced and made our way to another site. Once again at 12m the ‘viz’ as the diver fraternity call it was a little better but still
pretty poor, so poor in fact that Nat started to float up from the bottom, lost us under water and ended up at the surface before she knew it. Apparently she needed to work on her buoyancy! By the end of day 4 we were sat on the bottom at 18m in two lines having a dance off whilst wearing Ray Ban sunglasses…..Amazing!
After 5 days we decided to get the overnight ferry from Koh Tao to the main land, crossing east to west so we could re-visit the Phi Phi Islands and the beaches of Ao Nang and Railey on the main land. The boat turned out to be a goods transporter with the upper deck converted to sleeping accommodation. By this I mean the floor was carpeted with 2ins mattresses placed side by side with no gap. Let just say things got a little cosy as the thing was sold out! We arrived at Surathani at around 5am the following morning but before we really had time to wake up (2 hours waiting) we were on the bus heading for the Andaman Coast followed by another short boat ride to reach the Phi Phi Islands sometime that
We last visited the Phi Phi Islands 5 years ago when it was fairly busy but like a paradise island which was made famous initially by the film ‘The Beach’ starring Leonardo Di’Caprio. This time we found the place rammed to the rafters. It seems that the island is a hub for party goers and has a reputation with the younger crowd. With its increased popularity and therefore subsequent shortage of accommodation the prices have doubled since we were last there. The island that was once the jewel in the crown of the Andaman coast is now starting to look a little faded, we won’t be returning. The highlight for us was probably snorkelling at long beach where we came within spitting distance of some black tip reef sharks which had Nat swimming for the safety of some rocks; they looked fairly cool under water though! 2 nights on Phi Phi was more than enough so we headed back to the main land and to Ton Sai Beach in Krabi province, another place we had visited 5 years earlier.
Ton Sai is only accessible by boat but is still on the main land, surrounded by limestone karst
cliffs. The main attraction here is rock climbing so we got booked on a session and was told to go and find our instructor on the rock. The guy turned out to be a Thai Rasta and the cliff we were attempting to climb was right next to an outdoor reggae club where another Rasta was playing his acoustic guitar, to you guessed it……Bob Marley! There was a smell of something in the air and it wasn’t incense. Later that day, further down the cliff a group of girls had their purses stolen by a group of monkeys and they had disappeared. When I was nearing the top of the last climb of the day the monkeys reappeared just above me and were still carrying the purse…..
We headed back to civilisation on Ao Nang Beach, literally a 5 minute boat ride around the coast, but connected to the Thai road network. We based ourselves there and hired a moped to tour the Krabi Province, riding for 2 hours to find the Emerald Pool then walking up the 1200+ steps to the top of the Tiger Temple. The views from the top were unreal, we could have spent all
day up there, infact we rode home a little too late and it got dark and we got lost…..not the first time on this trip!
Now on to Malaysia
Tot: 0.032s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 8; qc: 26; dbt: 0.0061s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb