Christmas, New Year and Nearing the End of Asia

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January 2nd 2015
Published: January 2nd 2015
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First up, Happy New Year!

It's surprisingly been a relatively quiet ten days or so seeing as we've both experienced our first Christmas and New Year's abroad. The weather has contributed to this as unfortunately for us, while we've been surrounded by beaches, we've seen far more rain and grey clouds than we had anticipated. On the other hand however, there's still plenty to write about as we've still had an extremely enjoyable festive period.

Going back to pre Christmas and on the 24th December, we left Bangkok at around 11am and arrived in Pattaya at roughly 2pm. After unsuccessfully looking around for a taxi that wasn't trying to rip us off, we once again took the option of hopping on the back of two local people's motorbikes and they took us to our hostel. Annoyingly, the hostel we booked was fairly far away in a town called Jomtien which was twenty minutes from Pattaya. The town was more ex USSR looking than trendy Thailand with derelict buildings everywhere and a real grey gloom about the place. After checking in, we both had a bit of a surprise as when we first entered our four bed room, the other two people were two middle aged men.

Anyway, after getting some much needed food, we took a taxi to Pattaya to go and meet Yaakov. As there was so much traffic, it took longer than we hoped but we got there early evening and chilled out with Yoni's dad until we went out for dinner with one of Yaakov's two friends he was away with. After dinner, we headed to a bar and to our surprise, Pattaya is a crazy party place. The best way to describe it would be it being the Magaluf version for the middle age! We had a few drinks together which was enjoyable but after a while, as no-one in the bars were even close to our age, we decided to head back to our hostel.

The next day was Christmas and even though both our stomachs were fairly fragile, we both wanted get into the spirit and have a good Christmas lunch. We took a cab again into Pattaya and after walking around a really modern shopping centre, we met up with Yaakov at around 4pm and went to have a late lunch. We ended up in a restaurant on the top floor of the shopping centre with an amazing view of the sea. Our lunch ended up having more of an Italian feel to it rather than Christmas as I went for a Spaghetti Bolognese and Yoni opted for Bruschetta. After we finished, we headed back to Yaakov's accommodation and chilled there for a few hours until we went out for a small dinner. By now it was about 10pm and we decided to head back to the hostel as we were both shattered. We said goodbye to Yaakov after spending an enjoyable few days together and left him to head back into the madness of Pattaya! That night, when I walked into the room before getting into bed, I noticed a very uneasy and tense looking Yoni, who was already in bed, staring up at the ceiling. He was nervously studying a Lizard crawling around directly above his bed. We were definitely ready to leave Jomtien after that!

We got up later than we should have on Boxing Day and made our way to the coach station where we took the journey back to Bangkok, where we hoped to take another bus straight away down south to Chumphon, so we could get a boat to the Islands. After arriving in Bangkok in the afternoon, we asked where we needed to go to take the coach to Chumphon. This was when we were told that the coach station we needed was on the complete other side of Bangkok and we could either take an over priced taxi or the local bus. As we weren't in much of a rush, we chose the local bus option thinking how big can Bangkok be.... Well two hours and what felt like being in one long traffic jam later, we finally got to the coach station. We found a night sleeper bus which was to leave at 8pm and arrive at 5am in Chumphon. The journey was overall fairly smooth, apart from being woken up at god knows what time to swap buses as apparently our bus's engine was about to explode! We were both half asleep at this time and it feels more like a dream than reality and neither of us really remember what happened. But anyway, we got to the port in Chumphon safely and took a boat to the island, Ko Tao. I slept the whole two hour journey downstairs in what felt like the freezer while Yoni read his book. (Yes, that's right, Yoni is reading a book!)

We had booked one night to stay in Ko Tao before moving on to the more popular island, Ko Pha Ngan. Our time there was ruined by some of the most consistent heavy rain we had seen and spent the day and night watching films. It was a shame as the Island is meant to be really cool but we moved on as planned and took another two hour boat to Ko Pha Ngan. We got off the boat at lunchtime and after a small struggle to find our hostel, we checked in and to our amazement we were the only two people in the hostel! We had paid to stay here for four nights and the emptiness of the hostel was to be a theme of the stay as only a handful of people checked in during the four nights. It was also a shame as the hostel owner was so friendly and kind and she even made us dinner one night free of charge. That first day as there was nothing really to do and it was raining, we decided to try out the dartboard in the hostel. There's been dartboards in loads of hostels we've stayed in but we've rarely had any interest in playing, but as there was no-one around we gave it a go. At first, I wasn't too bad but Yoni struggled to get any of his darts to stick. However, three hours and various games later, we were both fairly good (well we think!) and were hooked. That evening, we found the most typical British pub we felt like we were back in England (or a not so friendly pub up in Northern England to be more precise). We didn't care though as they had good pub food, the Arsenal game on the tv and most importantly, an amazing dartboard!

We had big plans for our first full day though as we found out there was mini-golf, famous beaches and a place to play football with other backpackers. We rented some motorbikes from the hostel and our first stop was mini-golf. This was an absolute giant let down as it was a tiny terrible course for kids and we didn't bother wasting our money. So, next up we drove to the other side of the Island where we were told about a beautiful beach. It was fairly cloudy, but dry at least and we got to drive on some empty roads where we could pick up some real speed on our bikes which was fun. Another let down was in store though as when we got to the beach, we were shocked at how dirty and ugly it was. I even mentioned to Yoni that Brighton's pebble beach was more attractive and exciting. So we headed to another beach in the complete opposite direction where the roads were so steep and hilly but the views amazing. At this beach, it was clear that this was where most of the other backpackers were staying as the atmosphere was far more vibrant. We had a good day playing 'Beach Bat and Ball' for ages and the day had been really fun with us just riding around the Island.

However, on the way back to go and play football, disaster struck as whilst driving on the steep hills, we pulled over to get a picture of the view and unfortunately for me, my bike lost its grip in some gravel and me and the bike went over. Thankfully, I was coming to a stop so wasn't going at any great speed at the time but I still suffered two really deep cuts and various other cuts and scratches on my body. Some very friendly local people called an ambulance for me and I was taken to hospital where I needed seven stitches on my left foot and ankle. I was absolutely fine though and can re-claim the money spent on the treatment with my travel insurance. I've needed to go back to the hospital everyday until they take the stitches out on my birthday (5th Jan!) so they can clean and check up on it. The most annoying part was I was given anti-bioctics which was terrible timing with New Year's Eve being two days later.

On the 30th and the day of the 31st December, we honestly did nothing worth reporting. Once again, there was very little sun and I just rotated between reading the whole day and playing a guitar with only three strings while Yoni caught up with friends on Skype, chilled out and sorted his CV out for Australia. The evening of the 31st we obviously went out though and there was a massive party on the beach. It was our first night out in a fair while so we were both excited and we arrived at around 9pm with me going for the extra cool look of flip-flops and one sock to cover my wounds. We organised to meet up with some friends we had met in Laos and stayed in a group of six the whole night. The party was certainly different from any New Year's Eve we had experienced and the fireworks at midnight were incredible. So incredible, that during the ten minute display, the only person who turned his back on them at any time was Yoni, who seemed more interested in what he wanted in his kebab! We eventually got back late after a good night.

New Year's Day was spent, apart from going to the hospital, chilling out in our anti-social hostel until the evening where we went back to the British pub to watch some football and play darts. After another good pub dinner, we were tired so headed back to our hostel where the Arsenal game was on. Watching us lose again put us in bad moods, which were made even worse by staying up late to watch Spurs thrash Chelsea. We got up late today and checked out from our hostel (we felt bad as it's now completely empty during peak season! We really need to start researching before we book...) and have moved into a more sociable one with a better location for three nights. The plan is to go out tomorrow night and on the 4th January for the famous Full Moon Party and leave Ko Pha Ngan on my birthday to head to nearby Ko Samui. Again, the forecast is poor with cloud and rain but we're resigned to it and there's nothing we can do before we head to Bangkok for a couple of days on the 11th/12th and then take our flight to Melbourne, Australia on the 13th.

Our amazing time in South East Asia is coming to an end and we're both mentally preparing now to go back to living in a major city with Western prices and the hope of finding jobs ASAP. That's everything that's happened to us recently and I'll be twenty three by the time the next blog is up!

Hope you enjoy the read!


2nd January 2015

Wonderful blog. Sad to hear you came off your bike and needed stitches. Your scar will be there to remind you of your great adventure. As always missing you and wish you a safe journey to Aus. xxx
5th January 2015

another good read
Another excellent read. Trust your injuries are all better. I'll put your birthday present in your bank account. Many happy returns. Br careful with bolognaise as it is warmed up meat which if not heated enough risks bad tummy. Bye

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