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Thailand by Kt
Haven’t written anything for ages but haven’t really been up to much wildly exciting. We caught a ferry over to Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan is famous for being beautiful jungle and beaches and also for the full moon parties which are on any young backpacker’s itineraries. We happened to be going the same time and having heard about the party being not the fun it was in it’s hey day and really just a messy, over exposed piss up – we made sure we stayed at the opposite end of the island. However, it’s a really small island and we couldn’t avoid anywhere that revelers would turn up and there was a bunch of younguns at our place in the days just before and after. In actual fact it was very funny in the end, the ones we got chatting with (and partying with, one fateful night) were lovely and it was hilarious to see them arrive back after the full moon party the next morning (it was a stay up all night job), covered in luminous face paint and looking like death – and in some cases arriving back a day later with an irate girlfriend trying to track him down!
The location of our hotel was amazing – up on a cliff looking down on a stunning bay. The pool was arranged so that it almost look like an infinity pool when it wasn’t and in actual fact the lack of railings on one side was distinctly alarming, especially as it was on the side of the pool that the kiddies section was. Luckily there were no children to be seen when we were there. It was a gorgeous spot, surrounded by jungle and our views from our bathroom were of thick, lush jungle and the restaurant area was setup high with views all around. Being in the jungle we had lots of interesting goings on. We had a huge spider we came home to one night and having decided that we had nothing big enough to catch it, my idea to herd it turned out to be the best as this spider was the quickest thing I have ever seen!!! We needed to keep the light off in the bathroom at night as once it got dark the odd kamikaze flying bugs we’d encountered in Phuket would get in and hold big noisy battles if we did not. These same bugs would appear everywhere when it was about to rain – even in the restaurant they swarmed everywhere and after a couple of hours of doing your head in, they’d all end up dead – covering the grass and the paths – everywhere. So bizarre!! And of course the frogs would kick off making a right old noise with their frog chorus (if only they sounded like Paul McCartney’s version – guilty pleasure for me, that one!).
So there were a lot of frogs and a lot of bugs because it rained. ALL the time. In a week there, we had one day of decent sun and we wasted it by working inside. Unfortunately with the rain came storms (which were magnificent to watch) and with the storms came the wireless not working and TV cutting out and the power cuts too. So we ended up not being able to work or go out or do anything so we went a little stir crazy. Mark managed to dive on his second attempt – first time he’d been up super early and gone out on a boat for hours only to turn back. He was quite happy to turn back and not have to dive with the dreadlocked white youth who’d come along with his ukelele and was smoking joints on board – not the most genius idea before diving! Still, Darwin and all that.
The TV channels were extremely limited – only thing to watch were news channels. There was quite an interesting German news channel where we watched a fascinating story on German asparagus farming and a full hour documentary on air guitar. Got to watch some of the Jubillee on TV Monde, so totally in French but it wasn’t difficult to work out what was going on. I was quite surprised that the french were giving it so much time – the whole thing live! Best part was when a British oik jumped into shot and kissed the chic french lady presenter on cheek which threw her somewhat!
There was a bridal photo shoot there over a couple of days – weather must have been such a pain for them. That was quite fascinating to watch with the different outfits and the fabulously camp photographer.
One day we were descended upon by a bus load of monks. With Westlife playing in background they came, they ate, they blessed and it was the first time I had seen a monk on a mobile.
The place was beautiful, the staff very sweet and the food was good but with the bad weather, we’d been cooped up and were glad to leave. We booked a ticket that included a ferry and then a bus up to Hua Hin – a 5-6 hour journey. Lots of the other folk on the bus were going all the way to Bangkok so we didn’t have it so bad.
We were knackered when we got to Hua Hin after the long ferry/bus journey so we didn’t do much exploring at first. It was a funny little place. Not really organised in a way I like holiday places in that it was pretty much only hotels and apartments/private buildings that backed onto the beach. The beach was absolutely beautiful – gorgeous white sand and Hua Hin has the least rainfall and most pleasant temperatures in all of Thailand by all accounts. It just lacked atmosphere a bit on the beach. The little side streets were sweet kind of reminded me of the south of France.
Hua Hin is apparently where the royals holiday and there was certain elements to it which made it very different to anywhere we’d been previously. Lots of wine bars – they produce some locally but it also seems to be a bit of a Hua Hin ‘thing’. We were really close to a big shopping mall. Quite a fancy mall where we had a gorgeous Japanese meal – hadn’t had Japanese for so long – it was heaven. Udon noodles and prawn tempura, then Green Tea Ice cream and aduki bean (mush?).
This was a funny little shelter for police I think.
The centre of Hua Hin, we didn’t properly discover until nearer the end of our stay. It’s got a lot of character to it and in retrospect I wish we’d had accommodation down there more in the heart of things.
We wanted eventually to make our way to Chiang Mai and we kept umming and aaahing about how to achieve this as it was so far up the country. Going to Bangkok and changing seemed to be the best bet but that just seemed a pain in the backside as it required so much changing and getting from one part of the city to the other etc. In the end, we discovered we could get a bus all the way from Hua Hin to Chiang Mai – it was something like 12 quid each and took 13 hours!!! We were dreading it but actually it wasn’t so bad. The buses have wide seats that go right back, decent air con and a guy that comes round with food and drink in the early part of the trip. We were going over night as it made sense so we didn’t have to arrive in the dark and we didn’t waste a nights accommodation. When we first got on they had some odd variety show on with a cheeky Thai boyband on the TV – REALLY loud!! We were a little concerned but that only lasted about an hour. Then they put on ‘The Lady’ the film about the burmese struggle and Aung San Suu Kyi – it was in Thai but you could pretty much follow what was happening – amazing film about an amazing lady. I didn’t manage to sleep much but actually when it was light it was a really interesting journey, passing through various towns – one which had a night market on the river, lit up with gorgeous reflections, another town which, for whatever reason, had large duck statues on it’s lamp posts, a huge golden buddha set up on a hill and a giant chicken.