Koh Phi Phi, Thailand (Maya Beach)

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We booked a half day trip with one of the mini travel agents dotted along the Phi Phi strip. Shop around first; we paid 50 baht more than we should’ve because we were lazy. I know it’s only a pound but still. First stop: Maya Beach. We had heard that “the beach” in the Leo film gets really busy and were even told not to bother – but we were so pleased we did. It’s an absolutely stunning beach. The water is crystal clear. It’s a piece of paradise, it really is.

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The trip included a few other stops; the Viking Caves, Monkey Island and a few snorkelling spots. I felt bad for the monkeys; the tour guides have got them hooked on coca cola so they guzzle from cans and bottles while the tourists laugh and point. Aside from that, they seem pretty happy though.

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The trip was from 9am to 1pm and even though lunch was provided (veggie rice), we had another batch of lunch at 4 Seasons afterwards. I had Tom Yam and Victor was back on the Pad Thai.

Then it was time to catch another ferry to Railay. Our hotel helped us with our bags; well, they gave us a guy who wheeled a trolley for us. The boat journey was lovely; we sat on the top deck in the fresh sea air. It was cloudy when we left and sunny when we arrived and – because I fell asleep – I subsequently burnt my shoulders pretty badly.

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We arrived in Railay at 5.30pm (the 3.30pm ferry is the last of the day); we had to wade through the water because the boats don’t come into the shore. Victor had been on the Chang so it was quite amusing watching her navigate through the sea with her backpack on.

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We had to make our own way to Railay Princess Spa and Hotel – only a five minute walk to the east side of the peninsula – & then we had dinner at one of the quieter restaurants on the front, to the right of Railay village. There was a pancake place opposite so that’s where we had dessert. The woman on the till was terrifying.

It’s very couply here. Couples snogging everywhere. Quite sickening actually. And loads of children. Urgh. And it’s more expensive than any of the other places we’ve been (like double the price of the East Kohs). Wouldn’t recommend Railay if you’re alone or with mates; not that side of the peninsula anyway.

(We weren’t to know but the other side was where the fun was at… more on this later).

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Phangan to Phi Phi, Thailand (travel day; another backpack, another ferry)

We pre-booked our ticket from Koh Phangan to Koh Phi Phi via Danok / Krabi and it came to around £23 each, which mirrors the price offered on the day. Out hotel treated us to a free taxi to the pier. Always nice. We caught some rays on the ferry to Danok and then we hopped on a bus. Be sure to follow the crowd when you arrive; there’s a walk way and, at the end on the left, there’s a bus stop – and hopefully a bus. The bus was comfy and cool – but there was a gross smell of urine wafting around. And puke. No doubt thanks to the fluorescent full-mooners. Get in the queue early and don’t sit downstairs. REPEAT. Do not sit downstairs. That’s where the toilet lives. Between the bus and the other ferry (from Krabi to Phi Phi), we grabbed a sandwich at one of the cafes (actually, the only cafe). ADVICE: pack some food if you’re gonna do this journey. It’s a long one and there aren’t many / any respites.

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The ferry to Koh Phi Phi took a couple of hours. Entry to Phi Phi is 500 baht and the money goes towards the restoration of the island (it took the brunt of the tsunami ten years ago). Upon arrival, we were greeted by a guy from the Phi Phi Andaman Legacy resort who carried our bags for us on a little trolley as we made our way to the hotel (about a ten minute walk). The walk to the hotel was really fun; the sun was out in force and the place has a real happy ‘n hippy air about it. We exchanged a few sentences with a gorgeous Irish man (he said ‘welcome to Phi Phi, girls’ and I melted); he was one of the many expats who’d decided to abandon the real world for a place in paradise.

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We had dinner at Chao Koh and post-dinner drinks at Carlitos Bar while we watched the fire show – that is until the rain came down.

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Koh Phangan, Thailand (Poisoning)

The “condition” that I suffered from in South America followed me to Asia and it struck me down today on day seven. I spent most of the day out of action. Couldn’t eat breakfast (not actually a bad thing – it didn’t look at all appetizing), had a handful of chips for lunch (again, probably a blessing – Victoria’s Tom Yam looked rank).

Basically we just chilled by the infinity pool, had a sleep and got burnt.

We also hopped into a kayak and spent about an hour trying to stop the thing from going around in circles. It would’ve been great fun if I didn’t feel as sick as a pike.

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We then had a lush massage on the beach front. 500 baht for an hour. She cracked my back and dislocated all of my toes and fingers. But it felt good in a oh-god-she’s-gonna-paralyse-me kinda way. Victoria was a bit concerned for her ovaries; – “Errr, they’re my ovaries!”, she cried as the woman dug her fists into the region in question. It’s all hands-in-usually-out-of-bounds-places so don’t get one if you’re shy… or ticklish.

The restaurant at Loyfa is pretty shit so we headed out for dinner. Bugger all choicely but we found a decent joint called Ladda. Typically Thai – as in we had to sit on the floor. I had another red curry and Victoria, having turned her back on Pad Thai, got the same (although less spicy). It was worlds better than Loyfa’s version. And it didn’t make me throw up. Hurrah.

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Koh Phangan, Thailand (Paradise)

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We checked out of Clear View, had breakfast at In Touch, soaked up some sun on the beach and then caught a taxi to the pier in time for the 3pm ferry back to Phangan. We didn’t book a ticket in advance but it was relatively easy to sort out on the day and didn’t seem any more expensive compared to the prices we were getting online (500 baht).

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The sea was a bit choppy. A guy puked in the row behind us. I didn’t really notice. I was asleep. Victoria did though. She was forced to bury her face into her kaftan.

We got to Phangan at 4.20pm and caught another open-air taxi to Loyfa Natural Resort (200 baht because it’s a bit further out on the other side of the island).

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It’s somewhat overwhelming stepping foot into paradise and Victoria cried at reception. Beautiful beach, infinity pool, our own villa with a private pool… we even got cold flannels and coconut water on arrival.

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The food was a bit shit though. I asked for an extra hot Thai red curry. It wasn’t even a little bit hot. It was flavourless in fact. And the tofu was bunged in without being grilled beforehand. (I’m not going veggie on you; I’m just avoiding food poisoning as my tummy is dodge already… I blame South America; that guinea-pig ruined me).

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Koh Tao, Thailand (Nangyuan Island)

Breakfast at Clear View (nothing to sing home about) followed a semi-acceptable wake up time, and then we went for a wander in search of a boat.

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We found one; a water taxi (just walk down the main strip adjacent to Sairee Beach). 300 baht for a return journey to Nangyuan Island. We were dropped off at midday and our pick up for the return was at 4pm. He didn’t ask for money in advance. Lots of trust here.

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Nangyuan is a beautiful tri-land (that’s my word)… it comprises of a set of three islands all of which are conjoined by a strip of sand, probably no more than ten feet wide. It was pretty overcast so we just chilled out over a few [hundred] cocktails and some food. I ordered Thai Green curry and I was robbed because it was just a pile of slightly flavoured rice with veg and no bloody curry. When I asked ‘where’s the sauce?’,  they just threw me a sweet / sickly smile and basically ignored me. I wasn’t impressed. And the whole damn beach got to hear about it.

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We purposefully missed the “viewing point” because it required a significant amount of effort (lots of stairs in the heat, no thanks). We’re lazy cows so we missed out on what’s supposed to be an amazing view.

The water taxi returned us to Sairee beach and we had a jug of Sangria (with white wine, too hot for red) at a place nearby the drop off called Fishbowl Beach Bar. We were lured in by a gathering of bean bags spread out on the beach – what a way to watch the sunset.

Once we’d showered off the day, we set out for dinner at In Touch (because it was so damn good last night). I had a Massaman curry and Victoria had… yep, you guessed it… Pad Thai.

We decided to have one drink… but that good intention went awry and turned into a frenzy of balloons, buckets and beer. We were lured into a bar (Bar Next 2) that offered free balloons for every bucket (classy) and the bar was pumping out some tunes; cheesy-house-pop-RnB-dance – you name it – and everything was remixed. And there was even some fire poi on the beach. Can’t get better than that, eh? We met a Welsh couple (Chloe and Billy) and a couple of other really cool guys. We partied with them until 2am and spent a fortune. Great night though!

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Koh Tao, Thailand (New Year’s Day, aka ‘Write Off’)

Today, as you might expect, was a car crash. We got maybe two hours of broken sleep and then we had to drag our sorry selves to the pier for our 12.30pm ferry to Koh Tao. Everyone in the queue looked like a colourful shade of death because their lifeless limbs were still doused in glow paint.

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Our attempt to soak up some sun on deck failed so we paid an extra 20 baht to sit in the cooler cabin and we slept most of the way.

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Upon arrival, we had lunch at the restaurant to the left of the pier – my addled brain can not recall the name of the establishment, aka shack. I had a red curry and Victor had… yep… Pad Thai. Mega yums.

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Then we caught a taxi to Clear View, cooled down in our room, and then headed out for dinner at In Touch resort. Gorgeous location overlooking the ocean coupled with delicious food. I mean, what else do you need?? Victoria had another Pad Thai and I tried a papaya salad (won’t be doing that again). For dessert, we had this warm banana, milk and honey thing.

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Now we’re in bed ready to pass out.

Koh Phangan, Thailand (Full Moon Party, Haad Rin)

Happy New Year!!! …

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But before I go into it, a bit about the hours running up to it…

Bangkok Air is a great airline. They even have a lounge you can use – free coffee, cake, weird banana-leaf-rice-things. We even got a free meal on the 45 minute flight. It was rank but nonetheless…

Upon arrival at Samui (the airport looks like a mini island), we paid 150 baht each for a shuttle to the Lomprayah Pier, to catch the 12.30pm ferry to Koh Phangan. It’s really easy to get around here. We probably didn’t need to book in advance but I think we got a slightly cheaper deal for our efforts.  

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Once we arrived in Koh Phangan, we got a taxi to Echo Beach Hostel. The taxis in these islands are open-air trucks and you share them with however many people they can fit into them. Some even stand at the back, holding onto the railings for dear life. We changed trucks about three times but we got there in the end. Musical taxis.

Echo Beach was… a surprise. The guy in reception was off his face and the dorm was absolutely filthy, beyond disgusting. We weren’t even on the list for a bed even though we’d paid in advance. Trying to negotiate with a crack head is pretty tough going too. Eventually, he sighed, and mumbled that we were lucky to be there. We thought otherwise but – on New Year’s Eve – we didn’t really have much in the way of options.

We went for a spot of lunch at the Pier – we both had red curry but they got the order wrong so it took a while. I’m not sure it was red either. But it was bloody tasty whatever it was.

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Then we went for a wander; bought a beach towel, popped into one of the backstreet chemists (that was interesting), and had an hour long massage for 500 baht (£6). I was forced into some compromising positions (lovers haven’t witnessed such sights) and things clicked when I’m not sure they should’ve… but otherwise… heaven…

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Before heading to the Full Moon party (or the ‘New Year countdown’ in this case, although it’s pretty much the same thing), we got ready in the mixed dorm (we gave up trying to cover our bare boobs and arses) and had dinner, aka seafood Pad Thai, at Fisherman’s. Such a lovely restaurant overlooking the beach. Good grub too. The perfect civilized prelude to the carnage and chaos of the night ahead.

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We arrived at Haad Rin in another open-air taxi-truck with some French guys, a Chinese girl and a Columbian dude. It was like landing on Planet Crazy. There were fluorescent, saucer-eyed goblins left, right and centre, up and down, swinging off trees, treading water at see – mentalists EVERYWHERE. By midnight (or perhaps earlier), everyone was off their Christmas tree. Mushroom mountain was possibly the most intense place I’ve ever encountered. People were climbing over each other when they weren’t climbing over jagged rocks and cliff edges in a bid to find their way to the top where the magic mushroom stall was selling shakes for 500 baht each. People were going mad for them. Rushing to the front of the queue as if their lives depended on it. We even saw one woman lick up a spillage from the surface of the bar (eww) – I am not shitting you. It was like the world was going to end if they didn’t get another shake.

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(The above is us with a bucket, not a shake FYI)

But nooooo, these shakes didn’t save anybody. People were pissing everywhere and anywhere, f*cked up couples tried to shag wherever and whenever they could (it was funny yet unsettling to watch the many failed attempts), and the beach was dotted with unconscious, dribbling bodies.

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One guy was lying unconscious at the bottom of a heap of rocks mid-way up mushroom mountain. His mates had abandoned him and he didn’t seem to have anything on him. He was just in boxers. And he was bleeding. At one point, we honestly thought he’d died on us. He vomited while unconscious and would have choked if some sweet Australian guy hadn’t have intervened and put him into the safety position. Victoria tried to call an ambulance but was a little stuck when asked ‘where are you?’. This guy, and a handful of others, helped the bleeding unconscious wreck back to the safety of the beach. Nobody else gave a rat’s arse. People were even taking photos of him. I kept thinking; ‘god, that’s somebody’s son’. It was a harrowing / sobering moment and we were pleased to escape and touchdown back on earth… although the goblins were still running amok. People were dancing on the beach… sometimes minus music, in silence. Who needs music at the Full Moon??!

In short, it was an absolutely crazy night – but so, so much fun! It was totally wild. I’ve been to some crazy parties in my time (see ‘Parisian castle rave’ for an example) but never have I seen so many naked, messed-up people! People just stood in the sea, alone, with arms outstretched embracing the never-ending mushroom madness and the unknown.

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Not entirely sure how we made it back but we did. I’m so happy I put some money in my bra and that we didn’t take our credit cards. Could have been… messier.