Land of Smiles

Trip Start Sep 03, 2004
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Trip End Dec 22, 2004


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Flag of Thailand  ,
Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Our first port of call in Thailand was Satun which was a just transit point for making our way to the islands off Kravi, particularly Ko Phi Phi, or Ko Pee Pee as it is amusingly anglicised. Satun was crazy - it was liked we'd stepped onto a totally untrodden tourist path. the people were amazed at us, and so friendly, really getting a good look at us and all saying hello, at least as much as our minimal Thai understood it. It was so funny nobody speaking English and really using over-exaggerated hand gestures to communicate. Andy went to a shop to get water and Jillian sat with the bags at the bus stop and a woman and her son just plonked themselves down beside her, staring and smiling - it was like a zoo! Every time I moved they were awed! They'd look at each other, then look at me again, beaming faces, totally mystified by probably the whitest person they've ever seen. After getting out of Satun, which was difficult as it's a predominately Muslim town and the festival of Hari Raya marking the end of Ramadhan was the next day, we made our way to Krabi.


Krabi

4 hours later, we arrived in Krabi at 1am by which time 'conventional' taxis had finished, so the only way of getting into the town centre, 6km away, where all the accomodations are, was by MOTORCYCLE TAXI. I got on the back of one motorbike with Jillian on another, with neither of us having the security of a helmet, they were for the drivers only. The journey took about 20 minutes and it was actually enjoyable. Unlike my motorbike crazy brother Paul, I've always thought of them as death-traps, but I'd definitely get on a motorbike again as would Jillian who was as reluctant as I was, having never been on one in her life. The drivers dropped us off at the nearest hotel which was quite expensive for our tiny budget, but it was nearly 1.30am and we just wanted to get to bed. The hotel was superb, it was just a pity we were only getting about 10 hours in it. It was 4 stars and 800 Baht for the night, which is only about 11 quid, very cheap compared to prices back home. Massive bed, white linen sheets, huge Tv and more importantly - a proper flushing toilet bowl and a hot power shower -heaven! We haven't actually written about the toilets of SE Asia yet, as our parents and loved ones would certainly have nightmares! Some things we'll leave until we get home :-)

Our first day in Krabi we went to a tourist office - who picked us up at the hotel and took us to their office. we'd some organising to do for the next few days - trips, boat ticketrs, bus tickets and accommodations. After sorting it all out, it was off for a steak breakfast at 3pm!!! We took a local bus (another story!) to a working Buddhist monastery just outside Krabi called Wat Tham Sua. It was described in our travel guide as a "Must-See", but it wasn't really that special to tell the truth. Monks wandering round, looking serene, then masses of tourists, then nuns with shaved heads asking for donations left right and centre, and to top it all off, a massive big Coca Cola sign just outside a cafe, wehre the monks were "chillin'". There were, again, loads of monkeys coming down from the mountains to get food of the tourists - they're so cheeky! One actually grabbed onto Andy and wouldn't let go, tried to take the camera off him, then opened up his pocket, stuck its wee hand inside it and had a wee hoke round to see if it could get anything! There were some nice statues at the monastery, but a bit of a waste of time to be honest.


Hat Railay

Next morning it was off to beaches, beaches and more beaches. First island was Hat Railay, which we'd read a lot about in our guide book, ranting and raving about how great it is - was ok. Tonsai Bay was the area we stayed at because the main, nicest beach (but not that special, really) was full of 5 star resorty type hotels - a nightmare for us! We just spent one night there just - beach during the day, nice meal and drinks at night. Hat Railay was the first place, though, that we heard the words that would prove to give us the most laughs throughout our trip in Thailand "Mass-aaaaaage". You have to imagine what way they would say it! You cannot walk down the street without at least 5 people shouting it at you - it's really funnny! So, Jillian dragged Andy into the massage parlour and we both got a lovely 1-hour oil Thai massage. Was a nice experience.


Ko Phi Phi

We'd heard a lot of things about Ko Phi Phi, some good and some bad, and when we arrived we were astounded at the amount of tourists. It really was like stepping onto the streets of Majorca, not what we'd imagined from Thailand at all. Everyone spoke English and the streets were lined with hotels, guest houses, stalls, tourist offices, internet cafes, bars - you get the picture - there were even "Whities" handing out flyers for bars on the street! We walked to a more secluded beach to get away from it all, where Andy had a great time exploring the rockpools and we watched yet another sunset with 3 people doing Thai Chi on the beach - so Mr Miagi! That night we went to a cool bar and enjoyed a few wee drinks, and Jillian forked out all of 1 pound to go and get her hair washed and straightened in a hairdressers to feel like a girl again! The hairdresser, though, really took her time because she loved Jillian's blonde hair and kept playing with it for ages.

Next day we went on a boat tour of the nearby beaches and islands - Bamboo Island and Ko Phi Phi Ley, Monkey Beach, Pileh Cove and Maya Bay (where the film "The Beach", with Leonardo de Caprio was set). We snorkelled at about 6 different spots, which was rerally wonderful - so many different fish, all colours - favourites were the gigantic angel fish. We few them some pringles which meant we were swimming right in the middle of them - beautiful sensation. The beaches were beautiful, just as we'd hoped, and the sand was so lovely to walk on, chrystal clear waters, really nice. But, we were just one of many many other tourists visiting - the whole area was overcrowded and it wasn't even peak season. The boat trip and the whole day was great, we really enjoyed oursleves.

Later that night we dined in the "best" restaurant on the island, according to our guide book, which wasn't even that expensive, had a stroll around the markets and to our joy, found some Nutella Crepes. We even bumped into a friend we'd met in New Zealand (for all our Stray friends it was Matt who left us in Roturua - he's doing great!)

Although Ko Phi Phi wasn't what we'd imagined - a more secluded tropical paradise we did still enjoy our time there, and despite the tourists and litter, it is a beautiful place.

Next day it was off to Phuket by boat, then up to Khao Lak to finally sort our trip to the highlight destination: The Similan Islands, which we've been trying to book for 2 1/2 weeks now! Hopefulkly the next time we write we'll have been to the real paradise...

A&J x
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