The Beach

Trip Start Jul 27, 2003
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41
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Trip End Jul 26, 2004


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Thursday, June 3, 2004

Friday 21st May
It was pouring down in Bangkok when we woke up so we took it easy. We put our films in, got our laundry out, logged on and generally mozied around. We went to watch the Killing Fields which was on at the bar next door and stayed there while it rained. The rain made it a lot cooler so we were actually glad of it!

Saturday 22nd May
We did very little again today until 4pm when we met up with Lizzie for a drink. David was over in Melbourne working so we didn't get to see him. We went up to watch ths charity bed-run for a local hospital where 22 beds were pushed around the streets of Bangkok. It was a good laugh and they raised a lot for the local hospital but I dread to think how it may have affected the already chaotic Bangkok traffic. We headed to a few more bars with an expat crowd before getting a KFC and "put" Simon in a taxi and got back to our guest house. If you think this was a short entry Simon memory provided much less!

Sunday 23rd May
We got up earlyish and headed to Chaturak Park where the weekend market is held which is the worlds largest market with over 6,000 stalls, covering a space the size of 5 football fields and even has a free bus to take you round the 28 sections. It sells absolutely everything at (after a relentless haggle) low prices! We went round the huge stalls and did a bit of shopping. We probably only saw a fraction of it but after 5 hours in the red hot sun we were soon ready to catch a cab home.

We went to see our favourite street stall ready and had roast duck on rice with a sticky soy sauce and a few Pepsis with our shopping littered around us! I love Bangkok. We were supposed to leave Bangkok tomorrow to head South but we decided to stay for one more day!

Monday 24th May
We had a lazy morning at our guest house restaurant with mugs of coffee, poached eggs on toast and The Bangkok Post before heading out to the nearby park for a walk down the Chao Phraya River. It is such a perfect place to relax which sounds insane but because Bangkok has everything on your doorstop it takes no effort to do anything. We decided to sort our tickets to the islands and make our first stop on Koh Tao on the East side in The Gulf of Thailand. We sorted out a bus to Chumphon and connecting ferry. We headed out to get some dinner and have a last walk round Banglamphu market to get any last minute Bangkok shopping and then headed to watch a film at the bar next door.

Tuesday 25th May
We had a sort out this morning. Packed up some stuff and sent it home by TNT. We packed up the rest of our stuff and checked out of Merry V and grabbed some rice soup for lunch from a street stall and had orange juice freshly squeezed at the side of the street for 10 baht. we then killed time till our bus was ready to take us to Chumphon. We got the bus which was a fancy VIP bus and even showed a movie and tried to get some sleep before our arrival in Chumphon at 4.30am

Wednesday 26th May
We awoke just before 5am as we arrived at Chumphon where we had an hour wait before we caught our boat to Koh Tao. We managed to sleep for the whole hour in the waiting room. We boarded the boat at 6am and eventually set off at 7am. The sea was pretty rough today and I had a pretty rough journey spending most of the 3 hours in the toilet! We eventually arrived in Koh Tao and were met by an influx of Thais trying to sell us their rooms and offering us free taxis to their accomodations.

Koh Tao is quite small, only about 10km long by 5km wide. We decided to Chalok Ban Kao Beach on the south western tip of the island and found some bungalows a mile from any main road and sat on the hill overlooking the bay and the sea. The bungalows were 150 Baht (2 pounds) and set in really beautiful gardens. We checked our stuff in and headed to the Viewpoint restaurant for a Thai Green Curry for lunch. We spent the afternoon lazing around and snoozing under the shade of a palm tree on our little beach.

In the evening we wandered to the main Chalok Beach were a number of restaurants lined the beach and found one called JPs and had some dinner while watching a bit of TV.

Thursday 27th May
We decided to explore the Southern end of the island. We walked for miles along the coastal paths, stopping off for a dip and a snorkel every now and again. We found a beautiful private bay but open to visitors called Shark Bay which overlooked Shark Island. We spent a few hours here snorkelling and swimming in the shallow bay. We slowly made the walk back to our bungalow for a quick siesta before heading our for dinner and watching a film.

Friday 28th May
Today we hired a bike so we could see the rest of Koh Tao. We took a drive upto Sairee Beach which is the busiest and biggest beach although it was pretty quiet this time of year. It has quite a few shops and dive centres and even a few 7-Elevens and ATMs. we headed passed Sairee to the nearest most part of the island where there were some exclusive resorts and spas. The road stops at the top and a battered road track takes you to the East of the Island which is still pretty much untouched and has some beautiful bays. we went to Mae Hat the islands Port town and had some lunch and a wander round the shops before heading back to sit on the balcony of our bungalow.

Sitting here looking out to sea I saw the amazing sight of a whale shark about the size of a double decker bus was swimming up and down the coast just in front of us. We were about 50m up so got a good view from above. we headed down the hill grabbing our snorkels but when we were on level with the sea you couldn't see where he was so I left Simon to swim out while I headed back up the cliff to give hand signal directions on where he was. Within half an hour a few boats had come into the bay with divers and snorkellers trying to have a look. He must have stayed in the bay for about 3 hours just swimming round. It was like he had popped in to say hi. When we headed out for dinner all the dive companies were advertising the fact that whale sharks had been spotted to get their bookings up for the next day. As we still had the bikes we headed into town for dinner and had some lovely pizzas at a nice Italian place.

Saturday 29th May
We left the lovely Koh Tao first thing and caught the ferry to Koh Phangan (prounounced Ko Panyang). It was a 3 hour boat journey and fortunately the water was like glass so I got to sit in the seat I paid for this time! We arrived in Koh Phangan and caught a Songthaew to Chalok Lam and then caught a long tail boat to take us to Bottle Beach as there are no roads going there. We arrived at Bottle Beach and got a bungalow for 120 Baht. Bottle Beach is a beautiful bay with a crescent shaped beach. There are just four places here all owned by the same family. We lounged about on the Beach and snorkelled in the shallow bay for the rest of the day.

In the evening a bonfire and barbecue were set up on the beach and we sat under the stars while we had dinner.

sunday 30th May
We headed back to the main port town today and had a wander round. We were going to stay another day here but the upcoming full moon party meant that rooms prices were being doubled and copious numbers of English lads with white trakkie bottoms drinking beer for breakfast looking to hire the biggest motorbike possible were arriving in droves so we decided to catch the afternnon ferry to Koh Samui. Its only 7km to Koh Samui so it only took half an hour to get there. We caught a songthaew to take us to the other side of the large 95 square miles island. The main resort town is Chaweng with 600 bars and restaurants, McDonalds, Boots, Burger King and even a huge Tescos lining its main street. Chaweng Beach is 5km is white sand. We headed passed here to Lamai Beach which is still pretty popular but in the low season was pretty quiet.

We found a lovely bungalow at a place calle New Hut on the North of the the 4km beach for 150 Baht and dumped our stuff and got showered before taking a walk the full length of the beach. Lamai is a really pretty beach and at the far southern end has two bizarre rocks called Hin Ta and Him Yai and both bizarrely were famous for their resemblance to a man and womans privates even more bizarrely they names translate to Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks. We walked back up though Lamai town which was a typical tourist town filled with restaurants and tailor shops. 5,000 expats live in Koh Samui and a huge majority are Western men living with their Thai girlfriends so many of the restaurants were Western including a few English pubs and a fish and chip shop.

We headed back to our place and had a Thai Green Curry at the restaurant and watched an amazing lightning show over the water. It was amaizing because there was no rain, no thunder and barely any clouds just silent lightning that lit up the sky for about 2 hours.

Monday 31st May
We hired a bike today to see some of Samui's sights. Our first stop was at the top of the island where you could see Koh Phangan to a place called Big Buddha beach. The name was explained a good few miles before we reached the beach with the sight of a 38feet tall Gold Buddha sitting on top of a small hill. We went to check out the Buddha which was huge and climbed the steps to the top to get great views of the Northern beaches. We then headed to Chaweng and took a walk down its gorgeous huge beach. Its right in the middle of the low season now so it was pretty quiet apart from a few basting themselves in the sun. We walked down the main street after getting giant Slush Slurpees from 7-Eleven and walked passed the hundreds of shops selling the same stuff. We got back on the bike and headed to a viewpoint south of Chaweng Beach. It was red hot again today so we went for a swim at the bottom of the rocky steps. We soon headed back to Lamai and sat in the shade on our balcony playing cards. We headed into Lamai town for dinner and had a lovely seafood barbecue of mussels, crab, prawns, red snapper and squid. we then walked back along the beach with a nearly full moon and had a beer under the stars.

Tuesday 1st June
We still had the bike for a few hours this morning so we headed to Tescos to get breakfast. Bread isn't something as tasty nor as freely available in Thailand compared to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. We bought some freshly bake croissants, a jar of jam and a little magnetic game of chess for 30 baht to practice Cambodian Checkers on. We also got some films for the camera as they were cheap. We returned the bike and had breakfast on the balcony and played Checkers. We pretty much retained this position for the rest of the day occasionally substituting checkers for drafts of cards.

Wednesday 2nd June
We spent this morning in Koh Samui walking along the beach and had a full English Brekkie at a little place we found and then spent the rest of the day getting to Krabi on the West coast of Thailand which at the moment is in the rainy season. We got a lift to the port and then caught the ferry for 4 hours to Surat Thani. They showed XXX and Mission Impossible on the ferry so time passed pretty quickly. We arrived at Surat Thani and had to wait a couple of hours for our tourist bus to take us to Krabi. An indication taht we are in low season, a huge VIP bus pulled up equiped with AC and TV and we were the only two on it! We arrived in Krabi at 8.30pm and found a guest house on the river for 150 baht. The only problem with being a tourist in a tourist town in low season is all the tour companies are desperate for your business so when we headed out to the night market across the road to get something to eat everyone asks "Where do you go tomorrow?" We didn't even know where we were going tomorrow we just wanted to eat and sleep. We had a lovely tea at the night market street stalls and then headed to bed.
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