Thailand - We Love You Long Time

Trip Start Nov 16, 2005
Trip End Jun 04, 2007

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Saturday, March 4, 2006

We've just arrived back in Bangkok to meet John's little sis, Carly, whose come over to see us for 2 weeks. John's taken her off sightseeing today, so I've been left to let you know what we've been up to these last few weeks, since we were last in Bangkok.

We've spent the last few weeks island hopping, spending 3 or 4 nights in each place. Our journey started with a 12 hour overnight bus journey down to Krabi town, an overnight stay there and then a ferry to the laid-back island of Ko Lanta.

TRAVELLERS' TIP: For any other travellers out there, we strongly recommend you go to the trouble of booking a government bus rather than a private bus from the travel agents - the govt bus is slightly more expensive, but much more comfortable and it's quicker as it's direct.

We could happily have spent a week or so chilling out on the beach and round the pool at Ko Lanta - it was hard to moviate ourselves to do anything at all! But we managed to find the energy to go on a snorkelling trip to 4 small nearby islands. On one of the islands we had to swim through some caves by torch light and came out into this hidden bay, which was hemmed in on all sides by steep forested cliffs. The snorkelling was the best we've seen yet - we saw loads of weird and colourful coral and fish.

Another day we hired a scooter to take a drive round the 20 km island. We thought it'd be safe as the roads were new and there was very little traffic. But that made no difference when I got behind the wheel....anyone faint hearted should stop reading now! We'd had a great day with John driving - went up to a viewpoint for stunning views of the sea and neighbouring islands and went swimming at one of the beaches. Then I decided to have a go driving the scooter. It was a manual bike so it had gears, but I drive a car so thought it couldn't be that hard, could it? As soon as I set off the bike lurched away from me, I panicked and tried to brake while still accelerating. John came to help me and I ended up with John's foot stuck under the spinning wheel. It ripped his big toe nail off, right down at the root. Luckily we had our first aid kit with us - we'd only packed it because I'd actually cut my toe that morning when running on the beach!) John's toe seems to be healing well, it'll just be a long time before a new nail grows back. Funnily enough, John was actually more annoyed with me when I split coffee down his new T-shirt a few days earlier than when I run over his foot......

From Ko Lanta we took the ferry via Phi-Phi (where 'The Beach' was filmed) to the lively tourist epicentre of Patong in Phuket. Patong is like Benidorm Thai-style - the beach is wall to wall sunbeds and the streets packed with restaurants and bars. We went as we were craving crowds after the quietness of Sri Lanka and then Ko Lanta - and Phuket is the place to people watch; scantily clad girls with names like Brittney and Chardonney, overweight middle-aged Western men holding hands with their Thai 'girlfriends', middle-aged western women strolling topless on the beach....

Our next stop was to the tiny jagged pennisula of Railey. With every beach we visit, we're looking for one which we can describe as Paradise. It was here at Railey that we think we've found the closest yet to our Paradise beach. The beach is only accessible from the mainland by boat and even from within Railey itself you had to wade to it at high tide. The beautiful bay is framed by lush limestone cliffs that drop right into the clear emerald sea. A huge cavern punches straight through the cliffs, which you can swim into at high tide or walk into at low tide.

Railey is one of the world's leading rock climbing destinations and John had been keen to climb - so he wasn't too happy with me as his injured toe meant he couldn't climb, but I'm sure they'll be other places...

There are some good sights on Railey - a Diamond cave which contains beautiful limestone formations including a golden stone waterfall of sparkling quartz and a viewpoint and hidden lagoon high up inside one of the cliffs. We also spent a day kayaking through canyons and mangrove forests.

So now we're back in Bangkok. It's not supposed to be peak season anymore (Nov-Feb) but it's so busy that nearly all the guesthouses are fully booked - when we arrived at 7am, we had to wait until midday before any rooms became available. We're spending a few days in Bangkok and then heading down with Carly to Ko Sumai, Ko Pha-Ngan and Ko Tao.

We hear it's very cold in the UK right now - snow in March? In case you're wondering, it's 35oC here!

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