The Man with the Golden Japanese Tourist....

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

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Thursday, June 10, 2004

Thursday 3rd June
It was a lovely day in Krabi a bit coller than on the East Coast but still sunny and in the high 20s. We decided to chill out and do nothing today and check out Krabi town and take a walk along the mangrove rkiver. We had a lovely breakfast with the best coffee I have ever tasted at a little place near our guest house which set us up for the day.

We soon realised that there isn't much to Krabi, its a nice enough fishing town but more of a stop off to other places and islands. We got a bus ticket to take us Phangnga for tomorrow morning and then took a walk along the river which is actually the Krabi estuary and is a network of Mangrove forests. We headed back to the guest house and spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on our terrace overlooking the river and mangroves reading. We headed out to the night markets again for dinner as this is where all the locals go. We had delicious chicken and cashewnuts with rice followed by a banana and chocolate pancake.

Friday 4th June
Our bus to Phangnga didn't leave till 12noon so we headed to our breakdast man for more delicious brekkie and coffee. The bus journey was pretty uneventful getting to Phangnga and we checked into the Phangnga Guest House. We organised for the guest house owners nephew to take us out on a longtail boat tomorrow and take us round Phangnga Bay which is similar to Halong Bay in Vietnam with thousands of limestone stacks, sea caves and islands. It is a huge 400 square km national park and home to James Bond Island which was where they filmed The Man with The Golden Gun. We were to be picked up at 8am and we spent the rest of the afternoon at the internet cafe catching up on some emails as there wasn't much to phangnga town.

Saturday 5th June
We were up and had had breakfast when we were picked up in a huge SUV which a lot of Thais drive (which goes to show how high the high season is!) We got to our longtail boat and headed off into thick mangrove forest. As we were in a small boat we got to go right into the mangroves and saw lots more than we imagined. There were kingfishers and crabs, otters and monkeys and a big lizard, apparently called a mudskipper with good reason as it skipped across the mud to get away from us. A lot of Thailands mangrove forests have been destroyed due to tigershrimp farming so this one is npow heavily protected.

We got to Tham Lod which is an island which through erosion has created a tunnel that runs straight under it. It was a big enough tunnel for us to fit through it in the boat. we motored on passing Kao Marjoo, which looks remarkably like a dog, to Koh Hong. We got to climb into a little hole into the side of this limestone rock island and inside it opened up into a huge cave with huge stalactites. We walked through the caves and came out at a lagoon in the middle of the island with huge rock walls all the way around. We had a swim here and the water was really cloudy blue from the limestone. We headed back through the cave to the boat and then made our way to the highlight of Phangnga Bay, Khao Ping Gan and Ko Tapu, better known as James Bond Island.

So far we hadn't really seen any other boats in the bay and had pretty much had the individual islands to ourself but here was very different. The island is tiny and there were a dozen stalls selling shells and other tourist tat and amazingly about 100 Japanese Tourists. It was bizarre. We got the obligatory photos and then headed back to the boat where our driver took us to a nearby secluded beach where we had lunch of seafood fried rice and mangosteens, lychees and pineapple. We had a swim before then heading off to see a few more islands. There were some good cave paintings on Ko Khien and we also stopped on a floating Muslim fishing village where there were dozens of souveneir shops catering to the tourists. We soon left and made our way back through the mangroves towards the port. We thanksed our driver and got a lift back to Phangnga Guest House for an early dinner and an early night.

Sunday 6th June
We woke early and checked out in the pouring rain to catch a bus back to Krabi. We had some lovely doughnuts for breakfast. We got back to Krabi mid morning and caught a songthaew to our Guest House as Krabi bus station is 5km out of town! We checked in and sat on the balcony watching the rain, it rained relentlessly all day. We sat reading our books till 6.30 when it eventually stopped and we headed out into the flooded streets to get some dinner from a street stall.

Monday 7th June
We woke up to a brighter day but still some dark clouds and a but windy. We decided to head over to Ko Phi Phi an island 48km from Krabi and bought our boat ticket for 1.30pm We checked out of our guest house and headed for lunch and an hour on the Internet. We got a ride in the back of a pick-up to take us to the pier where we boarded a little ferry that looked like it had been around for many years and then headed off.

Oh my God - Never have I ever felt so close to drowning in my entire life. It was like something from a scene in The Perfect Storm (except the captain looked nothing like George Clooney!!) we got crashed about in every direction and the boat was nearly vertical with every wave and when it crashed back down the centre of the boat looked like it might split in two! We were sitting outside on top holding on for grim life to the boat and our bags and getting slapped in the face with a gallon of salty water every couple of seconds. I was to busy concentrating on my escape plan I didn't have time to feel sick.

Two hours later we arrived at Ko Phi Phi Don - Paradise! Phi Phi was instantly my favourite Island in Thailand, there are no cars or roads on the island just paved walkways through the narrow streets of the town. Phi Phi is shaped like an 'H' and the middle bar of the 'H' is a 1km strait of sand linking two long mountainous islands. On one side of the sandy striaght are shops, restaurants, guest houses, resorts and a port and on the other side a few bungalows on a long sandy beachj with palm trees. We found a guest house called Banana Lodge and we headed out to explore the island. The sand here is whiter and finer than anywhere. We walked along the length of both beaches and then explored the shops and restaurants. We found a restaurant that was showing Shrek 2 so we headed in for dinner a lovely Thai Green Curry (again!) and watched Shrek 2 which was brilliant.

Tuesday 8th June
We had another day of Torrential rain today which is fine on Phi Phi as there are films on in every bakery, cafe and restaurant. We watched the dreadful Van Helsing over a late breakfast at the Bakery and then a Series of Friends over afternoon shakes and then the surprisingly good 50 1st Dates and the funny Starsky and Hutch over dinner. It has been so long since we have seen some good films we had to catch up!

Wednesday 9th June
The sun was shining today so we took the opportubity to get a boat trip to the surrounding islands. The first island we visited was Ko Phi Phi Ley (meaning small Phi Phi) and only 2.5 miles from Phi Phi. This was where The Beach was filmed. Boats are no longer allowed to dock on "The Beach" so we anchored up and swam to a stone in the limestone and had to walk across the island to get to the lagoon. Amazingly we had the place to ourselves for almost 5mins. The beach was beautiful and the island, which is still uninhabited except for a ranger who has a tent in the middle, is really pretty. We stayed here for a while before climbing back through the whole into the Andaman Sea where we snorkelled for 20mins before heading off.

We headed to Bamboo Island in our longtail boat which again is uninhabited but has signs of a few shacks being built by some local fisherman. It is beautiful with just a long strip of white sands and palms with other trees forming a mini forest in the centre of the Island. we sat here and had our pack lunch and took a walk around the Island (literally). We then got back in the boat and got to a bit of reef and snorkelled some more. It was like being in a fish tank. Our driver was throwing pineapple peelings from our lunch and the fish were appearing from nowhere for some lunch. We snorkelled here for a while and then made our way back to port. We went back to our guest house and got showered and then headed out to catch a couple of episodes of Friends before dinner. We headed to our favourite place for a Thai Green Curry as we decided to move onto Malaysia tomorrow and this would be our last Thai meal. We had our Curry and watched 21 grams and then went to get our ticket for the morning boat back to Krabi and our bus ticket from Krabi to Penang an island in North Western Malaysia.

Thursday 10th June
We caught the boat from Phi Phi to Krabi in much calmer waters. Our bus to Malaysia was leaving from Krabi Pier so we got straight off the boat and onto our bus. We had a 5 hour jouney to Hat Yai where we caught another bus which took us over the border into Malaysia. When you cross the Border there are huge signs warning of Malaysias laws and quite largely sign posted is the fact that the Death sentence applies for Drug Possession. Now its not like we had any drugs on us but also our bags had been in the holdall of the bus for 5 hours and you can't help but wander if someone might put something in your bag while you cross the border. Fortunately we crossed pretty easily but the laws here are quite strict on a number of areas. Gambling is strictly prohibited, Western Magazines are banned for being too explicit and displays of homosexuality results in flogging!

The houses, roads and bridges were noticably newer and better built than Thailand and to be honest it felt very English. The roads look the same, the houses are similar and everything is in English - even our plugs are the same. We had 3 more hours before we reached Penang which made it with the time difference 8.30pm. We were dropped in Georgetown, Penangs main town, and checked into The Olive Spring Hotel for 21RM. The currency here is the Malaysian Ringgit and there is currently 7 Ringitt to the pound. We headed out to the nearest stall and got a curry to share. There are a lot of Indians here and a Chinese influence too. We had our dinner before taking a wlak round the local area before getting an early night.
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