Lazy Days!

Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Flag of Thailand  , Nakhon Si Thammarat,
Monday, July 11, 2011

We caught a ferry over to Koh Phangan from Koh Tao for our last couple of days in Thailand. The lonely planet guide said that if you don't want to sleep go to Haad Rin, if you think you might want to get some sleep go to any other beach. (Haad Rin is where the full moon parties are held as well as all the new derivatives, half moon, 1/8th moon, big moon, small moon, round moon etc). So, this gave us the impression that all that was at Haad Rin was the party scene and we aren't on the island in time for the main parties anyway so decided we'd go to any other beach. This is a broad idea as there are so many beaches at Koh Phangan... it's much bigger than Koh Tao. We'd heard Haad Yao had a nice beach so thought we might go there, found it on a map and it was on the west coast. Then we read about it in the lonely planet where it said it's on the east coast... it turns out there are two beaches called Haad Yao at completely opposite ends of the island. I'm sure they've done this purely to baffle tourists.  This is a consistent theme with Koh Phangan there's Ao Baan Tai and Ao Baan Kai, Haad Rin Nai and Haad Rin Nok, Ao Thong Nai Pan Noi and Ao Thong Nai Pan Yai.... Still don't know what any of these slight differences mean. I thought perhaps it was the direction (south, north) but there are too many different ones for it to be that. 
So when we landed we were grateful for the people there with their leaflets directing us to the taxi's. We decided to get the taxi to the north of the island and booked into a really nice bungalow resort in Chaloklum Bay (The only place with this name). It seems that the resort is struggling to get enough customers in the low season because the price we paid was more than 60% off what they would usually charge and we felt we had lucked out as they had a beautiful location,  a big outdoor swimming pool and an incredible sea view from our bungalow.  

Chaloklum is probably the most remote place we've been since we arrived in Thailand and there are very few tourists or tourist amenities. There's a couple of shops selling English books, a few shops selling travel services which were all closed as it was the weekend and then a number of seafood restaurants overlooking the sea. These were great, they sell fresh seafood everyday at reduced prices and you sit on bamboo tables and chairs overlooking the incredible sea view. It's so quiet, all you can hear are the crickets and the sound of the waves lapping onto the coast making it perfect for a couple of days relaxing on the beach, swimming in the pool and enjoying locally caught prawns.
Everyone has been really friendly here, that is until you try to pay for anything with a thousand baht note! The cash machines only really give out thousand baht notes especially as we are trying to take out as much as we're allowed to in order to make sure we take money out as infrequently as possible and avoid the cash machine charges. I'm sorry but you are going to have to use them at some point but the shopkeepers and restaurant owners really don't like it. We had dinner in a really nice little seaside seafood restaurant and our bill came to roughly 400 baht, I only had thousand baht notes left so paid with one of them (the equivalent of paying your 8 bill with a 20 note). The women looked at the note then up at me with a concerned face "You no have smaller?"
 "No, sorry, that's all I have" She snatched the note from my hand, sighed very loudly and stormed off to the other side of the restaurant to get my change. You'd have thought I was trying to pay with Scottish money! (that's the other time in life I've had that sort of reaction or if you hand the bus driver a 20 note - completely different scenario). I couldn't believe how this woman had gone from being so friendly and helpful to detesting me, it's not like I refused to pay! 

Anyway, I don't know what the problem was because she had plenty of change and fanned through a massive pile of hundred baht notes to give me my change. I thanked her but all she could muster was a disapproving grunt as we left the restaurant. It's funny because we've experienced both ends of the spectrum with the service in Thailand. Some places are very welcoming, friendly and couldn't do more to help you plus they do everything they can to usher customers into their establishments. We've also had loads of experiences where you look through the menu standing outside the restaurant whilst the whole family sit watching you, each of them sat at a different table in their empty restaurant. It couldn't be much worse for making you want to eat elsewhere. 

Following the illness incident in Koh Samui Katy had been much better but is insisting that she doesn't want to enjoy herself too much over this trip so the latest ailment is with her ear. It seems her selective hearing was more than just trying to ignore me and her ear is a bit blocked and has started to hurt. We bought some ear drops and she was taking paracetamol but then that ran out. We decided to go find a pharmacy in this little remote village and found one where there was a young girl running the place. Katy asked for paracetamol and she produced an enormous bottle of tablets to which we asked if she had anything smaller. She said "You sick?" 
 "I have sore ear" Katy replied pointing to her ear. The girl took back the bottle of paracetamol and started putting all sorts of pills into little bags. Her English could only stretch to "you sick?" and "You take 3" so we had no idea what she had handed to Katy but there were 3 little bags of tablets that Katy was to take after each meal. This led to a bit of a dilemma because should you just accept what she tells you (she is the pharmacist after all), but then if Katy reacts badly to it we couldn't even tell anyone what she had taken. It's been fine, but I hope there are no other medical issues because it's difficult while you're in a different country and can't communicate properly... and it's so expensive!

One of the jobs we really needed to do was to book our onward travel to Malaysia but as all the travel shops were shut we had to wait until we could go to a busier town. The next morning we caught a taxi to Thongsala, where the ferry pier is and booked ourselves onto the night ferry and then VIP bus (VIP remains to be seen...) to Penang. However the night ferry wasn't until 10pm so we had an 11 hour wait, to kill the time we caught a taxi over to Haad Rin which is where the Full Moon parties are held. This wasn't anything like what we had expected, the beach was stunning, there were posh resorts along the coast which looked amazing and it wasn't particularly busy. There are all the usual beach shops, travel shops etc but that is to be expected. Perhaps this place transforms when the party is on but I felt Lonely planet had misrepresented it as purely a mental party town, it looks to me like a really nice part of Ko Phangan to be

So, still with time to kill we sat for most of the afternoon slowly sipping a drink so that we could stay in a bar with free WIFI and the Friends box-set playing in English on the TV. Then once we really felt we could no longer sit there without buying something else,  we left and got a taxi back to Thongsala looking for another establishment to waste some hours in and we found our way to the place where I'm sat now writing this blog entry. 

 We are sat at a table with a coke each and a couple of side dishes of food playing cards and a taxi driver just drove up next to us, him and his wife shouting "Taxi!" We didn't look around but they pulled up right next to us and looked directly over to us at our table... "Taxi, you want taxi?"
 "No thanks" we looked at each other thinking it was odd. Katy looked at me and said "We are in a restaurant right?"
 "Excuse me, taxi?"
 "No thanks, we're having dinner" Still they didn't leave, we looked around assuming they must be talking to someone else but they still hovered next to us and started to look annoyed that we hadn't leaped up and jumped at the chance to go in their taxi.
 "Hello, taxi, where you go?"
 "Nowhere, we're not going anywhere! We're staying here!" Why would they look at 2 people sat in a restaurant, still with food and drinks playing a game of cards and assume they had somewhere else to be. Incredibly they still didn't get it and sat staring at us looking confused for a couple more minutes before parking across the road looking over at us annoyed. Maybe they thought we didn't understand what taxi meant, or maybe they just assumed that tourists will take a taxi regardless of where they are or what they're doing..... or maybe they just have no idea how people tend to use taxi's. Who knows!

Thailand has been an amazing place to travel round. From the hustle and noise of Bangkok to the elephants and jungle of Chiang Mai and all the beautiful coastal towns and islands it's been immense. The highlights have been elephant trekking in Chiang Mai and diving the Coral reefs off Koh Tao, plus we can't forget exploring the paradise islands of Nangyuang and Bamboo island. When we look back it's awesome to see how much we've done with just over 3 weeks in beautiful, friendly, sunny Thailand. 
I feel we know less about Malaysia than Thailand which makes it a bit more of an adventure as we really don't know what to expect. Penang is the first stop in Malaysia, Capital of Malay cuisine so that sounds good to me! Just got to get through a 7 hour ferry trip followed by a day on a coach to get there! It's a Muslim country so alcohol is really expensive and we'll be on the water and coca-cola, although rice wine is supposed to be a Malay delicacy.... we'll see.

 Bye-bye Chang (Cheap Thai beer), thanks for being a good friend! Haha!
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Ab on

Definitely been in the restaurant with the friends boxset!
Lots of love xx

seanspacifica on

Loved that place, free WIFI, chocolate milkshake and friends box-set saved us during our 11 hour wait for the night ferry.

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