Thailand from top to bottom........

Trip Start May 11, 2003
Trip End May 10, 2004

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Monday, September 15, 2003

The last time we updated the travelogue was shortly after L's birthday. We have been up to loads of things in Thailand since then. We arrived in Kota Bharu in Northern Malaysia about 7 hours ago. We had been in Thailand for almost a month but had to leave as our visa would have run out tomorrow (16th). We will be back......

Sun 24th Aug - Up at 7.30am and set off on our group trek with Brian as Sharon has been sick all night and can't come. We first trek up to the top of a hill to a Hmong village where L buys a tie on bracelet and that's pretty much the highlight!! Next we have a fantastic ride on the top of an elephant, how high!? (guess which is the naughtiest one of the lot!). Have lunch then visit a Karen minority tribal village before going for a shower in a waterfall. Next its bamboo rafting where we have tons of fun and end up completely soaked. Freezing cold by the time we get back to the G.H. so a hot showers really appreciated! Go on the internet then head to KFC for a jumbo set (loasda chicken!!!). Meet Brian & Sharon for a farewell drink before their bus to Bangkok then head to bed.

Mon 25th Aug - Up early for our last day in Chiang Mai and are looking forward to our first day in Bangkok tomorrow. People say you either love it or you loathe it. That's what they said about Ho Chi Minh City and it turned out to be one of our favourite places! Head to little cafe round the corner and catch up on our diary, BBC News and Bangkok Post. Bump into a couple from Salford that we first met in Vietnam about 6 weeks previously and catch up with them. Download our latest photos and L eventually manages to get her "A Lot of Thai" t-shirt from her cooking course. Catch the "VIP" bus to Bangkok (which is the worst we've seen on our travels). Oh well it did only cost us 3 quid each!

Tues 26th Aug - Arrive in Bangkok at 5.15am in the pitch black and haven't got a clue where we are going as we have just woken up! Check into the New Siam guesthouse, near Khao San Road (the backpackers area) and crash out. Do some shopping (t shirts, other clothes and shoes). Bump into Brian & Sharon (again) who are off to Phuket. See you in Sydney! Later on while we are eating we bump into Laura & Tony (walking down the street again) and catch up with them over a few drinks.

Wed 27th Aug - Arranged to go to Kanchanaburi (100 or so kilometres west of Bangkok) with Laura & Tony today so meet just before 12pm, get a taxi to the bus station and then a bus there. Check into Jolly Frog guesthouse, overlooking the River Kwai, and spend the rest of the day having a few more beers, swapping travel tips, relaxing and watching films.

Thu 28th Aug - Decide to go on the Death Railway today, which runs from Kanchanaburi, over the Bridge over the River Kwai towards a place called Hellfire Pass. The whole railway was built in the Second World War by the Allies and local labourers, under Japanese command, to link Thailand to Burma through dense forests and jungle. Thousands of men died building it and there is a memorial museum near Hellfire Pass to try and show what they were put through and what conditions they had to work under. After the museum, we walked through Hellfire Pass and it brought home just what a task the Allies carried out. It's difficult to find words to describe. Once we were back at the guesthouse we had a few drinks with Laura & Tony.

Fri 29th Aug - After breakfast, the four of us walk to the Bridge over the River Kwai in the sweltering heat. In the afternoon, L and I take a trip to a National Park (known by tourists as the "Tiger Temple") where the monks have miraculously managed to train and almost tame adult tigers. We have photos proving we stroked the adults and some cubs. It was certainly a bizarre experience! The park also houses monkeys, horses, goats, cows, peacocks and reindeer, none of which seem to be afraid of groups of humans. Back at the guesthouse we have a quiet night playing Connect 4!

Sat 30th Aug - L and I visit Erawan Falls about 50km out of Kanchanaburi. Arrive there at 9.15am and decide we have to be back at the park entrance at 11.30am to catch the bus back to town. We hike right to the top of the falls, which consist of seven pools on different levels, which seem to just roll into each other. The first to the seventh is a mile climb and you are able to swim in each of them, but unfortunately we only have time to swim in the top one. Dash back to the entrance and have to cadge a lift in a pick up as the bus goes from a market one kilometre down the road. When we get back we set straight of to the train station for the journey back to Bangkok. We check into Peachy guesthouse, which is $4 per night compared to $6.50 at the last place. In the evening the four of us visit the infamous Patpong market where the market stalls are surrounded by go-go bars, which is all part of the Bangkok experience!

Sun 31st Aug - Get our second parcel (6kgs cost 30quid) to the Post Office in Bangkok after breakfast and then book our tickets to Koh Samet, an island south east of Bangkok. Shop for a few last minute bargains and necessities and then link up by e-mail with L's friend SD to chat about her trip to see us in Oz. Our last night until Sydney with Laura & Tony, we eat out at a place that does BBQ fish. Lovely! Washed down by a few beers and cocktails!!

Mon 1st Sep - After saying our goodbyes to L&T, we spend most of the day, well until 3pm travelling by mini bus and boat to Koh Samet and end up in a really dingy bungalow resort. We decide to stay one night but have our eye on a better place for the morning.

Tues 2nd Sep - Check into Sai Kaew Villa, on the beach, and feel much happier. Head onto the beach, our first for over six weeks, and spend most of the afternoon dozing or in the sea. At about 5pm, we decide to walk across to the other side of the island (as it's only 5km long by 1km at its widest point) to Ao Phrao where we watch the sun set. Back at Sai Kaew we only manage to get out late and because it's pouring down, most of the restaurants have closed, so we go to the first that's open.

Wed 3rd Sep - Spend all day on or around the beach (what a life!). M cuts L's hair before the sun goes down and we have a BBQ chicken and pork kebab with garlic bread, jacket potato and corn on the cob (M's kind of meal - yum!)

Thu 4th Sep - L cuts M's hair first thing and we walk over about seven beaches along the coast to find a secluded one. Must have covered about two thirds of the length of the island and none of it ends up being flat, but it's worth it when we get to Ao Wong Duan, where we spend the best part of the day on the sand and see less than a dozen people until it's time to head back. Bliss! Stop on the way back for fresh coffee, a fruit shake, a delicious sandwich and a doughnut, but we've deserved it. Have a long chat when we get back, as it's a very important day. Speak to M's Mum and Sis, Jules later and have a drink for Dad whilst watching the bright star.........

Fri 5th Sep - Back to Bangkok today and end up rushing to the boat pier and just catching it. Pretty horrendous boat journey, but we arrive back at Peachy at 6pm. Go shopping again as it's our last night in Bangkok.

Sat 6th Sep - Leave the bags at Peachy as we are only leaving for Koh Samui (in the South) at 6pm. Spend three hours uploading photos onto and on e-mail before we head down to Khao San Road for the last time. The bus this time is really VIP with reclining seats and everything. Even get treated to three films, "Cradle to the Grave", "Daredevil" and "Planet of the Apes".

Sun 7th Sep - Eventually get to Koh Samui at 12.30pm and check into New Hut at the North end of Lamai beach where we get our own en-suite bungalow on the beach for less than $5. Walk to the other end of Lamai beach and back through the resort, which takes a good three hours. Eat out at the highly recommended "Ninja Crepes" next door.

Mon 8th Sep - Spend most of the morning resting after our mammoth 18 hour journey and 3 hour walk the previous day. The bungalow has a window, which opens out to give us a great view of just the beach and the sea. Spend the rest of the day around the bungalow/beach reading, catching up on the diary and generally chilling out. Try our first "Thai Orange Curry" at Ninja Crepes.

Tues 9th Sep - Have breakfast and hire a scooter to do our own island tour. Set off towards Chaweng on the East Coast where we get collared by a guy offering timeshares. Decide to go to their offices, as there is a "dream holiday" on offer. We listen to a presentation and visit the nearby resort, which are our only obligations. We now have a voucher for a weeks holiday in 5* accommodation in either Koh Samui or Phuket (on the west coast). As we had planned to go to Phuket in early November anyway, this is where we'll be taking our weeks 'break'! End up going straight back to Lamai and decide to move on to Kho Pha Ngan tomorrow for the Full Moon Party.

Wed 10th Sep - Say our goodbyes to the owner and staff at Ninja Crepes, the only backpacker friendly place in Lamai & Chaweng. Get the 1.00pm boat and hit a storm during the one hour journey, so arrive on Kho Pha Ngan soaked! Get a pickup to our accommodation "Booms Cafe". Eat there, L finds a snake in the toilet, then watch "Grease" and have a couple of drinks next door at "Harmony" before getting the 5 minute boat to Had Rin Sunset beach at 11.00pm. Have a drink or two at the Outback bar with three lads from Stoke, two Irish girls and two others from Harmony. Spend the rest of the night with the lads and crash out on the beach at 5.30am. Wake up at 6.30 and the sun has already risen, but we'd had a great night and the atmosphere was fantastic!

Thu 11th Sep - Walk back along the beach and get back to Booms at 8.30am. Check out at 12 and check straight in to Harmony. Sleep the rest of the day and only get up to eat.

Fri 12th Sep - Walk down to Had Rin town and have breakfast at "Hiatus" a really laid back cafe. Spend a bit of time on the internet and wandering round town before having a drink on Sun Rise beach (around Sun Set time!). Tonight's treat night so we go to "Bamboozle" (Mexican restaurant) where we have olives, nachos, onion rings and wine, a few games of Jenga, then garlic prawns and chicken quesadillas finished off with a few games of Rummy. Chilled out!!

Sat 13th Sep - Spend all day around Harmony sleeping, playing games, listening to music and talking about our plans. Have a dip in the pool later in the afternoon and eat at Harmony later whilst watching "25th Hour". Go and see it!

Sun 14th Sep - Have breakfast at Booms and say our goodbyes there before making our way to the boat pier and eventually getting to Surat Thani train station on the mainland. Take a trip to a Tesco hypermarket nearby and stock up on our essentials (and some non-essentials of course), as we're not sure what to expect in Malaysia......

Take care........
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