Friday, 3 December 2010

Bangkok and Island Hopping (Thailand and Singapore)

Hello folks, I am in Kuala Lumpur airport waiting for our flight to Borneo and the internet costs a fortune so I'm going to have to be super quick even though I have about 3 weeks of catching up to go.... d'oh!!!

Last time we chatted I was heading towards Bangkok where Daire would be replaced by Martin (miss you). I only spent 2 days in the capital which really wasn't long enough as it is so big and there is so much to see (read shop)!!! First of all, after thinking we would miss our flight in Chaing Mai and going actual bonkers at the minibus driver, Lena and I then had to navigate ourselves to Chinatown which is where we were staying. After a slightly terrifying journey along the dark alleys we made it to the hotel where Claudia and Martin were waiting for us (on the rooftop bar). The next couple of days were spent shopping at the weekend market (totally huge and too crazy to orientate) and Khao San Road. An evening spent bar hopping was followed by a morning spent at the immigration office where Claudia and I literally begged for 2 weeks visa extensions... we were only given 1 week and it cost 40 quid not including the monstrous taxi fares!!!!

That evening we bused it down south where our 2 weeks island luxury time (or so we thought) was about to begin. First stop Ko Tao!!

The main reason for hitting Ko Tao was for some scuba diving! Many people rave about the diving on the island but in all honesty it isn't that special. There are more divers than fish and the marine life isn't really anything amazingly special. We saw some turtles, sting rays and cool fish but I've been to better places. Asides from disappointing diving the island itself was a dream and definitely one of my favourites. It is pretty small and not so built up so you can get a really good feel for the places in only a few days. We went to some lush beached (Nang Yuan) and ate some yummy food including a crazy hot curry that nearly burnt my face off. We had a few nice days of sun and on the day it didn't stop raining we hired a taxi to drive us around the place which was really interesting. The only bad thing that happened, which I completely blame crystal divers for is some dodgy wiring from a non existent light bulb on a staircase... the result... my electrocution!!!!

After a 4 night stint we boated over to Ko Phangan for the only and only Full Moon Party! Not only did we get to meet up with the lovely Bob and Natalie again (miss you too guys) we had a brilliant time at FMP which I was originally feeling sceptical about due to the abundance of 18year old pissed kids. Apart from Haad Rin being a complete and utter dump, we got to chill on some nice beaches, the weather wasn't shocking and swimming at sunset after FMP was stunning. We also checked out some Muay Thai boxing and ate some amazing pizza pre FMP and bucket frenzy.

After the party I decided to check out Ko Samui whilst Claudia and Martin stayed to rent a moped. To be honest I almost wish I hadn't bothered because Chaweng was pretty awful. Samui is the largest of these 3 islands and to me it is lacking that essential island vibe that is so present on Ko Tao. Maybe if I had seen more of the island I would feel differently but I definitely wouldn't bother with Chaweng again. After an epic journey down both ends of the beach (which is very nice) I tried and failed to find a second hand book shop so resorted to the English Pub (oh yes) and had a chicken curry pie, delicious!!

After a much needed early night in front of the telly (once I finally found my hotel because I couldn't remember where it was or the name for that matter) I awoke early to catch the ferry to Krabi where I was reunited with the Germans AKA Claudia and Martin. Krabi is on the main land and we decided to stay in Krabi Town (cheap and cheerful) and catch a long boat to the beach instead. We hung out on Railey beach which was completely stunning if not a little over crowded with fancy resorts. Claudia and Martin went rock climbing, I managed to finally find a book shop (I finished the beach and veronica decides to die and am now reading life of pi) and we checked out the night market.

After a couple of days of relaxation we went over to Ko Lanta for some even greater R&R time. Whilst Ko Lanta is a pretty big island the relaxation vibe is intense. I chilled by the beach / pool, went swimming and snoozed almighty. The weather was still a bit hit and miss at this stage but that's what happens when you go to Thailand in November, it rains!

Ko Lanta was followed by a not so relaxing 3 night stint on Ko Phi Phi. First and foremost, Ko Phi Phi is amazing and definitely my favourite island. It is beautiful, the water is gorgeous, the island is alive with people but not a dump like Haad Rin, the diving was the best I've done to date and the most amazing thing is you can't even tell the 2004 tsunami destroyed the majority of buildings on the island!!! I went a bit mad on the diving in Phi Phi and managed to squeeze 6 dives into 1.5 days. I did a wreck and night dive which were really cool plus the more standard dives where we saw turtles, leopard sharks, sting rays, massive fish, millions of nemos and general awesome stuff!! I was very fortunate to do most my dives 1 on 1 with my DM which was certainly not the case on Ko Tao (8 people in one night dive group, no thanks)!! Phi Phi has a great night life too and there was loads of cool fire shows going down on the beach in the evening plus 10minute frenzies at each bar where you can get free buckets. The shopping is pretty great too but by this stage the funds are dropping with all the diving I've been doing.

After Phi Phi we hit up Phuket; our final stop in Thailand. By this stage mine and Claudia's visa's had expired but more on that later. The only reason for coming to Phuket was to catch a flight to Singapore. We were staying in Phuket Town which was close to being a dump but I did manage to see Harry Potter 7.1 at the cinema which was a nice treat especially since I got free popcorn, free drinks plus a massive sofa chair complete with blanket, lush! Claudia and I did a couple of dives which were OK (not as good as Phi Phi but more expensive)! We didn't manage to get to Patong beach but since Phuket is so massive on the tourism front it wasn't really are scene anyway.

On our final night in Phuket we went out for dinner to this 'nice restaurant' where they used old TV sets as fish tanks (pretty cool) and served really delicious food which later caused Claudia to develop food poisoning.

On Dec 1st (visa minus 3 days and a 30 quid fine) we flew to Singapore. Claudia still feeling rough stayed in the hostel the entire time except for a ride to the hospital on our first evening where she was diagnosed. Martin and I checked out the rides and beach on Sentosa which was lots of fun. We went on the ludge where I managed to drop my flip-flop from the chairlift (hilarious) and the mega-zip where I thought I was going to die with fright!!! We walked around Clarke Quay which is the place to go out night and we also went to see the pretty Christmas lights on Orchard Road (but did no shopping; damn you expensive Singapore). The following day we explored Little India, Arab Town and China Town but were caught in a thunder storm. We also tried to see the Singapore Flyer (a bigger London Eye) and Marina Bay but had to give up due to the rain. After the rain settled we headed to the north to see the night safari which was really fun. There were tons of animals so doing their animal business but under the cloak of darkness ie way more interesting than a standard zoo.

Today we caught a flight to KL in Malaysia before heading of to dive around Semporna in Borneo. Claudia is feeling better and it looks like we might get some good weather for the next few days. I can't believe I'll be home in a week, the last 2 months have gone so quickly and even though I have seen so much there is still loads we've had to miss out. I'll probably fill out the last blog post once I'm home as we only have 2 more places to visit. Hopefully we wont be stranded out here due to the snow at home because a. I really want to get home now and b. I have literally run out of money which is never a good thing.

Must dash, this internet bill is quickly racking up and we probably need to check into our second flight soon. I'm really looking forward to the diving around Spidan because it is meant to be the best in the world, see you soon xxxx

PS no time to do spell check so excuse my terrible spelling =)

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