Category Archives: Thailand

Travel tips and adventures in Thailand

Getting from Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand into Laos via land border and onwards to slow boat towards Luang Prabang

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I made the decision for myself and my travel buddy that we wouldn’t use the cushy way to get into Laos. We could have paid 1550 baht (41.86 euro) to a travel agent who would collect us from our hotel and organise all our transport along the way, including helping fill out our visa forms and handing in all our documents at the border. Basically being spoon fed.

Instead, I got talking to a older Australian man at our guesthouse, accompanied by Thai girlfriend of course, and decided to join them on their journey. I figured a Thai-speaker and a man who’d been to Laos many times were just as good as a tourist organised operation. I wanted the challenge rather than the easy option.

This is how the journey to the slow boat panned out:

Local bus from Chiang Rai to border town Chiang Khong – 65 baht (1.76 euro)
We were told at our guesthouse that we needed to catch the first local bus at 6 am to be sure that we’d make the slow boat at 10 am in Huay Xai. It was a five minute walk in the dark with odd sounds coming from buildings around us. In the words of my friend, the bus was quite ‘Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry’. It was a rackety old thing with no leg room and enough space for 1.5 people on the bench type seats. 

It took two hours to get to Chiang Khong, the border town.

Tuk tuk to border control – 50 baht (1.35 euro)
We got dropped off on the middle of a highway where a line of tuk tuks were waiting to bring us to the border to get stamped out of Thailand. We saw a Tuk tuk handing some money to the bus driver (probably as a way of thank you for dropping us off at their Tuk tuk establishment).

It was a few minutes journey and not worth the money but it’s how it’s done.

Bus over bridge into Laos – 25 baht (0.68 euro)
After border control there were buses waiting outside to bring us across the bridge that divides Thailand and Laos. Apparently it used to be easier a few years ago when you crossed by boat over the border further north.

Apply for Laos visa – 35 US dollars (30.80 euro)
We got into the building, rushed to get a form to fill out the ‘Arrivals’ section along with about two other similar forms and handed them into a guy at a hatch. We waited as our visas were processed by a person who never saw our faces. We had to wait for our names to be called with a fresh visa inside. It can be the luck of the draw if your passport gets to the top or bottom of the pile to process.

As far as I saw visas cost either 30 or 35 euro depending on nationality. They only took one passport photo, not two. But I’m sure this could change from day to day. I think scamming can also happen at times but I’ve found being there early in the morning helps rather than late afternoon. 

Tuk tuk to slow boat – 100 baht (2.70 euro)
The tuk tuks were lined up and waiting to take us to where we wanted. We waited a few minutes to let it fill up. We heard him quote us something different until some locals got in and the price went up.

Slow boat ticket – 950 baht (25.70 euro)
As it’s a well-used border area, bahts are still used and accepted. We thought the time for the slow boat was 10 am. It had a sign up stating 11 am and we left after 12 pm. 

Total:
1190 baht = 32.18 euro

Total saving:
360 baht = 9.83 euro

Note:
These transportation prices in baht were true as of 19 November 2014 and the euro exchange prices were correct as of 27 February 2015. The visa price was for an Irish individual travelling by land from Thailand into Laos on 19 November 2014.

The White Temple — Chiang Rai

I can’t tell you much about Chiang Rai. We used it as a stop off point between Chiang Mai in North West Thailand and Northern Laos. We visited just so we could see the White Temple.

‘Known as the White Temple, Wat Rong Khun…is the artistic vision of noted Thai painter-turned-architect Chalermchai Kositpipat. The temple has a stunning whitewashed facade and several avant-garde sculpture installations representing Buddhist principals. Contemporary historic scenes as well as pop culture references have replaced the typical images of village life and Buddha figures found in temple murals.’ (Lonely Planet: South East Asia on a Shoestring, 2014)

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White Temple

The temple as a whole is striking. The white walls are dappled with small square mirrors. The bridge up to the temple is wrought with scary, torturous images but shortly after you progress through to imagery of calmness and tranquility. Inside the actual temple there were men painting over some images. It was bright, colourful and modern. On one wall minions, superman, rocket ships and other modern images were painted discreetly.

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Entrance to the White Temple

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Details of the White Temple

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Random details from around the courtyard

The toilet blocks were the fanciest I’ve ever seen in my life. The temple is definitely worth a trip if in North Thailand. A sawngteaw might cost about twenty baht per person one way from the town centre.

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Toilet block

In the town it’s worth a trip to the clock tower as it emits music and lights up in varying colours every evening. I was also given a free fresh coconut water for good luck after my friend bought one off a lady in the market.

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The clock tower at night

A bit of spice in Pai

Apparently there’s a few hundred corners on the route up to Pai (a small town in North West Thailand) from Chiang Mai. You get advised by others to take stomach-settling tablets for the three hour journey. We didn’t bother. We were grand. Stomachs of steel. But it can depend on how crazy your mini bus driver is!

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The dorm and common area in Spicy Pai

As a backpacker you constantly get tips on what to do and what not to, where to stay, and good food places. We listened to some people and booked into Spicy Pai ‘hostel’. It’s not so much a hostel but a rustic bamboo hut with leaf roof and bamboo-made bunk beds. It’s pretty cool. Twenty six people in the open dorm with mosquito nets to keep the outdoors off you, it doesn’t keep the cats away though. 

Friends of mine from home had been in Pai a few months before and had both thought of me when they were there. They thought I’d love the small, artsy town in the mountains. They were right.

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Sunset at the canyon

Being part of the backpacker community makes you lose your inhibitions and make friends so quickly. An hour after arriving to Spicy Pai I saw a gang about to set off somewhere and asked them what they were doing. They were going to the canyon to watch the sunset. We were invited along so myself and Orna hopped on the back of some motorbikes and off we set. It was a beautiful location with the sun setting behind the mountains. We headed back to the town to the night market. The street food was amazing…some deep fried vegetables in pastry and an Indian kebab. We treated ourselves to a few purchases also as the prices are so good–€2.50 for a pair of cut off denim shorts!

That night we socialised in the common room–up a bamboo ladder and into the open-air room with cushions on the ground and leaf roof. We made three Irish friends–Lawrence (Larry, Big Lucky), Sean, and Donal. It was a breath of fresh air to hear their Irish accents. I was actually beginning to miss it! It ended with a night of drinking games, dancing in Sunset bar until the small hours, and running home along the dark road back to the hostel.

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At a waterfall in Pai

The next day was spent wandering around aimlessly, visiting a waterfall that wasn’t good to swim in, and scheming a swim in the pool at the Circus School hostel which was a bit too cool for school for our liking!

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White Buddha

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Scooting about

We rented scooters on our third day to go see some sights. It was our first time to drive them. We went to hot springs (not a great idea on a scorching day when all you want to do is jump into a cold pool), a waterfall, the white Buddha on the hill, and the Memorial bridge. The best part about biking around is the freedom–stopping when you want, the breeze in your hair, and the scenery.

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Orna on her scooter

We headed back Chiang Mai for one more night and were welcomed ‘home’ by our hostel owner!

Chiang Mai extravaganza

Chiang Mai was one of the first places we went to that we had a big itinerary in mind so we did quite a lot.

The best thing we did was choose The Living Place 1 (in between Tha Phae gate and the night bazaar) as our accommodation. The owner, Aree, was friendly, fun, welcoming, and helpful. The downstairs common area was relaxed, chilled, and sociable, so much so that as soon as we arrived we were going out to lunch with fellow backpackers. The icing on the cake? Three tiny cute chihuahuas. 

Siam Rice Cookery School
We went with recommendations from our hostel and paid twenty two euro and fifty cent for a day of cooking at Siam Rice. Our group included three Belgians, two Americans, and one South African. They collected us from our hostel and stopped off at a market so we could see where all the goods are bought. We made a few guesses as to what some of the vegetables were. The Thais have such a big variety of fresh produce! Among the broccoli and cucumbers there was also chunks of animal blood and meat drying out on a table in the sun.

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Siam Rice cookery school

The kitchen was an open air room. We made seven dishes each. I made spicy basil soup, spring rolls, stir fried chicken and vegetables with cashew nuts, penang curry paste and penang curry, pad thai, and mango with sticky rice. 

We stood around the prep area, each with a tree trunk chopping board and huge knife. We also had our own gas hob. The teacher was great. He has been a chef for many years. He added humour to the day along with adding extra spice and dashes of soya sauce to our meals. My favourite dishes were the penang curry, spring rolls, and pad thai as I had never made them before and can see myself making them in the future. The curry paste took a lot of bashing under the pestel and mortar but was extremely worth it. I was delighted with how my spring rolls looked and even the sticky rice and mango was a nice combination. The sticky rice was prepared the night before as it needs to be soaked in water overnight but the addition of coconut milk and a few other things made it really tasty. I found out that sticky rice is actually made from a different grain than the rice we eat in Ireland. We were sent home happy and full with a doggy bag, certificate, and cook book of what we made. Amazing day.

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Siam Rice cookery school

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
We spent two days in the jungle, one and a half hours from Chiang Mai. We did a little bit of research into elephant parks as we didn’t want to ride the elephants. The Elephant Nature Park was booked out so we went with the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. We also wanted to experience some proper Thai culture but were advised by our amazing hostel owner that the trips to hill tribes were put on for tourists. Our trip included a stay in proper hill tribes with local people so it won us over.

As it turned out, only four of us in total were going to stay the night in the jungle. Myself and Orna, and our pals for the next few days–Kristina and Anna from North Carolina. We actually got extra special treatment. While the twenty odd people went to see two of the elephants together, us four got to go to the other in what felt like a private tour. In total there are three elephants in the very new jungle sanctuary. There’s Mambusi, the fifty four year old pregnant female, and a one year old boy and his fourteen year old mother. They are all allowed to roam free in the jungle with just a bell that tells the elephant workers that they have gone too far. Rather than using whips and riding on the elephants, they use words to get the elephants to do what they want, such as move away from the tourists or go down for a bath. 

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With the elephants

We fed the elephants bananas. Lots and lots of bananas. Some we handed to their trunks and others we put straight into their mouths. Mambusi exuded calmness. The baby was playful and happy. A elephant trainer pushed and messed with him as another child would. Next year he will have his own friend when the two year pregnancy of Mambusi finishes. The babies’ mother was feistier than Mambusi and happily ate away at tree plants, ignoring the rest of us. After a huge lunch we gave them a mud bath. I was in my element. It was gloriously refreshing rubbing mud on the elephants. I could tell that they loved it. After wards we went down to the river and washed them off. The baby loved it and dunk himself under water. After their bath, we each showered in the waterfall. Throughout the bathing experience a local Thai man had my phone taking pictures. When I got my phone back I saw that he also took a few scenic shots. Obviously he was in his element too.

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Living in the jungle

That afternoon, the four overnighters followed our guide, twenty six year old Tim, to his village. We walked on paths through fields and up and down hills in the wilderness. We took a tour of the village that inhabits forty nine people. We were joined by Tim’s nephews–two ‘boy’ boys who climbed up trees, hit us with berries, ran up hills, hit each other, and took fruit from the trees. We got to blow bubbles through a leaf and stem. No need for plastic containers of bubbles in the jungle, they come naturally.

For dinner we sat cross legged on the floor made out of reeds and chopped vegetables into our hands. We cooked on a fire inside in a pit in the ground. Cooked cucumber mixed with egg, water and flavourings is actually very nice. We were joined by German Ben who lasted one day on the rice fields where the heat is overwhelming while carting rice up slippy ground. We ate, had a few Chang beers, saw millions of stars and slept on thin mattresses on the ground with shoddy blankets and mosquito nets. The wooden houses are on stilts with the underneath being used as a common sitting area. The toilets are separate huts and most of them are flushed by scooping water from a bucket into the bowl.

On the second day we took it easy. A few of us had a go on Tim’s sister’s homemade loom which was attached to a piece of wood on the house. She was making a scarf. I bought a scarf and bag from her. We visited a rice field and hung out with the workers as they took their break in a stilted shack while eating rice from banana leaves and chicken feet. A granny had a good laugh as Kristina was able to reach her water on the roof when she was about to climb up to get it. Eventually we joined the new elephant recruits but skipped the mud bath and showered in the waterfall again. 

It was a successful jungle and elephant experience. 

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The four jungle dwellers

Temple day
Myself, Orna, and our new American friends dedicated a day to visit temples. We were a little hungover so it was a bit hard. We made it to two. At the first we ended up doing ‘monk chat’. We talked to the twenty year old about his life and then he asked us about our studies. It was interesting. We learned about his daily routine. Here are some facts I picked up:

– Monks get fed from donations from the public.

– They also chant in a language that only the monks know

– Each buddist male must become a monk at some point in his life.

– Monks are no longer novices by the time they reach twenty one and so must abide by the much larger set of rules from then on

– Monks cannot drive but can keep up their studies

– Women should not touch or sit beside a monk or in the same carriage

– Monks should not talk to women in private

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Chiang Mai temples

The second temple, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, was up on a hill. We made the journey by sawngteaw up the ever winding road and then walked up the three hundred and six steps. There was a grand view of the city from there, with the square wall of the old city visible.

Other activities we did in Chiang Mai:

- Went to the Sunday night market
It is different than any other market we had seen. There were lots of well made handicrafts. It was so big that our feet got tired and we needed to get a foot massage to help us get through it.

- Went to a lady boy cabaret show
We joined a group from our hostel. We sat at the side of the stage and made sure that the birthday boy Andy got up on stage. He got a racy lap dance that we all got a good laugh out of. It was pretty cool. Some of the ladies oozed sex appeal. Being so close to the action, I could see how petite the male back up dancers were and how some of the costumes needed a bit of a repair job done to them. Numerous ladies also had braces on, which is apparently a cool thing in Asia!?!

- Browsed the night bazaar
Bought stuff, ate artisan ice cream, and drank the infamous fruit shakes all the while watching a rat eat the holy offerings from a religious stand beside a restaurant full of fish tanks.

– Had lovely, cheap meals.

– Had a bongo and singsong session with our fellow backpackers before a late night out on the town.

– Met up with a guy from my hometown who has been living in Chiang Mai for five years.

– Bought and posted my Christmas presents which actually arrived much quicker than expected.

SUCCESS!!!

Bangkok

What we did in Bangkok:

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Loi Krathong floats

Loi Krathong festival
This is celebrated in certain parts of Thailand. In Bangkok people put lotus-shaped boats made out of banana trees, banana leaves, and flowers into the river. It is to symbolise letting go of any past negativity. In Chiang Mai it is celebrated by sending lighted paper lanterns into the sky. We bought them for between fifty cent and one euro twenty-five off ladies selling them near the river. They were beautifully handmade. We lit the candles and incense and a man put them into the river for us. It all seems lovely but we did have trouble keeping the candles lit and as soon as they hit the water they went under the dock we were standing on and didn’t drift out until I couldn’t see them any more as I had originally imagined.

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Tuk-tuk

Got a tuk tuk
We avoided the first tuk-tuk driver as he said he’d do the journey for thirty baht (seventy-five cent) with just one stop off on the way (this is so they can bring you to a scamming gem market). Our other tuk-tuk journeys were crazy. They weaved in and out of traffic and wiggled across the road to play up to our screams of delight (fear). Some came with disco lights and rain covers, on others you just got wet.

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Boat to Grand Palace

Attempted to go to the Grand Palace
Myself and my two travel buddies, along with our Ozzie friend, Odette, headed to the river to get a boat up to the Grand Palace. The boat journey was a boat journey. We walked around the entire walls of the palace to get to the entrance and put on our temple attire (scarfs, long trousers, shirts) only to find that it was closing at 1pm on this particular Friday. So that was that.

Instead we sat out of the oncoming rain in a cafe across the road and sang along with the radio (the owner delightedly filmed us).

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Koh San road

Koh San road market
Against what other backpackers originally told us, we didn’t stay on the touristy Koh San road. Instead we chose the Suhkumvit area (we followed the well-travelled Odette to here). We were happy with that decision. Koh San road is busy and jam packed with people and shops and stalls and hostels. We just browsed the market and added to our trinket collections.

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Monk blessings from a truck

Got hit with water three times in one day (just me)
First was from a completely ignorant ‘farang’ who threw water over me from a moving tuk-tuk. Second was from a monk who was blessing people from a truck. I got the secondary splash of the water dong. Third was from a drain or something.

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And then there were two

Said a teary goodbye to Aisling
After a month of travelling with Aisling we had to say goodbye to her so she could go back to Amsterdam to start her new job. Naturally we spent our last night in a hotel with free water, tea and coffee, a lovely hot shower, and big soft beds. Not before having dinner in a German restaurant with Odette and a few glasses of wine.

…sniff sniff.

Bangkok notes:

– Public transport is easy to do in certain parts. Beats the crazy back log of traffic in the evening.

– Scooter taxis are mad. The ladies sit crossways on the back, don’t hold on, and lean over with their phone and bag in hand. You will also see entire families on the same scooter. Toddler standing at the front, father driving, child jammed in the middle, and mother at the back.

– It can be hard to walk around Bangkok with lanes coming in all the directions. Asking people on the street doesn’t work either. They either don’t speak English (and don’t understand that you want to go to the place you are pointing at on the map) or they want to send you to some other place. Some fella was trying to send us to a government building!

Having never been to Asia before this trip, I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting from Bangkok. Probably something more like what you’d find in India–dusty streets, crazy traffic, and lots of hassle.

I’d been told that no one would really want to stay longer than two days and the list of scams and tips to getting around was quite long. As a result, I was pretty nervous about hitting Bangkok.

The first thing I remember was coming along the outskirts of the city, after being woken at crazy o’clock on the night train, and seeing crowds of people at train stations and lots of cars whizzing about before 6 am. The next were the backs of shanty tin houses and shops with satellite dishes attached!!  

It turns out I wasn’t as overwhelmed by Bangkok as I thought I would be. I guess it just depends on what you do, where you stay, and how you travel around.

I got a random hug and kiss from a smiling Thai man on Koh San road.

It can’t be all bad. 

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Crazy scooter rides

First night train experience

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Getting off the boat in Chumpon

The journey from Koh Tao to Bangkok took almost a day. It involved a taxi to the dock, a two hour boat journey to Chumpon, a bus to the train station, a four to five hour wait (our night train was delayed), and a ten hour train to Bangkok. 

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Waiting hours for the train

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Not our train

The wait in the train station wasn’t as dull as you may think. Apparently the girls danced. I missed it because I was too busy chasing a cute puppy to take a photo of. Orna gave herself a pedicure. We were also kept on edge making sure the rats dancing, chasing, and frolicking in the grass behind us weren’t getting too close for comfort. Young school children came and interviewed us for their English class with questions about our travel plans and favourite Thai food. We started to change the answers so they wouldn’t have the exact same responses in school the next day.

Now how was the night train you ask?

It was actually fine. Orna booked the three of us lower bunks. The tour operator told her she needed them and they were a little more expensive unbeknownst to her, but it was a good choice. Mine was filled with bugs and what not at first but a quick sweep and they were all gone. 

We had dinner on the train on the food cart. I got tofu noodle soup. The tofu looked like mangled chicken. After hearing horror stories passed down the line about people getting drugged on night buses in Thailand and then getting robbed, I couldn’t help but get paranoid about spikings when numerous suited official looking men came into the carriage. Needless to say, I didn’t eat much. 

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My view from bed

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My bed

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The bed was like a private, miniature room with curtains and a window. My rucksack safely stowed at the end of the bed. Belly a third full, tucked into my sleeping bag liner, ear plugs in and eye mask on, and off I slept the shakey way to Bangkok. All for about twenty five euro.

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Arriving into Bangkok. Beds deconstructed

Koh Tao

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The girls say cheese in Koh Tao

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Fire show, Koh Tao

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Fire show, Koh Tao

I can’t say much about Koh Tao as I was only there for two half days and one night. What I do know is that it’s renowned for its cheap diving and so Orna opted for two days under water. However due to the price, the diving spots are more crowded there than in Koh Phi Phi and the waters more polluted from boats. Apparently the higher price is worth it in Koh Phi Phi for less crowding and better sights (Orna’s opinion).

My time on Koh Tao was spent roaming through pedestrian streets, dinner and sunset by the beach, another beach fire show, and a dip in the sea. The fire show was headed by a young teen who was amazing. The dip in the water ended in a downpour thus getting clothes and bags soaked and needing to borrow a towel and get changed in the tourist information centre across the road from the bungalow we had checked out of earlier in the day. 

The island was still in low season when we were there but seemed like it could have a cool vibe in high season and if we had more time to explore. 

Koh Phangnan

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View of The Sanctuary on Haad Thien Bay

Koh Phangan is home to the full moon party but for us it was all about yoga, meditation, pilates, vegetarian food, chilling, and chats. Not the typical scenario you’d expect from an Irish trio.

As we drove by sawngteaw to Haad Rin (full moon party beach on South east corner) through villages and up windy hills, I liked the vibe immediately. We stayed at The Sanctuary which is on Haad Thien Bay. It’s a tiny bay that is accessed by getting a long tail boat from Haad Rin. I knew it was my kind of thing as soon as we pulled up on the beach. It seemed to be away from civilisation–a private reverie.

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Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta Koh Lanta. It’s everyone’s dream who is looking to relax.

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Sunset through the restaurant

It just so happened that we were arriving in low season as high season wouldn’t start for a month or so. Lots of guys were hassling the girls with accommodation and wrecking their heads. We decided not to listen to the other Irish girls on the boat and go with a local with a free lift, despite the original annoyances,  as the brochures looked good. It turned out to be an amazing place (it could have easily been a dive). We rented a private bungalow for five euro each a night that had a pool, a gorgeous restaurant and bar, and was a few metres away from the beach.

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Wedding preparations in the background

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Koh Lanta sunset

The days went by with sunbathing, swimming, oil massages, and pedicures. We even saw an intimate wedding ceremony on the beach but the sun set just a bit too quickly (the pesky sun) and as soon as the ceremony was over the rain came so they dressed up to the nines again the next evening and got their picture perfect moments recaptured, bridesmaids, groomes men and all.

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The girls enjoying dinner at sunset

Hiring a car didn’t work out too well for us as we had to abandon it halfway up a hill due to it overheating and liquid coming out from under the bonnet. We still got to explore the Old Town, have a dip at a different beach, and be back in time to have dinner over sunset.

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Chilled after my oil massage

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Our last Koh Lanta sunset

What is Koh Phi Phi all about?

What I knew about Koh Phi Phi before going:
1. Party island
2. No cars
3. Maya Bay (where ‘The Beach’ was filmed)

What I know now:
1. Partying on the beach with buckets of alcohol and fire throwers as entertainment
2. No cars except the Policeman’s scooter and a mini pickup truck to transport bricks
3. Maya Bay’s gorgeous tropical water and soft sand
4. Locals cycle everywhere dodging each other and you by the hair on your leg with grace
5. Your rucksack can be transported from one side to the other via large trolley
6. Small pedestrian lanes lined with shops and filled with people are the main streets
7. Gorgeous viewpoint to watch sunset from
8. Great place to bump into friends from home
9. Nice Thai food, and cheese, ham and tomato pancakes
10. Apparently great place to dive even though it’s more expensive than Koh Tao
11. Knowing the tides is quite important so that you don’t get to the beach when the tide is fully out and rocks are all you can see

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Koh Phi Phi streets

Koh Phi Phi was a pleasant surprise.  We had been told about the islands being party-party but found that you can find what you’re looking for almost everywhere. The thing that struck me the most was that the narrow pedestrian streets with shops, restaurants, and hostels just never ended. That was Tonsai village and nothing else. So when we paid our twenty baht (tourists pay this to help keep the island clean), avoided the local hagglers and the girls followed my stubborn ass beyond the first hostel offers, we found ourself in a private room on the other side of the town close to the beach and the viewpoint.

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Krabi – Ao Nang

My biggest regret about Krabi was not realising before we got there that there are many different areas within the same name, ie. Ao Nang, Railay. If I had realised, I would have skipped the tourist strip of Ao Nang and headed to the apparently quieter and nicer, Railay. As it happens we didn’t spend much time in the stop-off town as we did a seven hour tour of seven islands on our only full day.

The minivan/minibus from Hat Yai to Krabi was a good deal. It fit about eleven people but was faster than a coach as it bumped along the terrible-at-times roads and overtook cars and motorbikes with oncoming traffic just a short distance away. The thunder and lightening show added to the thrill. Arriving in the town centre at nighttime with no accommodation wasn’t our best idea yet but 2.50 euro extra to the driver got us the half hour out to Ao Nang and dropped off at a few potential guest houses. We didn’t refuse.

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We look tanned in Ao Nang

After dinner we hung out at a bar with live music. It was quite the cheesy holiday package vibe in Europe but we enjoyed singing along and having a much-needed boogy.

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View from the boat

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Hazy, mysterious weather

The seven-hour tour was good, albeit the drunken lopsided ferry and needing to be transported to the beach by a long tail boat anytime we went near land. The highlight was jumping into the deep, dark water in the night and swimming with glow-in-the-dark plankton. It was just magical. A bit of snorkeling added to the adventure as schools of fish swam around me. The night was topped off with a bbq on the beach (we were a bit late to enjoy sunset from the beach) and a fire show.

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C for Colgan