Tag Archives: sunset

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!

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 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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