Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Back in Thailand
Thankfully Thomas charged my i-pod that last night in Malaysia, because I was about to embark on a 24 our journey to the beaches of Thailand.
Leaving Malaysia so soon saddened me a bit. I took the local bus to the boarder, where the bus driver told me to get out - in perfect english ; ) ... again the only foreigner around, I followed the few people heading to the building adhead of us.
The walk across the Malayan boarder was brief and easy ... crossing a bridge and I arrived back in Thailand. After they checked if I had the Swine Flu, the proceeded by giving me a 15 visa = perfect, since my flight was the same as the ending date of my visa.
I wasn't quiet sure how I would get up the coast of Thailand. Supposedly you couldn't take the train anymore due to unrest in the most southern region of Thailand. This part of Thailand is populated by very strict Muslims, and historically was part of Malaysia. I was told that the people here would like to be independent from the rest of Thailand ... and be joined back on Malaysia ...
The security guard informed me that I had missed the "tourist" bus, which had left an hour earlier .... so I asked for the train station. A bit hesitant the man pointed me one mile down the road, but told me I could just wait until tomorrow to catch the next bus.
The 10 hour train ride was incredibly cheap - 300 bath (about $8)... and came with all kinds of security. Three soldiers where just in my wagon (mein Abteil)- maybe because I was the only tourist around? Anyways, I felt like Whitney Houston in Bodyguard ...until we arrived at our first stop along the way, just to see two dozen soldiers and even undercover cops around the train ... ok, so I am not so special, but I still felt pretty good with all these uniforms around me ; )
If I would have read my guidebook ahead of time, I would have seen that even 4 years ago when it was pulished, it said to avoid this area due to its history of protests and "attacks".
I arrived in perfect time to make it from the train station by Surat Thani to the pier, to catch my 11 pm ferry to Ko Pha Ngan. Since May is the start of the Monsoon season -especially hard felt on the West Coast of Thailand - I decided to just check out a couple island on the west coast. Ko Pha Ngan was meant to be one of the best - also the location of the famous full-moon parties (very exciting if you are around 21, plan on getting very wasted and try to break your record on how many people you can kiss in one night).
The ferry had one large room with 100 mattresses all next to each other. As usual I had no issue falling asleep (spreading over a couple mattresses - sorry, French girl that tried to sleep next to me)... and woke up when the engine motor reversed and we arrived :)
I caught a ride with two Irish - telling me that many of them (the Irish) are travelling these days, since the economy is so crappy back home. We chose the most popular beach to get a feeling for this island - Hat Rin Nok aka Sunrise beach (the location of the full moon party).
This was an excellent place for me to call BoA, get money, do laundry, get waxed and find out that I really dislike very touristy beaches ... so the next day I moved on to find a beach Alex had told me about while we traveled through Laos (too bad I didn't write down the name - would have helped finding the place).
After the fact I now "think" she told me to go to Ao Thong Nai Pan - on the northern tip on the east coast to the island ;) It was tricky (and expensive -400 bath) to get there - even though its only 15 km away - BUT WELL WORTH IT.
I found a little piece of heaven at the very end of this beach. The only place on this beach for backpackers, with little bamboo bungalows on the hill, surrounded by tons of trees, just meters away form the ocean!
Marie, the Canadian girl I had travelled with in Vietnam, joined me the next day... and a day later Petra, a German girl Marie had met days before. What followed were 5 days of beach, beach and beach. The "hotel" restaurant served amazing food and the bar right on the beach, with large swings and comfy chairs around, was the perfect hang out spot to have a beer after the exhausting days we were having ; )
On my birthday we rented a kayak to make our way to bottle beach ... gorgeous ... but my favorite part was on our way back. We had a two man kayak, with Petra and I paddling and Marie sitting in between us ... With nothing but water on our left and steep rocks on our right, Peter and Marie wanted to switch seats ....
So Petra was starting to get up, when Marie said " you should never stand up in a Kayak". While Petra proceeded to stand up, she barley finished her: "Why?" .. right before the kayak flipped and all of us, including the bag, towls, water bottels and paddles floated in the ocean : o In hindsight it was hilarious :))
We arrived, in shock, but fine, just about 30 minutes later - but without anyone else switching seats ; )
I origanally had planned on heading to Ko Tao - another beautiful island where you can get your divers licence ; ) (padi) for quiet cheap ... however, I realized that I am still not THAT big of a beach person (Rio being the only exception). And instead of soaking up more sun, checking out more rain forest - In the Khao Sok National Park.
Another 5 days surrounded by baboons, hundreds of birds and insects and even wild elephants (I only smelled them) was a perfect continuation of heaven : )
More trekking, more boat tours, more leeches (bare feet are the secret - you can feel them crawl on you immediately), more spiders and more snakes ... absolutely loved it!
Three days ago I arrived back in Bangkok and tonight I will be heading to Africa (so god will). Not sure how often I will be able to update my blog during the next two months ... but as always I think of you guys, and can't wait to see you all in person.