23rd Jun 2012 - 2nd Jul 2012
A Little Taste Of Island Life
With our extended stop in Phuket at an end it was time to move onto some of the other areas in southern Thailand. With only about 10 days left before we caught the plane to Sumatra we didn’t have much time, but we were definitely determined to make the most of it. This meant getting used to being back on the road again and trying to find our way round by public buses and tuk tuks, with a fair bit of walking thrown in for good measure. Luckily backpacking is just like riding a bike and it all came back to us quickly enough. After a journey by bus, tuk tuk and minibus we arrived in Krabi and easily found a nice hostel with clean and most importantly cheap rooms.
With only a short time to spend in Krabi we decided to go with hiring a motorbike on our first full day. Whizzing around on two wheels gave us the flexibility to see lots more than we would have done by standing on the side of the road waiting for our next lift!! The first thing we wanted to see was the Tiger Temple, part of which was up on the top of a hill. No drama though as we’ve climbed monster hills before, so this would be a piece of cake…. right? Err … wrong!! The sign at the bottom warned us that there were 1237 steps to the top and we felt every one of them!! The main problem was that all the steps were different sizes and in some parts climbing one step felt like climbing 3!! At about 350 steps Emma was almost at the point of giving up, but she pushed on through and further up was making light work of thing compared to me. For most of the climb we were both sweating like pigs and swigging water like crazy, but eventually we made it all the way. Sitting at the top recovering we saw people coming up with just a gentle pant and hardly a drop of sweat between them!! We even saw one guy who looked like he was doing altitude training running up and down. I felt like I needed a lift back down. Human or mechanical … either would have done!! Still at least we’d made it and that was something to be proud as far as I was concerned. Needless to say, after 1237 steps, the view from the top was spectacular and well worth the climb. Coming down didn’t turn out to be as easy as we expected though and by the time we'd reached the bottom both of us felt like we were walking with jelly legs!! After the time it took to conquer the Tiger Temple we only had time left for a general ride around some of the beaches and a well deserved 7-11 burger on the seafront.
The next day after a late night watching England lose against Italy we took the easy ride to Ao Nang beach by shared sawngthaew (a shared taxi adapted from a pick up truck). Obviously we were gutted that England were out, but at least we no longer had to stay awake until gone 4.00am just to watch the matches. And we also no longer had to worry about some potential bad planning as we were due to be on an overnight train on the night of the final!! When we got to Ao Nang we brought some supplies and tickets for the long boat across to Railay Beach. The journey was a bit choppy, but the scenery amazing. Krabi has an almost prehistoric landscape and the Railay beaches plus the Phra-Nang beach were definitely some of the most beautiful we have seen on our travels. When we first arrived on Railay West the beach was almost deserted and we made the most of things by reading, sunbathing and floating about in the sea. You could hardly call it swimming!! Then we walked across the headland to the other side and checked out some of the other beaches. One is famous for its caves and fertility shrine. As one German tourist we met said … a cave full of dicks!! We didn’t hang about too long on this beach though as there were huge jellyfish along parts of the sand as well as in the sea. Unfortunately we both got a little sting before we realised they were there!! We took that as a message that they weren’t keen on sharing the water and walked it back to the first beach which had been jelly fish free. After a few more hours and after having enough sun we headed back to Ao Nanag on the boat and then jumped on a sawngthaew to our hostel.
Overall we both really enjoyed our short visit to Krabi and we’d highly recommend it for a holiday. The beaches are beautiful, the scenery stunning and there is an interesting mix of people from ladies dressed in their traditional Muslim clothes through to the lads on the beach front areas in their board shorts. Krabi town itself is also worth a visit, especially on the weekend when there is a cool night market which amongst other things sells some great food and cheap giant buttery sweet corn!!
On Tuesday morning we were on the move again. This time we had a nice early start of 6.30am to catch a shared sawngthaew to the bus station. Next up we caught a local bus to Surat Thani on the other side of Thailand and once there we went in search of a bus/boat combination ticket to get us to Ko Pha-Ngan. 350 baht (£7) and another 5 hours later we finally came ashore. It took us longer than usual to find somewhere to stay on the island as most of the places were more expensive than we had expected them to be. Maybe it was the area we’d chosen, we weren’t sure, but despite it being pretty dead the prices weren’t coming down!! Our backpacks started to feel pretty heavy as well as the search continued up and down the islands many hills and along the beachfront Eventually, when we were just about to try to get a taxi to another area, we had a stroke of luck … a hotel with a pool and a great little bungalow for 350 baht a night. After nearly 2 hours of searching the first thing we did was dump our bags in the room and head for the pool. The view from the pool over the beach was great and we watched the sun go down before drying off and heading down to the restaurant for dinner. A good end to a long and tiring day.
On Wednesday we went with hiring a motorbike to have a ride around the island and see some other beaches etc. All was going good initially until after a few hours we headed towards Hat Rin to see the area where the full moon parties are held every month. The road out in that direction has some stupidly steep hills and although we started off ok, it wasn’t long before the incline beat us and Emma had to get off the bike and walk it. Not much fun for her!! Although better than picking bits of tarmac out of your arms and legs!! They don’t talk about the KPN tattoo (a permanent scar after a fall from your scooter) without good reason. We might not have ended up on the tarmac, but our camera did!! Some idiot (me!!) didn’t put the camera back in his pocket properly and as we were riding along it came loose and ended up bouncing down the road. Emma jumped off and after a bit of searching found the camera, battery and memory card all scattered in different places. I’m not sure how, but for now it still works!!
Before heading back to drop off the motorbike we popped into Tesco Lotus to grab some food shopping. Ok, so we do find the occasional supermarket … and 7 Eleven gets an almost daily visit … but this felt like proper supermarket shopping!! There were even items labeled up ‘Tesco Value’ and some reduced items as it was getting nearer the end of the day. We grabbed a basket full of stuff and headed off to the checkout where the cashier put aside our 2 cans of beer and said ‘wait 5 mins’. Baffled at first it then became clear that we had to wait until 5.00pm before we could make our beer purchase. From what we’ve read since it appears that Tesco don’t allow alcohol to be purchased between 2.00pm and 5.00pm and after midnight. We’ll know for next time!! At least we didn’t try buying the beer mid afternoon!!
After Ko Pha-Ngan it was time for a short island hop over to Ko Tao. A smaller island which always gets a name drop from other travellers because of the amazing diving and snorkeling opportunities on offer. We were to be reunited with Mark and Rebecca here after taking them up on their kind offer to crash in their spare room. They are hanging out in Ko Tao for a few months while they do their diving courses. We were looking forward to spending a few days with them and catching up on their adventures. Mark and Rebecca’s apartment was very nice, a real home from home (except for the view … I don’t think you’d get a view like that in Norwich!!) and we were really grateful to them for putting us up. We hired a scooter while we were there and they gave us a tour of part of the island. They also asked us if we fancied snorkeling and suggested we could join them on a cleanup dive they were doing at a couple of sights around the island the next day. It sounded like a great idea and while they were picking up some rubbish on the seabed we swam off into the bays to look at the more attractive side of the underwater world. It was a wicked day and we were lucky to get to see some cool fish, even if it was a little bit tricky to get out of bed as we were tired from being out the night before. We had originally planned to go down to a restaurant on the seafront for dinner, but got caught in a rain storm only a few minutes from their house and ended up sheltering under a local porch. It was here that I tripped up and did a bit of superficial damage to my leg. Nothing a stiff drink wouldn’t cure, and after out staying our welcome, we made a run for it and stopped at the nearest bar. We were only planning on staying there until the rain had stopped, but we ended up there all night playing pool with the local bar owner and her daughter. We were pretty rubbish, but they were even worse!!
On Sunday afternoon it was time to say bye to Mark and Rebecca and start making our way back to KL. Being a little short on time it felt like we’d done a little ‘hit and run’ job of Ko Tao, but at the same time it was just long enough to see what the island was all about and jump in the water. It was also great to catch up with Mark and Rebecca … and if you’re reading this guys thanks so much for a fun couple of days.
Getting to KL was going to take a while!! First up was the crossing from Ko Tao to the mainland at Chumphon. Our boat was delayed leaving by about an hour, but at least this time the crossing was fairly smooth!! Once in Chumphon we were transferred into a sawngthaew to the train station for our 21.21 … or 22.21 as it turned out to be … train down to Hat Yai.
The next morning, after passing through the Thai/Malayian border (more passport stamps!!), and getting some sleep on the train, it was time for the next part of our journey … 10 hours on the bus into KL. All of this just leaving enough time for us to grab some food and sleep in KL before a wake up call at 5.00am to catch our flight to Sumatra. Time for the orangutans, lakes, volcanoes … and finally some decent sleep!!
|2418 Words | This page has been read 36 times||View Printable Version|