From Krabi town I made my way across to Phuket where I was meeting Brooke, my teacher-friend from Saraburi. Opted to stay in the town and had a wander before she arrived in the evening, and we had a reunion over chips and beer in an 'Irish Pub'. The next day we spent the morning on Kata beach, although got off the songthaew a stop early and walked a good km or so in the scorching sun convinced the beach must be around every next corner. Eventually found it, by the main songthaew stop, ohw! It was a little bit like a milder version of Benidorm... lines of sunbeds, surf boards, hawkers everywhere. It was a beautiful beach though, and we had a few hours in the shade and wavey sea, then made it back just in the nick of time for the bus to Khao Lak.
So it was a speedy stay in Phuket, but if that beach was anything to go by we'd seen enough. Khao Lak is the mainland point to get to the Similan Islands from. We were hoping to do a snorkelling trip there on the Monday although arrived too late Sunday night to make it out the next day, so we booked in for Tuesday and spent the next day on the practically deserted beach. Along came Tuesday morning and we set off on the speedboat only to be greeted by rolling waves, one after the other, bigger than I've ever seen before. It was like a rollercoaster on water... and deemed too dangerous to carry on so we had to turn back after about 30mins. Then followed three days of sporadic downpours and some horrendous thunder storms, so our company said maybe we'd go on Thursday, then maybe we'd go on Friday. In the end we booked with another company who had a more sturdy big yellow boat instead which would be going out on Saturday, weather permitting. We figured going to the Similan Islands were our soul reason to go there so we should hold out and actually see them.
In the meantime there wasn't all that much to do. We hadn't really intended on staying in Khao Lak all that time, seeing as it's a pretty small isolated place, but we found thinks to occupy ourselves: the beach and a book when it was sunny, and the balcony and a book when it wasn't. One day we hired motorbikes and went to a couple of beaches North from us, found a random place with crazy golf, and went off in search of a waterfall, which we arrived at just as the rain started. On the ride back Brooke swallowed a bug.
Had some decent enough food there, although have come to the decision that it's best to eat ferang food in ferang places as all the Thai food's not up to par by a long shot. Saying that I did end up with chicken soup with tomato chunks in it when I ordered tomato!! Also had some fun evenings out, my fave being when a local bar was showing a These Days concert Bon Jovi did, followed by one from Michael Jackson's Dangerous tour. That same night we met a very drunk British girl (large, ginger) who's boyfriend (also drunk) had abandoned her there, and she gave us a very special rendition of the moonwalk and proceeded to try and take her pants off.. in the bar. At this point, being the decent peeps we are, we figured we should escort her back to her hotel and lumber her boyfriend with her. We should have known it wouldn't be easy though and after being tripped up by her at various points on the walk she decided to strip off and jump in the pool. Embarrassing much?! Finally woke her boyfriend, told him what an irresponsible jerk he was, and left her there, with her pants still at the bottom of the pool!
Along came Saturday. Up early, brekkie on the boat, so far so good. Boat starts moving, good for a few minutes as we leave the harbour, then we hit a storm. Big waves, rain coming in, everyone was seasick. This carried on for three hours until we arrived at the Similan Islands, which we couldn't see because it was so grey and cloudy and drizzly. All of the group went diving except me and a German girl we'd met who stuck to snorkelling, although she was so sick she never made it in the water. So it was just me and the guide, which I didn't really need, and I'll be honest, I saw better when I went with Dad around Ko Phi Phi (and this trip cost 4 times more than that!) The only thing which made it worthwhile was swimming along with a turtle, which was amazing. Apparently a shark went past too, but it's probably just as well I never saw it or I'd have screamed and swallowed a whole load of seawater. One more snorkelling stop after that where it was so murky I couldn't see a thing, and then we set off on the three hour journey back. Boy was I happy to be on dry land again!
After a cold beer or two and early night we left the next day for the East Coast: beaches!!!