Day 190 to 205
Thailand, our final stop on the way home, the last hurrah before it's all over, the big goodbye to our 7 month adventure was an absolutely fantastic way to bring an end to our trip. Beaches, parties, beach parties, cheap shopping, massages and friends from home, in what better way could we have finished it off.
We started in Koh Phi Phi an island off the west coast, however just getting there was a story in itself. After a 12 hour flight from London, which I must add had no tv, we had a three hour stop over before we moved on. From there another flight this one to Phuket which got us into southern Thailand a step closer to Phi Phi. A cab, another three hour wait around and a terrible ferry later, we had finally arrived on Phi Phi Island, a bit worse for wear but in a place where that was easily remedied.
After having been to four different places in Thailand, I can definitely say Phi Phi was my favourite. With everything within walking distance, an amazing beach down the road and a massage parlour but a couple steps from my door, there was nothing else I needed. The entire Jewish, Israeli, South African and Australian communities were also there which made us feel right at home.
Every day in Phi Phi followed a pretty similar schedule. We woke up late, headed to the beach, worked on our tans, got for a massage, went out for drinks and then partied all night back on the beach. Chuck in a couple of meals here and there and cheap shopping in any markets that we could find and that was Phi Phi for us. It was very chilled, very fun and very repetitive but exactly what we wanted after 6 months in Europe.
The nightlife on Phi Phi beaches was the kind of nightlife I wish was everywhere. Buckets were cheap, there was food, albeit questionable food, on the way there, music was good and the dress code was less than casual. Even picking a club was easy as all you had to was walk in and see if you liked it. No entrance fees, no bouncers, hell there were even no walls, this was clubbing the way it should be. Another plus of having parties on the beach was the obvious fact that they were on the beach. Tired of dancing, chill out on the sand. Too hot, go for swim. Even if you needed the toilet, a quick 10 second walk away and the world was your oyster.
Our last day there was our only break from this fantastic schedule as we decided to pay to go on a massive boat tour to the other half of the Phi Phi Islands, Phi Phi Lei. Our group, which had ballooned to about 12 people now (we knew so many people on Phi Phi) joined about 20 others on this big boat which took us from place to place on both the islands. We started with Monkey beach on our Island and played with the crazy critters there before taking the slow journey on our boat to Phi Phi Lei. There we saw the birds nest caves, did some snorkelling and went for a nice cruise around the island. We wrapped up the day with a swim at one of my favourite places in the world, Maya Bay. Only problem was that as soon as we dropped Anchor the rain came... And it came hard.
With rain pelting down they told us we were going to have to wait it out as they couldnt take the tender boat out whilst it was raining. However there was no way I was going to miss out on returning to The Maya Bay. So, I did what I had to and whilst everyone else waited around, Toby (friend from Brisbane) and I hopped in a Kayak and paddled our way through the storm. That journey was one of my favourite parts of the trip. The combination of the bucketing rain, the boiling hot temperature and the fact we were in Maya Bay made it for me. Eventually the rain did subside and others made it to the beach but that time in the rain I will never forget. The day wrapped up amazingly as well with Thai food and beers on the boat as we watched the sunset, well what we could see of the sunset, and headed back home. We had experienced an awesome day and this just topped it off fantastically. I know I have been there twice now but I will definately be back again.
Our next stop was Phuket, the touristy side of Thailand which could not have been more different from Phi Phi. With us staying a good 20 minute walk from Patong beach, getting in and out of town was not so easy. Nevertheless it was an entertaining walk with us touring up and down the infamous Bangla road every time, having a good look at the place along the way.
After the parties in Phi Phi, Phuket was very chilled (well more chilled) for us as we just kicked back on the beach everyday and got our food served to our chairs. We did some serious Market exploring too, buying out the entire place. We found shirts, shorts, backpacks, speakers and even some amazing wire sculptures. We probably ended spending more time at the markets than on the beach.
Our nightlife here was relatively quiet too as we weren't in the mood to delve into the seedy Patong clubs and pubs. We did explore Bangla road some more, which at night becomes even more digusting. We saw the lady boys, the crazy girls and even some ping pong pros. Yet at a certain point it even got to messed up for us and so we headed to the beach and watched people set off fireworks and send paper lanterns flying into the air.
Whilst Phuket wasn't really my scene, once we were in Koh Samui I was definitely back in my element. But before I get into that the epic adventure between the two locations deserves a few words itself. This was, hands down, the worst transport day we have ever had. We have had days that we hadn't eaten or slept for 24 hours and this was still worse. Starting off with an early wake up, which we obviously hate our minibus which was supposed to show up at 8 never arrived. We called the place, twice, both times they assured us it just around the corner. Two hours later a car showed up to pick us up which we thought was a good sign. Assuming we would have a private ride to Koh Samui we thought we had scored big time. We couldn't be more wrong. This car mearly picked us and another group up (making six in this five seater car) and took us to a huge bus, something we specifically told the travel agent we did not want. After a huge argument with our driver we eventually got on the bus, with our huge bags, refusing to put them underneath. Six hours later we arrived at a place we thought was the port, only problem was there was no water to be seen. This was but a waiting area for the next bus which would for some reason take us the rest of the way. Another 2 hours later we thought the worst was finally behind us finally arriving at the port. We even ran into the boys in the year above us who were taking the ferry across to Koh Pang Yan. But no, this crappy day was not going to get less crappy yet, the ferry too, which took another hour and a half was also hell, being well overloaded and conditions outside being terrible. People were all feeling the seasickness making for a terrible ride. One girl couldn't even make it into the bathroom in time and was sick all over the door. We eventually made it to the port (at points I honestly thought we wouldn't) and after a 45 minute taxi ride, we had eventually reached our place. Spending only 30 dollars each and 12 hours of our day we had crossed the country, taking every form of transport except the smartest. Saying that brings me to my forth and probably final travelling tip from this 7 month long adventure, 'When you're in Thailand, just take the Bloody Plane'.
Now that I got my rant out the way I can tell you about the fantastical Island of Koh Sam. Different to both Phi Phi and Phuket, it took the best features of both and combined them. It was touristy enough to have markets, good food and clubs, but laid back enough to to have beach parties, places to chill and spots when you want to get away from it all.
It also combined the places by having not too much of the Jewish Community around but not too little either. We spent most of our time on the Island with Aizen and his mates Ben and Toby who we had met back in Israel as well as Azzy's Taz and her friends but besides that we very rarely saw anybody else that we knew. We had a nice small group we could hang out with and kick back yet still big enough to have a big night every night.
Whilst we only spent two days there they could not have been more different. This island, unlike the others, had more than one thing that was fun to do.
After the hell of a day we had experienced getting to Koh Sam, the next day we wanted to do nothing more than chill. Aizen, Toby and Ben helped us out on that front as that day they were staying at a 50 dollar a night hotel, decked out with both a pool on the beach front as well as food service to your chair. We spent the entire first day there doing very little other than lie on a deck chair and roll over into the pool. The hours flew by as we did it as well and before we knew it it was almost 7pm.
Day two we got out a bit more, touring the island seeing what there is to see. We visited a waterfall, saw elephants, patted leopards and even came up close with a tiger. We stopped off for lunch at a great peri peri chicken place (still has nothing on Australian Nandos) and made a day out of it all.
Koh Sam nights followed a schedule kind of like Phi Phi as it we had found the perfect way to party right on our first night. After a great dinner somewhere we would head out to a pub on the long strip of bars grabbing a bucket or downing a few Changs. From there to ArkBar we go, a huge place on the beach with constant fireworks, fire twirling and everything else fire related all whilst the music pumped in the background. When it closed/ got quiet at about 2ish we would head off the beach and towards the clubs. Our place was called Green Mango which was always pumping and always packed. By about 4ish we would usually bail and head either to the boys pool and just go straight swimming in the sea. It's funny now that I think about it, I never actually beached in Koh Samui except at night. I guess it shows how amazing the place was that we didn't even have time to beach. That was our night for all three nights we were there. I guess we thought that If we had a good thing going why mess with it. :)
Our forth and final Island which also happened to be the last stop in this country, on this continent and on this trip was the world famous Koh Phan Yang. Just a quick ferry ride over from Koh Samui we arrived early in the day without any hassles. Knowing that KPY was absolutely packed over New Years when planning this trip it was the first place we booked. Being quite new to this whole booking thing we weren't really sure what we were doing and just kind of booked a place that had our dates. That being said as the booking approached we got worried, not knowing what sort of place we would spent the full moon party and our last 5 nights of this trip.
Either we are really smart and don't know it or really lucky because we booked an absolutely amazing place. With an awesome pool, fantastic restaurant and massage parlor all within our grounds the place was nothing short of incredible. Our room was also great being absolutely massive with a somewhat decent shower. We were going to be very happy here.
The first three days there were nothing but party and relax, with us bearly leaving our place. With a great restaurant downstairs that served cheap breakfast, lunch and dinner we had very little reason to go into town. The pool was warm and great to chill by with there being people there at all times of day. Even if we got bored of the pool, down a few steps we went and we were on the beach that had absolutely amazing water and white soft sand. The pool parties at night are what this place is known for and they definately did not disappoint. Between 10pm and 4am the place was packed, buckets were flying and everyone was having a great time.
We did eventually make it into town, having to walk in for a few different reasons. Shopping was one of them. This being our last Island it was also our last chance to get some cheap shopping in. Every time we went into town it seemed like we came back with more. We also did our shopping for the NYE Full Moon Party but I'll get to that later. Food was another. As much as we loved our little restaurant at our place, after eating there day in and day out, you get a bit over their style of cooking.
The third and final reason we headed into town was of course the main reason we were on this Island, The New Years Eve Full Moon Party. That night for us started at about 9pm with the three of us plus Toby, Jarron and Ben, who were staying at our place for a couple of nights (I told you our place was huge), relaxing with a couple of drinks on our balcony and some great tunes and getting dressed in our fluro clothes. As midnight got closer we headed downstairs to the bar and then slowly to the beach picking up an obscene amount of body paint all over us on the way there.
Arriving just after 11, the beach was packed making going anywhere a mission. There must have been at least 20 000 people squashed on that beach all trying to have a good time. Nevertheless we got loose and partied the night away, catching up with everyone who was there and waiting for the clock to strike 12.
As soon as it did fireworks, both (organised and unorganized) went off everywhere making for a great show. They went on and on and on, giving even Sydneys a run for it's money. After that the night got crazy with everybody going everywhere. People got food, people partied, people chilled and people drank some more, all having a good night. My only real complaint of the night was that it was impossible (believe me I tried) to find anyone once you lost them. Our entire group got split up and without phones it was pointless even to search. We all ended up at home earlier than expected probably because of that. We all wanted to stay up for sunrise together but as everyone got split up we all ended at home at about 5.
The next morning, well afternoon, came bringing with it the New Year as well as the rain. It poured and poured and poured and as I write this on the night of the second it is still going. With frequent black outs, huge winds and of course the rain the past two days have been very slow. Other than eating, a couple massages, sprinting into town for a bit of shopping and sprinting back we have done very little outside of our place. Today we actualy sat at a restaurant in town with free wifi and movies the entire day, ordering food every now and then to make them let us stay. Whilst it has been very relaxing and given me a chance to write this final monster blog, it is a bit of a dissapointing way to wrap off this country and this trip. We are all now really ready to come home, hoping for some sunny conditions when we get there.
Tomorrow we make a long boat, bus and plane journey up to Bangkok which will hopefully be an improvement of previous experiences. From there we spend our last night in Bangkok before farewelling this 7 month adventure. For all you avid blog readers, do not fret, this is not my last blog. On the plane home/at home I will give you all what you deserve and what I have been waiting to do for so long, my final words.
Till then... to Bangkok we go!