After a delightful nights sleep in the lady boy prison (listening to them fighting, wailing and other unmentionables) we awoke early to take the bus to Hat Yai. We weren't to stay in Hat Yai it was a stop over whilst we made our way to the island of Koh Lipe. We were both feeling particularly excited this morning simply for the fact we were able to escape Penang. Never ever again will I go there. But anyway...
On the bus we met a nice elderly gent who Dan mistook for a sex tourist (awkward) and he had also been staying at the same guest house as us. He was explaining that he had stayed there on the recommendation of a friend and I wondered what he had done to this man to warrant such terrible advice!
As I say, Koh Lipe was our first island destination. It's one of the smaller, more undiscovered (though still very touristy) islands but my gosh the place was utter paradise. I have never seen anywhere so beautiful! Dan and I felt very spoilt. The only downside to the island is that it's becoming quite popular with families and "flash packers" so is somewhat on the expensive side. We'd pre-booked a bungalow as we had heard budget accommodation is limited on the island. After a few disasters with pre-booking we were a little nervous. After wandering around the island aimlously for an hour or so we eventually found the place. As we were walking up a crumbling path into what looked like a construction site it didn't look too promising but success! At the end was a beautiful compound called 'Gypsy 2'.' The name was very fitting as you did feel quite gypsy like in these ram shackled bungalows. The owners were a sweet Spanish couple from Barcelona called Christian and Amanda who had built the place entirely by themselves.
In total we spent five nights in Lipe which in retrospect was slightly too long but we fell in love with the island and couldn't tear ourselves away! On our first night we went for a drink at the jungle bar (which Dan loved and sent my events whistle into overdrive!!) and met an older gentleman named Don. He was a Canadian film producer and evidently quite famous as he was telling us about how he was taking a holiday after working on the latest Bradley Cooper movie. Really nice guy. Unfortunately, it didn't seem fit to ask for his surname simply so we could google him so I guess we'll never know quite how famous he is!
We mostly spent our days swimming, eating, relaxing, drinking and it was great! So lovely to finally chill out and switch off. We hired kayaks whilst we were on Lipe with the intention of kayaking around the whole island but after getting half way and finding out it was a further 15km we decided to give up!
Eventually the time came to leave paradise and head to Koh Lanta for Dan's birthday. The speedboat to the island wasn't the best journey we've had. I think I've inherited my parents desire to escape all English people when away on holiday and the boat seemed to be full of them! They had certainly overbooked the boat and we were crammed in like sardines. There was a group of horribly rude French couples sitting at the back acting as though the boat were their own and one lady even refused to give up her seat for a mother with 3 small children! Did not like them at all!! I had a treat of a woman sitting next to me (or on top of me) kicking me, waving her jungle armpits in my face and generally acting like a maniac. It was all a bit chaotic and we were starting to feel like the only sane people on the boat. After 4 hours we arrived feeling a tad apprehensive as we had heard mixed reviews about Lanta but decided we would check it out for ourselves.
The pier we were dropped off at was hectic and full of people similar to those we had traveled across with. 'Oh dear' we thought, but remained optimistic! The pier is slightly away from the main areas of accommodation so we got a taxi. Quite exciting. The taxi's are like ancient old pick up trucks with tarpaulin roofs and benches in the back. There's no door or anything so feel as though a sharp turn may turf you out but it's great fun.
It turns out we had booked ourselves into a hotel on the wrong beach and had clearly misheard/misunderstood the advice of the Canadians. Dan seemed really low as this was all happening on the day of his birthday when all he wanted to do was chill out at a beach bar. We decided to go investigate the other beach to see what it was like. It was quite a distance and expensive to get there but off we went. Lanta was quite a difficult place to travel around in a way. Whilst there's only one raid throughout the island, everything is set back from the street making it difficult to see what's what! I caught a glimpse of a few bungalow villages I'd heard off we so went take a look. The beach was certainly more traveler friendly and what Dan had had in mind. Cool beach bars, good music etc. The place still seemed deserted though. No sign of the party island we had been told we were heading to! We looked at a few places but they were super pricey and super dingy. No thank you! We'd decided we weren't so keen on Lanta so we'd stay a night or two in the place we'd booked and then move on!
We certainly had an interesting night. We decided to go for a meal and rinks on the beach. Just as we were leaving, the ladies running the resort came running over with a birthday pancake for Dan. How sweet! You all know P, he looked like he was about to cry! Think it really cheered him up though and made it feel like his birthday! All full of pancake we headed out to the restaurant and were served by a sweet lady boy who on learning it was Dan's birthday suggested I order him a happy birthday desert. I agreed, not wholly knowing what I was getting myself in for!! When the desert arrived we were both in for a surprise as the lady boy wanted to sing happy birthday to Dan with me. What a weird duet. I don't know whether it was weirder for me or for Dan. Definitely a first for both of us. I think we're going to be the next big thing.
The next day we hit the beach. It was quite pretty but no match for Lipe. Midway through the day we saw a large crowd gathering on the beach. We decided to go investigate and there was an 8ft sea python on the beach! I've never seen anything like it! It was like something out of a film with everyone shouting 'get out of the water.' It was obviously a rare occurrence as the locals all seemed surprised and unsure of what to do. Dan didn't think the snake was harmful to humans and got all Bear Grylls suggesting how they ought to catch it. Eventually after a few failed attempts and lots of oo'ing and ah'ing from bystanders, a couple of local bar men and an Aussie traveler wrestled it to the ground and put a bag over its head. This was probably the most exciting thing that happened whilst on Lanta.
I had obviously gotten so caught up in all the excitement that I had forgotten to sun cream my legs ad spent the next few days walking around with red raw legs with odd looking finger prints where I had wiped my hands. Not a good look!
That evening we ventured to the backpacker beach. I'd been feeling pretty low all day as it was the day before Mum's day but decided to head out with Dan and try cheer myself up and I'm so glad we did. I'm not sure I'm one for believing in spirits and messages and what have you but I do think Mum and I shared something in our love for music. Quite often when I'm feeling down or just thinking about her a song will come on and I know that's her way of telling me everything is okay. This evening was no different. We're sitting there in this beautiful bar on the other side of the world and I'm thinking about how much has changed in this last year and how much I miss her and suddenly the Enya song that I was born to starts playing in the bar. It was lovely and just what I needed to hear. Definitely put a smile back on my face. Whilst all this is going on Dan is sitting there giving me cuddles and feeling quite bewildered as I'm laughing and crying into my plate of food. Luckily, an Australian guy comes to the rescue and we ended up spending the evening with him and his girlfriend.
The next morning we headed to Ko Phi Phi…. I will write this part later as I'm running out of steam and need to get the camera cable from Dan to upload our photos.
In brief and for your amusement …. We got drunk and Dan hurt his neck rocking out, I met a guy from Lincoln, threw up in a plastic bag with holes in on a bus to Bangkok, we had our cards stolen, and Dan tried to go to a ping pong show.
With love xx