Paul and I went on another day trip around the islands close to Railay and experienced some fantastic snorkeling...in fact you didn't even need a mask as you can see from the photos. the tiger fish just swim right around you and you can feed them bread which sends them insane...lots of fun. I also saw a little octopus and Paul saw a jellyfish..which I did not thank god but after he told me spent the entire time scared to death...(I have been stung before..not nice) The best snorkeling was at Honk Island (it's actually called Hong Island, but I'm leaving the spelling mistake in because it's amazing - Paul), which is actually a national park and is a beautiful setting, I also managed to spot a huge iguana walking around on the beach, it was seriously massive. When we got back we had dinner on the beach and watched the sunset...there was a wedding going on on the small beach so we lay there and watched that for the evening and had a few drinks...that's the second wedding we have witnessed on our travels. It was lovely and the weather stayed nice for them thankfully. We finished the night with a drink at one of the relaxed little bars where you sit on the bamboo constructions.
The next day we started our hell journey to Samui. This was certainly an experience, one that we'd been warned about, but also one that we couldn't really avoid without hiring our own coach and boat for the day. Over a 9 hour period we traveled by Long Tail, local biscuit tin with wheels (they'd probably call it a "VIP BUS!!!"), then a decent coach, then another wheeled tin, then a ferry for two hours, then a taxi (who got lost but didn't want to own up to the fact that he had no idea where he was going). We were ready for an awful hotel, we really were, as all the enthusiasm and fight had been drained out of us by our ordeal. However, the place turned out to be amazing, easily the best all-round hotel we've stayed at so far - great room, walk-in shower, right next to the beach, great restaurant and a good, fairly cheap mini-bar! We spent our time on Samui beaching it up, as the water was waist deep and crystal clear and the white sand beach easily made up for the millions of hotels around. One of our days there was spent on another day trip, only this one wasn't as good as the others. We went via speed boat and did a bit of snorkeling, kayaking through caves and walked to a picturesque green lagoon on one of the islands we stopped at. Unfortunately the boat was packed with more people than it could really hold, which is pretty typical of the way they do things here, and we were stuck next to the loudest Japanese family ever, but all in all it was a decent trip and a fun way to spend a day.
The weather on Samui was great most of the time, although it did rain once during dinner and that taught us what real rain is. Us British like to think we know a thing or two about rain but I now see that we really don't. Then again, apparently neither do the Thais, as watching the hotel staff unsuccessfully scramble to pack up the beach bbq and buffet and get everything under cover proved. Anyway, we also saw a troupe of ladyboys handing out fliers for some ungodly establishment or other during our wanderings around the town, and ate at a restaurant called Captain Kirk, which besides the name had absolutely no references to anything trekky.
Our last stop on our Island hopping tour was Ko Pha Ngan. Firstly, the drop in quality between the hotel on Samui and the beach hut we had here was amazing, as all we had was thin wooden walls, beds that tilted to one side and a shower that just kind of dribbled. We also discovered that our "wonderful" travel agent from Railay, who had been so friendly and organised so much for us there, had ripped us off. It turned out that she had charged us 1500 Baht per night when the advertised rate was 1200. It was a shame, because we had found the hotel by ourselves and simply asked her to call for us, and when she asked what the charge per night was they had obviously told her 1200, and she had then made the decision to lie to our faces and tell us it was more to get a chunk for herself. Why she though she would get away with it I don't know, as Jacqui called her, gave her an earful and she eventually had to pay for our taxi to the full moon party as well as our dinner that evening. Not a bad result in the end, then. Anyway, it wasn't the best place to stay in, especially since we'd opted to stay at one of the quieter beaches to keep away from the full moon party crowd before and after the event itself. This meant that there was literally nothing to do, so if we weren't on the beach or by the pool we had to sit in there, staring at the ceiling. 95% of our time traveling so far has been all-out, pack as much as we can into one day, frenetic madness, but the change in pace between all that and the Thai islands was at its worst here, as we actually found ourselves getting quite bored. That is, until the full moon party.
On the night of the full moon party, we were again taught a lesson in real rain which didn't let up. We weren't worried though, as rain didn't really make any difference to anything, and the party turned out to be quite an experience. We befriended an English couple in the taxi there who we spent the first hour or so with, enough time to steal most of their neon paint (by accident) and explore the bars for a bit. Eventually we lost them, but there was plenty to occupy our time there and we didn't get back to the hotel until after 6am, very, very tired. All we did for the rest of our time on the island was swim in the pool or lay by the beach, which again got boring fast. I'm now looking forward to getting to Bangkok and getting back to sightseeing and activity filled days!