This entry is a bit late because of just how busy we were towards the end of the trip. But here's the low down on the final two stops on my Southern Thailand Sojourn:
After leaving our lovely tree houses at Koh Sok we travelled for about 3 hours by truck to the ferry port, which was a nice surprise seen as the journey had originally been scheduled to last 6 hours, and travelled another hour my ferry to reach Koh Samui. Our hotel was simple but perfectly fine, although the dead cockroach under the sink was not a good sign! It was also slightly concerning when it was still there the next day after the cleaners had been. As soon as we arrived I went to go elephant riding nearby. Only 5 of us went because a lot of the group had already had a chance to do this in Northern Thailand. They are truly majestic creatures and this was an unforgettable experience. At one point I got to move off of the seat and sit on the elephant's neck which was slightly scary because there is nothing to hold on to! I didn't really realise how they were such leathery hairy creatures. However, the park we went to seemed almost circus-esq as the animals were so so well trained which gave me some mixed feelings about the experience. I suppose I cannot really disagree with the commercialisation of these things when I was so willing to go and it is because of tourists that they exist.
In the evening we were taken to a bar called 'The Islander' for dinner where I gave into my temptation for western food. I had lasagne which was good but not quite Mum's homemade! It also came with garlic bread which was just slightly greasy bread and no hint of garlic, but I can't complain it was a very good attempt at western food all round. We had a few cocktails here as they were only 100Baht (about £2.20). I also discovered that the standard Thai measure for spirits was 50ml not the usual 25. We moved on to a club for a few drinks and a dance (which was a very sweaty experience!). We took a truck home with all 16 of us in, some on the floor/on laps/holding on for dear life, which was a very uncomfortable sweaty experience.
For our second day in Samui we went to the beach. Although, luckily for me seen as I am not the biggest beach goer, we found a hotel on the beach that gave us free use of their pool and loungers for the cost of a drink. This was simply idealic At about 3.30pm some of use left the beach and headed off on a tour of the island. We visited Grandfather/Grandmother rocks, some named because they look (vaguely) like male and female genitals. At the market here we tried some of the local food, a caramel/coconut sweet thing, fresh coconut to drink and barbequed meat on a stick, which was the stand out winner for me! We then went to a temple where Tommy explained some of the Buddhist stories and told us that around 95% of the population were Buddhist and most men, including himself, go through a few weeks of Monk training. At the temple they were raising money for the new building work and so for a small donation we wrote on roof tiles which would be used to complete the building work, so my name will forever now be written on the roof of a temple in Koh Samui! We visited the island viewpoint before heading to a local food market for dinner. I was laughed at when I asked what we were going to eat when I said 'kebaby things and chips' which is essentially what barbequed meat on a stick is!!
We left Samui at 11am, which after spending most the night chatting to my room mate didn't seem like much of a lie in! We took an air-con bus to the port and caught a catamaran for 21/2 hours. The boat had several stops but most passengers bags were just in one massive pile so finding yours at the right time was a bit of confusion. The buckle on the wait band of my bag broke which made carrying my bag but heavier in the scorching heat (also, whilst waiting for the boat a bug bit/stung my shoulder then fell down my top got stuck in my bra and bit/stung me again, which added to my discomfort). It was unbearably hot and we all had to cram into the truck to the hotel which was luckily only about 10 minutes away.
We were staying in another lovely hotel, not too dissimilar to the Koh Sok tree houses (just without the waterfall showers). After a late lunch we headed to the beach for a walk. The beach is perfect with lots of Thai boats bobbing in clear blue water, framed my palm trees and little wooden huts on the hillside. We watched the sun set on the beach which was just stunning and sat at a beach side bar (all of which as very chilled with cushions to sit on and decking leading to the beach) before we headed for pizza and a drink.
For our second day in Koh Tao we went on a day trip snorkelling around the island. 16 of us went on the trip and set up camp in the shady top deck of the boat (which to get onto you had to hop from the port across several other boats). It took me a while to master the art of snorkelling but when I got into it I had a great time. Underwater is just a totally different world (which seems like quite an obvious thing to say now I think of it...). We had 3 stops, the later 2 were better than the first and on the final stop the water was deep enough to jump from the top deck of the boat.
Our final stop was Nang Yuan where we got off for a walk around this beautiful private island. Our first port of call was the view point on top of the hill. All the walkways around the island are wooden boardwalks and at one point you could see where the boards had given way so they had rebuilt the path over the rocks. We soon reached the steep steps up the hillside through the trees. I cannot explain how hot and sweaty it was, even though I was only wearing a bikini and shorts I was dripping with sweat. To get the to the final view point we had to climb over a few big rocks, which was harder than it sounds. The view was stunning, if exceptionally hot! Luckily the descent was considerably easier I was really starting to feel the hear and so took shelter in the bar with a big bottle of water.
However, when we got back to the hotel the heat had really taken its toll. I had burnt the whole of the backs of my legs and all of my bum that wasn't covered by my bikini! I have to say I haven't been this badly burnt in a long time, if ever. I had a shower and just fell asleep, when I woke for dinner I felt terrible but forced myself out to go to the BBQ on the beach, which was really lovely but I sadly just wasn't feeling well. After noticing me swaying my roommate took me back to the flat and gave me rehydration tablets. She said she was too sunburnt and broke to go out (although I expect she was just being nice to me) to go out and suggested we have a night in. I was so disappointed that sun stroke made my last night a bit of a tough one but from the stories the next morning no-ones night went totally to plan with a lot of the group having had things stolen during their night out.
Back to Bangkok
On Saturday 7 of us said goodbye to the rest of the group (who had decided to stay on the island an extra day or two) and started a very long journey back to Bangkok. We journeyed north very much the same way we came down, by ferry and sleeper train. When we got to Bangkok we were very lucky to have our hotel room available to us at 9.15am so we could rest and shelter from the rain that had started to pour. After the storm had passed Ruth and I headed out for some more site seeing in Bangkok. We went to The Grand Palace (which has certainly earnt its name) and to Wat Pho, home of the reclining Buddah. Both stunning and impressive sites, quite a contrast to some areas of the city. Back at the hotel we spent our evening packing and re-packing (one travellers art I am yet to master), breaking briefly for our last taste of Thai street food. At 3.30 in the morning, after a few restless hours trying to sleep, the final goodbyes were said and I started on my next journey to Seoul...