I'm back home in Korea from my vacation in Thailand. It's full on monsoon season here in Korea, hot and humid. It's kind of fun and satisfying how intense the rain storms are, and I really don't mind, growing up in the Lower Mainland, it's kind of comforting to have these rainy days.
Thailand was perfect. I can so see the appeal now, and why some people never want to leave. I could have easily spent months and months there, just drinking fresh fruit smoothies and swimming in the crystal blue, warm water.
At the beginning I was travelling with my friend Lisa, and we started our trip in Phuket, to meet up with a couple of other friends from work. We stayed at a beach that was a little less crowded than the nearby "Patong." The beach was nice, a little busy for my taste, but fun bodysurfing!! We had some great food in a little alleyway in Patong, it was a dark little alley, and most of the customers were actually ladyboys, and locals, but the guy who served us at the food stand was so sweet and he gave us a free fruit plate for desert! So nice! We went out, saw some glamourous ladyboys, and more creepy old tourist men with their stunningly beautiful, young Thai "girlfriends" than I could handle. By the end of our 2 days, my impression of Patong was that it had some interesting people watching & decent beaches, but it was pretty commercial and mildly depressing... but that's just me...
So we headed off to find some peaceful beaches and have some island time! Marilyn, Lisa & I took a ferry to Ko Phi Phi (where the movie "the beach" was filmed!). Poor Laura had been sick for a few days and decided to stay behind an extra day to recover at the hotel before meeting us. We got hooked up at Ko Phi Phi because Lisa had a friend from back home in Zimbabwe who worked at this resort there!! Sweeeeet!! So we got to stay in this beautiful place for a whopping 9 dollars a night each! Awesome. I have nothing but good things to say about Phi Phi, it's beautiful, not too busy, fun nightlife, the BEST pancakes ever, and crystal clear water... could you ask for anything more?
After a few days in Phi Phi, Lisa and I said goodbye to Marilyn and Laura and we headed off to meet our friends Anna & Justin on a different island ( Koh Phanang) on the other side of Thailand-in the gulf. We met up with our friends, and after an epically long travel day, we made it to our next island destination. We were headed to Koh Phanang because we were going to catch the full moon party, happening 2 days after our arrival, and apparently every other backpacker in Thailand was doing the same thing. It was crazy to see the ferry dock with hundreds of backpackers all piling onto this little rickety ferry to take us to the island, it was like some kind of pilgrammage. Everyone was dirty, sweaty, tanned and wearing a huge backpack. We stayed on the island for 5 days total, and we did lots of hammock-lying, scooter-riding, and fruit smoothie drinking. The full moon party was insane, of course. Thousands of foreigners dancing on the beach and generally being complete idiots from dusk until dawn, it was also raining the whole time, which kind of added to the fun somehow. I am glad I saw it, but I defintiely think that once is enough for me... ha ha...yikes.
The morning (who am I kidding, it was definitely the afternoon by the time I woke up) after the full moon party I got up to wander outside and grab some breakfast, and I started looking for my purse-to bring with me. At first I thought I was just spaced out and tired and couldn't find it... if you know me, you know how I am before a cup of coffee in the morn. After a good solid search (re: tearing my bag apart while Lisa tried to reassure me that it must be somewhere) we realized my purse was gone, with my wallet and my CAMERA!!! Wahhhh!!!!!!! Someone had come into my bungalow while I was sleeping and grabbed my purse and my camera (which I had so conscienciously NOT brought to the full moon party the previous night to avoid EXACTLY that: losing it or having it stolen). So, somehow in my foggy state (ie: hungover & tired) I managed to be very calm about the whole thing and just be thankful that I had been sleeping with my passport & credit cards in my pillocase. I was just like, well that sucks, but there's nothing I can do.... Then I had breakfast with Lisa, we both mourned our respective losses (hers was stolen AT the party the night before! Poor thing!), and then I decided to go chill out on the beach and read my book, that would make me feel better surely. That's when I realized they had also stolen my bag that Bronwyn made me which had my book, ipod and journal in it.... this was the point where I got upset. So I had a little tantrum and a cry, but really it's hard to stay upset when you are somewhere so beautiful, although it definitely made me feel ready to leave Koh Phanang for somewhere else...
A couple days later we (Anna, Justin, Lis & I) headed to Koh Tao for a couple days. Koh Tao is another island, neighbouring Koh Phanang, that is really popular for scuba divers. It is beautiful. Soooooo lovely. I went on a snorkelling day trip with Anna & Justin and had the most amazing day. I was really taken aback by how spectacular the coral was, it was really one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Giant boulders of white and turquoise coral! We also got to snorkel with black tip reef sharks, which was really, really, really AMAZING! One of the coolest experiences in my life for sure. I couldn't help but think of my brother the whole snorkelling trip because he would have absolutely loved it! So in total, I only had a couple days in Koh Tao, and I really wanted to stay longer, because it was so beautiful, and it had a really nice, relaxed vibe (especially after how busy Koh Phanang was), but I was headed to Tonsai beach to visit my friend Doug, who I hadn't seen in ages!!
I went to Tonsai by myself, and I was so glad that I had taken the time to go there because it ended up being one of my favorite places I stayed during the whole trip. It is this lagoon surrounded by these huge limestone cliffs that are really popular with rock climbers. I had my own bungalow that cost me a grand total of 4 dollars a night, had the best massage I had the whole time in Thailand, and just laid on the beach reading for hours and hours. Later in the afternoon Doug arrived, and we found each other on the beach, and sat around by the beach catching up on the last couple years over some Singha beers and delicious Thai food. The next day Doug took me rock climbing with his friend, and let me just say that it is super scary up there!! I was watching Doug & his friend, and getting increasingly more and more nervous, so then I tried it, so I wouldn't completely freak out and be too scared to try. Umm... it's really hard!!! I was just clinging to the rock for dear life the first time, totally panicking! ha ha ha, I'm not sure how long I was up there, but it felt like 3 hours, it was probably like 4 minutes... But later we went to a more "beginner" area, and then I made it to the top! Yay! I really enjoyed it, really challenging and way more difficult than it looks.
So after a couple days in Tonsai, I met up again with my friends (who had all stayed in Koh Tao) in Bangkok. We spent the night there and the next day we just wandered around the city looking in markets. Poor Justin, stuck in the hot busy city with three girls who wanted to spend the day shopping in markets! We also went to this neighborhood that Justin and Anna knew about called "little Arabia," which was a bizzarro world! It was like this completely Arab enclave in the middle of Bangkok! So strange...but we had some nargileh and chai, which was nice! We had to take a red-eye from Bangkok to Seoul at 2am, so we had some deliriously tired humour, and we headed back home, to Korea!
All in all, an excellent trip with the best travel buddies I could have wanted!