Second time lucky? I may or may not be slightly annoyed because the internet may or not have eaten the partial blog entry I had typed out. This annoyance may or may not also be exacerbated by the fact that my legs are absolutely covered in mozzie bites and are really very very itchy. :(
So... last time I wrote I was in Thailand! Krabi to be exact, although I was only up to my adventures in Khao Sok National Park. Looks like we're kicking off from there then!
This was a bit of an action packed day in beautiful Khao Sok. Hayley, Noel, Sarah, Kat, Hannah and I went for a walk into the National Park itself, on a mission to find one of the waterfalls to swim in. The National Park is absolutely stunning and a real live rainforest (just as the Intrepid brochure promised)! It was also really really hot, and we were all drenched with sweat after our 3k (at least, seeing as Thai distances seem to be as flexible as Thai Time) walk in each direction, following the route marked on the map. The rout was supposed to take us to three "small but beautiful" waterfalls, but in reality these waterfalls were little more than streams trickling over rocks.
After lunch we were treated to the second part of our tubing trip that had been rained off the day before: monkey feeding! We drove to this area where there were some (slightly precarious looking) platforms, a delapidated looking temple, and a whole lot of wild(ish) monkeys. We held out bananas for them to take from us, which some of them did, while others made the monkey mean face and sat around scratching themselves or picking fleas off each other.
Dinner was full of home comforts: veggie sausages, fried eggs, baked beans and chips in a British owned bar near our hotel. Yum.
We breakfasted early and drove to Ao Nang in Krabi in minivans. I think Krabi was the place we were all the most excited about visiting, as it was to be three days of sun, sea, sand and chill out. For me, I think it turned out to be my least favourite place as it was so commercialised and could really have been anywhere... Costa del sol anyone?
Still, we had a great time. The beach was stunning and the sea was so warm! Nothing like paddling in the freezing water at Skegness! The sun was so strong though and I got a bit sunburnt in spite of my thorough coating of factor 50 Soltan. There were also a few bargains to be had in the shops if you were willing to haggle, and I bought 3 beach dresses for 700 baht (around 14 GBP). The food was also really good in Krabi as there was so much fresh seafood.
The fun of the day was dampened, however, when I did the most twattish thing ever and managed to lock myself out of my room for two hours... until 1:15am! Idiot!
24th and 25th February:
Tuesday 24th was a day of great excitement as a load of us went on a boat tour around the Phi Phi Islands! I discovered that I really don't enjoy travelling by speedboat, and also that spending all day on a boat is really tiring. Snorkelling, however, is amazing!
We had several stops on our boat trip. The first, at Bamboo Island, was probably my favourite, as when we arrived our group was pretty much the only one there. The beach was all white sand and absolutely beautiful, and the sea was turquoise... it looked just like a poster I had on my walls when I lived in halls at uni. Paradise. It was also our first opportunity for snorkelling, which I fell in love with and took full advantage of. The only real downer (which we soon realised was the same with all of the places we stopped at) was that shortly after we arrived, so did all of the other tour groups. Which meant that the beach soon looked like Hunstanton on the first sunny day of the year.
Other highlights of the boat trip were the incredible scenery (we saw where they filmed part of "The Beach", the free lunch, the three more chances for snorkelling (in open water), and the getting off. Really didn't like the boat part of the boat trip.
The day also left me more than a little pink around the back, and I was quite happy to while away my evening chatting to the folks back home on Skype before going out to dinner in the late evening and then getting an early night.
The wednesday was really my day to myself, and I spent it as such: quietly. I found internet, indulged in a little street food (nutella pancakes), sketched on the beach (in the shade), avoided the sun, and enjoyed my last full day in Thailand. I also watched the sun set on the beach (an amazing experience), before dinner with some of the guys at a restaurant that had some rather *intreresting* entertainment.
Mega long travel day. Will summarise:
- Left Thailand.
- Crossed in to Malaysia. New stamps in passport, yay!
- Drove over a really long bridge into Penang.
- Ate dodgy grub at food court and ended up at Pizza Hut. Actually ate pizza. It was edible (no mum, this does not mean I will want to eat pizza when I go home. It's still generally disgusting).
- Got Ringgit. Woo.
- Discovered that Malaysian Milo is not as tasty as Thai Milo. Was sad.
Banana pancakes from a hawker stall for breakfast... mmm.
We were given a guided tour of Penang by a local guide who told us to call him Uncle Steven. His minibus was quite possibly the rickitiest non three wheeled non songthaew vehicle I have ever been in, but we all survived so it was ok. Uncle Steven took us to quite a few of the sights of George Town, and told us many a tale about forts, the tsunami in 2004, Chinese beliefs, buddahs... you name it, he had a story about it. We did, however, learn about some of Penang's fascinating history from him, visiting Fort Cornwallis, the Chinese jetties, Burmese and Thai temples and various other places in the city. The Chew Jetty was my favourite place as we not only got insights into a new way of life, but also into Chinese beliefes and culture. The temples we visited were different to those in Thailand, and one of the most interesting things we encountered (and one of the most morbid) was the wall of urns in the Thai temple with the reclining Buddah. People had reserved their own urn space in the wall and everything.
By the time the tour ended we were desperate for some air con, so some of the group went in search of fast food, whilst Hayley, Noel and I went to the mall cinema. For the grand old price of 1.20 GBP (sorry, there's not a pound sign on this keyboard) we saw Valkyrie. It's really very good, and you should go see it if you haven't already.