We had arranged to stay at a hostel in Khao Lak, ironically called 'Walkers inn' :) We we're a little apprehensive at meeting the owner, Andy, as we had sent a few emails back and forth arranging our accommodation and he had been a little abrupt and a tad rude. However, when we arrived at Walkers we we're greeted by Andy and he seemed to be a great bloke and in the coming week we were to discover he is a right legend! I was chuffed to bits with Walkers, firstly the name obviously! The room was brilliant for what we were paying (under a tenner a night for both of us), staying above a pub is always good fun, the beer was cheap, there was a big screen and he had all the sport channels, he had a free good quality pool table and last but not least the food was out of this world!!! (including, a proper full English breakfast and a Sunday roast on the menu!!!)
Once we had settled in at walkers, we had to find the nearest police station, as part of the conditions of the insurance to claim some of the money back from what we'd had stolen on the way down, was that you had to report the incident to the police and obtain a report within in 24 hours of the incident taking place. We asked Andy where the nearest station was and he told us it was about 40 miles away! We were gutted as we knew it would cost us loads to get there so pretty much decided to leave it as we were only covered for up to £75. While we were having some lunch, Andy came over and offered us a lift as he had to go somewhere in that direction anyway - result! At the police station we were taken by one of the officers to his desk, this was a bit of an awkward interview as the man's English was pretty much non-existent. It was also a bit of daunting situation as the guy was a very stern looking character and gave us a good interrogating and seemed very suspicious of us! Also, the gun he had strapped to his belt didn't help matters, especially after all the stories you hear about the Thai police! Eventually we got our story across and he gave us a copy of the report, even if it was in Thai, oh well the insurance company would have to sort that out.
We went back to walkers and had some dinner, the food really was fantastic there, it was the best Phad Thai I had had since being in South East Asia, and I had eaten many! After dinner we played some pool and had a few beers, whilst playing pool we met a Swedish couple call Jesper and Johanna, who were also staying at walkers, they were travelling around South East Asia for 6 months. I got on really well with Jesper as he was a big football fan and liked a beer or two! :) and Sarah got on really well with Johanna. They had also got engaged the previous night so were in very good spirits. We spent the rest of the evening with them. At bar closing time, Andy and a few of the others asked us all if we wanted to carry on the session at a club up the road called the 'happy snapper', as tempted as we were we opted out as we were shattered but Jesper and Johanna carried on, we said we would definitely be up for it the next time.
The following day we decided to go down to the beach and have a chill out. The beach was absolutely beautiful, the nicest I had seen yet, including Kenya, and that had been the one to beat so far. It was a twelve mile stretch of golden sand with stunning turquoise water which was unbelievably clear! The photos show how beautiful the beach was but still don't do it justice. We chilled out on the beach and swam in the sea for most of the day, the good life! :) As it was a Sunday, we went back to walkers to have the Sunday lunch which we were very excited about as it had been one of the things we had missed a lot from home. It was as good as expected, roast beef with all the trimmings even Yorkshire's! It went down a treat. Villa were playing Blackburn that night so we watched that and had a good drink with Jesper and Johanna until about three in the morning, mullered!
The next morning we were woken by a knock at our door, it was Andy telling us that Danny from the film was downstairs waiting for us. Danny worked as part of the Casting crew on a movie they were shooting in Khao Lak called 'The Impossible', it was a film about the tsunami, Khao Lak was the worst affected area hit in South East Asia. The lead roles in the film were being played by Ewan Mcgregor, Hugh Jackman and Naomi Watts so it seemed like it was gonna be a blockbuster of a movie. We had been told the day before that they were looking for Westerners to feature as extras in the film, we would be paid a nice daily fee and it would be a good experience as well so we phoned Danny straight away. So after being informed by Andy that Danny was waiting downstairs for us, we shot out of bed and got dressed, Sarah was cursing Danny for coming so early and her not having enough time to get ready properly! :) On top of this we were pretty hungover. We went down and met Danny, he seemed like a good bloke. He had a little chat to us and took all our information, measurements and our photos. Jesper and Johanna also met with Danny. We chilled out at walkers for the rest of the day and briefly went to the beach. Later that evening Andy took us to see 'Police Boat 813' this had become a tourist attraction in Khao Lak, 'Police Boat 813' was overseeing the vacation of a Thai prince when the Tsunami struck, the wave took the boat over 2km inland over houses and hotels. The boat is huge it must 20 meteres long by 15 metres high! There is a photo of Sarah standing next to the boat which puts its size into perspective. Back at Walkers it was quiz night, we teamed up with Jesper and Johanna, our team name was 'the gibbons' (monkeys commonly seen in Thailand and a nickname Johanna had for Jesper!) We didn't do to badly coming in third place out of seven. It was a good laugh as well.
The next day I was extremely happy as we were meeting the lads! My brother, Janek, Stuart and Dan were in Thailand for the next four weeks and were also coming to Australia with us, so I was very excited at meeting up with them later that evening. Down at breakfast we met a lad called James Ricci, a Welsh fella. He had done a similar tour of South East Asia to us and was also heading to Australia for the Ashes. We also met a chap called Neil, a South African who had moved over to Thailand twenty years ago to work in the oil mining business, he was a very interesting guy and was to give us a lift down to Phuket a few days later. After chatting to these two for a couple of hours we went up the road to get my new tattoo, the previous day we had gone to the tattoo shop and talked about me getting one, I had already given him a few of my ideas and he said he would come up with a design for today. So, I met up with 'Rong' (my tattoo artist) and he showed me his design. Sarah and I were both happy with it so we got under-way. It was a tattoo done by bamboo, the same as Sarah's so the pain was pretty minimal. After about eight hours I began to get a bit worried we wouldn't be finished in time for the boys arrival - they were due in the next hour. It turned out to be perfect timing really as about ten minutes after it was completed I got a phone call from James saying they were five minutes away. Just before the boys arrived we were invited to join Rong and his family outside on the pavement for a traditional Thai barbecue, it was delicious and the boys turned up as we were eating. It was absolutely fantastic to see them when they came strolling round the corner with their big backpacks on, 'the travelling boys'! It had been four months since I had seen them all so we were really pleased to see each other. They were all very impressed with how brown we were and it showed a lot more standing next to them as they were fresh from England! Haha! We went back and checked them into walkers, and then met up with Andy, Neil, Jesper, Johanna and James Ricci and had good session on the Chang! We had a cracking little group of us now! :) After a good catch up with all the lads, the bar at Walker's closed, so we decided to carry on up the road at a place called 'Monkey Bar' a cool little bar where we drank and laughed into the early hours playing jenga! :)
The next day all of us including James Ricci decided to go to a stretch of beach called white sands which Andy had told us was supposed to be lovely. Andy gave us a lift down with all of us squashed in the back of his pick-up truck, this was good fun and there is a hilarious picture of Janek in the back of the truck, check it out. Andy was right, the beach was beautiful! We had a good swim in the ocean and had a cracking game of football on the beach. We all went back to walkers for dinner and had a quiet drink as we were all pretty tired from the previous night. We received a phone call from Danny, the casting guy from the film, who said that they were not going to be filming this week because of all the rain, never-mind. All of us, again including James Ricci, had decided to go on a day trip tomorrow which included; white water rafting, flying fox (a zip wire down from quite a height), swimming at a waterfall and elephant trekking, Sar went round to the travel shop, worked her haggling magic to get us a good deal and we were booked on it for the following day. It was beneficial for us now to be in a big group now because most things like hostels, day trips, taxis etc we could do deals on. :)
The following morning was the day trip so we were all up early and excited for the days events ahead. Another plus point to being in a group was that on day trips like this one, we knew the whole group! When we arrived we started off with white water rafting, part of the deal Sarah had managed to get us was that we would do the 9km rafting as opposed to the 5km which most people went on. The 9km was supposed to have much scarier rapids at the end! :) The rafting was brilliant, me and sar were in a boat with James and Janek, we had great fun and the whole rafting trip lasted for an hour and a half! Pretty worn out from all the holding on by the end of it. There was a funny instant when our raft got wedged in-between two rocks and loads of water from over the side poured in to the boat weighing it down, the non speaking Thai guides that were in our boat looked pretty concerned so we followed suit! The guides got us out of the sticky situation and all was good. Next up was the flying fox, which was a higher fall than we expected. We had a big trek up the side of a mountain and then went down one by one. It was a bit nervy but loads of fun and once you got to the end it was one of those rides that you want to turn around and go straight back on! Janeks turn was funny as when he got to the end he got all tangled up and it took them ages to pull him in, only Janek! Hahaha! After that we had some lunch and then had a walk up to the waterfall, the waterfall was absolutely awesome, jaw dropping! We went for a swim and then all tried to get into the waterfall for a photo. It was really hard to swim into it with all the pressure coming away from it, very very tiring! Once a few had got in the little alcove they were able to pull the others in. At one point Janek, me, Sarah and Stu made a human chain to pull Dan in! Great teamwork! :) There was a part of the alcove which was set back that dropped and if you slipped of the rock the water pulled you under, Sarah got pulled under momentarily and looked petrified! I pulled her back onto the rock but we knew we had to be careful now, on top of that it was hard to hear with all the water crashing down and very hard to see with all the water falling around you. We were getting ready for the photo when I looked around amongst us all and couldn't see Janek, after about five seconds he came up from under the water and me and Sarah pulled him out, he reckons he was under for about thirty seconds in total! Very scary! We got the photo we wanted and got out of there, Janek in tow! We then all clambered up the hill on the side and jumped off some high rocks, got some fantastic photos of this, although my photos is blank so it must have missed me, honestly I did jump! :)
We then went onto the elephant trekking, and in my opinion the highlight of the day, loved every minute of it. We were introduced to the humongous animals, me and Sarah were allocated a female elephant called Yai. Just before we boarded our elephants we asked one of the workers to nip to the shop and get a round of beers for the journey just to make it that little more chilled and special :) The trek was unbelievable, so surreal to be sitting on an elephant with the beautiful surroundings of mountainous Thailand and all your mates in front of and behind you also on elephants-a million miles away from our average day in Brum! The trek was also surprisingly scary as you were so high up and on this trek in particular you go up and down some very steep hills in slippy mud, so you are holding on with just your thighs. We didn't want it to end. All in all the day was fantastic, agreed by all.
That evening Villa were playing Arsenal and with the lads now with us we had six villa fans (if you include Sar!). So we all put on our villa shirts and sat in the bar and watched the game on the big screen, brilliant we made a great atmosphere in the pub. Unfortunately we lost, that wasn't in the script for the great day we'd had! All the lads and James Ricci had decided to go up to the Happy snapper afterwards for a night out. Me, Sar, Jesper and Johanna were umming and ahhing about going as we were leaving for Phi Phi in the morning and Neil was giving us a lift to the ferry port in Phuket at 8am - the lads weren't leaving for Phuket until the afternoon. Anyway, we thought what the hek, we'd had such a great time in Khao Lak why not go out with a bang! We had a crazy night, shots galore in the Happy snapper, it was a really cool bar, they had a wicked band doing cover songs and we all danced like crazy in our circle and on the ceiling they had world map with each country's famous landmark in 3D. We also saw Liev Schreiber in there, the baddie from 'Scream' bit of any idiot to be honest, arrogant i'm so cool attitude about him. When it was closing we were in too much of party mood to end the session so moved on to another bar after and carried on the session. We returned to walkers about 5/6ish! I sat on the balcony with Jesper waiting for the girls to come back as they had lagged behind chatting away how drunk girls do! I fell backward off the balcony and banged my head on the tiled floor, even in my drunk state it hurt pretty bad, I knew I was in for a major hangover in a few hours!
A couple of hours later we were woken (at 8am) by a bang at the door and a panicking Johanna who was telling us she had lost her engagement ring during last nights antics! She went up and had a look with Neil who was waiting downstairs for us. This luckily gave us a few extra minutes to shoot out of bed and get all our stuff together for checkout. We said goodbye to Andy and then Neil and Johanna returned, unfortunately she hadn't found her ring, Jesper wasn't too mad, maybe that was just a temporary fixture as he was still drunk from the night before! :) Neil took a quick detour before we got to the port to show us what he called his 'little baby', there was nothing little about it, he was showing us his huge brand spanking new speedboat, this man was evidently minted. Neil dropped us of at the port and we boarded the ferry set for Phi Phi island. As soon as we took to our seats we all fell straight to sleep and as we awoke we were back at the beautiful island of Phi Phi. :)