Leaving the delights of Luang Prabang, I had a mission set to get to Bangkok by 8am on 10th June to meet Elaine again. The journey involved an overnight stay (including a bucket party once more) in Vang Vieng, before a bus and overnight train to Bangkok.
My first impressions of Thailand were of pure delight. Passing through passport control on Freedom Bridge, the first policeman I saw actually smiled at me and told me voluntarily where my train to Bangkok would depart. I had not realised until then but that was the first time that someone had smiled at me without trying to sell anything. It was such a friendly atmosphere.
The overnight train was fine, but was supposed to arrive at 6.30am, allowing me one and half hours to get to meet Elaine and for us to get a bus at 8am to go to Ko Chang. Typically the train was an hour late and I honestly thought I would not have a chance of meeting Elaine, especially as I got to the meeting point at 8.05am!! Luckily she had been able to persuade the bus to hang on, whilst I dashed down the street to meet her.
A further 6 hours later, and 29 hours worth of travelling, we arrived at the beautiful island of Ko Chang. Whilst it was quite a large island, we travelled up and down steep winding roads to Lonely Beach where there were hardly any toursits (definitely away from the Charter and resort areas). Lonely Beach is mainly for backpackers which suited us down to the ground. We managed to find a beach hut a stone's throw away from the beach and settled down to a week of pure beach luxury.
We arrived in a downpour but luckily the rain then held off until our last day. So we were able to spend the days lazying on the beach and the nights drinking. To break up the day we did try and swim in the sea. The rip tides were extremely strong though. At first we had no idea and it was only when we realised we were being pulled near rocks that we noticed the strength of the pull. We tried to swim inland and both of us panicked for about five minutes worried we would not be able to make it. But by using the waves we were able to escape the pull and surf back to the shore. Lesson learnt, we only went as far as we could stand after that.
The first day in the sun roasted our fair white skins, so we decided on the second day to visit a nearby waterfall. After a little walk through the jungle we approached it. Storming down the rocks the sight of the water was magnificant. Like in Luang Prabang we were able to swim in the pool at the bottom. The coldness of the water was very refreshing against the sunburn! People were also climbing rocks and jumping in. Elaine tried her best to get up there but somehow the path was a bit foxing so did a little jump/fall instead! Great fun.
There were some great cafes in the area and it was wonderful to have fresh, healthy food each day. It was even better to enjoy a glass of wine in the evenings, sat on a deck overhanging the sea. Sunsets were stunning and so relaxing being able to hear the waves crash on nearby rocks.
The only downside to the area was that all locals were potheads. Towards the end of our stay there they would react to us in a weird manner and completely without reason. We could not decide whether it was because we had not drunk enough in their bars (as if that would be possible!), slept with them or they were high on drugs! A slight down to an otherwise perfect beach retreat.