MATT: Ao Nang/Noppharat was supposed to be a couple of days stop over so we could lay on the nice, big, empty beach for the last time while in Thailand. It didn't quite work out that way thanks to a bit of a stomach upset for me which required a day of being not too far from the toilet and then a day to recover. So we ended up 4 days there...which wasn't so bad.
Ao Nang is a pretty nice place - but a world away from Ton Sai beach that we left it for. Although only 10 mins by longtail around the bay it couldn't be a more different atmosphere. No climbers, hippies and backpackers here - but the package tour crowd and family holiday tourist. The main strip being full of bars, shops, supermarkets, fast food places etc. But in it's favour is the mile or two of wide, empty white sand of Noppharat beach.
We found a nice bungalow away from the main resorts to settle down at for the duration - just a short walk from the beach and round the corner from the "Lazy Bar" where we properly chilled out for what we thought would be our last night of beachside boozing (not realising that the next day would be spent on the pooper and thus extend our stay for a couple of days).
Apart from the millions of small crabs we witnessed on the beach one afternoon (really weird) our four days went without much incident and was mostly taken up with tan topping up. The only real event was the deciding whether or not to travel back north to Bangkok by plane or bus. Eventually we chose the overnight bus as the sensible (cheap) option and set off on our last day from the beach at about 5pm to Bangkok. The bus was actually pretty painless (if pretty cold - the aircon on full whack for the whole trip). It was punctuated after the first couple of hours with a meal stop where we were provided a meal - Thai canteen style - where we shared a couple of curries and vegetable dishes with a table of Thai travellers. The food was good and the company friendly despite the lack of verbal communication was actually a really nice stop.
The journey was painless and we both kind of slept through it or stared out the window at nightime Thailand - the highlights were a huge seated golden buddha, a supermarket wth a 20 foot statue of a kangaroo in front of it (?) and a huge white building that was completely featureless apart from the huge, neon trimmed images of the king and queen.
We arrived in Bangkok at about 4.30am just in time to get a ticket and jump on the next bus for the 2 hour trip to Kanchanaburi.