16/03: Day 46 – Penang to Koh Lipe
Finally I was on my way to Thailand and to the Beach !!!! It had been so hot, that by the time I had finished with Malaysia, I was dying to get to the water!!
Left Penang and from there I went to Koh Lipe, Thailand. The most convenient way to get there is to take the ferry (one in the morning and one in the afternoon), to Langkawi (3 hours; 70RM – 15,5€) and then take another boat from Langkawi to Koh Lipe (most make you pay 118RM, but I bought the ticket in Langkawi and was able to get it for 100 RM). It’s actually also possible to stop in Langkawi, I heard it’s a nice place.
During the wait in Langkawi boarder, I met two girls and started to discuss about our trips and advices. That’s the great thing about travelling! It’s manly people I met that gave me the best tips !
Arriving on Koh Lipe was such an amazement for me. I had never been on one of these paradisiac islands, so I was just like a child. It was definetly the nicest island I went to (not the funest or the best, but the nicest). It was so funny because arriving from Malaysia into Thailand, we had to go through customs, imagine a boarder on a tiny little island… it was really sweet.
It’s a very pretty island, developing itself very very fast. Everywhere new resorts where being built. Anyway, I had booked at Shanti Hostel, so started the orientation race, because, although it’s a very small island, it was actually tricky to find!
I met another girl in the hostel and we all 4 went for a walk on Sunset Beach. So nice! And walked around the main part of the island.
Shanti Hostel I believe was the cheapest hostel, especially if you are alone – owners are quite crazy, but very nice and helpful! It was nice to hangout there. Otherwise there is also Gipsy Bungalows – you’ll have a bungalow for 2 for 700 bahts, with fan. It just in front of the beach.
17/03: Day 47 – Koh Lipe snorkelling trip
We had booked this snorkelling trip for the day, so off we went in the morning. You have a couple of options for that: 1 day program, where the price will vary from 450 to 750 Baths depending on the number of islands you want to visit. You also have an afternoon/night program where you leave at 4 and come back at 8, including a nice beach barbecue! The snorkelling is nice and it is a good and cheap activity for the day.
So we went off on one of these small typical Thai boats, we were about 10, for about 1 hour and arrived at a snorkelling spot. There was nothing too exceptional, but still, it was nice. The guide was funny, the very tactile kind of guide… especially with the girls… how surprising. He would grab us by the waste in the water and show us all the submarine life.
We had lunch on this perfect tiny island, it was so nice. The water was quite shallow, so pretty warm, the sand was so white it would hurt your eyes. So beautiful. Took loads of pictures.
The only black stain in this picturesque scenery, was this French couple. Thank goodness I was the only person that could understand the amount of stupidities they were saying. I actually didn’t even dare say I was French, until the point where I just couldn’t stop myself commenting on one of the aberrations coming out of their mouths: “This place is missing loud music like in Punta Cana”… Dude are you freaking serious?!?
We finished with “monkey island”. The idea was that we could bring a couple of bananas to feed the monkey on the last stop. Great idea one would think. But these monkeys were worse than in Costa Rica!! As we approached they all came down to the beach and didn’t even wait for the boat to dock, they ran into the water, jumped on the boat and aggressively started looking and grabbing the food. Don’t you imagine trying to hold on to it, they would hiss back at you showing their big sharp teeth.
We were able to save a couple of bananas and make it on the island, but they wouldn’t be any nicer. They were still grabbing and hissing… Some were still jumping on the boat to look for food. It was actually quite cute, because even some mummy monkey, with their babies holding on tight, would jump up. Quite impressive. And of course what happened when there was no food left… they went off… or rather they went off to wait for the next boats that were coming after us. I say all of this, but it was still nice and cute to see.
All of that was quite exhausting, so when we came back around 4, went back to the hostel for a little rest. At the hostel, I chatted with this girl who, after 6 months of travelling, was only left with a couple of days… I felt so sad for her, so grateful I was only at the beginning, thinking “Ho, I still have loads of time…” (time which just went flying by…!). I remembered that conversation when it was my turn to leave and knew how she must have felt then… Like S**T!
In the evening, we went to this tiny restaurant, The Barracuda. The perfect place. Out of the way, not too expensive, the food was just amazing, good fresh fish, the atmosphere and the décor were nice, a really great little place!
Chilled there for a bit, went for a drink on the main street, played a bit of cards with a couple of people at the hostel and went to bed!
18/03: Day 48 – Koh Lipe beach day. You want to know about paradise?
Today was the first real chill, relax and make the most of doing nothing day. Again, Koh Lipe was a really nice island; small, not too many people, although you tend to add up in the 2 main streets, but once you’re on the beach, it is pretty calm. Speaking of beach, choose well. The main sunrise or sunset beaches are fine, but you can find much nicer spots. Late morning, we went to the Mountain beach, it was definitely less crowded and really exquisite! The paradise kind of beach. We chilled for a couple of hours, making the most of the peace and quite. After that, we walked along the beach for about 20 min to find a nice beach club to have food and then found the Elephant bar & beach lounge. You know the picture you imagine when you think of yourself on a quite beach in Thailand? Yeah, well that was it! We spend the rest of they day just on one of these beach beds, drinking fresh fruit cocktails and just enjoying life.
Around 5, we went back to the hostel, walked around a bit and I went back to the Sunrise beach to make the most of the sunset… totally logical… but I could admire from the warm water, in the pinky-bleu sky, the moon slowly lighting up. It was magical.
For diner, we went back to The Barracuda, the food had been so good and the people so kind, after which we headed back to the beach. We had been told that Koh Lipe had many glowing planktons, so we wanted to check it out. Walked along the beach until there was no bar/restaurant light, moving the sand around in the water with our feet, to see if something would glow, but we were not lucky… We did see a few, but it was almost full moon, so there was a bit too much light and we probably needed to be a bit more out in the water… never mind, walking on the beach at night time, with for only light the glowing moon was already pretty cool.
Went back to main street, had a drink or two and went to bed.
19/03: Day 49 – Koh Lipe to Phuket
Okay, first of all I do feel the need to say that going to Phuket was really just to check it off the list, I promise…
To go from Koh Lipe to Phuket, the easiest way is to take the boat. It stops in Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi and maybe a couple of other islands, but it was the fastest way vs the bus.
So back on the move, I took the morning boat to go to Phuket… I probably haven’t highlighted it enough so far, but I hadn’t really planed much, in the sense that I knew where I wanted to go, but not really how to get there or what I should do once I was there… (which is good and bad, but anyway). I was more in the “we’ll see once we’re there” kind of mode… So went I tipped “Phuket” on my phone to book a hostel, I didn’t really pay much attention to details…
After the couple of hours on the boat and then an hour or two on a bus, we finally got to Phuket…. I was kind of surprised of what I was seeing… it looked like a decently civilised place, quiet and in every single point… basically quite unlike all the stories one would heard of… So when you realise that… you may start thinking you’re in the wrong place… Bingo! When I looked up a bit more about Phuket on my computer, I realised THE Phuket is actually in the Patong area and that I was now stuck (because it was already about 7pm and that I had paid for the hostel), in Phuket town… which is cute, but NOT where I intended to be… It was funny…
The architecture was actually nice. The streets are full of typical Asian houses, that had been renovated, so spent the evening wondering around the small town. The only really good thing about that place, is that they give good haircuts… but as no party was to be found, I went to bed pretty early.
20/03: Day 50 – Patong, Phuket.
So, objective was to get out of here !! But before, I needed to get a haircut! So went for one and, very unexpectedly, was really well done ! The hair dresser was cute, she took loads of photos of her work!
As I came back, a bus for Patong was almost leaving, so I rushed back to get my backpack and hoped on the bus. It’s at least 30 min away… not that close! As I left, I saw this girl, huge suitcase, that apparently was in the same situation as I was (got a bit confused with “Phuket”), but decided to get a taxi to cross over.
I left my stuff at Patong Backpacker Hostel and started “visiting”… there’s not much to see in the Patong area. I mean, it’s ultra touristy, only has shops and bars and clubs and restaurants. Patong beach is not nice at all, so I went for a massage. I had experienced once before a Thai massage, which was terrible, so wanted to make peace with it. It was much better. It’s very… tonic, but at least loosened me up. I was starting to have back and neck pains, after sleeping in so many uncomfortable different places. Unfortunately, as I came out, I don’t know what I did, a brusque movement on a warm muscle, but one in my neck suddenly tightened, so the whole purpose of the massage was ruined.
I went back to the hostel and there saw the girl I had seen earlier in the morning, in Phuket Town and we starting chatting about our common mistake… Ana was also French and on her way back to France, after 1 year in Australia, stopped 10 days to visit Thailand.
The hostel was really nice and I met loads of people. At night before heading out, most people from the hostel gathered in the common area and we all started to drink together and played 4 kings. We had a great time! That was before going out…
Around 12 we all headed out, to go and see a Ping Pong Show… Patong is just full of these places… it’s one of the big Sex, Drugs and Party places. I wasn’t really paying attention to what a Ping Pong show actually was, so I followed along. As we went in the club, this poor girl was taking out of her vagina a live mouse, that she then let run on the stage she was performing on… Then started smoking a cigarette, still with her vagina, played darts and ping pong… throwing the balls on people… I’m not usually very emotional, but, this time, after 5 min, I was so grossed out by everyone finding it so funny, that I left the show and burst out in tears outside for about 15 min, asking myself what physical and psychological state one must be in to do that. The security guy outside was actually really sweet about it. He didn’t speak much English, but he was just say “it’s okay, it’s, no worry”, he brought me a glass of water and sat with me until my group came out, which was about 1 hour. I can’t remember what we talked about, but he was really cute about it.
After that we went to another nightclub and partied the rest of the night. It was still an epic night though.
Patong Backpacker Hostel was great. The rooms were nice, the people were great, everyone was friendly. The strong point of that place was its common area, where everyone can gather at all times and share a great time! Perfectly located.
21/03: Day 51 – Patong, Phuket.
Don’t have much recollection of what I did that day, but slept in for sure, went for a swim on Patong beach, which was not very nice, chilled at the hostel, walked around and with Ana, went to book our tickets to go to Koh Phangan for the Full Moon Party! I know I asked in about 15 agencies because all of them were proposing tickets that arrived pretty late on the island and the idea was that we would arrive earlyish to have time to get ready for the party. Finally found one that arrived there at 5, which was perfect.
At night, Ana and I went to a Lady Boy cabaret show, which was much better than the Ping Pong show, much softer, much more respectful to the human kind… I mean… kind of… it’s still transgender that dress up and do a cabaret show. It was actually funny. One of them was dressed up and sung as Marilyn Monroe.
After that, we met up with the others, had a couple more drinks, partied and… voila!
22/03: Day 52 – Phuket to Koh Phangan and THE FULL MOON PARTYYYY !!!
Honestly, that day had the best and the worst, but bottom line, the night was awesome!
Ana and I left pretty early, as the full day of travelling we had ahead of us was going to be pretty long. To actually get from Phuket to Koh Phangan I thing we took like 3 or 4 different transports. We started with a van to Phuket bus station, quite far away, then took a bus to somewhere half way of the trip. When we stopped, I heard the most revolting French person I have ever come across in my travels… I was so ashamed…. Seriously. This late 30s guy, who was totally the equivalent of a French red neck, clearly thinking him and his buddies were the only French people around, was telling this story about him farting at his gym club, finding it apparently hilarious and seemed very interested in “all the hot pussy around…” What I was hearing wasn’t the only appalling thing, it was more the fact that these people travel, that there are a lot of French people like him travelling to Thailand (for different reasons) and that people like him have, who knows how, the money to travel… it was just shocking…
Anyway, noticeably the agency had sold us tickets, promising that we would get to Koh Phangan by 5pm and didn’t get there before 7…. We had booked different hostels, because around Full Moon, Koh Phangan is full and pretty expensive, so the taxi dropped me off first at my hostel, or at least what it was supposed to be… I get there, ask for my room and the person at the front desk sees that he has no booking for me… it turned out that there are 2 hostels of the same name on Koh Phangan and that my one was better located to get to the party, but quite far away from where we were. It was such a headache to get a new taxi, find the actual place… but in the end got to Bed ‘n’ Bar, just had the time to quickly get ready and meet up with Ana.
Going to the Full Moon Party was required quite the reflexion. We actually went there with veeeery low expectations, because of all the terrible stories we had heard. You’re going to get robbed, drugged, get in a fight they said… So we thought that we should go and if ever we didn’t like the vibe, we would just go to bed early. We actually had an amazing night!!!
The set up is crazy. We first bought our Full Moon Party t-shirts, then went to get some glowing paint to paint our skin, then got buckets and… the most important, friends to have fun with! We were also worried that we would loose each other (so many stories about people loosing their friends and spending the entire time looking for them…). In the end, we stuck together (I was actually luck Ana didn’t drink as much as I did, so she could be the responsible one), we walked from one end of the beach to the other, meeting new people, dancing to all sorts of different music, going on different stages. Really fun. Around 4, stopped for some food (I was at that tipping point where either you get food and you just perfect for the rest of the night or you continue drinking and what follow would have been bad…), Pad Thai of course and got going again, until sun rise around 6. After that, Ana went sleeping for the couple of hours that were separating us from our bus to Koh Tao and me, I just kept going, dancing with the sun and music still at full blast. Epic night. Definitely one of the best!
Just before I left, around 7.30, to also go and get a bit of sleep, I saw this young guy I had seen already twice during the party. The first time, early in the night, he was fine, looked super happy and had a small kind of bag on his back, with telephone, money, Go Pro, etc. Then second time, he was already pretty drunk, dancing on a stage, the Go Pro filming, but he had just left it on the floor. As the good Samaritan is I am, I picked it up and put it back in his bag. He thanked me a lot and was explaining me that he had already lost his phone and wouldn’t want to also loose the Go Pro… Then, the last time at 7.30, I saw him alone, sitting on the beach, all curled up, with no bag and no Go Pro… basically nothing… That was probably a VERY expensive and painful night for him…
Bed ‘n’ Bar hostal was perfectly located and it was fine for a couple of hours sleep, but other than that… it’s not a specially nice place. The rooms were overcrowded and the beds were all stuck to each other… not the best option I guess.
23/03: Day 53 – Arrival on Koh Tao
After going to bed around 8.30 (time to find my way back to the hostel, shower, change), got a bit of sleep and was already preparing to leave by 10.30. The taxi was picking me up at 11 to head to the ferry at 12. Met up with Ana, waited ages, with a terrible hang over, under the burning sun, for the late boat and on our way we were to Koh Tao!
It was so funny, every single person on that boat was snoozing and half dying. As we got there, again we hadn’t been able to book at the same place, so I walked to the Central Hostal and she took a taxi to Spicy Tao. While waiting for her, I thought it would be easier to get around on a motorbike, so, for the first time of the trip, rented one!
With the bike, met up with Ana at Spicy Tao, which is a real pain to find when you don’t know the place and went for some food. One of us had heard that Aow Leuk beach was nice, so headed there. And it was beautiful. It was already around 6, so sun was going down, no one was there and it’s a small, beautiful beach, surrounded by the small rocky mountains, it was magical!
After that, we went for some diner and were just flat out, so went to bed.
24/03: Day 54 – Discovering Koh Tao
Thinking about it today, that was a pretty important day for my trip. We met with Ana for breakfast and we needed to find a new accommodation, because both of ours were full. Reading through a blog about Koh Tao, I saw it was mentioning Alvaro Diving bungalows, on Pirate Bay, which we discovered, were reasonably cheap and really nice, although quite a bit out of the way. So, we took motorbike (first time on my trip), went to collect our stuff and headed over there and booked a room. Basically, as you walked down the couple of steps of the Bungalow, we had our feet in the water… with hammocks around the little creek. And just behind, the Pirate Bay bar.
Anyway, project was to go to Mango Bay… so took the motorbike and headed there. I think we had heard it was a bit tricky to get there, but that person could have peed in a violin (French expression), clearly it would have been the same… So that being, we decided to go. As we, and when I say we, I mean I the driver and Ana the passenger, were driving towards what was going to be a real nightmare, we first stopped at a little bar on the way, just a bit before Mango viewpoint, as we started to see that the path was climbing quite a bit… A French guy was chilling there and seeing the little confidence I had to push it through that pretty steep part of the way, he proposed to bring it at the top and then we could continue. He did warn us! He did say the rest of the way was tricky, steep, sandy, he did say it! But again, we decided to push on. The rest of the path was going very much downwards all the way, it was sandy, we were both holding on to our lives, but it staid manageable. We pushed on to where we were supposed to stop and continue walking through the bit of juggle we had to cross for 15 min before getting to the beach.
Unfortunately, by then it was already late and we were thinking that there was absolutely NO WAY we were going to do all of this in the dark. We also made the most of two guys coming back from it and who were going to head back, to ask for a bit of help and advice. Because if the way here was going down… obviously the way back was going up… like UP up…. So they told me just go, at a reasonably fast speed, don’t slow down and definitely don’t stop and there I went. Everything WAS going fine (for the fist 20 m), until someone was coming down, in the middle of the way and there I had to slow down… I lost my balance and kind of slowly feel off the bike, but managed to kind of control de damage on the bike, but I was holding on to it, so it wouldn’t slide down. It ended up by one of the guys taking our bike and us riding behind them, until that first little bar we had stopped at.
The French guy laughed at us and when we go there, it was as if we had done one of the hardest thing of our lives. No really, it was HORRIBLE. We were so stressed, Ana and I chilled a bit at the bar before heading back. The guys there were actually really cool. They offered us drinks and were pretty funny. This French guy was telling us that he was living with the owners of the bar 4 months a year and that he would go back to France the rest of the time to earn some money. He was living with very little, no bike, which was the most amazing. He would run down and up again that mountain each time he needed something from the shop… crazy! But the view up there on the island, makes it all worth it!
Anyhow. We ended up by heading home. No harm done.
However, the most important part of the day was yet to come. It started after we went for cheap 60 bahts Pad Thai and headed to THE fire show at THE Lotus Bar. We stayed for a bit, fantasied on these hot, sweaty Burmese guys and around 12 decided that we should go back home… Ana was going to dive the next day. Going to bed as good, sensible young ladies is what could have happened… but it didn’t! As we were on the motorbike, helmets on, almost ready to take that turn and hit the big road, I was actually itching for staying. I turned around and asked Ana if we were really actually going to go back this early… THANK GOD she said NO !!!!! parked the scooter again and went back to the fire show to party. We chatted with loads of people and when the party finished, tipped the guys and that’s when I started talking with Jess… We had and amazingly fun night, talked with all of these Burmese guys and Ana and I went to bed at a reasonable hour for people on holiday… around 5. 🙂
That night was going to be a huge travel game changer! But that is for later…
Alvaro diving Bugalows was super nice, on Pirate Bay, just next to Chalok Bay. Its nicely isolated, has a cool bar for the evening, the bungalows are perfect, just in front of the beach. To peacefully chill on a hammock, it’s great. But it is a bit out of the way, so if you want to party at night and go to Sairee, considering the roads are quite sandy and slippery, it’s not obviously the best place.
25/03: Day 55 – Discovering Koh Tao
Waking up in that Bungalow was awesome. Really had our feet in the water as we go out. Around11 I dropped off Ana at the diving school and headed back to the bungalow to chill in the hammock for a bit.
Around 2, Ana was going to be diving at Aow Leuk. So went there so I could take videos and photos of her diving. As I saw out to their boat, I was literally attacked by this fish, who was at least… 3 cm long! He would let go of me!! In one of the videos, you can see me fighting with this little fish, that just wanted to make a meal out of my skin. Ana explained me later that they had been told that some fish like nibbling on your mosquito bites. Hahaha, it was so funny. I felt very very threatened!
I swam with her diving group and I could see it wasn’t going too well… she was diving with 3 other girls, two of which, were just… at that stage there is no other word than stupid. 2 young English girls, that were not listening at all to the instructor, they had no idea what they were supposed to do and basically ruined that dive for the others… it was terrible. The instructor staid pretty calm in front of these dummies. I, for sure, would have totally lost it and probably would have left them there….
Anyway, I chilled on the beach for the rest of the afternoon, while they left for another diving sight and went to pick her up around 5.
For diner we went to Sairee Cottage, which has a famous and cheap BBQ. It was alright, but it actually the nice thing about that place, is that is has nice little cushions in front of Sairee Beach and stayed there to enjoy the beautiful sunset.
Her next step was Chiang Mai, so she left with the last afternoon boat and I went back on Sairee and went back to Lotus Bar to see the fireshow.
My boat was at 10.30, so stayed there until 10 and then, Jess brought me at the peer. The night boat is so funny! It’s just like a huge hostel, with maybe 100 bunk beds.
26/03: Day 56 – Koh Tao to Kanchanaburi
The boat arrived at 5 am at Chumphon and from there took a bus. It was such a headache to see how I could get from Koh Tao to Kanchanaburi. The bus? The train? A minivan? In the end the best way was to get on the bus to Bangkok, get off in Hua Hin and from there, take a minivan to Kanchanaburi, that leaves every hour at quarter past.
I was going to Kanchanaburi to meet up with some friends from ElephantsWorld. I got in around 3, so it gave me some time to sleep. I had booked at Tara Bed and Breakfast. It was funny, it was the first time during my trip that I had booked a room a bit better than usual and yet it was the first time I saw a dead cockroach in my room.
My friends came around 7, we had diner all together on the main street, had great time, met knew mahouts, new girlfriends and went to bed.
Tara Bed and Breakfast: except the cockroach, which can happen in Asia, it was a good place. The room was really nice for 700 baht the night. Very spacious and had aircon. Well located, but other places have more to them, like pools or nicer setups in general.
27/03: Day 57 – Kanchanaburi > Bangkok, the free boxing game and the Soi Cowboy
Left Kanchanaburi in the morning and arrived in Bangkok just before lunch. Haaaa Bangkok! It’s funny, I really adore the city, but never remember what I do when I’m there. I always end up by having specific stuff to do, like visas or something to buy I can’t fin anywhere else or seeing friends.
But that day was Sunday and I don’t remember who had told me about that, but every Sunday, Channel 7, yes, the TV channel, open their little Thai boxing stadium for free to see the Sunday games.
Don’t do like me, arrive on time! I arrived late, so I missed the beginning of the interesting game and mainly saw the younger categories. Going there, I was so overwhelmed by everything going on, that I spent more time observing the crowd yelling out their bets, than watching the actual Thai boxing. There were very little farang (white tourist), so I was just melted in the local crowd. It was so crazy!! I loved it!! You can even go to the VERY cheap and famous Chatuchak market, only opened at weekends.
In the evening I met up with Jonathan, a good friend of mine, I met when I started working in Schneider. He had left the company and was now doing an exchange semester in Bangkok. So we had some catch up time, which was good and it was kind of funny since I was seeing him now in Bangkok, the last time I had met up with him was in Toronto and the time before that was in Paris.
He decided to make me discover a side I hadn’t seen of Bangkok yet: one of the red light districts of the city, Soi Cowboy. We even when to the Catus Bar, where they filmed a scene of The Hangover 2 movie. It’s just like Patong, Sex, prostitution, paedophilia, drugs, ping-pong shows and Lady boys.
As we were having a drink, we saw and stared to this really old guy, over 90 for sure, coming out of one of these “bars”, with this 30ish year old Thai lady. She was literally dragging his oxygen tank, which was plugged up his nose so he could breath properly… I mean… in his state… what can possibly happen down there… She accompanied him to a taxi and as he was getting on, he was trying to convince her to come with him, which she refused. The whole thing was totally surreal. It’s really the kind of scene that (normal) people like me, only expect and imagine to see in films… But really, the whole street reminds you why so many people come to Thailand every year… to have the sex they can’t get back home for cheap and with young girls.
Hug Home Hostel: it was a great hostel. Really nice people, great set up, nice common areas and good rooms. If you want to stay out of Khao San road, it’s definitely a good option.
.27/03: Day 57 – Chinatown Bangkok
On Jonathan’s advice, I went to Chinatown and wahou, that was a serious Chinatown, the real deal! Nothing like the touristy places I had been to in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. This was real business. First of all, it’s huge, like, huge huge, streets and streets and alleyways long. There are tons of gold shops, but most importantly, you know all these stupid bracelets you buy when you’re travelling? Well the price you usually pay for one, here you can buy 50. There was quite a bit of food also, but nothing I was really keen on: some dried fish and weird looking pastries, if that’s what it was. So anyway, it’s more of a place where locals actually do business and buy in large quantities, with big discount vs the touristy place where you buy a couple of souvenirs, even if you can do that, as long as you buy minimum 10.
That took most of my morning and after lunch, I walked to the Central World shopping mall. I needed some new apple headphones.
I was leaving early the next day for the next step, Cambodia! So chilled and the hostel, drunk and chatted a bit with people at the hostel and that was it for the day!
Ps: check the odd one out in the photo…