Days 99-100 – Bangkok and back home

When I started this trip, I had no idea where it would lead.

I’d saved a small amount of money and decided to quit my safe job, to blow it all in the pursuit of 100 days of adventure…

I’d reached my final 2 days…

I took a quick flight from KL to Bangkok, for one last night before my journey back to the UK the next day.

I’d been wondering how to spend my last night in Asia, wondering if maybe I should go out and party in Khao San Road one last time.

I didn’t.

This is what I did instead.

wp-1481456397520.jpg

I reached my overnight hotel in Bangkok in the evening, went to the local 9-11 and bought some Chang.

My final night, I spent on the balcony of a hotel room, having a cold beer and just thinking back to everything that had happened.

Reminiscing about all the things i’d done. The zip-lining, the elephant sanctuary, the nights out, the treks, the beaches, the adventure.

The people i’d met along the way, the places i’d been, the cultures i’d discovered, the hostels i’d stayed at.

My time in Asia was over.

My flight back to London via Abu Dhabi did a good job of making me feel lonely.

wp-1481456467599.jpg

The 777 plane I was on, with capacity for 400+ passengers had a total of 24 on board today to Abu Dhabi, and under 100 onwards to London.

wp-1481456477117.jpg

My 100 days in Asia took place between 1st March 2016 – 8th June 2016.

I travelled through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, and Malaysia before returning back home to the UK.

Simply put:

This was the best 100 days of my entire life

P.S. if you stay tuned to this blog, you’re going to find out quite soon the answer to the ‘What’s next?’ question I know is on your mind.

Advertisements

Day 33-36 – Chiang Mai

After having a hearty breakfast at the hotel, I set out to the Gibbon Experience office to see if they had availability to go zip lining.

I think giving a chocoholic the entire Nutella jar was a mistake!
I think giving a chocoholic the entire Nutella jar was a mistake!

The nice people at the office informed me it would be at least 1 day before they could fit me in and in that moment I decided I’d just cross back into Thailand and see Chiang Mai.

20160402_093001.jpg

And so with that, I found myself a Tuk-Tuk for the very short distance to the border. I’d heard so many horror stories about land border crossings and yet it was so easy, there were no queues, and as soon as I got to the other side I went to an information desk to enquire about a bus to Chiang Mai. It was about 10:15am at this point and they told me there aren’t many buses that take the 4 hour journey to Chiang Mai, but I was in luck as the next one was at 10:30am… Result!!

20160402_103645.jpg

Even better…when it turned up, I was the only passenger in the minivan so the driver said he’d drop me directly to a place of my choosing. I hadn’t pre-booked a hostel, but I had done some research and so I got him to drop me off at a highly rated hostel I’d seen on hostelworld. Typically though when I turned up it was full for the next couple of days. No worry, I found a nearby hotel for a cheap price to settle in for a night before finding a hostel.

I didn’t really do much on the first day. I had a cheap massage, a rack of ribs and generally walked about exploring. I looked for a hostel to move into online and found one with reviews at 9/10 so I moved there the next day.

My favourite...
My favourite…

The hostel was nice, the lady running it was lovely, but there were no other people! It was a ghost hostel. During my stay there I had the entire dorm room to myself every night!

20160403_140254.jpg

With no atmosphere at the hostel, I booked myself a couple of activities.

The first one was a massive zip-line adventure called ‘flight of the gibbon’. Not content with missing out on zip-lining in Laos, I booked a day of zip-lining in Chiang Mai for a somewhat pricey 4000 baht (£80).

So the following morning I got picked up in a minivan and driven about an hour away to the park where I met the rest of my group. Apart from an Australian couple, there were mainly Chinese girls that I enjoyed chatting to. A few of them seemed wealthy and came from Shanghai and then there was also a nice girl from the Chengdu region.

We had great fun on the zip-lines, even seeing some gibbons along the way. From what the girls were saying, I think I’d found myself some admirers! There were 30 ziplines in total, some long, some short, one went straight into a spider net..

Getting ready for the fun
Getting ready for the fun
Nothing like a nice long rickety bridge
Nothing like a nice long rickety bridge
Staring at the start of Asia's longest zipline (800m)
Staring at the start of Asia’s longest zipline (800m)

20160404_155618.jpg

 

20160404_151959.jpg
Gibbons!!
Our hero comes to save the day!
Our hero comes to save the day!
Turns out you could do joint ziplining too!!
Turns out you could do joint ziplining too!!
Rappelling down too!!
Rappelling down too!!
Even a glimpse of the Aussie in the background :)
Looking amazing with our orange helmets of course.

After a long day with some awesome guides and fellow zip-liners we headed back to the minivan. I sat next to the girl travelling alone from Chengdu in China and we listened to music from her phone together. An odd mix of Chinese, Korean and English featuring Avril Lavigne among others. It did make me think how far China has come though. I often get comments from people back in England of ‘aren’t you brave travelling alone in Asia’ but this Chinese girl about the same age was doing the same. I bet you wouldn’t have seen that from a Chinese girl 15 years ago.

20160404_175914.jpg

We stopped briefly on the way back to a waterfall and eventually I got back to the hostel.

The next day I had organised to go to an elephant sanctuary.

Up to this point I hadn’t engaged in ‘animal tourism’. I don’t profess to lecture anyone on it but there are so many animals abused in Asia for tourist attractions that it puts you off. Not long ago an elephant died of exhaustion near Ankhor Wat after being ridden in the blazing heat. Oh and there’s the drugged tigers everywhere that people take pictures with too which is pretty horrible.

The place I organised to see the elephants called itself a sanctuary and as far as I could tell, it seemed genuine. The website says all the right things, you weren’t allowed to ride the elephants, it seemed like spacious surroundings and trip advisor reviews were all good. However, I will say this. I am not an elephant expert and I do wonder how obedient a wild elephant would be compared to the ones I saw.

When being picked up from the hostel, I was accompanied by 2 American families with children that were living in Dubai, and a guy that worked in finance who seemed to have lived just about everywhere in the world. The journey probably took about 90-120 minutes in the back of a jeep, with the last 30 minutes going along the worlds must bumpy and hilly dirt track to the secret lair of the elephants…

Once we arrived at the sanctuary, we were asked to wear some of the traditional clothing of the local Hmong tribe and we were given heaps of bananas to feed the elephants with. We joined with quite a few other people.

Up close and personal
Up close and personal

20160405_121723.jpg20160405_121736.jpg

After some lunch, we were all told to get into our swimwear and we bathed, scrubbed and then mudbathed the elephants.

20160405_134403.jpg20160405_121849.jpg20160405_142019.jpg

Soon enough it was mid-afternoon and it was time to go already. It had been a pretty awesome day,  and I got back to the hostel as the next day heralded a new country for me. Cambodia.

Day 20-21 – Bangkok to Vientiane

I spent the next morning in the hostel very hungover from the night before and with plenty of time to burn.

I’d decided it was time to go to Laos so I’d booked a sleeper train ticket from 12go.asia to take me from Bangkok to Nong Khai which is a town right on the border, and would then make my way to the capital of Laos, Vientiane.

The train was due to leave at 8pm and arrive around 7am the next day so after getting up and checking out, I stayed in the hostel and watched some Netflix until getting a taxi at around 5pm to the main station.

20160320_193943.jpg

I quickly found the office of 12go.asia to collect my ticket and made my way to KFC at the station for some finger lickin’ good food. The portion was smaller than back home but it was still quite nice and cost about £3. As there weren’t many tables, I shared with a Chinese guy that was also getting the same train, and little did I know at this point he would end up following me all the way to Vientiane.

At first he seemed okay. He explained he was travelling to Laos as he works for a chemical business and he seemed good hearted. I think my problem was that I wasn’t in the mood for the ‘hey, how’s it going, what are you doing blah blah blah’ and just wanted to be left alone. I can be like that sometimes.

When I left KFC to a little shop to get some snacks for the train journey, he followed me and actually bought me chocolate. I did then get 30 minutes away from him before I boarded the sleeper train.

I was really quite impressed with the train. I’d picked a 2nd class ticket and had an upper bunk which gave me enough room, and was comfy enough to actually get some sleep. My 11 hour sleeper train journey cost me 900 baht (£18) which I felt was a really good price considering the distance and that it saved me from paying for a hostel overnight.

img-20160320-wa0003.jpegimg-20160320-wa0006.jpeg20160321_064609.jpg

Soon after the train started to leave, my new Chinese ‘friend’ found which car I was in and started trying to talk to me. Fortunately I think he may have got the message to leave me the fuck alone as he soon left when the attendants started to make the beds and I indicated I wanted some sleep.

I had a really good nights sleep. It was a little bumpy at times but by the time I awoke, we were very near to the border town of Nong Khai, and using my Thai tourist SIM, I followed the trains progress to the border.

I hadn’t done too much planning as to what to do at the border which was my fault, but soon enough after getting off the train, the Chinese man found me and said he had done the journey to Vientiane many times before. So whilst I thought he might be a kind hearted pain in the ass, if he could deliver me to Vientiane it might be worth it, and he ended up paying for all my transport expenses along the way so maybe it was…

20160321_072441.jpg

So the first step was to take a Tuk Tuk to the border crossing at the Thai Lao Friendship Bridge which was 30 Baht each. It was a short journey and I’m sure people could walk it, but with a large bag and a warm morning it was nice to be crammed in with 4 other people.

The second step was getting stamped out of Thailand. Again, this was easy enough, there was a queue but once at the front it was a quick stamp and on my way.

Then there was a 20 Baht bus journey across No-Mans-Land to take us across the bridge from Thailand to Laos. The Chinese guy already had a visa, but I had to fill in some forms, give them $35 US Dollars and wait a few minutes for my own visa on arrival to be processed. It was relatively painless considering the amount of scam stories I had heard and soon I was officially in Laos!

20160321_085057.jpg

Ah Laos, 30 seconds in and already I had a swarm of people saying ‘Tuk Tuk?’ waiting to rip me off. Despite it taking me 40 minutes to cross the border, the Chinese guy had waited for me.

He said he knew of a local bus to take us the 20 minute journey to Vientiane so I followed him and got on. I have no idea how much it was because the Chinese guy paid for me again (by which point it felt like he was grooming me…) but I was the only westerner on this bus.

The last stop was the bus station in Vientiane and I got off there when the Chinese guy did. As soon as the bus pulled in, a million and one Laotians swarmed the bus offering Tuk Tuks.

Much worse for me, a badly dressed Laotian guy just kept saying to me ‘Embassy…Passport..’ as I stood wondering where abouts I was with a backpack, heavy bag and plastic bag with food and water. To this day I still have no idea what this guy was going on about but he kept shouting it at me, which I kept ignoring…as if I would just hand over my passport to some random Laotian man.

Still he was fairly intimidating and it didn’t really help matters when my Chinese other half was telling me he was staying with a friend and could help me no further. Suddenly I had got off the bus with all my heavy things, with just Laotians all around me and no idea really where I was.

So I managed to get my two stalkers to talk to each other. I got the Chinese guy to talk to the Laotian ‘Passport, Passport’ man and suddenly just started walking away down a random street to escape them both…what a sigh of relief that was.

I still had the problem of not knowing where I was though with no accommodation so I soon approached a Tuk Tuk who of course offered to take me to where all the hotels were for an extortionate price of 30,000 kip (around £2.50). I would have actually tried to pay this or haggle down but all I had on me were Thai Baht and US dollars and he wouldn’t accept either so I trudged on trying to find somewhere to stay.

Vientiane might be the capital of Laos, but if you type it into hostelworld you’ll find out there’s only about 5 hostels listed so at this point I was willing to take anything.

Finally I found my way to a nice looking guesthouse. At $18 US per night it was a little pricy compared to normal but it was nice enough. I mean this is Laos so don’t go expecting working locks, TVs that are from after 1990 or a room free from lizards but it was still pleasant.

In the end I didn’t do too much else on this day. I had a little nap and relaxed with some Netflix as I was tired, made some calls, checked out the map, wandered around Vientiane and ate a not so nice but expensive dinner…but I had planned a nice day the following day to make up for it.  I acquainted myself with Beer Lao which is pretty much THE beer to have in Laos and relaxed for the evening in front of some live music.

20160321_214744.jpg

Day 19 – Return to Bangkok

Not much to report on this day so I’ll keep it quite brief.

After a long sleep and some breakfast in my little room in Kanchanaburi I said my goodbyes and I got the same train back to Bangkok that I had taken a few days earlier.

img-20160319-wa0006.jpeg

Typically with transport, it was an hour late, so I arrived back in Bangkok at about 6pm and took a taxi to my hostel I’d pre booked on hostelworld.

The hostel itself was really nice and clean, it had the comfiest beds I have ever slept in, and had a nice open common area to chat to people.

Soon after putting my things down I was in my 4 bed dorm. One guy was Korean and said literally nothing in the entire time I was there. However I quickly made friends with a Dutch guy that was probably in his 30’s and a very social girl about my age from Canada. It didn’t take long to decide to go get drunk on Khao San Road…

Whereas the evening started out as just the three of us, it probably ended with about 15 of us drinking together.

Every bar we went to, the Canadian girl invited more and more people to join and drink with us. It started with two lovely German girls that had just started their travels, and then some German lads that were heading to the south of Thailand, and then some British girls, and then a Thai man and it quickly culminated in us getting very drunk very quickly.

20160319_225415.jpg20160319_225423.jpg20160320_001117.jpg

In the end we had a table that stretched the entire length of one of the bars and a lot of the large beer pourer things.

20160319_225404.jpg

The rest of the evening is a mystery.

Days 16-18 Kanchanburi

So I awoke in my 4 bed dorm room of the love hostel I’d seemingly been taken to quite early in Bangkok and I was sharing with 3 girls. 2 of them were immediately off to Siem Reap in Cambodia and the other girl was tired after a night out. Obviously my interactions with the 2 girls off to Cambodia were quite brief but the girl not going to Cambodia seemed really fun and explained she also quit her job to go travelling. We joked around for a little bit and I went to have a shower. When I came back she was dozing in a very ladylike position…

20160316_090125.jpg

I’d decided on my long journey that I’d travel on to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok.

Kanchanburi is a small town about a 2 hour train journey from Bangkok. It’s a town that has a lot of history relating to World War 2 when the Japanese forced commonwealth soldiers and locals to build a railway from Thailand to Burma (Myammar) in incredibly harsh conditions resulting in thousands of deaths. It was dramatised in the famous book and war film ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’

I’m not a historian so I’ll leave that to better people, but it’s well worth reading up on if you come to visit here because it’s such a sad and powerful place.

Anyway, after having some spring rolls on Khao San Road, I headed to the small Thonburi station in Bangkok to get my train to Kanchanburi.

20160316_131324.jpg20160316_133754.jpg20160316_132054.jpg

The train wasn’t busy and I saw a few other westerners. It only cost 100baht (£2). Quite fortunately I got chatting to a Dutch man that actually lived in Kanchanburi and I asked him where I should stay as I hadn’t booked anywhere in advance. He very nicely suggested I stay somewhere called the Jolly Frog which turned out to be a great choice I think and then said he could give me a lift there. Result.

So when the train arrived, I waited with my new Dutch friend and his friend picked us up in his pickup truck to take me to the Jolly Frog. There wasn’t enough room in the truck itself for both of us and he had a wardrobe standing in the back of the truck so my new friend was clinging onto the wardrobe for dear life. Quite a scene.

Anyway, I arrived and had a choice of a dorm or a private room and I chose a private room. This just seemed like the kind of place I wanted to explore alone due to the nature of everything. There’s a time and a place for socialising and drinks but this didn’t seem that kind of place.

This was my private room which cost 230baht (Around £4) per night…

20160316_171959.jpg

 

It was basic but did the job. The surroundings at the Jolly Frog were lovely though…

20160316_172911.jpg20160316_173008.jpg20160317_091206.jpg

Anyway I’d arrived late so settled down, had a cheap meal from the restaurant at the Jolly Frog and went to bed.

The next day I headed out to see ‘the bridge on the River Kwai’ so walked about 20 minutes through the town to it.

I’d arrived quite early so it wasn’t too busy but by the time I left it was very busy. Trains do still run on the tracks and I caught a train the next day that went on the tracks there to Nam Tok.

20160317_093949.jpg20160317_094340.jpg

Disappointingly the bridge is really just mostly a reconstruction now so I headed to the nearby museum. The Jeath museum by the bridge is a little disappointing also and has random bits and pieces but isn’t a coherent display of anything as such.

Luckily when I headed back towards the hotel, I found that there was a proper tribute to the brave people that died building the railway.

The Thailand-Burma Railway Centre is excellent and provides a lot of interactive information about the building of the death railway to Burma. After visiting this, I made the short trip to honour the fallen servicemen at the war graves.

I felt really quite emotional coming here. The place is beautifully maintained by the Commonwealth Graves Commission and is such a fitting tribute to all those who lost their lives tragically in the horrific events that occurred.

I felt incredibly sad walking quietly among the graves and reading the inscriptions on the plaques. Words cannot describe the power of this place.

20160317_140036.jpg20160317_135604.jpg

The next day I headed out on the same train as before but further along the line to see Hellfire Pass.

Hellfire Pass is a part of the long railway line forcibly built by prisoners of war that had particularly harsh conditions. It’s called Hellfire Pass because of the sight of seeing prisoners working at night by torchlight, grossly underweight and was said to have looked like hell.

It was quite far out of town so I had to get the train to Nam Tok and from there, find my way on the 25 min drive to Hellfire Pass.

Unfortunately I wasn’t so lucky on the train and there was a large group of children and old Asians there were having a day out…

20160318_055519.jpgimg-20160318-wa0004.jpg

Eventually I got to the train station and found a nice little coffee shop to have a drink and some cake. The woman there was lovely, and she spoke perfect English. I asked her how much it should cost to get to Hellfire Pass from here (400baht) and so when I went to negotiate for a taxi I didn’t get ripped off which was nice.

Hellfire Pass is basically the chance to have a giant trek around the forest where the prisoners were forced to construct the railway. You can choose how far you go and I ended up walking around 6km on this very hot day.

20160318_091506.jpg20160318_091603.jpg20160318_093924.jpg20160318_094534.jpg20160318_093355.jpg

I think it’s a really nice place to come and see, and they have a visitor centre before you start walking to give you some information. The only thing I would say is that some parts of it are just like walking through a forest and you probably need the audio guide to provide context to where you are walking.

It turned out that there were no taxis at Hellfire Pass to go back to the train station and catch a train back to Kanchanaburi, so I had to figure out Plan B.

Before I’d left, I had read some information saying there was a bus that runs all the way back to Kanchanaburi. However there wasn’t much public information on it so I asked at the visitor centre and they told me it should come every 30 mins from the road opposite.

Having found what I hoped was the bus stop, I waited for bus 8203 and one passed me about 30 mins after I started waiting. Unfortunately it just kept driving and drove straight past me, so I had to wait another 50 mins before another would pass, and this time a couple of Thais were waiting for it also and managed to flag it down.

20160318_115626.jpg20160318_131844.jpg

With the aid of google maps on my phone with a Thai SIM card I managed to get off at the right place and walk back to the hotel.

In the evening I went and found a nice Italian Restaurant. For some reason I felt a kind of warm attachment to the place. I’m not sure if maybe it was because my days in Kanchanaburi had been tugging at emotions but let me describe it to you.

I went into the restaurant and there was no one else in there. It appeared it was being run by a single mum who was trying to look after 3 small children and I guess I just felt what a hard life she must have. Looking after the children whilst trying to run a restaurant business to provide for them.

20160318_190822.jpg

Anyway I ate my meal and gave a heavy tip for her and one of her children came running after me to thank me for eating with them which was so sweet.

And the next day I got ready to head back to Bangkok and decide where to go from there next…

 

Day 15 – Back to Bangkok…

So it was time to say goodbye to the lovely Italian restaurants of Koh Samui and to get myself back to the sweaty humid metropolis of Bangkok.

I was actually quite sad to leave my little retreat in Koh Samui but I felt I’d done what I wanted to in the south of Thailand (at least for now…)and you can get literally anywhere from Bangkok so it made sense to make a pit stop there.

The previous day I’d booked myself a multi travel ticket at a cost of about £20 to take me back to Bangkok on what was the longest journey I’ve probably ever taken. The schedule was to have a minibus transfer leave the hotel at 10:15am, get taken to the ferry which was due to leave at 11:30, arrive at Donsak which is on the mainland at about 1pm, and then spend the next 13 hours on a coach, arriving at Bangkok at a leisurely 2am.

So after having breakfast and shaking the hand of Alan, the kind owner of the place I stayed at, the minibus picked me up. I didn’t take a picture but it was surprisingly modern and took me to the ferry port comfortably.

20160315_103954.jpg

Soon enough, another ferry journey and this one by Seatran Discovery was pleasant and on time, things seemed to be on the up compared to my past traumas of these journeys! Only around 50 passengers the short trip and soon another solo traveller sat next to me. Unfortunately for him I wasn’t really in the mood for the ‘Hi where are you from, where are you going etc’ and soon fell asleep for the journey. Turned out he was on bus journey all the way to Bangkok also so maybe should have tried to make more effort.

Arriving at Donsak, I quickly found my way to the bus.

20160316_014133.jpg20160316_014420.jpg

The bus was nothing special but the seats reclined and there was only about 10 of us on it, I still stupidly managed to pick the seat near the toilet that had the worlds worst smell, something even I’d struggle to create.

The driver welcomed us on and soon played a selection of pop tunes very loudly, including quite a lot of el Bieber.

He then gave us all a bottle of water and some suspiciously Oreo looking biscuits. Still, I’ll leave that one for the trademark lawyers to argue!

20160315_133931.jpg

The drive was fairly uneventful and I slept a lot of it which didn’t help me later in Bangkok when I felt wide awake.

We stopped off at a rest stop at about 8pm and unexpectedly it seemed that our ticket included a free Thai buffet style swirly circular table dinner! That or we stole dinner, hmm

I happily sat down and gorged on the food on offer, chatting to a couple from Canada after a rather failed attempt to speak to one of the French guys ended fairly quickly when he said he was French and had bad English.

The bus went on and eventually we arrived at Bangkok at 2am, however…

The bus was meant to take us to Khao San Road which is the ultimate hub for foreigners in Bangkok, therefore I hadn’t booked any accommodation and planned to just rock up somewhere. Unfortunately the bus dropped us somewhere completely differently in the dark and conveniently in the hands of some poacher taxi drivers.

I had two choices really. I could of ventured into the darkness and tried to wander somewhere but wherever they dropped us was deserted and I had no idea where I was. The second option was to take one of these dodgy looking taxis to try to find a hotel I could check in and sleep at.

I saw two British guys my age also seeming to deliberate on this. I felt very uncomfortable taking a taxi with them but in the end I didn’t see any alternative and the taxi driver promised to take us some place we could check in to at 2am.

The distinct impression I got from the 2 guys I was sharing this mystery taxi with was frankly that they were idiots and very inexperienced and I very nearly last minute before entering the taxi changed my mind but confronted with no other option, and that I would share any cost with 2 others, I got in.

As soon as I got in the younger one of the two was having a paddy about something and I just wanted to punch the guy in the face and be done with him.

Still, the taxi driver made some light Tinglish conversation before proceeding to offer us some hookers for our room. Thankfully all three of us declined this option though I was almost tempted to tell him to send 3 ladies to my room just to see the guys reaction.

When we were driving we had asked how much this trip to the mystery hotel would cost us and he said ‘whatever you want’ clearly not expecting to be paid by us but rather by a commission from the hotel.

Well eventually the taxi rocked up to this interesting hotel/hostel…

20160316_094702.jpg

Notice the nice love heart in the logo? Well I did, and was slowly piecing it all together that the offer of a hooker, the logo on the hotel, the late check in and advertised extra guest fees meant he’d decided to take us to a love hotel where people screw their hookers after a night out.

The other two guys got themselves a private room and I ended up getting a dorm bed for a reasonable 350baht (£7). It turned out this place was actually near Khao San Road which was surprising as on the taxi drive it seemed like he was taking us to the middle of nowhere.

I’d been given my key and was all ready to get some sleep and then the morons that shared the taxi with me said, ‘oh wait..’ chased the taxi driver down as he was leaving and told him we hadn’t paid him. Fuck my life these guys just didn’t get it.

Soon it seemed they had haggled a ridiculous 800baht price for our short journey and expected me to put 250baht (£5) in. I was quite angry inside at these idiots but they had already paid their share and were all looking at me expectantly so against my better judgement and because it was 3am by now, I paid the money and went to bed.

 

Days 11-14 – Koh Samui

Having seemingly fought off most of the diarrhoea from my time at Koh Tao, me and Patrick organised our ‘short’ ferry trip to Koh Samui via the hostel we were staying at.

As always, the ‘taxi’ (yes..pickup truck) crammed 10 of us in the back and before we knew it we were getting very accustomed to the blonde German girls that were squeezed in by our sides. Our bags of course were loosely placed on the roof with nothing to secure them and the driver drove like a maniac.

The ferry was meant to leave at 9:30 but being Thailand the disorganised chaos meant that it was over an hour late in departing. The queue was massive, the heat sweltering and Patrick refused to join the queue in the belief the queue would come to us. Still, at least he bought himself an ice cold fruit shake whilst I was too scared to drink anything in case I uncontrollably shit it all out.

20160311_094746.jpg

As we were nearly the last people to board the ferry we ended up on the top deck with the heat beaming down on us instead of in the nice air conditioned seats 2 decks down. I stupidly refused to put any sun cream on and paid a heavy price when it started to show later. I can only describe my face as tomato like for the next 2 days.

20160311_102646.jpg

After disembarking the ferry we had the joy of navigating the taxi mafia that awaited us. We had a choice of an ‘express-bus’ got 150thb each or a taxi for 300thb each. We chose the taxi after a fruitless haggling attempt by Patrick to knock 100thb off meant the driver just walked away. All the taxi drivers had the same price list so we just accepted it.

We’d organised to stay at a place called Nid’s Bungalows near Chaweng beach which was probably the best decision Patrick made the whole trip. I loved this place and it became a mini do-nothing holiday for me even after Patrick left.

20160312_101945.jpgimg-20160313-wa0013.jpeg

So why did I like this place? The first thing the friendly owner said to us upon check-in was that taxi drivers are cunts, which you can’t disagree with in Thailand.

It was nicely family run and everyone there was lovely to deal with. They had so many animals, dogs big and small, cats, birds, roosters and fish and they were all so friendly. I still think it’s a miracle that none of the cats tried to kill the caged birds but still…

20160312_102020.jpg

Everyone stayed in little unique huts or lodges and if it wasn’t for Papa Patrick it might have even seemed romantic. It was definitely different to the places we’d stayed thus far.

It had a pool! This was a major plus, and it was a decent pool too with balls to play with (har har) and a deep end you could actually swim in along with nice seating around the pool to relax.

image

And above all of that was that it was the cheapest place we had stayed and even extras like breakfast were incredibly good value, so all in all I was very impressed and extended by stay by 2 nights when Patrick left.

The nights here seem to blur into one as it was such a lazy trip. So here are some of the highlights I recall.

The beach was quite nice and pretty and had the biggest waves so far. It was a surprise there weren’t really any surfers because the water was as deep as your knees but the waves would crash down over your head.

20160312_114224.jpg

I spent soooo much time either by the pool or in the pool, or beating Patrick at pool on the pool table 🙂 .

I was chatting to one of the other guests in the pool who was unashamedly a sex tourist that was telling me (or should I say disgusting me) with how he’d had his wicked ways with a classy girl called Pepsi. It turns out that within walking distance of the place there was a red light street full of bars with suggestive names like ’69 bar’ so of course me and Patrick walked along it to continue our spot the sex tourist game we’d been playing thus far.

20160311_205805.jpg

We were thoroughly disappointed to find that the alley was completely deserted of sex tourists. There were many bars with ‘women’ trying to entice us in, one such person grabbing Patrick to which he loudly shouted ‘no way!!’. It seemed that if you were a man into that kind of thing you’d have about 200 of these girls to yourself and I joked to Patrick that you could start a reverse auction and see how low you could haggle them for their services.

Having got to the end of the strip we noticed that most of the bars had for sale signs on them which was no surprise with the zero customers they had. If any of you fancy buying one of these dodgy bars it seems you can do so for about £4,000, workers included.

At the end of the strip, there were two other attractions. One was a bungy jump off a crane in the middle of nowhere which we both decided seemed pointless. The other was a go kart track which looked loads of fun but they wanted £24 each for 8 minutes which was basically my entire budget for the day. Needless to say we didn’t do it.

In the evening I continued my policy of only having Thai food as a proper traveller… I did so by having Thai pasta, Thai lasagne and more Thai pasta in restaurants with true Thai names like Alberto’s and Mario’s.

20160314_184343.jpg

One thing we noticed was a very subtle advertising technique that the Thai’s were using. Whilst we sat and ate meals, cars would slowly drive around in circles with massive subwoofers advertising the most dubious of businesses. These included a ‘REAL GUN REAL BULLET’ firing range, ‘Japanese Nuru massage’ ‘Koh Samui Ice Bar’ and maybe the best one was whenever we started hearing eye of the tiger blaring out down the street we knew the Thai stadium boxing was being advertised.

20160314_182025.jpg

Anyway, the time came for Papa Patrick to say an emotional goodbye and me to continue the adventure alone. The owner of our accommodation drove him the short distance to the airport (offering me the chance to wave him off which I declined) and then I spent the next 2 days wondering where I should go to.

Part of me had the full moon party in Koh Phangnan in mind that was on the 22nd March, but that was still over a week away and I wanted to see some other parts of Thailand rather than just the islands. I also don’t know if I’d survive such a crazy party on my own, especially if they started playing Timber by Pitbull, that would have pushed me over the edge.

Eventually I decided that my best tactic would be to head back the gruelling 15 hour journey to Bangkok and decide what to see from there as everywhere was accessible from Bangkok so I booked the ticket on day 14 ready to get up bright and early for another road trip the next day.