Crossing The Border From Cambodia To Vietnam- The Most Ridiculous (Yet A True Story) Blog So Far….

Before reading this next Blog please be aware everything you are about to read is 100% real. You couldn’t even make this sh*t up!! As unbelievable and exhausting as it was, it’s all part of our travelling experience and makes a killer story to tell back. I just dread border crossings now.
As much as we loved Kampot and Cambodia, we were definitely ready and extremely excited to be heading on to Vietnam, our third country on our travels.
The day started well. We got up early and had some breakfast. We weren’t sure when the bus would stop for lunch, so wanted to be well fed. As always our pick up was late, but this is now a given. Once the pickup arrived, we were then taken to the ticket office where we had to wait for the bus to take us on our long journey over the border and into Vietnam. It was a pretty shabby bus and was really hot, and then every 5 minutes the driver would stop to take a call and then do a 16 point turn in the road then head back the way we had just come to collect random people from their hotels. It turns out they hadn’t been picked up by the previous transfer so our driver was having to go back and pile them on our bus. So after driving off, then turning back to pick up the third person, what had started off as comical was now becoming a bit annoying.
Finally we were on the road, no more calls to pick up strays, no more 16 point turns in the road, we were now back on track….That was until the engine cut out! Because the engine cut it meant no air con, so we all had to get off the bus to be able to even breathe. So then driver makes a call and about 5 minutes later a guy comes a long in his car, hops out with some rope and attached it to his car then the bus, drives along a bit until the bus jump starts. We all pile back on and drive off again. It was annoying but actually pretty amusing. We thought at least we were on the road again. It was even slightly amusing the second time it happened and we all had to get off and when the driver made people push the bus from behind to jump start it. It however wasn’t so amusing the third time it happened and he made people get off and push.
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It wasn’t amusing hearing people almost refusing to get back on, and demanding another bus be sent. The most frustrating part was the fact that the people complaining and kicking off were people getting a transfer for a day trip to Kep which was the next town away. They didn’t have a border to cross and then another 8 hour journey to Ho Chi Minh City. So after the fourth time, it really wasn’t funny anymore. By this point the bus was dead, no longer with us. RIP wanky bus. With the driver speaking almost no English, he just shrugs, makes a quick call, then flags down a passing motorbike and heads off in the distance back to Kampot. So now everyone is getting frustrated. None of us know what’s going on or if a replacement will come. After about 30 minutes a mini bus came along, and said they were taking people on to Kep and the bus to Vietnam would be along next. Oh great prioritise the people travelling 20 minutes away. Not those that have boarder to cross. The jammy Gits looked pretty smug as they drove off. So around another 15 minutes later a second mini bus comes and before we even have time to grab our bags, it’s already completely full. So just me and Sam and one other couple are just left on the side of the road. Wondering if anyone is even going to come for us, wondering will we ever cross the bloody border. Another 15 minutes passed and then along pops the woman from the ticket office on her bike. She keeps saying sorry and the bus will be here soon. Finally it arrives and we ask if this is the bus that will be taking us all the way to Ho chi min. she says yes, so at least we know we are finally enroute.
On the way to the border we picked up a few people in kep, who had also been waiting for the delayed transfer. At least we knew it was delayed due to it breaking down. They were expecting to be picked up at 10.30 it was now 13:45! Every time someone new got on and said they were annoyed it was so delayed, we had to explain how it had broken down 4 times and the bus we were now on was actually a replacement.
We ended up sitting next to this German girl who was really pissed off and hungry and kept asking if anyone had any Oreos. We didn’t. After all that, it didn’t even take that long to reach the boarder and getting stamped out of Cambodia and into Vietnam was relatively easy. If the bus hadn’t had to go back and pick up strays and hadn’t broken down 4 times, then it probably would have taken just under 2 hours to cross the border.
So after crossing the border we drop a few people off at a bus station who were heading elsewhere then we were dropped off at a different ticket office. I should have realised this wasn’t going to be taking us all the way to Ho Chi Min. So then another twist in our tale…. We then discover due to the fact we had arrived 4 hours later than expected, that we had missed the transfer to Ho Chi Minh and we had been moved to the night bus which was at 19:00. The time we originally would have arrived to the city! So that meant we had almost 4 hours to wait until the next bus. There really was nothing we could actually do. So instead of kicking off and being a huge brat (which is what I would have done in the past) I just decided the only thing we could do was to have a beer and cool down.
As I recall this story it sounds so ridiculous, but it gets even more bizarre.
So after a while the German girl (definitely remember her name) has calmed down a bit and asks if we want to go find some food. Which of course we did, but we knew it meant we would have to deal with her moaning. She said she had walked past somewhere that was open, while she had been looking for an ATM. Oh so loads of places were closed because it was Tet/Chinese new year. So loads of smaller businesses close to go travel and be with family. So she took us to this place and although she did moan the whole time, the place she had found served the best Pho I have ever had and for that reason I loved her.
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After our amazing meal and listening to the German girl moan some more, it was finally time to get our bus. The bus we were on was our first sleeper bus. The seats are like bunkbeds. There are a row of flat seats on the bottom and then a row on top. Out of all the sleeper buses we have experienced on our travels this was by far the best. It didn’t take long before I nodded off and I actually manged to sleep for around 6 hours.
Waking up at 3am once we had arrived to Ho Chi Minh. The bus station was a bit out of the centre so we shared a taxi to near our guesthouse with the German girl and two other people we had met on the bus.
As I recall this story it sounds so ridiculous, but it gets even more bizarre.
After about 15 minutes in the taxi, Sam and me bid our farewells and jumped out the taxi to find our guesthouse. There seemed to be a whole other city of mini streets within each block of buildings. So finding our guesthouse was proving a bit tricky, even with google maps. We then noticed that the shutters were down on all the other guesthouses. We hoped that ours had a 24 hour reception. No such luck. We managed to find it, but the shutters were down and there seemed no sign of a bell or any other way of getting in. we were so sleepy and getting grossed out by the amount of mutant rats that were running about. The only thing we thought we could do was either try find another place that didn’t have the shutters down, and was within budget or find somewhere to eat and kill time until things started opening. We ended up finding the Koh san road of HCM and a guy saw us walking around looking hopeless and suggest a hostel that might be open and have a room. Even as we passed the out of budget hotels it seemed like the light on reception was off! We somehow ended up down a tiny road and saw a security guard. He asked if we needed to find somewhere. We just nodded. He then starts banging on the closest shutter until someone on the other side pulls it up, says something in Vietnamese then said $25. We were like ermm $15 is our max budget. So he says ah okay. Then walks on a bit, we don’t know what else to do but follow him. This random security guard we have randomly bumped into at 4am in the morning. So as we are following him and watching him bang on shutters and be told no avaliabitly, we start to think how we even got in this situation. He kept leading us down these tiny roads. After a while we finally reached somewhere where there was actually a room available. I now know how Mary and Joseph felt. Finally there was room at the inn! We were led up 3 flights of very narrow stairs and taken into a small room. We handed over all the money we had on us, which was about $12. The security guard took his share then handed the rest to the owner of wherever we were. This was the most surreal situation. From the bus breaking down, Sam having to push the bus, missing our original bus, and then ending up following a security guard down alleyways at 4am! What had actually happened??!
Luckily we had Wi-Fi in the room, so found a place on booking.com and decided to go straight there after a few hours’ sleep. After a few hours of rest time we quickly grabbed our bags and got out of, where ever the hell we were. We just wondered to get our bearings and by some miracle came out in front of our new guesthouse. After everything in the last 24 hours we so grateful we had managed to find the new place so quickly.
Even as insane and made up as it sounds, this wasn’t even the worst border crossing story we’ve  had! The next boarder crossing involves a broken leg, Pissed of people from Bolton and smuggling hundreds of items into Laos.

 

 

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Kampot

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Kampot is a great little town. It’s an ideal location if you’re travelling on to or from the South of Vietnam, as the border isn’t too far away. It’s a relatively easy boarder to cross. Our journey over, however wasn’t plain sailing. That is a long tale that will follow in the next Blog.
Out of all the places we have stayed we spent the most time in Kampot. Not because there is a great deal to do there, but because we had overestimated our time in Cambodia when we applied for our Visas. That and thefact we somehow missed visiting Battambang during time there. We spent a total of 10 nights in Kampot. Which seems like a great deal, especially if you’re on a strict time frame, but as we had time on our side, it didn’t seem to bother us. It actually flew by.
After leaving Koh Rong Samlong we got the short transfer of about 2 hours over to Kampot. The journey went really fast as we played a game where we recalled all the meals we had eaten so far. We definitely couldn’t play that now. I can’t even remember what we ate yesterday let alone a few weeks’ worth of meals.
As we had awhile before we could enter Vietnam we decided to have a few days just out of the town centre in a place called Bohiemez. We had seen it online and had been desperate to stay ever since. We were pretty lucky they even had availability. Bohiemez is made up of a few family bungalows, double rooms and even hobbit huts. It’s set within the Cambodian countryside with views of the nearby mountains. It was absolutely stunning. Also once of the main sellers for us was that it had a fresh water pool. So it meant we could spend the next 3 days lying in a hammock and swimming when it got a too hot.
We got a lot of reading done whilst we were there. One of the good things about the time difference between us as home was that I got to listen to my Friend Alex’s Radio show. Normally I’m still asleep when it’s on, but I’ve been able to hear it while we have been out here. I felt pretty Jammy knowing I was probably his only listener, listening lying in the sun in a hammock.
After 3 days of doing nothing but reading, eating and sleeping we were ready to head back into Kampot’s town centre. We had booked a guest house close by to the Salt workers roundabout. So pretty central and very close to the river. It’s not a huge town. So any accommodation near the river or one of the 3 roundabouts would be ideal.
One of our favourite things about Kampot was a tiny restaurant by the river called Ecran. They made hand pulled noodles and dumplings. During our time in Kampot we went there 3 times. We managed 36 dumplings, 3 plates of noodles and 1 bowl of noodle dumpling soup. I still crave the fried dumplings from there.
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The best thing we did whilst in Kampot was hire a bike and visited Bokor mountain, where there is a collection of abandoned buildings. A grand hotel and casino were built there, but abandoned in 1972 when the Khmer Rouge took over the area. The wealthy and the royal family used to visit to get away from the heat from the city.
I get really nervous on winding roads, but the hour long drive up the mountain was very pleasant and the road was is great condition. Towards the top of the mountain is a huge statue called Lok Yeay Mao.
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She is a huge goddess who looks out over the ocean. We read that she is the protector spirit of travellers. Apprently she is waiting for her husband to return from his long absence at sea. We also read that because she was pining for her husband to return she waslonging for the “D” (I have no idea if this is true, but we read it in a tourist booklet) so people leave artificial penises or bananas by her as a sign of respect!
You can still visit all of the abandoned buildings Bokor Hill station, which is at the very top of the mountain. We were really lucky that the weather was clear as sometimes it can get really mist so the visabilty is poor. They seem to be developing a lot, so we are glad we visited before it loses its charm. They are even talking about building a cable car.
Visiting all the abandoned buildings was amazing. It felt so earie. It wasn’t even that long ago that it became abandoned, but it felt like we were walking through the land version of the Titanic.
The most random thing that happened in Kampot was that we bumped in to two people I went to Uni with…Laura and Tom! I had known they were in Cambodia as the day before I had seen a post on Instagram. We never saw each other when we were in Manchester but ended up seeing each other in the streets of Kampot over 3 times! We even ended up booking a day trip with them. We had a great day with them swapping travelling stories and visiting different sites.
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I really miss Kampot. It’s lazy days. Eating dumplings and wondering about. Sometimes it’s nice to visit some where and just do nothing. Especially when every guide book and blog is telling you to visit so many places.
We actually tried to leave Kampot at one point and headed to have a few days in the next town along called Kep, but that’s a long story so I’ll save that for another blog.

 

Otres Beach & Koh Rong Samloem

After our day at the killing fields the day before, we felt like we had taken all that Pheon Phen had to offer us.
We were now heading to the coast of Cambodia. The journey down wasn’t too bad, however I stupidly hadn’t moved some money from my rucksack (also my padlock broke) and when we arrived to the next destination I realised it had gone. The Bus Scamming Bastards. It was only about £20, but they still had a good little rummage through my things to find it. I wish my dirty laundry had been in there as well. Our home for the next few days would be Otres beach in Sihanoukville. Sihanoukville, is made up of a few beaches, Otres being at the furthest end. The other beaches are bit busier and have a bigger party scene, and as we are incredibly boring and prefer to sleep without the sound of terrible EDM blasting on repeat we wanted to stay a bit further out.
After doing the whole routine of checking in and dumping our bags. We decided to go for a wonder along the beach.  We spotted a bar that had just started its Happy Hour. What great timing. We enjoyed a beer or three while watching the Sun Set.  It was incredible, equally as beautiful as the sunset on Kho Tao.
Our time in Otres was very lazy. We spent our days on the beach and enjoying cold beer to cool down.  We didn’t feel like doing a great deal, which was ideal as there wasn’t that much to do. One of the days we decided to head out on a boat trip you get to visit 3 different islands. The boat seemed pretty tiny, so we thought it would only be about 10/12 of us on there. The lack of space didn’t seem to matter to the people trying to sell tickets, so managed to get over 20 of on it in total. We’ve learnt that health and safety means nothing out here. I was pretty gutted our underwater camera had broken, as we missed out on some good photos while we were snorkelling.  There wasn’t too much to see. Not as good as the snorkelling in Koh Tao. The best part of the day was when we got to visit Koh Ta Kiev. It’s incredibly beautiful. The water was crystal clear. It was very chilled and laid back there. I wish that we had stayed over. I’m still kicking myself for not staying there while we had the opportunity. It wasn’t the most epic boat trip, but as it included breakfast, lunch and all soft drinks. It was fair for what we paid. After getting off the boat we noticed that again it would soon be happy hour in the bars along the beach, so had to stop by before heading back to the room.

Not far from the coast of Sihanoukville are two islands called Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem. Sam had read about Koh Rong awhile back, when we first decided to travelling. So we had been looking forward to visiting for ages. The more we spoke to people along the way, the more worried we were about visiting. People said it wasn’t very clean and we had heard horror stories of people getting hook worm. They said it was still beautiful, but it had become very dirty and was very similar to Phi Phi. A party island. It was becoming very developed, but rubbish was just being piled in the water. So we decided to visit the quieter Koh Rong Samloem. There are a few private resorts on the island, but apart from these there are two different points you can visit.  We chose to go to M’pay Bay. Which is a tiny village with only a handful of places to stay. Of which only 1 or 2 have Wifi.
The place we were staying was right on the beach front. We had a basic room with shared toilet. The walls didn’t fully go to the celling. We had a room at the front that had huge shutters instead of walls. So there were huge gaps. Anyone sat outside could see in our room. So we tried to cover them the best we could with our towels.  It was very rustic. It was pretty hard to sleep that night, in our sand filled bed, with the sound of conversations from the other rooms around us, their music, then doors slamming and creaking and then the sun coming though the gaps in the shutters in the morning.
We were feeling kind of gutted we didn’t try out Koh Rong or go to the other side of this island. I’m still glad we went as it’s probably going to be so built up in a few years that it will be unrecognisable.

On our last day on the island we decided to head to a beach a bit further along from the village we were in. We noticed a sign for a place called crystal bay. It sounded beautiful and about 3km trek away. So we headed off to find the bay. We were walking/trekking for a good while before I started to fanasise about what I would do when we reached the bay. Would I jump in the water first, or order  a cold beer? Just as I’d  stopped imaging my self downing  the cold refreshing beer we reached what some would call the end of the line. A bared wire fence. Seriously!? Sam said not to fear as he had heard someone from our guesthouse loudly telling a story that involved a barbed wire fence. Surely this was the said fence. So we decided to carefully climb though it.

By this point we had definitely gone over 3k. We had a look on Google maps and realised we were only just over half way to the next cove. Lots of walking later we reached a very remote village. I honestly felt like Richard in Alex Garlands  the beach ; when he walks though the pot field for the first time. We felt like we probably shouldn’t be there.
After another fence climb and a walk through a field of wild cows, we finally reached the water! Where we were greated with, well nothing! We had ended up by a port used by local fisherman. No ice cold beer or crystal bays in sight. Only tiny local fishing boats and what looked like an old abandoned school. We had somehow walked to other side of the island!! We literally had no other option than to walk all the way we had just come. Back past the scary village from beach, back past the wild cows and back through the barbed wire fence. Around 3 hours after we had set off we were back where we had started. Just as we put our towels down to relax the sky opened and the rain began to fall….

Phnom Penh- Bird Poo, A Flapping Fish & Our Visit To The Killing Fields.

On our first full day we wanted to fit in as many activities as possible. We had many lazy days in Thailand and didn’t do a great deal in Siem Reap, so felt like we needed to make up for it. The first thing we wanted to do was arrange our visa for Vietnam. So we headed to an agency who can arrange it for you, for a $2 fee. We ended up paying $42 in total, but heard from other people we met along the way they had paid between $50-$80! When applying for your visa, you had to tell them the date you want to enter. We picked a date towards the end of the month, so we didn’t have to rush and could spend lots of time in each place.  After dropping our passports off at the Visa place we headed out for the day. We went to the National museum of Cambodia. As we didn’t pay for the audio tour we had no clue at what we were looking at. I’ll be honest it wasn’t the best museum I’ve been to. However they had a beautiful courtyard in the middle. While we were sat out in it, enjoying the sun a bird released its bowls on Sam. So we now remember it as the museum that Sam got shit on by a bird.

After the bird poo museum we went to check out the central market. It’s massive, hundreds of stalls. It was very similar to the markets in Bangkok.  It’s not that fun when you’re not going with the intention of buying something. After the market we went to Wat Phnom, which is a small park with a temple in the middle. We had a little wonder around the park and went to see the temple. Afterwards we headed to towards the river side. I’m not sure what we were expecting, but the river in Phnom Penh was pretty grim. I had visions of it being like taking a romantic stroll down the Seine in Paris. It was more like seeing a trolley float by in the Irwell.

We thought the river was a bit too vile for our liking, so decided to cut back to our guesthouse. We made a huge mistake deciding to cut though a local market. The stench was so over powering. It was  a mix of the bucket of skinned dead frogs, the still live fish, which were flapping about, mixed with animal heads and other body parts that were on display. One fish flapped so vigorously, it threw itself of the tray it was being displayed on and ended on the floor. The woman selling it just picked it back up and popped it back on the tray. I think that flapping fish and the stench of the pig head/chickens feet will repeat on me for a while.

 

 

The main reason people come to visit Phnom Penh, is to visit The Killing Fields and S21. They are extremely somber places to visit, but an absolute must.  We were incredibly touched and shocked about what we learnt there.  Our Tuk Tuk driver for the day had the kindest face. One of the only smiles we had seen since we arrived to Phnom Phen. Everyone else here seemed very moody compared to Siem Reap.

The dive over to the killing fields is quite long, and really makes you reflect on it on the drive back. Driving though the small villages to get there, we felt we were a long way from the busy city we had just left. The trip was very informative and really helped you grasp what had happened and the full brutality the country had gone though.  It was extremely tough to hear some of the personal accounts on the audio guide. We really had no idea before coming to Cambodia the extent in which the Khmer Rouge took over and destroyed so many lives.  It’s so hard to even comprehend how it even happened.  The experience was very somber but I’m really glad we got a chance to visit. The people of Cambodia seem so positive now and it makes you realise what an incredible Country it is.  After the killing fields we went to the Genocide museum, which originally was a school, but was turned in to a prison and place of torture by the Khmer Rouge.  We had another audio guide which was very informative. So many people were brought here and tortured for no reason. It’s pretty hard to explain in a blog about what we learnt about as it was so brutal. It was a very tough day, but it really was an experience we won’t forget.

 

 

Siem Reap- Featuring: A Birthday, A Beating, Salford Uni Reunion Part 1, Choking caused by Karl Pilkington & A Relationship With Beef.

While we were in Siam Reap we celebrated Sam’s birthday.  It’s amazing we get to celebrate while we are traveling; it feels like a real celebration. Christmas didn’t really feel like Christmas. Christmas didn’t really feel like Christmas because I didn’t spend the whole of December crying into a glass of Gin worrying about work. It didn’t really feel like Christmas without all the food, drink and crap TV. It didn’t really feel like Christmas without seeing our families. So I was really looking forward to celebrating his birthday.

I couldn’t really bring a gift with me. What could I really bring that he would need whilst our here we didn’t already have?  Also there was no way I could keep something hidden in my bag without him noticing. So I decided to message some of his friends and family and ask them to record a birthday message for him. So I could play them all to him on his birthday. I was really excited to play them to him, as he had no idea… I was so happy to see his reaction. I love being a massive cheese ball gimp. Even though we were so far from home, I still wanted to give him a real gift on his birthday.

The best present Sam received was some money from his parents towards doing something a bit special on the trip, so we booked two nights in a beautiful hotel and booked a restaurant for tasting menu. Something a bit upscale from the street food we normally eat. So thanks David and Geraldine, because I got to share that gift 50/50.

After breakfast, we got a Tuk Tuk over to our new posh digs. We were staying in the most stunning hotel. I think I shed a tear when we had to check out. Our room was the size of all the other rooms we had stayed in combined. I didn’t want to leave the room, but we had to head out for some food and to get a massage. This time a full body massage.  We opted for an hour with oil. We thought that would be more relaxing than some of the Thai massages we had seen some people receive in Thailand. We were again wrong. I couldn’t relax; the woman who was violently rubbing me was on the phone half the time. Also she kept moving on the matt and it sounded like a fart, and as I’m 5 years old, I find farts absolutely hilarious. When  we were in Mexico, an elderly couple were walking in front of us one day and the woman let one drop, she just went “oh scuse me”. We had to quickly turn around as we were laughing so much. Not only is she my hero, that’s actual relationship goals right there! The massage felt like some painful deep tissue sports massage. I get some masochists are into these types of massages, not me. I want to come away relaxed, not feeling like a need to held and cuddled afterwards. Once the massage was over, I couldn’t look at Sam because I knew as soon as I did I would burst out laughing. Which of course I did.

Sam wanted to eat somewhere a bit fancier for his birthday, and we decided we wanted to try a place with a tasting menu. After searching online for a while, we booked a table at what Tripadvisor told us to be the second best restaurant in Siem Reap. The service at the restaurant was incredible.  We went for a 5 course tasting menu, with paring wines. I didn’t realise how much I missed wine. I literally savored every sip. When we arrived I mentioned to the host that we were here to celebrate Sam’s birthday. Once we had finished the desert, they came out with a cake singing happy birthday. This was a nice touch. We were so full, that I was almost on the verge of crying. So we were unable to eat the cake, so they kindly boxed it up for us.

We went in to a deep food coma as soon as we got back to the hotel.  I’m really glad we were able to celebrate Sam’s birthday while we are travelling.

While we were in Siem Reap we went for a drink at a nearby hostel, where someone called Karim who I went to University with runs. It was great catching up with him, as we’ve not seen each other since we left uni. It’s pretty strange seeing someone I knew so far from home.

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We really loved our time in Siem Reap, but it was time to move on.  Saying goodbye to the hotel was painful. Farewell my sweet friend.

The next leg our journey was a 5.30 hour bus to Phnom Penh.  Which is relatively short compared to some of the journeys we’ve been on. We’ve found the easiest way to deal with these journeys is to listen to Ricky Gervais Podcasts. Karl mentioned something not too dissimilar to the comment he made about hiaving the hair of Chinaman. As he made this comment I took a large swig of water. I knew instantly I had no other option, than to spit the water back out. I just opened my mouth and let a waterfall of water collect in my lap. The comment mixed with the fact I thought what had just happened was hilarious, caused me to start laughing, but I still had a bit of water in my mouth, so I was chocking, but trying not to choke at the same time. One guy turned around and looked like he was concerned that I was about to die there on the bus. Sam was going to ask the driver to pull over, because he thought I was going to be sick. Nope I had just laughed at something ridiculous on a podcast and spat water on myself.

I still wasn’t dry by the time we reached Phnom Penh.  Once we had checked in to our guesthouse and done the whole dump our bags routine. We couldn’t be bothered to venture too far, so went to the place across the road. Apparently in this restaurant when you order BBQ Beef, they serve you an entire small cow. I have never seen so much beef on a plate before, and I’ve been to Bem Brazil before. Not only was there a massive amount, it was insanely tasty and cooked. I feel kind of guilty for thinking, that plate of beef was more beautiful than some of the Temples we have seen. I do often think, can you have a relationship with food?! Seriously since writing this post, I can’t stop thinking about that sexy hunk of beef. I don’t care if you think it looks gross in that photo. If that came up on Tinder I’d right swipe straight away. I wouldn’t even bother looking at it’s other photos. I wouldn’t want to be put off seeing in in a group photo from that lads holiday it took last year when I’d be off put by the fact they would all be in matching vests.IMG_2074

Siem Reap- Sunrise over Angkor Wat, 50 cent beer and more 50 cent beer

Hello and once again, sorry for the delay in-between posts. I need to start a blog that doesn’t open with this line. I did try to upload this in the last two places we stayed. I could gain access  to any site apart from WordPress for some strange reason.

We were now in Cambodia, our second country of the trip. One thing I loved about Thailand was the admiration they showed for their late King. Thailand is in yearlong mourning for the king. It’s so lovely to see how much love and admiration they had for him. He was in reign for 70 years. So in power for many generations. Everywhere we went there were shines for the king and black ribbons.

As much as we loved our time in Thailand, a month of pretty much island hopping, eating incredible food and visiting 7-Elevens; we were ready to see what Cambodia had to offer.

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Once we had checked in our guesthouse, we crashed straight away. It felt like days ago since we left Koh Tao.  The next morning we had to find a new place to stay as our current accommodation didn’t have the availability. The main issue was that we needed to find some place close, as we had already arranged for the Tuk Tuk driver to pick us up from there to take us to Angkor Wat the next day. Luckily we found somewhere just down the road within budget, and with air con! The only time we had air con in Thailand, was when we were in our Christmas accommodation.

Once we had checked in the new place, we went for a bit of a wonder. The buildings here are so beautiful.  Very French colonial.  As we were walking about we started to see signs, obscured signs. Maybe we were still weary from the journey from the day before. These signs were saying beer was 50 cents! We walked past a few more places, and these signs just kept popping up. Beer 50 cents.  Beer  50 cents.  Once we realised this wasn’t some perverse joke, we headed to the next bar we saw.

We couldn’t indulge in too much beer as we had to be up early the next day for our trip to Angkor Wat.

At 4am our alarm went off, giving us enough time to get ready and meet our Tuk Tuk driver. I was still convinced he wasn’t going to show up. When we head down to the road there were a few other people out on the road meeting their Tuk Tuk drivers.

“Hello Mr Paul?” –No sorry were not your westerner’s.

I did think maybe if our driver was a no show we could go back and pretend to be Mr Paul for the day.

Luckily our driver Mr Kim was there, we hadn’t been scammed. Well actually Kim wasn’t there, he had sent a replacement as we were informed Kim was ill. He had the diarrhea. Our new driver told us this while rubbing his tummy. Poor Mr Kim… I wonder how many times he arranges a trip then suddenly gets the squirts so has to send a replacement?!

Sadly we can’t remember our new drivers’ name, as it was 4.30am and I was trying not to smirk at the fact he said Mr Kim had Diarrhea while rubbing his tummy. So for the Blog we shall call him Mr Fred. So Mr Fred drove us off in the early hours to begin our day exploring the temples of Angkor Wat. We headed to the ticket office first. The queue was already huge. Think Alton Towers and when you arrive and everyone heads to Oblivion or Air first. I wish we had a fast pass. When we reached the front of the queue we had our photos taken for our day pass/ticket. This is what a face at 5am looks like.

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We headed back to Mr Fred and he drove us off to the first Temple. Which is the most Iconic and well known of the temples.  I didn’t realise the site was so huge. I just thought it was the temple that’s always photographed. When in fact you can get a week pass so you can see all the sites, which are spread across over great distances.

We were dropped off and Mr Fred said to come back around 8am and he would take us to the next site. It was still pitch black. There were other people with torches. If we hadn’t of followed them we wouldn’t have been able to see anything. We walked through a small temple and then down a very long pathway. We noticed hundreds of people sitting by the lake. So you can see the breath taking sunrise come above the temple. We chose to sit on the wall along the pathway, as well, we hate other people. We had a nice quiet spot. Then a group came and sat by us. Another one of those groups who don’t know how to communicate by talking; only shouting. Even if I did a parody of someone talking loudly, it wouldn’t be as loud as them. Luckily they decided to head down to the lake.

Not long after the loud talkers moved, a woman who worked for the Angkor Wat site came a long and moved a large no entry sign that had been up. We were so lucky that we were close by when the sign was moved. It meant we were one of the first 30/40 people inside the temple. We got to explore and take in the incredible beauty without 1000’s of other tourists about.  It was so special getting to experience it in such an intimate setting. We have heard so many people talking about how they wish they could have gone to Angkor Wat, but when it is empty, and we actually got to do just that.

It was slightly cloudy so the sunrise wasn’t 100% visible, but it was still pretty spectacular. It will take a lot to top a morning like this one. We had wonder around the temple and then headed back to the Tuk Tuk. On the way back we saw a guy get his breakfast stolen by a monkey.

There were so many other Tuk tuks about. We were struggling to find our driver among them all. We knew Mr Fred had a red hoodie on, so that’s what we were looking for in the area he told us to meet him. At first I thought Fred had, had enough of us and driven off. It was like playing where’s Wally, we were looking for almost impossible.  When we did find him, he was having a little nap in the back of the Tuk Tuk.  We felt pretty bad for walking him up.  He must have been up at least 3.30 am, and he probably has to do this most mornings.  Once we had woken him up we realised he wasn’t even our Tuk Tuk driver! Oops!

We eventually managed to find our similarly dressed driver and he took us on our way to our next temple, which is called Bayon. This temple involved a lot of climbing. We are so unfit; it was like we were doing a full body conditioning class at the gym.

One of the temples we visited is where the filmed part of the tomb raider film. By the time we had reached the Tomb raider temple there were so many tour groups about. It felt like they just wanted a photo posing by the temples than actually enjoying them. I mean look at this guy, he climbed over a rope to get a selfie.

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By the time we had explored the last temple we were exhausted. We struggled climbing and wondering around after only one day, I’m not sure we could hack up to a week of this. Mr Fred drove us back home and we went back to bed to have a much needed nap. After a good rest, we were in need of a good drink.  We wanted to make sure that the 50cent beer from the day before wasn’t just a wild dream we had. This time decided to upgrade to a large pitcher of beer for just $2. After a few pitchers of beer we were pretty drunk and thought it would be a fun idea to get a foot massage. It was supposed to be good after a day at the temples and supposed to be very relaxing. If you’ve ever had a massage in South East Asia, you will know they are far from it.  It was almost comical. I swear at one point they tried to pull my toes off.  It was only $2 and worth it for the laughter fit it gave us alone.

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Thanks for reading. I know it’s not a thrilling read, I promise there will be a bit more to the next post. It’s really nice to know you’ve given up part of your day to read back on our adventure with us. XXXX

Koh Tao-Lazy Days. A New Year. 29 Hour Transfers- Featuring The Boat That Rocked.

Koh Tao

Woops another long gap in between posts. We are a month ahead of the blog, so not sure when I’ll get up to date. Again I hope this blog doesn’t bore you too much. Thank you to everyone who is actually bothering to read this. It’s great we can share our adventure.

 

Koh Tao was the last of our Thai islands.  This was the only island we visited where we didn’t really explore. We did however fall madly in love with this island. Even from the moment we got off the boat we knew we loved.

 

We checked out our hotel in Koh Samui and got our transfer over to one of the many piers leaving the island. The pier was really busy, the busiest one we have been to so far. The journey over wasn’t too bad. I shall forever compare any boat to that horrific one to Koh Phangan.

When we arrived even though the port was full of people it already had a different vibe.  We didn’t have any accommodation booked, so we got a taxi transfer over to Sairee. This is the main area that people stay on the island, and one that was within out budget. There are always places we would love to stay but just beyond our means. Especially seeing as our budget has to last us almost a year, if we include our trip back to Australia or New Zealand (once we get our working visas in September). It just gives us more of a reason to come back to these places one day in the future. Once we arrived in Sairee we headed off to look for some accommodation.  We walked along the path by the beach and found a bungalow to call home for the next few nights. It was slightly pricier than we have paid before, but we already expected that.  It really wasn’t that expensive under £18 a night. We were in a central location, by the beach and had two pools, one of which had a slide.

We went for a bit of wonder along the beach front. Even though the beach was lined with bars and restaurants, they all seemed to be more laid back than the ones compared to Koh Samui and Phi Phi.  We found a place to stop by for some food and a cold Leo. It was great timing. As our food arrived we were just in time to catch the most stunning sun set we had seen so far.

The rest of the time on the island was spent mainly, relaxing, reading and eating. We did a lot of eating. We found a great place that did delicious food and with huge portions. So we ended up having lunch there most days. Banana pancakes are a well-known delicacy for backpackers in Thailand. We visited the same guy almost every day. One time we said “see you tomorrow” and the other people waiting laughed at us.

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During our time on the island we decided to book one of the many boat trips. They all offer the same thing, for roughly the same price. We were supposed to visit 5 different bays around the island. Ending at Koh Nag Yuan, this is made up of 3 small islands which are connected by a beach. So all waves meet each other in the middle. The trip included pick up/drop off at the bungalows, lunch and snorkelling equipment.

Once we were dropped off at the ticket office, we were given our snorkel equipment and headed to the boat. However in order for us to get to our boat, like any other boat trip in South East Asia, we had to climb across 2 other boats to get to ours. It seems to get a bit more ridiculous every time we get on a boat.

It was lovely seeing the coast of the island. The first stop was called Sharks Bay. We stopped here to go snorkelling. As we have an underwater camera we were able to get some good shots of the fish.

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As the sea was quite rough that day, it meant we were unable to get to 2 of the other bays we were supposed to visit. As the sea was so choppy it wasn’t the most pleasant journey traveling between the bays. The last stop of the trip was to Nang Yaun. This was the part that everyone else on the boat, as well as myself was looking forward to the most. When we arrived you could only see one part of the island, a boring cliff face.

Getting off was even more of a joke than getting on. It pulls up to pier, but there is a huge gap between the jetty and the boat. So if you are unsteady on your feet then it’s not an easy task. Once we got off the boat we walked around the manmade path around the cliff of the island. We then saw a sign for the view point. We have such a love/hate relationship with viewpoints. We love the view, but hate the climb. Well apart from the view point in Samui, which was a view of the roof of a Tesco Mega store.

The first part was okay, it was just a long, narrow and painful flight of stairs, with loads of other people trying to pass by on the other side. Then when you reach the top it’s just boulders that you have to climb. Then you have to wait until someone moves a bit or goes down, so you can get a bit closer to the top.  The view (when you manage to pass all the selfie sticks and people posing) is incredible though. No wonder there were so many people up there. It’s a sight you will want to remember.  I just wish people didn’t feel the need to conduct full photo shoots up there.I was very keen to get a photo to remember the day by, maybe even one of us with it in the background. I didn’t feel the need to pose in about 20 different positions (cough Grivas Kopti . Cough cough).  We did ask someone to take a photo for us, but when we looked back at it later on it was like they had taken it to take the piss. It didn’t even have the incredible view in the back ground. The annoying thing is Sam managed to get a great one of the people that took our pic. Truly an instagram worthy snap. #blessed #nofilter #beachdays for them. Ours is more like #closeup #palecouple #noview. #amibeingabrat.P1020912.JPG

 

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On the way down the queue up had become huge. They would be waiting a good half an hour before they got to take in all that beauty. Probably longer with all the photo shoots taking place up there. We then wondered down the beach where the currents meet in the middle.  We had a cold drink in the shade before heading back to the boat. The pier was full of other tourists waiting to get various boats back to the mainland. We spotted ours which was behind 2 other boats. So we had climb back over to get to ours. There is absolutely no health and safety out here.  I could barely make the climb, due to being so short and my legs not really reaching the other side. Once we were back on dry land we head to the beach to grab a drink and enjoy another incredible sunset.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

We were really excited to be spending New Year’s Eve on Koh Tao. We definitely didn’t think this time last year we would be spending it on a beach in Thailand. Our day was pretty lazy, reading by the pool. Just after the sun set we head down to the beach to one of the restaurants that do BBQS. As we are greedy bastards, we ordered 3 meals to share between us. BBQ fresh squid, prawns and mixed meats. All washed down with a few cocktails and beers. After the meal we had a few buckets on the balcony of the bungalow, then headed down to the beach to see the New Year in. it was incredible. There were fire dancers, music and lights outside most of the bars. In the water they had signs that said happy New Year 2017 on. This would later be set on fire.  Due to the death of the Thai king and the country being in mourning, they were unable to set off any fireworks, but all the signs in the water were set alight. I really could never have imagined bringing the New Year in like this. I’m not normally a huge fan of New Year’s Eve, but this was just amazing. Everyone seemed really happy rather than blackout drunk.

We then headed away from the beach to find a bar to watch the city game in.  By this point all the buckets had hit me. I wanted to go back to back to the beach and wait for the sun rise, which wasn’t for about 4 hours. So Sam said we could either head to the beach and wait or get some food and head back to the bungalow. Well clearly I would have chosen the second option over many things. So we bought 3 ham and cheese toasties and 2 pancakes and had a feast back on the balcony.  This will be a hard NYE to top. We had an amazing meal, saw the New Year in on the beach and had our favourite snacks.

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Thailand to Cambodia.   Boat-10 hour bus-5 hour wait- 10 hour bus

Today was our last day on Koh Tao and saw the end of our time the beautiful Thailand. I wasn’t feeling great, so not the best feeling ahead of a 29 transfer we headed to our usual place for lunch but I couldn’t stomach any food so just opted for a smoothie.

We then began the 29 hour journey, which was made up of a taxi to the port, a boat, a bus to Bangkok, a bus to Siam Reap then a transfer to the guesthouse. So the first part was fine, just a short trip down to the pier. We had to wait a while at the port as the boat heading in land was running late due to choppy waters. There were hundreds of other travellers waiting so it took a while to get everyone off then load it back up again. A lot of seating had already gone by the time we managed to get on, and we had to put our bags on the top deck as all other places were full. We managed to find a seat, but it was right at the bottom of the boat.

Remember in the other Blog when I said the boat over to Koh Phangan was the most horrific journey and I would forever compare boat journeys to that one?!? Yeah that boat was like visiting Disneyland. As the water was so rough the boat was extremely rocky and the waved were going right up across the boat. As we were on the bottom it probably felt worse, as the waves hit the side of the boat pretty hard. I tried really hard to remain calm, but had a panic attack. I found it very hard to breathe and was contently crying, but trying to stop so I could breathe properly. Sam helped calm me down and get my breathing back to a normal rate.  I have never been so scared; I honestly thought the boat was going to capsize. Once I had stopped crying I started to feel really sick. Sam tried to help me get to the toilet, but I was almost too scared to move. We did attempt to go, but I knew I couldn’t make it. I had to quickly sit back down on the first empty seat I could find. A very kind girl passed Sam a bag and some tissues. I was pretty embarrassed. I was just crying and bring sick into a bag with loads of people around me. The boat was encounting some really rough bits at sea, so the journey wasn’t getting any easier. Someone else passed Sam some sickness pills to give to me. Not only did they stop the sickness, they helped calm me down. I don’t have a clue what they were but I would pay good money to have them again. They even helped me get some sleep. By the time I woke up we were just about to reach dry land. We were lucky that our bags were on the top, as there were huge piles of bags everywhere else. The people that had pushed past us to get on fist had to wait ages until their bags would become free.

Once we got off the boat, we had to wait for our connecting boat to Bangkok. We were given a sticker with a number on. Ours read 6. There were others starting from 1 and going to 8.  Number 1 and 2 were called then a while later 4 and 5. Not sure why they missed 3 out, but people with a 3 sticker were not happy. About an hour after getting off the boat numbers 6 and 7 were called. We already had a tactical plan. Sam would get our bags on and I would run on the bus and grab the seats we wanted.  We wanted the seats behind the stairs. As it means on one is in front of you, and means no one can push their chair all the way back so they are basically giving you a lap dance.  I managed to get a few hours’ sleep in, probably due to whatever magic pill I had taken before, but Sam didn’t get much as he was feeling really ill/needed the toilet.

When we arrived in Bangkok we were just dropped at the side of the road.  We had a print out of where we were supposed to get our connecting bus on Koh San Road from so headed there. At the transfer office said it would be at 7am, and then the woman at the port said it would be 8am. So we had 4 hours to kill until our next bus. It was nice to have a bit of a break but we were unsure how to kill 4 hours.  Koh San Road was in my opinion the vilest place we have seen so far. To some backpackers it’s a must.  I just don’t see the appeal. There were so many people still our from the night before. People were just sat in the street, which was totally filthy. We spotted several rats. We headed to maccys to try find a toilet and use the Wi-Fi. Sadly the toilet the toilets didn’t open until 8am. There was only so much time we could kill in McDonalds. We enjoyed the best chicken nugget meal. It was just what we needed.

There was only so much time we could kill in McDonalds. So we headed out to find somewhere else, a place with a toilet. I’m not sure how but Sam managed to hold it in all the way from getting off the boat. That boy must have buns of steel! There were loads of places still open, some still had people in drinking from the night before. It was a mix of other sleepy backpackers killing time and people still out from the night before. We keep encountering people that don’t actually know how to communicating by talking, just screaming at each other. Even though they are sat next to each other.  For those who live in Manchester it was like being in a Thai sports bar version of 7 oaks.

I managed to stomach some breakfast, while Sam spent some time in the bathroom.  We then headed to get our bus to Cambodia. Only to be told our bus wasn’t for another hour.  We were too far gone to even care by this point.  One hour later our bus was ready to take us over to Siem Reap, Cambodia. If you Google map the directions it says it takes just over 5 hours by car. This leg of the journey was to take us 10, with the stop at the border.  The crossing wasn’t too bad, a bit slow but an easy process. 29 hours after leaving Koh Tao we were finally in Siam Reap.

We were offered a free Tuk Tuk from the bus station to our accommodation. This is so they can push the Angkor Wat tour on you. We had done some research about roughly what you should pay for the trip. So with having the fear of over paying for a tuk tuk, we over paid for a tuk tuk. For the sake of $5 it didn’t really matter. We were just too tired from the journey to work out the price. It also meant we didn’t have to arrange with anyone the next day.

As soon as we got in our room, we got into bed and crashed. It felt like a long time since we set off from Koh Tao.

Honestly thank you so much for reading this to the end. We really do love you for giving your time to follow us along on our journey. x x x

 

Koh Samui- Christmas Day, A Murder, A Tattoo and lots of driving back and fourth.

Firstly, sorry for the huge gap between blogs, hopefully I will be able to keep more on top of it. I didn’t realise putting time aside from doing, well nothing to write would be so hard. I’m still a few days behind on my journal, but will hopefully catch up on that too. As I write this we are well ahead of the Blog (It’s probably even a month behind L).  I’m enjoying reminiscing on the different adventures we’ve had so far as I write though.

Also this blog might get a bit tedious as it’s the longest one so far. Sorry if I bore you along the way. Maybe read in two parts so I don’t put you to sleep.

Koh Samui

Today we were heading across to Koh Samui. The boat over to the island only takes around an hour. You can actually see it from Koh Phangan. On the boat over there were a few guys who had clearly been to the half moon party. Which take place in the jungle. They were still covered in UV paint and one guy was dressed like Mr Motivator, but more day  glo, and with a bright bum bag.

Once off the boat, we got a taxi transfer to our hotel. We were staying in a place called Samui Lagoon bay. My mum and dad had paid for the stay as a Christmas gift (Thanks mum & dad).  We were right on the beach and had a huge room with air con. It makes such a difference compared to a fan.  Once we had had some food we spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool. That night we headed to the local night market, which sold a range of seafood, Thai dishes as well as fake handbags and cheap cocktails.

This is the largest of all the Thai islands, it even has its own airport. So to get around we were defiantly going to need a bike. The walk from one end of our resort to the other is long enough journey alone. We spent a lot of time on our bike heading back and forth for Lamai, which is about a  25 minute drive away. We got to know the route over pretty well during our time on the island.

We went for a bit of a reccy, to see if we would want to stay there after we had to check out our Christmas accommodation.  Also I found a tattoo studio I wanted to get a tattoo from, so we headed there to look for that too.

After driving though Lamai, we knew we didn’t need to come back and stay as it was very similar to the resort we were already in. We did however stumble across the tattoo studio I was looking for. Unfortunately the artist wasn’t there when we popped in. So we jumped back on the bike and went to explore further afield.   We headed to a place called Boput or also known as Fisherman’s village. It really reminded us of the old town in Koh Lanta, just everything cost twice as much. It was very sleepy and chilled out. It seemed to run at a different pace to the rest of the island. The shops here sold lovely trinkets I wanted to buy to fill our home with, then I remembered that our home was no longer ours (it’s in very safe hands) and our home for the foreseeable future was whichever guesthouse, bungalow, hostel or hotel we found ourselves in for the night. We would have loved to stay there, but it just seemed a bit too expensive for what it was. A basic fan room here was x3 the price that we paid in Haad Rin.

We couldn’t bare the sound of our tummies rumbling any more so headed back towards our “home” to look for a food stall.  Luckily it didn’t take too long as we were both stating to get hangry. We found a vendor in a car park of a Tesco (they actually have Tesco’s out here). It was a bit different to the burger van you might find in a Tesco car park in England. On the way back we got a bit lost, but it’s always fun as it means you get to see more of the island that way.

After relaxing in our glorious air con room for a bit we headed back to Lamai to see if Mr Tak the tattoo artist was there. Thankfully he was this time.  He asked if I had any ideas or designs, so I showed him two on my phone. He said okay and to come back tomorrow. Which was fine, as I wanted to get it done on Christmas day anyway. On the drive home we noticed a sign for a view point and waterfall. So headed in that direction. It cost us 100 baht each to see a basic waterfall, then climb for 10 minutes to see the view point, which was just a roof of a Tesco mega store. We were pretty disappointed.

Later that night we headed back to the night market and enjoyed some freshly caught Red Snapper. We then came back to get in the festive spirit by watching Elf

Happy Christmas!! Christmas day, didn’t really feel like Christmas Day. It felt extremely hot though.  I guess it doesn’t feel like Christmas as we are away from our families for the first time. It felt odd but not sad. It just felt like another day of the year to us. One important tradition we wanted to keep, was to make sure we ate lots of food, just like we would have done back home. We really wanted Banana pancakes for breakfast. There are just as many stalls selling fruit shakes and pancakes as there are Tuk Tuks. That morning however, we couldn’t find a pancake stall for love or money. They clearly come out later in the day and not at 9am.  We drove around  for ages looking for one. We finally admitted defeat and went to treat ourselves to a Ham and cheese toastie from 7-Eleven .  I say treated, we pretty much eat them most days, but I’m not sure they sell them in any of the other counties we will be visiting, so we had to make the most of them.  I mean, we love our food, any food. We are more than happy to try pretty much any local cuisine. We won’t be eating any other western food out here. There is just something about these toasties.

For the first day in a while, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. A Christmas miracle. So we spent the morning in the sea, Christmas in style.  After relaxing in the lovely Christmas day heat we headed back to Lamai to the tattoo studio. Mr Lak, had designed two ideas for me. I literally had shown him the two ideas/designs on my phone for seconds. He had come up with two beautiful ideas. One of which was far better than I could have even imagined. It was exactly what I wanted. The only downside was he was in the middle of working on someone else so we had to come back again later on. I was already getting bored of this drive back and forth from Cheweng to Lamai.

We grabbed some lunch on the way home then had some family Skype time, which was lovely. It was lovely getting to see our families and see and hear what they were up to on their Christmas days. I don’t think anyone was that keen to hear I was getting a tattoo though.  Then for the fourth time, we drove back over to Lamai for my tattoo with Mr Tak. It was a great Christmas gift from me, to me. So now I have a beautiful arrow with shaded feather on the end on the top of my left ribcage.

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The demise/murder of a snake- Warning contains actual snake murder. 

Today we were the witnesses to a snake murder. As we were leaving to buy some beer we spotted a snake just outside the room next to ours. The snake was slim but around 12”. That’s a footlong subway! So when we got back from the shop and it was still there, Sam bravely informed the notified the security guard.  He had no idea what we were on about, and pointed at the reception. So we informed the woman. We weren’t sure if it was dangerous or not. She passed the message on and the security guard. He went off, to what we thought would be to get a device to move it on. Nope. He came back with a huge plank of wood and bashed that footlong snake in its head. We had to just turn away at this point. We were scared as we didn’t know if it was poisonous (it could have been) but we didn’t need him to be hit in the head with a plank of wood. It was Christmas day, a day of giving. Not snake murder. Then he got it on the piece of wood and flicked it in to the hotel next door. RIP Mr Snake, we are sorry we are part to blame for your death.

 

We decided that we would go out, out tonight to celebrate Christmas, as we hadn’t really been out properly yet. We had a few cocktails from the night market at they were only around £2. We knew there was a big party on at a place called Ark Bar, which was the other end of Cheweng beach to us.  We wish we hadn’t though. One it took bloody ages and two I almost shit myself. Not in a I was scared way, in a I almost went to the toilet in my pants way (too much information?! Sorry I did want it to be an honest blog). When we finally reached Ark bar, we saw a row of bars across the road, so went to see if we could have a drink there first. Everyone was about 12 and it looked like a stag do down the strip in Malia. Lots and lots of vest and fancy dress. Then Sam got grabbed by a go go dancer. Excuse me hands off!!  When we made it to the beach where the Ark bar party was, it was playing some terrible trance and everyone was twisted, so we decided to just leave and walk back along the beach and go home. We were walking for ages until we realised there were no cut troughs, as all the hotels back on to the beach. We tried to get though one, thinking we would come out by a reception, but there was just a locked gate and we had no fob. So we wondered aimlessly back along the beach. After what felt like a lifetime we finally found a cut though back to the main road, not as far down as we had hoped, but still to where we recognised. Also we came out on the road right next to a pancake stall! Jackpot. It was many hours on since our breakfast craving. The craving however was still there. By this point we were pretty worse for wear. So attempting to order seem pretty difficult. Sam managed to somehow order us 3 pancakes, of which we couldn’t remember what we had just ordered until we saw the guy making them. As we had 3 but only needed two, Sam said we could give one to the security guard at the hotel as a treat. I on the other hand wanted to have one and half pancakes to myself. It was a good thing we ordered 3 as Sam managed to drop his all over the floor.

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The next day (26th December) we were still unsure if we wanted to find somewhere else to stay on this island or just head straight to Koh Tao. We went to look at some other areas besides Lamai, which we had already been to about 20 times. While on the lookout for another potential area we somehow missed the turning point and ended up driving to pretty much the other side of the island. We decided it probably was time for us to move on. We were ready to see what the next island had on offer for us. So we decided to book the transfer over to Koh Tao. It meant we could just check out, then get picked up by the transfer taxi and taken over to the ferry. However we couldn’t leave koh Samui without one last trip to the night market.

Congratulations on making it to the end of this blog.  I hope it wasn’t too painful. I’ve never written a Blog before, so not sure what to add, or what I should probably keep out. The next one won’t be too far off.

Koh Phangan- Food, Roosters and Rain.

Today we were bidding farewell to Phi Phi and our second Island in Thailand. On to Koh Phangan. The Island most people go to for the full moon party. Koh Phangan is on the west cost of Thailand, so to get there from our current location, this involved a ferry, a bus journey across the mainland, then a second boat. The first leg of the journey was fine. The ferry and bus journey didn’t seem to drag too much. As we were getting closer to the coast the weather started to change. No more bright skies. Rain and wind met us as we boarded the second ferry of the day.  This would take us from the main land over to Koh Phangan.  We then embarked on the longest and most terrifying boat journey of my life. The water was really choppy, so the boat was rocky, really rocky.  Myself and several other people on the boat spent a good part of the horrific journey with our heads over the toilet bowl. Even Sam said later he thought the boat was going to capsize.

Once we had finally arrived to safe land, we took what Google maps had said to be a 20 minute walk to our bungalows. We did get slightly lost on the way, due to the roads being pitch black. So in all we wondered for about 40 minutes with our rucksacks trying to find the place. By daylight the next day the place was much more obvious on the road. We were staying in a place called Cosy Bungalows which is in Thong Sala, the main port town of the Island. We had a huge concrete bungalow, which looked like it had just been built. The only issue was there was no ventilation, so it felt quite damp. Something I didn’t get used to our entire stay.  On the plus side, the location wasn’t too bad and we had a hammock on our porch. Oh and hot water!

The next day we had a bit of a wonder around. We headed back to the pier. The walk minus the backpacks was much easier.  We spotted where the Thong Sala night market takes place. Hundreds of food stalls! Our dream come true. We knew we would be back later to sample a few of its many dishes. The rest of the afternoon was spent chilling out on our porch and hammock. The football was on later, so we didn’t head out till about 9pm as was a 4pm UK kick off. By the time we reached the market, a few of the stalls were already closing. So we didn’t get to see  it had to offer in full. A good reason to revisit the next day.  We still managed to have some Dim Sum, Spring rolls and a chicken skewer.  That still hadn’t cured our hunger. So we went on the search for some street food. We found a place with lots of outside seating, busy with locals. A great place for people watching. A lot of the locals bring along their own bottles of whiskey and just order the soda water and ice from the restaurant. No corkage fee out here!  For 10pm on a Sunday it was pretty busy. I guess they didn’t have too many worries of being hungover in work the next morning.

We still had some time to kill before the kick-off so went to find a bar for drink before the game. We found small place. The girl on the bar said we could either sit at the bar, or one of the seats in front of it, or if we wanted we could join her and her bother. Who was sat drinking on the other side of the bar to us. We of course chose to sit with them.  Her brother seemed pretty wasted by the time we got there, but they were both really funny. He was feeding Sam shots of his tequila. Then lip synched to “See you again” while looking into his eyes. It was a shame we had to leave to watch the game, as it could have been the start to a beautiful relationship.

The game was good because City beat Arsenal 2-1, a win for city at long last.

We then headed back to where we were staying in Thong Sala as we were due to skype Sam’s Dad for his birthday. It was lovely to have a catch up with them. We ordered a box of wine for a birthday present. So that should last his parents at least 2 days.  Sam’s parents love a glass of white wine. When I met them for the first time I was given very generous pouring’s. I thought I might die of a hangover the next day!

After the skype call we went for another wonder on the bike. We then went to the food market. It was much busier this time. There was a stall that sold bugs, such as crickets and grasshoppers. The man on the stall let me try them all. We bought some grasshoppers, but after the first few I decided that they weren’t the bugs for me. We had driven past a load of other food stalls and markets earlier that day, so headed there to get some other food besides bugs. There wasn’t really anything we fancied on the food front, but had a look at the market stalls. I got some traveller pants. So I can now look like every other person we walk past. I did really want a pair though, and will be ideal to wear when we have long bus journeys or when we visit temples, so I am covered up. As our hunger wasn’t cured  we decided to head back to the other food market, for the third time in two days. When we got back to our bike we thought someone had stolen Sam’s helmet. We were freaking out until we realised we were at the wrong bike.

After returning the bike we checked out our huge, but damp bungalow. We then got a taxi bus over to Haad Rin. We had 3 nights booked at Coral Bungalows. This is the place everyone stays at when it’s a full moon party. As there wasn’t one on when we were there, they had really cheap rates. The 3 nights only cost us 900 Baht, so about £6/7 a night. We were on the beach and it had a pool. After checking in we  went  for a wonder and got caught in a massive down pour. It was insane. There was so much water it created a river. We were stuck on the steps of a 7- Eleven.  No ham and cheese toasties this time though.

We both had a terrible sleep. There was a bloody rooster or as Carrie Bradshaw called them “roof chickens” going off all night. It would not shut up. I thought they only did it in the mornings. Then when the rain came down it sounded like the roof was going to fall in. I then heard a couple having a huge argument, the girl was kicking off big time. In the morning I asked Sam if he had heard them too. Well I must have fallen asleep before the “argument” had reached its climax. As Sam said it definitely wasn’t an argument. Just one sided on her part. I’m surprised she didn’t get distracted by the Rooster.

The weather was vile so we ate crisps in bed and watched The Holiday. Great Christmas film. The Mr Napkin head bit gets my brother every time.

There was a pool party taking place where we were staying that night, as we hadn’t been our yet we decided to give it a go. We went early on as we wanted to get our buckets at the happy hour price. As we were there so early it was pretty dead, and not going to pick up till after midnight. So we decided to be boring and just go home to bed.

Our last day was very uneventful; we just chilled by the pool and went for some food and booked our transfer over to Koh Samui.

Phi Phi. The Island Leo loves.

First of all I need point out that we almost didn’t head to Phi Phi. We had heard very mixed reviews of the place, but we had come all this way so couldn’t really miss this island off our list. Also it was our decision to make our mind up about the place.

After a restless sleep we were up just before 7am to get the first boat over to the island. With already some negativity in our minds we parted way with our first island on to the next. Once we arrived it already had a different vibe to koh Lanta. We wondered away from the pier a place to stay for the night. We already knew everywhere would be more expensive compared to the other places we had been.  We found a place a bit further out near the walk to the view point. It had Wi-Fi and more importantly a private bathroom. If there was to be a repeat performance from last night, then I wanted it to be in private!  After dumping the bags and trying to let our sweat dry we discovered the walls were paper thin, the toilet didn’t really flush, so nothing, nothing at all went down for ages. Oh and the tap didn’t work. This was the most expensive place we had stayed so far at a full £16 a night. If we got a beach and two pools for £11 in Koh Lanta, I wonder what £16 would have gotten us. Definitely a toilet that flushes!!

Once we thought the sweat had become less of a waterfall we were ready to head out.  We thought we would go to the view point first. The first part is some sort of joke staircase that never seems to end. I thought the altitude was about to change. The stairs had caused us to be completely out of breath. Once you reach the top of the stairs you pay a small entrance fee of 30 Baht and there is the first of two viewpoints. The first was amazing. We did have to stop for a bit as we were so out of breath. We got talking to a man who had only broken into a slight sweat. We discovered that this man, who only broke a slight sweat, compared us, who were drenched in sweat was 92 years of age! A 92 year old man was in a far better shape than either of us. We then went on to look for the second view point, which was sign posted as a 5 minute walk. This is a total lie. It was around a 15 minute climb. This was like base camp of Everest. It was totally worth it when we reached the top though.  You could see how beautiful the Island really was. Sadly staying on a more quiet part of the island was just too much out of our budget. I totally see why people love it here. We are just dead boring and would much rather eat an obscene amount then get so full we have to go for a lie down, than go on a night out.

After the incredible view point we went for a wonder. We encountered a girl ask outside a restaurant “If they served avocado”, one guy in a vest become extremely excited because he saw a sign for a gym. Then had to listen (we had no other option as they were yelling at each other across the table) to some very annoying Canadians. We did have a lovely Pandang curry while we had to listen to them shouting so that helped.  After lunch were just both drenched in sweat again and couldn’t be bothered to do anything. So headed by to our 5 star resort. Even with the fan on it was almost unbearable. We relaxed for a bit then went for another wonder. We found a great roof top bar, and even better it was happy hour. So we enjoyed a few cocktails and watched the sun set. It totally redeemed the rest of the day.

We didn’t decide to go one of the trips that visits the bay where The Beach is filmed, as I’ve only heard it is covered in tourists. I don’t want to ruin what I have in my mind of it. Also this is just where the it was filmed not based on. So I know we are going to get to visit just as equally breath taking beaches along our travels.

We didn’t need any more time on the island, as it had more on offer for other travellers just not for us. So we got our transfer over to Koh Pangan booked for the next day. It was so loud and hot that it was pretty hard to sleep. Then around 7am the party goers came back so that was our alarm sorted. It reminded me of when Christabel and I went to Ayia Napa and we got in at 8am, but had to be up at 10am to check out. We still hadn’t packed and had the water from the vile pool water from River Reggae in our hair. I could hack getting in at that time then. I’d probably struggle now.

As we were leaving to check out and head down to the pier, I did the only thing I could possibly to when being woke up at 7am by people returning from a night out… Slam the door very loudly as we left the room.