THAILAND

White Water Rafting And Waterfalls

I made it!

For years I've wanted to go white water rafting and whilst looking at information on the web for Phuket, I found that it was possible to do it from here. Even though it's supposed to be dry season here, after all the recent rain I thought it might be a possibility to do it, so I found somewhere selling various other tickets and trips and enquired about it. They had a leaflet of a company that did it, so I booked on to it and today was the day!!

It was a 7am pick up and I left John snoring away in bed and boarded the minibus. I turned out to be the only person today using this particular company, so I had the minibus to myself, which was ace. There was the driver, Dung, the tour leader, Annie and me. Annie said that really we were too early to go straight to the white water rafting and asked if I would like to join her and Dung for some breakfast. I hadn't eaten as it was too early before I left, so I jumped at the chance.

Paula vs Bike

Ice Cream Man

The last few days have been torrential rain and some parts of southern Thailand suffered greatly due to this unexpected weather. Here on Phuket, whilst it rained extremely heavily, fortunately it didn't present many problems, apart from trying to find something to do in rain so hard that you were soaked to the skin after a few seconds outside in it.

We drove around the island in the car stopping off at various places, we drove along the north east coast, around some of the Khao Prao Thaeo national park and around some of the less desirable big holiday resorts, the very worst of which was Patong. It depends what you want from a holiday I guess and if you want a mini England where everyone speaks English, every other unit is a fast food joint and you want to watch old sweaty western men grabbing with glee at young beautiful Thai women, or more young girls I would say, then this is the place for you. For me and John though, we both disliked it intensely and I'll never ever get used to seeing the total disregard these ogres have for these young girls as they sit disinterested swilling back their beer, with this young tender life at their mercy and jumping to their every want. It sickens me.

Detours And More Muddy Tracks

Picking Our Way Through The Wood

We hadn't planned on reaching Phuket yesterday, it just ended up that way. Originally we were going to stop overnight around half way down, but we just seemed to drive on and on through the pouring rain. It's not supposed to be the wet season here in Thailand right now, but certainly down in the south, it hasn't really stopped since we got here, apart from the night we went to the rock festival.

It was quite a journey from Prachuap Khiri Khan, we set out in the morning and reached the northern tip of Phuket around 7pm at night. We found our way across to Nai Thon on the north west coast and checked into a room for the night. The journey down was quite eventful due to the rain sweeping parts of the road away, which led to a few detours for us. The first one took us through Namtok Ngao national park, which was stunningly beautiful, lush green forests, mountains and due to the heavy rain, gushing rivers, which were rusty brown from the soil and contrasted aesthetically with the green of the trees and mountains and the white of the mist and clouds that hung low in the air from the rain.

Thai Biker Rock Festival

Carnival 

I got talking to a guy the other day and we exchanged stories about our trips so far and where we were going. I told him of our plan to drive down the southern part of Thailand to the island of Phuket. He told me about a coastal town called Prachuap Khiri Khan, that he said was a great place to stay and that not many people go to due to the fact that some of the beach is closed off to the military. We headed there from Kanchanaburi and had phoned the guesthouse he'd recommended and booked ourselves in for 2 nights.

I went for a stroll along the beach the first afternoon while John was resting and came face to face with a Thai army guard with a big gun, frowning at me, it was at that point I remembered what I'd been told about the military owning part of the beach – oooops!!

Back In Thailand

Erawan National Park 

We had a few long days travelling. After we left Phu Quoc, we spent the best part of a day getting back to Kep, Cambodia and from there we spent another day travelling by four different buses to get over the border into Thailand again, where we spent the night in Trat.

When we'd arrived in Trat a lot of the places were closed. We wanted to get to Bangkok the next day and the only place we could find to get a ticket direct to the airport was at a small kiosk tucked away from the main street. What was unusual about it was that when the minibus type vehicle arrived to pick us up and we got in it, it was full of Thai army men!!! So we rattled along to Bangkok with them and a driver, who on several occasions looked like he was going to drop off to sleep! 

Thailand Conclusion

Sukhothai

Today signified the end of our time in Thailand. We took another road up through the National Park and later found our way over to Saraburi. After a quick nose round there we decided to hop over to Ayutthaya to get something to eat before completing our circuit and returning to Bangkok.

All I can say about Thailand is read the guidebooks and then go and do the exact opposite of what it tells you – do drive on the roads, eat from the street vendors, eat the salads and the delicious fruit shakes and smoothies with ice in them, that we are so regularly warned against at home. I'm not quite sure what the guidebooks gain from trying to make people wary of every last thing they do, but the one and only time John got an upset stomach (and he has a sensitive stomach) was the one day when we were so tired and there was a bigger, more international restaurant close by, so we ate there instead of our usual street food.

Always

Food stall

We were like excited kids when we got on the ferry yesterday morning and the sense of freedom when we hit the mainland was awesome – music on, windows down, wind in our hair – we were off again!!

We were listening to our Bon Jovi CD when we pulled up at a set of traffic lights – Always was playing – and totally unaware I'm looking at the map and singing at the top of my voice. Suddenly I hear lots of laughter and I look up to see what the joke was – it was me …. I was the joke. I was a great source of amusement to a number of locals in the back of a songthew, (a converted pick up truck, used as an economical form of transport), that had pulled up beside us. I started laughing too and waved at them, they waved back at me, still laughing and it makes me smile again now writing about it.

Back To The Mainland

The mangroves

Our final days on the island were spent in a similar vein to the first part - swimming, reading and generally relaxing. We took a stroll around the mangroves yesterday, there is a fishing village called Salakkok, which we drove to the other day and today we went back there to walk around a mangrove walkway. It's only a short walk, but it was interesting to see and we spent a while watching the crabs and listening to the flicking shrimp – it's a type of shrimp that communicate by clicking their claws, so as you walk round you regularly hear them clicking away.

Island Life

Ko Chang

So far on Koh Chang we've succeeded in doing equal amounts of lazing around and driving around to see what is here.

I long ago decided that Koh Chang would be our resting spot at the end of the Thailand part of our trip, based on two factors – 1. there was a car ferry that I knew we could get over on and 2. I'd read much about it being unspoilt and untouched with long white sandy beaches and coves.

On Holiday From Our Holiday

Ko Chang Island

Yesterday we didn't really make a plan before moving on - we just drove and were heading further along the coast towards the Cambodian border and more specifically the island of Ko Chang. We thought we'd stay on the mainland one more night near the ferry area and then hop over to the island today.

When we got to the ferry area we decided to go and take a look at where we needed to go and when we got there a ferry was loading up almost ready to go over, so on the spot we decided to join the queue and head over to Ko Chang instead of staying on the mainland. Ten minutes later we were on board and setting sail.

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