Posts Tagged With: Ko Pha Ngan

Epic Travel to BKK and Goodbye Chelsea!

The 5 am ferry seemed like a dream – none of us had slept and we were all feeling sad to be leaving Ko Pha-ngan and Bottle Beach.  All four of us missed the epic sunrise and woke up with the Pier in sight and the sun blazing overhead.  One of the hardest goodbyes was next – Chelsea and I said goodbye to our friend Park who lives in Railay and our friend Carter who is a tour guide and country manager for Beach Travellers and also one of the coolest people I met on my travels and someone who helped to make our trip as amazing as it possibly could have been.  Chels and I just looked at each other, waiting together in the train station so early in the morning, and burst into tears.  I’m not sure whether it was a combination of sadness, being so tired, and sleep deprived, but we were super emotional that whole day.  Our last full day together as platonic wives and we would be spending it on a fifteen hour train journey to Bangkok together.  Euchh.

The train journey was something new – we had both done this journey before, but overnight both times.  It was a completely different experience during the day.  The country rolled by our window – verdant, lush and never-changing green.  We reminisced over our experiences together, laughing, crying and comparing stories.  That ride was one of the longest I took while travelling – all I can say is thank Buddha for air-conditioning!

We finally noticed the scenery start to change about two hours outside of Bangkok and veryyyy slowllyyy made our way into the heart of the city for one last tuk-tuk ride to Khao San Road, our home away from home.  I found a very cheap and clean room for the night at the 7-Holder Guest House and we shopped for  bit until I felt like I was going to pass out from exhaustion.

We had our tearful goodbye that night when Chelsea went to the airport. When I started my journey alone a month and a half before, I had never dreamed I would meet so many fantastic and interesting people on my journey, and I couldn’t have asked for a better travel buddy than the one Chels ended up being to me.  It seemed at every turn we were on the same page with what we waned to do, see and experience on our trip.  She was incredibly easy-going and fun, easy to get along with and full of life.  Our adventurous spirits we definitely matched – and now I not only have all of these incredible memories but a new friend for life!  Needless to say, our goodbyes were pretty emotional – silly girls! We are already making plans for our next adventure – we shouldn’t have been so sad!

I spent a strange night in BKK that evening alone. But I wouldn’t have to worry, I would be meeting new friends soon on my trip from BKK to Siem Reap in Cambodia!

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Welcome Home to Bottle Beach

Our arrival at Bottle Beach was full of mixed emotions – we were so happy to be going back to one of our favourite places in the world, but sad to be doing it without our group of friends that we had made during our Beach Travellers trip.  Our ferry ride over from Ko Tao had been uneventful – the extra ta-wenty Baht we had paid for air-con in our little ferry had been a sweet luxury item.

In Thong Sala (the main town on Koh Phangan) we loaded up on supplies to take with us to Bottle Beach, where everything is a bit more expensive due to the fact it’s on a very remote beach that you can only get to by boat.  We were loaded up with all kinds of goodies when we caught our ride across the island to Chalok-lum, the town on the North side of the island, and boarded a little long tail boat which would finally take us home!  The staff greeted us as if we were long lost friends – “welcome home!” they said as we checked in and got settled.  We had been dreaming of Bottle Beach for so long – it seemed surreal to finally be back there again in paradise.

We spent the afternoon with our friends who worked at the resort, practicing fire spinning with Cheeky my favourite bartender, trading stories and making plans for the full moon and our next few days.  We met up with some German friends of ours who had taken our advice and decided to stay at the resort, and had a fun reunion night!  The next day we waited for some more friends to arrive, and got ready for what would be the highlight of our time on Bottle – Full Moon!

The morning of full moon we climbed to the viewpoint to check out the amazing view from the top of one of the surrounding hills.  Everywhere you looked from the top was unspoiled green beauty – there was very little in terms of developed resort land on that side of the island – it was so beautiful, pristine and untouched – took my breath away.

I had a completely different experience of full moon this time around – Chelsea and I got ready together and helped the other Beach Travellers group with their paint and party preparations.  I felt like a pro – the nervous excitement I had from the first time was gone – I felt like I knew what was in store for us, but still was excited to watch the night unfold again!

We boarded the speedboat and the anticipation was the same – rounding the bend, hearing the pulsing music under the bright light of the full moon, and finally seeing the beach lit up and spread out before us as we landed and formed a human chain to get to our meeting spot.  This time I had so many energy drinks at the beginning of the night, all I did was dance for about – oh – four hours until realizing I was starving and set out with a group of friends to find the amazing chicken place I had found last time.  We found it and ate yummy chicken schnitzels whole watching the mayhem unfold around us.  I managed to walk all the way down the beach this time to the very last bar, listening to all the different music on offer as we walked by snapping pictures of the drunk, passed out, and generally outrageous people surrounding us.  Eventually we figured out that the spot our group was hanging out at had the best music, so we made our way back to our rendezvous point and danced the night away, watching the sun come up together.

The day after was a bit of a write-off, on account of us staying up all night to do the full moon thing.  We luckily had a fantastic pool and some great friends to entertain us, so there was no shortage of laughs to keep us going into the evening.  During my second time around at Bottle, I felt like time had stopped – I had everything I needed with me and nothing to do but just simply enjoy and relax. During our last night I bar tended behind the bar with the staff, wearing my staff shirt of course!

Our last night was bittersweet, because we just had so much fun with each other but we knew it had to end, too soon.  We stayed up all night as our ferry was ridiculously early and we had to catch a 3:30(am!) ride to the other side of the island to catch it.  It was a long, bumpy, pitch dark ride on bad roads in the early morning, taking us away from our Thai family and friends and onwards onto separate journeys….my solo adventure was about to get real.

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Sairee Beach Baby!!

Our arrival on Ko Tao was so early – we had barely slept the night before, and had to have some major nap time on our first day there.  The best part about our boat trip was that we had made some new friends and planned on meeting them for dinner at an Italian restaurant nearby.  We slept the day away and had a girls’ dinner, talking about what we planned on doing for the next few nights on the island.  We planned a to join the pub crawl, and take advantage of some nice weather to relax and explore the island, which turned out to be tiny!

The beach we stayed on was called Sairee Beach, and this was where most of the action was located.  Tons of young people were on the island, on account of the full moon being soon on the neighboring island of  Koh Phangan, and this made for awesome nightlife on our island as well.  The beach bars looked right out onto the ocean in most cases, and when the tide was in it seemed that the ocean might just come right into the bar, as well.

We had so many relaxed, beachy days on the island without much to do but enjoy the excellent food and great weather.  We had sushi three times!  At this point i’d been travelling for just over a month and was getting “riced out” on Thai food – it was refreshing to be able to get some of the Western foods we had been craving: pizza and pasta anyone??

One of the main attractions on Ko Tao is the diving culture – many people stay there to get certified as it’s one of the cheapest places in the world to do it.  Did we do it?? Nope!  Neither Chelsea or I were too keen on going diving, I had gone in Phi Phi + loved it but not enough to drop some serious cash on getting certified – yet.

Two of the biggest highlights of our time on the island were going to the ladyboy cabaret and getting our tattoos one very loud and crazy night!  The ladyboy cabaret was situated in a bar (populated entirely, of course, by ladyboys) where there was a free show every night featuring the ladies lip synching and dancing to classic pop diva anthems and show tunes!  It was soo funny and the ladies were ridiculously sexy, we got to chat with a few of them while taking pictures after – some of them had a wicked sense of humour 😛

Getting my tattoo on the night of the pub crawl had to be one of the craziest things I did while travelling.  I got it in the traditional Thai method using a long bamboo stick and a steady hand.  My tattoo artist was female, and she did an excellent job on the script I got on my wrist.  The word I decided on was “hai jai”, a verb that can mean “to breathe, to live” or “to be alive”.  Chelsea got a spur-of the moment tattoo as well, it was pretty hilarious!

Our days on the little island were amongst the most relaxed and quiet that we had on our trip – after so much travelling and crisscrossing the country, it was nice to just land somewhere for five days and enjoy the beach culture of Thailand in all it’s laid-back glory.  We were also eagerly anticipating the next part of our trip – going back to Bottle Beach and Koh Phangan for another Full Moon, Baby!

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Paradise Found – Bottle Beach, Ko Pha-Ngan

The minibus brought us from Khao Sok to Suratthani in the morning after an epic 6am longboat ride through the huge lake.

This was a tough travel day for me, I was super sick the night I landed at Bottle Beach, and was feeling crappy on the bus, ferry, truck and boat we needed to take to get to our next destination on Koh Pha-Ngan. Didn’t help that I got iced on the ferry on the way over, either. Thanks guys. Lol.

After a short stop in Thong Sala to buy full moon party supplies (body paint and fluorescent clothing anyone? ) we boarded a truck to our second last stop. The beach is only accessible by boat, and that is one of the things I loved most about it! Totally secluded from the world – with the requisite wi-fi of course!

Arriving there by speedboat was surreal after living in squalor at the lake house. We had these amazing huts on the beach all to ourselves, with a bathroom to die for and a charming front porch. The resort had a pool and a pristine beach, great little restaurant and a bar that was always open. It was Heaven on earth for these weary travellers!

We wasted no time in getting a pool party started, the weather was awesome and everyone was in a great mood, exploring the hotel and eating the food – after tons of Thai food in the last few days, it was great to be able to order a burger 😀

A few not so nice things about our first day in Bottle Beach: first was my sickness, and second was that we discovered our room had…dun dun dunnnnnn….COCKROACHES!!! Eeeeew.

But now I can proudly say I am a cockroach killer, and I also got over my sickness that evening with the help of my dear friend Danica, ( yup, same name!) who is a damn good nurse – love her for that!!

The next few days brought just the right amount of sun, sand and friends as we relaxed, hiked to a beautiful viewpoint, had bonfires, watched fire spinning, lit wishing lanterns and released them into the sky, had massages and generally had the time of our lives.

The full moon was just around the corner, and it definitely deserves its own blog!!

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Misty Mountains

We arrived in Khao Sok and boarded the raddest hippie bus I have ever seen, it was straight out of a movie, brightly colored, broken down looking, and generally awesome. 3 working fans = not awesome though!

We also met up with the other 24-day tour group at this point, making 40 people or so in total. We would be travelling with them for the next eight days, doing the lake house, full moon and Ko Phangan together.

We arrived at the Smile guesthouse in Khao Sok, a gorgeous guesthouse in the middle of the mountains of a national park.  It literally looked like Jurassic Park, with mist rolling through the mountains, elevated jungle huts and a gorgeous lobby full of heavy dark furniture and little fountains.

Our first order of business was to buy booze for the river tubing adventure.  We bought delicious boozies then loaded up the floating coolers for our trip down the river.  We grabbed a tube each and walked down the road to the river, jumping into the shallow water and letting the current float us for a blissful, tipsy two hours of fun…

Until I looked down and realized the waterproof camera I had brought had somehow unlocked its “airtight” compartment and was now full of water…I was not impressed. It was such a crap thing to happen on an otherwise great day, I tried not to let it get to me. Back to the guesthouse after to prep for the monkey temple.

Once the cam was safely in a bag of rice drying out, I grabbed my stuff and headed out with the rest to check out the  monkey temple.

Monkeys are the greediest little jerks you have ever seen. Just sayin. We got to the temple and paid for some peanuts and bananas to feed the seemingly cute little guys, they were super grabby and even though it was cute to see them running around, they were actually a little scary….haha. Disney films have it all wrong. I’m not sure I’d want to be alone around a bunch of monkeys now.

My day ended pretty early, on account of me being pretty sauced on the river cruise. After dinner I decided to sleep for an hour to be fresh for the evening, aaaand woke up the next morning instead. Whoops!

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