After exploring the busy city of Bangkok and appreciating the gorgeous temples, we headed to the Gulf of Thailand to an island off the coast called Koh Phangan. Famous for a backpacker atmosphere and killer full moon parties on the beach, we had to check it out. Unfortunately the moon wasn’t full during our brief stint, but we had a wonderful time nonetheless. We arrived on the 12th and walked around Had Rin where we stayed and generally explored the little beach town, booked a diving trip and a safari day, and then hiked up the ‘street,’ which really seemed like a slightly wider hiking trail, to the Chill House. It is a bar/hostel with an amazing view of Sunrise beach where you relax..and well…chill…in hammocks enjoying the natural beauty surrounding the place. That night we had dinner in town and experimented with the Thai whiskey, Sang Some, were introduced to our first bucket, and danced the night away at Cactus on the beach.
The next day we’d booked a safari trip and were up early for the jeep ride into the center of the island. Our first stop was 7-11 for some much needed food since nothing else in Had Rid opens before 9:30 (everyone stays out far too late consuming far too many buckets.) About 45 minutes later we arrived at the Elephant sanctuary where we fed these gorgeous giants bananas and I even got to hold a precious little lemur! They practically had to pry it out of my arms…check out the photos and you’ll see just how squeezable this little guy was! We hopped on the elephants for a trek up the mountain that overlooked the other side of the island down to the beach. It was beautiful and I finally got to ride an elephant..one experience I had my heart set on for our stop in Thailand. We left the elephant sanctuary and went to a Chinese temple in the hills. We’d been to many Thai temples so checking out a Chinese one was a nice change and it was interesting to compare the two. The Thai temples were more intricately detailed while the Chinese temple had the same majestic feel, but there wasn’t as much attention to detail. We climbed in the jeep and headed to the trail head of the jungle trek to our first waterfall. Ben, Alpha, Jared, and I all continued about 300 m past the waterfall with our guide to this amazing lookout point, and then headed down for a swim in the waterfall. After lunch, we went snorkeling and relaxed on the beach before heading back to the mountains for another hike to a waterfall. On the way back to Had Rin the weather turned and the rain came pouring down. We were in the back of this jeep and were completely soaked, but enjoyed every minute of it. After a full day of exploration we rewarded ourselves with a massage before dinner and a night of much needed rest.
Ben and I desperately wanted to dive so the next day he and I headed to Sail Rock with a local dive company. The rain continued to pour down but our dive sight was about an hour and half north of Phangan and luckily unaffected by the weather. The two dives were amazing and the visibility couldn’t have been better. We saw huge schools of fusiliers and at one point Ben and I were surrounded, literally encircled, by a giant school of trevally. It was incredible.
Our last day in Koh Phangnan I did a traditional Thai cooking class. I learned to make: Matsaman Curry, Chicken Pad Thai, Peppercorn Shrimp, and Ben’s favorite Sweet and Sour Pork. While I cooked, the others relaxed and when I was done they got to eat all of the dishes. I can’t wait to have a Thai dinner party at Willoughby when we get back. After I was finished we decided to have another amazing massage before watching the sunset at the Chill House for one last time.
The next morning we took the ferry over to Samui and Ben and I walked for hours along the beach before having a seriously spectacular dinner at Poppies (thanks Mom/Bonnie) – apparently the best restaurant on the island. With that said, Ben and I had to go back to our hotel (which was luckily next door) at the start of the meal because the waiter spilled our cocktails all over my white dress and Ben’s shorts. We laughed about it, changed quickly, and as a result got two free cocktails for the disruption ;-).
The next morning we were up early for our flight to Phuket, and our ferry to Phi Phi. The seas were savagely fierce and I was sick the moment we left the pier. We headed outside to the front of the boat to combat my sickness and were left drenched by the boat slamming into the waves and burnt to a crisp…but at least I didn’t get completely sick! The two hour boat trip ended up being three dreadful hours but it was quite the experience getting off the boat completely soaked in Phi Phi. Koh Phi Phi is exquisite and we wondered around the vehicle-less town and were quite impressed and excited for the next couple of days. Ben and I decided the diving couldn’t be missed on this side of Thailand so we booked a trip immediately, then had a delicious dinner right on the beach at Ton Sai Bay, and walked around the street shops before coming back to our precious little bungalow at P.P. Casita.
We just got back from diving at Koh Bida Nok and Koh Bida Noi which are off the coast of Phi Phi about 35 minutes near Koh Phi Phi Leh, which is the island where Leo’s movie The Beach was filmed 😉 ! The visibility wasn’t very good because of the rocky sea yesterday but we saw a ton of sea life: two leopard sharks, a turtle (my first one!), a cuttlefish (not quite as large or playful as the one we saw that day in Bali), morays, tons of lion fish, sting rays, stone fish, and a dying freshwater catfish that literally chased after Ben and I.
Tomorrow we’ve planned a day snorkeling trip with James and Lee (friends of ours from Sydney who are here on their honeymoon), and Jared and Alpha, around Phi Phi Leh in a longtail boat. Can’t wait! Our last day we’ll spend relaxing, kayaking, and most importantly the hike up to the ‘viewpoint.’
Friday we head to Bangkok for our Saturday flight to Delhi to meet up with Ian, Siena, Keiren and TK for the ‘India leg’ of the trip. We’ve posted more photos so take a look.
Love to you all and let us know how things are at home…whichever part of the globe that may be…
xx Jackie and Ben..err should I say Barbie as all the Thai people like to call him…