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Beaches with Blake in Gulf of Thailand

THAILAND | Wednesday, 25 March 2009 | Views [454]

Riding on the train from Bangkok to Chumphon, Pete could hardly contain himself.  Not only were the train windows open, making it possible for him to poke his head out into the wind, but Blake would be meeting us at the train station.

It was getting late by the time the train pulled in, and when we hopped off, we were greeted by those folks hoping to convince us in to staying in their hotel or take a ride on their motorbikes.  But no Blake.  Then a Thai man with a sign came rushing up to us.  His sign read, "Blake is in Jail," and in thickly accented English, he continued to tell us a story about how Blake caused some problem and our money was required to bail him out.  We knew Blake was nearby.

After a quick reunion, Blake, who had not been arrested, showed us to our hotel for the night.  Check-in was followed by a visit to the locals' bar where a live band seemed happy to have us dancing in front of the stage.  The Thais were a lively group but they stayed at their seats and stood, cheering when their favorite songs played.  After a few too many drinks, we all made it back to Fame Guest House, eventually.

The following morning we caught a bus that took us to the pier, where a large, high-speed catamaran took us to the island of Koh Tao. 

The Canadians Pete and I had met in Chiang Mai and again in Phnom Penh recommended a place on the island called Rocky Resort.  They apparently loved the secluded beach and the bungalows sat right on top of the rocks with the ocean waves splashing beneath.  We decided to give it a try.  A truck took us from the pier at Koh Tao up a steep hill and told us to follow a path to the resort.  In order to get there we entered a gate with "Private Property" signs and hoped guard dogs weren't going to attack.  A steep walk down the hill and we were at the water.

Our bungalow at Rocky Resort was what you'd expect from a beach bungalow in Thailand - a beautiful ocean view, a fan, and critters.  I think it was Blake who screamed first when he saw the 10" gecko hiding beneath a curtain on the wall. 

We explored the beach, which was mostly secluded, and had a Thai dinner at the guest house restaurant.  Later we found a lounge area and Pete and I found comfy cushions on the floor, Blake cozied up in a hammock, and we enjoyed a colorful sunset, wondering if we were accidentally in someone's house.  As it turned out, two misplaced Rastafarians showed up, turned on some twinkle lights, and asked if we wanted anything from the bar.  Got some drinks and lounged around like true beach bums.  Later that evening, as our hosts got stoned, other guests had to go get their own drinks.  The service lacked, but it was a great atmosphere.

The next day was set aside for snorkeling in Shark Bay, where Peter saw a black tip shark.  We played in the water and on the sand until a storm hit that evening.  I was a giant chicken and hated how close the lightning seemed to hit.  We did, however, have a nice chat with a bartender from Myanmar who had a truly interesting story about his arrival in Thailand.  His conversation helped pass the time while the rain poured down.

After a couple nights at Rocky Resort we were looking to try a new place.  We hiked to the next bay over and found a new beach bungalow called Big Fish.  Big Fish had a little more action on the beach and was closer to some restaurants, including our favorite, Ricky's.  While at Big Fish we met Oshi, our beach puppy, who loyaly followed us around and slept under the shade of our chairs in the sand. 

After leaving Koh Tao we took the catamaran back to Chumphon (or Chumporn, depending on what travel agency you book with), then grabbed a truck out to a local beach where Blake found us another beach bungalow across the street from Funky Bar.  Another two lazy days on the beach and we had to move on to Bangkok.

We took a night train from Chumphon, got a bit of sleep, arrived, checked in to Sawasdee Guest House near Rambuttri Street, got a bit more sleep, then began our tour of Bangkok.  Taking a wild ride by taxi we went to Chatuchak Market, one of Bangkok's biggest open air markets.  There was far too much to see (especially with non-shoppers), so we tested a bit of street food and bought a couple of souvenirs.  Mostly, it was a good spot for people watching.

Our night in Bangkok consisted of some street food and drinks on Rambuttri and Khao San Roads.  Later in the evening we all agreed the night would be complete with a Thai massage, so we headed over to Susie Street for some relaxation.  When checking in for our massages, Pete was asked if he'd like a man or woman giving the massage.  When he didn't answer quickly, the woman behind the desk assured him, "It's just a massage, nothing extra." 

We had one more day together in Bangkok before Blake left for Chiang Mai and Pete and I hopped in a cab bound for the airport.  "Blake Week" on the beaches was a fun and relaxing way for us to end our Southeast Asia adventure, and hopefully a nice way for Blake to transition into the rest of his trip north.  And Koh Tao?  Blake was told "it's dead" by what we termed an "Asia pro" (someone who has backpacked the region before and is back again only to find they liked it better the first time), but we didn't have any trouble getting tans.

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