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The Big Trip. Stephen, Laura, James and Sinead head for an epic adventure: 17 weeks in South America 8 weeks in New Zealand 2 weeks in Fiji 11 weeks in Australia 14 weeks in South East Asia.

Final Destination: Thai Islands

THAILAND | Monday, 26 April 2010 | Views [1738]

The South of Thailand is our last destination of our trip. With three weeks until it came time to return to the real world and cold rainy Ireland where better to finish up than on the tropical Islands of Thailand.

Koh Samui was our first stop after a very long and painful journey from Cambodia. Koh Samui is a well developed very touristy island. Its got all the comforts a westerner could want on holidays, Mac Donald’s, Starbucks, Tesco’s and Boots chemist. Koh Samui was really nice but as its full of high end resorts it’s a bit over prices and over developed. Its also full of bars that are full of Thai ladies (and lady boys) just dying to show men a good time. All a bit tacky and sleazy. After four days here we got the ferry to the next island.

Koh Phangan is only 15 miles from Koh Samui on boat so it was a short hop and a truck ride to our accommodation. We were in Koh Phangan two days before the famous full moon party and so accommodation was expensive and scarce so we decided to stay about 10 mins drive from the main beach in Had Rinn and in the end we were glad we did. Our digs was beautiful beachside cottages on a quite stretch of amazing beach which also had a pool. It was one of the nicest places we have stayed all year. We has come for the full moon party so on the night after some drinks in the bar we piled into the back of a pick up with four others just after midnight and headed for the party.

The full moon party is huge… thousands of people all over the beach and the small town.

The beach was lined with stalls selling beer and buckets, there was fortune tellers, tattooists, face painters, people selling Thai lanterns as well as loads of different DJ’s. it’s a huge crazy beach party that happens every full moon and it was fun.

When we entered Thailand over land from Cambodia we only got a 15 day visa and so had to find some way to extend it. We had planned on doing it in Phuket until we found out we could go back to Samui and get a visa extension there. We got the 7am boat over to Samui and got a taxi to the Immigration office and queued up for an extension with loads of other westerners. After filling out the forms and paying over a small fortune we were told that we could only get a 7 day extension… we needed 10. There was nothing we could do and we were told that we would have to pay a fine of 500 bath for every extra day we stayed when we were at the airport flying home. We were very pissed off and adding it all up we realised that including transport to get to the immigration office we would be paying out almost 100 Euro each just to stay in Thailand for 10 extra days. The Thai Government sure do know how to rip people off.

We spent six days on Koh Phangan before setting off west to the island of Koh Phi Phi.

Koh Phi Phi is beautiful and very different to the other two islands. There are no roads on the island and most of it is uninhabited and only accessible by boat. The main village is a small maze of narrow streets and lanes lined with little shops and restaurants and guesthouses. There is no high rise hotels, no cars and no motorbikes bikes which was bliss. The bay was surrounded by high limestone cliffs and beaches with soft white sand. We decided to do a boat trip around the island and the other island. The trip took us first to monkey beach. This is a tiny beach which is home to lots of local monkeys. The guide on our boat had told everyone to be careful as the monkeys can bite and have rabies but we didn’t expect them to be as evil as they were. They were out for blood and chased peoples along the beach nipping at ankles and sending them running into the water to escape. They were obviously sick of the sight of tourists and who could blame them!

We went on to more beaches and coves stopping at cove for some snorkelling and kayaking. The water was crystal clear, blue and green…!

Me and Stephen decided to go snorkelling to the nearby coral reef first while James and Sinead grabbed a kayak to head into the cove. While they were kayaking a long boat (traditional Thai boat) came full speed out of the cove and straight for them. They first thought nothing of it and paddled out of its way thinking the driver would see them and go around but soon realise that the driver didn’t see them and was heading straight for them. James waved his oar around trying to warn the driver but it was no good so James jumped out and turned the kayak over knocking Sinead into the water. Lucky they did jump out because seconds later the boat hit the kayak at full speed leaving James and Sinead bobbing in the water. The driver turned round and helped them back into the kayak but never even said sorry even though he could have killed them. If them of any of the other 10 or 15 people snorkelling in the area had been in they way of the board someone might have been killed. Last stop was Maya Bay. This is the beach from the film “The Beach”. Its an amazing beach but was so crowded it was hard to enjoy.

We spent seven days on Koh Phi Phi and loved it.

Phuket was the next stop. While we were in Phuket it was Thai New Year celebrations.. and this means only one thing.. WATER FIGHT!!

Thai people take to the streets with huge water guns, buckets of water and hoses and spend all day and night soaking each other and everyone that comes into sight. After innocently walking five mins down the street for breakfast on the first morning and arriving soaked we decided we better arm ourselves and join the fun. And it was great fun!

Most of the way through Cambodia and since we arrived in Thailand we had been keeping an eye on the red shirt protests in Bangkok. The night after we arrived in Phuket all hell broke loose in Bangkok between the protesters and the army leaving 20 people dead. We had intended on spending a couple of days in Phuket and heading up to Bangkok for our last few days but because of the violence we decided to give Bangkok a miss. We got a 12 hour buss to Bangkok on the day before our flight and stayed in an airport hotel for one night completely avoiding the city.. But little did we know that the Red shirt protests were the least of our problems.

While on the bus from Phuket we got a text from home telling us that London and Dublin airports had closed because of an ash cloud caused by a volcano in Iceland. At the time we didn’t think it was too serious and assumed things would be back to normal the next morning. This wasn’t the case, It wasn’t until the next morning that we started to realise that there was a very good chance we would not be going home than night. We assumed we would get a flight in a day or two… we never thought we would be stuck in Bangkok for 12 days!! A lot of flights had been cancelled and so we could not get booked onto another flight for 12 days, we were gutted. We asked around and were told that it was relatively safe to go to Bangkok so we headed to Koh San Road and found some very cheap digs.  As the week went on the protests went from bad to worse with violence and grenade attacks in the city. It wasn’t really safe to move around the city so we were confined to three or four streets around Koh San Road. It was a long and pretty boring week which included a trip to Cambodia to get a new Visa… for some reason they couldn’t just stamp our passports in the immigration office in Bangkok. By the end of the 12 days we were counting the hours until our flight and really looking forward to getting home at last.

As I write this we are getting ready to set off home. After one full year of none stop travel to 15 amazing countries, 19 flights, over 100 different hostals, hotels, huts, tents etc, countless hours of pain full bus and train journies and a million amazing memories its time to get back to the real world. Although we are all looking forward to seeing our family and friends its sad that its over and its going to be hard to get back to normal everyday life. We all agree that this year has been the best year of our lives, the best decision we have ever made and even if we go home with 5 Euro to our name its was worth every minute and every hard earned and saved penny, we have had the time of our lives... as the song goes..haha.

Thanks to everyone whos been reading our blog and following our adventures over the past year we hope you enjoyed it, see ye all soon.

Tags: bangkok, kho phangan, koh phi phi, koh samui, phuket, thai new year, thailand

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