Falling out of love with Thailand????

Taz here…

Well what can I say and where do I begin. I honestly thought that after our first experience of Thailand in 2009 and how much we both absolutely loved it, that second time around would be filled with all the same similar notions of excitement and warming welcomes off everyone everywhere we visited. Somehow cracks have started to appear everywhere we have visited this time around and its made us feel very unwelcome and somehow a little bewildered. Once over I had nothing at all bad to say towards this country but this time its defiantly different.

Bangkok hasn’t really changed much at all, in fact it was very nice to be back in the hustle and bustle of places like Khoa san road, in and around sukhumvit road and the huge shopping metropolis of Siam paragon. A fast paced city for the younger generation of the more affluent Thai’s with plenty of cash and taste for the finer things in life. We really enjoyed the food stalls that litter the streets where you can eat for little more than 80p.

Food stalls

Moving to the south was an experience this time as the last time we flew thanks to a friend. This time we had to book a night bus which from experience of night buses in Vietnam for example was a real good way to travel distance under the cool air of night time temperatures. So we book a TOURIST bus this time and as we board there are three scrotum looking young Thai lads that seem to be the one’s herding the unsuspecting newbie tourists onto the bus. Word of advice stay well clear of falang (European white person) buses which everyone falls into the trap of booking purely because they (we) don’t know any better. Always head to the local bus stations as much as possible. Anyway they hold a sign up in English saying keep your personal belongings on you and not in your luggage. Now I know when ever you come across this behavior it basically means your going to get robbed on this bus! That may sound harsh but Thailand is that well traveled these days that they know all the tricks of the trade and know exactly what needs to be done. So luggage under the bus and personal stuff at my feet, I’m thinking everything will be fine because my clothes are all that in my bag so no need to worry because they’ll be fine. Cut a long story short between getting shunted fast between different buses in the early hours and not really thinking you could of been robbed we got to the hotel the next morning and I opened my bag to find they has taken most of my named clothing, rooted through my whole bag left the crap and left someones else’s Sony camera charger in there too. NOT HAPPY

Aggressive tourism

I feel that this needs its own title as I’ve been so disheartened with Thai people over this. Most of the place’s we have visited this time have felt like a battle between you and the locals. In the south there is a definite feel of aggressiveness or maybe hatred towards you if you refuse or try to knock them down on prices, especially if your on a island or somewhere that’s maybe land locked. They blatantly refuse your business because they know you have no choice and one way or another you will end up buying it anyway. For me this bitterness left an awful taste in my mouth and don’t think it will ever go away. I can’t help but maybe point a finger towards some of the many expats that roam Thailand these days. We had a few days in a place called Pranburi sort of mid Thailand we found a nice clean Thai hotel that was reasonable enough, it had a massage place right next to it and a small quirky bar attached also. Spent roughly 3 days there and we had all smiles and good mornings everyday off the people and made you feel welcome. The last night we had been bouldering on the beach that day so thought we would treat ourselves to a oil massage. So the same massage place that had been really pleasant the whole time to us we thought we would go there so went and had a brilliant massage. Afterward we headed to the quirky bar which we had been in nights previous and one lady which worked at the massage place was doing extra hours at the bar, thus the older lady which worked the bar every evening was there to. She seemed nice the whole time to. We noticed that the massage lady had suddenly become very ignorant towards us since the massage earlier in the evening. She was emitting a bad vibe as if we had done something wrong. Anyway had 3 bottles of beer between us (60Baht each) because being on a budget because where away for 3 months I’am always keeping an eye on what we spend. We were gonna call it a night when a bunch of scots walked in to watch the rugby we got chatting. They was on holiday together, most had retired and we started chatting and was having a good laugh. So I said lets have one more to Jemma, so I ordered it with the lady and one of the guys which was a retired ceo of a large packaging company said to the barmaid put that on my tab,which was very nice of him. As the night progressed one of the guys said to me I cant believe how nice the Thai’s are towards you. Made me chuckle. By the time the bar was closing we had another 2 bottles of beer (6 in total) which the same chap kept putting on his tab. So when presented with the bill at the end she had basically charged us for 6 bottles of beer and put 3 bottles of beer on the chaps tab to so got charged twice. I was a little tipsy but certainly not to drunk to add up and I questioned her, and got the worst reception off her as if I was in the wrong for it. So she starting ranting in Thai telling me we had 7 or 8 bottles when I knew we had 6 bottles because they are large bottles and we cant drink for shit so knew there was no way we had 8. So in the end she charged us 350baht for 7 bottles now if their 60 each and we had 7 then that’s 420baht, but we only had 3 in which we owed for and that nice chap paid for the other 3(6 in total). She reluctantly threw 90 baht at me and told us to leave!!!!

So the next day I woke up and I was so angry about the whole situation. They had been so nice to us before the massage and before they knew we was leaving that it felt like now they’ve had your money and you was going instead of saying good morning as usual they literally turned their heads away from you and blatantly ignored you gave me the worst reception when I went to the bar in the morning to get my bite stick I had left the night before. I was so angry inside because they actually thought that just because we where travelling around and had money to do that its OK to rip you off and that you should take it and be happy about it. What they don’t realize is that we have saved up for two years for this trip and have all the bills at home like our mortgage to still pay while where here. They think that because your young that we’ve had some inheritance or something off our parents and we can afford it, but that isn’t the case, I work 6 days a week at home so there is no way i’am going to let them take advantage because they think ‘oh they are drunk they will never know’ like I said earlier its left a real bitter taste in my mouth. So when the nice people we met in the bar that night said to me I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW NICE THE PEOPLE ARE in some respects the local people are very nice but they were staying at 5* hotel and yes they are nice purely because they are making lots of money off them every time they order a Bacardi and coke or Johnny Walker reserve. Its absolutely fine if your on a 2 week holiday to warrant paying over the odds, because at the end of the day in Europe we are used to paying more anyway and its only few quid here and there so for two weeks who cares. But as a traveller on a shoe string makes it very tricky unless you have and endless bank balance.

Sex trade

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The abundance of ex pats or whoever all men mostly walking the streets with Thai women is really starting to disgust me to high heaven. Places in Thailand where consumerism is eating up society is frighting. Patt pong, Koi samui, Hua hin, Pattaya, just to name a few, some of the sites we’ve come across is shocking, I know most Thai’s are buddist but what much they really think of the abundance of young and older women who are literally paid by the day to be a prostitute for them. What must normal Thai people think of this? For me its quite disgusting for over weight chain smoking, alcohol addicted old western men to be hand in hand or not with young skinny Thai girls. Now I maybe a little naive to this but I don’t think so. I’am old enough to know the difference between someone being lonely and looking for a partner to blatant staring at anything with flesh on show and drooling at the same time! You disgust me and make me physically sick!

Rant over hope you have enjoyed my story………

Ranong (hot springs) – Pran Buri (climbing) – Hua Hin (expats)

Hi everyone at home, sorry it’s been a while 🙂 Jemma here…

When we left Ao Nang to visit Ranong around a week or more ago. We arrived at Krabi bus station by taxi (the usual coverted old pick up trucks with a roof welded on the back and benches screwed in). Once at the bus station the people that work there rush out, ask where you’re going and usher you to a ticket desk. This time we were going by local bus to Ranong and the ticket cost us I think 220 baht each, a fraction of the tourist bus and the lady said “5 hour” and it was 10.30 so we expected to be in Ranong by 3.30pm. The bus left right away, there was a strange lounging type area at the back of the bus to we set up on that with mp3’s to drown out the blaring thai music video’s being played at the front of the bus. The bus driver came to check our ticket and advised us we’d be in Ranong by 5pm. Hmmm. So there was no air-con on this bus. The technique to pass time when it’s hot and there’s nowt you can do about it is to sleep. The chairs were leather so when you lay sprawled out you wake up with your face stuck on the chair. But that’s travelling for you 🙂 We arrived in Ranong at around 5.30-6pm so it was a long journey, longer than expected. The bus stop we were dropped at was a 10-15 minute walk to the hotel area. We stopped for Thai food part way through. It was nice to walk with the bags on believe it or not, it was cool, and we felt pretty rank already so there was no harm in a little exercise!

Walking from the bus into Ranong

Walking from the bus into Ranong

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We checked in to the same hotel as last time for 2 nights. I think we forgot about the noise you hear in that hotel. There aren’t doors separating the rooms from the road noise, other than 1 thin door on your room so you hear everything. Day and night. But the room was cheap, 400 baht for a room with air con and a hot shower. We rented a 125 motorbike from Pon’s Place 2 minutes walk away for 150 baht a day and went off to explore.

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There was some rain and overcast type weather here which made it cool and the best weather for lounging in the hot springs. There’s a spring in a bit of a National Park type area and for 40 baht each you get a towel and a locker and there are showers and changing rooms available and a water fountain for drinking. There were 2 large hot pools and 2 small cooler pools with umbrellas over to splash about in and relax, and sun loungers beside if you wanted them. They’ve done a really nice job, last time we were here in 2009 there were only small deep pools in this location, that were so hot you could look at them and dip a finger in but they were not cooled in anyway so far too hot to sit in etc!

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There was a local man set up nearby who had chicken and quail eggs in nets for sale, 20 baht for 3 chicken eggs. He used a separate boiling spring outlet to dip the nets into and cook the eggs. We bought loads to eat whilst we were in the spring. We came to this one quite as few times and always bought eggs of this guy. We visited a few other springs too. We met a family from Phuket that had a hotel down there, they were there on holiday in Ranong. Their son who looked around 21 was with them but they said he was usually in Australia, Melbourne, at a University studying to be an aeroplane engineer! They were great company and wrote down on a piece of paper their favourite Thai dishes, in Thai, so that we could take the list to the night market and try some new food.

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We moved to a place just up the road called Dahla’s Guesthouse I think, this place was 450 a night and was a spacious bungalow. Apart from 1 night where there was a fight between Thai men on their way home from a bar, we had much better sleep here.

Our Bungalow at Dahla's in Ranong

Our Bungalow at Dahla’s in Ranong

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There was plenty of good food in Ranong, the best tasting food is always the very small local stalls that don’t have many tourists in, they’re also the cheapest so it’s a win, win situation. They make some really hot food too, we had some minced pork a few times with herbs and spices in it and it just burns but it’s so good. You eat it with plain rice, or whatever you fancy. Food with water/tea/coffee at these places was always around the 100 baht mark or less for the 2 of us. You can’t complain. Touristy restaurants sell similar stuff, not as tasty and 2/3 times the price. Their downfall is that they try to sell “everything!” where as the locals make what they’re good at and don’t try to offer 100 items on the menu.

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Food stalls at Ranong, there were hundreds of them all selling different things :-)

Food stalls at Ranong, there were hundreds of them all selling different things 🙂

The night-life in Ranong is thriving but strangely primarily Thai. It’s unusual to find somewhere that’s really busy with Thai people having a good time and letting their hair down and tourists can join in the fun but it’s not all about the “falang”. We went into the 1 air-conditioned bar in the area and there was a Thai boy band on 1 night and lots of Thai girls watching! There was a small roadside bar where the cocktails were 60 baht and good (and strong) so we had a few nights sipping in there.

We left Ranong after 6 nights in total. We dropped our motorbike back off at Pon’s place and caught the “taxi pickup truck” to the bus station. The bus to Pran Buri was due to leave at 10.30am and we’d arrived at 10am, bought our tickets for 230 baht each and sat down for a nice dish of pork noodle soup beside the station and was ready on the bus at 10.30 to leave.

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Just after 10.30 a Thai woman hops on the bus and visits each individual Thai person, speaks to them and they get off the bus. Then she gets to us and tells us the bus’s air-con isn’t working (feels fine to us) and we have to get off, the bus will leave in 3 hours. So we get off the bus and the bus drives off. The bus comes back 10 minutes later and parks up. There’s no way there was anything wrong with the air-con. They think you’re daft sometimes. It’s well known among travellers that if the local bus isn’t busy they won’t leave for the journey, they cancel it and you wait for the next scheduled departure because it will be hopefully fuller. So we wait at the bus station for 3 hours. 2 German friends travelling together are booked onto the same bus, travelling back to Hua Hin together for 1 night before heading to Bangkok for their flight home to Germany the next night. They planned to visit the night market in Hua Hin that night for souvenirs. So with a 6 hour journey delayed by 3 hours this was cutting their shopping time up considerably! They also have to leave the bus at Pran Buri where we were heading to and do an extra 30km somehow into Hua Hin…

The bus left at 1.30pm and we slowly crept our way along to the East coast of Thailand, stopping at all the little towns and villages along the way. We hopped off at Chumphon for half an hour to buy some more food and continued up the East coast at snails pace. The driver told us 6 hours originally. The journey took 8 hours. Bus it was cool at least! So we arrived at a bus stop in Pran Buri in the dark at about half 9 that night. The German’s got straight onto another bus coincidentally heading to Hua Hin the minute they got off this bus. We asked locals where the beach was, thinking it couldn’t be far away. It was infact about 10 miles away from where we’d been dropped. Nothing in Thailand is every straight forward 😉  After attempting to shop around for taxi prices and getting a beer from the 7/11 we settled for another pick up truck taxi to the beach for 200 baht between us and they dropped us outside a hotel. We asked which way “everything was” because we didn’t see many lights or signs of life! Instead of wandering about at this time of night the first hotel we went into asked for 800 baht for the night in an air-con room so we settled for that. After we paid the man came back to our room with 100 baht, apparently we could have the room for 700 baht 🙂 Strange.

Hotel Grounds

Hotel Grounds

The beach where Pran Buri climbing is

The beach where Pran Buri climbing is

The restaurant next door was just about still open so I got a plate of muscles, Taz got some soup. It was good food. We went to sleep, with banging heads. There’s something about long journeys that mashes my head.

The next day we walked along Pran Buri beach in the baking heat and had some eggs on toast for breakfast.

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This place is quiter than we thought, Originally I was thinking we should go to Hua Hin but it’s a large expat place, I thought Pran Buri would be nicer and cheaper and had some climbing. It was nice but I’m glad we got dropped where we did because every hotel we asked at was well over the 2000 baht mark per night, most around 3500 baht or more! I think our hotel was called something like the Baan Hat Pran Hotel, and the only one within backpacker price range that we found. Pran Buri is a strip of much quiter, very expensive resorts. The beach is a thin strip of sand because the tide is always high? Day and night? It was when we were there anyway. There’s a beautiful, wider beach at the Northern end of the beach, we were at the south.

So we rented bicycles for 75 baht each per day and rode up and down this quiet place daily, it took about 20 minutes I think. It was nice to get about on bikes, very relaxing!

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The beautiful beach was surrounded by rock, some had been bolted and was in our Guide book. It was impossible to tell which route was which without a drawing so we just climbed and enjoyed. The rock was sharper than anything else I’ve felt before and after a couple of routes your hands felt a bit ruined. There were also a lot of plants growing all over the rock making everything a bit weirder to navigate, and ants coming out of holes you were trying to hang onto. Ew. We had a dip in the sea and relaxed some more…

Bouldering at PranBuri on sharp rock!

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Food on the beach in Pran Buri

Anyway on our last day in Pran Buri we decided to have a massage. The Thai or Oil massages here are 300 baht for 90 minutes, a true bargain. So we opted for an oil each. I don’t rate Thai massages. I have only had 1, 3 years ago in Ranong but it kinda put me off for life. Too much uncomfortable stretching as far as I’m concerned. I prefer to be rubbed! It was nice and relaxing and I’m sure beneficial.

We stayed in Pran Buri for 3 nights and then sorted a taxi for 400 baht to Hua Hin. That’s where we are now, typing while it’s bucketing down with rain outside, ha ha.

Taz has a bit of an opinion to share with everyone about our last night in Pran Buri and how everything went a bit wrong… I’ll post this at the end, he’s been typing for as long as me, so I think he has a lot to say!

When we got to Hua Hin yesterday after the 40 minute taxi journey. I had booked a night in Hua Hin at a hotel called Baan Hua Hin Resort so that we could go door to door without the opportunity for much hassle. The rooms are ok and it does have a pool which we haven’t used yet, looks clean and good for lengths. The rooms are advertised openly at 590 baht a night which is ok value for money. The air-con’s good and the rooms massive with a balcony (bad view) and the TV has some english channels. We went over the road from the hotel and rented a motorbike for 200 baht a day.

Hotel at Hua Hin

We drove around and saw the huge shopping mall with all sorts of international food’s and shops going on. We got some bits and bobs from Boots, I bought a little hair dryer (hair doesn’t dry in air-con rooms and I wanted to use my straighteners ) and Taz got some jeans that were in a posh shop but they had a buy 1 get 2 free deal so he got a polo neck top and a smart shirt for free with the jeans. It’s part of the insurance claim for the stuff we’ve had nicked, and they’ll be great in Macau and Hong Kong where shorts at night where it’s cool and I presume “fancier” aren’t ideal. We went to an all you can each sushi place in the mall. The cost is 300 baht a person and there’s a massive selection of sushi to choose from, as well as lots of things you can pick of the converyer belt to go in the boiling pot which everyone has infront of them to make their own soup. There’s also unlimited drinks, icecream and some fruit. You get 1 hour and 15 minutes! I was completely done after about 45 minutes, stuffed to the brim!! The place was heaving, and I’m guessing it is all day and night! Good service, excellent food.

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Last night I did my hair and make-up as it seemed this place had night out potential. It was just about cool enough to wear jeans comfortably, so Taz put them on. I brought a few nice dresses to wear on this trip and they’ve had a few outings so far so I’m glad I brought them. Sometime’s it’s nice to get that holiday feeling and not just be walking about in shorts all day and night. We got some tea, raw prawns for Taz.

Taz's strange addiction to raw prawns...

I had an inkling this might happen and it did, I don’t look Thai in the slightest but with dark skin and long dark straight hair in a place where most white men have a Thai women behind them I mistaken for one, and was spoken to in Thai a number of times, after they spoke to Taz in English. Funny really. This rarely happens when I have my hair up or curly and my shorts on. I did find I received a strange atmosphere from tourists on holiday here though, probably sharing the same opinion as me about Thai women with white men. Cheap. I felt a little bit alienated in a weird way, like I was being frowned upon by tourists and gawped at by fat horrible white men in groups that may have looked on as though I was another foreign purchased piece of meat that they could oggle at because they think they can afford to. Pissed me off a bit. Taz also found this a bit strange, like receiving approving looks from the fat horrible white men as though they have a little “community” and they all give each other a knowing nod or something which made him feel a bit embarrassed  Sick. So anyway things snap back to normal a bit when I open my mouth and I don’t have a squeaky high pitched Thai voice. We stayed for 1 beer at a small bar and went to the 7/11 for some choccies and went back to the room to chill and nibble whilst making the most of a couple of English channels 🙂

Today we’ve dropped our laundry off, we were lugging laods of it. Pran Buri had no cheap services and this place isn’t much better. Here we got 80 baht a kilo though, where in Pran Buri and a couple of places here too they only offer per item – like 20p for a pair of socks, a quid for shorts etc, we’d have ended up paying about 20 quid for a bag of washing where we’d not have paid more than 3 or 4 pounds anywhere else for a huge load because it’s usually per kilo prices. I think this load here has cost 280 baht in the end, nearly 6 quid.

A overloaded bike?! Ha ha

Anyway, sure you’ve better things to do than listen to me rant about laundry…

Taz has his something to add… his blog is the next entry…

 

Raw squid, climbing and throwing up

Jemma here 🙂

Night out in Ao Nang

Night out in Ao Nang

Night out in Ao Nang

Night out in Ao Nang

Just squashed a mozzie gliding around my legs and I got blood on my hands, ew… And another squashed mozzie, more blood on hands…

We are back in J.Mansion hotel in Ao Nang.

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Ao Nang Hotel

Quite a bit seems to have happened since we left 4/5 days ago. We hopped on a longtail on the beach, 1 minute from the hotel and sailed round to Tonsai. The crossing was still 100 baht each, good value for the 10 minute trip around to the bay.

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We checked into Mountain View Resort for 700 baht for a fan room. You kind of forget how hard it is to get by in a fan room in the sweltering heat when there’s only electricity between 6pm and 6am. It’s dark by 5.30pm so even getting around the bungalow becomes a chore until they flick the switch. It’s funny because you pay relatively quite a lot to stay there and you get limited electric, no air-con and a cold shower. The Thai’s are sat about watching TV all day and you wonder where their electric is tapped from…

Mountain View Resort, Tonsai

Mountain View Resort, Tonsai

So we wandered around our first night and there have been some changes on Tonsai. There’s a lot of building work going on (by barefoot or flip flopped men), it seems they are building real “resorts” here, dragging pipes around, turning over the 100% mud path all day which you have to jump over or trudge through if there’s no way round. There’s piles of rubbish everywhere! There are no bins on Tonsai. Only piles of crap ready to be burnt. Everything gets burned. No rubbish leaves the bay. In the afternoons while you were waiting for the generator to kick in so it wasn’t 100 degrees in the bungalow we sat on the balcony of our room, chokin on plooms of plastic smoke. It’s a 5/10 minute walk back to our room from the beach and during that walk you smell either rotting rubbish or burning plastic, all day long. Unless it rains, this provides a relief from the smells. I can’t believe how rank it’s gotten there.

The prices of all the food have gone up, and to be honest the food on Tonsai was tiring last time, the standard was low. Now there is no standard. The people have become a little bit rude too, if you aren’t buying they don’t have the time of day for you. And they’re all over weight now too… skinny people 3 years ago are now sat on their asses whilst skinny workers from poorer parts of Thailand like Ranong run round like slaves in the food places.

So is it any wonder that we were both violently ill here?! Probably not. I was ill first for the full day and night and Taz the following day and night. There’s nothing worse than being ill with nothing at all to cool you down, no fan, no air con. Just still 32 degree air inside and out. We can’t really pin what it was that’s made us ill. Although we have an inkling it’s not that foods under cooked or something, but because pretty much nothing seems to get washed. I’ve never seen a bottle of disinfectant here and if they maybe use cold water for “rinsing” plates etc. Tonsai is a breeding ground, it’s absolutely disgusting. If they things building a resort with a pool is going to help them they better get off their lazy asses and start hauling the shit heaps off the bay because no-one’s going to pay top end to stay next to the plastic fire.

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On the plus side yesterday when we climbed round on Railay we found a beautiful beach called Phra Nang beach. There’s climbing on that too. The sea’s clear and deep and we just bobbed about for a few hours and had a rest. We got food round on Railay for dinner too. The staff on Railay are true professionals, they care about customers, they provide nice cleanly prepared food and they actually charge less or the same as round on Tonsai’s dump for it. It is more expensive to stay on Railay, but I would definitely say stay here if you’re climbing and walk round to Tonsai if you want to visit and climb or take the long tail boat round if you can’t be bothered with the mountain path, cutting through the rocks on the beach or if the tide is too high to scramble around the rocks at ground level. There are bins on Railay, proper concrete paths and some nice places to get food. There’s even a cash machine here and air-conditioned mini-mart shops. You could even stay on Ao Nang, there’s a decent selection of bars and restaurants here. When we were here 4/5 days ago we went down a side street to a bar where the locals were nice and we sat up chatting to the people in there until the early hours. Friendly.

Jemma soaking up some rays on Phranang Beach

Jemma soaking up some rays on Phranang Beach

The rain in Tonsai

The rain in Tonsai

Last night on Tonsai we sat in a quiet bar, the Viking Bar which has just been “done up” and the man that owns it seemed really nice. There were other Thai guys in there, relaxing. There were also a couple in there that live in the Alps and a guy on his own from Melbourne, Oz. He was there working, taking pictures of Krabi. The bar staff were gathered at 1 end, eating something and drinking shots and before we know it they’re welcoming us in and we realise the food is raw squid with a sweet, spicy chilli dip and we try some. They recon squid is good for Taz’s still gurgling belly! A very old man, very thin and VERY dark skinned  is the catcher of the squid, he wades out, or kayaks out when the tide is low with his torch and prawn look-a-like hook thingies. He eats what he catches in this bar, with his Thai friends everyday. He doesn’t speak a work of english but he continually slides the squid and the shots our way with a massive smile. The shots are rice wine, very strong, and we have a few of those too. Later on after too many Changs they bring out a a Tuna that has been BBQ’d in the back, more of the catch from the old guy. It’s times like this that make Thailand memorable. Thank you Viking Bar staff 🙂

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Climbing…

Between throwing up we did get a few climbs in.

So we climbed most routes on the Muay Thai wall round on Railay. They are 6a-6b+ range. We climbed on Dum’s kitchen on Tonsai, a route called “jumping for jugs” because there’s a bit dip under the wall so you literally tiptoe of a rock that has been rolled into a convenient spot on the floor and cling to 2 jugs above you and swing your legs up to your left so you can heel hook in and jump your hands up to another couple of jugs and you’re on your way. That was fun. Graded a 6c. We also did a few routes on a wall known as Tonsai Gym, tough routes there. We stuck to the 6’s here too, they seem challenging enough mentally. It was great to lead climbs here. Every girl we saw climbing here was top roping or following a climb that the man she was with had put up for her. So I made a point of leading all my own climbs and not resting on the rope unless I fall. I like to climb this way. It’s more satisfying. I don’t understand why they weren’t leading even the easiest of climbs that they were clearly capable of leading themselves.

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Tomorrow we may head up to Ranong, break the trip down into a few stops along the way to Chiang Mai. It’s 32 degrees there too. It’s still a long w\journey though, I think around 7 hours on a bus, maybe more… We won’t be staying down South for the Full Moon party as originally planned, we’re outta here! After Ranong there’s no repeat visits to places we’ve been apart from passing through Bangkok of course.

Anyways, bye for now. I am retreating to the comfort of the air-con room we have here now. And going for a brew 🙂

Oh PS – Upon closer inspection it seems the Bangkok bus men nicked Taz’s favorite jeans out of his big bag, his petzl head torch and his “genuine” t-shitys etc. Even his crocs. The jeans are the worst bit, they were expensive at home and they were for fancier nights in Hong Kong and Macau where the weather is cooler…

We get robbed, twice…

We were a bit anxious about the 14 hour night bus that we were booked onto for last night. We went to the Paragon shopping center in a taxi (100 baht) and had some amazing sushi (250 baht) and we watched James Bond. If you haven’t seen it yet, I thought it was the best one yet… but I haven’t seen all the old ones.

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We got a tuk tuk back at 5pm and grabbed some more pork noodle soup, got 200 quid out the ATM and picked up our washing for the lady down the ally near our hotel that we’ve always gone to when in Bangkok. We we ready at the hotel for 6pm and at at about 6.45 the bus guy came power walking past the hotel shouting “Krabi! Krabi!” with a stream of around 20 other tourists with backpacks on following him like the pied piper, and we were off.

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When we got on the bus, which was a double decker (all luggage underneth behind the driver and passengers on top) it was oven like, but the engine wasn’t on so when we set off and only warm air blowed out it was really hot. We were sat at the front and we could see that the driver had the door open, obviously no air-con (Our big bags were underneath and our little valuables bags right in front of us) He was sat down there with 2 other thai guys. We asked the driver to turn the air-con on and he said it was on. He came upstairs, obviously felt the heat (there was also a big thermo on the dash that said our temp upstairs was 32 degree and downstairs where he was it was 19 so he may not have noticed?!). They stopped the bus 2/3 times and tampered with a few things. Still no aircon. After 3 hours of boiling to death a man that I think may have been german and in his 50’s stormed down the stairs, demanded to be taken to a garage immediately and get this fixed – this was at 11pm! So shortly after we pulled up at this tiny garage and they open the back of the bus and see that 1 out of 4 fans is running. They tamper some more and 3 fans are running. Then they reverse the bus closer into this mans tiny garage and start welding. Comical!

Anyway at this point we’re all off the bus stretching our legs and when we all get back on the bus the cold air is blasting out. Sorted! We didn’t get much sleep, but we both must have got at least some as we’ll find out later. We watched a film and listened to music until 6am.

At 6am they shout “Krabi, Krabi” and they chuck our bags out from underneath the bus and shovel us onto a mini van. For 20 minutes. Then we get ushered onto a local thai bus, where we are until 9.30am when we get a bit of shut eye and wake to find that only us and 6 other tourists are left on this bus and they;re dumping us at a “tourist office” in the middle of nowhere with only the “tourist operators” services to get us out of there. So we share a crap open sided taxi for 100 baht each to Ao Nang.

When we get to Ao Nang, sweaty, tired and disgusting, but relieved to be where the limestone is, we get a McDonald’s breakfast (terrible I know) and find that we are 120 quid down. We rummage through our small valuables bag to see if it has been misplaced but it’s nowhere to be found. Stumped! We considered being robbed on the bus but the bag with the money inside, which was in Taz’s wallet and still had other notes in it, was right in front of our feet the whole journey. Surely not?!

We brush it off, knowing that we can probably claim this on our travel insurance and there’s not much point getting stressed about it, we’d had a shit bus ride and just wanted to get to a hotel.

After breakfast we lug all our bags around and settle for a big air-con room with a safe for 600 baht. We get a quick shower and open our big bags to get new clothes to find Taz’s bag is literally upside down. It had been emptied and rummaged through and everything was stuffed randomly in. Taz is a tidy packer, his clothes normally come out looking ironed but this time they’re stuffed into balls to “make them fit back in”. Worst bit was he’d padlocked his so they cut the zip to get in instead, I presume using a knife, using a strap under his waterproof cover to disguise the damage. So his rucksack’s beyond repair I think. There’s also a charger in there that isn’t ours so they’ve been in other bags too and got some belongings that they didn’t want to steal mixed up. I don’t think anything has been taken from Taz’s big bag, they didn’t take our climbing gear out of there which is a reliefe but they did go in the rope bag for some reason, because that has a snap catch on it, which was open.

So sickeningly we know we didn’t lose the money from Taz’s little bag either, they’ve robbed it from under our noses. They literally would have to have times it perfectly because I hardly slept and neither did Taz.

But you can’t tar all Thai’s with the same brush. If you get pick pocketed in Camden it’d be daft to label all Londoners thieves. So we’ll just learn from it. Thankfully we’ll get the money back soon from the insurance, we called them from the hotel after filing the necessary police report.

Moral of the story… some wild traveler stories of people rummaging through bags underneath buses while you’re moving are true. So if you can fly, fly! We will, on the way back up 🙂

We’re staying in Ao Nang tonight and will be going round the corner on a long tail boat for the climbing in the morning… I think we need cheering up with a few beverages tonight!

Back in Bangkok

My little Harry brother getting drunk to celebrate us going away - any excuse :-)

My little Harry brother getting drunk to celebrate us going away – any excuse 🙂

Thanks to everyone that made the effort to come to the Bonfire last week to say goodbye, it’s nice when everyone gets together for pea and ham soup 🙂 And thanks mum for dropping us off. Inside the airport door, waving, there was a little wet eye going on!

All packed and ready to trot off :-)

All packed and ready to trot off 🙂

There was a bit of drama with Air Asia whilst we were at home… Air asia cancelled our Macau-Clark flight that we’d booked for late December. They emailed offered a refund of the £120 it cost. I asked for a re-route from HongKong-Clark instead but these flights were £200 and they said it wasn’t possible. So I re-booked myself, with airasia the HongKong-Clark flight at £200. The morning after they phoned me and said I could have a re-route free of charge… but I’d already just booked them myself. So finally 2 weeks later they’ve sorted it, we’ve got the £200 refund coming for the new flights I booked and they’ve changed our flight to one they haven’t cancelled… yet! Air asia routes come and go all the time. Last time we flew home with AirAsia from Kuala Lumpur to London direct, they don’t do that any more either. So we’re arriving in the Philipines on the 21st December now, not the 20th. And it’s a morning flight so means an early rise, poor us 😉 But undecided whether to fly to Cebu and onto Bohol for Christmas and New Year, or go to Palawan and a few islands around there. Either option – hotels look expensive!! Getting here was OK.  I remember last time everything felt so quick, this time it was a drag! Qatar landed 40 minutes late in Doha so there was a sprint involved to get on the Bangkok flight that took off 40 minutes after we’d landed in Doha. So we are in here in beautiful Thailand once more… where all your troubles disappear upon landing 😉

Arriving in Bangkok, looking for hotel

Arriving in Bangkok, looking for hotel

Tuk Tuk!

Tuk Tuk!

Khao San Road

Khao San Road

Taz did an impression of an ape having a poo when he heard I’d not sorted China visas before we left. So we planned to sort them here in Bangkok but we haven’t. We are going to do them in Macau instead. It was a tough decision to not get them sorted in England because the list of things you need to take with you and prove to get a China visa is daunting but with only 10 days left when I remembered, I just couldn’t face handing over the passports in the UK! There’s probably more faffing here and we have to find the place to sort them out but there’s no rush now. So we’ve finally sorted out budget. I always feel a bit awkward writing about money but it is the subject that every planning traveller researches! Last time we spent £10,000 in 6 months. Might seem like a massive amount of money but if I remember right we probably spent around £2000 on flights to and from Asia and within asia, and £400 on travel insurance leaving us with a budget of around £40 a day for around 180 days of travel. Staying put last time, we rarely spent more than £20 a day between us including our hotel and yummy food, moving about from town town and country to country we easily spent more. On remote beaches we spent little, in big cities we spent loads. But it all balanced out. This time we have around £50-60 a day. We’ll see how that works out! If you think we spent around £1200 on a 2 week holiday to Greece 6 years back for Taz’s sisters wedding and also spent around £1500 whilst we were there, totalling a massive £2700 for 14 nights, a budget of £2000 for all international and internal flights and about £5000 for everything else this time, is pretty reasonable for 80 days of heaven… anyway we haven’t spent more than 40 a day here in Bangkok anyway so it seems a reasonable budget. Yesterday for example our hotel was 650 baht (£13) and we spent 80 baht on 2 huge dishes of super tasty pork noodle soup for breakfast (80p total) and for dinner and tea we had more great thai food at around 150-250 baht including green tea (£3-4 between us). Beers here are still 50 baht’ish from the 7Eleven shops or around 70 baht from the bars. Bargain. Our 14 hour night bus tonight costs us 550 baht each. I bought a new bangle with elephants on for 150 baht here too, I couldn’t resist, I also have the one I bought here last time – it has massive sentimental value! DSC_0662 DSC_0663 DSC_0664 DSC_0698 Today and then going for beers and to the Paragon to watch James Bond. Tonight around 6-7pm we’re leaving Bangkok on the 14 hour night bus for Krabi to do some swimming in warm water, lounging in the sun and CLIMBING! Special section for climbers… If anyone’s reading that can give us any tips on where they loved climbing, feel free to comment! When we get to Krabi Taz wants to tackle Lion King, a 6c+ he couldn’t get up last time, you climb around a huge flake in the botom half and it just got the better of him. I’m going to have a bash at this route too. It’s on Tonsai’s beach front and surrounded by what look like much harder routes! In the mean time there are a few walls in Bangkok (indoor) but they’re fairly rubbish… the only decent one is the big C and that costs a tenner each entry and just doesn’t seem worth it with all the real stuff about for free so we’ll skip climbing for a few days. JemAndTaz x Some pics of our time in Bangkok…