Kuala Lumpur, Koh Tao and then……. back home!

Well after we left the Philippines we flew into KL and first thing you notice here is the civilisation of the place. Queue’s for bus tickets and everything. We hopped on a brilliant coach that dropped us at the train station shortly after and then we soared into KL city in relative luxury! In true Malaysia style it was sweltering and bright when we landed at the airport, but things changed quickly! Sunny Peeing down... We spent a night at a lovely 4* in KL called the Vivatel. But they weren’t fully open and after 1 night they moved all guests to the Ibis Styles down the road which thankfully was just as nice! We technically didn’t do a lot besides walk around shopping centers and visit a brilliant indoor climbing place called “camp5” which is the best indoor climbing facility that I’ve ever been to (www.camp5.com) as it was too wet to climb at the Batu Caves as planned.

Out and about in KL…

Brightly clothed Malaysian women

Petronas Towers

Airasia

Sarah is my best friend from home, since high school and came to visit on our trip to Thailand 4 years ago. This time Sarah came again and brought her lovely cousin Laura too. I have only met Laura once previously and it was nice to get to know her properly over the next week. Sarah and Laura had spent a couple of nights in Bangkok, Koh Lanta and Phi Phi before we met up for a week starting in Ao Nang. We got the bus straight to Ao Nang from Krabi airport after the flight from KL, and met the girls for a laze and a Chang (or 2) on the beach! We had a crazy night out dancing at a live band place and playing connect 4 (sarah beat everybody, everytime).

Everybody else Vs Sarah (and everybody else loses!!)

We spent the next day on Pranang beach and apart from walking to a moored longtail for a BBQ we stayed til sunset doing nothing. It’s possibly the most relaxing day of the trip so far…

Me and Sarah in the sea

Boat food

Beautiful views on Pranang beach

Moneys like bbq corn too!

Sunset kicks in and everything gets even more beautiful

Strange looking shrine!

Sarah and Laura

Pranang Bay

Famous limestone

Sunset Pranang Beach

Going away travelling just wouldn’t be the same without a trip to a tattoo shop for Sarah!

Sarah gets a tattoo

Sarah gets a tattoo

We moved on to Koh Tao after 2 nights in Ao Nang, we set off at 8am, 2/3 buses and a ferry and we arrived on the island at around 7pm, checked into the hotel and went out to the Castle party with Craig and Doerthe. Samsong buckets all round, free shots etc and things get messy!

DSC09213There were some adventures to be had on Koh Tao. With 2 rented scooters, Taz, Sarah, Laura and myself explored many beaches. The roads were mostly concrete but around the edges as you approached most beaches they were dirt and steep. VERY steep… A bike’s the best way to get around in our opinion, beats haggling a taxi every time you want to go anywhere. 4 quid per bike per day and the island’s your own! I saw approximately 10 people with motorbike accident related injuries though whilst I was there. Many people rent bikes that don’t have much or any experience (like me) and crash on the dirt roads, steep hills or fall off when going really slow through crowded narrow streets where really, bikes shouldn’t be going! Met people that think it’s funny that they can rent a bike here with no experience. But they keep your passport as a deposit, and their charges for damage are extreme.

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Taz and Laura

There was the best night out I’ve had in a long time on this Island. It was random and unplanned. It involved two for one Vodka red bull buckets, limbo’ing a fire pole on the beach, Sarah doing herself some injuries trying to do handstands, Sarah abusing someone’s swimming pool and then the 4 of us walking about 3-4 miles back to the hotel but stopping at every shop along the way for various things including more alcohol, sausages with mustard on and dishes of pork noodle soup.

The night after was a little bit more gentle but an eye opener for Laura who’d never been to a lady boy show before. Click here for a short video of it. We headed down to Queen’s lady boy place, had a drink and have a relatively early one, after a couple more from the 7/11 on the deserted beach near our hotel. 

After I think 3 nights, Sarah and Laura caught the ferry to Chumphon and bussed it up to Bangkok for their flight to Dubai for a couple of nights of luxury before flying home.

Pimped tuk tuk

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Me and Taz

Taz and Adam (from London) snorkelling

We had a great time being with a big group of other people. Meeting groups of other travellers doesn’t always happen, all the time, so it was nice to have new company and also be with friends we knew from back home!

Our scoot for the week

Craig and Doerthe behind Adam and Isabelle

Ha ha

I think we spent 7 nights on Koh Tao and everyday was ridiculously relaxing. The vibe is so different to the South of Thailand. Nice. Koh Tao is exactly the way a trip should end.

When your sat on your ass all day not doing a lot you start to get a bit stiff!!

Taz and... me!

Koh Tao is one of those places that restores faith in you that you don’t hate Thailand, after the crap that happens to you in Southern Thailand. There’s such a big difference in the way people treat you. The south is saturated with tourists and the service is shit. On Koh Tao it was nice, Chiang Mai was nice and Ranong is still just a lovely hideaway. And I think we’ll always love Bangkok. We’ll be avoiding the South as and when we return to this part of the world (as I’ve mentioned many times!)

We said our good bye’s to Craig and Doerthe and hopped on the ferry to Chumphon 10.30 Thursday morning. We got on a bus to Hua Hin and arrived there, checked in and got seafood noodle soup. It was just as amazing as last time and I hope I can make soup like this at home because I’m going to miss it! We went briefly down the night market, to a few bars and had a relatively early night, 2am?

The following day we headed around to the minibus place that we used last time, hopped on the 12.30 bus to Bangkok and were at monument square in the centre by 3.30pm! Smooth.

When we were travelling in 2009 and Taz got a tattoo I didn’t get on because I thought I’d regret it. So after nearly 4 years I had firmly made up my mind that I wanted a tattoo from this trip. I chose something that describes me well so it’s ok that it’s stuck on my foot forever…

The tattoo shop's pet stole the show!

“Wanderlust is a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world”

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And then of course what would your last night on Koh San Road be like without eating scorpions, drinking Chang by the jug, watching men with no legs shuffle past, playing thumb war, eating great food and getting on the shishas…

Hey mum, I got a tattoo!!

Thumb war

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Ooooh no!

Ooooh no!

Video of Taz eating the scorpion, with a lovely message for my sister: http://youtu.be/3QKNYpnlHyM

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Front loaded bike used for carting about boxes of drinks

The women I can't always say no to with all their great bracelets!

And then we do a bit of shopping the morning after, gifts, and check out late from the hotel. At 4pm we hop in a taxi and that’s that. 80 days. Over…   😦

But it’s amazing to be home. My super organised wonderful sister in law makes sure the house is beautifully clean for our return so all we have to do is get home and hop in the bath with a brew 🙂 Thanks Sueanne! There’s even milk, bacon and eggs in the fridge. Eek, yummy!

It’s lovely to be home. Last night my sister and baby niece Lily was round, and my brother Harry. Taz’s brother Tom came round too for a catchup and a beer in our local pub (nothings changed) and today Taz’s friend Rick’s round with his 2 kids. It’s so nice to have the people around you that you’ve missed. And I’ve already knocked up a roast chicken dinner, a lambs liver lunch and a fish pie. I’ve missed my kitchen! It’s nice to be home 🙂

This morning I woke up and it was silent and peaceful. No thai high pitched voices or slamming doors or cockerels or realising their’s no electric and it’s boiling. Just silence. And it was ace. And what’s even better – it’s snowing and it actually feels like the Christmas that didn’t really happen in the Philippines.

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I hope you enjoyed the blog of our 80 day adventures.

Back to work on Monday, so until next time, goodbye 🙂

Jem and Taz x

Chiang Mai climbing :-)

Hello party people TaZ here writing loads of garble!! Haha Well after our first day climbing  at the Crazy horse Buttress in wonderful Chiang Mai we retreated back to the comfort of our better than the first hotel we found, out of the moat area called Airport Residence 1. By the way if anyone ever has had the pleasure of driving on the streets of any major town in northern Thailand you’ll know exactly where I ‘am coming from. Driving in Chiang Mai is pretty dangerous overall, even in a car I would say its hell raising. We had set off back from the crag at about 5pm by this time its rush hour, because we were 35 km from the city its pretty nice on the roads apart from the countless insects that hit you hard in the face of your crappy viserless helmet you get when you rent a bike. As we approach the city lanes the traffic begins to build up and up and its literally chaos in any direction. No vehicle is prepared to let you maneuver into the lane you require because they are all in such a rush that they would rather run you over, then for them to take a split second to let you out (NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED). So after having many heart attacks and near missus en route home, I turn to Jemma and always say “well we live to climb another day”.
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After a well deserved shower we headed off into town to scope out some fodder (Dinner) and a foot massage because my feet were in bits from my climbing shoes.
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Found a little place just down the road from CMRCA (Chiang Mai rock climbing association) and I got myself a 30 min foot massage while Jemma got herself a Thai back massage, which from experience are pretty harsh. Both only cost 4 quid so can’t grumble. We took a dinner which was good and had a couple of beers, but soon headed back because we was physically tired. Sunday we was supposed to be up and Adam as we both said we will get to the crag early, now I’m an early bird but when I woke up I felt so tired that I knew there was no way I was ever gonna get Jemma out of bed so I got up about 10.30am and headed straight down to do our laundry in the hotels facilities. While waiting for that to finish I headed round to La moon cafe in the hotel to get an ice coffee. Whilst I was there I got talking to the Thai lad that owns it and found that he spoke really good english and that him and his mate had travelled around England before and had visited all the football clubs. In many Asian country’s they all love the premier league so it’s always a good conversation starter. Had a wicked ice coffee with him and really got to know a bit more about the young Thai physcy. By this point it was pushing 12pm so after completing my original task of the washing I headed back up to the room to see if Jemma was alive. Opened the door and she had just got up and was in a good mood so defiantly had enough sleep.
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So after an unplanned rest day we decided that we will be up early to get to the crag in good time. We had breakfast and set off at about 9.30am. Literally had done about 4km from our hotel when I realized we needed fuel, so pulled into a garage filled the bike up and set off again to realize we had a god dam puncture on the rear wheel of the motorbike, quite lucky really because had we had been out in the sticks on the highway going towards the crag we would have been screwed. Luckily there was a repair shop across the road where we had broken down so we pushed it over and asked them if they could fix it. On looking at the tyre closely I notice that the tyre wall is split right through to the inner tube in several places on both sides, so I ask the garage to ring the hire company to tell them that it needs a new tyre? Which they rang them only for him to pass the phone over after 2mins of talking to them. So I pick up the phone and this Thai woman is on the other end, I tell her that this tyre needs changing as its UN road worthy to which she replies that the garage say its OK just to repair!

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I’m shocked at this stage so then she says that I must pay for a new tyre as they only cover engine repairs/breakdowns! To which I reply I’m only renting the bike for 2 days so how is it that I must pay for a new tyre!?!? I then start telling her that its a joke and that they shouldn’t be renting bikes out that are UN road worthy, I said that I value my skin a whole lot more than her and that I’m not paying for a new tyre. I don’t mind paying for a puncture because a puncture is a puncture! I said that in the real world this tyre is dangerous and that she can give me my deposit back and come and collect the bike and I will rent one else where, I said if we have a blow out on that dodgy tyre when we are both on the bike with all our climbing gear with all the crazy drivers we are DEAD. So we headed back to the hotel to wait for them to collect it, the same guy turns up I told him, I’ve just put a full tank of fuel in and had to pay for the puncture so I want my full deposit back? Yeh what ever Tarren stop dreaming, I get charged for the 3rd day that we had it out of my deposit and he said sorry but the fuel is the fuel! So because of all this going on we lose another climbing day because its 1pm by the time we got rid of the bike. Oh yeah and the garage didn’t repair the bike properly because it was making an awful racket after they took the back apart to fix it! So after that we had to get bus into chaing Mai from our hotel to go and hire a decent bike, which we did so afterwards we headed to the Chinese embassy to collect our visas and went to the supermarket to get sandwich stuff to make some dinner for the next days climbing trip…

So it’s Tuesday 4th December and today nothing was gonna get in the way of climbing after the previous days events, funny because they say bad luck comes in 3’s. We set off to the crag early as this was gonna be our last day to be able to climb before we leave for Macau. We had delicious sandwiches for dinner and water etc.
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We headed to the lower wall areas and started on a wall called Tamarind, Jemma starts on the very left at a climb called the chimney where it literally was, nice short warm up climb so we both completed that and moved on to the next climbs on that wall which Jemma ended up leading a very technical powerful climb called happy birthday I think it was a 6b+ she made it look a doddle and I was chuffed for her. Afterwards we moved on to the next wall again both did some relative easy climbs and afterwards I said that we need to find some tougher scarier climbs as they are the ones I enjoy most.
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But who could have predicted what happened after that. So eventually we moved to the last section of wall called the Ant hill. I said that as we approached I wonder why no one was ever this far down climbing, but I looked at the walls and noticed that most of the climbing where graded a 6c and above. Now for all you non climbers out there any sort of sport climbing after the 6b mark is pretty hard to the average part-time climber or beginner. We start on the very left hand side climbing second one in I think, its was a 6c, now me and Jemma have got into a routine of she always climbs first as if in case she can’t do the climb all the way to the top then at least I can always finish it and retrieve the gear afterwards. So Jemma sets off on a grade that is sort of at her limit at the moment and she actually ascended it very confidently and comfortably.
Now the whole way along this section there are huge bee nests which are there for a couple of months every year at this time. We had got them confused for a wax bee which we had been told are harmless and not to worry, and because this whole area was full of these nests and lots of people have been climbing near them we thought that its fine. But actually these were proper bees that would attack if required to protect their nests etc from anyone. The wax bee was black which we saw and they just land on you collect some salty sweat and take it back to their ever extending tubes out of the walls. I thought these where flies as they didn’t look anything like a bee. So hence we thought after noticing these that yeh its fine, I included some pictures of these for you to look at.
Bees
Jemma leads up this 6c first which when she gets to the top about 23m up she is about 2.5 – 3mts away from a huge bee nest. she ties in and I descend her back down for me to lead it.
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I then pull the rope back out tie in and set off on the same climb, I get to the top no probs and notice that there is a few things buzzing around but nothing out of the ordinary. You can see the nest is right next to you as you get onto the ledge to finish the climb.
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I clean the route and we then move on to the next climb which is a little harder as its graded the 6c+ and its called the wasp factory! Jemma ties in and sets off, now the start was sketchy as its starts over a huge cave like hole in the face which is about 15ft deep and the first clip for protection is about 10 ft up so Jemma manages about 2 clips before she comes back down as her hands were sore and her head wasn’t feeling it. So I take over the climbing and set off up the wall, now this climb was about 26mt or so and pretty powerful and technical, the perfect climb in my book.

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I’m really enjoying it and keep shouting back down to Jemma how good it is when I managed to get the last quick draw in before the top, it was only about 4 moves to top out when I look to my left and this bee hive is literally moving as one like a Mexican wave and I remember thinking “it was doing that before” but I thought well I’am not going anywhere near it and I was still about 2.5-3mt away still at this point and that it was OK all these other times we have been near them as they dont harm you anyway, You can see the bee nest here, to the left of  of me, still above me though.
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I reach up to clip my rope when suddenly the noise in my ears went deafening from the noise of the bees, now I thought sirens/emergency vehicles can be loud but this noise was something else. I literally remember seeing only black as the whole nest started to attack me 25mt up I literally flung myself off the wall in sheer terror and turned upside down in my harness as these bees where all over my neck, back of my head and left arm! Its was the brains reaction to turn upside down thinking they would get off me but how wrong was I. I was literally screaming like a girls and started shouting at Jem to let me down, when I think back to what happened I can only remember the pain of the stings as I could feel each one going it. So I was screaming FASTER! FASTER! for her to let me down she let me drop at full pelt and apparently I hit the rock at the bottom because she panicked when she saw the bees attacking me and I felt like I couldn’t get down fast enough.
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On the ground they had followed me and there was that many bees I could undo the knot as they was all over me and my body and all over the knot of the rope I was attached to. And by this point even know all this happened so fast it felt like time slowed down some what and all I can remember thinking was that this was it because they have followed me down and where still stinging me and all I could think about was that film “My Girl” when he gets attacked and couldn’t get away and that you can’t cope with a lot of stings at anyone time. It might sound dramatic but I can assure you I was absolutely scarred as! More scarred than at any time in my 29 years on this earth. So managed to scoop as many of them off my neck and undo my knot when I started running through the jungle to get away, I still had my climbing shoes on and they kill me so the fact I ran 400 mt with Jem in my climbing shoes and didn’t realize i hadn’t taken them off was something. Its so surprising what the body does in them situations and how adrenaline can carry you through. Collapsed further up the path and took my shirt off, Jem had run up to get help from others that was there I all I can remember is Jemma saying “oh my god you wanna see the amount of bee stings stuck in your body” so she managed to get a first aid kit which had tweezers in and one by one started pulling them out. Everyone was pretty shocked when the saw my neck and back but at least I felt OK and it sort of felt like a lot of nettle stings! a lot! Most were in my hairline and neck.
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Jemma went back with some others to retrieve all our stuff and bring it all back round to the main area as I was just sat there in shock, in the end we lost 7 quick-draws because when she went back the bees were still agitated and there was no way anyone was volunteering to go up there and get them. But hey at least I’m still here to climb another day and apart from my really bruised ulna bone and 40+ bee stings in my neck back and left arm I’am fine. That night I was feeling very weird (my body) I woke up and was physically shaking and felt freezing but Jemma said I was red hot and my tongue had swollen immensely and the next day when I got up I was that stiff and broken Jem said that we need to get you to the hospital as a precaution, so off we went and got a blood test and a urine test in Chaing Mai hospital and they come back fine apart from all the bee toxin in my blood from the stings. The doctor said that I was very lucky to not be allergic to them and that I need to take anti antihistamine for 7 days and after I should be back to my old self. So off we went to the airport to fly to Macau……..

Beautiful Chiang Mai

Jemma Here 🙂

Hua Hin…

We spent the rainy days in Hua Hin (there’s a rainstorm throughout Asia right now) in the pool at our hotel, doing lengths and hibernating in the huge mall that they have here, drinking coffee and wandering through shops.

Dog lovers, skip this paragraph – Without spending all my time writing negative things about Thailand, the most memorable thing about Hua Hin for me, unfortunately, was a local woman whacking a puppy with a stick and screaming at it on the beach every time it moved, and a man on holiday getting really angry at her and there being a big uproar on the beach between local people and holiday people, local people calling the holiday man crazy. One more whack and I’d have whipped it out of her hand and whacked her myself. She was old, I think that’s the only reason the holiday man didn’t do it himself. People were drawn in by this horrendous dog screaming type noise. It was disgusting. The most annoying thing is she’d obviously gone out with the intention of buying a dog because it was nothing like most Thai street dogs, it was a bred dog, a King Charles spaniel. You don’t just pick those up on street corners. So why has she gone out and bought one???

Being the closest beach resort to Bangkok it’s quickly becoming big competition in terms of a sex tourism destination with Pattaya. I’ll say no more…

Now we’re in Chiang Mai. So far so good. It’s great to be somewhere new within hundreds of miles of beach, in a city surrounded by jungle. Getting here was all arranged. After however long it was that we stayed in Hua Hin (I think 3/4 days) we booked an air-con minibus to Don Muang airport in Bangkok with a reputable company that an expat had recommended to us, he goes into Bangkok on them regularly. The ticket was 180 baht each, or 200 to go a little further on to the actual airport, all within 3 hours I think, so we booked that. The minibus was great. I had an absolute steaming hangover though, the usual “lets get 1 beer on the way home” from the food places turned into hours of drinking, laughing and mingling with local women in a little expat bar. At around 2am we crawled into bed, our stuff was all over our room and I thought at 8.30 there’s a taxi coming to take us to the minibus station and we’ve not even packed – that’s going to hurt! So the morning was a bit horrid but all our own fault. However we sobared up and picked up coffee and a bbq banana each when the minibus driver stopped for fuel along the way. The first stop is Victoria Square or something in the middle of Bangkok, where the 180 baht ticket takes you. So we then went on to pass the airport on the wrong side of the road, and we thought he must be dropping the few locals left on the bus somewhere else and then taking us to the airport on the way back, when we were on the right side of the road. This was not the case, he opened the door, let the locals out and motioned with his hand for us to get out. We weren’t getting out for shit after what we’ve been through this trip in Thailand. We showed his our ticket to Don Muang airport and he waved at his sheet of drop off locations (all in Thai) and I presume Don Muang hadn’t been written on. We called the number on our ticket, and sat in his minibus for 10 minute while he was screaming on my phone (good investment, a Thai simcard) to the minibus depot in Hua Hin, angry that he wasn’t taking us to Don Muang. He made one last attempt to get us into a taxi (probably his mate) shouting “taxi! taxi!” which didn’t work, so this guy didn’t speak a word on English but I presume he was also swearing. He was raging. I wasn’t, this time I wasn’t on a big bus where they could throw your bag out at the side of the road and you had to get off the buss and then they’d speed off, leaving you. Eventually he slammed the door and drove off in a rage and dropped us off at the airport. Thailand eh?!

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Chiang Mai…

After arriving in Chiang Mai we joined a massive queue for fixed price taxi’s but the main road was in view, so we walked, hopped in a pick-up truck and got dropped in the old town near the Climbing shop and scouted for a hotel. We stayed 1 night in the old town, within the square in the middle of the city.

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It’s quite cool in there, small streets are jam packed and there’s a moat around the whole thing with “gates” that you drive in and out of to access it. We paid 500 baht for an air-con room but it was bad. There’s a festival going on the last few days and everywhere was full that we checked apart from this place. It wasn’t clean at all, it was like not a surface had been wiped for years. And the bed sheets were multi-coloured, always a sign that they might be lazy in changing them in my mind. If they’re white you can immediately tell, and that’s the way it should be, and usually is! There was a balcony door, when you opened it there was a brick wall about half a meter away. Ha ha. Not even enough to let much light in 😉 I know we over paid for this standard but it was late, getting dark and it was clear we weren’t going to find much better that night.

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Taz buys me a rose :-)

The festival itself was worth seeing, they had floats going down the street, everyone was in traditional costume and all dolled up like Thai royalty, it was cool. There was also loads of good Thai food to be eaten. That night we went online and booked a new hotel called the Airport Residence and this is much nicer, at 590 a night, just outside the old town gates. So we’ve pre-paid the rest of our nights, rented another motorbike and this is our base for sightseeing and climbing trips. It’s quieter here when you want to sleep, and I believe, more secure.

ChiangMai Festival

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Chinese Visas…

We went to the Chinese embassy, just a 10 minute walk from the hotel and got our Visas, Taz did a mad sprint to get passport pictures printed (I did tell him before we came here that he needed one!) and after a couple of trips to the desk they accepted the application and we pick them up Monday. It’s funny because we had to get the 3  working day service on Friday that enables us to collect the passports and visas Tuesday and cost 40 quid each, the 20 quid service which is what we wanted because it was only 20 quid and we could collect Wednesday morning before we fly, they said we could only pick up Thursday, which is 5 days. But what can you say?! Try and work that one out. Anyway, sorted now…

Climbing…

Yesterday we drove the 20 mile trip to the Crazy Horse Buttress. It’s easy to find, 1 road of of Chiang Mai and then a short dirt road. There were quite a few people there, most had come on the pick-up trucks arranged by a climbing school that leave Chiang Mai at 8.30 and return from the crag at 5. For flexibility we wanted to go ourselves, and I didn’t want to get up at 8 either 😉 We arrived around 10.30 or 11am and immediately you can tell that this place has been well looked after. There’s a sign system directing you to all the crags, I think there’s 12 all with a short walk of each other. The locals have constructed steps with wood and stones around the whole place and it’s the most safely bolted place I’ve ever seen. It’s fantastic. There’s toilets too. With most climbs in the 6a-6c range we were like kids in a candy shop and got started on the Crazy Horse Area wall and did a 6a and a 6a+ climb each to start. Taz also did a 6c route, on a different wall that I can’t remember the name of, but it’s to the right of the archway. He put his head cam on for this and it’s a cool video. He was in the sun though (mistake!). A pic of him on this route is here…

Taz on the 6b+

We headed round to the “Junkyard” wall after this. There’s 4 routes on this wall, a 6b traversing line on the left, a 6a with stalaktites, a 6c crack and a 6b+ with a hard crux at the top. I managed the 6a onsight, the top was pumpy though and I was like “I’ve cocked up” right at the top where I was leaning right out thinking, here goes my first decent outdoor fall but I managed to back track a little and pull myself together. Phew! It’s amazing how different the moves are outside, there’s stuff that just can’t be practiced or simulated inside. I like it! I’d decided that this was my last climb of the day, although I could have done more it was getting late in the day and the mozzies sprang out from nowhere.

Taz climbing a 6b+ on the wall to the right of Chiang Mai Area

Taz did the 6c climb after a couple of attempts. I may try this one next time. Crazy to say it but I’ve never really climbed a crack before! He was really chuffed with that one. Then, as we were packing up an American man gave up on the 6b traverse and Taz went up to finish the route and retrieve his gear, beofre he missed his pick-up truck back to the City! Ironically as he got down 2 American girls on the 6b+ were panicking that neither of them could reach the top of the route and I went up to get their gear on that one! Now it was nearly dark, and we’d all picked up a few bites despite burning mozzie coils and re-applying more and more repellent. Back on the bike in the dark was an experience, but around 18 of the 20 miles are on pretty much deserted roads, it’s only the 2 mile city drive that’s sketchy. Sometimes I just shut my eyes and hope for the best – I’m not driving at this point!

Back in the city Taz had a half hour foot massage for 100 baht and I opted for a half hour back massage. I forget that they don’t spend much time rubbing aching muscles, they kneel on you, squash your muscles and every second of it is absolute agony but you know they’re doing you a world of good. No matter what massage you opt for they seem to spend a brief amount of time of your other parts too. The woman attacked by calfes and thighs and today they’re in pain. And they got Taz’s neck after they’d powered over his feet and legs and I could see him wincing in pain. Now I feel like someone has been hammering my back in my sleep, but it’s a strange feeling, the back ache has gone but I literally feel battered. You know it’s done you the world of good… Half an hour on my back was plenty, I can’t imagine enduring the pain any longer!!

I would like to add that travel is exhausting. There’s all sorts of clashes occurring and not because we don’t understand Thai people because most of them are great. It’s the one’s that expect you to say nothing when they’re taking the absolute piss out of you that let this country down.

I do love Thailand. I wouldn’t change this trip for the world. How else would we get to eat amazing authentic Thai food, have priceless experiences with genuinely great locals and climb at the Crazy Horse Buttress and then lay down and be beaten up voluntarily by a sharp elbowed Thai woman?! After all, it is the “rich” outsiders, flooding this country that has made those minority pain in the ass Thai’s bitter in the first place. So you’ve just got to get over it each time they try/succeed to do you over, and enjoy yourself 🙂

I’m so excited about China on Wednesday. I’m the one that does all the arranging and the research but this time all I researched is climbing. So I know nothing about costs, little about transport and nowt about accommodation either really. I don’t even know what currency we need or what the exchange rate is… So we’re going in blind and it makes me really giddy 😉

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!

DSC05879 DSC05886You could order food to the beach for after a nice climb.

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!