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.
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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 😉

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…

Thailand with a side trip to KL… and 6 months comes to an end

Thursday 21st May 2009

Hello everyone. Just a quick one!
We’re currently in Ubon, a town in NE Thailand, we arrived yesterday and we’re leaving in an hour or so on the night bus to Bangkok. It has been very very hot today and yesterday too. I was worried that the weather might have cooled down since we were last in Thailand but Sarah will be happy to know that it hasn’t so there will be maximum tanning opportunity 😉
It’s been nice to be back in a more developed area after 18 days in Laos. We’re really looking forward to seeing Bangkok again and we’ll be treating ourselves to a night at the cinema in the paragon shopping center tomorrow night to see Angels and Demons 🙂 We’re already treated ourselves to some amazing Thai food – always good, always cheap!
Bye bye! Jemma and Taz

Friday 22nd May 2009

We’re back in Bangkok a last, the night bus last night was uneventful apart from Taz getting bitten on his face by mosquito’s in his sleep, poor thing.
This morning when we arrived at 6pm, got in a metered taxi for 20 mins (massive 2 quid) to Khaosan Road and had a McDonald’s breakfast. We ate in with all our bags in tow, watching the rats run around outside eating left over sausages/kebabs/spring rolls etc on the street…
We have checked into the Happy House hotel early today but for a cheaper price, it’s now low season now in Thailand. The weather is hot today, but overcast so you sweat buckets and it does nothing for your tan in return!
Tonight we’re going to the cinema as planned at the amazing Paragon complex in a Tuk Tuk (because we love them) and then an early night with no beer 😉 I’m getting a 6am minibus tomorrow to the airport to collect Sarah from the airport while Taz sleeps in and gets the 12noon minibus to collect Anneka. Then the party really begins!!

Sunday 24th May 2009

Incredibly hungover yesterday, ended up on KkaoSan until god knows what time. I was asleep when Sarah called to see which part of the airport I was meeting her in. Guilty!! So good news is, Sarah and Anneka are here! Yesterday when Sarah arrived we made a special effort to go to the Paragon shopping center before she jet lag kicked in. We took her for some god damn amazing Thai food and then she slept for ages! We got a coconut drink too which she loved, you just chop the top off and put a straw in it. Anneka arrived at 1pm and we took her for some great food too. Both were amazed that food for 2/3 people costs about 2 quid at our favorite stall and it’s alwyas brilliant. While we were sat waiting for our food a HUGE durian fruit fell out of the tree and whizzed past Taz’s head before smashing on the floor – Taz could have been a gonner if it was a couple more inches in his direction!!! Ha ha.
Last night we drank enough beer / cocktails to last a lifetime and then got some more brilliant food on the way back to the hotel. Best bit about Thailand for me – FOOD!
I think today after breakfast we’ll take the girls up the river on the river taxi to take in some of the sights and we’re planning on watching a night at the museum 2 at the cinema while we’re in the city so we might do that tonight and save the lady boy shows for tomorrow…!
So far Anneka and Sarah seem to love Bangkok as much as we do and they haven’t been here 24 hours yet 🙂

Tasting Bugs

Wednesday 27th May 2009

Before leaving Bangkok for our 4 day KL shopping and sight seeing trip we managed to squeeze in quite a lot. We went to the huge Imax cinema to watch “a night at the museum 2” which was good, scouted around the China town where you could buy all sorts of junk and we went to the red light district to visit the lady boy clubs. Sarah volunteered for the ping pong competition – don’t worry, she was the one with the bat. It was minging!
Yesterday the 4 of us arrived in KL. We spent last night wandering the streets in China town doing some bargain hunting. There’s loads of stuff I fancied – handbags, sunglasses, shoes and suitcases but what the hell would i do with them all while we’ve still got a month backpacking?!
Unfortunately last night Sarah started to feel quite ill and we think she might have caught something from food because she’s spent the last 12 hours in bed recovering. However we will be getting her up for the Petronas towers tonight (we have tickets for the 5.30 viewing) and the football in the early hours of the morning. It’s the Champions league final and Taz and Sarah wouldn’t miss it for the world by the sounds of it! I’m going for the atmosphere but Anneka’s going for the much more sensible option and will be going to bed well before the 2.30am kick off 🙂
Over the next couple of days before we return to Thailand for the islands and beaches, we’re planning of visiting the remaining jungle in KL, a very large aviary and lots of shopping malls/theme parks/bowling alley/cinema type things! We might also be including a doctors trip if Sarah isn’t feeling any better today. A couple of antibiotics have sorted Taz right out as he was feeling a similar way for a couple of days and after a trip to the airport doctor while he was waiting for Anneka’s flight to land he’s right as rain. He got prescribed the same as what I did in Bali we think. So Sarah may have picked it up after a very short time of being here.

Sunday 31st May 2009

The last few days since I last updated the log have been pretty eventful…
In Kuala Lumpur the morning after Sarah started to feel really ill we took her to a little clinic over the road from the hotel and the doctor there suspected appendicitis and advised us to rush over to a hospital and get it checked out. So a couple of hours later Sarah was actually having it removed in Sentosa hospital!! Thank god for travel insurance though – the op cost a thousand pounds which would have made this a very expensive holiday for her! While Sarah was in hospital for 2 nights we managed to take full advantage of the cheapest beer we could find which isn’t cheap at all compared to much of Asia. But it was fun 🙂 We managed to whiz around the best of the shopping centers and visit the aviary which was really good and a really really hot and humid day!
Sarah was released from hospital on Saturday afternoon and after a quick shower and a subway we were returning to Bangkok for the night. We arrived late and intended to go to bed early as we were heading to the beach the following day but a recovering Sarah was the only one that went to bed sober and early 😉 The Chang’s are just too tempting on a Saturday night in Bangkok!
There was a frantic rush this morning when I thought we had 10 minutes to check out and get in a taxi when actually we had an hour, we just hadn’t changed out phones/watches back to Thai time from Malaysian time! So we got a nice eggs breakfast and rammed all our bags into the boot of a taxi which he had to tie wrap down because 4 big bags in one boot was a bit of an issue. The 3 hour journey to Cha Am where we arrived this afternoon was very smooth apart from the monsoon half way through which forced us to buy bin bags from the patrol station, wrap our luggage in them in the rain and then carry on… so much fun!! It cost us 8 quid each for the taxi which is reasonable considering the bus takes much longer and isn’t too much cheaper when there’s 4 of you.
We arrived in Cha-Am and found a room really quickly. 10 quid and it has air-con, a TV, hot water and a really cosy feel to it. Probably one of the nicest rooms we’ve found for the money which will hopefully be a recurring theme as it’s low season and I think we’re the only tourists here, ha ha. We all had dinner at a cheap little place round the corner and Anneka who really likes crabs invested in a plate of them and wasn’t disappointed. This evening while sarah was resting we took a quick dip in the sea at sunset and enjoyed the beach.
The nicest part about being here is the chance to relax after a hectic week in 2 of Asia’s busiest cities. Tomorrow will be a chance to chill and sunbath in a the peace and quiet, bobbing around in the sea doing nothing 🙂

Tuesday 2nd June 2009

Today we’re leaving Cha Am after 2 nights here. Yesterday me and Taz had a much needed huge lie in. After some food we all headed out to the beach where we lazed about for an hour before it started to shower. We sheltered under some sun umbrellas for a while during the rain and afterwards we got some good pictures of a double rainbow over the sea!
We rented some scooters in the evening and rode out for tea, finding some very cheap but very nice seafood noodle soup. We returned to the hotel with a bottle of vodka between us and lots of pink fizzy fanta 🙂
Today we were up pretty early to catch some rays. We took our scooters to a quieter stretch of sand and chilled out for most of the day. sarah had a little dip in the sea too because she’s feeling much better and is healing well! I’ve noticed that there appear to be more jellyfish and they’re not confined to the deeper water! Taz remembers reading somewhere that in June, July and August there are loads of jellies in the sea in these parts so I think we have more of that to look forward to!
Tonight we’re getting a train to Surat Thani. I think I’m the only one that’s falling over with excitement about it, particularly as we’re traveling the approximately 8 hour journey in 3rd class… We’re planning on getting the boat to Ko Samui where Anneka’s flying home from on Saturday. can’t wait to get to more nice sandy beaches!!

Friday 5th June 2009

As everybody knows from the last blog we took the train on Wednesday night to Surat Thani. If all had gone as planned we’d have been on the train at 7.45pm and in Surat Thani by 3am Thursday morning. All didn’t go to plan though, we arrived at the station and the guard told us the train would be an hour late, an hour and a half later and it rolled up, by which time Sarah had been eaten alive by mosquitos. Being backpackers we had bought the cheapest available ticket – the cheapest was 3 quid each in 3rd class. So we sat in our seats in the bolt upright position for a looooooong time. All part of the fun!! In the middle of the night the train stopped for 2 hours and we still aren’t sure why. You looked out of the window and it was complete darkness all around the train. Very spooky! At this point me and Taz went outside to stretch our legs and let the other 2 stretch out and sleep a bit. When the train got going again me and Taz were still up, standing at the open doors as the sun came up. Very romantic! It was like being in an old film on our old train, chugging along at sunrise! I loved it. But the delays meant that we only arrived at Surat Thani at 8am. By 10am we were on a 2 hour ferry to Ko Samui. At 12noon we were on Samui in the raging heat and after a little looking around we’d found 3 beach huts constructed on the sand about 10 meters from the lovely blue sea on Lamai beach. The best part is that they’re 8 quid each as it’s low season. Sarah absolutely loves that she’s in a beach hut and that when you open the door in the morning you’re blinded by the bright sun, white sand and bright blue sea. We had a look around and went to bed. Taz and I didn’t actually have any sleep all night (too busy filming the sunrise) and I don’t think Sarah or Anneka got much either so it was nice to have a seep before going out for a nice seafood tea at about half 9.
Yesterday everybody was up and about early to make the most of the sunbathing opportunity right on our doorstep. We chilled out all day but I couldn’t help spending more time in the shade or in the sea (no jellies!) than baking in the sun because it was so intense. We all went really brown but unfortunately I was the only one not to go red. Taz had a little redness on his shoulders – nothing major, I’d been plastering him in factor 30 all day. Sarah has a rosy face and even Anneka with her factor 50 on went a little rosy in the sun. Last night we went out for tea at the neightbouring beach, Chaweng. When we got back we sat outside out beach bungalows on this pagoda type wooden construction that the massage women use during the day. It was very relaxing sat right infront of the sea with a few 7 eleven beverages…
Today Taz and I are the only ones out of bed at dinner time so we’ve been for some tasty noodle soup from a stall. I believe Sarah’s having a lovely peaceful lie in and unfortunately Anneka’s feeling a little bit dodgy so she’s sticking to her hut for a while. It suits us as sunbathing all day after we did yesterday just feels like way too much for your skin. So we’re wandering around the small town instead 🙂
Tonight is Anneka’s last night and we’re planning to go out for tea in style for the occassion. Tomorrow is Taz’s birthday so I have to work on pamering him all day. The day after is the full moon party. 3 busy days and then hopefully a few more blissfull weeks of relaxation before we find our way home 🙂

Saturday 6th June 2009

Last night everyone was feeling little tired after tea. I think it’s all the heat! So we went back to our usual spot on the beach with a beer and after Anneka and Sarah went to bed we went on a mini adventure on the scooters for another beer and didn’t end up going to bed until about 3am, we were having too much fun relaxing 🙂 I think everybody was a little bit on edge last night before going to bed because the bungalows a little further down the beach from us were broken into and one girl was crying because her laptop had been nicked and the police weren’t helping so she can’t even claim on her insurance…
This morning everyone was up bright and early. We did a little bit of sightseeing on the scooter and then sat in the warm water in the blazing heat to top our tans up in a really nice little bay. Taz did some snorkelling too. It was postcard perfect!
This afternoon Anneka left to catch her flight to Bangkok to make her midnight flight home. Can’t believe our visitors have been here 2 weeks already. Time flies!! Lucky Sarah has another 10 days to explore more of Thailands white sandy beaches! Me and Sarah went ofr some food while Taz ran up and down the beach with a very fluffy bouncy puppy that he borrowed from a local!
Tonight as it’s Taz’s birthday we’re taking him out for a meal and some cocktails. We’re going to try and get an earlyish night though because we’re catching a morning boat to Phangan, checking into the Seaboard hotel and making our way down to the full moon party a couple of miles away.
I don’t think that any of us want to part with our brilliant little beach huts (wish bungalows I think they’re called) right on the beach here on Samui but we have to leave them behind at some point! We have a brilliant view all day and it’s so quiet at night sat with drinks in our little wooden pagoda thingy! But I’m sure we’ll find some ace quiet spots in Phangan aswell. Haad Yao beach is meant to be the nicest looking on the island and it’s far enough away from the party to limit the chance of a break in and reduce noise! It’s all very excitiing – new island, 10,000 party people…

Tuesday 9th June 2009

Lots has happened since the last update, but I’ll start where we finished off on Saturday…
Saturday
We took Taz out for a lovely meal, we wandered about looking for the best seafood selection we could find and settled on a mixed plate which included a fish fillet, huge prawns, a blue crab, a whole squid etc… Al served up from the BBQ with a big baked potato! Sarah absolutely loved it, I didn’t know she was such a massive fan of seafood. Later we found a bar whos happy hour ran until 1a so we crashed in there for a few drink offers and staggered our way back to the beach huts for a peice of Taz’s birthday cake!
Sunday (full moon)
We were up bright and early for some breakfast before jumping in a minibus to the port. At 1am we set sail on a ferry rammed with holidayers all raring to get started at the full moon party. On arrival we realised its cost 1200 baht between us for a return taxi ride to the full moon or rent a jeep instead for 700 between us. So that’s what we did!! It was so much fun, it even had air conditioning. The only problem we had was that the engine was a bit rusty and it kept cutting out and rolling backwards on the massive hills – thank god Taz was driving!! We ended up staying at a place called Phangan Cabana, 500 a room for aircon, sky TV and the place has a pool. Our huts are about 100 meters from the beach, if that. We were going to stay at a place with a fan only and all in 1 room for 600 between the 3 of us but we decided on the comfort of aircon instead.. After a power nap we were all back in the jeep again racing round the winding roads to Haad Rin. We gave te guy his jeep back and took a look around. There we looooooads of people everywhere – I don’t think we’ve seen as many ravers in one area before and everyone was covered in glow up things or in fancy dress (saw a guy in a borat thong). We participated by buying a paint brush and 2 pots of illiminus paint. We stayed until 4am, dancing to all sorts of music (mainly dance I think) on the silky sand and drining cocktail buckets and changs! I haven’t been to a party with more people than this before. The guide book says around 8000 on the beach – I think there were more!!! Brilliant atmosphere. We’ll be scheduling in another one next time we’re in Thailand 😉


Monday
Shockingly me and Taz didn’t rise until 2pm. Sarah had been sunbathing in front of our bungalows since 11. We rented scooters and used them for nothing more than to find food and nosy around. Way too hung over for anything else!! We had an early night for an action packed day Tuesday…
Tuesday
This morning we all left our Phangan Cabana bungalows for brekfast on the scooter. It wasn’t long before we discovered a really nice beach which had a sand footpath to Ko Ma, a very tiny island. Taz and Sarah did some snorkelling 🙂 We visited an elephant sanctury this afternoon which we stumbled upon by accident. When we went in the guy said they also had snakes that we could have a look at. The one the man had out was a boa and about 1 meter long and pretty slim. Me and Sarah had a picture taken with it around our necks. Taz wouldn’t go near it! Then he said I could old his mother so he popped open a big box and out slithers his 3 meter long, definately not slim mother! I was the only one who’d hold this one, it was very docileand the man had me led flat on the floor while it slithered round me andit was right in my face at one point! Sooooo heavy! I didn’t realise that boa snakes were this harmless when they weren’t hungry. I don’t understand why I’m scared of a tiny spider yet enjoy playing with 3 meter boas! They’re fascinating!! Next wasn’t so fn though. Without wrning the guy popped open another box and a king cobra shot out. It moved completely differently, it was really aggressive, incredibly quickly and was lunging for the guy before we’d even managed to get out of the pen!! There was no way I was letting this one lick my face!
Tonight after a long day we almost ran over a little black puppy. We picked him up as there was no sign of people and when wepulled up at a pet shop the guy there agreed to keep him until someboy wanted him. We bought him a collar, a sack of puppy food and we called him Borris!
Mum & dad – sorry we haven’t spoken in ages!! Taz says thank you very much for his prezzy and he’s getting a tattoo with it in the morning – I’ve triedto talk him out of it!!!!! Ring you when we can 🙂

Saturday 13th June 2009

Well the 3 of us are in Southern Thailand again. I feel very at home here in Krabi – Taz and I are already buzzing about being back in the climbing capital and we’re making plans for our next visit, hopefully next year. It’d be great to bring all our climbing friends over for a couple of weeks, and Harry 🙂
We left Ko Phangan yesterday morning on a ferry at 11am which took 2 and a half hours. before we left Taz got a tattoo and then Sarah got one! I almost feel left out, ha ha. We got a bus and then a minibus to Krabi town when we were back on dry land, and a sawanthaw type vehicle thing into Ao Nang. We found the Ao Nang Grand Inn for 400 baht a night (8 pound) and went out for a fish and chips tea. You can tell there’s lots of tourists in Krabi with the food selection out there! We got a cocktail in a little raving bar but the view wasn’t brilliant, little Thai hookers prancing around isn’t really my scene!! We ended up going to bed late and shattered.
This morning we’re having a McDonalds breakfast as I’m typing. It’s just across from the hotel. We’re getting a little long tail boat round to Railey. Over the next couple of days we’re doing 2 full day tours – one to Phi Phi and one to 4 other nearby islands including chicken island where we’ve been before and it’s still the most beautiful beach we’ve come across. Fun times! Sarah has 5 days left and we’re going to make sure she goes home with a golden tan so there’ll be lots of hanging around in the sun going on 😉 I’m very excited about Phi Phi now, we weren’t going to go but the price has dropped to get there because it’s low season, so we’re treating ourselves. It’s the island everyone says is like paradise and we wouldn’t mind a bit of that!
See you all soon! Jem and Taz x

Tuesday 16th June 2009

Since we arrived on Saturday it’s been idea sunbathing weather so all has been well. Sarah loved her first longtail boat ride over here and the scenery coming into the bay is just stunning. We took more pictures (hard to resist) even though we already have loads from last time we were here. We found a room for 8 quid night, buy two nights and get one free so it works out at about a fiver a night. Me and Taz went for a jog and I tipped over my own feet running down a steep hill and decked it, scraping off a nice bit of tanned skin from my leg! At the hotel we were staying at we got a really tasty sea bream each off the BBQ with salad and potatoes. Even the food’s much cheaper in low season. We couldn’t afford fish in high season! We had a few beverages at the “Drop Inn” bar next to the hotel.
On Sunday Sarah spent the day sunbathing but I couldn’t face the heat with a hang over so we went for a walk to a lagoon and the viewpoint. The walk up took about 45 minutes, it was really steep and really hard work. The lagoon’s really isolated and once you walk up the hill you have to walk down the other side and that’s even worse. We met a group (in flipflops!) that turned around, but it wasn’t too bad for us rock climbers 😉 We had a paddle about in the lagoon, it was really peaceful because we were the only people that had dared climb down to it. Then once back up the hill we did an extra 10 minutes up hill to reach the viewpoint – photo’s coming soon!
Yesterday we paid for a speed boat trip to Phi Phi and its surrounding islands. I’d never been on a speed boat before and it was a back breaking experience! It was pretty good though, we got to snorkel loads (Taz LOVES snorkeling) in water that’s really clear and full of fish that don’t seem afraid of you. I’m glad we saw Phi Phi but I think it’s very over rated just because “The Beach” was filmed there. We’ve seen much nicer places in Thailand than Phi Phi. On the way back it started peeing it down so we got really wet on the speed boat. Funny but ironic that the day we do the tour it rains loads! It rained all night so we stayed in the same bar stretching out 2 beers until 1am playing cards 🙂
Today it’s still raining believe it or not. A local guy predicted this a few days ago and he said it’ll last 3 days when it comes. Hopefully it’ll be gone so we can have a few days of sun before we come home. No big deal if it doesn’t, 6 months of sun is enough to last us a life time!! We’ve booked a cheap Air Asia flight back to Bangkok for Monday 22nd where we’ll stay for a few days before looking for a cheap flight home…

Sunday 21st June 2009

Taz and I have spent the last few nights relaxing on Tonsai Bay. It’s funny that we’re nearly at the end of our trip and we ended up in exactly the same bungalow that we stayed in last time we were here. When we checked out this morning it was nice to pay 20 quid for our entire stay 🙂 It has been really hot and not rained the whole 4 days so it was a great opportunity to tan ourselves to death. I think all the entertaining we’ve done over the last couple of weeks has caught up with us too, by the time 9pm comes round we’ve usually been asleep or sat in the Small World Bar (our favourite) trying to keep our eyes open! The other day an American guy checked out opposit us and gave us a 30 quid bottle of wine that he hadn’t got round to drinking. So we drank it and were asleep just after 8pm, he he.
We spent yesterday climbing and it was all good apart from a bit of rope burn for me! I did a climb that was pretty hard for me, I only just managed to do it last time so I’m chuffed that I managed it this time after months of no climbing whatsoever. It feels like the end of an era. We’ve been free as 2 little birds, doing whatever the hell we want for a whole 6 months, climbing whenever and wherever the hell we want. No timescale. No commitments. We’ll miss that I tell you!!! It all feels very emotional!
Last night after climbing we were sat outside of our room on the balcony when we heard a huge bang. Turns out the monkeys from the forest behind us had come to raid the nearby trees for fruit. They were massive dark grey monkeys with bright white fur around their eyes and mouth, very strange looking things! We videoed them playing around and swinging in the trees, they mustn’t have known we were watching because when the cleaner appeared they bolted and flicked off some roof tiles of the opposit bungalow. We also hav a big lizard in our garden 🙂 and a massive spider 😦 There’s also loads of squirels who I’m sure are responsible for knocking the coconuts out of trees, you’ll be sat there minding your own business and the next thing you know there’s a massive THUD and a cocounut lands beside you. Scary! Sitting outside our bungalow’s like a nature show – the noises the bugs make are also unbelievable, soooo loud at night!
Late last night we donated some Sangsom (Thai Rum) to the staff at the Small World who were very pleased and drank it after they performed their fire show. Very sensible! I got a picture with one of them who’s a spitting image of my little brother, Harry. Photo coming soon… I can’t wait to come back and see them all again, they’re so friendly, and we’ve only been away 5 minutes! We discovered last night that they only get paid 6000 baht which is 120 quid a month. And they all sleep on the floor in there at night under a mozzy net. Little soldiers!
It was sad to get a longtail over here this morning to Ao Nang but we can’t live in paradise forever! So we’ve spoilt outselves with a very nice room for the night. It has a lovely pool with nice plants and palm trees around it that we’ve been relaxing in today. It’s not every day that we get a room with an actual kettle in it! And we’ve had our first hot shower for well over a week. Tomorrow we fly to Bangkok (after abusing the breakfast buffet at our nice hotel) which will probably be our last destination before we come home. We’re going to do some spoil yourself type stuff, like massages, dates at the cinema, nice seafood teas before we have to come back to the real world. We’re also going to get some last minute prezzies and have all our washing done for the nice little woman that does it for peanuts, so our mums don’t go mad when we tip our baggage out!
Happy Fathers Day Dad!xxxxxx
Oooooh and before I forget, I promised Sarah that I wouldn’t tell anyone that she fell in the mud on the way to the airport… 😉 It’s icing on the “appendix removal” cake! I think it’s Thailands way of getting you back for calling it Blackpool!!! I just can’t believe I didn’t get a picture, he he he…

Wednesday 1st July 2009

Well it’s happened, 6 months after leaving we made our way back to England. We had actually booked our flight home while in Vietnam a few months ago but didn’t tell our parents so that we could surprise them. So after a 2 hour delay, a 2 hour flight from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur, a 2 hour wait, a 1 hour delay and a 14 hour flight to Stansted we had a 4 hour drive to Preston to do our surprising at about 4am Friday morning. Over 48 hours after getting up to go to the airport in Thailand we somehow managed to sleep!
Our last 3 days in Bangkok were taken up with shopping – lots and lots of souvenir shopping! We also drank a decent amount of Chang. We ate sushi – lots and lots of sushi for 3 days. We even had it for breakfast at Bangkok airport to make the delay easier 😉 it was a very good 3 days. I’m glad we had a little bit of time after the beaches to hang out in Backpacker heaven – we kinda feel at home there now. But there’s no place like home here in Preston… we even brought the weather.
Since we got home we have been considering our options for the present and future. The priority is to get a job, save up and do something similar when I finish university in a year. We’re not ready for the mortgage, marriage and kids just now 🙂 Taz has some electrical jobs to do and I’m volunteering at the local leisure center as a climbing instructor so that I can get my qualifications and do it myself somewhere a bit more adventurous over summer. I can also use it to get a job in America if I take my last opportunity to get a USA summer visa when I finish my degree next summer. But as the aim is to make money asap I am applying for jobs in the travel industry for work experience too.
The world is our oyster, we’re not depressed to be home, it has opened loads of doors and we’ve seen the opportunities that are out there. The massive variety of travelers that we’ve met since we arrived in Asia are inspirational and everybody seems to do different things while they’re out there. We met a couple who have been working seasonal/temp jobs for years and for about 4 months of the year they travel to wherever they fancy. We met a Russian girl that was in her 4th year of working her way around the world. We met a couple that were about 70 years old at the full moon party. The point I’m trying to get at, is this is not a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s just an eye opener.
On the plane on the way home we were thinking about all the places we want to see now we know how possible it is when you have no house and no kids to just up and leave for as long as you want. I would like to do “work america” again but in New York this time rather than Colorado. We’d both like to island hop in the Phillipines, spend some time in Canada and maybe go to South America for a while so Taz can do nothing but fishing and teach me. I can’t wait…

Rock and Beer in Thailand

Saturday 21st February 2009

By the time we arrived we had been on the go for 14hrs and where really tired and a bit cranky. Met a really nice girl on the plane that bought us a sim card for cheap calls and some noodles, she couldn’t do enough and she also took us to the non tourist taxi rank and got us a ride to our guest house in the city for 400bt which was better than the 800bt that we would have been charged. That turned out to be a bit of a farce as the taxi guy couldn’t find the guest house and in the end gave us to a tuk guy that knew where it was and ended up charging us or wanted to charge us 200bt for 2km!! But in the end I settled it for 1USD and 40bt, typical tourist tax. Checked in at 11pm and finally managed to shower and go to sleep! Only after a few beers though!!! Good night.

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Monday 23rd February 2009

We had a scoot round the city on the sky train today to visit a few sights and stock up on suncream at the shopping centers. We also got a few new pairs of flip flops. Last night my 2 quid pair from pangkor (malaysia) broke when I kicked a dodgy flag and I had to walk back with one flip flop on. Not nice when there’s cockroaches about. Not as bad as the big fat rats running about today though!

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Tonight has been a completely new experience for us. This morning at the meeting for English people at our hotel we asked about the lady boy places and the dutch guy that works here said that we should go to “queens castle” or “kings castle” as they’re the only 2 places that don’t jip you – the others make up random charges and put you up against a big bouncer if you dispute. Bangkok is notorious for them and there was no way i was missing out on seeing what all the fuss was about!
Before we found any of these lady/boy shows we had a lot of hassle off the fricken tuk divers, following us etc but got rid of em eventually. Then we looked down a street and to our amazement we just looked in shock and the first words we had in mind was DUMBO !! Their was an elephant walking towards us, only a young one as it was only 5ft tall but truly unreal. Some local was walking with it and selling food to the tourist so they could feed it.. Now if walking the streets of Bangkok at night with an elephant in tow isn’t unnatural then I don’t know what is. Its was so soft and cute, we had never been so close to an elephant never mind being suckered by its trunk. It didn’t seem bothered though and it just followed this guy like it was his mum. We just wanted to take it home and keep it in the garden. Its eyes were so nice you could look into its soul and see what it was thinking. We were mesmerized by its eyes. Truly once in a life time experience. Only in Bangkok.

So at about 10pm tonight we strolled into Queens. It was the worst. Not what I expected at all. I have never seen people do what these man/woman kinds did with cigarettes and frozen banana. It was worth throwing up over. Some people have no respect! Disgusting. There were only about 6 ladyboys and it was totally awkward because there were only 6 tourists too including us.

15ish minutes later we escaped next door into kings. It was completely different. More fun. More what I expected. Around 40 ladyboys and loads of tourists. busy busy. One man/boy thingy stroked me!! Ew! Then asked for a drink. I was like “no I will not be buying you a beer because you stroked my god damn leg”. But I was polite – It would have been me against 40 men 😉 Even if it was me against 40 men in bikinis… Some completely naked. Hurl! Hurl! Hurl! Glad we went! Was an eye opener.

On the way back we got the nicest food ever!! 3 dishes of chicken, pork, saute veg. It was soooooo tasty. The best food we’ve come across in south east asia is here in Thailand. And another beer of course to top the night off. All in all a brill night. One of the best night of the round the world trip so far – certainly one of the most educational!

Good night!! jemma and taz

Wednesday 25th February 2009

Today we ventured up the river on a river boat to the tourist mecca of Bangkok – Khoasan Road and the surrounding area. Once we were off the boat we wandered up and down long streets full of stalls selling just about everything – even fake and impressive drivers licenses and degree certificates. Weired! I bought 2 tops, a dress, a bikini and a book. Taz bought a book and 4 tops. Excellent for bargains. The places is rammed with cheap bars and there were also a few nice hotels for around 10 quid. So much nicer than our 6 quid room in the center of town that doesn’t even have air con. We found a hotel we’ll definitely stay in next time we’re in bangkok which will probably be in a week or two. Tonight we’re heading back up to Khoasan Road. We have seriously been missing out. We’re going to visit a few bars and mingle with the backpackers up there.

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Tomorrow afternoon we’re going to get the bus to Pattaya and stay with Taz’s dads friend (Paul) who has lived here for years with his Thai wife and kids. He’s welcoming us to stay for a while. Free accommodation isn’t easy to resist! We’ve heard rumors from a few people that Pattaya isn’t nice. one big red light district on woman said. but even if it is bad, it’s free and there are some highly recommended idyllic islands a stones throw away. Ahhhhhhhh back to the beach 🙂
By the way if anyone wants to ring us we have a Thai mobile number now. You call an 0161 number and get through to us. You pay for the local call only (Manchester) and we pay 7p to receive. Let me know if anyone wants it. Laura rang me from her mobile today while we were in the markets and the quality was brilliant. Free for laura, I paid my 7p a minute from my skype balance.
Love Jemma and Taz (who’s asleep again in preparation for the pubs tonight) x

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Saturday 28th February 2009

Hi everyone. Taz and I have spent a couple of nights with Paul and his wife Lamom and son Chris in his lovely house in Pattaya. On our first night here they took us around the town and we got drunk on a street called walking street because cars can’t go there at night. Lots and lots of people and soooo many bars there. more lady boys than we saw in bangkok too. quite a few seedy places but lots of decent ones too.

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We have done all sorts, been eating nice food, been bowling (i came last for a change) and seen some great big buddha’s! we don’t want to intrude too much so we’ll probably stay 2 more nights and take off back to bangkok to party a little on khoasan road, and then fly down to Krabi within the week. We’re hoping to bag a bargain room when we get there. book for a month and get a good deal. we’ll have to cross over to malaysia to get a new visa though because we only have 30 days and we’ve been in Thailand over a week already.

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Bye for now!

Monday 2nd March 2009

We are moving to Krabi tomorrow. Paul has offered us a lift back to Bangkok where we’ll get the bus to Krabi. It takes about 10 hours I think, so we’re planning on getting an overnight bus. We were considering the train but it doesn’t quite get you to Krabi, only near by and it takes a massive 16 hours! And a flight is 45 quid each as were haven’t booked in advance. Bus it is then!
We are currently out and about on our scooter, well Paul’s scooter bus he has let us borrow it for the day. THAT is a brush with Thai culture. I have never been quite as edgy on the back of a bike as I am here. There are no rules, and I mean NO rules. Paul says the Thai’s move out of their little villages on their scooters into big cities and forget that there are other people on the road. The don’t look, they drive down the wrong side like it’s normal and they cut you up because nobody has right of way and undertaking, overtaking and swerving just comes naturally. Nobody bats an eyelid.
Jari, one of our Finnish friends is in Krabi. He has advised us to hurry along to enjoy the vodka with him 😉 Can’t wait for the rock climbing over the sea. Harry – wish you were here! I can’t wait for Krabi. It’s been quite an experience in the Northern cities of Thailand, we need a holiday!

Monday 9th March 2009

While we were in the intenet cafe in Pattaya last time we did our blog our scooter was taken by the police from right ourside. With the other 20 scooters parked in the same parking bay. We came out and the road was clean of scooters and we were like “What the F##k”. A guy told us outside that the police had swiped the whole lot. So we walked to the police station and paid a 8 quid fine (for parking in a god damn scooter parking bay) and waited outside for someone to bring it round. It started to pee it down and we got drenched. So we went back in and asked where the scooter was. They said it was miles way in a compound and we’d have to ask one of the scooter lads out front to give us a lift. I was mad because it was raining so I jumped in a taxi, showed him the address and off we went. I told him to put the meter on and he was like “no meter, broken, 200 baht.” so I said put the meter on or I am GETTING OUT!! So he huffed and puffed and gave it – he turned it on. Broken my god damn arse! We arrived after about half an hour of him getting lost and asking for directions and it only cost us 60 baht. We tried to remember that a crappy day while travelling is much better than a crappy day working at home…

We have been in southern Thailand for nearly a week now. We spent our first 3 nights on Railay beach East. We did some bouldering the day after we arrived and met a French Canadian called Joel who’s here on his own with all his climbing equipment. Since then we have been climbing with him and a bunch of other people everyday. There was lots of bouldering on this side of the beach but we heard Tonsai is where it was all happening. The most impressive part about this area of the view from the beach. Just as amazing as the pictures on the internet I’d been looking at.

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We’re now in a hut on Tonsai beach. This is where the serious climbers go! There are hundreds of them, on every rock that is climbable there’s a rock climber on it! Getting to Tonsai from Railay beach was so hard it was just horrible. We had 2 options – boat or trek over the steep mountain hill. So us being stingy backpackers we opted for the hill rather than having to pay 2 quid each on a boat. So at 11am we left our bunaglow on Railay beach with ALL our gear totaling 40kg and started the very steep trek. It was so hot and so humid it looked like we’d been swimming when we gt to the other side. It took about 45 minutes. On the plus side the climbings better here, Joel our climbing buddy has moved here too, and our hut is 6 quid a night instead of 11 on the other side.

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Plus the food here is really really good and cheaper. Yesterday while taking a break from the sun we got a whole BBQ tuna fish, a big chicken leg and some rice for 130 baht which isn’t even 3 quid for the 2 of us. It’s good to just order a pile of food and share it. It was all done on the BBQ which they just keep going all day so that peckish sunbathers can come and pick some off without having to wait. Lovely! Railay was a little bit pricy.

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I have climbed some routes which were really scary for me and I’m very proud of them! Go me! They’re all sport routes so you don’t need to make your own ancors which makes life much easier. There are some very hard ones. So when we’re flat out we just sit and watch the better climbers rack their routes out. Our hands have taken a bit of a battering and my knees are bruised so yesterday we took the day to kayak instead. Talk about getting a tan, it was so hot. It always is here, very humid, but on the water we just sweltered!

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We have come to Ao Nang today by boat for a little break from the beach. We’re in an internet cafe that charges 60 baht an hour. On Tonsai they charge 3 times as much which is why we haven’t updated our blog. There’s also only the occassional time you pick up a mobile signal and there’s absolutely no wireless availability over there! We still have wet feet because when you get off the longtail boat you have to jump in the water and wade a bit up the beach. Taz jumped in too early and got slapped by a wave, ha ha ha. Wet shorts!

Sometime over the next couple of days we’re going on a deep water soloing trip. A boat takes you out to some rocks in the sea and you climb for as long and as high as you can and then you let go – argh! Meters high. We’ve seen people doing it on youtube in the Krabi area. Can’t wait for that. Nothing to make the little bruv jelous! Haha. Taz is very excited!!

So speak soon. And when you feel chilly and pale, think of us 😉

Sunday 15th March 2009

I haven’t had chance to update the blog for a little while so here’s what we did this week…

On Monday after a nice rest in Ao nang for a bit of essentials shopping (handbag for me) we returned to Tonsai on the long tail. This time we were the only people on it so it was more fun. We got thrown about and splashed with every wave. I never imagined before coming travelling that getting drenched with salt water on a bumpy boat could be fun 🙂 back in Tonsai we met the french people we’ve been hanging around with for tea. We had a couple of large chang beers. They’re 100 baht each which is about 2 quid. They’re not expensive but it’s still annoying having to pay 100 for them in the bar than 40 in the shop! We’re so stingy! One of the guys, Joel hid his key for us so that we could go in his bungalow the following morning and get his climbing gear (he’s brought everything we need – rope, quickdraws and harnesses) and then set off up the hill for the last time to our hut at the top of the hill. We were both quite drunk so it took ages!!!

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On Tuesday we carried our heavy bags down the hill and checked into the mountain view resort. 400 baht a night. Here we get electricity from 6pm until 7 in the morning. Bonus!

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At the top of the hill it turned off at 2ish so you woke up sweaty 😦 We really like our new room. It’s a proper concrete building with a nice bathroom and no huge gaps for bugs to pour in at night. Not bad for 8 quid. We paid for 4 nights. We met Johan (from France) at his hut for our morning climb. Johan wanted to come and spectate but not climb – he’d had a massage and was very sore and thought he’d better have a rest.

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Very wize, climbing everyday wears your strength down a bit! Me and Taz found an easy 6 to climb first. Then we moved round to what I think was a 6b or 6c and it was pretty hard. I got stuck on an overhang for about 10 minutes and had to give in. I couldn’t hold on anymore! Loads of fun. In the afternoon we moved to the other side of the beach and bouldered for a bit. When the sun started to set (and after about 3 mozzy bites each) we called it a day, packed up and sat on the middle of the beach away from the insects and watched the sun go down. The bay is so beautiful when the sun is going down. Tonsai was very quiet because it was a full moon that night and we heard that lots of people had deserted to Phi Phi for the full moon party. We aim to be there next time it rolls around in another 28 days!!

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Wednesday – We got a buffet breakfast, a 2 quid all you can eat thing! There’s a chef that makes you eggs and omlets on tap if you like. Tea on tap – yey! And plenty of cereal etc. The usual. I had a dodgy belly, nothing serious just a bit dodgy. Probably eaten something wrong! It’s hard to imagine though because the food’s so damn good! We didn’t do much, jsut relaxed because we were a bit sore from the climbing the day before. We trieds to do a bit of snorkeling but couldn’t see much and the tide was really far out. Something to do with the full moon I think. We met the usual gang for tea and agreed that we’d try to hire a boat in the morning to take us deep water soloing and snorkeling around the surrounding area.

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So when Thursday rolled round I found it really hard to get out of bed because I was still a bit dodgy. We made it in time for the all you can eat buffet. I felt better around 10am which is good because at 11 we set out as a group of 6 in one longtail boat and a group of 7 in another longtail.

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A mix of British, Canadian, American, French and Russian. It was so cool to hire our own boat and driver! It coat us 6 pounds each, 300 baht. First we went over to an island which I think is called Monkey island and all along the back of it is solid rock, really high and vertical. Perfect for deep water soloing. The water you jump or fall into after your climb is so deep that it’s actually quite teriffying! There’s a picture of me and Taz at opposit ends of the great big rock that Joel took, we were both plucking up the courage to jump, argh!

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Then we did a couple of snorkeling sights that one of the guys had been to before and said was good.

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This is where Taz snorkeled through a little passageway under some rocks and scraped his legs and hands on the razor sharp shells and rock on the roof of it when a wave came through it and pushed him to the top! I fixed him with some eye patches.

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We asked the longtail boat driver if he had anything and he just started laughing like a woman. He was led down with a tube of vicks vapour up his nose. Apparently he had a cold… in Thailand..

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So anyway I went back in the water after a little while because I’ve never been that close to fish before.

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I’ve done snorkeling a few times, but this was way cooler! There were hundreds of fish and a lot of them were swimming on the surface and didn’t seem to mind you swimming with them. I just did some floating, no swimming and when I looked up I was like 200 meters from the boat! The current was very strong. Nobody found it easy to get back to the boat. As I was about to climb in, I touched a jelly fish. It felt like a huge pile of goo wrapped around my hand. I didn’t see it so it scared the life out of me! We hadn’t seen any in the area. But 2 minutes later I was like oh my god – loads sailed past with the same current that was carrying the snorkellers away. They were moving past the boat really quickly, I counted around 10 very large ones and then stopped and did some sunbathing instead. So hot!

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We stopped of at a few other snorkeling places and an island which I think is called Chicken Island for some food. It had the nicest, whitest sand and the clearest sea I’ve ever seen in my life. It was like a postcard. In fact I bought a postcard of it and sent it home. You could hardly open your eyes it was that bright. We both got a very good tan and a couple of people went red.

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So the day after our snorkeling trip I took Taz to Ao Nang on the longtail to get his leg checked out. They dressed the deepest wound with waterproof stuff and gave him the all clear. While we were there we bought some Hong Thong – ha ha ha. It’s a bottle of rum. Only 3 quid so we invested 😉 We also got some Indian food to make a nice change. Now we’re back on Tonsai, chilling out after a nice cold shower. At tea Joel asked if we’d look after his climbing gear for 5 days while he visits an island with his girlfriend. This is good news! Also, we’re borrowing his stuff tomorrow because he’s going kayaking.

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Yesterday (Saturday) we met Joel at 11 to trade our snorkel set for his climbing gear. We set off and tried a pretty hard wall first. Taz got all the way to the end. But I tried to unclip what he had hooked in which was hard work so I didn’t get there! Later we crossed the mountain path to Railay East and met up with the french people from the boat trip the other day. Taz did another very hard looking lead climb. I think it was a 6b. He did a very good job!! He was knackered, so I had my first ever attemp at lead climbing outside. I got to the top of my first one and was very proud! I was a little bit scared at first but ok in the end. I was so excited I did two more climbs right after. Morgan, a beginner from France top roped after me. I’ve never lead a climb that a beginner can top rope after me before, it’s usually Taz that leads and I top rope. So it was a good day for me 🙂 Later in the small world bar (where we’ve been going every night now to meet up with the others) Morgan bought us a beer and invited us to France. He rents a section of beach and some staff near Marseilles in the south of France from April to September every year and runs a kids club there. He apparently earns a lot of money doing this. Enough to travel October to March every year. He’s going back to France in 6 days I think to start setting up. After 1 beer I was a little light headed. After 2 beers we all were! We got a pizza that was made in a proper stone oven for tea, we went out just the 2 of us which made a nice change. Usually we go out with our French friends 🙂 We had a really good day and a really good night. I suppose that’s what travelling is all about!

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I don’t know who it was who tried to call our thai mobile last night at 12.30 but we lost our signal when I tried to answer and couldn’t find the signal again…

Today is Sunday. Our day of rest! We had breakfast at 11 and we’re not planning on doing a whole lot today. Just relaxing and watching others climb this afternoon. Because tomorrow when Joel leaves we’ll be using his climbing gear for 5 days. Probably climbing all day, everyday, so we need a bit of a rest. We’re both a bit stiff today so I think we’ll go for a massage in a few hours 😉
So that was our week in a nutshell… how was your week?!

Jem and Taz x

Saturday 21st March 2009

Where has this week gone?? We’ve both done lots of climbing. We’re completely burnt out! We’re staying in Ao Nang tonight for a McDonalds tea (everyone needs a break from rice every once in a while) before we go to Burma in the morning to get a new Thai visa. Apparently you need a brand new 10 US dollar bill to get into Burma. If it’s wrinkled or mucky they won’t accept it… so we’re hoping we can find a bank that’ll exchange because we don’t have any left! Then we’re planning on spending 2 weeks travelling up the coast and into Cambodia and Vietnam for a bit. Probably Laos too. We’re very excited! It was hard to leave Tonsai this morning because it’s so beautiful and we have made some good friends, but we’ll see some of them again because Joel is from Canada (planning on moving there for a year after uni) and Johan will be working in Sheffield when we get home, he’s from France. We’re going to meet up and go climbing together when we get home which will be nice 🙂
So bye for now! Jem and Taz x x x x

Sunday 22nd March 2009

Last night we rented a scooter for 100 baht from outside our hotel which is about 2 quid. We took a trip to Krabi town for some food. Krabi town is a bit of a dump! So when we got back to Ao Nang we bought a large Chang beer each and sat on the street and watched the world go by. The night scene here reminds me of Pattaya – ladyboys and prositutes hanging around in every bar. They get quite annoying when you just want to chill and have a beer. So street it was. Then we got another! They’re only 37 baht and they’re really big beers 😉

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We got up at 6.30 with a hangover today. At 7.30 we were on the bus to Krabi town with our take away McDonalds breakfast! The bus was so slow we missed to bus to the Burma border by 10 minutes, it left at 8.30. Amazingly the bus station called the bus driver, told us to pull over and it waited for us to catch up in a taxi! We were on the bus until 3.30pm. Very long journey! Then we had to get a taxi to the port to get stamped out of Thailand, get on a boat for 30 minutes to Burma, stamp in to Burma (the boat driver sold us 2 pristine 10 dollar bills for the fee) and stamp out again. The second we landed on Burma soil the drug dealers we trying to sell to us… then we got back to Thailand on the boat and stamped back in. All that for another 15 days in Thailand!!

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We are now somewhere called Ranong. We don’t know where anything is and it’s 5.45pm… and we’re starving. So our first stop will be food… then find a hotel!

We don’t know what we’ll be doing for the next 2 weeks in Thailand or where we’ll go afterwards but we’ll let you know when we do!! Bye bye 🙂 Jemma and Taz

Monday 23rd March 2009

Today has been a brilliant brilliant brilliant day!! We got up and decided that we might as well stay here in Ranong another day so that we can relax and do a lot of washing! Yesterday was such a long day on the bus and the visa run just took it out of us. So we moved out of the crappy asia hotel that we found last night for 3 quid and moved into the rattanasin hotel for 4 quid. It’s much nicer and very big 🙂 Breakfast cost us 50p each. Last night a huge tea didn’t even come to a quid each… This area doesn’t have tourist prices yet.

We rented a scooter for 2 days and set off to the hot springs we’d seen on a map 10k away. We broke down after 10 mins so the company came and swapped our scooter and off we set again!

We paid a quid to get in the springs and spent hours in there. It was so amazing. There were a couple of locals and me and taz were the only “fallang” in there. There were lots of different natural pools that you could try. one of the filled directly from the spring into something we can only describe as a pond! But a hot pond with clear water and sucker fish in it. The fish sucked and sucked and eventually we came out with no scabs on the scrapes we’ve both got from climbing – they chewed the all right off! sounds gross! they were quite big as well, about 6cm long some of them. You could just see them gathering around my bashed knees and ankles waiting for a nosh on them!! We have decided that as our hotel has cold water as usual we’ll go to the spring tomorrow and have a bath in it in the morning! That would be weird but actually a load of locals do the same. And the water always stays clean because there’s a constant flow. They also have very nice man made spa pools with spring water flowing through them if you don’t want the fish pecking away at you, but you’re not allowed to use shampoo in them! Overall, money well spent 🙂 We can’t wait to get back tomorrow.

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I remember last year how disappointed i was with the hot springs in banff, canada. There were literally about 50 people crammed into a manky swimming pool that was filled with spring water. It also cost about 15 pounds to get in. Not worth the money at all. It was a terrible tourist trap. The spring here is so much better. Amazing, amazing!! We’re glad we stayed to do our washing! We may stay longer…

Tonight we’re going to a few pubs that we’ve found in the area that sell very cheap beer. There’s so few tourists here that the prices are low as generally only local people stop for a drink or something to eat. Good news for us! It’ll be interesting to see how many years before this little town charges twice as much for the beer like everywhere touristy that we’ve been, and how long before they build a huge hotel next to the hot spring. I’m glad we’ve been to a rather undeveloped part of Thailand. It’s brill to see what you can find if you venture off the beaten track on your scooter…

Anyone who come to Thaialnd, make a trip to Porn Rang hot springs!

So we’re off to the pubs, bye for now x x x x

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Tuesday 24th March 2009

Just a quick update for today!

Last night we drank quite a lot of beer. We sampled a variety of bars and found the cheapest Chang in the area 😉 Taz ended up on the phone to Rick for quite a while for a massive catch up so we didn’t actually get to sleep until about 4. Good times!

We woke up at 7am because our room is soooooooo bright in the morning! We got a nice breakfast out on our scooter and visited some different hot springs just up the road from us. The water here was too hot to get into but you could dip body parts in if you dared! I went as far as a toe and that was enough! It went red!

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Then we revisited Pornrang springs for a swim and a clean. It’s the first time for 4 weeks that I’ve been able to wash my hair with hot water!

This afternoon Taz got a shave “Thai style” with a very sharp razor blade on a stick. The guy did a really good job for 60p and Taz says he’d have one every week if they did them at home.
Then for the best bit, at 6pm we went for a Thai massage. We’d driven past the spa building this morning and popped in for a price list. A very reasonable price list! So we had a 90 minute one each. The did everything, pulled all your toes until they cracked, dug their elbows in your feet, stuck their fingers into your spine!

Good day 🙂

Sunday 29th March 2009

We are now in Chumphon.

Well today we had an extra long lie in because we had air con for starters and being in a hot country, when you do have it you can seem to sleep in a whole lot longer. After we moved hotels we picked up some delicious Thai soup for breakfast and then got on our motorized bike and headed out for a nosy around and stumbled across this unbelievable non tourist beach area which had crystal white sands and an absolutely see through water.

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There was also quite a few small jelly’s floating around but ok to swim with. We spent a fair amount of the afternoon just led in the red hot shallows which me and Jemma could not get enough of, but had to head off after a while because the sun was that intense unless you had spf 50 on you would of had serious sun stroke. Which by the way I think I caught a slight bit of because being fair skinned I think its probably my prerogative. (Think prob most fair skinned people know what I mean except for JEMMA)

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One point when a certain someone comes over in june we could prob drop by this place for a day or so because this is the place for an OCD tanning session. Afterward we ate some delicious dinner at a local eateries which was another outstanding meal and VERY CHEAP, grilled catfish, ridiculously hot beef dish with a thousand chillies in it, soup and thai curry and plain rice.. Wonderful!! All washed down with some chang beer….

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Monday 30th March 2009

After a lovely long sleep in this morning we headed out this morning to try and find out the train situation for Bangkok. We got to the train station, couldn’t find anyone that could speak English, picked up a nonsense timetable and went back to our room for shelter. It hasn’t rained for days and it’s really baking.

We stopped by the sports stadium here at around 3pm to see what was going on. In a word – nothing. There’s a 400 meter track, a football field etc… We decided to come back at about 6 when it was cooler for a jog round the track. At about 6.30 we turned up and there were scooters and people everywhere! We nervously crept onto the track, not really knowing if we were allowed. There were people playing football, kids training for some kind of martial arts and after 10 minutes club music started blaring out and about 100 Thai people started jumping about doing aerobics in a nearby field! We were originally only going to do a couple of miles but we ended up doing 24 laps – 6 miles! I think the club music helped, ha ha. Taz said the atmosphere, and loads of people jogging together made it like a fun run or something that you’d do at home. There were some really sporty people there, grandma’s kids, everybody running around this track. Weird but wonderful. Oh, and we were the only foreigners there as far as I could tell. No change there then!

We grabbed a few beers because we’ve been very good on our budget recently in these cheap little towns. We saw a Thai band in a bar full of Thai people. I kept expecting the drummer to get up and have a bitter with us… funny the things that remind you of home 🙂 All the songs were good even though we couldn’t understand the words.

We plan another sleep in tomorrow and we’ll be retuning to the very nice beach we found the other day. Ahhhhhh the life of leisure!

Wednesday 2st April 2009

Tonight we’re getting the 9.30pm VIP bus to Bangkok so we’ll be there at 4.30am tomorrow. Not the best time to arrive south of the city but 9.30 is the last bus. We considered the train but it’s nearly twice as expensive. The bus is only 8 quid each for the 7 hour journey on a really nice coach with big comfy seats (hopefully!) We won’t have to pay for a hotel tonight which is a bonus.

Very excited about Bangkok! For starters Taz’s friend Craig, who’s traveling the world with a mate of his is also arriving in Bangkok tomorrow. He has just been to Vietnam so we’re going to raid him for information. We’re all staying at the Sawasdee hotel near Khaosan Road. So it’ll be a big night tomorrow no doubt, good job we travelers can get drunk on a few quid, ha ha.

We’ve also find a place called “The Cave” where we’re going climbing tomorrow and probably the day after. Lots of bouldering I think, and they’ll lend you gear if you want to climb the walls… fun times! We’ve missed climbing since leaving Tonsai (a bit) so we’re going to spend the day doing as much as we can.

Oooooh and we’ll be getting an Indian! Some of the best Indian food we’ve had was on Khaosan Road!!

Friday 3rd April 2009

We’re in Bangkok again. The bus we came on was brilliant. Very easy to sleep and it has restored our faith in busses. They gave you a pillow, a blanket, water, cake. And when we woke up in the morning they gave you more food, a strong coffee (taz drank mine too) and a hot face cloth. Ace!
Our hotel is the Happy House. 11 quid a night. The best option by miles that it just tempts you to sleep in the comfy bed all day. Many are full because of the upcoming Thai New Year.

Had a bit of a panic because I remembered at around 6pm yesterday that you can’t get a Vietnamese visa on arrival. Never have been able to. You have to but one outside. So we asked in a visa office and they said 3 days which was no good. We didn’t even have 48 hours. So we had to pay double, 40 quid each for an express visa. Phew! Glad that’s sorted. They’ll be in the office an hour before we get the bus for our flight.

Last night we met up with Taz’s mates, Craig and Gaz. They arrived in Bangkok at about 1am so this is the time we set our alarm so that we could get up, help them get a room and then we stayed out drinking until after 5am. Drank lots of large 80p changs from the 7 eleven and sneaked them into bars to avoid paying double. I’m surprised I could still function. Crazy night but very good!! Paying for it today – Me and Taz haven’t had a hangover like this since we’ve been away!!

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We will miss thailand! Our last night was another brilliant night. We spent the day recovering (apart from trying to go climbing but it was shut- probably a blessing in disguise) and got a few beers around 9 after an amazing amazing Indian. Then the 4 off us ventured round to Khaosan Road where all the action was going on. The night was well underway and after smuggling quite a few more beers into some of the pubs we topped the night off with an hour of two of dancing in a nightclub that was thankfully free to get into. I think it was called Le Club or something. Sarah E you will god damn love it! I imagine this is what Ibiza feels like – hot, lots of dance music and the place was rammed. It’s a night I don’t think any of us will forget! We left at the more reasonable time of 2.30am. There was no sign of the night slowing down for Craig and gaz though, they stayed well into the morning. All we’d paid for was 80p beers from the 7 eleven all night. Bonus.