Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta & Phuket: Island hoping

The arrival to Phi Phi Don, the big island in Phi Phi by Ferry was quite exciting and tiring as well. The boat was full of tourist and I got the feeling of being travelling to Mallorca instead. At the arrival, everybody got charged a 20 Bath fee for garbage collection. I got annoyed; I felt I was getting ripped off for everything in Thailand just because I am a tourist. Well, I am not rich!!!

On my way to my hostel I could see how this was a tourist attraction park: pubs, Irish pubs, tourist restaurants, pizza places everywhere… Even a bar with Muay Thai fights all decorated and with a ring in the middle of it. As I got up quite early in the morning the first thing I did after checking in was check the beach and have a nap there. A bit of beach relaxation was perfect and at the end of the day, I came here to be a tourist and be with other tourists, I suppose.

The funny moment of the day came when I was looking at the beach and the people of the beach and I suddenly saw an Argentinean guy I had met in Varanasi, India. I jumped in and hugged him and say hello. I was quite happy to see a familiar face the day right before Christmas Eve. He was staying in some other place and we exchanged a few stories about where we had been so far and what our plans were for the near future. That was pretty much the day, because after that it started raining a bit and had to leave the beach. Back in the hostel, I met an Israeli guy that was there for holidays. He was a bit older that the average in the hostel and it was great because I wanted to take it easy and that´s exactly the plan he suggested: movie in a bar. We went to this bar and watched a Christmas movie by Tarantino, quite good an original. After that, himself, myself and a French girl I invited to join us went to this Muay Thai place for watching a few fights. I couldn’t believe my eyes: people was fighting was for the sake of it and in exchange they were getting a bucket (alcohol mixed in a sand bucket with a few straws, the speciality in Thailand). There was protection, but still, it was extreme and you could see how some people was bleeding and they were cleaning out their mouths and let the fight keep going. Despite people was drunk in the ring. It didn’t feel right to me.

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Phi Phi, cloudy and lovely

Christmas Evening day came and the Christmas feeling was not there yet. There was nothing I could do to fix it. It was hot and I was away from my family. Those two things made everything strange this Christmas. But I was feeling positive, although I must admit that I was a bit freaked out about being too alone, and I headed to the beach to get a bit of sun and sea. Then, I was decided to go out, it was Christmas Eve and I could not just spend it alone or doing nothing or being boring. I hung out outside the hostel and when people started gathering, I bought my first beer of the day to socialize with the others and give signals of being in the mood of going out. By the time my beer was finished there was a strange mix of people there: there was an English tattooed guys group, quite rude and messy and then the rest, a mix of Europeans, Americans and other normal people. A girl in the group of the normal people proposed me to share a bucket and we got a fantastic Vodka mixed with natural strawberries and pineapple. Delicious as it was, it was also dangerous. And despite I had some pizza after and I shared another bucket with more people, the night became too much when I got to the beach with all the bars, the music and a massive amount of people and after dancing a bit, I decided not to have any more drink for the night and to send myself to the hostel.

And when I woke up next day…it was Christmas day and I was still not feeling Christmasy, plus not good feelings on the last night. As the hostel was a bit noisy early in the morning, I went to the beach to lay down and relax for a bit, but what I found was a beach full of crap, straws, broken buckets and dirty water plus the music started quite early and they opened a party pool to celebrate it was Christmas. I needed some time to process it all. After a long while, I met the group of the Dutch girl I was sharing the bucket with and they happened to be lovely. They invited me to join the Christmas meal they were going to have and even though things were not as planned, because it got too late to go to Long Beach and have dinner over there, we chilled in the beach, the guys got their faces painted as Santa and we had a lovely dinner in some kind of English/Irish pub. Although I had some Thai food, because you know, I am in Thailand spending Christmas!  We split for a shower and I decided to meet them back later in the beach straight away because I felt the need to talking to my family. I forced myself out again, because I had been feeling low all day and despite what I really wanted was to stay in the hostel, recover my sleep and rest I knew it wouldn’t be good for the feelings I was holding. So I met the guys and girls in the beach and danced my ass off and had a great time. I closed the bars (they didn’t stay open until that late, I have to say) and I even danced on top of a platform over the speakers. Yeah, that’s the spirit! Sometimes it only takes a bit more of effort or willing, but you get to that place where you just feel good again and know that everything will be more than fine. I felt sad that I had to say bye to these lovely people, but some of them will be around Bangkok for New Years Eve, so hopefully I get to celebrate a bit again with them!

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Pool party for the Xmas day

That was my Christmas Day finishing well and the day after I packed my things to hit Koh Lanta, my next island around. I had been told that it was quiet and peaceful and that was exactly what I was looking for. I don’t think I could handle more of Phi Phi one more day.

After a short Ferry trip, I met in the hostel with Lynn, another Dutch girl I had the pleasure to meet and exchange opinions online but I had never met before in person, although we had been trying because we both were in Phi Phi. She also had met a French guy in the ferry so that was our group formed to explore Koh Lanta or the island of Lanta. The plan was to eat something and go to the beach, but the rain started and I was so pissed off with the weather in Thailand… I came here for the good weather, the beach… It is high season and we had had very crappy weather so far, this was outrageous. That’s all I could think of. I was feeling that I made a mistake with the destination and I was not liking it too much or feeling comfortable or even having good weather, the ultimate of the conditions.

But the company was nice, we were a very mixed group of different personalities, opinions and we were having interesting chats. Plus, next day we woke up early and went to enjoy the morning in the beach. We thought the weather would spoil again by midday, as the day before, but nothing of that happened and we could spend the whole day in the beach, relaxing and chatting away and enjoying sun, sand and sea. Lovely.

After some kind of lunch-tea-dinner so typical of me, I headed back to the beach to see the sunset. Nothing really spectacular, but there were a few clouds with a bit of lightening that made it interesting and unique. On the way back I got lost in a resort and ended up with a Slovakian couple that was on holidays and living in Bangkok and found the way to the main town with them. They helped me to get out of the resort and I helped them to find their way to the main town where they wanted to find a shop. It’s funny how in many of the conversations you get a “watch out for snakes” in this country, as the most natural thing that can be said.

I spent the night researching stuff for Myanmar and started feeling excited about it, very excited and got to bed with that strong feeling that doesn’t let you sleep.

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I found a reindeer in one of Koh Lanta´s beach

And next morning, with no hurries and no worries and no chicken curries (Indian stuff Indian people say: “No worry, no chicken curry”) I took not only a ferry but two. The first one to Phi Phi and then change to another one to Phuket, where there were no seats and I treated myself seating in the sun and eating a Magnum. When I arrived to Phuket I was sick of seeing tourist of all kinds and I refused to get in one of those vans or a taxi. So I started walking, for the surprise of all drivers and employees and buses and the whole universe there, present. I was sure there was a local bus stop somewhere in the area in walkable distance but in my mind I was actually thinking that I would reach my hostel walking and that was it. Not even half way, and looking forward to finding a place for a pit stop and some decent food, a woman in a motorbike stopped, I suppose feeling sorry because it was hot and I was walking with the backpack in the middle of nowhere. She was going in the same direction I was and she asked where I was going and with her little English skills, she just gave me a ride. It was fantastic, a bit of socialising with the locals! I felt more enthusiastic about that than the lift itself, although that part was also fantastic. By the time I arrived to the hostel I realised that there was not enough time of brightness to do anything around, that I was feeling ravenous and also that I was too tired to do anything at all that night and therefore I was hoping to text the guy I met in Khao Sok but not to arrange anything for that very day. Thankfully, he was expecting me to stay a bit longer around and didn’t rush things, we would meet for dinner next day as he had work to do during the day but free for the evening/night. And after food and a walk around a town where nothing was nice except the discovery of a Chinese Temple I felt curious about, I spent my first day in Phuket. I understood now how everybody was saying how ugly the town was… But I was not willing to give up and did some research on beaches around to visit. I also investigated how to get out of there to arrive to Bangkok and what had seemed to me obvious and easy during all the way, it wasn’t. I didn’t find cheap buses or what it worst: direct buses. It seemed I had to go back somewhere by minivan to take a night bus after a while from there. With my bookings done, I wasn’t expecting to spend a night on a bus. I actually wasn’t expecting such a long way to get to Bangkok! I was very tired and my head felt like it was going to explode, uncapable of thinking. Until I checked flights and realised that for 10 more euros I would save time and comfort. Done, I am flying, I don’t want to think any longer about the fact that I am in an ugly place, as everybody warned me and now getting back to Bangkok, a place where I have already been, it’s a headache and expensive, all to celebrate New Year Eve. Plus, would the airport crew made me have my bag checked in? I got away with it once… Too much, I will go with the flow, I thought to myself. And I went to bed wishing to be closer to Myanmar than what I was.

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Chinese Temple, night lights

The next day was my last day in Phuket, so my alarm was set to ring off early enough to allow me to do stuff during the day. I did wake up but…I was so tired… Was it worth it the hassle of thinking of somewhere to go, the hassle of going there… F*ck, what was wrong with me???! I am not like this. But I did think about doing nothing during the day. Fortunately, I packed my stuff and decided on looking for a beach to spend the day. I asked to the staff of the hostel and they responded with Patong, the place everybody speaks horribly of. Ok, I said, now I want a nice but quiet beach, please, can you recommend any? The answer I got was that there was not such a thing in Phuket. No quiet beaches. It didn’t discourage me and I continued to propose a name to get opinion of my own choice. What about Surin beach? And then I got a better answer: a beach exactly next to it. Great, I am heading that way!

I took a local bus that was more a shared tuktuk than a bus and I arrived to my destination after a long while and dense traffic. I got to a view point and checked the beach from there. Small and… probably not totally quiet but seemed nice. There seemed to be owned by a resort with lots of umbrellas on the sand and I like to do it my own way, but I decided to give it a chance. Funny, on my way down there was a hut and a guy was asking for 100 baths as entry to the beach because “it was private property”. Outrageous, everything costs money and is private property in this country… Obviously refused to pay because I saw on my way that Surin Beach, which was 10 min away, was completely public. And honestly, what is the difference between them if they are separated by 1 km of land, really, the difference can’t be that big. I am happy with the public beach, I thought while I turned around.

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Private beach

So, I decided to spice things up and not to spend all day laying on the sand, which I did as well after walking by the beach and climbing some rocks to see another private beach at the other side. I wanted to get to the private beach but the cliffs started getting difficult enough to scare me a bit thinking I was alone and nobody could see me there. So I turned around and made my way back not without difficulties. But the effort awarded me with a mini pool full of fishes and crabs and clear water where I got my feet wet. I finally found authentic beauty in this island everybody hates! And there was literally nobody there but a local fishing in the rocks. After that, the sand and the swimming was more than welcome and also a good fruit shake!

When I decided to get back to take the last local bus I was chatting away with some locals. I am quite sure they were taxi or tuktuk drivers trying to get my attention off the last bus and getting a new client to rip off but I did have a funny and cheerful conversation with them. They told me that Phuket has the 5 ‘s’: Sun, Sand, Sea, Seafood… They had to repeat this twice so I got that what they were missing was Sex. I am slow sometimes.

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Who needs a private beach having this beaut?

Sadly enough, the weather got awful after I got back and started to rain very heavily. That was my adventure in Phuket. I went to bed knowing that I wouldn’t have much sleep as I had an early flight and had to take my bus at 6am. But that is another story, right?

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