Hope you’re all good and thanks for the emails!
Am now on Koh Samui in Thailand where people are friendly and the sun shines all day long!
I left Hong Kong last Friday having thoroughly explored the place by bus, tube and tram. I even started nosing around the outlying islands, one of which, Lamma Island was pretty cool for trekking about. In all, Hong Kong was pretty cool and it was great that I had someone to take me out (Cheers Lady T) as its a real nightlife place, otherwise as a backpacker on her own, I would have got really bored, it would be like going out in London alone I probably only spotted 2 other travellers and they were a couple. And oh yeah people who were asking, Cantonese is the main language there but everyone speaks English anyway.
So on to Thailand. My flight was supposed to stop off at Phuket and Id been pondering over whether it was a good idea to get off there or not, but Thai Airways made that decision for me by cancelling all stops to Phuket outright. I got to Bangkok not having booked anywhere to stay but thought to hell with it and boarded a bus to the Sukhumvit Road. Most backpackers head for the Khao San Road (its where Leo heads to in “The Beach”) but all the lone female travellers I know reckon Suk Road is nicer and safer. The other backpackers who were also waiting for a bus all got on the one to Khao San so I stood there on my lonesome not really knowing what was going to happen next… Luckily, a guy who got on my bus from Australia was heading my way and he helped me find a place once we got there. I ended up in a hostel called Suk 11. Very cool. Its like a massive wooden hut and there are travellers there from all over. I got a bed in a dorm and I was really quite tired with the heat and lack of sleep from partying in Hong Kong so I decided to take my first day in Thailand easy and do nothing.
However, catching up on sleep was not to be. An Australian girl called Jayne walked into the dorm an hour later. She’d been out shopping and had come back to dump her stuff. We got talking and she offered to show me the sights! So we got on the Sky train (very clean and efficient) and then she took me on a river boat all the way up to where Khao San Road is. I have to say, my reaction was like bloody hell! Just that strip of neon lights, hair braiding stalls and people, my god, so many people, made the rest of Bangkok that Id seen seem sane (Think “The Beach” again!). Anyways we did some shopping, I bought Jayne a beer as a thank you and we had dinner – Pad Thai for 15 baht (20p!!!). There was a down side to my first day too though. The streets were lined with posters displaying photos and names of people still missing from the tsunami. There were also posters with names of the confirmed dead. All very sad.
We got a tuk tuk back to the hostel. CRAZY! They are like motobike taxis. They go really fast and weave in and out of traffic. And you feel all the bumps in the road on them too. But anyone going to Bangkok, do it anyway!!
The next day, Jayne left for England as she has a job for 2 months. Thailand was her stopover from Oz. I left the hostel too, bound for the south, to get ready for the monthly Full Moon party which was to take place on Monday on Koh Pha Ngan. You have to get a night train down to the coast and then a ferry across. I spent all day Saturday looking for a place to stay on the internet. No luck. But I was sure there would be somewhere, even if it was under a coconut tree on the beach. And I was also sure that I would not be alone in this endeavour. About 10, 000 people head down to the island for this party so there had to be somewhere!
The night train was cool. A Thai couple sat across from me kept asking me loads of questions and were fascinated to hear I was travelling alone. And a Thai man who I met in the station while waiting for the train kept grabbing my arms cos he was so fascinated by how different I looked to Thai women – at least thats the excuse he gave me, the perv! In fact, conversations with Thai’s I have met along the way have gone something like this;
Are you travelling alone? Yes.
Oh. Are you married? Yes (I think this is a safe answer)
Do you have children? No.
I did manage to sleep and the couple woke me up just before we got to Surat Thani, which is where you have to go to catch the ferry across. About 4 coachloads of people arrived at the pier to get on the ferry. By this time I had decided to stay on Koh Samui, the island before Koh Pha Ngan as I thought the chances of finding accomodation would be higher. I looked around for other lone travellers but all I saw were Australians getting drunk for the first time (beer at 6am, yuk) and quiet Scandinavian boys….
The sail to Koh Samui took almost 3 hours. Koh Pha Ngan is a further 50 minute sail away. I got out at Samui and walked along the pier not having a clue what I was doing or where I was going. I spotted two guys I had seen in Surat Thani negotiating a fare with a taxi driver. They seemed nice enough and really without thinking went up to them and asked if they had somewhere to stay. They said yes. So I said, oh would it be OK if I jumped in your cab and tried to get a room where you are? (do or die, do or die). They had no objection so off we went. They were Australians from Perth, Frank and Andy. They even offered to let me sleep in their room if there was nowhere else but we got to the place (VERY NICE, bungalows right on the beach)and there was a room. It was a lot more than I wanted to pay but affordable. In fact, rooms on Koh Samui are double the price of their Bangkok equivalents. I didnt really have much choice but it was in a great location and the guys were nice too. We spent the rest of Sunday hanging out in town.
Monday we set sail for Koh Pha Ngan and the Full Moon Party. The party pretty much takes place along the length of Haad Rin beach (http://fullmoonparty-thailand.com/). We had lunch and wandered around, watched the sunset and got ready… I had the most amazing time! There’s all kinds of music and I met loads of fab people like the blonde Arab from Morocco, the queen from Bangkok who pinched my behind everytime he saw me, and the Irish boy who I danced with on the sand to Groove Armada. I could go on but this email is getting too long already! I also kept getting mistaken for being Israeli! One guy called Leo just did not believe I wasnt and insisted on carrying on a conversation in Hebrew! (Note to Rachel: very cute but forgot to get you his number hehehe!). We stayed up dancing for the whole thing and at 5.30am we climbed up a hill at the end of the beach to watch the sun rise.
Round about 7.30am we decided it was time to go home. As we arrived at the pier in Samui, I noticed loads of Thai people gathered on the beach. Andy thought they were there to welcome us back from the party, but the reason was far more sinister. Thais who’d got the boat back with us were rushing to get off to talk to the crowd. It turns out a speedboat that left the party to come back to Samui at 5am had crashed, killing 8 people, 3 Thai and 5 Swedes (or Danes, not clear on that yet). They may have been people we met that night. It put a bit of a downer on an otherwise excellent night. Later that day I sat on the beach outside my bungalow and watched police boats search for the missing bodies.
Today, the boys left Samui for Krabi on the western side of Thailand, but I couldnt go to that side without wanting to visit Phuket and Phi Phi, so I have stayed put, alone again. Tomorrow Im going to the Marine Park, the setting for “The Beach” and then will think about heading back to Bangkok.
I love Thailand so far. Its so cheap and the people are great. They smile all the time Oh yeah I have a number out here which is +66 5806 0349.
Phew that was long. Let me know how you all are.
Lots of love