04.07.2011 36 °C
It has been too long since my last entry. So here goes...
The last 10 days have been incredible and exhausting all at once! I will need to break it up into parts:
Chapter 1: The journey
I left off last time with us in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Well, we stayed there over a week and booked a flight from Bangkok to Phuket (southern Thailand) so bought $12 bus tickets to travel from Siem Reap to Bangkok via mini bus. Everywhere you read this journey takes 6-7 hours... They are lying. Not that the trip was difficult, it was just extremely long. Try 11-12 hours door to door. After many random stops and being shuffled from large bus to mini bus, we ended up at the border. Easy enough. No issues leaving Cambodia and entering Thailand, just some confusion as to "where is our bus driver?" and "most people seem to be going this way...". But in South East Asia, no matter how confusing or disorganized overland travel seems to be, you tend to reach your destination regardless. Whew! So we make it to our hostel in Bangkok, wake up early the next AM and catch a flight to Phuket, then a ferry to Ko Phi Phi, a really popular island in southern Thailand.
We finally reached our hostel on Ko Phi Phi and realized our transportation within 36 hours consisted of:
-One large bus
-One pick up truck style tuk-tuk
-Two regular tuk-tuks
-The Bangkok Skytrain
-Airplane to Phuket
-Taxi to the wharf
-Ferry ride to Ko Phi Phi
We needed a drink.
Chapter 2: The foreign invasion
Ok so apparently it's low season in southern Thailand. I never would have known being on Ko Phi Phi. It was riddled and packed with backpackers! And garbage... Lots of garbage. Such a turn off even though the beach is gorgeous... There is nothing more disgusting than going for a swim and coming up with a chocolate bar wrapper floating next to you! That being said... This island attracts those who want to party. Hard. It's basically the same set up on one of the beaches as a full moon party. Lots of fun for one night but you are not indulging in any sort of Thai culture. Derek did a refresher course for his Padi diving and loved it! He got to go to the next island over where they filmed "The Beach" but he said it was super touristy too... Boo!
Meanwhile, I did some shopping around town, took some photos and read at a cafe! Not bad. A few other good points to make about this place is they have delicious fruit shakes and great restaurants (we loved one called "Garlic").
Some stranger things include the nightly tradition at a reggae bar of foreigners taking to the boxing ring to slug it out for an infamous "bucket" (pint of alcohol + mix in a sand pail). We also saw a local woman with a monkey as a pet... It even had different outfits on everyday. Hm. There were also several tourists with injured limbs... Feet... Arms... People on crutches, bandaged up, and limping! Is it too much partying? Hitting the coral reef while swimming?
Chapter 3: The jungle bug
So from there we jumped on a ferry after 3 nights and headed to Krabi where we met up with our friend Jen, who's from California and doing a similar trip to us! We met her in Vietnam over a month ago and love meeting up with her. We got to East Beach on Railay Bay (it's the much less attractive beach out of them all in this area) and walked 5 minutes across to West Beach where we happened to see Jen waiting for her laundry! She was staying on the beach called 'Tonsai' which is only accessible by taking a long boat or hiking one of two ways: a hefty 15-20 minute climb at the end of West Beach (starting with a climb up about 15 feet of rock) or around back which takes about one hour. We opted for the shorter climb and were sweating like crazy at the end of it. Jen's a climber so it was no skin off her back but we were struggling!
Tonsai beach is much less populated by tourists than the other beaches just because of how you get there - it takes effort. But is so worth it! It's a very popular area for rock climbers as the formations are unbelievable. The second day we were there, the 3 of us hiked over to the West Beach, over to the East Beach and then to an AMAZING beach called Pangnan (will need to check the spelling on that one). It was pristine. We had such a fun day and swam, took pictures, and then things took a bit of a funny turn when we waded through the water to some caves to check them out. On our way out (Super Dave moment to come), I was watching my feet apparently TOO closely and smashed my head against a rock. Really hard. I called for Derek who was up ahead and was able to sit down without blacking out. Jen and Derek came back to find me in tears and trying to keep my composure. After some investigation, Derek found a cut on my head (not very big but was bleeding) and I was dizzy and seeing double at times. Ugh. Just my luck. Anyway, I was fine after a few minutes and headed back to the beach where we went to grab lunch and I finally convinced the other 2 to attempt the hike to the Lagoon about an hour away while I rested on the beach and hoped I didn't have a concussion (don't worry mom - we went to a first aid station to clean up the cut before this! haha ).
So with one head injury down, I knew this was just the beginning for me. Unfortunately, I inherited a few of the 'accident prone' genes from my mother. I just accept it and do not let it get me down. Unless I pass out... then I can't really help it can I?
Jen left the next day so Derek and I were on our own and decided to rent a kayak to paddle around the coast. It was an amazing day... the sky was blue, the temperature outside was about 35C and the water was probably 25C. Heaven! We ended the day at 3pm when we realized the tide had gone out at Tonsai... leaving us to a very painful and awkward walk into shore due to the rocks that were exposed. But then, headed back to our cabin and checked out a reggae bar that evening where we lounged in bamboo huts above the ground sipping on fruity drinks. We watched a fire show, met some other foreigners, played ping pong... then it happened... I felt a sharp pain on the back of my left arm... in a bit of panic, I reached around to feel a hard bug... I tried to pull it off but couldn't! So had to 'rip' it from my skin. EW. I threw it on the ground without looking at it... then more panic set in... what was this bug? I was only comforted by an English guy who said "Oh, it's probably hookworm, a lot of people have been getting it in the jungle...". I did not need to hear that! But knew it wasn't hookworm... So back to the room we went where upon observation, Derek found this bug had 2 pinchers that left 2 bites beside each other... EEK! He cleaned it up, I took some Benedryl and proceeded to brief Derek for the next 1/2 hour on what to do if I did not wake up the next morning. I was telling him while laughing a bit but was also half serious... I had no idea what bit me! We saw the bug outside the next day... a green, metallic, hard shell (1/2 cm long) with 2 black pinchers about the same length as the body. But no success as of yet figuring out what it was... google has failed us...
Chapter 4: Living the 'more comfortable' life... for a couple nights
After some deliberation, Derek and I decided we were feeling pretty burnt out after 2 months of backpacking on a budget, so made the trek over to the West Beach and checked into a $45/night resort (which would be the equivalent to $150/night hotel) for the next 2 nights. We were in our own cabin, the resort was on the beach with a really nice pool, we got Thai massages and just hung out! So nice!
So yesterday, we left from Krabi and grabbed a ferry to Phuket and then a bus to a hostel near the airport. This morning we woke up at 4:00am and caught our flight to where we are right now - Kuta, Bali, Indonesia!
That's it for now, internet is much faster/cheaper/more accessible here so will be able to write more often.
It's hard to believe we have 1 month left...