We finally arrived in Bangkok after a long and frustrating journey. We navigated our way around Bangkok airport (it’s huge) and found a bus then we were on our way to Khao San Road – the epicenter of all backpacker life in Thailand. My first impressions were that it was a lot more westernised than Vietnam! They have McDonald’s, Subway, Starbucks, Boots, Burger King and Tesco, all of which Vietnam are deprived of. I was extremely excited as you can imagine! The first thing I did was buy Boots shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Yum. Shortly after that I had a Subway – Meatball Marinara of course!
Thailand is a lot more touristy, and therefore more expensive. After lugging our bags around what seemed to be dozens of hotels (we had lost our first nights accommodation because we were still in Vietnam) we realised we would not be getting anywhere nice for what we were willing to pay. We had gotten used to relative luxury in Vietnam. We would have to get used to tiny rooms with no windows and cold showers between us. Lucy and I had still not found a hotel and were wondering aimlessly down Khao San road pouring with sweat when we bumped into Josh and Leah. They’re Hampstead school friends who we knew were in Bangkok but were not expecting to bump into! It took a while for them to register that it was us standing in front of them waving. We all ended up finding a hotel together as they were looking too.
We met a lovely couple, Sam and Rosie. Rosie is English and Sam is Australian – they met in Europe. Rosie is living with him for three months now and we will hopefully visit them both when we are in Australia. We went out with them a couple of times which was very cool. We spent a few days in Bangkok – mostly wondering down Khao San road. There is such a strange mix of cultures here and you can tell it can be a very desperate place at times. I don’t think the Thai people know where they stand amongst all of it. There seems to be a massive Bob Marley following in Thailand and everyone gets there hair dread locked on Khao San.
Bangkok is the dirtiest city I have ever been to. Rats roam the streets unafraid even in the day; unlucky for Josh, he is afraid of them (‘Musophobia’, fear of mice and rats – Ed). We also braved the water taxis – which seem the cheapest and most efficient way of getting around Bangkok. They were a lot of fun but dodgy getting in and out of them. They were mostly full of Thai people. It was good to get a taste of Thailand without tourists and Khao San Road. Before we left we had a much deserved (we had tired them out) foot massage. It was amazing and in a lovely setting – outside with a waterfall type fountain thing behind us. It sounds random but it was very relaxing.
We were in Bangkok for 4 days and then got a night bus to Koh Samui (our first Island stop.) Josh and Leah decided to come too.
Koh Samui was gorgeous. We found amazing bungalows on the beach (facing and only a few meters from the sea.) They were very back to basics which I loved. They were just wooden and tipi shaped huts. It felt like camping with the big mosquito net, it was all cozy at night. We spent a few days relaxing on the beach and gorging ourselves on amazing Mars shakes from the restaurant.
Our next stop was Koh Tao. I loved the island as soon as we arrived. Dive shops everywhere, really relaxed feel and even more beautiful than Koh Samui. My mum’s friend had recommended her brother’s dive shop. It was a really cool ‘eco-friendly’ dive shop, they run conservation programs as well. They have a beautiful little garden on the beach with rabbits and a bakery opposite. We ended up staying in the flat above the bakery because it had four beds and so worked out cheaper than getting separate hotel rooms. It was perfectly designed because Josh got his own room and we got to have a girly room. And we had hot water for the first time in Thailand! We stayed about 6 days in all. I loved it – it felt like home; leaving was horrible.
While we were there I did my diving course and I am now a certified SSI diver. Yay! Diving was the most amazing thing! Bit tricky to get the hang of breathing underwater (and not breathing through your nose) at first because it completely goes against instinct but the best feeling when you are under and you are weightless and you can breathe and see everything. So cool! It was easy to panic when my goggles came off or when water went up my nose but I just kept having to tell myself that I was still able to breathe and it was all in my head. I saw a sea snake and an eel. I didn’t see a shark and I didn’t get eaten by one (Katy will be pleased to know) Josh did the whole diving course with me. Lucy came for one day but didn’t like it. She was glad that she had the experience though and she went Rock Climbing with Leah the next day. One extreme to the other.
We celebrated Lucy’s birthday while we were on Koh Tao as well. We got an amazing cake from the bakery with sparklers and had a lovely dinner on the beach. We pretty much tried every dish. The curry in Thailand is amazing – as is the Pad Thai. There were awesome beach bars in Koh Tao too – bean bags and rugs on the sand with flame throwers as entertainment.
We went to Koh Phanang after that (where all the crazy full moon parties happen.) We had just missed one of the huge parties and the destruction it had caused was still obvious. I am glad we missed it! We stayed on the ‘party beach’ for one night in Haadrin and I hated it. You couldn’t walk across the sand without treading on a bottle cap or a broken bottle. We stayed in bungalows named ‘paradise bungalows’ which were more like council flats with graffiti all over the walls and dirt everywhere. Our windows would not lock and pounding music went on through the night. Leah joined us in our room because we all felt so uneasy – it felt safer girls together. Lucy, Leah and I left early the next morning after the worst sleep. Josh decided to stay on.
We took a chance (we did not have a reservation) and went to bungalows on the island recommended by Sam and Rosie (the lovely couple) called Silvery Moon Bungalows. Most amazing place! You got dropped on the top of a cliff and had to stagger down a steep path (with huge backpack) through a forest down to the beach. It was private – completely cut off from everything. The bungalows were cheap but lovely and rustic and clean! A couple ran it – she was Thai he was western and she was the best cook ever. I spent so much on food. She made the best pancakes and so we took Pancake Day as an excuse to get them! It was so relaxed and was just what we needed after Haadrin. Unfortunately after 4 days (2 more days than we were planning to stay) we had to leave.
We were going to go to Phuket but Silvery Moon was so perfect we decided to relax there before heading back to crazy Bangkok.
We said our goodbyes to Leah on Koh Phanang and went our separate ways. She is continuing her travels in Thailand for another month. It was really sad saying goodbye! – Although it was at 6 in the morning so we were all a bit numbed by tiredness. She wrote us a lovely goodbye letter.
We got a night bus back to Bangkok and spent the next couple of days wondering around with no money! I wrote a lot of this blog at 1 in the morning because that is when the Internet cafe offered free Internet (Got to save the pennies! – Ed).
God answered our prayers the day before we left Bangkok. I met a Christian! He had John 3:16 tattooed to his arm (very Thailand) and I asked him if he was a Christian. We spoke for about half an hour about travelling and the bible. It was such a blessing to have that contact and have even that quick meeting and fellowship. I am being reminded constantly that God is always watching over me.