the 5th of September, Chris & Martyn met up in Bangkok
before spending nearly three weeks in Thailand.
After a few days in Bangkok they flew down to Samui then took the boat to Chris & Ellie's
home on Koh Pha Ngan.Then all three spent a few days at Railay Bay in Krabi.
September 4/5th 2003
left the UK at 9.15pm BST flying EVA Air, a Taiwanese carrier.
Its an early 747-400, with poor in flight entertainment but
more leg room than BA! The plane is on route to Taipei and
the passengers are mostly Chinese. The service on board is
very good with excellent food and attentive staff. Sleep
through a great deal of the flight and read through the rest
with h band on the mini disc.
Arrive in Bangkok on 5th Sept after the smoothest landing
I have ever had. A bit of a hassle getting through immigration and
start to get worried that the hotel driver will give up and leave.
get through and clear customs, quickly find the limo driver
and start looking for Chris. Hear a loud shout of MARTYN!
and turn to see Chris waving madly away. It's a fairly long
drive to the hotel and the traffic in Bangkok seems as bad
as ever. We are staying for a couple of days at the Imperial
Queens Park It's quite swanky, we have not been given the
penthouse suite we were expecting but its a nice room anyway.
We both have a shower and a cup of tea.
caught a bus directly from Koh Pha Ngan on Thursday, which
took the ferry to Suritani and then drove overnight up to
was quite impressed with the journey, comfortable, reclining
seats, snacks, and one stopover which included an excellent
meal. Great value if you are on a tight budget.
watch TV for a bit before going down to the bar for 'free'
cocktails and my first Singha beer in some time. Chris wants
to go to Patpong, so we walk up to Phom station and catch
the Skytrain to a station close by. The Skytrain is a new
Rapid Transit system and it's clean comfortable, air conditioned
a bit of a detour we get to Patpong. It reminds me a bit
of Patong Beach, thousands of stalls all trying to part us
from our money and people hustling every inch of the way.
Chris is on the lookout for a VCD, but we don't find it.
Walking around in the heat and humidity is very tiring, so
we decide to eat and have a sit down. We look for an Italian
restaurant and someone tells us that Roberto's in the next
street is good. We don't find it but see another one. Chris
has a pizza and I have a lasagne, washed down with a large
Chang. We go for looking for another bar, perhaps with some
entertainment. Some guy tells us he knows a good one and
suggests we follow him. As he seems to be leading us down
a dark alley, we decline. Chris is by now feeling pretty
tired and I am feeling very hot, so we head back to the Skytrain.
We take a detour to 7/11 for some more Chang. We don't want
to pay the inflated mini bar prices at the hotel. Back at
the hotel there is a superb live jazz band playing in the
main bar. We listen to them over a cup of coffee before returning
to the room for that now ice cool Chang and then crash out.
We get up around 9.30 and go down for breakfast. Chris is in heaven! Not sure
how many times he goes up for more, but he stills looks as skinny as ever!
After stuffing ourselves we head off to Siam Square and do a bit of shopping
in the MBK Centre. The contrast between the air con centre and outside
is pretty extreme. Chris still can't find the VCD he wants but I look for
and find a hat to buy. Can't believe so many shops there are all selling
the same things. Tens of thousands of mobile phones, who on earth buys
stop for a cup of tea and then try to get a taxi to go and
see the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo. A very persistent
tuk tuk driver wants to take us for a good price providing
we go via a tailors shop. We decline, and finally get a taxi
with a meter. It's a fair trek across the city. All the familiar
sights, sounds and smells are there. Although the streets
are as gridlocked as ever, the air pollution seems less than
I remember. Chris was unaware that he needs to wear long
trousers and proper shoes and gets conned into renting some
outside the Palace.
As soon as we get inside we discover that you can get the
right clothing for free!
guy sporting an 'official badge offers to guide us for 300
baht, which we turn down. When we get inside we discover
that there is a free English guide! It's my second visit
to the Palace and Temple complex, Carole and I came here
about 5 years ago. It is Chris's first time. We are really
impressed with the place, it is beautiful, magnificent, far
too much to take in, and we spend ages wandering around trying
to do just that! Then its off to see the Reclining Buddha
at Wat Pho. It's around a 10 minute walk, and we soon get
accosted by some young and pretty Thai girls, who want to
interview us in English as part of their college course.
We get to the temple and although you can see the pictures
we took, they don't do it justice. There are a lot of tourists,
but also a lot of ordinary Thai people paying their respects.
Like churches across the world, there is a roof restoration
fund, and we both purchase and sign a tile each.
we get outside its starts to rain. We had intended to go
for a trip down the Chao Phraya river, but we spent so long
at the Palace and the Wat, there isn't enough time. So, after
negotiating a price with a Tuk Tuk driver we head for the
Koh San Rd. Just as well we did, because now it pouring!
takes about ten minutes to get to Koh San and its still raining
when we get there. We decide its 'Chang Time' and head for
a bar. Koh San Road is still a haven for backpackers and
there are hundreds and hundreds of them. It also has had
a reputation for being pretty seedy, but the bar we entered
looks clean and the service is good, and, having seen meals
being served to other people, we decide to order ourselves.
Chris has Pad Ka prow done in the Thai way, I soon discover
he can eat that for every meal of the day! I have Chicken
and Cashew Nuts, both are excellent and cheap! Afterwards
we go for a wander, and Chris is amazed at how much better
the place is. I had orders from Nick Sutton to get him a
T shirt and soon we are bargaining on a price. Hope you like
it mate! We wander around some more with Chris showing me
some of the places he has stayed at over the years.
some reason no taxi driver wants to take the trip across
town to our hotel. We finally persuade one, much to my relief
as I am knackered. It's miles away and the Saturday evening
traffic is solid. The driver is a mad man and how we made
it back I just don't know! He didn't care which side of the
road he drove on, even going up blind hills on the wrong
side of the road! But we made it back safely, and were soon
washing off the city grime in the shower. We decide to eat
at the hotel. It was superb, and not expensive considering
we ate from the al a carte menu. Then back to the bar for
some more Changs, The jazz band were playing again and we
stayed until the end of their set and had a good chat with
both the pianist and the girl singer.
When we first got to the hotel on Friday, I had had a text message from Chris's
mum telling us that his Uncle Frank was having a stopover in Bangkok. If we
wanted to meet up with him he was staying at ... yep you guessed it ... at
the Imperial Queens Park! We try to leave a message for him, but somehow it
gets delivered to our room instead. We finally get through and arrange to meet
with Frank lasts forever, he brings Chris up to date on family
bits and pieces and then keeps us well amused with a host
of great stories, We find ourselves the only people left
in the restaurant except for the staff who want to close
up. We adjourn to the hotel lobby, but time is against us,
and we have to say our goodbyes. Chris is determined to try
out the jacuzzi bath in the room, and it takes a lot to prise
him out of it so we can check out and take the waiting limo
to the Airport.
are flying Bangkok Airways to Koh Samui, the next island
to Koh Pha Ngan. Tickets sorted, and bags checked in we head
for the departure lounge. This has free internet, which despite
being dead slow, we take advantage of to check and send a
few emails. Their courtesy corner provides free drinks, snacks
and fruit, so we take advantage of that too. The flight is
delayed by about an hour, so its mid afternoon before we
set off. A hour or so later, Koh Phan Ngan comes into view
as we descend into Koh Samui Airport, and Chris delights
in naming the various beaches as we pass over them. The guy
in front of us turns around and introduces himself as Troy,
an American, and he tells he also lives on the island, and
was responsible, along with others for setting a place called
The Sanctuary. Chris is aware of it but has not visited it
as it out of his price range. After one of the scariest landings
ever we are taxi-ing in towards the airport building. Samui
Airport looks like it was designed by Disney, and it is certainly
the prettiest one I have ever seen. Before long we have our
bags and are sitting in a mini bus waiting to take a short
ride to Bhoput from where we will take the ferry to Hat Rin
is intending for us to get a bungalow overnight at The Secret
Garden on Bhoput beach which is renowned for its live bands
on Sunday evenings. There are none vacant, but a short walk
along the sands finds us a beach front one with TV shower
air con and fans for 900baht a night.
a doze, a cup of tea, shower and change, we settle down on
the porch to watch a beautiful sunset and gaze across the
sea to Kho Pha Ngan. Then its back to the Secret Garden to
be thoroughly entertained by two Thai bands, the second of
which, A Decent Band, was brilliant. They start off with
Floyd's Wish You Were Here, followed by With or Without You.
The set is total magic, I try to text Nathan, Francis and
Iain to tell them but can't get through, damn! The whole
show was excellent and afterwards we have a chat with the
lead singer Michael. A great night, with a good BBQ washed
down with plenty of, yep you guessed it again...Chang!!
set over, and everywhere closed down, we talk a long walk,
the length of the beach and back with just a local dog who
has decided to adopt us for company. A perfect day in paradise
comes slowly to an end!
We are up reasonably early to catch the 10.00am ferry to Hat Rin. It’s
just a short walk along the beach to the jetty. There are quite a few people
about because of the upcoming Full Moon Party. And so, I finally set foot on
Koh Pha Ngan.
Rin is busy little place and there are loads of backpackers
haggling over motor bike hire prices. Chris knows the roads
and shakes his head at those who are soon to have a rude
awakening! It’s a steep and very bumpy ride to Tongsala
by taxi, and I soon see what Chris means about the unsuspecting
bike riders being in for a shock. We are going to pick up
a jeep to hire for a few days. Chris gives it a full inspection
and off we go!
He is supposed to teaching today, so after a short detour to say hi to Ellie
we head for the Shri Thanu school. When we get there Chris is told they can
no longer afford to pay them. English teaching is not funded by the government
and comes straight out of parents pockets. Feeling very down we head back to
town to find Ellie and break the news to her.
try to cheer ourselves up by having a nice lunch in A's,
a Farang restaurant run by an American called Mike and then
head off to Chaloklum. Chris decides to take the ‘scenic’ route
which involves even bumpier tracks! We finally arrive at
Chris and Ellie’s home in the jungle.
realised how tired I was! Shortly after we get there Jon & Ollie
come over. Ollie had been staying with Ellie and had being
acting as her dishwasher and general factotum whilst Chris
was away, but has now moved into Jon & Kai’s place
down the road, whilst planning his trip to Cambodia. Chris
calls a friend(another Chris) who owns and operates The Chill
Inn to check if they are open. They are so we all head on
down there with the stoner movie, How High, that Chris had
picked up in Bangkok. The guys had Massaman Curry and I had
a great Chicken and Cashew Nut Stir fry. Chris’s company
and Kai's cooking made it another chilled night at their
the evening Jonny told us about the 2metre cobra they had
found inside his house. He had been inches from it without
realising it and Ollie had been sleeping close by it on the
floor. Luckily Jonny’s kitten had raised the alarm
by acting very strangely. Some Thai guys came and had the
skills not only to dispose of it, but to enjoy a nice meal
from it as well
Chris and Ellie have to go to work. Chris finishes at eleven and came back
home to find me in an increasingly popular position, the hammock horizontalness....
We go off to Jonny's house, it's about 5 miles away, and Chris takes a short
cut through the local Wat and catches me out with his story about how the monks
sitting in the shelter get annoyed with him, hmm they are statues!
Ollie, Jon, Chris and I go for lunch at the Swiss Bakery. The best sandwiches
on the island apparently. We hang round in the rain in Thong Sala, buying stuff,
as you do, and seeking out the cheapest laundry on earth 30bht a kilo! Then
it's back to Ellie and Chris's house, I contract hammocktosis and we play Connect4.
This brings back great memories of games that Iain and I had last time I was
in Thailand. Chris adds a new lock to the house door. security has been a problem
for them, but this seemed to lock bolt tight their palace..... What time is
it? ..............Chang Time! ®©
cooks the tastiest faquitas ever. The hammock attacks me
and judo flips me to the floor. I got it back though, I
sat on it for the next four hours. Time for bed, but I
seem to have an extra guest, an enormous hairy spider which
eventually disappears, and I hid under the mosquito net
for a few hours!
Chris goes to school for the morning. Ellie goes in at lunch to do the afternoon
classes. What a star teacher.. Ollie, Chris and I take a 4x4 outing. The
drive is mental, the worst roads I have seen so far, ruts in all directions
and hills that seem 1in1! We arrive at our intended destination, the Than
Sadet waterfall. Ollie wonders what it would looks after some heavy rain,
hmmm someone heard him cos moments later the flood gates......
open. We try to shelter under some trees and get covered in ants. So just have
get wet whilst we try to find some shelter. The road is now even worse and
we get stuck on way back. The road is blocked by a car stuck in rainy mud water
and it is churning up even deeper ruts. Chris seemed to think we were going
"I actually thought I was gonna be the driver
of death" says Chris. "I hate those unnatural road blocks.....".
So we crawled back to Than Sadet and hit the beach and have lunch at
a charming and classic KPG style restaurant, on the beach, called,
Mai Pen Rai...MART, you can translate this can't you.........no problem....restaurant."
Chris got his dose of pad ka prow, Thai style of course, Ollie joined him and
I had my hit of chicken and cashew nut. On the way back we stopped off at the
Wat Po, home of the herbal sauna. HOT, that aint the word for it. I thought
my lungs would catch fire, after a while I got more used to it, oh so refreshing...
Chris and I walk to Bottle Beach through the jungle from Chaloklaam! Chris
says "What can I say Mart, you joined the few who
have walked there. Not many of my bunch and from what I've seen, not many from
other bunches have done it. This may also have been your exercise quota for
the next year but think about how cool it was, or how hot you were...good day
man, I enjoyed that walk...look forward to the next one."
It takes longer than Chris thinks, cos I am so slow. We arrive at 3pm and have
a much needed drink. We have to leave straight away due to the boat driver,
Nam Meng leaving early. Oh and the dogs came too, there was no leaving
them behind. Unlike Jonny and Ollie who somehow weren't up for it! But
I enjoyed it!
evening we ate in, Noodles from the noodle man in the village
and some Thai take out, Chaloklaam style. We had Pad ped,
Stirfry Curry, Pad Ka prow, Kai Kai Dow, stir fry with holy
basil and chicken and as I said oodles of noodles. Apart
from me that is, I didn't get mine, as it became pot luck
which had fish sauce in, and the chance of dying out weighed
the chance of tasting, as Ellie puts it; the Thai MacDonalds..
Then the hammocks grabbed Chris and I and we didn't wake
up until about 4am, oh, hammocks we love you.....
We pick up Jonny and Ollie and go for a cruise around Tongsala, having first
taken a ton of returnable Chang empties for some dosh. After a trip inland
we search out the AMSTARDAM bar which has just reopened. It is set into
a hillside and surrounded by some really nice houses. We sit and chill
there over a few Changs before head off to find somewhere for lunch. We
discover Nakthathon, a secret cove with a handful of bungalows and enjoy
a nice lunch on the breach front.. Drive home the scenic route then its
time for scrabble. In the evening we drive over to Haad Yao to the Tanthawan,
French cuisine at it's best! Then on the way back we drop in at Overbay
for coffee. Great specials here..
The palace's new top security system, installed, earlier in the week, proved
weak compared to the man/boy/woman/girl that appears to be able to walk
through wooden walls. Having just dropped the jeep off, we have to get
a taxi to go to the police station in Tongsala to report the theft of most
of my money from the house. The atmosphere is a bit low, but we still manage
to have a great evening at Nongnooks in Chaloklaam. I try Pad Thai...am
still in counseling trying to get me off that stuff. Chris's Pad Ka prow
addiction suddenly seems more acceptable.
We spend the day on Bottle Beach, Ellie, Chris, Ollie and myself. Bottle Beach....what
a place. No adjectives adequately describe it. See Chris's mind to get
a better look. We rent out N45 for the day. N45 is the original head resting
spot on KPG for Chris and is his spiritual home. For 150 Bht, can anywhere
N45 end of the beach used to have some rocks in the sea,
but they have been removed and there is now a shallow pool
like bit where we laze around keeping cool. I meet the BB
crew, Pee Ked (who reminds me very much of Cherry), Nook,
Bvo, Phon and a few other beautiful people. A really nice
day! In the evening we head back into Chaloklaam to the noodle
man and meet up with Jonny and Kai for a meal on the roadside...a
typical night out for the Chaloklaam residence.
Ellie and Chris come back from school to find me 'resting' in the hammock.
They have come up with a change of plan. Instead of going to Krabi today
we are going back to Bottle Beach overnight and will return tomorrow and
set off to Krabi on Wednesday. No argument from me about that! We get the
longtail boat and we are well on our way when Chris realises he has left
his money behind. So back we go.... along comes a tropical storm and Chris
gets soaked on his way back to us.
spend a magic day on Bottle Beach, there's plenty of hammock
time and some Changs and good food. Chris and Ellie have
their favourite bungalow 45 and I have 43. I have a few dark
moments, but if dark moments come, BB is the BEST place have
them. Sleep a bit fitfully, its a very windy night. In the
morning after breakfast we watch a movie the guys brought
with them. Its called Saving Nemo and as its set in Sydney.
is determined to beat me at table tennis, and thinks that
90degree temperatures and 90+% humidity offers him a a chance......
No Way Jose!
We have a few problems getting off the beach as the last boat of the day goes
without us, despite knowing we were waiting. By the time we persuade the guy
to come back for a vastly inflated fee it's dark and the rains are on their
we walk home from the beach we come across a weird incident.
A drunk/drugged Austrian guy is harassing one of Chris and
Ellie's neighbours, a beautiful Thai girl. We finally manage
to get him away from the house but he goes straight back.
The girl is really frightened as she is alone in the house.
Chris decides to walk him back into Chaloklaam. He doesn't
really want to go, we discover he is renting a bungalow near
the beach. We persuade him that back into to town is the
way for him to get home! It's dark and pouring with rain.
I vainly try to catch up with both of them but struggle in
the darkness, lose my flip flops in the puddles, and generally
stagger about. Eventually I catch up and we get back into
Chaloklaam. The guy is pretty incoherent but we sit him down
at the noodle stall and Chris buys him noodle soup. We try
to talk to him and and get some sense out of him, but without
much success. After some time we realise Ellie may be getting
worried so having told him how to get to his bungalow. we
head back. It's wet and dark and Chris is going like the
clappers and I get left behind again. Local knowledge is
extremely useful in the dark! I stub my big toe BIG time
just after having lost my flip flop in a huge puddle yet
again! When we get back to the girl's house her boyfriend
is there, so we head home.
has found a motor bike lying across the road, near the track
which leads to their house which the guy has obviously fallen
off in his drunken state. We move it to the side of the road.
We finally get back to the house, Bo is extremely pleased
to see us. We look like drowned rats! I go to get some antiseptic
for my toe and just as I am about to pick up my bag I spot
an enormous spider sitting on it, Chris attempts to kill
it, chasing it around the room with a saucepan,finally Timmy
arrives and pretty soon eats it. Timmy also dispatches a
couple of huge beetles on the mosquito net,and then spends
some time patrolling around the bed. We eventually get to
bed at who knows what time ready for 5.30 start in the morning.
Chris has regained his happy face, he realises we were meant
to miss the boat, because if we hadn't we would not have
prevented what could have been a really nasty incident!
Up and showered and packed ready to go Railay bay on Krabi. Chris has to wake
up a taxi driver in Chaloklaam and off we go to Tongsala to catch the Seatran
catamaran to Suri Tani. We meet with Kai who is travelling on the same
boat on her way to Bangkok for a fashion show. The cat is faster than the
boat from Koh Samui and we soon arrive at Nathon to pick up some more passengers.
We get to the port on the mainland and then transfer to a bus for the next
stage of our journey. This is an hours ride to place just outside Suri
Tani called Donsak. We get put down at a bus station and we have to wait
for another bus to Krabi. We doze for most of the journey and two hours
later we arrive. A short mini bus to Ao Nang and then a taxi boat to Railay
Bay West Beach. The sea is pretty rough and we all get soaked again.
we get to the resort all the cheapest rooms are gone,so we
end up having to bht1200 a night! The rooms are large with
air con, shower and western toilet. I might stay in the shower
for ages. We head for the restuarant where I have fish and
chips. Best i've had in years. Hey Chris what did you and
Ellie have? Chris goes for swim in the pool and Ellie and
I laze around for a bit. The beach is hive of activity, football
matches (4),volleyball, kiting and a couple of frisbee'rs
who really know their stuff. The sun is going down so we
, like a number of others , just sit on the beach to watch
another beautiful Thai sunset. After a bit of a walk, we
head back for dinner, Chris has blue crab, don't remember
what Ellie and I had, It's then we remember, we hadn't paid
for the meal earlier. Oops! That sorted we have a final drink
for the evening. Feeling tired I go back to my room and Chris & Ellie
go for a walk to Railay East beach.
Not a bad breakfast, then we go off to poolside. The sun is shining! I leave
Chris and Ellie there and toddle off to see Railay Bay East. Its quite
different, there's no real beach. it's mostly mud and there are mangrove
along the waters edge. Lots of small bars and shops and there is a climbng
school is at the penisular end. I buy a couple of T shirts, I can't get
the right sizes. Maybe I will lose weight when I get home hmm! I would
have bought more stuff but my cash is low and they dont take credit cards.
to the pool for a spalsh around and for game of scrabble.
All get high scores. We all go back to Railay East for lunch
in an Indian place high up in the cliffs. Chris and Ellie
have some naan bread which is superb,I have Pad Thonng which
is also great. We stop off at a coffee stall on the back,
great coffee! A large spindly yellow and black spider drops
onto my lap, wheres the curds and whey? I then head back
for another snooze. As the sun sets we look for different
place to eat. Chris & Ellie have the biggest chicken
kebabs ever and I have chicken & asparagus. There is
a whole family of cats wandering around the tables. We feed
some cute kittens, one of which gives Chris a scratch of
thanks. We wander around the corner where Chris & Ellie
find a pancake stall. They are ok. but not as good as Chaloklum.
A couple beers later and we are at the minimarket for top
ups before heading back to my room for some serious card
playng. Prediction whist and a new game to me called shithead.
Great game which requires concentration when you least have
Another good breakfast before walking to another beautiful beach. The sun is
shining when get there but when we get to the end of the beach and around
to a secluded little cove we get a tropical thunderstorm. We shelter under
some rocks and wait for it go. Heading back we stop to see the climbers.
Back to the resturant for pad thai for me a salad for Ellie and cheeseburger
for Chrissy. The heavens open again so play more cards. When it eases I go
to pick my laundry up ,seem to gained bras, panties and stuff. Hmm not sure
if any of mine is missing. Start packing but spend more time sitting on the
loo, still raining and it looks like its not going to stop. We all head down
to the restaurant for a final meal, finished off witn large cocktails before
heading back for more cards.
When we were setting of for Krabi we thought that I could get a plane back
to Bangkok, but the first one of the day is not until 10.00am and I would
miss my flight home. Hmmmmm thats an idea. Rather than lose a day, we plan
a tortous journey. I will get up at 3.00am. take a half hour longtail boat
ride to Krabi, where a taxi will be waiting to take me on a one and a half
hour journey to Phuket where I can get a flight to Bangkok and then home.
It's pitch dark on Railay Bay East as we say our goodbyes and big hugs
all round. Then I wade into the sea to get into the longboat. Its quite
strange being all alone in the middle of the night, out at sea, in total
darkness with a complete stranger, who you can't converse with. Soon I
am on my way along the coast, as light comes I keep dozing off, though
manage to see a fair bit of the scenery along the way. We arrive at Phuket
past the check in time, and it is not until I have handed by bags over,
not to be seen again until Heathrow, that I realise that in my rush, I
have forgotten to change out of the T shirt, shorts and flip flops that
Ineed for the longtail boat. Arggh!
Its a nice flight and I have the company of a 15yr Thai lad who has been on
a photgraphic trip to Phuket. He is due to be taking a English exam a couple
of hours after he arrives home in Bangkok, and is keen to chat the whole
way. If you ever read this let me know how you got on!
Back in Bangkok I have to use up my last bit of cash to pay the airport tax
which I wasnt expecting. I dash around the shops for a few last minute prezzies
and some suitable clothes and shoes for the flight home. Then we are on our
way and it's Nothing To Declare time at Heathrow. Carole and Nathan are waiting,
but the luggage container jams on the plane and it's over an hour before we
am probably incoherent, with so much to tell and being totally
wacked, but its good to be home to Carole, though can't wait
for the next time I see the beautiful country of Thailand
in the company of some beautiful friends