A Travellerspoint blog

Koh Phangan

sunny 30 °C

Our next stop after Koh Tao was Koh Phangan, and it took us about an hour to get to by boat. Our friend Katie who we had met in Koh Tao was already there with the two other friends she was travelling with, so we headed to a place called "Two Rocks" where they were staying and checked in for a few nights. This place was gorgeous, a few little beach bungalows that were literally on the beach. We had a room for all four of us, with two double beds and a small shower room, and a balcony with a hammock that looked out over the beach. The owner of the bungalows was very friendly and helpful, and he let us borrow his canoe and lit camp fires in the evening right on the beach. The sea here was so clear, and you could walk out really far and it was still only knee deep.

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We had some really nice weather while we were there, and spend some good time sunbathing on the beach with the girls. The sunsets here we amazing, and we got some nice pictures of us all just as the sun was setting one evening. Here we are standing by a couple of rocks, which I guess is how the place got it's name.

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The roads on this island were extremely steep. One afternoon a couple of girls asked me and jay if we wanted to borrow their moped for an hour before they had to return it, so we set off to explore the island. We didn't get too far before we were at the bottom of one of the steepest roads I have ever seen, and we didn't even make it half way up when our moped couldn't cope and we were nearly rolling down backwards. So we turned around and headed back, and decided that next time we would need to get one each.

The room here was very basic, and although it was nice to be on the beach, it meant we had to put up with the creepy crawlies as well. This wasn't too bad and I was coping quite well until one night when I woke up to find a huge cockroach crawling on my face. My nerves haven't been the same since!!!

Koh Phangan is where the full moon party takes place, a huge beach party each month to celebrate the full moon. We had timed our arrival here to coincide with the party, and on the night when we headed to the bar at our beach bungalows, people were preparing by painting themselves with flourescent paint. We joined in and here is a picture of what we looked like just before we were leaving.

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We took a taxi to the party, which again had to go over the hills and only just made it up them, with people hanging out of the back of the truck holding on for dear life....we were safely inside the truck but it was still scary. When we got there is was soooooo loud, and the beach was crowded. The music was not what we would usually listen to but we still had a good time drinking on the beach and chatting to people, and we didn't leave until about 6am the next morning after the sun had risen. We were exhausted so headed straight to bed.

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We decided one afternoon to have another go at the mopeds so this time we all rented one each. They are so cheap, and to rent one for 24 hours costs just £3. We got them and headed staright to the petrol station across the street and filled them up ready for our exploring. For Stacey, this was as far as the fun went, and as she tried to pull away from the petrol pump of the gravel the bike skidded and fell over and she cut her knee. This was enough for her so she took it straight back and decided she would stroll up and down the road while we went off and explored. We went all around the island, and saw elephants and amazing beaches, and then on the way home found an English pub where we had a really nice English Breakfast as a special treat.

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After a few nights at Two Rocks which is on the south of the island, we decided to head to the north of the island to see what it was like up there and spend a couple of nights there. We hired an open back jeep, loaded up our stuff and headed along the dirt roads to the north. The roads here are a mixture of proper concrete roads, and dirt tracks, some of wich are barely passable. It wasn't a comfortable journey, especially for me and jay who were being tossed around in the open back part of the truck with all the bags. At one point we were faced with a hill that was almost vertical and full of potholes, so I swapped with Stacey, put the jeep into 4WD and we managed to get up there, only to realise we had taken a wrong turn and this wasn't really a proper road, so we had to turn around and get back down it. Eventually we got to where we wanted to be, and found a really nice place right on the ocean called Coral Bay, which again was small bungalows with a beach right alongside. This time we got 2 bungalows, and our friend came and met us again and checked into a third.

It was quite remote here but the beach was beautiful and it was nice to spend a couple of days just relaxing and not really doing much. After a couple of nights here, it was time to go to the next island, Koh Samui.

Posted by aaronlapth 22.10.2009 10:05 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Koh Tao

sunny -30 °C
View Rtw 2009/10 on aaronlapth's travel map.

We travelled to Koh Tao from Bangkok by bus and boat, which was an overnight journey that took about 12 hours. We planned to learn to dive while on the island so one we stepped off the catamaran we found a place called Easy Divers and decided to book with them. This is the pier and view from where we got off the ferry.

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The diving course we chose lasted for 4 days and was an open water dive course. It was AMAZING and really exciting to see all of the fish and coral deep under the water. We did six dives in total and went to a maximum of 18 metres below sea level. Koh tao has some of the best diving in the world and is also a very cheap place to learn to dive. Here is a picture of me and Jay preparing to go on one of the dives.

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It felt strange at first breathing under the water and as Kim put it..."it's just not natural". I eventually got the hang of it though and can't wait to do more diving in Oz. We might even do our advanced course there.

The diving was pretty tiring but we still managed to head out in the evenings and check out the local bars. Our favourite was AC bar where we made friends with the fire twirler (poi I think is the correct name for it) and we even had a go ourselves. Here is a picture of a bar called "Cave Bar":

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And all four of us enjoying our drinks:

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And here's me:

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I did have loads more pictures from Koh Tao but unfortunately our room got broken into and me and Jay had most of our valuables stolen, including our cameras :-( I'll hopefully be getting a new camera soon but until then the pictures will be limited.

After finishing our diving course we decided to make our way to one of the neighbouring Islands which is where the famous "Full Moon Party" takes place.

Posted by aaronlapth 07.10.2009 09:03 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Hong Kong

all seasons in one day 35 °C
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We got the train to Hong Kong from Shanghai on 15th September, and this time opted for the cheaper "Hard Sleeper" train. None of us really knew what to expect from the train, only that we would be sharing a cabin with two strangers, and that there would be no door on the cabin, but we were saving money compared to the "Soft Sleeper" we had previously used so it was worth it. We all boarded the train, found our room and quickly jumped onto the best beds before anyone else arrived. As it turned out, nobody else arrived, and the room was actually quite nice, so we managed to get a bit of sleep:

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When we arrived in Hong Kong it was boiling!!! Again this was confirmed by Jay's dripping brow....will he ever acclimatise??? We headed to our hostel which we had booked online, all looking forward to a nice rest in a "clinically clean room with ample storage and an en-suite bathroom", which is how it was described on the internet. However, the reality was very different, a box room in a run down high rise council block with a cupboard for an en-suite where you had to sit on the loo to use the shower. Here are pictures of the girls room, ours didn't even have a window:

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We went for a little wander and found an outdoor pool complex with around 4 different pools, so we decided to head there the next day and spend a day at the pool tanning:

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We found out that Hong Kong is actually on the coast, and is split into the mainland and also Hong Kong Island, where there are lots of different beaches. We decided to spend one of our days at the beach, so headed to Deep Water Bay and had yet another relaxing day at the beach. It was the hottest day so far, 35 degrees and clear skies. It was nice being able to swim in the sea and there were loads of little fish all around us. We swam out to some podiums in the water where you could lie out and sunbathe, and Stacey spent a good bit of time topping up her tan (or reflecting the sun onto everyone alse becuase she is so pale!!!)

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Everything in Hong Kong was very expensive compared to China, and even the UK. The electronics however were very cheap, so Jay, Stacey and Me treated ourselves to a laptop so that we could keep in touch easier, they were a complete bargain (as long as we don't get caught out at the airport and have to pay tax on them!!!)

On out last day in Hong Kong we managed to cram in loads of sightseeing, first on the list was the Big Buddha, the worlds largest Buddha statue. It was a long journey to get there, first a ferry, train and then a bus. We went on the star ferry to get to the train, this ferry is part of the culture of Hong Kong, and a must see when visiting. It was a nice 10 minute journey across the river on the ferry.

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When we got there we had to walk up 250 or so steps to get to the Buddha, it was hard work but we finally made it to the top. At the top you could see how big it actually was, and you could go inside and learn all about how it was built and transported up the mountain:

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As we were up there a tropical downpour was brewing, and it started pouring with rain just as we were about to head back down. Me and Jay managed to get a binliner each from the shop, which we put over our heads and made a little hole to breathe through. It kept us dry but didn't look too good!!

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Although this picture just looks like me and jay being fools, we were actually trying to get close enough to the sign so that you could see from the picture what it said. It gave the distance to the UK, USA and other countries in Km, but it didn't really come out in the picture!

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Next on the list was to take the tram up Victoria Peak, where you can see over the whole of Hong Kong. The peak is described in the book as "gravity defying" and it really was!!!

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It was dark by the time we got to the top though so I didn't really get any good pictures of the views. we also went to what was supposed to be the biggest laser light show in the world, which was the "symphony of Lights". This was on the Island so we parked up at on the balcony at a bar with a nice pint and waited for the show. The 10 minute show was not quite what we were expecting, and looked more like people were shining wind up torches from the tops of the skyscrapers, but the pint went down nicely.

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That was pretty much it for our time in Hong Kong. Next stop...Bangkok, so check back soon. Bye for now x x

Posted by aaronlapth 26.09.2009 23:20 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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