Let gets started.....
Week one. As previously mentioned we flew out of australia in the wee hours of the morning on the 26th of April. A chilly melbourne night, maxing the barometer at 12 degrees. Only to touch down in the land of smiles, Thailand 15 hours later.
We arrived in Phuket airport in separate parts of the plane, me in the emergency seat and Lena god knows where up the back. As I had all the extra leg room and a world of responsibility I diligently looked under my seat for my lifejacket, read the evacuation card twice and am pretty sure push comes to shove I am an expert in "air-Asia plane door removal" but the loud snoring, slight dribble and hand shaped impression on my face might say otherwise (thank god I didn't need that evacuation plan I had memorized). SMACK, right in your face there is the humidity people warn you about!!!! You could cut the air with a plastic spoon its so humid as we stepped of the nice air conditioned plane!! Any one who knows the story of how I get when i am hot, how I grunt will sympathies with Lena that by the time we had our bags and headed to the bus rank I might have been less charming than normal !!!!!!!!!! No really it was ok when we worked out the mini van idea, 150 baht each a grand total of about $ 5.00 each to catch the minivan ?40km into Patong. There was a slightly suspicious stop on the way where they pile you all out and send you into an office where they take your ticket, ask loads about your trip and (move the van with your pack in it) put you back on only to find the whole exercise was to try sell you shit!!!
Our first hotel was very nice,the room was clean and staff while amused by us in our Melbourne trackies, happy to help!!! We had a shower and wandered down the street, somehow despite total oblivion we managed to find Bangala Rd......... Patong's version of Kings Cross but cheaper, stranger animals and more Aussie bogans than a centerlink day with free kegs!!!!! WTF have we got ourselves into, I had a beer by then so a little more amused than Lena but nonetheless still a little "smacked face" with it all. A walk back to our hotel via a really cool night market provided us with a really cheap feed of noodles, "thaitucky fried chicken" and some rice thingy. Oh and inspiration for bugs the next night!!!!! Great dinner, another shower, Thai tv and out cold!!!!!! Day 1 done and dusted welcome to Thailand!
Patong beach, deck chair anyone? You(tourist) + Thai entrepreneur = deck chair, umbrella, beer, coconut drink, jet ski, parasail, tuk-tuk, scooter, buy cheap what you like??!!!! Pretty much anything you could want and most definitely not want!!!!!!!
So the morning of day two provides a nice breakfast included start, a lovely couple "Aussie Bloke + Internet+ Thai lady= cute kid and nice people to chat with. Not so sure about this coffee but hey it beats nescrape!'!!!!!! Our bellies full, feet primed and necks slightly kinked off we set for adventure and the third and fourth nights accommodation! The prerequisite was pool, softer bed, water boiling facilities, safety box and free wifi......... It is a really strange concept asking to see a room before you stay some where but it apparently is ok here?!?!?! Room 202 must be a lucky room number with the majority of displays happening here. Of about 8 places maybe one or two had at least some of the required things but after walking some interesting streets and some "amazing hills" (insert sideways pained face here) it was the closest thing to a local bar, cold beer and a great couple that might have swayed our choice. The "pub" was made of bamboo with Bob Marley and dope leaf pictures all over the wall, you had to go down some stairs/ladders past the owners bedroom mind you to go to the loo.
Still, the relaxed bamboo deck with sling back chairs were great and the couple we met were cool. English "Sam" and Indian " Chandra" ????? Sorry I am sure I got it wrong despite asking twice, were in a haze post massage talked about Goa where they lived and the place they were staying, club bamboo. High in the trees and not too far from everything to be a pain sounded great so tired feet and aching backs we wandered down the hill to our local food market for some dinner.
Here I get some courage up and like I said earlier got me a feed of deep fried bugs!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is a guy with his "special Thai lady friend" who is shit scared to eat the bugs despite said friends best effort to convince him that the the bugs are good for you. He took photo's of us eating the bugs so look out www. we may be the next YouTube hit!!!!! After the initial "rahhhh" and "grrrrrr" factor the overall taste was ok, a bit like teppenyaki prawns but less flavour!? No sudden up chuck or real tummy pains so off to bed, out cold on our floor board like bed. Day two done and dusted!!
High protein diet.... Or so they tell us
Day three and neck a little sorer than first thought so after booking the next two nights at club bamboo we hopefully (un-sat-on) are going to a better bed! We pack our bags and sheepishly avoid the massage girl I promised to go back to last night. The tuk-tuk guys prattle on like some kind of small bird "tuk-tuk" "tuk-tuk" they chirp and with looks of surprise ask again "where to" when we say "no thank you, we are walking" . The more times I say this the less convinced I am sure I sound and five meters up the street I look at Lena and say "my pack is heavy, can we get a tuk-tuk?" tongue in cheek obviously................ No really I didn't mean it!!!!!!!!!!!!
Until the bloody hill from hell, it was hmmmmmmm interesting to say the least. I realized this was the very first time I had put my total gear on and carried it properly for a bit! OH FUCK I am going to die....... Thankfully there is a millipede that I can fain interest in (it was actually cool and I did want a pic) and stop for a picture/rest...... The young Thai lady looks bewildered by us and asks "walk?" when we get to the top steps.. A comment that will stand on it's own.
The refreshing drink and early check-in were well needed, excited to be upgraded to the penthouse suite, only to find that the place was falling down around our ears. Oh well, was only cheap and for the size of the spa, it would of cost them the entire value of our stay in water to fill the thing.
In the afternoon we headed into patong's main strip, the plan was to find a fish spa... If anyone has been to Thailand they will know what this is, for those that haven't, it is a big tank full of little fish that you put for feet in and the fish nibble away!!! Bec went first and was in hysterics, assuring me that it is not bad, i am not even able to keep my feet in the water. I opt to move over from the tank with the big fish, for the rather cute small ones. And yet still... My feet aren't that ticklish, but this tickles. Feels odd, not bad like the big fish, just odd. I last 30minutes with an upgrade to the big fish at half time, only to decide the sensation is kind of relaxing... We can not decide though if they are eating dead skin or just sucking, not sure which is more disturbing really.
Fish spa! Argh!
Post fish spa we wonder the streets, only to end up at the patong pride festival... First ever and we are in town! Another trip up Bangla rd, only to be harassed by people trying to get us to hold scared little animals, Bec so wanted to hold but I wouldn't let her, I thought it was to cruel! (yes I wanted to hold but only to run away and set them free!!!! Any way a hold and photo just perpetuates the situation....Bec) Finally I forced Bec to leave Bangla Rd and head back to the main beach strip, only to retreat completely to the hotel before I hurt someone. The neon lights, the tuk-tuk birds, the DVD, and insulting Australian impersonations and I was done with Patong!
The first few days are a haze of neon,"tuk-tuk", cheap and humidity!!! Wow what a culture shock this is in so many ways worlds apart from what I know and yet is so familiar too. There is a constant push around here, so much to sell you so few people to sell it too (yeah right!!! If this is off season, I would hate to be here in peak). There is a slightly 'low market to kings cross' about this place and it has taken until today for us to see a different side to Patong Thailand, maybe it was the dehydration delirium or the six liters of sweat running from us but a kind smile from a lady making some sort of woven item and the laugh of children as they pretended to fish with foam rubbish and bamboo gave us a taste of what this amazingly diverse and resilient place has to offer.
Today we caught a tuk tuk to Kamala beach and thought we would try walk back to patong!
A pang of guilt as we saw this line up and thought how lazy we are in the tuk-tuk... Inspiration to walk harder with images of louise and Kerstin pushing us along!
Our tuk tuk driver asked what time we wanted to go home and that he would pick us up, we politely declined and told him we were going to try walk the headland back to patong. He laughed and drove off shaking his head at us, really how bad can it be we will just go back the way we came from!
Poor lonely deck chair on Kamala beach.
A nice walk along a not so tourist beach was really nice until we made it to the end where no tourist hotels or spots were and the rubbish was everywhere, really sad actually to think that the tourist dollar may be the only reason to keep this paradise so clean!? A great big storm came rolling in and in true Thai fashion went just as quickly, we had however managed to order some satay sticks and beer. A confused waitress nodding politely as we ask if you can walk the entire headland and off we set. We walked through winding hills and dense forest with buckets of sweat dripping off us. There was this really amazing beach that I am sure is a local haunt so pretty,
the fisherman and his wife who live in a shack on the beach tell us that you are not able to go any further around the headland (looking at the hill in front of us I was quietly relieved). Had there been more time I would have loved to stop and learn how to weave from this lady, she was making the most amazing mats! Bec doesn't want to write anymore, so sorry suck with boring me for awhile!!
Speaking of Bec, here she is in all her ranger glory catching poor scared little lizards! Did make for a nice wildlife photo though
Amazing mats... Beach spectacular, more of what I expected thailand to look like. Beautiful, not quite pristine but we are just a few coves away from patong. We head back up the hill to the road, and then the multitude of other hills we have just passed to get to where we are, to get back where we came from... I hate people that give the wrong directions!!! People laugh as we walk on. Finally reaching Kamala and very glad there is a tuk-tuk to take us back to Patong. And not only patong beach, but the whole way back to the hotel... Which turns out was a fantastic investment, given that 3/4 the way to the hotel the heavens opened and down came a massive downpour that is the first official monsoon we have encountered since hitting Thailand
The view of the monsoon from our dry tuk-tuk:)
We make for an early night with plans to move tomorrow, we eat dinner for 50 baht total. Sit on the deck and watch the sunset and the world go by.
I(Bec) drinks her beer in the fridge rather fast and feel that it is a very smart idea to get some more, very smart!! I find some thing that looks like beer for half the price of the other beers I had been drinking ( this should have been the first red flag). On return and opening of the first bottle the liquid is clearer than previously drunk beer (red flag two), said liquid also looking more like a flat beer that has been sitting for a few hours (red flag three) and this should have been enough to warrant a second thought but this did not occur until I had tasted said "beer" only to find it was not beer but some kind of wine cooler type thing (thing the key word here people!!!!!!) but no I think it is a good idea to try the second bottle just in case. While slightly nicer in flavor still 'east coast cooler' oh well open now and I was not walking down to the shop again, about 50 baht spent and away we go!!!!!!!!!!!! Our serenity and Lena's amusement was interrupted by our neighbors who I am not sure but may have been a gay girl and her "date" who she had planned to wine and dine. Quick hello's and the date inviting us over to share our drinks ( until she tried it, hahahahahaha sucker) and the gay girl quickly ended the meet and greet, on the clock no doubt! A good night was to be had by all.
Welcome to Thailand, mental note made that sunscreen is required! All the time!
As is mozzie repellant!!!
Phuket town here we come. We catch the shuttle to the beach and tell him we want to catch the local bus into town. He honks at a big air conditioned bus, not at all what we wanted... But the bus pulls over (honking in thailand has many meanings, get out of the way, move, coming through, do you want a ride, tourist looking for a ride), we politely decline the ride and find a song-taew (local bus, much cheaper), bench seats along the side, one down the middle, no doors, no windows, just jump in the back and hold on tight. No hanging out the windows, elbows in close, or else they may be removed for you by oncoming vehicles. Arriving in Phuket town was interesting as we attempted to find our way to the hotel on our own... We walked for what seemed ages, with many people harassing us if we wanted a ride, we walked on with me wishing that we had said yes to the taxi at the local station, but the budget wins and I know the walk is only supposed to be 500m. We stop at 7/11(I have never seen so many 7/11's in my life... They seem to be on every corner in Thailand, lots of convenient stores and no supermarkets), the clerk informs us it is just down the road, and she wasn't fibbing us, it was literally 3 doors down, I think our eyes were either painted on this morning or the sweat that was dripping from the brow was obscuring the view.
Once settled we head into Phuket town, the local haunt I feel of Phuket island, the place the locals live and the tourists don't venture so much. We get some odd looks, but are mostly greeted with smiles. Lunch is enjoyed, until 30minutes later Bec takes a turn for the worse and we rush back to the hotel room where we stay until the following morning. Bec crumpled in a ball but only pain(not willing to take analgesia though... Bloody nurses), no bali bellies yet! (Bec... I was fine I just had to ride it through, still not sure what went wrong! I don't think it was food related, I think maybe just some muscle cramping or even some electrolyte imbalance??!!).
Wake in the morning to find a much improved Bec, but am not convinced mainly due to the fact that she is still pulling an odd face, and I know how much she wants to see the gibbons today! But with me not convinced and Bec convinced that she is improved we head to the gibbon sanctuary. With the local bus found, we are on our way again, with the bus packed to the rafters and people hanging off the back. We arrived and are ripped off greatly when we hand over 140baht each for the bus ride, I swear the locals were handing over a max of 30baht each! Oh well. We walk the 800m
or so (walking, walking walking! Distance and time are irrelevant in Thailand) to the gibbons and Bec is happy, the squirm is gone a little and a glint in her eye appears at the sight of the gibbons. I am a little disappointed, not what I was expecting, in many ways better, you are only able to see very few of the gibbons and only the ones that are not able to be released. They have a written dialogue of their work and the daily groups that have been released. It certainly confirmed my early sentiment to Bec about the animals on Bangla rd. (Bec.... My heart went out to a gibbon called honey who had been so badly treated that she had a hand and foot amputated, the European guy at the sanctuary assures me that the hand shaking is nervousness not phantom limb pain. I am not convinced, people are horrible creatures!!!!!)
A not so fantastic waterfall was found just down the road in a the national park, but was completely overrun with locals. Not a tourist destination apparently. Particularly on a Thai public holiday. We cool off for while with feet in water and I begin to feel human again,
but only until feet are removed and shoes are back on, and we are walking...not cool any more, less human again! And I am the one that likes the heat. Bec begins to grunt and I know we need to get out of here. Back in town and I am the completely insane one with a blurring headache and giddy feeling to match, I sit in the middle of the street, Bec drags me to, I'm sorry to say but it was the closest place with soft-drink, McDonalds. McThai if you read the receipt and with sugar and air con I return to the land of normality. Fried chicken for dinner and fisherman pants brought for Bec and we are done for the day.
And the week!
Location:Kangmuong St,Vang Vieng,Laos