10 February – Krabi to Ko Phayam

For those of you who are fed up of our long travels and stories that go with it, in 3 weeks time I will be back at my desk, fielding phone calls and trying to cope with emails again. To cope with the inevitably of work we are escaping to the Thai island of Ko Phayam.
So, we were up at 6.15am on Monday morning, much as I hope to be in 3 weeks time, and were waiting at the side of the road for a local pick up truck to take us to the bus station. Pick up arrived in 20 mins, equipped with on board karaoke, which no one took up at this ungodly hour of the morning, thankfully.  Whilst waiting we watched local Thai’s going for a jog or cycling around on their shiny Trek bikes for exercise.
The bus station was strangely quiet, nothing really happening, but as usual in Thailand someone greeted us with hello! And, where you want to go? Ticket booked, bus rocked up early, this was looking easy!

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Bags on bus, a few people boarded, we all turned off the air con which was set to blast setting and we set off on a supposedly 5 hour journey and to our delight it was surprisingly karaoke free, marvellous!

We had a few stops to make for people on the roadside wanting a lift, one of which had an amazingly weak stomach and sat behind me. She had a never ending supply of plastic bags and proceeded to spend much of the next 4 hours yakking up into the aforementioned bags. Thankfully it was NOT on a Butler vomiting scale of decibels, or on the red wine scale of a certain Ms Eggleton back in the day! So I shoved a load of tiger balm up me nose and tried not to think about it.

Bus arrived on time, well, 30 mins late, but hey, what is 30 mins between friends? We knew that we had about 20mins to make the next ferry so instead of taking the easy safe ride, in a small van, to the ferry port, we took the ride, with WW2 style helmets, via motorbike. Bearing in mind the last time we both got a motorbike it was 15 years ago and it was a knackered old thing and we ended up driving through someone’s garden as the brakes didn’t work, you could say we undertook this 9km ride with a certain amount of in trepidation and fear.  Obviously with an 12kg rucsak to weight you down, that should cushion the fall…..all the worries were for nothing as we managed to get to the ferry port in one piece, but about 5 mins too late for a seat on the 2.30 ferry, so we waited for the 4.30 ferry, and were entertained by a more mature lass, drinking beer and telling us stories of how she had stayed on a Cambodian islands and not showered for 5 days (the water was brown) and had bought some pills for ‘men that smell’. Time passed quickly and we were soon on the high speed boat to Ko Phayam with no bungalow booking and the woman at the ferry port who did bookings told us there were no rooms at the blooming inn, again!
Arrival at the port was somewhat undignified, scrambling up a port wall on a rickety steel ladder, but at least we didn’t have children to unload, just a backpack that could be slung off the boat.
This island is so small there are no cars, just motorbikes, so our second motorbike journey of the day was undertaken, this time without the WW2 helmets, in fact without helmets at all…….weaving our way through very small roads and dodging other farang who were out for a days bike ride too.  Our luck had changed and we got to a random resort that had a beach bungalow, for 1000Baht with outside shower and electricity from 6pm onwards!  We will look for something cheaper tomorrow!
We were there in time for Guy to take more pictures of beach sunsets and then bar hopped down the beach in the pretence of checking out menus!

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We ended up eating at our place, laab (minced chicken with chilli, lime, Thai basil and mint) for me and Tom Yum kuung (prawn soup with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves) for Guy, both were delicious!

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9 February – Krabi..….still

The two hardest things you have to do when travelling are;
1) working out exchange rates – Guy and I have been known to stand, staring at an exchange rate board, for a good 5 mins trying to fathom out if we are buying, selling and if it was a good rate or not.
2) what day of the week it is – if my boss/work colleagues are reading this, don’t panic, I am sure I will be back to normal within a couple of weeks of work……hopefully!
However as we woke with slightly dull heads we realised we were having a proper weekend, and, with the help of TripAdvisor, we found a local bakery run by a Dutch guy and had a delicious brunch of wholemeal bread, eggs, ham and nice cheese, with a panini for me! This was accompanied by some blues type music and a real Sunday feeling.

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Our plans for the day were fluid……simply walk around Krabi and have some nice food and drinks, so we set off with full bellies at a slow pace. Did we mention it is hot here? We sweated our way around the town, diving into 7/11’s for air con and water, and found an excellent (according to TripAdvisor) coffee shop, it would be rude to pass by, so we both had an iced coffee and blogged/people watched.

After more sweating, and by this time my prickly heat was quickly spreading and on fire, we stopped at a floating restaurant for a shandy and nice view of the mangroves and a slightly queasy floating feeling.

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Some more wandering down the sea front, sweating, and shopping – razors for hairy Guy – and we were shattered and siesta called.

Dinner was another TripAdvisor recommendation which wasn’t fab, so as Meatloaf said ‘2 out of 3 ain’t bad’, and a wander round the night market. Guy bought more tat and a garlic sausage that is still repeating on him……and consequently me!

So, we have set our alarm for 6am and are off to the islands for a week or more, so you probably won’t hear from us for a bit, so here is a picture of a ship and a whale to keep you going……..

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8 February – Ko Lanta – Krabi

We were up and waiting, along with other farang, at the roadside at 7am. Our pickup arrived at 7.15am, and we piled into it, our rucksacks were strapped to the top and off we bounced down the road, to the ferry port.
We had arrived a full hour early for the ferry, so thought we would avoid all the delicious looking bakeries and get a good seat on the boat, meaning one at the back for a less bumpy ride.
Meanwhile everyone else was wandering onto the ferry with fluffy pancakes, fabulous muffins and iced coffees. But we were fine with that, honest!
The journey was predictably beautiful, many tiny islands jutting out of the the sea covered in foliage, the odd beach dotted around, and mostly uninhabited.
We knew we had to drop people off at an island on the way, and assumed that would happen by docking at a ferry port, oh, how wrong we were! Instead when we were near the island the ferry slowed down and about 6 longtail boats came close enough for the passengers to be taken on board and dropped off in the middle of the sea!

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The rest of the journey was uneventful, and we landed in Krabi on time!!!!!!! And then got an English priced taxi to our hotel, I think the taxi Mafia in Krabi lobbied for a ferry port 3km away from the town and then also lobbied for it being compulsory for all companies to charge ridiculous fixed prices for a ride into town, £6!

We were learning from our Joseph and Mary routine so had thought ahead and actually booked a room. However on arrival the kid behind reception flicked through about 20 room bookings of which ours was not one of them! He called his mum, who arrived about 20 mins later, and immediately said our booking was fine and showed us to a massive room, with the now usual TV and fridge, and with the less unusual smell of drains, which we now associate with Krabi. I don’t know if the local council have done away with the drain cleaning department or what, but everywhere you go your senses are overloaded with the drain smell, and quite a few of the massive covers have been covered over to try and stop the smell in a futile way.

Unfortunately the hotel owner had to dash off, therefore we were left with no map or much idea of which way to go into town other than relying on Google maps. So we took the wrong turn out of the hotel, and walked into town the dull and laborious route, passing about 5 7/11’s on the way and were wondering what the hell all the guidebooks and blogs were talking about when describing this place!
We did eventually arrive at Krabi centre and it was lovely with a relaxed atmosphere, lots of backpacker facilities, which now mean coffee shops, Wifi, traveller clothing shops – you know tie dye stuff, fisherman’s trousers (confession: we both are now proud owners of a pair of these) Chang singlets, wooden tat etc. It is roasting hot though and we need to keep visiting 7/11’s which have the coldest air con known to man.

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And the town tourism planner has also come up with some great photo opportunities for tourists in the shape of crabs (for Krabi….geddit?)

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Gorilla traffic lights

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The shops have amusing names…….

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And dummies are alarming

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And cute

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Our plan was to go to a couple of little known islands, Ko Phayam and Ko Chang (little) for the next week or so and go ‘off grid’ as ‘they’ say. Which is a great plan until you realise that there will be no comfortable tourist bus to go on, no hotel pick up and no information at any of the tourist places we asked at, other than go to the local bus station and hope a local bus is going at maybe 8am? After about the 5th place of asking we saw a farang in the street wearing a Ko Phayam T-shirt and so checked with him how he had done the trip, which gave us more confidence that we were on the right tracks.
So, a 6 hour local bus journey awaited us tomorrow, with the possibility of missing the afternoon ferry out to Phayam and so staying in a Thai town which was a bit of a dump.
We thought we would prepare for this by going to the night market and eating loads of strange food and having a beer, not much different to any other night really.

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The food was delicious, exciting and fiery! Guy had various meat things on sticks.

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I had chilli with a small amount of chicken, rice and a load more chilli!

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We found a bar and looked up at the TV and saw LIVE football, the first time we had seen live football since leaving the motherland. And it was Liverpool Arsenal. And there were 4 goals in the first 20 minutes! We were happy, so happy in fact that we decided to supplement the Chang with a small bottle of a new whisky, Hong Thong. This inevitably delayed our plans for sitting on a local bus for 6 hours the next day……

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