26.02.2008 - 07.03.2008
Matt and Justin Arrived in typical Thai style. We worked out roughly how long it would take to get from Krabi airport to out place, and they arrived 3 hours later than our estimate. Their taxi/truck took them all over the place whilst the driver picked up his washing, dropped off some goods, etc etc. It was quite a shock when they did actually arrive. It was quite surreal. Within the hour we had them accustomed to the way of the hammock and all was sorted.
The next day, after they’d settled in and we’d knocked back a whole heap of Singha beers we spent most of the time “hammocking” and generally doing what we’ve become experts at – mostly nothing. Justin and I had a brief knock about with the badminton set we’ve managed to buy a few days earlier – that lasted about 10 minutes due to the heat and their jetlag. Not a bad thing considering one of the rackets popped strings almost immediately. Thai build quality is something we have become accustomed to. There is a very good reason you can buy two rackets and a shuttlecock for £4. When I unzipped the racket bag the zipper fell off immediately. That was a clear sign of things to come.
A day or so later we hired a scooter “taxi”. They are scooters with a third wheel attached and seating for up to 7 extra people (we’ve seen 7 but 4 or 5 seems to be the norm). Usually, you hail them like cabs and agree a fee and they scoot you round the island in relative comfort. We decided to hire our own for the day. Better to be able to talk to each other than be on individual scooters we thought. How wrong we were. Don’t get me wrong, it was bloody good fun, but this thing was almost uncontrollable. When I attempted to steer, the front wheel, having practically no weight on it, would just skip and bounce and we’d carry on in a straight line. If I accelerated in 1st or 2nd gear up any kind of incline we’d wheelie – consequently losing 100% control of the steering (and 50% of our brakes!). When I eased off the throttle we’d veer left, when I accelerated we’d veer right. It got to the point that going up hill required myself as the rider, and Justin as the most forward passenger to both lean over the front of the whole contraption just to keep some kind of control. It was slow going. We got to a café on a very steep hill and everyone but me got off to allow me to park safely.
We now have great admiration for the regular “taxi” drivers and can also confirm that a 100cc engine is not big enough for 4 people.
The next couple of days the weather took a decidedly nasty turn and we got grey skies and regular heavy downpours. Fortunately we always seemed to find ourselves at a bar during these challenging times so it all panned out OK.
On our last day in Koh Lanta we agreed that the Muay Thai (sp?) boxing was not to be missed. For the few that don’t know, that’s Thai kick boxing. It’s kind of odd. They spend pretty much as much time performing their pre-fight rituals as they do actually fighting. They walk around the ring, seemingly praying at each corner, then crouch in the middle, flapping their feet and rolling their fists over each other in they way people used to do in disco dancing. When they eventually face each other, accompanied by rhythmic drum and “wailing” music, they kind of gently bob about with the music, switching weight from foot to foot and wiggling their heads. Then, at last, they kick the crap out of each other.
They started off with the youngest and worked up through the age/weight classes through the evening. To be honest, the younger lads were the most impressive to watch. They were keener, more agile, and seemed to be able to end the fights with submissions more than the heavier chaps. My heart was in my mouth at one stage when one lad got a sharp kick to the head and collapsed, but he was OK in the end. The Thai spectators were very keen and clearly had money riding on the fights – waving slips of paper in the air, and tossing them away when their chaps lost.
Great fun, and looking forward to catching a “bigger” event in Bangkok.
The next day we set off to go back to Koh Phan Gnan to show the boys the paradise we’d been staying at at the start of our adventure. It was very sad leaving Kun, Lap, Tom and the others behind at Koh Lanta. We’d become close and Kun made a touching gesture that made it clear that he and I had become good friends over our 5 weeks of knowing each other. Things like that are going to be memorable on our travels.
(Why may facial expression is so dorky I will never know)
Our trip back to Koh Phan Gnan was supposed to be from 7am, arriving at 5pm. I won’t bore you with the details but we got their at 11pm. What was clear was that the company arranging our journey had 90% of the people going one way, and 10% (us) going another way, so they avoided laying on extra transport for us and consequently dumped us very late at a harbour and legged it before we noticed our boat was waaay later than planned. We’ve definitely learnt that over here it’s better to arrange all of your own transport than let someone else do it.
Koh Phan Gnan was as great as it had been before and the lads enjoyed a trip to the waterfalls and lots of beach time.
We popped over to the unused beach next door and inspiration overcame us. We decided to build a sand-formula-one-car-castle. We got the front wheels and bodywork done and then I realised that the tide was coming in so we decided to abandon the plan due to not wanting to see our hard work go to waste. Great fun and Justin managed to skin his knee in his excitement playing about in the sand.
Kirstin was out of the sand castle building action. She got her hand stung by a bee in Koh Lanta which then swelled up to the extent she couldn’t move her fingers and we hastily took off her wedding rings. It got worse before it got better. Fortunately we got some antihistamine tabs from the chemist. The only down side (well, I thought it was quite cool) was that the tabs also contained a tranquiliser lol. She was very quiet and quite spaced out for a day.
After three days it started going back to normal and all is well now.
On two of the nights one of the beach bars hosted a BBQ and put cushions on the sand with little tables and lit a fire – we had super times, chilling and knocking back Vodka Redbulls and PinaColadas – I don’t think Matt or Justin will be touching a PInacolada for some time to come.
(the effect of 7 Vodka Redbulls was not subtle)
After 5 days chilling in Koh Phan Gnan we headed back to Koh Samui on a ferry that picked us up directly from our beach. Talk about convenient. We had in mind staying somewhere a little more “swish” in Koh Samui and we’d seen a few likely candidates on the beach when we last stopped there for a day. Slight catch, when we checked the prices they ranged between £150 to £400 per night per room!!! – we rather hilariously ended up back at the flea pit we stayed at before.
We now have a day here, then we are off to Bangkok for 2 days before the lads fly home. We plan to do the sight seeing that me and K skipped when we were first there (we were too excited about the beaches at the time) – floating market, temples, and something about ping-pong girls too – no idea what they are on about.
After that K and I are going to catch the slow train through North Thailand, stopping at several places along the way for temples and animals etc, ending up at Chang Mai, and then after a rest, over to Laos. We’ve had our fill of beaches for now and are both very much looking forward to some “culture” action.
One more thing – a huge thanks from Larry and Eva for our pressies! – I now have a portable version of “shut the box” and K got lots of lovely lady stuff. I’ve managed to shut the box once so far!