Wednesday, March 07, 2012


Knowing that I was leaving Indonesia, I took full advantage of my last school holiday with a trip to Thailand. Luckily my friend Donna was also on holiday and decided to join me.  We flew to Penang, Malaysia on Christmas.  It was a very, very early flight and we'd both been up all night. I spent Christmas eve in a bar on the scrungy backpacker street in Jakarta surrounded by friends. It was a great night despite recovering from a stomach bug. Donna and I spent the morning of the 26th enjoying Penang and then caught a quick flight up to Phuket.
Phuket is one of the two big ports in Thailand. It's a large island off the west coast ringed with beautiful beaches. We elected to stay in Phuket town as opposed to the tourist strip.  I really liked Phuket town.  It has the feel of an artist community.  It has a smaller, quieter feel. We made the bus ride to "downtown" for a "transvestite extravaganza".  The ladyboys and shows are a big draw in Phuket.  It was fantastic.  The ladies were all so beautiful and the performance mesmerizing. The night life in general was completely a different world from Jakarta or anywhere else. We went to a ping-pong show.  Modesty and potential embarrassment prohibit me from explaining exactly what that was but I'm sure google will help you.A day boat trip to James Bond island was a nice day activity.
From Phuket we went to Koh Phi-Phi (pronounced pee-pee).  Koh is Thai for island. It is a party center for gap year kids with time and liver cells to burn. We were only there for two night but one of them happened to be New Year's Eve. We did drink and carry on but not nearly as long as some of the kids. We also got out on a longtail boat for a snorkel trip and saw turtles!

Reilay, near Krabi, would be the last place Donna and I visited together.  It's a small town that's a rock climbing mecca. The beaches are short and rocky for the most part, although there is a beautiful sandy beach surrounded by limestone boulders/cliffs. Unfortunately a good part of our time there was eaten up checking on bus and train availability.  After Donna left, I went for a half day rock climbing trip.  The rocks were busy but the belaying lesson went well.  I was the first one to go up.  Our course wasn't set for beginners as it zig-zagged up.  I was about a quarter of the way up went I had some trouble finding a handhold.  I slipped three times before I found my way.  The first slip was a big one.  The guide hadn't taken enough line in and I dropped about two or three meters (I was told) and whacked my right foot. I made it to the top  but when I got down and the adrenaline wore off I realized how bad my ankle was. It swelled up a lot very quickly and I had to call off any further climbs.  It made the transportation day I had planned seem long.

My next stop was Koh Tao.  It's the northern most of a three island cluster off the east coast. It's not an easy trip from Reilay to Koh Tao and mine was less easy than I'd hoped.  A longtail boat to Krabi, a van, a bus.  Upon reaching Surat Thani on the east coast I found out that the overnight boat to Koh Tao wasn't running due to weather.  I met Francesca who was in the same boat.  We elected to stay the night and catch the morning boat.  The bus picked us up in the morning for an hour ride to the port.  The boat was actually two. One that made a stop in Koh Samui and went on to Koh Phangan, then a change for the last boat to Koh Tao.  A day and a half later, I limped in to Koh Tao.

More tomorrow!

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