Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cold Water, On the Rocks

I know, I know, another post today. I've been chastised by some for being online too much and thanked by some for keeping in touch frequently. So I will keep connected in the way I see fit for my journey through life and may those who oppose forever hold their peace. :p (To be honest though, I'd be content being busy enough for a few days not to be online :).

Tomorrow we leave the islands for Chang Mai. I'm really quite ready indeed. We've kept busy but its a bit repetetive now and even with all our activity we have a lot of down time. On Koh Tao we met people at the beach bar every night and it was cool to see people a few days in a row, to hear about their day, and their travel stories. On Koh Phangan it's much quieter where we are staying so we've not talked to many people at all. The local restauranteures get a lot of attention from us as a result though! We've had much more time to sit around here which is great for reading and writing and, with wifi in our room, it also leads to plenty of catch up emails and fb updates.

For me the first week was quite rough actually and all the time sitting on beaches to think didn't help. I really struggled having to leave London for many reasons and although I was coming somewhere beautiful to ease the pain of getting kicked out I really felt jettisoned right when I found myself very content with my London life. I had Sunday movie nights, Wednesday ukelele nights (replete with celebrity guest visits), bi-monthly game nights, the return of faraway friends, and unplanned adventures to look forward to. But everything was put on pause and I really had a hard time leaving it behind despite the grand travels that lay ahead. I'm in a better place now and, though it sounds anti-the-whole-traveler-ethos, connectivity is to thank for relieving some of my fears. It means some of you got some long emails during that time but just feeling like, despite the distance, I can still check in (mostly) when I want (at least where I've been so far haha) has made a world of difference. So thanks!

Having said it's a bit dull here, we shook things up big time today. This morning we rented motor bikes to tour around the northwest section of the island and visit a few waterfalls. This was a fantastic time for many reasons including, but not limited to:

Driving! - I. Love. Driving. And I love navigating my way through new territory. I love finding myself on a map and figuring out how to get from A to B. I even enjoy getting lost a bit from time to time because then I learn how things are connected and it makes me feel good to turn a scary, unknown place into one that not only makes sense but will forever stay on my memory for future use.

Cool, clear, fresh, water! - The nice thing about waterfalls is that they are full of crisp, refreshing water. And even better, it doesn't taste salty or leave you with a feeling of crustiness. It serves, rather, to cleanse your body and awaken your sensations. A welcome change from our daily ocean swims.

Rocks. Big ones. - Another perk of waterfalls is that they are up hills. These were up particularly rocky, steep hills which resulted in lots of scrambling. I <3 scrambling :)

So our last day on Koh Phangan proved incredibly refreshing and perfectly exhausting. A great way to end our time here. I have my fingers crossed that the north will provide plenty of opportunity to have more days like today!


For four days we lived on the small island of Koh Tao. We had a great time there: drank lots of delicious juice (a few with a lovely splash or two of rum), ate some incredibly cheap and tasty curries, swam and swam (for me at least, each outing a baby step toward oceanic freedom), hiked for hours through the jungle to see some gorgeous bays, watched several stunning sunsets, and snorkeled all day at various points around the entire island (plus those of Koh Nang Yuan).

The island pace and temperature were a welcome change from our somewhat hectic -and sometimes freezing - London lives. Though, as irony would have it, we are starting to feel that familiar restlessness that arises from having essentially done nothing new for too many consecutive days.

Still we're taking in all the island has to offer and are now on Koh Phangan enjoying the soft ocean breeze as the sun and its heat dip below the hills surrounding the beach of Haad Salad. It's a small bay and is perfect to swim in as it's relatively shallow quite far out. I'm incredibly tempted to swim out to this weird looking floating waterslide thingy but I don't know if I'm quite ready for that one yet. It's just sitting there looking all mysterious and fun! Tomorrow we might hike up to a local waterfall which would be a good time.

I can see the appeal of island life. It's very relaxing and all about enjoying the beauty of the ocean, the lush green hills, and the simple life. If you are looking for a place to melt into the sand, breathe in the fresh air, and eat fruit fresh from the tree , you'd find yourself quite content here. For me, its a bit too much of the same but I understand why for some it's heaven. I'm ready to head north though to trek in the mountains, see villages that don't exist for the sole purpose of catering to tourists, and experience the Thai culture that is oddly missing from beaches covered in pasty Europeans (myself included -though now I am a brindle of ivory and ruby).

After the islands, our next stop is Chang Mai where we'll start our visit with a three day trek. Can't wait to see some views over the mountains! Until then, we'll soak up a couple more days of lazy island life.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Noodle Soup aka Birthday Bliss

Warning: I am as of yet unable to include photos and am also sending this via my kindle so excuse the typos, weird punctuation and lack of visual effects :)

On my 29th birthday I woke to yafit's gentle nudge hoping to.rouse me in time to see the absolutely stunning island of koh Nang Yuan. Giant boulders ringing a lush, tropical paradise. Clear waters. Bungalows balanced on the rocks. This was going to.shape up to be one of the best birthdays anyone could ask for. After docking on koh Tao, we decided to head south to stay in the chalok bay area. After some browsing for rooms we settled op the carabao hotel. 200baht (£4/$6) a night each got us a room right on the beach. Not exactly a Marriott but a bed with a fan, hot shower, and sometimes functioning Internet is a pretty sweet deal I think!!

Aby enjoying the taxi ride to the hotel.

After a quick refresher we decided it was high time we saw the high tide at freedom beach. I think you might agree that celebrating a birthday with a tasty lunch of fresh pineapple juice and delicious green curry followed by a strawberry daquiri while opening a gift as sweet as the drink on a small, quiet, gorgeous beach could be one of life's greatest presents. And yet there was more fun to be had even after all that!!

Tasty pink drinks sipped while opening presents.
Freedom Beach

Gorgeous green curry. 
Yafit and I swam out around the point to see what was to be seen. For those of you who know anything about water and me you would have been proud to see me starting a new year of my life pushing my limits to a whole new place. I suppose I should say having yafit push my limits. She made me keep going despite my freak outs and it was well worth it - and was the equivalent of a free therapy session!

The three of us spent the afternoon attempting to read on the beach but were so relaxed we couldn't stay awake. We napped away the afternoon before finally being real people and walking around to take in some views. What a beautiful island!! For dinner I really shook things up and had yellow curry and a fresh coconut shake at a local restaurant that our new friend Jose recommended. I was feeling the toil.of the day in my back so.for desserttreated myself to a one hour Thai massage - for a bank-breaking 250 baht (£5/$8). Then for real dessert I splurged on an apparently world-renowned pancake from the guy who is so famous he's on youtube AND facebook!! All in all a fairly decent birthday, yeah??!!

First Pina Colada of many.
World-famous (according to the guy who made it) banana rotti