A Travellerspoint blog

Thailand

Ko Phi Phi

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The island of Phi Phi is one of the most famous tourist traps in Thailand. It is equally popular for its striking seanery and its boistrous nightlife. After over a week of floating around quite little islands, both Niamh and myself were looking forward to a place with a little bit of life.

To amuse ourselves on the first day we decided to take a sunset snorkeling trip. The trip started at two and began with a visit to monkey beach before dropping us off at a couple of excellent local snorkeling sites. As an added bonus we also got to see Maya Bay, which has the beach from the film 'The Beach'. Unfortunately, our time here was tainted by the fact that there was torrential rain for the duration of our stay on the island. On our way back to Phi Phi, we were supposed to see what was billed as an incredible sunset. But due to the unsettled weather, low lying clouds had obliterated the sun in a veil of impenetrable greyness. Despite getting off the boat shivering and grumbling about "typical Irish weather", we had both enjoyed the day.
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The next day I went diving (more about that later) while Niamh relaxed in the sun. When I got back we spent the day on the beach before heading out that night. At this point we had been in Thailand about a week and I still hadn't had a bucket - which I was quite distraught about - so we headed out that night to finally try some. For those of you who dont know what a bucket is here is a description - take one childs sand bucket, fill with a half bottle of SongSam whiskey, add ice, pour a can of coke and a little red bull. Surprisingly enough, it tastes quite good, a little too good. Towards the end of our bucket night, I fell backwards off a table, bruised my back from my right shoulder blade to my right hip and bounced my head off a stool while kicking myself in the eye with my knee. Smooth I know, and this was before I set my hands on fire with sambuca, twice.
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I managed to survive the night, but woke up the next morning with what can only be described as a 'bucket head'. The remainder of the one and a half days we had left on Phi Phi was spent enjoying the undoubted buzz of this little party town before jumping on yet another boat to our next destination Ton Sai beach, Railay.
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Posted by niamh_darr 06.12.2008 01:53 Archived in Thailand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Thailand

Koh Lanta

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After Lipe we decided to use a little island called Koh Lanta as a stopping point before we headed onwards to Ko Phi Phi. The journey time between Lipe and Lanta was just over six hours. While a six hour journey time may seem long, neither myself or Niamh minded as it was quite relaxing watching the Thai coast line with all its tiny islands, inlets and bays and striking limestone pinnacles literally floating by.
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When we arrived in Koh Lanta, we booked into a resort called 'The Sanctuary', which had a bit of a commune feel to it with old school hippies floating around like confused moths. From the outside, our bungalow had a ramshackle appearance to it, but inside it was clean, with high ceilings and a big mosquito net which hung down from the ceiling. One of my favorite features of this bungalow was the veranda, where you could swing listlessly in a hammock with great views of the beach. Due to our close proximity to the beachfront, both myself and Niamh feel asleep to the sound of the ocean.
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Posted by niamh_darr 06.12.2008 01:41 Archived in Thailand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Thailand

Ko Lipe

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Our first stop on our journey through Thailand was a little island called Koh Lipe. We arrived in Lipe (as it is called by the locals) after an hour long speedboat ride from Langkawi, and from the very beginning it turned out to be a real treat.

Our first steps onto Thai soil came about as our boat reversed into two feet of water before the skipper promptly told us to get out. After splashing through the local surf we were directed to a beach hut where we were told to present our passports. After a refreshingly short space of time we finished 'immigration' and were officially in Thailand. Our next step was finding the place where we'd booked our bungalow.

As the resort that we were staying at was on a remote part of the island we had to take a longtail boat to get to it. At first this remoteness gave both myself and Niamh cause for concern, however, as our longtail boat puttered around the last headland whatever concerns we had melted away quicker than an ice cube in the midday Thai sun as we caught our first glimpses of the aptly named Mountain Resort where we would be staying for the next three days.
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The Mountain Resort consisted of around twenty bungalows perched precariously on a large wooded hill overlooking a stretch of postcard-picture-quality beach. The Bungalows themselves were clean, had Air-con and most importantly a sea view. We ate dinner on the resorts' gargantuan deck that clung to the cliff side forty feet above the beach and commanded eye watering views of the island spotted Andaman Sea. Our first evening was spent watching the sun go down on the beach before counting the stars by moonlight and enjoying the seductive peacefulness of a pristine beach we had to ourselves.
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The morning of our second day was spent snorkeling. The visibility in the water was fantastic and it was thoroughly enjoyable floating above the fish infested black coral that is indigenous to this region. The best fish sighting of the day went to Niamh who spotted a young Barracuda which seemed almost translucent as it shimmered past both of us.

That evening we decided to go and find the main village. As I mentioned our resort was in quiet a remote part of the island so we had to either trek through the jungle in the dark or walk along one of the beaches before cutting through one of the smaller villages. Unsurprisingly we opted for the beach route. I should say at this point that Koh Lipe is so small that it has no cars or roads so as a result most transport is done by either walking or by longtail boat.

Once we finally found our way to relative civilization we stumbled across a little local Thai restaurant called "The Happy Restaurant". Our meal here consisted of the freshest fish I have ever tasted, stuffed with lemon grass and garlic and wrapped in a banana leaf before being barbecued.
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We finished the night watching a local fire show. I must say that there was something very cool about drinking an ice cold Singha beer on the beach while watching such an entertaining spectacle as a fire show for the first time. There was something almost hypnotic about watching two flaming braziers revolve faster and faster on alternating orbits around the lithe and graceful bodies of the fire dancers.
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Our final day was spent much like the first and by the time it came for us to leave we both agreed that Koh Lipe had been the highlight of the holiday up to that point.

Posted by niamh_darr 06.12.2008 00:34 Archived in Thailand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Malaysia final

Langkawi

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Both myself and Niamh were really looking forward to the beaches of Langkawi. We'd been in South East Asia for just about a week and for all that time we had been in built up areas so the opportunity flake out on a beach appealed to both of us.

Langkawi itself turned out to be a bit of a double edged sword. On the positive side the beach beach where we were staying was stunning and consisted of 2km of white sand with clear blue water on one side and palm trees on the other. The sunsets here were beautiful. Panti Cheng, the area where we were staying was slightly less aesthetic. The main strip, which ran adjacent to the beach, looked like it had been stated over a year ago and was never finished. To be honest, it was a bit of a dump but you take the good with the bad and ultimately the beauty of the beach far outweighed any other down sides.

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Beautiful sunsets here though...
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Posted by niamh_darr 04:08 Archived in Malaysia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Malaysia continues

Georgetown

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Our next stop after Kuala Lumpur was an island along the straights of Melaka called Penang. Our destination on this Island was an old colonial city called Georgetown.

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Despite the fact that it was raining when we arrived, both myself an Niamh instantly liked Georgetown. Our only problem at this point was the fact that we had nowhere to stay! This problem was solved - or so we hoped - when the Taxi driver that picked us up from the ferry offered to bring us to a "Vey ni pla", he promptly dropped us at a hotel in the bowels of Chinatown called the Waldorf. We checked into the Waldorf and then promptly checked out again fifteen minutes later. The best description I have for this place is that it looked like one of the hotel rooms that the beginning of the film the Beach was shot in. You know the part where Leonardo DiCaprio's character meets the looper Bunny and he first finds out about the Beach, well it was the exact same as that, complete with flickering fluorescent lights, grimy walls and bed cloths and a big TV that harked back to 1982. D.U.M.P

After leaving the Waldorf we walked around Chinatown for a while until we stumbled across a nice little hostel called Jims Place. This place was a cool little Rasta orientated hostel which was heavily decorated with Jamaican flags and pictures of Bob Marley. Jim (the owner) was an old hippy Indian dude who came bedecked with the mandatory dreadlocks, dilated pupils and bloodshot eyes. This was the first taste of the backpacking vibe we had been looking forward to since we left South Africa over a year ago.

Over the next two days we spent our time walking around old colonial Georgetown taking in the lovely laidback feel to the town. The two highlights of this leg of our journey was the Penang Museum where we got to see the evolution of the island in relation to the British, Chinese, Indian and Malay settlers. Going up Penang Hill was the second highlight. Essentially this is a cable car ride up the mountain/hill that sits in the centre of Penang island. The views form up here were incredible and the high altitude offered a welcome respite to the humidity of Georgetown.

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After two days in Georgetown we bid farewell to the very friendly Jim, lumbered into our backpacks and jumped onto a boat bound for the beaches of Langkawi

Posted by niamh_darr 04:03 Archived in Malaysia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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