KOH SAMUI: & A brief 36 hours in Phuket

Day One: Samui Hostel & Chaweng Beach 

Leaving Koh Phangan and any illnesses behind us we set out on another ferry to the next island – Koh Samui!!! Our hostel was called Samui Hostel (Matt had stayed there so we decided it would be a good idea). Once checked in we headed down down to Chaweng beach for the day – only a five minute walk away so it was really easy to get to. Chaweng beach is very pretty with nice yellow sand. It also had lots of nice restaurants along the whole beach, so just like in Koh Tao we ended up having lunch and dinner on the beach that day. Deciding to explore Chaweng beach a bit more we walked further down and stumbled across Lipsmackers (a Reggae type bar) and Ark Bar both of which again Matt had recommended us!

Later Elle wandered down the beach to see where she stayed when visiting Koh Samui previously with her family; so I sat writing my Koh Phangan blog with a Chang at Lipsmackers watching the sun go down over the sea, very tranquil! 

We had booked to go to Angthong National Marine Park the next day so had a quiet night at the hostel as we were getting picked up at 7:30am for the excursion. 

Day Two: Angthong National Marine Park

After being picked up at 7:30am by a minibus we boarded quite a big boat that was going to take about an hour and a half to get to Angthong National Marine Park. 

Once we had arrived at Angthong we took a long tail boat over to one of the islands where we walked up to a viewpoint of the Green Lagoon which was stunning!

After taking in the amazing views of the Green Lagoon we did 40 minutes of sea kayaking around some of the islands and back to where the bigger boat was going to pick us up. We were actually quite good at it! However we saw one boat capsize with three people in, which didn’t look good from our point of view! The excursion staff took us between the rocks, which was a bit daunting but mainly enjoyable; I was expecting it to be scarier but we were calm throughout. 

The excursion included a Thai lunch on the boat which wasn’t too bad and following this we went to another island where we could climb up to 500m to a viewpoint of all the 42 islands of the National Park. Unfortunately we got the last boat over so only had enough time to make it to the 350m viewpoint but the view was still amazing! To get up there we basically had to do some free styling rock climbing with just a rope to support us, but it was fun even if we did get extremely sweaty (lovely I know). 

Overall our day at Angthong was really nice, we even were entertained on the journey there and back by groups of people basically doing DIY bikini photo shoots. I also spotted a couple with matching outfits and ‘Koh Samui’ tops which did make me laugh! 

In the evening we headed further along Chaweng and ended up having the least Thai like food; piri piri chicken but it was really yummy! The original plan was to go out for some drinks but I had rocking vertigo (when you still feel like you’re on a boat) really quite badly! Elle had it also so when we started to drink a glass of wine we felt even more sea sick. It was such a weird feeling! So instead of going out we went back to the hostel and had an amazing Thai pancake called Rotis with banana and Nutella in – it was pancake day in England so we HAD to have one obviously (even though we already had eaten a million by this point during our time in Thailand).

Day Three: Big Buddha Temple
We had wanted to go to the Big Buddha temple since we spotted it from a far when arriving to the pier on our first day. So on our final day we went to see it by taxi. There was no cost to go and it was really cool to see, it basically is what it says in the description – giant gold Buddha! Elle and I noticed that there were loads of different drinks with straws placed around the Buddha and temple in general. We were intrigued to find out why so asked a man working there; he told us it was used to symbolise water so that the Buddha stayed hydrated; people would leave their drinks for the Buddha to have. I found this really interesting! The taxi driver was nice and took us to another temple afterwards and let us walk around for a bit (at no extra cost)!
Visiting the temple only took up the morning so in the afternoon we went to Chaweng beach again, but it was quite windy so I ended up sleeping most of the time; I think the antihistamines the hospital gave me were actually making me feel drowsy. 

In the evening we went for dinner at a restaurant called ‘The Loft’. I had a very yummy and cheap meal of fried rice and chicken (I’ve been eating that a lot). Then on our last night in Koh Samui we finally headed for a night out beginning with Ark Bar on the beach which is massive and as it got later everybody started dancing on the sand. They had fire performers, monkeys, iguana’s & loads of kids selling glow in the dark stuff and flower headbands. I think we stayed at Ark Bar until around 1am before heading to The Green Mango (some girls in our hostel had been there and we’d generally heard good things). The Green Mango was really cool, playing RnB music. We both wished we had gone maybe a bit earlier as it was really busy but by this point we didn’t want anymore to drink. 
Journey to Phuket

Getting to Phuket from Koh Samui was the weirdest journey we’ve had so far! Firstly we got picked up from our hostel in a minibus and taken to a coach. The coach which was too full and had people standing in the aisles then took us to the pier and drove onto a ferry. Then we had an hour or so on this ferry before getting back onto the coach. We were under the impression that once we were back on this coach we would have to switch to another large coach as this is what the lady told us. NOPE we got dropped off on the side of the road basically at some weird service type station where we waited for about half an hour. In this service station I witnessed a centipede in the toilet by my feet but there was nothing I could do by this point so just told myself to not freak out and literally watched it’s every move! After this we were shuffled on to a blue tuk tuk with some other guy on it from Kazakstan who was going to the train station… All this stopping and starting and getting on and off different transport was pretty annoying but like most things that have been strange in Thailand you just have to laugh about it! This blue tuk tuk dropped us off at another one of these interesting looking waiting areas where we finally got onto our last form of transport – another minibus!
Finally arriving to Phuket around 10:30-11pm we were really hungry after living off snacks all day! With some guidance and advice from one of our room mates we headed in the direction of Bangla Road to get some food and check out the insane nightlife we’d heard of. We ended up eating just before midnight so once I started eating I felt full pretty quickly… Then we walked up the road to Bangla Walking street to witness the craziest night life I’ve ever seen! It was so extreme and there were people offering ping pong shows everywhere! We just had a look along the road and didn’t go into any bars as we were tired from the journey but decided we would go out the next night.

One full day in Phuket

Our one day in Phuket felt like one of the hottest days we had here in Thailand (even though it’s around 35/36 degrees consistently here). Patong beach was about a 20 minute walk from our hostel so once there I was straight in the sea! Generally it was quite a relaxing day even though the heat was pretty overwhelming and there was no breeze. 

That night we went to Bangla Road with full intentions of giving the nightlife a proper go. We went into a place called Illusion night club; a promoter told us it was a bar for just tourists with no dancers, prostitutes etc. But when we went in it was strange with a very odd set up. Most people were sitting down but the few people that were dancing were all facing the DJs like it was a gig or something. The female ‘DJs’ were on a raised platform infront of a huge LCD screen which changed to different backgrounds… We decided not to stay for a drink here. 

Luckily we managed to find a live music bar called Monsoon which was the most normal place of all the bars and clubs on the street. The Chang there was cheap unlike the rest of the street: 180 baht for a small one which is crazy when usually the most you’ll pay anywhere else in Thailand is 80 baht. We weren’t willing to pay for more beers if we thought the nightlife was crap anyway! The last place we went to was a club which proved to be full of people completely off their heads… And it felt grimy and dirty with the heat so all in all our night out along Bangla wasn’t all that successful but we were fine with that. Generally the people that were out were alot older than us and a lot of men seeking out Thai dancers. 

The next day we left to go to Phi Phi which I was quite happy about. I’m glad we briefly visited Phuket to see what it was like but it definitely was my least favourite place we had visited so far. 

BANGKOK: The Beginning of Becoming True Backpackers

Dramatic Flight

Leaving Dubai with our luggage and heading to Thailand felt great; the journey between the two was just around 6 hours. However within that 6 hours we experienced an hour and a half of pretty intense turbulence; I’ve never experienced such a long amount before. Even the cabin crew had to sit for the majority of it; but all in all we arrived to Bangkok in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Arriving at our hostel at 3am led to a very awkward entering of our room with the other 6 girls in there already asleep! However once we’d sorted our stuff out and found our way to free lockers we settled down for our first night in a hostel… Now the backpacking experience was definitely becoming real! The hostel was called Lub. D which in Thai means sleep well, and we sure did. It was such a nice hostel to start our trip; with a downstairs bar, a great shower room and really helpful staff!

Day 1: General laziness and eating lots of food

Day 1 was a tad of a struggle due to going to sleep at 3am and waking again between 8-9am… We wondered around the streets of Silom where our hostel was based. This was my first ever experience of Thailand and I have to say it felt far from my lifestyle back home. The hanging wires from the wooden poles, the variety of smells from the stalls upon stalls of street food, and interesting smells most probably coming from the drains. However all of these thing are what make you realise how big a world we live in and how our lifestyles across cultures vary drastically, there is much more to life than that of in the western world.

After strolling around the local area we settled down for lunch at The Mango Tree; we actually stayed there for a good few hours whilst experiencing our first day of the intense heat…

During the evening we went for dinner with another girl from our dorm who was from Paris… It was nice to sit down with someone we’ve never met before and just chat! In some sense Elle and I have said this reminded us of uni – where you are constantly meeting new people and hearing their stories. Jen had flew in that day also so we all headed back to the hostel for a pretty early night.

Day 2: The Grand Palace and Wat Pho

Elle had been to see The Grand Palace and Wat Pho previously but she was more than happy to go again so I could see it. The journey to the Palace was actually quite fun as we took the Sky train to a pier and from there took a tourist ferry up the river so we got to hear some interesting facts along the way.

First stop was The Grand Palace, which really is grand… It was so beautiful to see the amazing architecture with such bright and complicated patterns – definitely a work of art! Also at the Palace was the Emerald Buddha, very cool however you weren’t able to take pictures whilst in there. You had to sit with either your legs crossed or under your bum so that your feet were not the facing the Buddha. It kind of reminded me of my experience at the Sistine Chapel in Rome as you had to be quiet and respect the religious surroundings you were in. The whole room was extremely beautiful.

We spent about an hour and a half at The Grand Palace. You had to cover your legs and arms: the funny thing was that Elle and I thought we’d covered up enough – Elle wore a maxi dress and wrapped her scarf around her arms and I wore a maxi skirt with a top and scarf. BUT they told us just using a scarf wasn’t enough; I guess people could easily take it off so I understand from that point of view. SO we had to borrow clothes from the Palace; these blue shirts that looked ridiculous with our nicely put together outfits… They kind of reminded me of hospital scrubs, so we rocked that look for the time we were there!

Later we headed to Wat Pho; home to the massive and I mean massive golden reclining Buddha! I’ve never seen anything like it and I cannot imagine how or who made it because it was literally nearly the size of an aeroplane! Luckily we were able to take pictures of that. This concluded our cultural day out and we again took the ferry/ sky train combo back to our hostel.

In the evening we went to a really good German and Thai that restaurant called Gi’s in a place called Pat Phong which was in walking distance of our hostel. It was so funny as it was based in an area with loads of sex bars; so many Thai girls or ladyboys trying to get attention of western men walking by and even us! So many people tried to get us to go into the bars to watch interesting shows let’s put it that way, you could see girls dancing on the podiums in all of the bars. When at Gi’s we sat by the window; it was entertaining to watch the world go by and see all this taking place outside.

Onto the food though – Elle had German and I had Thai Green Curry, as trip advisor had stated the food was great, as well as the service; the German owner (named Gi) was very welcoming and accommodating and even gave us some advice for the islands.

Day 3: MBK & Final Day

We were leaving around 9pm to travel to Koh Tao by a night bus and ferry so checked out of our hostel first thing, stored our luggage there and then took the short sky train trip to a massive shopping centre called MBK.

This shopping centre was like nothing you would get in the UK, all the shops and stalls sold ‘brands’ and you can barter down the prices. My favourite part of them was the indoor markets. I love elephants so ended up buying elephant trousers and a top with elephants on as well; I obviously won’t be wearing them at the same time though!

Bangkok was an interesting place to be, a lot of people give mixed feedback about it. I’m glad I got to go but it was very hot being in a city with no pool or beaches so by the last day I was definitely looking forward to heading to the islands. We will be heading back to Bangkok a couple of days before we fly to Sydney. When we come back we are going to stay on the backpacker road called Ko San Road so we get to experience that part of Bangkok.

I began writing this as I was travelling on a night bus from Bangkok to Chumpon, from here we took a ferry over to Koh Tao. I’m very much looking forward to all the beautiful beaches that the islands in the Gulf of Thailand have to offer, this island hopping experience is going to be fun!