Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Rain Season in Thailand

On our second day in Koh Phi Phi we had a bit of rain in the morning. Good thing we had to check out of the most remote hostel ever and find another place to stay. 

The rest of the day was actually pretty clear, and surprisingly the streets were completely dry by mid afternoon with absolutely no trace of floods from earlier that morning.
We took advantage of this beautiful weather and went on our first official scuba diving trip outside of Australia.

Saw our first turtle within the first 5 minutes of our first dive

And proceeded to stalk it for pretty much the rest of the dive

Diving in Phi Phi was very different from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The coral in Thailand was a huge let down after getting spoiled by the flawless and colourful coral reefs in the GBR. Most of the reefs here were destroyed a few years back by various natural disasters and copious amounts of careless tourists. 
I did get what I came there for though - TURTLES!

Koh Phi Phi and The Beach

From Phuket we took a ferry to the famous Koh Phi Phi.
There are plenty of services that run ferries from Phuket <--> Koh Phi Phi <--> Krabi and conveniently sell open tickets for any time, any day. Going through an agent for this is useless - the public transport is perfectly fine and probably the cheapest option of them all. 

Koh Phi Phi is a small pedestrian-only island, so everything is very close together. Expect for the hostel that we booked, which was at the top of the hill, 23452349879 km away from the port where we arrived. 

Following a friend's recommendation we booked a fluorescent plankton tour. There was a choice between a sunset tour that would bring you back the same day, or a sleep aboard tour, where you sleep on the boat and return to the island after breakfast onboard the next morning. Considering our relationship with boats in the past month has been subpar at best, we decided to just book the sunset tour. The tour included a boat ride to Maya Bay, where the movie The Beach was filmed (with Leo Dicaprio), dinner, snacks, snorkelling, kayaks, and finally swimming with fluorescent plankton when the sun goes down.

Pirates' Cave on the way to Maya Bay

Small passage through the limestone rocks to get to Maya Bay. Great snorkelling location!

Two Canadians in Thailand.

The tour was pretty great, until of course, we had to perform an emergency evacuation and run to a shelter on the island to hide from the surprise hurricane. Our "sunset boat tour" quickly turned into the overnight live-aboard tour and since we were the only two people on this trip that were signed up for the sunset tour, we were forced to stay overnight with the rest of the group. I guess based on our visible discontent about having to sleep on a boat, we got assigned a personal caregiver who gave us clothes to change into, extra food, extra drinks and came around to us every few minutes to make sure we were ok. The surprise hurricane conveniently ended by night time, and we were free to go back into the water in the dark and swim with the fluorescent plankton, which we wouldn't have been able to see as well had we only done the sunset tour. It was an incredible experience!

We all slept on mattresses on the boat (which wasn't half bad actually), and the next morning after breakfast and a short snorkelling session we headed back to the main island. All in all it turned out to be a fantastic trip and probably one of my highlights from Thailand. Too bad we booked that really nice hostel 45234958798km away which we never got to use. 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Fuck it, let's go to Phuket

After a long overnight train from Bangkok to Surat Thani (~1200BHT, and about 12 hrs), where a vendor sang "Singha Beer, Singha Beer, Singa all the way!" to the tune of Jingle Bells .. all the way.. and a few more busses and scams, we finally ended up in Phuket. Which might as well be named Little Russia. All signs and menus were translated into Russian, and sometimes English. 
We found a great hostel, minutes away from Kata Beach. A pretty touristy place, but not as bad as some of the places were managed to avoid in Phuket. 

We immediately signed ourselves up for an elephant trek at Kok Chang Elephant Trekking. It seemed to be the least commercialized camp, and judging from some TripAdvisor reviews, they actually took care of the elephants fairly well. 

What they casually forget to mention when you sign up, is the free included GIANT SPIDER SANCTUARY. Where spiders freestyle jump and appear inches from your face when you least expect it.

I came down with a pretty bad fever while in Phuket, so I don't have very positive memories from this place. We never bothered getting any of the anti-malarial or any anti-fever shots prior to our trip, so I was pretty concerned it was something serious. Luckily enough, there happened to be a Canadian doctor from UBC right around the corner from our guesthouse, who took me in for a free checkup and told me I'll live.