Asia . Thailand . Southern Islands

February 7th, 2010 - February 20th, 2010

So after seeing the markets, playing at haggling and riding in some tuk-tuks (asian open-air taxis), it was time to leave Bangkok and start our island-hopping adventure. But before leaving the city we had a morning trip to see the floating markets: a series of narrow canals with market stalls on either side of the water as well as on boats. A very attractive venue full of deliciously overpriced produce and deliciously well-priced soup (I love you tom-yum!).

After the market, we boarded our VIP bus to the islands. Below is a compressed and type-written version of my memories.

Bangkok to Surrathani Port (bus) - ~12 hours (overnight)
  • The seats on the bus reclined directly onto the lap of the person behind you. Inadequate air-conditioning. Tried muscle-relaxants to help ease the path to sleep, which literally made my body useless -- Stephen Hawkins must sleep well!
Surrathani Port - ~4 hours
  • The VIP bus dropped us off here. We waited. Half-a-day later a minibus picked us up and brought us to the port where our boat departed.
Surrathani Port to Koh Samui (boat, AC) - ~1-2 hours
  • Fast boat. AC. Awesome.
Koh Samui (AC, pool, breakfast included) - 3 days
  • This place had everything you need to relax: free breakfast, good market, crashing waves, a bar with swings instead of seats, a waterfall that required a sketchy-local-guide (you could tell he lived in the forest by his smell!)
  • Looked for a Muay Thai match -- too expensive
Koh Samui to Koh Phanang (boat) - ~1-2 hours

Koh Phanang (fan, pirated movies, malfunctioning toilet / shower) - 3 days
  • Koh Phanang is know for it's lunar-schedule parties. We planned to come here for a Black Moon party. Our travel agent Joe promised us a Black Moon party. Our tickets had us LEAVING on the day of the Black Moon party. Screw you Joe. Not a total loss though. The beach where the Black Moon party takes place has a party every night. Our evening went something like: empty beach party, empty pool party, drinking, crowded pool party, dancing, crowded beach party, drinking, dancing, crowded foam party, dancing, fire party, dancing, pancakes, home. For those not acquainted with foam parties, imagine slowly dumping 50 kg of soap into a laundry machine that is has a constant flow of water and an over-active agitatory. 3m of bubbles covering a 10m2 plot. One of Team Canada spontaneously evolved into a foam based creature and spent the whole night hunting the bubbly depths.
  • Awesome Asian BBQ. Imagine a large pan with a softly peaked-centre and surrounding trough (like an inverted doughnut) placed on a pile of glowing embers. Grab meat / fish / other to grill on the peak. Fill the trough with soup broth and slowly simmer vegetables and noodles. Very hands-on. Very fun. Came with one scoop of free ice-cream!
  • Looked for aMuay Thai match -- too expensive
Koh Phanang to Surrathani Port (boat) - 1-2 hours

Surrathani Port - ~4 hours
  • Again, randomly at this port.

Surrathani Port to Krabi (minibus / van) - ~7 hours
  • You know that litte bit of "middle-seat" that's between the driver and passenger? Well I hadn't sat there since I was a kid.. so it was pretty exciting to sit there for this 7 hour trip.

Krabi (fan) - 3 days
  • Nice coastal city.
  • Visited Reilley beach. A nice stretch of sand. Cool cliffs. The hikes to the viewpoint and lagoon are short, but well worth it. To reach the viewpoint you have to follow a path that is as close to climbing as a hike can be. To reach the lagoon you have to shimmy down a series of ropes that dangle over short, but dangerous drops.
  • Looked for a Muay Thai match -- too expensive
Krabi to Koh Phi Phi (boat) - ~1-2 hours

Koh Phi Phi (fan, pool, 1000 steps) - 3 days
  • Crowded, streets filled with tourists and a handful of necessary locals.
  • Bars everywhere.
  • Pretty expensive food (by Thai standards).
  • Enormous number of free buckets (buckets of alcohol).
  • Impressive fire shows.
  • Accommodation was at the top of a hundred steps, which were at the peak of a hill, which was through a maze of streets. Luckily our accomodation sent a guide to meet us at the docks. The guide muled a single-axle baggage wagon so we didn't have to carry our crap -- thanks! We found out later that the baggage wagon could also carry people who were badly intoxicated (one of Team Canada was generous enough to be the drunken guinea pig).
  • Looked for a Muay Thai match -- too expensive

The trip was everything you'd expect of a tropical island hopping adventure: warm and clear ocean, comfortably basic accommodation, cold beer, good food, good friends and good fun!

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