Leaving Thailand xxx Lanta & Krabi part 2

We spent quite a long time trying to figure out the best way to make it down into Malaysia. Initially we planned to travel all the way to Lang Ka Wi by ferry, but it was looking expensive. Instead we looked at flying from Krabi to Penang, a single ticket was about £42, whereas the ferries had been looking more like £150 per person. Decision made.

To get back to Krabi involved a ferry to Lanta (from Kradan), with a night stop-over. We stayed at the pier in a really budget place – shared bathroom, no window etc. etc… I swear the room was about ten degrees hotter than it was outside! It was just the one night though so we went for a bit of a wander then got our heads down. Early the next morning we were on a ferry to Krabi. We enjoyed the old town so much we decided to go back, and we returned to the same hotel. There was a walking street/night-market that only runs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights – something we didn’t get the chance to see before. So that evening we headed off to find it. It was the busiest market we’ve been to, literally it was so hectic, it was brilliant! There were food stalls, BBQs, jewellery stands, juice vendors, handbags, clothes, electric goods, trinkets… there was just so much going on and hardly room to move – you just sort of shuffle along with the crowd! The next night Jamie took me to a lovely little Italian restaurant called Chilitas where we had a quiet evening and an early night, ready to fly to Penang in the morning. Below are some of my favourite pics from the market x

seafood...

seafood…

 

jewellery...

jewellery…

candy

candy

burgers!

burgers!

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Beautiful Koh Kradan…

Kradan has been my favourite destination in Thailand!! Almost everyone we spoke to, both travellers and locals, agreed that Kradan is widely regarded as Thailand’s most beautiful island. The beaches are perfect white sands and crystal clear waters, hemmed in by an amazing coral reef and a drop-off to about 8 metres – teeming with fish and bright healthy corals.

arriving...

arriving…

We arrived in Kradan on a ferry from Lanta, costing about £10 each. We approached the island from the north and carried on about two-thirds of the way down to where the ferry lands. It only takes about ten minutes and our first glimpses of the island had me really excited. The shallows go out for about 200 metres at the furthest. We both agreed we’d never seen clearer waters, and are almost pure white. It’s like a swimming pool. All along the coast the water is a two-tone blue between the shallows and the drop-off. Even in the deeper area where the ferry chugs the water is so clear you can just about make out the rocks and shapes at the bottom. The ferry arrives at high tide and pulls all the way onto the beach. Jamie got our bags onto the beach and then I climbed down a little ladder, got into the water and waded in. We had to walk about a kilometre north with our backpacks to find where we were staying. We quickly realised when we were trying to book that Kradan is not cheap. You can easily book into a high-end resort and pay £180+ a night. Thankfully though there are cheaper options! We stayed at the Kradan Island Resort for about £30 a night. That’s still expensive for us but it was completely worth it. The bungalow was made entirely out of bamboo, with a little balcony with chairs and a hammock. The best part though – at high-tide we were literally 10 ft from the water! In the mornings we could open our window and see the aqua-blue of the Andaman on an almost deserted beach. I guess that’s what you pay for (and it worth every penny!) other than that it was extremely basic: mattress on the floor, no hot water, semi-outside bathroom. It’s a bit like camping actually – and we loved it!!!

the view from our bed

the view from our bed

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beach outside our bungalow

beach outside our bungalow

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looking north

looking north

I was desperate to get snorkelling and explore the reef so on the first day we walked south for about 500 metres, the reef isn’t too far out here and it gradually comes inland to almost meet the shore. The shallows are sandy and great for swimming, even 100 metres out you can easily stand. Once we reached the reef it was just amazing. I’ve never seen so many fish. There are hundreds of little flashing reef fish, and shoals of brightly coloured parrot fish chomping away on the corals. In deeper water past the drop-off there a bigger darker looking fish, hundreds of them in a spiral shaped shoal near the bottom. I tried to do some research so I could identify some of the species but there are so so many its a little confusing. I’m pretty sure I saw lots of hump coral, as well as vase, finger and brain. Fish were more complicated but there is one I am sure of – the sergeant major damselfish! They are about 4 inches with blue and yellow stripes. Apparently what happens is that boat day-trippers come out to this reef from nearby islands on snorkelling trips and they feed the fish. So when you snorkel there within minutes you have this cheeky little entourage of the sergeant majors, expecting to be fed, but if you stay too still they will nip at you! Its doesn’t hurt at all and it isn’t dangerous but it freaked me out the first time it happened! After that we just learnt to swish around a lot whenever the got too close or too many!!

sand art x

sand art x

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In the evenings the beach exposes a low-tide sand-bar about 100 metres out from the shore. We picked our way out there and it is probably the most stunning beach walk I’ve ever seen. It feels a bit strange to walk on totally dry white sand so far out from shore, and to have the sea either side of you! We walked for a good 45 minutes south and back, but it continues way up past the mangroves to north of the island too.

just playing on a swing hehehe

just playing on a swing hehehe

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'J' bar!

‘J’ bar!

That evening I was feeling a bit sunned-out and very happy. Our first day was so much fun. We had a couple of cold Changs on the balcony, me swinging about in the hammock! Later on we went to the Reef Bar and met a couple of divers who suggested we try Scuna, which is sort of in-between snorkelling and scuba diving. You have a machine on the boat that pumps air down a hose to your regulator. You get weighted down but you don’t have the full suit and tanks like in scuba. You can still get down to 15 metres or so if you want to though. its also less than half the rice of a trial scuba dive. It isn’t Jamie’s kind of thing but I guess he could tell that I really wanted to try it, so he surprised me and booked us both in for the morning!!! Unfortunately we got so caught up chatting that we didn’t realise all of the restaurants on the island shut down by 9pm, so we had to go a little hungry and make do with a nice and healthy crisp dinner!

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rainbow over Koh Muk

rainbow over Koh Muk

I was a little nervous about Scuna the next morning. We met the guy at 10am, he loaded up the long-tail boat and we set off about 10:20. He was a really friendly Jamaican guy, but to be honest the whole thing seemed pretty disorganised, like not having the boat ready to go and stuff. Plus he told us he’d only gotten out of bed 15 minutes ago! We stopped at a good place and he talked us through the safety bits, how to purge the regulator etc…. it feels pretty weird to begin with, especially because it’s harder to breath on the surface than 2 metres under (no idea why). After a few minutes though I was enjoying it, and we both took to it pretty quickly. We got the weighted belts and we were off! I didn’t have any problems equalising on the way down, which I’d been worried about. We got down to about 8 metres, seeing the reef up close and being able to stay down there was a great experience and its given me the confidence to try a scuba dive.

The next day we walked all the way down to the Southern tip of the island. I’d read online that the best snorkelling was to be found down there. We packed our bags and headed off. The walk took us about 45 minutes but we were stopped half way by a rocky headland and we had to wait for the tide to go out some more. There was a lovely spot of beach there. We went for a swim then had a sunbathe. After about an hour the water was low enough for Jamie to take both bags and wade around. I’m too short so I swam 🙂 At this end of the island there is only one resort and restaurant- the Ao Niang. There was a channel through the coral and the tide was still high enough that we could swim out over the rocks. The coral here was much brighter and more varied than on the house reef, and there were different kinds of fish to the ones we’d seen before, and bigger in size. Territorial white damsel fish charge at you nose-on as you swim past their homes. It’s funny. There were enormous conches too. Pairs of bright yellow fish that looked the same shape as the angelfish were some of my favourites. So pretty. We had a very reasonable lunch at the restaurant afterwards, then headed back.

snapping a selfie while we wait for the tide

snapping a selfie while we wait for the tide

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On the west coast of the island is Sunset Beach. We walked there on a tiny little trail through the jungle. It was seriously hot and sweaty in there, the path was really overgrown and twisty. We made it just as the light was fading. The beach itself was pretty, with a few fishing boats dotted in the bay. Sadly though there is quite a lot of litter, there’s hundreds of washed up flip flops. I guess they just don’t maintain it because there are no bars or resorts or anything here. On the east coast we saw people tidying up the beach every morning and evening. It’s such a beautiful place and I hope that in the future the west coast gets tidied up. Kradan has no villages or roads, it’s really just the tourism that pulls in the money so I suppose the conservation of the island is in everyone’s interest. I really hope so.

walk to Sunset Beach

walk to Sunset Beach

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In short I just couldn’t recommend Kradan enough. It is the quintessential paradise island that I’d been hoping for. While we were there I really felt like I was away from the rest of the world – I didn’t care that we had no wifi and no hot water. It’s so beautiful and we just sat back, chilled out and felt happy that we were so lucky xxxx

 

Koh Lanta… Sunsets and Beach Parties

We left Koh Jum as we arrived, knee deep in water, hopping onto a long-tail boat that took us out to the ferry. The ferry ride that day was really hot and crowded and I was glad to arrive in Lanta. We had our first two nights at Long Beach, it was busy but very beautiful. After that we went south to Khlong Khong beach. I’d read that it had more of a backpacker, beach party vibe. I also read that the snorkelling here was supposed to be pretty good at low tide, but unfortunately it wasn’t. Most of the restaurants and bars are lined up on the beach, which weirdly is kind of deserted during the daytime. It’s busy at night though, there are BBQs and happy hours galore! The first night we arrived there was a half-moon party which was so much fun. There was a really impressive fire dancing show, and we maybe had a beer too many!

We stayed at the Green Chilli Bungalows for about £14 a night. They’ve been the best quality bungalows we’ve stayed in yet, and we had a nice big balcony that we could sit and watch the sunsets on, and a Seven Eleven a couple of minutes walk away. We discovered that the restaurants on the road behind the beach are much cheaper. Tuna or chicken salads for about £2, pad thai about the same. We went to a BBQ place one night called Lanta Sure, and had an amazing whole fish for just £5.

We had some brilliant news while we were here – Jamie’s mum Ruth is planning on meeting us in Vietnam around the end of March. We’re so excited! Can’t wait to show her around Saigon and Nha Trang! It’ll be a perfect way to end the trip!

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Peace and Quiet in Koh Jum…

The first stop on our Andaman island hop was Koh Jum (also called Koh Pu). We got a ferry from Krabi to Jum for about £8 each. The journey was actually quite good fun. The ferry stops offshore and a rush of longboats come out to meet it, taking passengers to various resorts along the island. Its a little bit hairy as you hand over your bags and then hop over the boats to get to your one, but it all seemed fairly well organised and we got to shore (with our bags) without a problem. Once the boat had reached the beach we threw our shoes onto the sand and jumped in! its only about a foot deep, and Jamie’s easily tall enough to take our bags without any danger of an accidental dip.

waiting for the ferry at Krabi...

waiting for the ferry at Krabi…

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selfie on the ferry!

selfie on the ferry!

longboats coming out to meet us

longboats coming out to meet us

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We stayed at the Coral Bay for £14 a night. We had our own little bungalow with a private shower/toilet,  and an area to sit outside. It was basic but cosy and perfectly comfortable. Electricity is turned off during the day (!) but it really wasn’t a problem as we spent our days on the beach, sunning and swimming. The generator gets turned on about 4, and we only really wanted it for the fan. I got stung by a jellyfish on the first day, but it was nothing serious, just felt like a bad nettle sting and it was gone by the morning.

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The beach directly out the front of us was a little rocky but we explored down to the right and found a lovely sandy cove, with lots of big trees for shade. We settled for the day and it felt like having our own private beach. We maybe saw 5 other people all day. The sand is really fine and soft, the water is clear, and there are dozens of these funny little sand crabs that have little dramas (claws up and swagger on) – fun to watch while you sunbathe.

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going for a dip

going for a dip

beach taxi

beach taxi

sunset x

sunset x

We booked in for two more nights because we were loving the peace and quiet after Bangkok and Phuket! The sunsets were beautiful to watch with a nice cold Chang before dinner. Only criticism might be that things were quite expensive to buy on the island (but we had expected as much). Water was double what you would normally pay. Having said that the food was very good and the staff really friendly. We met a German guy called Steve who said he’d seen phosphorescence on the beach a couple of nights before. We weren’t lucky enough to see any though. We also met a really nice English couple who were also travelling- we hope we convinced them to visit Vietnam! Koh Jum is such a peaceful and laid-back island, makes me excited to see more! Next stop Koh Lanta….

Krabi…

We left for Krabi very early in the morning on the 19th of January. We had two options: a ferry that went via Phi Phi and cost about £15, or a 4 hr bus ride that cost about £7…. No brainer. So we were up very early to catch our bus- which turned out to be a minibus (with a crazy driver- standard). Anyway, we survived and by late afternoon we were in Krabi.
We stayed at The Grand Mansion for £10 a night, first place we’d tried with no AC. It was very comfortable, and the staff we really friendly- in fact I think it was the friendliest place we’d stayed yet in Thailand!
For dinner we walked down the river to the Maharaj Market. At night time it becomes a food market. There are upwards of twenty different curries on sale and loads of little BBQ sticks with things like chicken, sweetcorn, fish, veg… The place smells incredible!
We both had a massaman with chicken for under a pound each, and it was seriously good curry. The stalls are run by Thai-Muslims so there is no alcohol for sale.

For beer afterwards we headed to the Chao Fah Pier, again at night times this becomes a big street food type market. There is a good atmosphere, although it is quite touristy, it’s nothing like Phuket or BK.

Krabi was very chilled and felt very authentic and we enjoyed it very much.
Next stop Koh Jum….

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Phuket – Bangkok…. Bangkok – Phuket

I’d like to keep the posts chronological so we’re going back a couple of months here for our first visit to Thailand, when met Jamie’s parents Ted and Ruth….. Then we were back in England for five weeks…. And then on January 12th we came back to Thailand to pick up where we left off. It’s a complicated life, but I can’t say I mind it!!!!

On November 21st Jamie and I flew from Saigon to Phuket where we had two nights in Patong while we waited for Ted and Ruth to arrive. Oh my goodness! Patong was such a shock to the system after three months in Vietnam. Bangla Road is crazy – it’s just a hectic, noisy, chaotic strip f clubs, go-go bars, upstairs strip clubs, lady-boys, drinking, drunkenness, revelry, and boobs and bums in your face everywhere!! We sat at the Sea Dragon to people watch over a couple of bottles of Chang – there were so many pissed people! The road is so busy, but apparently a good portion of this are people simply walking the strip to have a look. Either way the place has a great party vibe and we fell for it hook, line and sinker.

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We went to a go go bar, that’s where girls in underwear dance on the bar, but it’s no seedier than that. I played a barmaid at connect four and won a shot of something yuk. We drank too much Chang- watch out for this sneaky little lager! And we had such good fun that night!!!!

The next morning we both vowed to never drink Chang again. We chilled in our hotel room watching The Walking Dead (I love this series!!) and waiting for Ted and Ruth to arrive…. I remember meeting a couple in Mui Ne who said (somewhat self-righteously I’ll add) that they ‘didn’t come to SE Asia to sit in a hotel room and watch TV’… fair enough but as far as I’m concerned you need that bit of down time occasionally, you can’t always be out doing stuff. Plus the way we felt that morning- I couldn’t think of anything worse than walking about in +30 degrees, I needed to be gentle to my fragile head! To drink lots of water and watch the lovely Andrew Lincoln and team hack up a load of zombies.

We waited in the reception for Ted and Ruth to surprise them… It was so lovely to see them both- we’d been looking forward to it for ages- we’d missed them lots and lots. Plus, much as I love you J, I know you’d say the same, it was good to have someone else to talk to! We’d made friends along the way but that was different. That night we went out for a lovely supper and sat catching up on all we’d missed at home.

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looking out from Rawai Bay

on Nai Harn neach

on Nai Harn neach

The next day we got a taxi to our villa in Nai Harn. Gorgeous. Lovely pool, good BBQ area (that we would get put to very good use over the next ten days!), nice outside seating area and tonnes of space inside. Jamie and I unpacked! Something we hadn’t done since leaving home…. We played pool pong in the afternoons and cards in the evenings. There was a 7/11 just down the road so we could keep stocked up easily, plus we found a Tesco Lotus that delivered so we had everything we needed! Great thing was we could even use our club card- good old Tesco. There is not an awful lot going on in Nai Harn, a few bars and restuarants but that’s it. We liked Shakers, which was just across the road – the food was good and well priced, plus they kept giving us free litres of white wine!! I think we even declined it once!

Ted rented a car so that we could explore a bit, we found Ya Nui beach that had a nice restaurant opposite for lunch. The snorkelling there was pretty good too. Even better though was Ao Sane – we had to drive under the Royal Phuket Yacht club and follow a road that looks like it’s going nowhere, then there’s a sign, a couple of parking spaces and you’re there. You walk down some stairs to a long restaurant that stretches along the beach.

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I loved it here, it was pleasantly cool sat in the shade, the food was good and the beer quite cheap, but the snorkelling was amazing!!! The water was crystal clear and the were so many different kinds of fish. We even spotted a huge cuttlefish peeking out from under a rock.

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Jamie brought some chicken bones from the BBQ the night before so that we could feed the fish. It was so good! The restaurant even had a couple of resident golden retrievers that would swim with you in the surf!

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Another of our favourite places was the Italian restaurant above the Yacht club. We went to watch the sunset, which was beautiful. Ruth and I got to hold the owner’s parrot, and because she liked us he gave us both a free cocktail.

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While we were in Nai Harn we got the news that the chef at their pub at home was leaving, meaning they would be left stuck over Christmas and New Year. Jamie said (as I knew he would) that he would come home and work. Apparently an agency chef costs about £250 per day in England, and the chances of getting one at that time of year are slim anyway. It was decided that I would come home too (I was relieved because I didn’t really want to spend Christmas and New Year on my own). Thank you Ted and Ruth for bringing me back with J even though you didn’t have to. The pub paid for both of our flights and within a fortnight we were back in the Cotswolds! It all worked out well in the end though – we saw our friends and family, had Christmas at home (which was so lovely) and we both worked so we came back out with more money.

From Phuket we all flew to Bangkok where we had four nights in the lovely Tawana hotel. We did a dinner boat cruise along the river, went shopping on the Khoa San Road, saw the snake farm and visited PatPong.

we found the kind of snake that bit J in Vietnam at the snake farm

we found the kind of snake that bit J in Vietnam at the snake farm

The Khoa San at night time

The Khoa San at night time

cocktails at the Tawana

cocktails at the Tawana

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I didn’t like PatPong as my much as Bangla Road, it’s the same kind if thing but it feels seedier somehow, everything is hidden behind curtains and there isn’t the same party feel as in Patong…. On the 9th of December we flew home….

….then on the 12th of January we flew back to Bangkok! We went to the Sea Life Centre at the Siam Centre because I wanted too, it was a bit pricey but we thought it was worth it! We’d seen an episode of Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey that claimed to have found the best pad thai in Bangkok. The place was by the Ghost Gate on the Maha Chai Road – the ‘Thipsam’. It’s a street-food/restaurant set up, and the queue was down the street! It didn’t take too long though and we ate. It was 80 baht each- and yes, it was the best pad thai I’ve eaten yet!!!

street food at Maha Chai

street food at Maha Chai

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cool jellyfish close-up

cool jellyfish close-up

On the 17th of January we flew to Phuket. Obviously we went partying down Bangla! Same same!! And that brings us pretty much up to date for now ❤️

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We’re Back!!!!!

Apologies to everyone that the blog has been so quiet but we had a bit of a shocker that had to be kept strictly hush hush…. Basically while we were in Thailand with Jamie’s parents the chef at their pub at home walked. It costs about £250 a day for an agency chef so the decision was made to fly Jamie home to take the pub through Christmas…. No one wanted to leave me in Thailand on my own for 5 wks over Christmas and New Year so Ted paid for me to fly home too (thanks you Ted! X). We couldn’t post anything about us coming home because it was to be kept secret for various reasons.

Anyway- after travelling for nearly 24hrs yesterday, this morning we have woken up back in Bangkok and super excited to pick up where we left off!! The time at home has been lovely, spending Christmas with our families and seeing all of our friends. But I can’t wait now to carry on with our adventures! Watch this space