Thailand - 2004
This time I made a 2-week trip to Thailand at a very short notice. I found reasonably priced flights (including accommodation for two weeks in Phuket - that was still cheaper than buying the flights separately) from a package tour operator. After arriving in Phuket I had to say goodbye for the other Finns and continue on my own to more interesting destinations...
Check out the photo gallery.
In general this was an excellent trip with excellent beaches, interesting nature and temples. Even Bangkok was a pleasant surprise for me (not to mention Ayutthaya that was really fascinating). The best beaches were in Ko Lanta and Ko Pha-Ngan. Other experiences worth mentioning are a thai boxing night in Lanta. And of course the food!
18.2.2004 Helsinki - Phuket
I took a taxi to Phuket town. My plan was to stay overnight there and continue by ferry to Phi Phi in the morning. The hotel was somewhat rundown but reasonably priced (~500 baht). After checking in I started exploring the city. Quite a typical Asian small town with lots of chaos, mopeds and noise. People were really friendly and no beggars or touts were to be seen. I bought new sandals and a map from a local shopping mall. I tried to locate the Phi Phi ferries from the harbour area but as it later turned out I was in the wrong place. I had a delicious fish meal at a farang-oriented restaurant (a place targeted for tourists). I was the only customer so the service was excellent. The food was really, really spicy. Because of jet lag I soon felt really tired and went to sleep around 9 o'clock...
19.2.2004 Phuket - Phi Phi
It was difficult to find accommodation - many places were
fully booked. Finally after ten or more tries I managed to
find an overpriced bungalow. I headed to Long Beach that
should not be that crowded - it still is but not that bad as
the village area. As dark falls I move back to the village
and have an excellent dinner at a restaurant by the sea. The
nearby bar is a perfect place for chilling out - there are
mattresses on the beach where you can sip drinks and watch
the stars. The music was also a pleasant surprise - some
downtempo breakbeat in the evening and more housey tunes
20.2.2004 Phi Phi - Ko Lanta
I spend the rest of day on the beach. I hear people speaking Finnish for the first time for a while. I have dinner in a nearby open-air restaurant - that proves to be a disappointment (barracuda with baked potatoes). A little bit too tourist-oriented place for me - additionally they are playing Red Hot Chilli Peppers which definitely is not one of my favourites. I spend a while walking on the beach and return to my bungalow. Anyway I like Lanta and decide to settle down for a couple of days.
21.2.2004 Ko Lanta
Then it is time for thai boxing. There is a "stadium" nearby that has the weekly night with 8 matches. The stadium is a just a set of brick walls and seats around the ring. There are lots of people - both locals and farangs. Around nine o'clock the fighting starts. The first matches are for kids - the fighters are barely ten years old and weight 35 kilos. Anyway the guys take it seriously and there are lots of knockouts. Thai boxing turns out to be quite violent sport and the locals seem to take it really seriously. There is also gambling involved. Anyway an interesting night even though I'm not a big fan of fighting or martial arts.
22.2.2004 Ko Lanta / Ko Rok
I return to my bungalow around four o'clock. I once again
watch the cloudy sunset. I make a long walk on the beach to
visit the restaurant of Diamond Beach bungalows (recommended
by LP). And once again LP is right - white snapper with
curry is the best dish so far during this trip...
23.2.2004 Ko Lanta
24.2.2004 Ko Lanta - Krabi -
I return to downtown and have a good and cheap meal. As there is still time I take a longtail boat ride along the river (not very interesting). Then I head to the airport. Everything goes smoothly and I arrive in Bangkok late in the evening. The only bus connection available goes to Khao San Road. I'm not yet familiar with this well-known backpacker ghetto but soon I'll learn what's it all about: a pretty chaotic area that somehow reminds me of San Antonio in Ibiza. There is nothing genuinely Asian there - but lots of Irish bars and sleazy clubs playing loud (western) music. Anyway you have to experience it at least once...
25.2.2004 Bangkok / Ayutthaya
After some wandering I find the first of the numerous wats. Even though some of them are really in bad condition in general the place is awesome. There are lots of towers and buddha statues. I visit quite a few wats during the day (including a couple of new ones as well). The wats are scattered all over the city so there is lots of walking to be done. After four o'clock I'm feeling pretty much tired so that after a good noodle meal I return to the train station. This time I go all the way to Bangkok's central railway station and take a tuk tuk back to hotel. For the first time I realize how chaotic the traffic in Bangkok is. I spend the rest of day at Khao San Road buying some pirate products: watch 10€, wallet 6€ and a t-shirt for 4€. I do some people-watching at a terrace of a bar before going to sleep.
26.2.2004 Bangkok - Ko Samui
My next destination is Chinatown - which is a sight in itself. I take a waterbus that travels along the dirty river and arrive in the middle of chaos. It seems that you can buy practically anything from the small shops and the street vendors - anything from live animals to electronics... Accidentally I end up in a park called "Royal Garden" which is a beautiful place with speakers playing some soothing Thai music.
I still have the time to visit the interesting Wat Arun
before it is time to go to the airport. The traffic jams are
really bad but fortunately I catch my flight. In general
Bangkok was quite a pleasant experience - maybe because I
was already prepared for the madness after visiting KL
earlier? I arrive in Ko Samui close midnight and take the
first decently priced bungalow available.
27.2.2004 Ko Samui - Ko Pha-Ngan
I spend the rest of the day on the beach. There is a
hammock on the terrace of the bungalow and a beautiful sea
view. After dark I go back to the beach where the bars stay
open till very late as people are chilling out in candle
light. The music is to my surprise pretty good - not much
of the usual heavy rock and RnB.
28.2.2004 Ko Pha-Ngan
29.2.2004 Ko Pha-Ngan - Khao Sok
Finally late in the evening I arrive in Khao Sok in the middle of jungle. The place is called Jungle Hut and it pretty much lives up to its name - very basic huts in the middle of jungle! The bamboo huts with mosquito nets are actually pretty comfortable and the price of 150B is not bad. The first thing I notice is the sounds of jungle - there is constant buzzing around and lots of other weird sounds can also be heard. I check out the surroundings (pretty much nothing except the park entrance) and have noodles for dinner. Good food but the TV with British football feels a little bit out of place... I listen to the wonderful sounds of jungle for a while before going to sleep.
1.3.2004 Khao Sok
After a couple of kilometres the heat gets really bad and
I stop to do some swimming in the river. It was really a
refreshing sensation and as the heat feels to be increasing
I start to head back... As there is still time when I return
to the huts I book an elephant ride. The location is about
15 kilometres away so I get a scooter ride there. The
elephant ride is an interesting experience - sometimes a
very stable one but sometimes it feels like you are about to
fall down... The ride takes me to a local waterfall and then
back to the place where we started from. I enjoy some
delicious curry fish and thai salad for dinner and do some
surfing on the Internet for the first time for two weeks.
Not much news though.
Khao Sok - Phang-Nga
3.3.2004 Phang-Nga - Phuket - Helsinki
Soon it is the time to head back and I take the first taxi available to get to the airport in time. The driver keeps the speed at a steady 140 km/h and I get to the airport just before the check-in closes. The families with their screaming kids are waiting for me at the gate - so it is the time to return to reality.
Anyway the trip was a good one and there is still lots of places in Thailand to be seen. I'm already thinking about touring the northern parts combined with Cambodia and Vietnam as the next thing...
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