The Southern Islands
Our milk bottled appearances were fairly apparent as we made our way around the north of Thailand. Other intrepid back packers radiated a golden hue. Our white skin contrasted with these fellow wanderers. Southern Thailand had rejuvenated their bodies before they headed northwards. If vanity is your friend then my suggestion is to head south first and immerse yourself in the sunshine of the islands, where a healthy glow is a guarantee.
Southern Thailand is an entirely different experience to the north of the country. Prior to our departure we received little tips and information that in hindsight have made our travels all the more pleasurable. We are both wanderers at heart, with curious natures. Time and time again we have chosen to wander off the beaten track avoiding the more popular media spun locations. Travel articles always rave on about Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and Bangkok, when truly the real beauty and uniqueness of Thailand lies in the multitude of other islands and hidden places. These idyllic havens are bursting with natural richness; long sandy stretches of beach, shimmering blue waters, glowing sunsets and comfortable beach huts with the odd scary insect or foreign animal lurking about but more on that later!!!
- Just like the setting of the famous film ,The Beach, but it's not Koh Phi Phi...
- Just like having a lick of vanilla ice cream on Lahinch or Kilkee prom!!
- These little monkeys are cranky creatures who can easily snip!
Hours fall quickly into days and happily being on the right side of time, we have the luxury of choosing to move on when the traveller itch for more intrigue sets in. It's a scourge of an affliction. Our average stay in one place is about 3 to 4 days. Once the backpacks are squashed to the brim, we hit the road again! After researching on Lonely Planet and pouring over the map of South East Asia, our instinct kicks in and we decide on the next location. This is in essence how we arrived to Koh Jum. A bird's eye view positions this touch of Paradise beside Koh Lanta, a renowned spot in the southern islands. We caught a mini- bus to the ferry. We passed a few hours gazing on the familiar views of the Indian Ocean. The sea views are incredible and soothe the eye of the lucky onlooker. Beware however of the sharks( the ferry workers) on board these ferries. When you stay on the islands sometimes the ferry is met by a long tail boat close to the shore of your resort. Our geezer managing the drop off system on board, deposited us miles away from our destination. We ended up having to pay a local tuk - tuk driver a smathering of Bahts to drive through dirt tracks, to our next spot. The picture of the elephant recreates I hope a little of our jaunt to heaven.
Sometimes you spot a situation which doesn't sit very well with you!
After our Formula One track event we finally made it unscathed to Coral Bay Resort. Management; a 16 year old feisty girl, couldn't get rid of us! Four days turned into a week. The biggest decision we had to make was where to sun ourselves. Effort in Thailand is contending with the heat. It takes energy to apply and apply and reapply the sun tan lotion. The sweltering sand stings the base of the feet! How annoying it is when the sand gets stuck in the most unlikely of spots, these are the trivial annoyances experienced in Paradise! No post to be delivered to No 6 Coral Beach Resort. We've vacated the hut but they are accepting visitors- mention Niamh and Richie and there may be room.
Next hop, Koh Lanta. It's a busy place. A typical strip that resembles any resort on the Costa del Sol. To be honest living in the remoteness it was hard to adjust to the traffic and noise of the place. A far cry from the debauchery of Bangkok but we are ageing and enjoying the contemplative way of life for the period in question!!Do you believe in divine intervention? On this journey of enlightenment we have been often surprised and delighted when the hand of something or another, strikes. Richie happened upon a little brochure that advertised the Nature Bungalow!
Richie fancied taking this "heap" out into the lake. Think he mentioned that Dickie, Richie's dad had a Zodiac boat at some stage. Richie I believe has similar ambitions but...... I didn't think it was in great shape. He seemed very enthused by the prospect of riding out into the lake as it were. I mean we didn't even have the picnic basket with us! Enticed under duress, I climbed into the "toy" boat and immediately water started to pour in, this didn't dissuade Mr Murphy. In he footed, the full bulk of him leaving us with no choice but to abort! We managed to salvage ourselves though destroying our sandals with mud and silt! Keep dreaming Richie... this girl 'aint impressed.
That night the manager of the resort ( only one employee, HIMSELF1) invited us for dinner and it turned out to be an informal cookery class and an exchange of stories about this and that! Check out the photos!
- Nop our entertainer and me very very busy!
We got every jab imaginable before leaving for this side of the world. We have avoided everything walking on legs for fear of rabies but nobody told us how to prepare for an encounter with a SNAKE!
Picture this..... dressed up,ready to explore for the day;
Richie then casually asks me a rather unmentionable question but here goes anyway and I will share it with you! " Were you in the loo earlier?"
This is what he clearly mistook for human excrement!!
I never realised how important is to always look down before using this device!! This big "beaut" had ensnarled its body at the bottom of the pink toilet bowl. Richie quickly skirted away in search of reinforcements. Being the ultimate gentlemen he couldn't quite blurt the words out when he met with the manager. Nop wasn't alone. He was showing off the finer features of the resort to a German lady. Richie still was unsure about opening up. Nop searchingly looked at him and signalled to him to get to the point! Nop unshaken replied to the revelation, " It's okay, it's not poisonous. They like fresh water" The poor fraulein nearly had to be carried away.... to which I placed my two pence worth on the table :" It's okay, I'm not too fond of snakes myself. Saint Patrick got rid of them from Ireland". With supplies in tow (a catapult and stick and a bottle of chemical lotion) Nop and his sidekick soon saw off our visitor! Remember to always look down before you sit down! Could you imagine explaining the marks and stings to a local Thai doctor!
The evening ended in the Irish Embassy bar watching the defeat of Ireland against England. Despite the disappointment we encountered some great folks who were amused of our narrow escape from the slithering animal of the wilds of Koh Lanta!
Here we are with Fiona McLoughlin and Marc Gass en route to Australia to set their roots down there. Fiona is from Athenry and Marc from Zimbabwe...great folks who we will surely catchup with in the future
Pancake Tuesday in Koh Lanta
Until the next bedtime story.... stay safe!!