Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Weeks Thirty-Four and Thirty-Five Daily Journal

Week 34 

Friday, May 20 
Ko Phi Phi, Thailand 

A taxi to the pier and then a ferry boat ride brought us to Ko Phi Phi Den, where we shopped around for hotels and ended up at The White 2. We were staying in town, a narrow strip of land between two beaches, packed with restaurants, shops, bars, travel agencies, etc. We dropped our stuff, had lunch and then headed straight for the beach. Later we booked a dive trip and then had dinner at Papaya, possibly the most giant Thai food portions we’d ever seen. We were somewhat unpreprared for the raging party scene of Koh Phi Phi, so we shared an icecream sundae at a place called D’s Books, and went to bed early because we were diving early the next day.

Saturday, May 21 
Ko Phi Phi, Thailand 

Our dive trip with Visa Divers took us near some small islands to the south of Koh Phi Phi Den. We were in a group with two German guys who always seemed to be in my way, and a divermaster Annalise from Holland. The first dive was at Ko Bidanok and we saw a moray eel, box fish, lionfish, cool soft coral, trumpetfish, a little ray, tons of schools of yellow fish and more. I had a lot of problems with my ears at first so the first 15 minutes of the dive were pretty unpleasant, but then it got ok. We anchored the boat near Maya Bay (the famous beach from The Beach) and ate pretty delicious Thai food on deck. The second dive was called Turtle Point, and we did see quite a few really cute, but pretty big, turtles swimming and eating. I could have watched those turtles chomp away all day. They were so cute. Dave also saw a shark. I was feeling pretty crappy by the time we got back from the dives – in retrospect I was probably really dehydrated – so I basically slept the whole afternoon and evening. Dave went back to Papaya for dinner, and he brought me Goldfish crackers (!!!) for dinner. Even though they were pizza flavored they really hit the spot.

Sunday, May 22 
Ko Phi Phi, Thailand 

We had a quick breakfast at D’s Books and then set off on a hike to the island viewpoints. It was majorly uphill, tons of steps, but the views were spectacular. Next we went out on an island hopping snorkeling trip. There were 15 of us, plus our captain, in a longtail boat. We went to a few snorkeling sites and then stopped at Maya Beach, which was gorgeous. The water was so clear and perfect. Much to Dave’s dissapointment, we returned to shore before the sunset, so he had to watch it from the beach on Ko Phi Phi Den. We had dinner – burgers and chicken sandwiches – at The Sports Bar, and then went to Reggae Bar, an open-air bar dominated by a boxing ring. Tourists who agreed to fight would get a free bucket, so we watched a number of battles between drunk young westerner guys. They got outfitted in Muay Thai boxing gear and everything. Next we headed to the beach which was lined with clubs – each of them flashing lights and blaring music so loud that you always were listening to at least 3 different songs at once. We headed to the club at the very end of the beach, plopped down on their loungers, and lamely ordered fresh mango juice. They even had a bulldog puppy who sat near us to be petted. (See post, Ko Phi Phi)

Monday, May 23 
Krabi, Thailand 

We took the ferry from Ko Phi Phi to Krabi, and then a taxi to the Sheraton Krabi, on Kong Muang. It was really nice and we somehow scored ourselves a double room upgrade to premium ocean facing! We hung by the pool, did some work, and had dinner at The Terrace, a Thai place across the street from the resort. We also spoke to the guy at the dive shop about doing some scuba diving, but he was most unfriendly, and it also turned out that they went to the same dive sites we’d already done from Ko Phi Phi (and it was much further away and much more expensive).

Tuesday, May 24 
Krabi, Thailand 

Our included breakfast buffet was amazing. Possibly the best waffle I have ever had, and also delicious fresh fruits. Dave immediately befriended the restaurant manager who made it her personal mission to have new and delicious smoothies sent to our table every morning. We got settled into our routine – breakfast, work, dip in the pool, move to the beach loungers, light lunch at the inexpensive Thai place down the beach, dip in the pool, back to the beach loungers to do some work, gym, sunset, dinner. That night we had dinner at a resort down the beach – it was a great sunsent.

Wednesday, May 25 
Krabi, Thailand 

We took an early-morning yoga class. It was peaceful, but definitely the easy, slow, boring sort of yoga. The teacher was nice and we met a girl who worked in Big Law in San Francisco. We spent the rest of the day doing the usual, and then we had dinner at the Indian restaurant at our hotel, which made a delicious mushroom masala.

Thursday, May 26 
Krabi, Thailand 

Today we rented a motorbike and rode it to Ao Nang, the main beach town in Krabi, about twenty minutes away, stopping to check out some beaches. From there we took a longtail boat to Railay Beach. The west beach was idyllic, and then we walked through the jungle to the east beach where we had lunch and watched climbers scale the famous limestone cliffs. Next we walked to a third beach which was the best of the three for sure. There were also lots of entertaining monkeys, such as the pair who stole some girls’ sunglasses off their beach towels. We grabbed the last longboat back to Ao Nang which we shared with a Thai woman (who laughed hysterically at everythnig Dave said, and laughed hysterically at everything she said, and we had no idea what she was saying) and her grown son. We had dinner at a (apparently) famous seafood restaurant right on the water in Ao Nang – we shared a blue crab, which is a speciality in the area. (We asked a waiter if the crab was local and he said, “no, not local. Maybe from 4-5 kilometers away).

Week 35 

Friday, May 27 
Krabi, Thailand 

We spent another day at the hotel, doing work, reading, lounging at the pool and beach, hitting the gym, eating waffles for breakfast and basically luxuriating in our surroundings. We had dinner at The Terrace again.  (See post, Krabi Ain't Crappy).

Saturday, May 28 
Ko Phangan, Thailand 

Today was a marathon day. We were picked up at the hotel at 9:30, and took a songthew for about an hour to some restaurant/bus depot in Krabi Town, picking up other people as we went. We sat at that restaurant for an hour. Then a minivan drove us all another hour, to another restaurant. We sat there for an hour. Then a bus picked us up on the side of the road and we drove another hour to the pier. There, we found out that “it was our lucky day” and we boarded the fast catamaran (as opposed to the slow boat, I guess) to Ko Phangan, with a stop on Ko Samui. At Ko Phangan pier we boarded a songthew for the half hour drive to Salad Beach Resort on Hat Salat. Because it’s low season, this hotel was super cheap and although we had a room in the back of the resort, the beachfront area was gorgeous. By now we were exhausted so we watched the sunset and had dinner at the hotel.

Sunday, May 29 
Ko Phangan, Thailand 
We did work at the resort for most of the day, sitting right at the beachfront with amazing views. Then we rented a motorbike and scooted over to Yoga Retreat for a yoga class, followed by an amazing coconut shake. Later we drove over to Chokalum, a fishing village at the very north of the island, and had pizza at an Italian restaurant run by a caricature of an Italian man (“Imma make-a pizza”), who we chatted with for a bit after dinner.

Monday, May 30 
Ko Phangan, Thailand 

We were picked up bright and early for our dive trip with Sail Rock Divers, to the sail rock dive site. The dives were amazing, especially the first one. It was a circular dive around a pinnacle and there were some strong currents but (or as a result?) visibility was pretty good. We descended and ascended through a chimmney and we saw so many fish. It was like being in an acquarium. At one point we were just surrounded by multiple schools of fish, they were everywhere. The second dive was at the same site and the currents were stronger and the visibility worse, but it was still pretty good. We hung out back at the Sail Rock shop for a little bit (they had a pool and a bar) and then went back to the hotel. We walked down the beach and got amazing massages at Tuk’s Magic Hands. With a picture-perfect location right on the beach, overlooking the ocean, and the magical hands of Tuk and her employees, it was heaven. That night we took the bike to Had Yao and had a really good panang beef curry at The Eagle, right on the beach with our feets in the sand.

Tuesday, May 31 
Ko Phangan, Thailand 

We took the bike out after breakfast and rode to Phaeng Waterfall. There was no actual water in the waterfall, but we hiked up to the viewpoint, then over to another non-waterfall. Then Dave decided we would go down on an overgrown, unmarked, incredibly steep and slippery path, which I hated. When we eventually made it down he went for a swim in a pool of stagnant water, which I declined. We had lunch at a place known for their homemade ice cream, and we had a delicious scoop of coconut ice cream for dessert. We went back to Tuk and Dave had a massage while J had a mani-pedi. It started to pour so we ate dinner at our resort.

Wednesday, June 1 
Ko Phangan, Thailand 

We did work in the morning before our 11 AM snorkeling trip. Around 9:30 the staff started telling us that we couldn’t go at 11 because the tide was too far out, but we could go at 1 instead. We thought this was odd because the tide is the same every day. By 12:30 we noticed that they were still unsuccessfuly trying to fix the snorkeling boat. At 1:00 we found out from the front desk that actually the boat was broken, and also we were going at 1:30 because the other people on our trip had changed their minds about going at 11. Needless to say, we were pissed. Especially when we couldn’t leave from our beach but had to take a taxi to Chokulum and leave from the pier. We were joined by a French family of four. The snorkeling – at Had Mae and one other place, was ok, the visibility was pretty bad. We pulled into Bottle Beach (an idyllic, tucked-away cove) just as a huge storm rolled in so Dave and I waited it out with a cappucino and a mocha. On the way back to the pier at Chokulum the boat ran out of gas. The boys threw down an anchor and attempted to somehow create more gas by blowing in the gas tank. Not surprisingly, it did not work. Eventually, after about an hour, we got picked up by a rescue boat. That night we took the scooter the 40 minutes to the night market by the pier – it was great, although kind of far.

Thursday, June 2 
Ko Phangan, Thailand 

We hung around the resot all day doing work, and Dave went to yoga. For dinner we biked to Chokulum to have seafood at 2 Brothers, which the girl working the dive shop recommended. Our fish was good.

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