Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Pain in the ass

Leaving Phi Phi I arrived on Phuket and met up with Clare from previous travels, as well as Antoinette, a lovely Leitrim girl, and their mates, who were all really nice. I managed to be around for Clare's birthday bash, which was a good laugh. Unfortunately I wasn't in too great a state to really enjoy it, having spent much of that day in Bangkok Phuket hospital undergoing (minor) surgery on a particularly painful area. Let's just say it was a real pain in the ass.

Poor Clare herself was in plaster after a very nasty knee dislocation 3 weeks ago, so it was down to Antoinette to play nurse.
The operation made me feel like I'd been abducted by aliens, but the hospital itself was amazing - more like a posh hotel, with nicely dressed staff, good coffee and DVDs, and more Doctors and Nurses attending than you could shake a stick at. They even had a machine that goes "bing" and everything...
The day afterwards I decided to check into a fancyish hotel for my r&r to avail of a nice big bathtub, so I'm holed up in Phuket town till my checkup on Friday.

I had been in a bit of pain already in Phi Phi, so I didn't do much apart from lie on the beach, though I did make one trip up to the nice viewpoint. It's amazing how little evidence is left of the Tsunami that so devastated the island. Theres no shortage of (rebuilt) hotels and restaurants, I'd heard that the building was being tightly constrained to be more environmentally friendly but I didn't really see any signs of that. Still the beaches are lovely (at high tide anyway).
Right, I'm off for a cocktail of painkillers, unfortunately I've used up all Clare's morphine - don't really rate the stuff anyway to be honest.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Islands and beaches

I've spent more than my fair share of time in this wonderful country, but in all my time here I have never seen rain like I did these last few days. It's been unbelievable. Constant, hard, pelting, torrential floods of the stuff. Interspersed with long periods of Irish style drissle. Unbelievable.
So I've high tailed it to the Andeman coast (the other side of Thailand)to Krabi in the hope of a reprieve, and my plan's worked pretty well so far.

I'm in Railay beach, a few k from Krabi town, and the main draw for rock climbers in this area. I just spent a great half day on the limestone cliffs here and I'm pleasantly shattered after it. The climbing was a bit tough as many of the hand holds were too smooth from overuse, but I only fell on one climb so not a bad days work. It seems like a pretty nice spot too, most of the people around seem to be decent.

My last night on hat rin saw me dropping my bike in another torrential downpower (front wheel caught in a rut I didnt see under the 6 inches of water) and I landed on my camera, and in the road-river. Of course the camera was dead, but lo and behold if it didnt rise lazarus like after a few days rest. Yippee.
From there I moved on my (relatively) trusty sonic up the coast via some pretty rutted dirt trackes to the toungue twisting beach at Ao Tong Nai Pan Yai. It was really nice, quiet and laidback. Maybe too quiet. I also made an expedition to Bottle Beach, proclaimed as the second busiest beach but only 3 souls were brave enough to stay there. The road there was totally crazy, I ended up in five dead ends before finially making it there, the last couple of k by foot, as I didnt want a repeat of hat rin spillages.

After a few peaceful, wet days I headed towards Ko Samui and Lamai beach, one of my favourite spots 12 years ago, but now unfortunately developed beyond belief. Most of the time there I took the "if you can't beat them, join them" attitude and watched the football and Rugby World cup while drinking pints and talking to other Irish people sheltering from the rain. It's like I never left home. Oh, apart from all the ladyboys. So it was kinda nice to spend a bit of time in Krabi, still a real Thai town with friendly people and nice night markets with all kinds of cheap delicious offerings.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

One night in Burma

With my lackadasical approach to the last few weeks I found myself out of time on my Thai visa. So even though I had ended up in this situation cause I wasnt going to go to Burma, I had to go to Burma in order to get another 30 days in Thailand. Most people just pop over the border and back again to get their stamp, but I decided if I was going that far I might as well spend a night in Kaw Thuang, or Victoria point as the British christened it. It was a nice enough place with good views of the harbour from the hills, and an interesting little market area with numerous tea shops, though the hotel was pretty crap to be honest.

I was literaly the only tourist in town for the night, so that was kinda fun. The people seemed really nice and friendly, and the monks and kids seemed eager to practise their english. Most of the girls were going around with a little of the traditional face paint, something I'd seen a bit with the Burmese in Thailand. And there was no feeling of tension from the recent events. Eating in the resturants felt a bit weird with all the staff hanging around (I counted 11 girls with nothing to do in one small place) - as soon as I spilt a grain of rice or the water dripped off the beer glass someone was running over to clear it up. But I got used to it eventually. All an all a very enjoyable 24 hours.

Next day I headed back with the new days visa runners, eschewing the boat owners numerous attempts to peddle cheap viagra, and found myself back in Chumpon again, to catch the ferry to Ko Pha Ngan.
Tim from NY met me off the boat and I rented another sonic motorbike and drove off to Hat Rin. I'd been there many moons ago, but I couldnt believe the amount of growth since then. First impressions were not good. Though the beach is still pretty nice. As my arrival coincided with the "black moon" party (gone are the days when one full moon party a month was enough) we hit the beach for the night, and though I was in a bit of a crap mood to start I had a pretty good night in the end.
Yesterday we toured most of the Islands decent roads (and a few of the dirt ones) and found a few nice beaches and fishing villages. I'm thinking of moving out of hat rin to somewhere less manic once the rugby semis are out of the way.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Life of Thai

Well once again I find myself "stuck" on a Thai Island for longer than planned. It's a hard life really. I had been planning to go to Burma for a while, but things look a bit iffy there at the minute so will have to hold off on extended travel there for a while. Ko Tao has been good fun, if a fair bit more developed and expensive than I expected. I did another couple of dives, and what a difference a couple of days make. This time I had awful visibility - only 1-3 meters on the second dive, a bit of a joke really. Since that I've been holding off on more diving waiting for conditions to improve, but so far its still not great. I've been hanging around with Tim from New York, whose conspiracy theories make for good entertainment, and Ebony who I had met in Kanchanaburi.

Of course last night was spent trying to believe the results in the two RWC games. I had a small inkling that France could repeat their shock 1999 result, despite New Zeland's performances to date, but I didn't see the Aussies losing to the English.
It's hard to believe that Ireland beat them by a record score this year, and though the Irish did make a game of it against Argentina, they were never going to do it.

Apart from the rugby we've amused ourselves by a bit of snorkeling, swimming, fire dancing and motocross - some of the roads here are really pretty awful but make for fun driving in the little 125 dirt bikes. Weve been over pretty much all the island at this stage, so time to move on maybe. Next up is probably Ko Phan Ngan.