thai-land isle-lands

I’ve never really warmed to the term “island hopping” but heck, that’s what we’ve been doing. And I’ve definitely warmed to the concept.

Ko Tarutao: Unique amongst Thai islands, this place is government run and completely devoid of private enterprise and advertising – although no doubt the government made a pretty penny from pimping it as the location for Survivor: Thailand. Bikes only, a cranking westerly, visitors lugging cartons of BYO booze of the ferry and a largely ignored history as a brutal prison – remind anyone else of WA’s favourite communist island? Although on Rotto there would be civil unrest if the electricity was turned off at midnight. We even opted for prison-like accommodation (Kingston Barracks equivalent) which we shared with a group of Wahhabi school children. Almost entirely patronised by Thais, the only other foreigners were a pair of Finns who regaled us with the finer details of Scandinavian rivalries: “Bah, Sweden. Show me your list of war heroes! And their saunas are terrible – too much heat; not enough humidity.” Certainly a bit more sophisticated than “Kiwis bunt sheep”.

Rai Leh: Not actually an island, although we kept thinking it was the former because its only accessible by boat. A mecca for rock climbers, the beaches are flanked by jaw-droppingly amazing limestone cliffs. Perhaps influenced by the mouldy pillows at our accomodation, we continued our habit of gazing longingly at exclusive resorts (security wouldn’t let us trespass on this one).

Ko Phi Phi: There was much umm-ing and ahh-ing about whether to venture to this popular island. “The Beach“, Leonardo Di  Caprio: whatever. Something in the water here apparently makes “beautiful” people transform into squawking bogans by night. It is de rigeur to drink from a plastic bucket (our response: “I’m not a dog”) and most pharmacies on the island advertise “pregnancy test” in several different languages. Perhaps we’re just bitter about our attempt at hiking to the island’s scenic viewpoint, which we somehow managed to turn into a “scenic” tour of the island’s service roads. A beautiful island nonetheless (Hat Yao is particularly lovely) but unless you can afford a plush resort, prepare to re-live the inglorious ending of Toga 2001.

Phuket: Where do we begin? Without wanting to gush, we enjoyed a week of overwhelming hospitality from Parsons family friends, the Spratts. Deluxe waterside digs, endless delicious restaurants and the services of Pa the wonder-maid. And thanks to their local knowledge, it was great to have an alternative experience of this most touristed of Thai islands – more than a little ironic that our only visit to the flesh-feast of Patong was to attend mass in a tiny hidden chapel, complete with fabulous Filipino musicians who moonlight as “The Manila Machine” at a nearby BBQ restaurant. After having now explored our fair share of Andaman imperial trading posts of old, we feel confident in voting old Phuket Town the most charming. It may have had something to do with our night out in the delightful Soi Romanee.

Ko Pha-Ngan: The beautiful Bottle Beach was the ideal setting for our last hurrah of beach-bumming. Things didn’t venture too far beyond bathers, bungalows and beers (or swimmers, sand and Singha, if you need a break from all those “B”s). You know things are chilled when Linds (almost) happily cohabits with the guest house’s resident family of cats.

We arrived in Bangkok today after a largely tortuous 24 hours of travel: boat, then taxi, then boat, then bus, then train, then legs, then boat, then legs again. And all modes of transport were of dubious quality, legs inclusive. I love it when the bus goes over a bump and bits of rubble are rained upon you from a hole in the ceiling. Tip for Thai rail travel: hit the restaurant car. Flashing coloured lights + a sound system that would rival most Fremantle-dwelling Commodores + an eclectic mix of “Funky Chicken” and Asian rock ballads = fun times!

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One Response to “thai-land isle-lands”

  1. bangkok stinks « beyond bagot Says:

    […] to the Phi Phi dilemma, we debated long and hard over whether to visit Bangkok’s the infamous Khao San Road, […]

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