#5 Southern Thailand
Monday February 8th I woke up at 7:15am to leave Siam Reap, Cambodia to go to Bangkok. I got my bus ticket for $10.00 USD and was picked up at 7:30am and shuttled to where the bus picked us up. Then we drove about 4 hours till we arrived at the boarder. In the morning when we loaded the bus, they told us to leave our bags and get on. I had my tripod clipped to my backpack. With two clips to it. When I got off they told us to grab our things and head to the first place to show our passports. They reminded us to make sure we had everything from the bus. This was by far the busiest boarder I have been to on my travels. There were three major lines that we all had to wait in which took us 4 hours to get through. I think it was so busy because of it being the Chinese New Year. About an hour into our waiting and in our third line (now impossible to go back to the bus) I realize that whoever loaded my bag, unclipped both of my buckles and removed my tripod. It was probably to help with storage, but you never unpack someone's bag without them knowing. I was pissed for a bit because my tripod I brought out here broke from it being handled poorly while traveling on the busses in a Vietnam, so I bought a new one in Hoi An, and now that one was taken off my bag in another bus in Cambodia. It is so unnecessary to have to purchase three tripods. But I will get one in Bangkok, because for the style of photography I do, I use a tripod a lot, and it never fun having to keep paying for same items. After we crossed the boarder, we were taken on a tuk tuk to a spot to wait for the shuttle to pick us up. We had a bite to eat. By this time it was 4:15 and another shuttle came, but did not have room for all of us, so a few of us had to wait for the next. By 4:30 we were fully loaded on the next shuttle which we took to Bangkok for another 4 hour drive. It was a fairly uncomfortable ride for me since I shared half of my seat with all the luggage. I arrived to Bangkok around 9:30 and got to my Hostel around 10:30 to meet with my friend Miles. We went out and had some dinner and then I played some cards with a few people from the hostel until I got tired and went to sleep. Tuesday February 9th Miles and I got up and decided to go venture around the city. We walked around through the park and then to the malls to look for a new tripod for me. We went through 4 malls. The central world, MBK center, Siam center, and Siam paragon. The central world as my favorite, and on the 7th floor there is an outstanding food court where we had lunch. The MBK Mall was my favorite for shopping because you could haggle down a bit for the electronics.
We also stumbled into a Rolex manufacturer store, which was extremely high end and nice to see. We could see the workers working on the watches in lab coats, computer and high end machinery. They Regis giving us a 7 pound hard book catalog for free. We took the BTS sky rail around the city and ended up at Cloud 47 bar which overlooked the city from 47 flights up. We enjoyed watching the sunset while having a few beers ($6.00 USD each beer, but the view was worth it).
Us going up in the elevator, our ears popped several times.
We gave Miles's Ipad to someone up top to take a few photos of us
A little time lapse of the sun setting from on top of the Cloud 47.
On the way back, we had some of the worst beer ever from 711 is was called Siam Sato. it was cheap. DO not get it.
In the evening we went back to the hostel met this cool girl names Jessica from England and did some acro yoga,I was basing Miles and we had a little tumble and my shoulder got a bit injured. I just ended up hanging out afterwards.
Jessica took this picture of Miles and me doing acro. He is learning how to base, and feels super solid. We are in thrown and it appears like I have a halo over my head.
Wednesday February 10th Today I woke up and decided to have a more chill day, my shoulder was a bit soar from the day before doing acro with Miles. I spent some time editing images from the day before at the cloud 47 bar. Miles and I met Alice and Jessica the night before and we all decided to get lunch at the central mall in Bangkok. We waked over around 11:45 and got there around 12:30. I had another green curry and some spring rolls. All the food was great. We then walked back and I hung out at and did some work and got a massage from Jessica who had just finished her Thai massage training. It was a lovely free 90 minute massage. Afterward Miles was pretty jazzed to learn some acro moves, and Jessica wanted to join, so I taught them. They were both naturals for being beginners and did very well. I even hopped in for a bit for some basic things since my shoulder was still recovering. Miles then hopped on a train to go south to Trang. I then hung out and did some more research and computer work until dinner time. We met a guy named Landon who just arrived in fro. Burma doing a silent retreat for 12 days and it was his first day talking. He sang and played his guitar. He invited us to join him for some delicious street food, his roomie was a chef in Bangkok and knew the good spots. Alice, Jessica and I joined and we arrived to a pub to meet his friend. As we were waiting to find him, we came across an older Indian fellow with a spot on America accent. He was so friendly and funny. He offered to buy all of us beers to join him. We did and then laughed and chatted for an hour or so until we realized the street food vendors were all closing down. We then left and got some street food close to our hostel. I had some pad Thai and tried eating some bugs.
I am pretty sure I ate maggots. They tasted not bad, but the thought of eating grubs or maggots was off putting. After dinner I went back and did research on how to go south, by either train or bus. If I took a train, I would have to go to su Thani. And then take a shuttle to Mrabi beach. It would have costed me around 1300 baht. I was able to book a night bus for 630 baht for the next night through the 12 go Asia. Thursday February 11th Today I woke up at 6:30, Alice and I were going to go see Wat Pho and a few other temples, but her foot was soar from a minor infection, so she decided to rest it up for the day. I took a metered taxi from my hostel to the marine dept port for around 60 baht. Then for 13 baht I took the tier boat to Wat Pho.
I arrived just as it opened at 8:00am and was one of the first to enter. It was 100 baht for ticket entry. It was so beautiful and amazing, and quite. I enjoyed it so much. I walked around and took photos and enjoyed the temple.
I saw one of the largest laying buddha's I had seen on my trip measuring a length of 46 meters.
I asked the woman at the entance if I could return with my ticket and she said that would be fine. I figured I would try to have a similar experience at he Grad place when it opened at 8:30. I arrived soon after it opened and I almost turned around right away because it was SO PACKED! Hundreds of people hearing through security. The Grand Palace was 5 times the price as Wat Pho at 500 Baht. I decided to just go with it and go in. It was still so packed with so many tourists taking selfies (as usual) just in an uncomfortable quantity of it. I was able to get a few photos here and there, but was not allowed to take any photos in the temples. Towards the end of my visit, I was looking forward to getting out of there. The crowds were just too thick. I went back to Wat Pho which at this time had more people as well.
The Royal Thai Army from the 1st Infantry Regiment resting in the main guard house in the outer court of the Grand Palace. Their weapons seemed to be without ammunition, but with a nice sharp bayonet attached to the front of it.
After visiting the temples I went back to my hostel and met with a friend from Siem Real by the name of Cayla. She wanted to go to the Cloud 47 bar, so we went with another friend Jesica from the night before to watch the sunset. Before we went we did a little bit of acro yoga.
We got a little lost on the way but found a very local part of Bangkok with people's homes. It was a cool place to see outside of all the building and high rises. We went up to the 47th floor, each of us had a 6 dollar beer and enjoyed the sunset. After I scurried my way to get a meal, and some travel food and to get my things at the hostel and get to my bus across town. I did not plan for there to be rush hour in Bangkok. So I left with no time to spare. The ride was farther and liger than expected and I got there and had to turn into superman. I raced in with just a few minutes to spare. From the panicked look on my face, they knew I was supposed to be somewhere. Everyone was helpful and pointed me to the right direction. I raced to the window and she didn't even check my confirmation number (I as the last person). She just asked my name, gave me the ticket and told me to run downstairs to the bus. I sprinted with all my belongings periodically getting pointed in the right direction. I found the bus, everyone and everything was loaded and it was 8:40 on the dot (departure time) he loaded my bag and I got on the bus. Before I even got to my seat, the bus was reversing and leaving. Talk about arriving in the nic of time. I was panting and sweating. I was then greeted with water and a sweet bean bun and a town. This bus was very nice and at half he cost of the train to shuttle. It was scheduled to arrive in Krabbi at 7:30. I did some editing on my computer and then crashed out till just around sunrise the next day. Friday February 12th I arrived in Krabi around 9:30 and made a quick judgement call to go to Koh Phi Phi Island. It cost me 450. Baht from the bus station to the port and for the boat ride to the island. I arrived and we were loaded by 10:30 am and left. I arrived around 12:00 and found some accomodation at the Freedom Hostel for 550 baht per night for an 8 person dorm. The facilities were nice and new, and affordable compared to other hostels and resorts on the island. Koh Phi Phi is an expensive island to visit. The food was more than I was used to. I got a curry for 130 baht when you could usually get one for 30-40 baht. Water that usually costs 14 baht would cost between 25-50 baht. I dropped off my things and went on a walk around the island. I went to nice beach and climbed up some rocks to take a look at a little viewpoint.
Then went over to the other side where all the bars were and ended up at some pool party at he princess pool for a bit to enjoy the music and vibes.
Towards sunset I went to the viewpoints to get good look at the sunset from above the island. It cost 30 baht to go up to all three view points.
I met this cool girl named Larissa Farrell, and we enjoyed walking and talking and the sunset at the viepoints. She gave her Go pro to someone to take a picture of us.
Larissa got a good photo of me capturing an HDR panoramic from the Viewpoint 2.
This is what I captured.
In the evening I went out with a few people from my dorm to explore the night life. We ended up at Kiongsam Bar which was like a kareoke bar with live music. It was packed and full of good music and fun vibes. We spent the night there. Saturday February 13th I woke up and headed to the beach and splashes around for a bit. Clear waters and white sand beaches. So wonderful.
I asked a very nice girl to take a picture of me for me.
I asked a man working at the scuba shop where the best place to snorkel on the island was and he told me The Long Beach which was about a 45 minute walk / hike. When I arrived I met some people that told me they had just seen some reef sharks out by the shark reef rock. (They don't bite or attack humans) I immediately rented a snorkel for 50 baht and mask and swam out to the reef point which was 500 meters out. When I arrived I did not find any sharks, but I did see so so so many awesome and beautiful fish. I kept diving down and swimming with them as they deleted away from me. It was so wonderful to swim with the fish. I kept hoping that if I stayed around a large group of them I would see a shark.
In this photo you can see the reef at the top left of the photo
The love on the beach was for Valentines Day
I gave my camera to someone on the beach to take a picture of me.
I must have swam for about an hour and a half before I decided to get out and seek shade to not burn. On the way back I stopped by another beach and saw some monkeys eating coconuts and digging through he rubbage. I also noticed a significant amount of trash along the way to Long Beach. There was a 20 baht charge upon arrival for an environmental impact fee. The places by the beach were clean, but on the road less travelled on the island there was a lot of trash. What a Bumber! Afterwards I got some food at the snack shack which had pretty decent food at a cheaper price, then took a shower and was supposed to meet a friend Larissa from the viewpoint hike the day before to do some acro. We ended up not meeting for acro, but did see one another later on the beach.
I did some acro with a few others from or hostel while I was processing some images. Then we all went out to get some buckets (literally mixed drink of alcohol in a bucket) and went out to the beach where the party scene truely was. The bars were going off, the people were getting roudy, and the fire spinners were entertaining. There was loud music everywhere and fun unique things to do like jump rope on fire, or flaming limbo. I did the flaming limbo, and felt the fire so hot against my face. What an experience.
I got back around 1 am and crashed out. Sunday February 14th I slept in a bit and missed the early ferri ride to get to Koh Muk to meet with friends. So I hopped over to Koh Lanta for the day for 300 Baht, and then to Koh Muk the following day for $550 Baht. I got some nice cheap accomodation for the night at the Wishing Well Hostel for around 200 baht and met a guy named Andreas from Austria. I told him I would rent a scooter and adventure for the day and asked him if he wanted to split cost. He did some photography as well and we got a bike for 150 baht.
These fantastic photographs of me were captured by Andreas Wagner from Austria.
We went all around the island. And I even swam out to an island called Ko Lek. It was a nice swim.
I was standing on a reef about 40 meters out from the island and it looks as though I am walking on water. It amuses me because often times throughout my travels I have been referd to as Jesus.
I like this one that Andreas captured of me getting out of the water from when I swam back from the island.
I captured this HDR of the Island and some of the beachfront homes. Most of the beachfront homes on these islands are on poles due to the change in tide and water level.
An HDR panoramic image I took of Ko Por Island from Koh Lanta.
Ao Mai Pai Beach which is the closest beach to the national park on the island. It was wonderful being in the water at this beach and looking at the water and all the green tropical land.
From Ao Mai Pai Beach at sunset.
After we we went over to the national park where it would cost us 200 baht per person, but it was 5 pm and we would only have time to adventure for a bit. So we decided to go to the Ao Mai Pai beach to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and watch the sunset.
The light on the motor bike we had rented was quite poor, so the ride back was dark, but we made it back around 7 pm safe and sound. I got a bite to eat with Andy and then took a shower and did some photo editing. I was able to get a few people staying in our room to try some acro yoga and Andy and I did a little bit of Broga as well. I crashed out close to 1 am. Monday February 15th I was up at 7 and got my things packed. My sandles went missing (nice pair of rainbows) I returned the bike and got my passport back. Had some bananas for breakfast and got cash from the ATM here on Koh Lanta because are no ATM's on Koh Muk island. I was picked up at 8:15 M to get shuttled to the port we would leave from. And ended up leaving around 10:15am. We stopped at two other islands on the way to Koh Muk, and then arrived there close to 1pm. I met up with my friends Miles, Cayla, and Sam at The Muk Gardens Resort on the West side of the island. Rooms were between 400-500 baht and Miles and I split a room to cut cost. The resort was located right on the beach with free snorkel gear and Kayaks available for rent. Koh Mook is such a beautiful small island. Much more of a quite and chill vibe here. Soon after I arrived and met with everyone, we went on a hike to south side of where we were staying to go snorkeling. In the evening we walked a bit north of our resort to get a cheaper dinner. The Green Curry was very good and for only 80 baht. Which is still a bit pricy since we were on a southern island, but much cheaper than Koh Phi Phi. In the evening I was able to teach Miles some more acro yoga. He is picking it up so well! He is a very strong and and tall base who's desire for getting better is growing. So it makes it easy to teach him more advanced things quickly. In the evening we crashed out and decided to go kayaking the following day to Emerald Cove on the other side of the island. Tuesday February 16th We woke around 9:00 and miles and I did some acro while we waited for Cayla and Sam to waken up and join us for breakfast at the same place we ate the night before. I had about 3 different breakfast, because I knew that we were going to be in for quite the day of exercise. The tide became higher around 1 pm and we grabbed snorkels and took off in the kayaks. The kayak rental costed 200 baht per person and the snorkels were free to borrow. Our Koh Muk Garden Resort had a deal worked out the with Charlie's beach on the other side of he island that if we dropped off the kayaks there we could either get a ride back by boat, or just leave them on the beach and take a taxi or walk back. We kayaked for about 3 hours to get to emerald cave with periodically getting out to snorkel and look at the marine life. We saw a variety of fish and the finding Nemo Fish. I got a few good photos with using Cayla's underwater camera.
When we arrived we used head lamps to go through he 80 meter cave. There were parts that were pitch black. We arrived around 4 pm which is right around the time when most of he boat tours leave the cave. So when we got to the cove, it was only about 10 minutes or so until we had the whole place to ourselves.
On our way to Emerald Cove we saw a rope that attached to a cave above. Sam actually was able to make it up to the cave to explore it. I am not sure I had the needed stregth to get myself up there after all the kayaking. Photo was taken of me by Sam Stauffer.
Me using my surong as a sail to catch a free ride down wind on the kayak.
Sam, Cayla and Miles just entering the Emerald Cave. Right as we enter the light that comes through the water illuminates the cave so beutifully.
Soon after, it gets pitch black and it is best to use a headlamp to navigate through it.
I took a photo of the group just as they entered the cove.
Sam took a photo of the four of us just after we arrived to the cove.
Soon after we arrived evryone in the cave left and we had the whole cave to ourselves.
We used my tripod to take some pictures of our group. I took a Power Rangers photo of us using my tripod.
We coined a new term that day by doing acro yoga in the water. We called it "Aqua Broga" :-) (Photo by Sam Stauffer)
Miles is getting so good. This was his first time getting me into free star in the photo above. (Photo by Sam Stauffer)
(Photo by Sam Stauffer)
Photo of Sam and I doing Aqua Broya was taken by Cayla Sanderson
Photo of Cayla and I doing headstands was take by Mile Christensen.
I took this picture of the three of them exiting the cave.
Photo by Sam Stauffer of me in the Kayak and my nice sun hat on.
We then took the kayaks back to Charlie's beach agains the wind, which made the last stretch a bit more challenging. When we arrived we missed our opportunity to get a ride back, but we were on the east side of the island and would have a chance to see the sun set while we had dinner. So we at dinner and enjoyed the sunset. Afterwards we walked back and Miles and I did a bit more broga before getting some sleep. Wednesday February 17th I woke up around 9:00am and was feeling a day to just hang out and relax. It had been a while since I had just taken a second to can down. I at at the resort and edited images from the previous islands. I occasionally took a few breaks and did acro with Miles and Cayla. A few people from Amsterdam were curious and they decided to fly as well. In the evening, we went back to the restaurant north of our resort to get some good cheap food. In the evening we decided to drink a bit of alcohol, so we got rum and vodka. The vodka we picked up was called "BLACK COCK" with a big black rooster on it. Boy was it fun saying a bunch of dirty innuendos the whole night.
We drank and played cards and the Amsterdam group joined us for playing a backpackers game called "shit head". Then afterwards Cayla and Sam went to sleep and Miles and I stayed up playing a new game with our Amsterdam friends called Weerwolves. We had a blast playing music and this new game with new company. Around 2 am we crashed out. Thursday February 18th Today woke up around 8:30 and did a bit of acro with Miles and ate at our resort. We decided to walk over to Charlie's Beach on the east side of the island (3km walk) and go snorkeling there. I ended up swimming farther than our group and made my way back to emerald cave. Just with my snorkel. It was a decent swim to get there, possibly 3 km swim. I had a fun challenging time going through the pitch black cave with no headlamp or light. When I arrived I was the only one, and then stretched my legs and got out and then repeated the fun challenge of getting out of the cave (I highly suggest a headlamp or light). When I got out I saw some boats that were parked that were doing tours. I asked if they were heading to Charlie's beach or if they wouldn't mind giving me a ride there. He was so kind and offered me water and gave me a ride back back to Charlie's beach when his group arrived back. When I got back, I met back up with Sam Cayla and Miles, and we had a bite to eat at another restaurant on the east side. On our way back home I saw a slackline by one of the bars and we played on that for about 30 minutes. When we arrived back, we showered and packed our things and got ready to go to Trang in he morning. The ferri and shuttle from Koh Muk to The port and the shuttle was only 250 baht. After that, I did a bit of writing and posting. Then did some more acro with Miles before bed. We were able to play around and fly a few of the locals that worked at the Koh Muk Garden Resort. Friday February 19th We woke up around 6:45am and gathered our things and took a boat trip into Trang for 250 baht. From Trang, Miles and I decided to go to Kuala Lumpur that night. So we ate breakfast and got some milk teas. I had forgotten how cheap it was on the mainland. It was 25 baht for a milk tea, and 35 baht for an omelet and rice ($1.00 USD).
Picture of me running back to our tuck tuck for my green tea in Trang - Photo taken by Miles.
Our travels to Kuala Lumpur was 800 baht each which was for a night train We left around 10:30am to get a ride to where the shuttle would pick us up and bring us to Hat Yai where we spent the afternoon.
This is the biggest Green Tea I have had, and it was my third one of the day. We had this in Hat Yai. Gotta get it all before you leave Thailand. Photo taken by Miles.
A photo of Miles backpacking ovr to where us bus would leave from in Hat Yai.