Oh where to begin with Thailand. Its hard to put into words what we’ve experienced in the last 3 weeks, but here goes nothing.
There was a lot to do in a short amount of time. To list a few things: boat tours, bus/ ferry rides to new islands, full moon parties, scuba diving, and reuniting with our Alaskan, Canadian and Hawaiian compadres. Without touching into much of the bad, we did have several different occasions of pure awfulness. From rough seas, crazy taxi/ bus drivers, to food poisoning & downright rudeness. With that being said, we did also have an amazing time with old and new friends, and we were able to have one of the most unique Christmas/ New Years of our lives.
On day one, we met up with our bestie Sam Hard in Ao Nang (Krabi) and could hardly believe what was happening. We were in an exciting new country with new food, old friends and had free reign to do whatever we wanted. After a day of relaxing and catching up, we decided to take a boat tour to Phra Nang Cave Beach, a short boat ride away. When you close your eyes at work and think of paradise, this is the place your thinking of. With sparkling emerald waters, powdery fine sand, and the epic stalactite ridden cliffs, this place is paradise! After exploring the caves and getting our fill of the beach, it was time to hit the street carts and finally taste what we had been waiting 3 months for… authentic Thai food! If there was one letdown to top them all, it was the quality and non-spiciness of the food. Thinking it was just a crappy street cart with bad pad thai, we tried not to get ourselves bummed, hoping that the food was going to get exponentially more delicious and spicy. After dish number ten, we finally made the realization that we had put Thai food on an enormously tall pedestal. Okay, yes we had a few good dishes but honestly, Oahu’s Thai food RULES! Granted we were in tourist-ville and not in the northern villages, so the hope is still alive that we may one day be proved wrong, but for now we will never know.
The next day we took a mellow 5:00am bus to the harbor to catch our ferry to Koh Tao. We couldn't believe our eyes when our Canadian friends (Phil & Alex) from Indonesia got on the same boat! After an all too brief 15 minute chat to catch up, we were abruptly interrupted by massive seas! When an 85 foot long boat is going up and down 15 feet and pounding into each wave like a brick wall, you know you are in some crappy weather. The good news was that it was a short 6 hour ride hah! At one point, the boat crew starting passing out vomit bags and countless people were filling them up. Yet again we realized how much we LOVE boats!
Arriving at the dock in Koh Tao, we were some hurtin’ units, but were determined to get some food in us and some beach time. With Sam wanting to get SCUBA certified he was off in no time to get the classwork and pool sessions out of the way. The next few days flew by catching up with our friends, attending the massive beach parties (amazing fire shows, flaming limbo & jump rope!) and exploring the island’s hidden coves. Hoping that the weather would improve for diving, we waited until the end of our time to get in the water. But to our dismay, the visibility was garbage, seas were rough from the high winds and we weren't able to dive the famous spots that Koh Tao is known for. Instead we dove a nearby shipwreck (50m Japanese battleship) and reef. Only being able to see 2-5 meters gave us an eerie feeling in knowing we could get separated easily. We did end up seeing some good sea life, cannons, and HUGE groupers at the wreck!
After a sad goodbye with our Canadian friends, we set off on yet another ferry ride to Koh Pha Ngan. Once settled in, we spent the days exploring the island with mopeds & getting crazy on the pool to pool slide, which was quite brutal to say the least! Christmas came and went with some good chats with the family and one crazy full moon beach party. With time passing in a blur we had seen what we wanted from the island and were on quite the crunch to get to Phuket to meet our Hawaiian friends, Mary and Jordan. After an extremely unpleasant 10 hours of travel and weathering a psychotic bus driver, we were finally in Phuket and reunited with our Hawaiian friends. There was no time to relax due to the rush to get to Koh Phi Phi for New Years, but it was smooth sailing all the way there. What a crazy 3 days! Scuba diving, boat trips to adjacent islands and one wild New Years party!
Once we put Koh Phi Phi to the stern we headed to Bangkok. All was well and then….BOOM! Food poisoning for Mikaela and I. Coupling that with 12 hours on overnight buses (one of which had no bathroom) was a train wreck. But a solid 24 hours of hugging the trash can/toilet put us right as rain. Only having two days of real enjoyment in Bangkok somewhat put a damper on things, but we made the most of it. Mary and Jordan had arranged for a family friend driver to take us around and we were able to see some really cool things. A floating market and a gigantic golden Buddha were among the highlights. Yet again, it was time to say goodbye to our remaining friends. Being on the lonely path again, we decided what better way to spend our last rainy day in Bangkok than at the 4D movie theater! AWESOME!
Though our time with friends really brightened up the Thailand experience for us, we couldn't help but want to move on. Due to the fact that it’s the one place we haven't felt welcome in the slightest. For a place that is dubbed the LAND OF SMILES, our experience was mostly the opposite. With so much more ahead of us what better way to forget about the past than to push forward onto the greener pastures of Cambodia!!!!