A Travellerspoint blog

koh samui and pha-ngan are for the full moon party

these islands are the second biggest tourist destination in thailand (phuket being the biggest).

here we met the boys for the last leg of their trip - we spent a week or so beaching, touring the island, and drinking champagne.

on new years eve we caught a speedboat to koh pha-ngan for the full moon party. pha-ngan is a ridiculous party town/ beach island. the drinks come in the form of small or big buckets full of your favourite spirit. it was busy, and crazy, but the mood everywhere was good, we didn't experience any hassles at all.

the music was ok - definitely not a challenger for spain's ibitha.

the crowd was mostly english and australian; not a locals gig.

we bid farewell to the boys - with a warning from james not to come too quick to hong kong as he needs to detox.

lim learnt the art of kite flying , running up and down the beach laughing hysterically

then we caught 2 buses, a ferry, and 6 more buses to khao sok national park for some quiet detoxing of our own.

Posted by hughmadden 01:31 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)


on arrival we started with the usual game of cheat* with the taxi driver.

  • remember that game where you put down many cards disguised as few and dare anyone to call you

500 baht for the trip.
no!, meter
it doesn't work outside airport
me: (grabbing bag and opening door)
ok we get out
ok ok

(the metered trip came in at 300 baht)

after a morning of recuperating, and lim's happy reunion with mcdonalds, we set out to see bangkok.

first stop was some local's road-side eateries, and we happily welcomed spicy food back into our lives (vietnamese food was on the whole a bit bland).

in both vietnam and thailand local venues have far nicer food (it hasn't been western-blanded) and it costs 1-3aud for a meal.

then we figured out the subway/skytrain system. it always makes me feel a lot more comfortable with a city once ive got the metro sorted.

we paid the premium for ring-side seats at muay thai boxing. it is a brutal sport; there was plenty of blood and the confronting sight of some pre-event 15/16 year olds trying to kill each other. strange how their hands are gloved but not the more lethal knees and elbows. the one KO occurred when a fighter got his foot grabbed. he feigned a back-off, and then leapt forward using his free knee on his oponents face.

we were expecting it to be brutal, but we were suprised by two things - the most points are awarded for skilled defensive moves rather then aggression, and there was a lot of throws.


the following day we caught the metro from new bangkok to the river. here we took to the cities' oldest transport system - the river. cheap and convenient if you are well researched, boats are the best transport for old bangkok (taxis or your feet are the only alternative).

we alighted near the grand palace, which has a huge shiny palace and wat (temple). there we oggled at the emerald buddha (most likely just quartz but shhh, don't tell anyone; wars have been fought over this thing).

after a day on our feet we headed to wat pho. this wat is famous as it is the primary school for thai massage. nearby you can purchase a massage (maybe 15aud) from the school; this made for a happy lim.

that night we took ourselves to a cabaret show. the dancers were lazy and un-motivated - not too amazing. apparently it is very popular with the many gender re-assigned visitors to bankok.


by this time the boys had made their way to bangkok (and had picked up an extra, hongkong james).
we caught up with them and visited the last major sight on our list - the red light district.

i was probably spared most of the heckling with lim a my side. still it was a seedy and un-appealing place - once is enough.

done with bangkok we flew to the tourist islands of koh samui and phanang.

Posted by hughmadden 01:25 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

catching the boys and getting the hell out of vietnam :)

after nha trang we took a sleeper train north to danang. the sleepers are quite comfortable for a long trip, assuming you are fortunate with the travellers who share your compartment.

we weren't lucky. a mature vietnamese lady in our compartment was continuously sick in a bag which she kept full and close for ready access. a wondrous 8/10 hours of delightful smells and sounds ensued :/

we arrived in the town of danang. after the usual taxi driver shenanigans we found a hotel. we are learning the hard way to be well researched before arrival. the alternative is to be stripped of flesh by very hungry taxi/tout piranhas.

in danang we met up with friends (henry, marcus, and yeekei). we spent a few days catching up and clowning around.

after danang we got a bus to hoi-an, a coastal historically preserved town on the beach. hoi-an is pretty but still full of tourist-parasites trying to relieve you of any valuable you may have.

we spent a day playing pool and cards - yeekei soundly thrashed me at 1 up or down snap.

finally we bummed a free bus to the airport with the boys and happily jetted out of vietnam to thailand.

in the process our camera died a silent death (lens error anyone?) so we are only taking dodgy phone snaps between now and hong kong.

Posted by hughmadden 01:23 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

lazy nha trang

We spent 10 or so days in beech-side nha trang; medium sized touristy town.
Heres a comic - enjoy.

Next stop - danang 1 day, hoi an 2 days, then flying to bankok, thailang, on xmas day.

till then.

Posted by hughmadden 17:51 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

chillin in vietnam

After a day of sitting round the airport, we finally got out of cambodia - flying vietnam air to saigon (ho chi minh city;hcmc). In typical cambodian style, the customs lady realised lim could speak khmer and held our passports ransom until lim handed over a small 'donation' - $2. it seems that in corrupt countries it can be better at times to be a dumb foreigner that doesn't understand the language - it makes you too much of a hassle to be a bribe target.

from the saigon airport we jumped the locals bus at 70cents each into the city. the cheap transport was good, but even better is simply avoiding taxi drivers. saigon was a real shock - busy busy city. you really come to appreciate simple things like a sidewalk for walking. i didn't exactly love the constant noise and hawkers, but it drove lim completely nuts. maybe because ppl kept assuming she was vietnamese and rattling of at her to buy stuff.

we walked around a few of the 'american' war exhibits, before deciding that the thing to do in saigon is drink.

the next day we high tailed it out of there on the way to some beachside vietnam; mui ne is a small beach-side resort town.

we are starting to get some back packing routines - we turn up on the door step of an internet or lonely planet published hotel. the next morning we walk around the neighbourhood looking for a room that meets our spec - clean, off the road (quiet), fridge, and aircon.

day 2 in mui ne saw us in a $20usd/night beach side bungalow with nothing between us and sand.

mui ne is a hotspot for kite and wind surfing. at one point lim counted 48 kite surfers in the bay. some of these guys were seriously good, doing the sort of jumps you see on those extreme sports clips.

i was absolutely itching for a good swell - apparently the beach gets good surfing waves. i had to make do with a bit of body surfing. the water was actually really poluted and dirty, it looked like the (many) resorts pump their waste straight into the water. i ended up with an ear ache.

we settled in to four days of learning to really, really relax. i've prolly not been this care free since i was ten.

lim is pretty relaxed, but her main concerns haven't changed - you can see her struggling with that ever present human dilemna - what to eat next?
(no joke)

eventually we managed to get motivated to leave our bungalow, we caught a couple of xe om (motor bikes) and taxis to a train station 30km away to grab a train. we camped out in a tiny train station for 5 hours; thank the heavens for cheap vietnamese whiskey.

eventually our train arrived - lim enthusiastically kept our bags safe whilst we tried to figure out where to board.

with the help of a local boy (10c tip required) we got away.

the train seats were 'hard sleepers', which means 6 bunks per compartment with no matresses.

after a heated argument with a nha trang taxi driver we got to the hotel we wanted. lim was more then happy to get into our nice (20usd) room.

the next day lim landed us a similar room, but only 8usd per night - go lim ! :)

so, now we plan to spend 10 days enjoying this:

and watching lemur street on the animal channel:
(lim is almost in tears because gizmo the littlest young male has a hurt leg but his mother wont look after him and he may get eaten by a snake)



Posted by hughmadden 18:59 Archived in Vietnam Comments (2)

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