Well not quite back to the beginning beginning, that was Bangkok. It’s here though where our epic trip fully got underway. That was last October and we’ve been on the move since. It’s very nice to be back somewhere familiar, somewhere we can just relax and chill after almost four months on the move. It’s not just somewhere tho’, it’s a really special place and one of the last Thai Islands not yet thrust into the modern world of 7-11’s & Starbucks coffee. Hopefully the electricity supply that’s been talked about will not happen any time soon, we hope it never does, that way we can keep coming back as we like it so much! Once the electricity supply comes, the hotel chains and 7-11 will no doubt soon follow. Don’t get me wrong tho’ I’m not complaining about moving about, we’ve had a great time and think it’s been done right. Not rushing from here to there but trying to take things in as we move, without too much off a plan. Then also there’s the interesting people we’ve met on the way. Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma) and even Nepal are places we want to visit in the future. Some of those we’ve met and also those we’ve befriended are here on this very island. It’s good to be meeting them again soon, but I’m not totally happy as one of my best friends, who’s been blogged about more than most, Billy The Thai Terrier cannot make it due to work commitments. He’s all grown up and responsible now, it’s a big disappointment but there’ll be other times, maybe we’ll go visit him in the Jungle before we leave on our final flight when ever that might be? At the moment we have no idea, so lets get on with it and continue the fun…..oops I almost forgot, our lifestyle needs to change and it starts here and now…….Well not on the first day! That will be tomorrow, if tomorrow ever comes anyway?! :-). It’s Tuesday the 27th of January, so I apologise for once again being behind, I’m way behind actually! I’m trying my best tho’ – honest.
We get the speed boat at ten in the morning, the hotel sorted by email as we’re returning to where we stayed before. It’s out of the way a touch which we like, plus they’ve got reliable swift internet which is a requirement to aid the job search. The room we select is back a bit from the beach at 800 baht a night. A bike with brakes working both front and back is sorted near the pier for another 200, I take it for a day to check it out fully. We’re off to do the rounds and see who is still here from our last trip. First stop is to see Weee, the slack line fire juggler, who’s a laugh a minute. Mentioned here in the last blog Thai Storm & the last time we were back at The Island. Here’s a link to his Slackline Fire Show which we are yet to observe fully live in action.
There was talk he was off to Austria but for whatever reason he’s still here, which is good news. The friendly Belgian girl is back at work so we’ve missed her. Next off to Starlight where we first stayed in the basic hut, it was great as gave us good grounding for what was to come in the following months. The owner is not there, but its evident he’s been doing some work. There’s quite a number of brick bungalows recently finished, they look good. We are there perfectly for sunset with a few beers, whilst chatting with the current residents.
Then it’s next door, Papaya for some great Thai nosh. The cook is really friendly as well as being great in the kitchen. It’s even a little bit like coming home. We stop back at the Jungle bar with Weee before the journey back to our digs, it’s eventful as the lights are shite and only work at about 10% of it’s potential glow. I know the roads and there’s never many other vehicles so we make it back, just about, the bike will be going back in the morning!
Up at mid morning, and keeping our word to ourselves and the blog, we take a run on the beach! It’s more than five weeks since I fucked the ankle and it’s still not right! Billy was correct when he said it can almost be as bad as a break. I can run some shape but it’s not good, any excessive level of stress to the joint and it’ll go again for sure. The give in the sand helps while we work up a sweat with a twenty minute jog, with press ups thrown in at each turn. Another reason we choose to return here is that there’s a small gym, just five minutes on the bike followed by ten on the cross trainer. I finish up with a few sets of lat pull downs. Not a bad work out for the first time back, it shows as we are both sweating like bitches. The new regime is continued with muesli n yoghurt with a fruit plate for breakfast :-). A solid start, lets hope it continues!
There’s bikes available now at the digs and we take one, it’s new in full working order, but red. The colour would have been a problem a month back, but with Cardiff City Back in Blue I’m happy to take it. First I drop off the problem bike and whilst doing so I see the Norwegian we rented off last time, I need to check what the damage is. Not to the bike but our pocket, the bike was just scratched a bit in the front after I ran it into a few tables, he’s fair and it costs 1500 baht. Returning on a 50 baht moto taxi I notice a threat to the healthy life style, a flyer for a reggae concert, and it’s tonight! Headlining are Job2do, one of their tracks can be found here. Live music happens sporadically on the island so it’s a must attend event.
We spend the day on our new wheels with a gander. There’s quite a few new bars and restaurants that have sprung up in the last three months, progress always inevitable, thankfully at the moment at least it’s not over the top! The Budda not far from our digs has been spruced up, the temple is still there out at sea. Currently a big collection of monks are on the Island, here for an upcoming festival, which coincides with the full moon. There’s many of them camping in the woods and on the beach.
Fitting with another religion, the gig is at Rastababy on the top end of Long beach. It’s a bar on the beach run but a group of Rastafarians all with the obligatory dreadlocks. There’s a selection of bands and the lively crowd is 800 strong. It’s quite a small venue so it’s packed, whiffs of Ganga fill the air, we create some space for a bop and even a bit of reggae pogo. The first band we catch playing all their own stuff, which is refreshing.
We’re on the cocktails so find a spot near the bar, and the barbecued grub on offer. There’s change in the entertainment and we are fighting our way to the front led by myself, Job2do are now up. We manage to get places on an elevated platform, it’s not a bad spot to get some shots off, which could have been better if the cocktails were not so strong.
It’s quite a late one but we don’t stay until the end as we need to drive back, it was a mistake not organising a moto taxi or two. We end the night lying on the beach viewing the constellations of stars with a bottle of Sang Som, Thai whiskey.
As I thought it might the reggae night interferes with the training, which is only a day old, it will need to resume tomorrow guaranteed, it would be ill advised today! However it’s a continuation of the healthy brekkie before we’re off on another motor assisted gander. We get to a secluded beach where access was not possible during the rainy season. Now we’re able to descend the rocky fall knowing that returning is possible.
We find solitude if such a thing can be shared? There’s a huge tree in the distance, a natural goal. Before that tho’ there are a group of equally interesting trees that get caught in the tide daily, they look unusual in the surf. It’s scorching and with the sun high in the sky, not the best time for photos, but I’m not stupid enough to wait for the ‘golden hour’ today. My thoughts backed up by the state on the fruit which has been dried out by the harsh rays.
A bit more doing visiting is done, the medicine man legend where the monkeys hang out, is still here and now his restaurant is open where we eat and chat. There’s no monkeys but we do learn it’s possible to extend your visa at Ranong immigration office. We try another restaurant before having an early night with a movie back at the room. We’ve done the Mekong enough when in Cambo & Laos so it’s Apocalypse Now to end the day.
Next day as to plan, we’re back on the beach and it’s overcast again so not too hot, it allows us to run, a bit faster for a bit longer, followed by 15 mins each on the bike and cross trainer. I follow with a bit of weights, selecting what’s available. Then it’s the healthy brekkie, whilst the endorphins that training bring give us that glow, they are working already! Easy to spot maybe as it’s been a while!
If you’ve been following this blog you’ll know it’s been a day by day account. I apologise if that’s made reading boring at times, it’s just so we remember all the fine details when we look back later. It was how the blog was meant to be, a running diary. Now however as this is the third visit to the island, if it continued in the same vein for sure it would become too boring to read, not to mention write! So I’ll summarise for now and see how we go………..
Our days are spent scootering about, finding new spots to explore. The evenings trying various bars and places to eat, sampling cocktails and tasty Thai food. Boozing during the day has stopped for now, beer being replaced with spirits or cocktails, cutting down on the calories see ;-), healthy options all the way :-). The fitness goes well until about the fifth day when the weather breaks and it’s no longer over cast but scorching hot even by half nine. It’s what you’d expect being so close to the equator. We decide to wake at 07:00 to beat the heat! Another form for weather beats us though – The tide! It’s right in at that time and there is no beach.
This curbs our enthusiasm and we don’t even make it to the gym. So a week in and the fitness has stopped, a pretty shitty effort from us both. If we weren’t at paradise I’d hang my head in shame. Instead it’s only right to have a cocktail 🙂 Pina Coloda’s are very fitting in such a setting. It’s not only the fitness regime that doesn’t go so well, neither is the job search. The drastic drop in the price of oil has made all the main companies shit themselves. Projects are on go slow, others on hold indefinitely. The positive feedback I was receiving in November is now doom and gloom from a number of sources. It’s not great news personally, but I won’t complain, as globally it’s a good thing, well that is if it has a knock on effect to the cost of everything else, which when things are more expensive the excuse spun is the price of fuel and transport. Therefore in theory everything that’s transported should reduce in cost, somehow I doubt that will happen? Thankfully I’m not stuck to the O&G, field which would be the case if I was a chemical or process engineer. There will be a knock on effect tho’ for sure. So for now it’s time to play the waiting game, don’t panic, just ride it out and see what happens. It wouldn’t be my preference but there are quite a few jobs back home, plus the rest of the UK. Anyway that’s out of bounds until April. To go now and complicate last years tax return would be plain stupid, so there’s no point even looking until mid March. The situation is far from ideal but a big part of me is relieved, the thought of working let’s say in a few days time is a scary one, especially when your in paradise with your princess 🙂 We’ve accounted for the situation, it’s been discussed back when we were in Kampot. If we need to wait it out somewhere, that’s where we’ll do it. It’s our favourite spot so far and also cheap as chips.
Not so far away in the Andaman sea is Surin Island and it’s meant to be excellent for snorkelling, we book a trip there in the next few days. For now we’re enjoying the island, it’s double laid back and not so populated. Without too much effort it’s possible to find beaches with nobody else on them at all, when you do encounter others it’s never that many. This impacts some of the new bars which are struggling, they are nearly always empty. Location making it difficult to attract custom.
During these days of mainly chilling, we discover backgammon. Not the game itself but actually how to play it. It was always included in the multi packs of board games you got as a kid, unfortunately no one in my family knew how to play and I don’t know of any friends who played either? Which is shocking as its meant to be the worlds oldest game, maybe 5,000 years old! Well youtube showed me here, the KP has played a bit with her father. I received a cracking set as a gift in Kazakhstan and played a few games, not understanding it was actually backgammon with a few twists. Anyway it’s a great game, if you’ve not played I suggest you do, especially if you’ve got kids. Beware tho’ as its a game associated with gambling but can be played for fun also.
A week into our stay and we’re off to Surin, with a boat full of Germans. The Island is not that populated but there’s more Krauts than anyone else. I hope that doesn’t upset anyone and if it does, I’m a Taff and more than happy with it! Fear not as there’s not as many as the Costa Brava in the 80’s, so if you come your sun bed will be safe. Plus the many we’ve met have all been more than friendly enough. The problem with having a large group from one country, it makes it more difficult to interact with them as they get engrossed with each other, but who can blame them? It must be a balls having to use English all the time, which over many years has become the universal language of choice. Unless of course your in China or some other far flung location, like Shymkent for example, known as the Wild West of Kazakhstan, located in the south. Though in all honesty you’d have more chance there if you was searching translation.
For the remainder of our trip the vibe continues, interesting stuff occurring every few days, which shall be with you in the next blog, or maybe a series of mini blogs to cut down on the words? You’ll know soon enough. For sure it will kick off with our latest snorkelling adventure, at a location which is meant to be the dogs bollocks………..