Saturday, 21 January 2012

EASY DOES IT - Southern Thailand

I know the blog posts have been thin on the ground for the last couple of months! To be honest, we have been so chilled out and relaxed, it makes for pretty boring reading!

Since our return from amazing Sulawesi, we have been having a very quiet time in Southern Thailand. Our first port of call was Ko Siboya. We are so close to this island when we are in Krabi, yet over the years, we have neglected to go and have a look. It was a lovely surprise, with extremely friendly hosts and fellow guests (although there were very few people staying there), cute (and tiny) little huts for a reasonable price, great food and a VERY peaceful long beach. Siboya isn't popular because the beach isn't classically beautiful with powdery white sand, but we still enjoyed the serenity of our long walks there without seeing any other people at all!

Ferry to Ko Siboya
Si Boya sunset- those colours are real!
Rocky Si Boya beach

We revisited our favorite place in Thailand, Ko Fruitopia, and spent most of the month catching up with great friends, eating ridiculously large portions of excellent food (Sally had a major pancake fixation, something she is now regretting!), still trying to learn Thai, lapping up the beautiful sunshine on the beach and reading stacks of books. It really is blissful there! There was a lot of music this year, with several great musicians staying, and it was lovely to sit on the beach around a fire at night listening and singing along.

At this point, I would like to add a small appendix to my blog. It's been contributed by a fellow Fruitopian- a lovely fellow with a funny accent, one could call him a mad scientist-type, who enjoys commenting on my blog style, so I thought I'd let him have his five cents worth here. Please be know, these are not necessarily my views, but they are extremely funny, and well written (in my opinion).

                The Fruitopians

The same old faces appear year after year at Ko Fruitopia. This year we saw
some new young ones adding a new late night aspect  to the community using
language such as ‘after party’. Masimo used some old vocabulary and said
‘shut the f*** up!’.

The old faces tell some new stories, but mostly  embellish the ones they
have told many times before.

Some new German visitors built a camp fire that BMW would be proud of!

This year the guitar players were like buses. You wait for one and then
three turn up at once. Papa excelled with his musical presence and is
currently working on a  new concept album featuring farmyard animals.

Other people (Germans) have criticized Queen D for not upkeeping/updating
the bungalows. However, I no of few places or establishments that see such
a repeat business  A business model worth looking at!

Larn's place in the village seems to have become a bit of a drinking
hangout for some of the Fruitopians leading to some loutish behavior in
the afternoon…..I’ll mention no names here for fear of making someone look
like a Dick.

As Rosa headed off for her honeymoon in Bangkok to meet the Japanese
inlaws, Queen D is showing some signs of the strain of  keeping things
going on her own. And the cooking/food is suffering!!

On the last night I visited Coco bar, where Mustaffe usually hangs on the
end of the bar in a semi-commatosed spliffed-out state.  Mustaffa was on a
visa run and I commented how quiet the bar was without him. Only Pung
behind the bar laughed.

And so as I watched the final sun set with some of the Friutopians I left
the island the following day full of  laughter and  good times, good vibes
and  a painful stinging sensation when I piss.

Not forgetting Spider, whose web doesn’t only cover the island, but
people in Cambodia talk about him.

Thank you for that, Billabong, now, back to me!!

We did, however, eventually surrender to our urge to leave, to explore new territory. First on the agenda was Tonsai Beach. Tonsai is the poor relation to the expensive, and more photographed Railay Beach. Although the whole coast line in that area is stunning, Tonsai is less famous for it's beach, and more so for it's climbing on the limestone cliffs. The accommodation is more affordable, and since we've visited Railay a few times on days trips, we thought it would be nice to stay a while and chill out on Tonsai. Unfortunately, it wasn't really our scene, with lots of  people doing way too many active things all day (mainly rock-climbing, but also hiking and kayaking- we were knackered just watching!), then partying hard at night. We loved the dramatic setting (although it was a shame about the rubbish everywhere), and watching the climbers from the beach was unreal. We did visit in high season, but found the tourist numbers overwhelming. We glad we got to see it, and we had glorious weather while we were there, but were happy to get back to Krabi.

Boat to Tonsai

Tonsai hut (before Richard fell through the verandah)

Tonsai beach

Climbers, Tonsai

Our beach activities!

Tonsai sunset

More climbing

Tonsai beach

We love our regular place to stay in Krabi, Swallow Guest House. It's another one of our "home away from home" type places. It's a serious contender for the cleanest guesthouse in Thailand, and the owners Terry and Mia are very kind to us, and fussy who they let stay in their six rooms, so we know will get a good night's sleep!

Swallow Guest House room, Krabi
Mai and Terry, owners of Swallow Guesthouse, Krabi

We spent some time in Krabi, one of our favorite towns in Thailand. It's easy to get around with cheap and convenient public transport, loads of yummy food stalls, lovely river walks and not one, but two food night markets. We spent quiet a bit of time here, as the weather further south was stormy and wild with more flooding, and we didn't fancy getting caught in that. We amused ourselves around town, visiting the Tiger Cave Temple and the mangrove walk, and further afield, with day trips to Hat Nopporat Thara and Ao Nang beaches and Ao Luk, a town further north which is famous for its surrounding caves.

Hat Nopporat Thara beach, near Krabi

Busy Ao Nang beach, near Krabi

Some kind of bird competition

Long way to the top of the Tiger cave temple!

Slightly camp statue at the temple

Worshipers at temple

Sal with tigers

Colorful pigeon, Ao Luk
Sal in mangroves, Krabi

Storm brewing, Krabi town

After a day in hectic Hat Yai, we took a bus with the loudest music video in the world blasting out, to Songkhla. A new town for us, we were expecting a severe Muslim atmosphere, and couldn't have been more wrong. It's such a wonderful town, with a huge mix of people, and probably the least amount of hijabs we have seen in a while. We staggered off our bus half deaf, found a lovely little guesthouse, walked out after a couple of hours to find a massive market had set up in the streets in the area. All over Thailand, towns have introduced "Walking Street Markets", on a weekend, to boost the local economies.We've been to quite a few, but the Songkhla one was so huge and amazing, with lots of secondhand, retro and homemade goods for sale- something you don't see very often in Thailand. And very, very nice, smiley locals.

Hat Yai, Chinese New Year decorations

Hat Yai, Chinese New Year decorations

Hat Yai
Songkhla night market

Old movie projector, Songkhla

We loved exploring the low-key town, climbing the biggest hill to visit a temple and see the view, and strolling the long, empty beach, and port area, and the fantastic two huge day markets selling everything you could think of. We regretted not having much time here, and decided to definitely come back here at another stage to explore the surrounding area in more detail. Unfortunately, our time was up on our Thai visa, and Malaysia once again beckoned...........

View from hill, Songkhla

Old part of Songkhla