Travelling & London – day 387

387 days… 1 leap year and 3 weeks of travelling. Of course, day 1 of the adventure was always journaled as being in Delhi, when in fact day 1 could have been leaving the UK. BUT, by the time we noticed that little blip in our counting we were already a hundred days or so into the journey and my parents were printing out the blogs, and unbeknownst to us, so was Tracey. So, the adventure has come to an end and so too have tales that have filled books and cyberspace. img_0671

Writing the blog entry for this day a few weeks later, it is still fresh and clear the day we came home. The simplicity of the airport, the familiarity of meeting Nicola in the arrivals hall (thank you Nicola for collecting us, #1 Third Wheel), the navigation of the route back to Raynes Park, seeing the same buildings still under construction. All of it made us feel like we had never been away.We stayed at the Travelodge down the road from the flat – one of the few projects in the area that got completed in our absence – as our tenants hadn’t technically left yet. But, we later found out that they had been in the US for almost 6 weeks and the flat was being repainted in their absence. We could have moved in home straight away. But, the hassle they had given us during our year away was continuing. Ugh! [Insert sad emoji face and a sigh of despair] Lots of bits and pieces to slowly put right in the days that have passed and more still to do… the single biggest problem they caused was not paying Thames Water and other bills. Poor management by the letting agent and a fault in the Royal Mail redirection service meant we had come home to letters from debt collectors and bills that weren’t even ours. But, that was not part of day 387 and shouldn’t be included in this eulogy.A spot of breakfast with Will and Nicola and we headed off to the storage locker. Still too early to check in at the hotel, we rummaged through the contents of the bin to get at work/interview clothes and essentials we’d need in our first few days. Dragging it all back to Raynes Park was tiresome and jet lag and such was kicking in. A nice warm shower, a bit of daytime British tv and we managed to get through the afternoon. A kebab from the lovely Turkish lads down the street for dinner and it really was starting to feel like we had never been away. img_0677Friday 28th October 2016

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Bangkok & Travelling – day 386

We left the room at the last possible minute, pushing the check out time to the max. We had a few hours to kill and while we would have had better wifi and air con down in reception, we preferred the peace and quiet. But, uncomfortable wooden chairs and noisy guests soon greeted us as we plonked ourselves down for a few hours. We both had work to do: job applications, emails and convincing people we were off somewhere exotic (still very deceitful in preparation for surprising friends). We broke up the late morning, early afternoon with a trip to 7 Eleven to cash in the coupons… I was hoping for a unique lunch box to store my ticket stubs in from the travels. Alas, they needed to be pre-ordered. But, the tokens/coupons act as currency and we traded them for Milo Hot Chocolate powder, notepads and sweets. Score!!
Our lunch plans were sadly ruined as we hadn’t accounted for them not being open that early during the day. The shop fronts were they set up their tables and chairs were still trading fruit, veg and other wares and we while we waved to them (chopping and prepping for the evening), we had to find somewhere different for our last meal. We wandered up the road, further than we had done since our first visit 4years ago when this was the road we took towards the river. The street had drastically changed and the atmosphere was lessened and more commercial. Alas, all good things must come to an end. But, one more pad Thai noodles would hopefully make it a bit better.img_0660img_0661img_0662Arriving at the airport with ease, we were checked in all the way to London Heathrow and soon jetting off to Kuala Lumpur for Christmas our transfer. The airport was very well organised and sign-posted, but with the previous flight slightly delayed, there was a small panic of transferring terminals in time to catch the adjoining flight. We needn’t have worried as clearly half the flight was already on the one we had just come on. Typical.

We had done well to book seats at the rear of the plane. Nobody was sitting behind us and thus we felt comfortable in reclining the seas without upsetting people behind or being woken up from airplane monkeys swinging off the seat to go to the loo. The down side, something that we never anticipated, was that by being so comfortable and relaxed, we didn’t shuffle in our seats or walk around as much as we probably normally would have. Thus, I may have developed a bit of a trapped nerve in my right thigh for the position I slept in. Ouch!!

Thursday 27th October 2016

Bangkok – day 385

We sorted out our flight check in for Kuala Lumpur and Heathrow the night before. The facade of continuing our journey still going strong to surprise people when we got back to London. We chilled out with magazines and social media for a few hours before getting ready to head out.
Walking to the train station, we reminisced about our trip to Myanmar, with locals queuing up at the embassy for photos and visas. We thought about the dodgey, fishy food along the northwest of the country and agreed that Green Curry and Pad Thai would always be well up there with our favourite cuisine dishes. But, a bucket of popcorn is also a big thumbs up and we treated ourselves to the overpriced white snack at the cinema.
The first film we saw (yep! the first one) was Ms. Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children. The film continues past the end point of the first book and while I thought the film was ok, at best, Katherine didn’t like it at all. I think that somehow they wrapped up the last book in about 2mins of dialogue in the silver screen, but that is pure speculation. Having no desire to read said books, I shall never prove myself right or wrong – a proverbial Schrodinger’s Cat, so to speak.
The second film, albeit without the popcorn, was Doctor Strange. A marvel universe inspired film, it brought another chapter together with the appearance of another infinity stone – spoiler alert! The critics (aka, Katherine and I) enjoyed it in so much as it was something to watch, better than Captain America Civil War, and passed away an afternoon in comfy chairs and out of the hostel. The franchise is doing well hooking people in to the continuity of the comics and we are caught up in it just like everyone else. Roll on the Harry Potter inspired spin off coming out in November. img_0655
Wandering through the shopping centre and marvelling at various stores, artwork and queues for t-shirts, we eventually got back to Mile Map Hostel and our favourite restaurant… we were emotional. img_0652img_0656Less than 24 hrs and we would be on a flight back home. For myself, I was back in the UK in June/July; Katherine being away for almost 13 months. We chatted about highs, lows and everything in between. A surreal dinner and evening and the penultimate packing of bags (there’s always a last reshuffle in reception).img_0658Wednesday 26th October 2016

Koh Tao & Travelling – day 384

Up and sprightly, I convinced Katherine it was a good idea to come with me to get the ferry tickets early before the queues. We were the first to register for that scheduled ferry, and while we were earlier than the lady at the counter would probably have liked, we at least had our tickets and stickers to get us on board. That was the main thing. Over at 7 Eleven we got some plain yogurt to go with the last of our muesli and we strolled past a selection of the multitude of dive centres for the last jaunt up the hill and home. The ‘garden’ resort was still a bit dead despite the recent rain storm and maintenance, but we enjoyed having our brekkie out on the deck one last time. img_0639img_0640
Shoals of tiny silver fish rotated in a hypnotic tornado fashion, becoming greater and smaller bait balls in a graceful fluid motion. The people on the jetty throwing bread in to the water, 90% of the time not reaching the fish, didn’t realise the harm they were causing. The jerky movements of the fish attracted larger fish to their whereabouts and a few of them were picked off for an early breakfast.
img_0642On the ferry, we found seats near the front left (i.e. towards the bow on the port side), remembering what it was like to sit downwind of someone who hadn’t wash in a month and the door to the deck slamming constantly on the last trip. So, it was an easy cruise to the mainland with rock formations and small islands becoming more frequent as we got closer to our destination.
Queueing up for the bus tickets, the company had the whole thing well organised. If only they would enforce the rules about where people could and couldn’t smoke – moving twice to escape the clouds engulfing us. The seats on the bus got muddled up. Youngsters sitting wherever they wanted confused the ticket lady whom was ensuring we were in our allocated spots. It backfired on the girl behind me as the seat was broken and stuck in a reclining position. Ha!img_0644Stopping at a sizeable bus stop/restaurant, we were the only tourists who braved the local noodle soup. Everyone else opted for meat on a stick and/or Pringles. We did get an ice cream as a treat as well – more expensive than the meal. img_0646
We eventually got back to the capital, the iPad battery had just about managed to last (with the help of a battery pack) and we were deposited just north of the infamous Koh San Road. We hoped that the ferry would be running at this time of night and headed in that direction. Alas, a quick chat with a police officer and he told us it was closed at this time. So, we decided that the best thing to do was get a taxi. But, with traffic being a nightmare so close to the palace grounds and touristy area, we walked for about half an hour southwards, towards the bend in the river and flagged down a taxi from there. Got back to our trusty hostel, to have to argue with them about the room and price. The usual girl had gone on holiday and the Ines left behind, although they knew us and could see the frequency of our stays on the system, decided they wanted to be arsy about the whole thing. It got sorted, we had dinner with our favourite restaurant of all time and called it a night. img_0648Tuesday 25th October 2016

Koh Tao – day 383

I sit down to right this almost a full month after the day in Koh Tao. The smell of deep heat is filling my nostrils and there is a dull ache in my right thigh – meralgia paresthetica (a trapped nerve) – as a result of the long haul flight back to the UK. It would have been a different story that Monday back in October if I had a sore leg. We were off exploring the island. img_2788img_2787img_2852img_2855The south west stretch of the island has a nice trail that leads to some quiet beaches and stunning views. We headed off with plenty of water and some snacks. We had been told about Jansom Bay from a tattoo artists’ wife trying to small talk us in to a tatt the other evening. Waking through several resorts (very odd) we made our way to the infamous bay. With huts nestled behind giant boulders and shrouded in trees, the entire ‘U’-shaped bay was dotted with tiny platforms for a secretive abode experience. The area was beautiful, with a few metres up or down the trail giving unique glimpses of crystal clear water, gently rolling waves, lush green trees and palms and a selection of boulders in various sizes.
We didn’t stay at Jansom Bay. There were signs everywhere saying how we would have to pay to stay at the resort and more again if we wanted to use the beach. Why would you go there and not sit at the beach??? So we continued on, following an assortment of ill-informed signs directing us to the next beach. Not relying on the information, we nevertheless kept plodding up and down, ever onwards, again catching views of the Gulf of Thailand to the south of us and arrived at a small bay – Sai Nuan. img_2781img_2785
A handful of people, mostly couples, peppered the white sand with various shades of burnt skin. The snorkelling must have been nice as 50% were in and out regularly to explore the shallows. The abundance of jellyfish on other beaches, plus the arming signs of what type of jellies they were, meant I was too scared to venture in. So, I chilled out on the swing, did some puzzles, read some magazines and generally chilled out. img_2789img_2790img_2794img_2823
With the heat becoming intense and lunch time approaching we thought we’d continue along the coastline in hope of finding a restaurant not attached to a resort. We struck it rich with the Banana Rock Bar. A little bamboo hut, built on top of the lively granite boulders of the area and a sea breeze and view to boot. Still experimenting with some of the new curries on offer on the island, I think we both got a massaman curry or something similar. I think we said very little, both focusing on the heron fishing and the waves breaking over a single rock only to emerge victorious a few seconds later. img_2845img_2847img_2851
The heat was still a little too much to bear after our late lunch and we headed home. We were lucky, as by the time we got back, the heavens opened and a downpour flooded streets, clouded out the sun and created a heavy sticky feeling with the humidity. We chilled out for the afternoon, packed some bags, had dinner and enjoyed the last evening before leaving the island.

Monday 24th October 2016

Koh Tao – day 382

The morning passed us by without us really noticing. We read books, watched a film and had some muesli for breakfast. We had a visitor in the gap between bathroom window and mosquito vent, a Tokay Gecko. A bit smaller than one we saw while zip lining in Angkor jungle, this little guy was doing a poor job of staying inconspicuous. His pale blue body and orange spots were obvious even in the darkness of our weirdly shaped bathroom. We saw one later that day (two in one day – what are the chances) and managed to get a photo.img_2754We did venture out, eventually, for the premise of lunch and stretching our legs. It was also a chance to stroll around downtown and scope out a shop for a small project we thought about. The shop however was closed, so we settled for an ice cream. A rather awkward moment in the 7 Eleven where a tourist had clearly broken something but was refusing to pay for it, blaming a staff member for pushing something through from the other side at the same time. It meant either something on the top shelf (can’t imagine anything delicate being broken) or a drink in the fridges (they’re connected to a giant cool room behind to stack items easily). Either way, exit stage left and enjoy the ice cream before it melted in a heartbeat.Back at the hut, Katherine continued her sniffing. Mixtures of hot and cold, stuffy and confined, plus being in a garden resort with so many plants, she started to sound like a baby elephant snuffling for a peanut. So, she finally relented for a nap and blessedly the runny nose stopped. I caught up on two unfinished blogs, meaning I just needed to crawl off the end of the bed, go outside and upload photos under the router. Or stay and play Candy Crush. Hmmmm…. easy choice!

When Sleeping Beauty stirred we went about planing our little project – a tattoo. We considered getting the Sak Yanta scripts that are very popular in Thailand and Cambodia. The 5 lines of script, tattooed on the left shoulder blade were made infamous by Angelina Jolie. However, after our research we decided not to get them done. The should only be done in that area of the body and all 5 lines should be done, not a combination of them. Ideally, they should be done or blessed by a monk at the end of the process. So, in this research we came across unalomes. Typically a design used to cap the end of a line of scripture, it has its own meaning and symbology and we both liked it. So, we trawled trough Pinterest, found two designs we liked and had the tattoo artist amalgamate the two in Photoshop to give us a unique interpretation of the blessing. img_2757
I knew straight away where I wanted to get the tattoo done and was in the chair before Katherine. The guy must have been an apprentice or newly qualified. The nervousness was pouring out of him and he was shaking like a leaf for a bit. Painful at times, the tatt took almost 40minutes to complete. Kat changed her mind for the fourth time about where she wanted it placed. Not happy with the alignment the first three times, she saw how mine looked and decided for the same place. Much quicker than mine, with less shaking and nerves, she was finished in about 10mins. Matching tattoos and happy smiles we went looking for food. img_2761img_2769img_2777The two restaurants we normally venture to were closed/closing, so we tried a new joint. Writing all over the wall said to try the curry, but we didn’t trust the quality of the food at such a late hour and opted for noodles. They were awful, soggy and tasted of powder mix. So we got chocolate to compensate for the disappointing dinner and watched the last two episodes of Dexter Season 3 before bed. 

Sunday 23rd October 2016

Koh Tao – day 381

Neither of us slept very well. Not sure what Jayne’s excuse was but I had episodes of ‘Dexter’ running around in my head, with scenes of me as the protagonist. Not very relaxing or necessary for getting a good nights sleep! Also, I did that frustrating ridiculous time counting of ‘if I go to sleep now, I’ll get 5 hours sleep; if I go to sleep now, I’ll get 4 hours sleep’. The last time I checked the phone it was 2.24am so when the alarm went off at 5.30, it was practically punched back on to snooze mode!

Groggily, we got up and dressed. Started making our way through the deserted streets of the main port, a ghost town that is a million miles away from the hustle and bustle that will magically appear with the arrival of the first boat of the day. Got about half way to the dive centre when Jayne realised she had left her dive computer at the hut. She ran back to get it whilst I meandered through the concrete back alleys to get to the dive shop. Jayne mentioned in yesterday’s blog that we chose this dive centre as it was one that wasn’t going to make me do a scuba review as I couldn’t prove the date of my last dive (apparently, date stamped photos don’t count!). Having forgotten to bring my c-card with me yesterday, I was surprised that no one asked to see it today – in fact, it was never mentioned and they treated me like an instructor (which I’m not!). Jayne arrived and we were given gear. Not entirely sure why the kidney dump valves had been cut off all the BCD’s but when it was obvious that the second valve (out of three) wasn’t working, I requested a new BCD. The dive master looked a little bit shocked that I requested a new jacket but went off to get me a new one. Kit in our bags, we were all piled into a truck with a group of open water students and made our way back to the port where our accommodation is… Typical!

On the boat, we put together our gear, only to find out that my inflator hose was broken. So, I’m now on my third BCD of the day and it’s not even 8am – probably should have seen this as a sign to come. Jayne swapped her regs as there was a sizeable cut in the protective tubing and we sorted out our weights as the boat rocked heavily from side to side. So much in fact that at least two people were chucking up over the sides. Just what you want when you are about to jump in the water – a vomit mine field. The guy diving with us seemed cockishly confident, naming all the places he had ever been diving and it turns out that our lovely Californian guide has been a dive master for only 5 days at this point so was incredibly nervous about diving with Jayne and I. A quick dive briefing and we were stride entering from the back of the boat that was still pretending it was an extra in ‘The Perfect Storm’. 
img_2663img_2664Our Israeli friend jumped in the water with no mask on and no reg in his mouth. Descending down, I did worry about the dive site we had come to. The description of pinnacles and loads of marine life were non existent as we swam over white sand with the occasional clump of sea weed. Clearly, we had descended in the wrong place and it took us about 5 minutes to find ‘the White Rocks’. A great dive site for beginners as it clearly had lots to see at not very deep depths. In fact, I think our maximum depth for that dive was 17.8m. A very bizarre dive profile as our guide kept taking us up and down over the reefs rather than around (I’m going to blame the fact that my ears now hurt on this rather than the fact I probably shouldn’t have been diving in the first place…). Loads of nudibranch and a couple of clown fish families were interspersed with Christmas tree fans and blue spotted sting rays. We even found a juvenile moray eel that was proving how aggressive he was by trying to eat my underwater camera. Newbie DM didn’t bother checking our air consumption until 26 minutes into the dive (FYI, when I did my DM training, I checked people’s air every 2 minutes – like an OCD freak!!).img_2667img_2687img_2693img_2696img_2706img_2713img_2717img_2725A nice 45 minutes dive, just a small amble around with some nice coral and fish. It was fun. Getting back on the boat, however, was not! Holding on to the ladder as the boat swung up and down was the most intense upper arm work out I’ve ever done, made even harder by the ladder snapping as I dragged myself out of the water. Fortunately, the rope was holding the two pieces of metal together but no one seemed overly worried about it when I reported it. Swapping our tanks over, Israeli guy decided he didn’t want to do a second dive, stating that he was too tired (aka too hungover – his one dive buddy didn’t even wake up to join us today). 

Found out during our dive briefing that our second dive of the morning was the wreck with a maximum depth of 30m. For those of you who don’t know about diving, in simple terms, the rule is always do your deepest dive first. So we definitely didn’t understand why, after a surface interval of 30 minutes, we were being told to suit up again. In fact, we refused. Told our DM that it was too soon and we wouldn’t be able to spend much time at the wreck, she agreed but I’m not sure she completely understood. Turns out, she is doing her open water to PADI pro here on Koh Tao, has only been diving since September, has only ever dived with this dive centre and has learnt some seriously bad habits!! Convinced her to extend our surface interval to an hour, the crew members didn’t look particularly happy as the open waters got in and we waited.

The second dive was short, predictably, at 26 minutes. The wreck wasn’t very interesting and the constant beeping from Jayne and the DM’s dive computers warning them about the imminent danger of going into deco was a bit off putting. In fact, Jayne had to show our guide her computer to say that we had to start ascending. I have a nasty feeling that she would have let us stay down there as long as our air allowed… I have an even worse feeling that she has done that in the past.img_2729img_2735img_2745img_2753Back at the surface, she seemed a bit too giggly about the deco thing and didn’t seem to take the whole thing seriously so we decided no more diving with them! The dodgy equipment, the lack of checking my c-card, the poor dive planning and the disregard for considering the computer deco function was just a bit too much. Felt bad because our DM is clearly enthusiastic about what she does but it scares me that soon she will be an instructor. Or maybe I’m just pissed off that I never got to complete my pro diving qualifications because of my crappy ears. Back at the dive shop, we tried to pull our guide to one side to have a quiet word but she was whisked away before we had a chance – maybe the more experience instructors knew what we were going to say. Paying for our dives, we headed back to the main port to grab some lunch before heading back to our hut for a shower. Used coconut oil on our hair to make it soft after the sea salt abuse, so watched an episode of ‘Dexter’ as it soaked in. A lazy afternoon of reading, playing games, watching films and snoozing filled our time before we headed out for dinner. Found a little cafe next to the beach that played a film if your ordered food. As the only diners, we enjoyed Masaman curry and fried rice with fruit smoothies whilst we watched ‘The Draft’. Surprisingly more enjoyable that I was expecting, the film passed away the evening until bed.

Saturday 22nd October 2016

Koh Tao – day 380

There’s nothing wrong with having noodles for breakfast. A little unimaginative, granted, but there’s no harm in enjoying the fine Thai cuisine as much as possible. But, something clearly thought I was relaxing and too happy – so Kat suggested I get my hair cut. I know that the mop of hair has become difficult to maintain, with variable environmental conditions and varying qualities of products available throughout the trip , we have affectionately referred to the mess as ‘Bob’. Bob needed to go, or at least try and get some control back and by mid morning I was waiting in a hairdressers. Reclining in a torture chair to wash my hair (they seemed adamant that it needed a wash before a cut, it was so dry and brittle), they clearly weren’t used to taller visitors. The same was said of the chair in front of the mirror. I’m not sure the chair could go down any further and yet it felt that my stylist was stretching up to my head even when I was slouching. Torture finished, I had only lost a few centimetres of my mane and sun-bleached blonde hair.Katherine got a quick snip too. I’m not sure that her cut warranted the 200baht they charged her, compared to the girl before us, but maybe they had used so much product in my hair it worked out fair. Around the corner, on the upper road of the main town, we found a shop that sold everything from seeds to sunglasses, baby powder to boat propellers. It was a wacky shop and we found some stuff for snacks and breakfast for the next few days, plus a big water.

Walking the tourist strip, we enquired about some scuba diving. One place was only prepared to take Katherine on a Scuba Review basis and charge an extortionate fee for the privilege. That was a bit of a kick in the teeth, but maybe they at least had some standards and rules. Iwas seeing far too many dive centres on one little island and my alarm bells were warning me to be careful. We did settle on a company. I won’t mention a name as I’ve written this blog after the day of diving and it shan’t be polite.

Diving sorted, we chilled on the beach for a few hours. Reading books, doing puzzles and letting the waves crash against the sand. It was bliss. I tried to adjust my numb bum to a more comfortable position on the log and I should have stayed where I was. I had been blocking an ant hole and now that I had given them some space to manoeuvre, they attacked with ferocity. Legs, lower back and left hand were dotted with ants injecting minute capsules of formic acid. Being anti bites and stings, my skin crawled and I had a beautiful patchwork of red ‘join the dots’ on my body. I could no longer sit still, so in sympathy (I think there was an ulterior motive) we had a Milo milkshake at the nearest cafe. Mums bathed in the shallows with their naked babes, unaware of the deadly jellyfish in the area. Tourists were setting up GoPros for non-existent sunsets and locals were either mooring up boats for the day or already splashing about in the water to chill after a long day. The atmosphere of the beach was fabulous and it was relaxing to take it all in (even if I was fidgety). img_2662
Even though we needed to be up early for diving the next morning, we enjoyed the last three episodes of Quantico on the iPad before getting some sleep. Not sure how we feel about it as a series. The main character isn’t the lovable sort you expect of a series and there were so many questions left unanswered that it made us question it negatively rather than in a conspiracy way. The tangible love stories throughout were ridiculous and yet the jumping between chronological events was well put together and the script had so much promise. I personally think there could have been another few episodes to the first season to wrap things up in a nicer bow and still leave clues to the next season. Hopefully it’s not going to be another program like ‘Prison Break’ that string it along after it should have finished.

Friday 21st October 2016

Travelling & Koh Tao – day 379

Up, showered and dressed, we started pulling stuff together and into packing cubes. We stopped when we got the signal that breakfast was ready. We were going to miss the owners, the resort, our strip of au natural beach and the sound of the waves. Katherine finished the packing and I did a bit of a spring clean on the beach. I didn’t want the plastics washing back out to sea at the next tide or for a large pile ending up on the bungalow steps when it got in to full monsoon season. A quick zip around filling up only one plastic bag and I must have got about a dozen cigarette lighters and thrice that in bottle caps. I think the scorn from a princess at the posh resort next to us was a bit much – rubbish that everyone throws at the side of the road, in to the stream or sea will eventually end up in a pile like this, and because of the extortionate price tag on her room, the hotel can afford cleaners to take it over to other sections of the beach. I felt good for doing only a small bit, but she had annoyed me. Grrr!img_2660Another free ride in to town, we arrived well before our ferry was due to depart. Thus, we exchanged our travel agency docket for our stickers and ferry tickets. Plenty of time for Pad Thai noodles from a little stand in the ferry terminal grounds. Queued up in a well organised system and found seats out of the way with the air conditioning keeping the cabin a bit cooler than outside. Screams from some lads outside kept annoying people as it was a bit like crying ‘wolf’, everyone thinking that something had happened, but that it was only them messing about on the stern. We arrived and joined the throngs of people milling down the jetty to get out in to the town. Katherine and a few others were misfortunate to be stuck behind some girls that couldn’t even lift their backpacks, let alone get it on themselves. We eventually met at the end of the walkway and proceeded to walk in the direction of our resort. Another case of wrong location on the part of Booking.com, the owner of Happy Bungalow wasn’t impressed that this issue still hadn’t been fixed and hundreds of tourists want to walk through his establishment to find a non-existent resort. We did find our place (he knew exactly where it was) and settled in to a cosy little hut.We went for a walk across the beach. We’ve never been anywhere before that had so many dive centres in such a small area. Everyone was trying to undercut someone else on a particular package. It was astounding that there was a steady stream of dive boats passing off shore and students sitting around hotel pools and wading in/out of the beach. We might have to look in to some diving. For now, we walked the beach, enjoyed some crisps and electrolyte drinks on a rock and dodged the minefield of jellies hiding in the sand next to the clear plastic bags.We didn’t know where to eat. Everywhere seemed to be doing the same type of food, with varying degrees of success. Some places were jointed, while others were a ghost town. Plus, the further we got away from the tourists and main beach, the cheaper it got. So, we tried a small place near the garage and resort, as you’ve guessed it, that had some locals eating there – always a good sign. Fed and watered and more tired than expected from the heat, we called it a night and watched the iPad for a bit before trying to sleep on the bed donated by the Flinstones.Thursday 20th October 2016

Koh Phangan – day 378

I suppose we needed to get tickets to Koh Tao at some point. We had become isolated in our hut and stretch of island and didn’t fancy being social or venturing into town. Yet, it was fortunate for us that the owner was heading into town himself and offered us a lift. Not having the hassle of tuktuk taxi drivers was going to make it a bit more manageable. Dropping us off outside a ticket office and pointing to others dotted along the street, we did what we had promised not to do oh so recently ago… purchase tickets straight away without comparing prices. We did however have an idea of costs and the brochures on the desk quoted the same price as the office on the ferry terminal. So, with that sorted, Katherine made a bee line to tat and souvenirs across the road. A corner of a building formed a mish-mash maze of clothes, bric-a-brac and jewellery. The walls were occasionally adorned with the images of thieves caught in the act. We picked up (and paid for) two cute bracelets. Thus, Kat has managed to get a bracelet in every country we’ve been to and I’ve been to the cinema at least once in every country. I wonder if I can blag another cinema trip as we’re technically back in a different country to Cambodia???We strolled around to the ferry to make sure we had the right terminal for the next day. It was fortuitous we did so, as it looked like the tickets sold at an agency needed to be exchanged for the ferry tickets and stickers at the window. So, we knew ahead of time we needed to be a bit earlier than expected to skip the massive queues. With our intel reconnaissance mission proving successful we explored more of the town we were avoiding. We found a market area that was slowly trying to get ready for the afternoon/evening trade and enjoyed a papaya salad with noodles and smoothies. The tuktuk drivers sent us from pillar to post, none of them wanting to miss their opportunity with newbies off a ferry who would pay ridiculous amounts. We knew how much it should cost and that as always annoys the hell out of them. But, we finally had transport back home. With a few near misses from tourists wishing to have a new Koh Phangan tattoo and a kid driving a bike, we walked down our steep hill, back to our resort and saw the devastation the high tide was doing to the beach. A mass of rubbish and weeds all gathered from the surrounding hotels and resorts, slowly gathering in front of our strip of sand was now within spitting distance. And somewhere amongst the weed and rubbish there was another rotting carcass. The smell was unmistakeable, but there was no way of finding it until the tide went out. With the carcass buried under the sand and the fresh sea breeze bringing instant fresh air, we enjoyed a burrito and burger for dinner. We had just finished when the electricity went. So, being generous and helpful I held up torches and phones to illuminate the kitchen so they could finish cooking others meals. We slinked away with the lights from Koh Samui twinkling across the water. We were enjoying a few episodes of Dexter when the power came back and the fan kicked in to action. Just in time for bed. 

Wednesday 19th October 2016