17 May 2015

the place postcards were made for: railay beach

Ferry trips to Koh Lanta from Phuket cost anywhere between 700 and 1,200 baht one way, which is insane when you're trying to live on a backpackers budget of 1,000 baht per day.

We were determined to do it for cheaper, so I took to google and started looking around. I found a blog post that explained and gave directions for how we could do it for less than 300 baht, which sounded a little better for our budget!

After checking out of our hotel and saying goodbye to Karon beach, we waited across the street for the "blue bus" to take us into Phuket town. This was step one. Step two was getting to the bus terminal. There are two main bus terminals in Phuket Town, helpfully labelled, "Terminal 1", and, "Terminal 2", to keep it simple. The blog post I found said that the bus to Koh Lanta departs from Terminal 2, so we hired a tuk tuk to drive us the 15 or so minutes there. Once we got there, feeling all proud of our accomplishment and thinking we'd soon be on our last leg of the journey, we were so kindly told by a worker at the ticket desk that the bus to Koh Lanta now leaves from Terminal 1. Dang.

Thankfully, there's a little pink bus that drives through all of the main parts of Phuket Town, so we hopped on that to take us from one terminal to the other. We arrived at the right terminal shorty after, only to be told that the last bus to Koh Lanta was already full. At that point, we just laughed it off and made the quick decision to head to Railay Beach instead.

A bus to Krabi town, a tuk tuk to Ao Nang, and a long tailed boat to Tonsai Beach later, and we were finally at our next destination. We had decided to stay on Tonsai instead of Railay East or West because of the cheaper prices and the promise of a chilled out backpacker vibe.

 photo IMG_9984_zps4ehxfphc.jpg  photo IMG_9986_zpsp8yulair.jpg

At first we were a little disappointed with Tonsai. The shore and trail up to the resorts was littered with garbage and didn't look very well looked after, and the place we were staying in, which we'd heard such good things about, was a bug-filled bungalow with cracks in the floors and walls.

 photo IMG_9992_zpsniec60zf.jpg  photo IMG_0007_zpsn4nrlo3r.jpg  photo IMG_9999_zpsvhyrh14u.jpg  photo IMG_0016_zpsiohodokm.jpg  photo IMG_0156_zpsa6dnutjp.jpg  photo IMG_0144_zpsvnxmm1m6.jpg

It didn't take long, however, for us to fall in love with the place. By the time we woke up in the morning, the exhaustion of the previous day's journey had worn off, the bugs started to leave us alone, and we started to fall in love with our little hut in the jungle.

We set out later that morning to find somewhere for breakfast, and stumbled upon the cutest little cafe with a thatched roof, cushions for seats, and the best pancakes with fruit we'd encountered so far on the trip.

 photo IMG_0025_zpshvghlntt.jpg  photo IMG_0019_zpszjco0izo.jpg  photo IMG_0027_zps0kyecqli.jpg

We rented a kayak for 500 baht for the entire day, and spent the day exploring Railay's beautiful beaches. We got chicken pad Thai from a long tail boat turned food truck, and ate it in a little cave to hide away from the fierce wind blowing sand across the beach.

 photo IMG_0053_zpsebhvzmrg.jpg  photo IMG_0063_zps0t37egd0.jpg  photo IMG_0030_zpsrqex6ky9.jpg  photo IMG_0035_zpsf3yqxnjy.jpg  photo IMG_0075_zps8rsgny79.jpg  photo IMG_0070_zpspmy0gpws.jpg  photo IMG_0097_zpstfzavlvw.jpg  photo IMG_0103_zpsu1xkrktt.jpg  photo IMG_0109_zpsdv2m9gyj.jpg  photo IMG_0138_zps4ywfwbjq.jpg  photo IMG_0129_zpsxgy8ovxu.jpg

The next day, we took the short, but strenuous trail from Tonsai to Railay West, and spent the majority of the day wandering the shops and swimming in the sea.

 photo IMG_0079_zpsycl13t9k.jpg  photo IMG_0081_zpsjymj7yyc.jpg  photo IMG_0086_zpsdrjm41pt.jpg  photo IMG_0072_zpsy24227b4.jpg

By the time we were getting ready to leave, we were sad to say goodbye to our little jungle hut and the beautiful beaches, but were also excited to move on to a place with electricity, wifi, and a few less bugs!

06 May 2015

our first taste of thailand: phuket

 photo IMG_9799_zpsfzmgdcgy.jpg  photo IMG_9809_zpsq9lkmfln.jpg  photo IMG_9811_zpsxr8btem6.jpg  photo IMG_9812_zpsvgpceuje.jpg  photo IMG_9814_zpscdshux1r.jpg

It's strange to think that this whole trip came together one cold and rainy night in October. I was on the phone with Madi and I had gone out to sit in my car so I wouldn't wake up the rest of the house. We had started making plans for a summer road trip to Oregon, and somehow came up with a $3,000 budget (which we now realize is insane for an Oregon road trip), and Madi said, "we could go to Thailand for $3,000", and the next thing you know, we're getting typhoid and hepatitis a vaccines and flying 16+ hours across the world to the land of crowded streets and clear blue seas.

We landed in Phuket at 11:30 PM, after over 20 hours of travel time, two flights, and very little sleep. We hired a private mini bus to drive us to our hotel on Karon Beach for 1,400 baht, and enjoyed the hour long trip thanks to the free wifi on board.

 photo IMG_9866_zpsjxgvvqns.jpg  photo IMG_9867_zpsybj9964y.jpg  photo IMG_9891_zpstbr2yhle.jpg

Our first day in Phuket was full to the brim with fish pedicures, a breakfast buffet, our first swim in the sea, and a trip to the Wat Chalong Temple and the Big Buddha later in the afternoon.

 photo IMG_9871_zpsg0kc3fv1.jpg  photo IMG_9882_zpsceipjcvg.jpg  photo IMG_9901_zpstzbbggzd.jpg  photo IMG_9980_zpsuieajrea.jpg  photo IMG_9898_zpsxegaq7pk.jpg  photo IMG_9848_zpsyrlzp56d.jpg  photo IMG_9865_zpsickulxsy.jpg  photo IMG_9863_zpsnmkl4av6.jpg  photo IMG_9941_zpshznyw2m3.jpg  photo IMG_9949_zpso8orji9k.jpg

At the Big Buddha, we donated 20 baht, which is less than a dollar, to be blessed by a Buddhist monk. We took off our shoes and knelt in front of him, our feet tucked behind us, while he dipped a little bundle of wooden sticks in some water and flicked it at our heads and hands while saying a blessing under his breath. He also tied a little bracelet on our wrists, and we've yet to take them off because it was such a neat experience.

 photo IMG_9928_zps9gjrwvdt.jpg  photo IMG_9967_zpsokxerwqf.jpg  photo IMG_9950_zpsqe86mmow.jpg  photo IMG_9970_zps77d4nbcc.jpg

On our second morning in Phuket, we decided to walk further away from the beach in hopes of finding some food carts. We ended up on a street called Patak Road after about 15-20 minutes of aimless wandering. We found a little stall that made fruit shakes, so I ordered a mango one, and Madi a pineapple, then we bought a 10 baht pork kebab off a Thai woman down the road, before finding a little restaurant on the side of the street where we both ordered the pad Thai.

 photo IMG_9983_zps6b5xocq4.jpg

It was the beginning of Songkran that day, which is the Thai new year, and is celebrated by a country-wide water fight, so our walk back to our hotel was a wet one. After getting doused in water by various store owners and locals, we decided to join in on the fun by buying our own water guns and spraying people back.

Later that day, we had decided to go for a swim on our way back from lunch, and watched from the water as a giant storm rolled in. We walked back to the hotel in the pouring rain, not minding one bit since we were already soaked from Songkran and the sea.

We decided not to let the storm ruin our fun, and took our swimming to the rooftop pool, where we enjoyed watching the lightning in the distance.

We had originally planned to stay in Phuket for five nights, but by the third, realized that we were ready to move on to the next place, so by mid-morning on the 14th of April, we set off for Koh Lanta. Or so we thought.