Just over a month on bus, cycle and foot around the temples, mountains and more importantly the markets of SE Asia has brought us to our “treat” destination… Phuket… Uh, not quite … But Phuket is a mini stopover on the way to our paradise.. the part we’d been waiting for, THE BEACH (u get it right?! The movie)!!… Well that’s how we decided to end this chapter of our trip.. Chillaxing in Ko Phi Phi!!

We arrived around 1am to our overpriced guesthouse in Patong, the heart and soul of Phuket, or at least that’s what it is for the “thrill-seekers”… Although, we were going to be taking the early morning ferry to Ko Phi Phi, Rishi and I couldn’t resist a wander round the infamous Bangla Road.. Luckily it was only a 2 minute walk away. (Hmm, what does that say about our guesthouse?)

The road and area was buzzing at 2am with go-go girls dancing on the poles in the open bars, Brits and other foreigners searching for… Um, a happy ending?!… And touts offering ping pong shows at very reasonable prices!! The atmosphere is pretty electric in this beach/ red light district area..

Despite the ping pong shows being recommended to us before we left (Thanks Tom!) we had to restrain ourselves from the appealling prospect of watching a granny prostitute fling ping pong balls out of her private parts… Talk about PPP!! 😉

Anywho, the ferry the next afternoon (we didn’t make the morning one) is an experience of its own.. Backpackers and some other unsuspecting tourists are herded on.. No exaggeration.. With the promised land of Ko Phi Phi as a reward…

We were staying at Ko Phi Phi Village resort so after the fab ferry ride we had to take a longboat from Tonsai Bay, away from the crowds and backpacker’s accomodation… (So long suckers!!)

I had some stupidly high expectations of the resort so was initially sad on seeing other people on my beach… What do you mean I don’t get my own private beach?! How ridiculous!!

Nevertheless we tried the ‘it’s our aniversary’ play on our arrival to which the staff ever so kindly replied “Happy Anniversary” and then sent us packing to our standard bungalow all the way ay the back of the resort… Next to the staff quarters!! Greeeat.

But they should have known, “no-one puts Princess Sparkle” in the corner”.

That evening, we were fortunate to discover a cockroach in our room, followed by a few ants in our bed… Ah-ha an opportunity… We complained like the typical foreigners who have never stayed in ‘the wilderness’.. That coupled with the extremely excellent service at the resort meant we were upgraded to a deluxe bungalow and got complementary tickets for the Island Explorer tour!! … That’s more like it!

The next couple of days for us wew just fabulous. Cocktails, good food, speed boats, snorkelling and the best of all, visiting Maya Bay where ‘the Beach’ was filmed. .. It really is absolutely stunning… The clear blue sparkling water.. The softest powdery sand.. Luscious greenery and spectacular caves behind it… Utter paradise.. If only we could move there!!

One of the many photos in Ko Phi Phi…..to the extent that our camera may have stopped working from getting sand in it… We took a lot!! Doh!

Our last full day in Ko Phi Phi, having spent as much in 3 days as we’d done in the whole of Laos, we decided to sneak out to the secret village resort for some authentic Thai cuisine. It’s where all the really cool people hang out ofcourse! In the candlelit restaurant, where the two chefs cook everything in front of you, we had the best pad thai and a pretty good papaya salad. (Not as good as mine Rish said, but hey the chefs were trying, can’t expect them to match my superior culinary skills!)

Stuffed from another excessive meal, we got back to our bungalow just in time, before the heavens erupted and a full blown tropical thunderstorm was upon us. It was nuts! I sat there. Staring and filming the storm, mesmerized by the colour of the sky, while on the other side of the room, the rain was leaking through our lighting fixture!

It was hard to drag to ourselves away from the beach the next day to pack or check out… But thanks to our leaky roof we got an upgrade from our human farm ferry to the hotel’s catamaran.. (Didn’t even have to complain) which meant an extra 45 minutes on the beach.. Keerrr Chiing!! (Hey, we are backpacking, every penny and minute on paradise counts).

We did have to return to Phuket and the GFE* on Bangla Road… Might as well enjoy the delights of Thailand before we head off tomorrow morning on the next chapter of this trip… Japan!

Note to Sai: did see a Bikram Yoga in Phuket, but to be fair, there’s not much one class can do for me with the state I’m in now.. 😮 EEK!

*GFE – girlfriend experience where you pay for a lady friend to act as if she is your girlfriend while you wine and dine her and perhaps take her to a holiday destination. Warning: this may lead to a WE (wife experience) which in turn can easily flow into DE (divorce experience). Enjoy! 🙂

All templed out…

Phew! That was an amazing couple of days…

It all began with another early start. 4am, lizard in our bathroom, but nothing could deter us. This morning we were off to see the Angkor temples and had paid extra to go and see the sunrise over the main, most magnificent of the temples Angkor Wat.

Getting to the lookout point was fun in itself, racing through the city against all the other temple-goers, it was our speedy tuk tuk against the world! A quick look ahead and vroom vroom we were over taking at least 2 other tuk tuks… O yeeah… The tuk tuk dropped us off at the bridge which goes over the moat into the Angkor Wat area…obviously being before sunrise, we couldn’t see anything.. We stumbled through to the sunrise point, not that we knew the way, we just followed the silhouettes of the other travellers and grabbed a spot directly in front of the lake that reflects Angkor. We were glad we got there early, because the place was packed up very soon after and people were willing to put their tripods in some very uncomfortable places to make sure they had a good view!

Sunrise was beautiful over Angkor, definitely worth getting up early for.. Although our photos may not do it justice, I did notice the Iphones probably had better shots than the ones taken with slrs, so judge the experience on those photos! (this is a crappy photo, but having trouble uploading a good one!)

We then wandered round Angkor and several other temples through the day. The temples are huge stone structures which had been built as temples to Lord Vishnu, however later on as the Cambodian national religion became Bhuddism, the temples were taken over and had Bhudda statutes installed. Additional temples were built which were entirely Bhuddist too. In many of the temples you still see large Vishnu statues, stories from Hindu tradition carved into the walls and even Shiv ling jis still in great condition.

The temples that stood out the most had to be Angkor; for its grandeur and the beauty of the moat around the huge temple complex; Bayon for the spectacular Buddha heads which tower above the temple and Ta Prohm which had a jungle like atmosphere with humongous trees growing out of it…

I personally found that a couple of the smaller temples we visited, such as Thommanon had incredible atmospheres and a great sense of peace when sitting there. This could have been partially due to less tourists being there but nonetheless they provided a great spot to admire the architecture and grounds in a way closer to what I imagine people in the older times would have done.

We ended the day by walking up to the mountain temple Phnom Bakeng and grabbing a fantastic location off the edge of the temple to watch the sunset. To be fair the sunset was a bit of a let down as the sky had become quite hazy, but we got to meet a really cool Spanish couple who were now living in China and a dude from London who was travelling for 6 months so not so bad!

After the long day, we were definitely templed out, so despite having a 3 day pass we decided we’d take the next day to just chill out and check out Siem Reap…

.. Yes we went shopping.. And we visited the market not just once but went back a good 3 or 4 times during the day.. And actually discovered new parts each time (As Rishi said if we had walked the market systematically, line by line, we could have avoided the multiple visits)..there was a hairdressing alley, beauty alley and sewing people alley on top of all the normal stuff all within the market! It was pretty cool.

The shopping was interspersed with eating. Despite seeing the appealling spicy snails stand, we opted for an awesome Italian restaurant for lunch. The pizza and pasta were both soooo good, we were shocked at how amazing the food was. By far the best restaurant as yet..

Being a Sunday, (we didn’t know it was Sunday), there were many young kids around town trying to sell postcards, bangles, anything you wanted for ‘one dolla’. A phrase, I’m sure we won’t forget easily.. Could buy just about anything for one dolla.. Rishi and I have both been to India and other developing countries where you see the kids living a very ‘different’ lifestyle to what we’ve grown up to, but it still shocks you every time you see the little kids trying to earn a living from selling stuff to tourists or getting excited because you gave them a pretty much empty coke can…

You obviously consider how blessed we are and what grace has been bestowed on us that our childhood was exactly that, an innocent childhood. Even now, at the ripe old age of 27 and 28, our parents still ensure we have food, shelter and anything else we may ever need. They even packed us snacks for this trip! You inevitably compare this to the young children you see hanging around town on their own and appreciate what you have and have a sense of sorrow for what you imagine they are suffering…

But who are we to assume this? Who is to say that our childhood is the better way of growing up?… The freedom the kids have here, the beautiful surroundings and the community feel are all things that my parents certainly rave on about from their upbringing in Africa… Perhaps getting excited from one dolla and a few sips from a coke can puts you in stead for a happier and more content life and isn’t that what we keep searching for anyway?

As Milan always tells us in Chyk class, ‘If happiness was in that Gucci handbag or BMW, we would all have the same level of happiness from getting one, but we don’t.’


On a lighter note…today was special day for Rishi, which I can’t forget to mention, as he had his first Thai style massage and I think he has now been converted… Well I’m judging by the glazed look he had on his face when he came back from the massage which was either pensive relaxation or pure horror… Nothing like paying for a woman to beat you with her hands and feet… Although Rish obviously got into the pampering theme and had a fish pedicure… they chowed down on those feet like there was no tomorrow… NICE!

Anyhow, tomorrow we are taking a scenic boat ride to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia meaning another early start! Yay.