We regretfully left the lovely Koh Lipe because our visa was expiring, and we needed to dash out to Malaysia and back.
Wearing shoes. Walking along the road, watching the oncoming traffic to make sure nobody is swerving too close. Avoiding rubble, drains, and garbage. Trying not to breathe when the smells get awful. Why did we ever leave Koh Lipe?
Well, cha yen (iced tea) is 15 baht here, instead of 40-80 baht. Upmarket air-conditioned cafes with WiFi only charge 60 baht for Pad Thai, instead of 100-120 baht. And the WiFi is FAST and has apparently unlimited bandwidth – no need to throttle our hungry applications out of politeness any more … read more.
Darius from Cafe Lipe recommended that if we wanted to go to the mainland, that we go to a tiny village called Bo Djet Luk. There is only one “resort” there – in Thailand, any short-term rental accommodation outside a city is a “resort” – and it is mainly used by local Thai folk for functions like weddings. At the peak of high season, it is mostly empty. Tom bargained them down to 300 baht per night (AUD$10), and this is where we will spend our first Christmas on the road … read more.
For our last few days on Koh Lipe, we relocated to Andaman Resort, which is on Sunrise Beach at the north corner of the island, facing Koh Adang. It has the same turquoise water as Pattaya Beach, but also a large stand of casuarinas, under which the bamboo bungalows nestle.
It’s a long walk to Walking Street, so we wouldn’t want to live there long-term, but for a few nights it was a nice gentle start to the journey away from Koh Lipe.
The ants at Andaman Resort were incredibly energetic and quick to explore, so we had to use our newly-acquired enamel bowl to form a moat around the Nutella. All other sweet foods were piled on top. Several ants drowned themselves trying to reach the Holy Grail, but the moat was a success, and the Nutella was saved … read more.
Yesterday we met Ya, the owner of the resort, and she told us that every morning at around 6am the local mini-mart does a range of local cooked breakfast foods for the post-mosque crowd.
We knew the mini-mart, having been there a few times (they have a ginger and white kitten about 6 weeks old) and exchanged names with the owner, Harris. We decided that since it’s our last day in Bo Djet Luk, we would make the supreme sacrifice of rising BEFORE dawn, when the call to prayer sounds, and getting suitably cleaned and dressed for a post-mosque situation.
Jenny was the only woman present in the sit-down area, though several did come and buy take-away food while we were eating. The older men seemed disapproving about her presence (or maybe lack of hijab), but Harris was friendly and welcoming, and the experience was worth the effort … read more.
This morning, we rose at the first call to prayer, had a 5.45am breakfast with the non-Muslims while the Muslims prayed, and then came back to the resort to pack our bags for the longtail ride back to Pak Bara.
At breakfast, we saw Heinz again. We met him at breakfast yesterday, and he said he would find us at the resort during the day for a chat because he was in a hurry at the time, but we missed each other. He has been living in Bo Djet Luk for 22 years, since before there were any paved roads on the island. He said there is one other farang living in Bo Djet Luk (apparently the Italian, Pino, who is at the resort with us, doesn’t count because he just comes for a few months at a time), and he invited us to visit his house next time we are in Bo Djet Luk … read more.
The long and winding road from Pakbara to Chiang Mai.
We’re finally in Chiang Mai, after 45 hours in transit from Hat Yai.
Thai trains are an experience! We weren’t brave enough to go third class this time, but the second class sitting carriage provided some interesting moments, from people sleeping in the corridors to the smell of the straight-through-to-the-tracks squat toilet after 19 hours of men doing target practice in a wildly rocking room … read more.
As soon as Tom saw this telecommunications tower going up, he wanted to climb it. “The views from there would be amazing,” he said. “You could see the whole island from up there.”
Then we got typhoid. (Or he did – we now think Jenny had dengue fever.)
Three weeks later, we’re getting better, and we’re about to leave Koh Lipe, so it was now-or-never time. We rose before dawn to make it to the tower at first light, figuring that if someone was going to come along and yell at us, it would probably be after 7am before they arrived … read more.
We enjoyed the New Year’s Eve festivities with friends from Australia. A big thing on New Year is launching airborne krathong (you may remember the floating, or “loi” krathong from the water festival in November). They are made of paper, but it’s waxed, and the flaming coils are held in place by two concentric wire circles held together with cross-pieces, so biodegradable they are not. Morning-after hangovers are enhanced by dodging deflated krathong as the drop from roofs and trees … read more.
Today, we did our first touristy thing in our entire travels to date – we went ziplining through the jungle canopy. There wasn’t any wildlife to see, but the scenery was spectacular. We did chew a tea leaf picked fresh from a bush growing wild, and we sampled a coffee fruit (nice and sweet). It was a lot of fun, and not too physically demanding, either.
There were three abseils and a couple of “sky bridges” – think planks across two cables, with two more cables for hand rails. There was also one “rope walk”, on which there were not even any planks. The abseils were the easiest we had ever done – basically just being lowered through space on a rope.
We built up confidence pretty quickly, and got to “look Mum, no hands!” early on. The guides were flipping upside down as they went across … read more.
The hostage drama was finally resolved at approximately 6pm local time last night, with Allianz Thailand issuing a guarantee of payment for our hospital stay. Not only were we free to go, but they had the car brought around to provide a chauffeur-driven ride back to our guesthouse, complete with door opening and the works. And they gave us a showbag! … read more.