Forgive me patient reader as I haven't written for some time… Since all of this happened so long ago (it seems ages because we have done so much in the meantime) and because Julie is the biographer of our lives on Facebook you probably already know most of our trip anyway. I'll be brief.
We contacted the hotel and got little joy with my stuffed up booking. Ended up booking a place nearby, not as nice but cheaper, doesn't matter, it's just one night.
The motel in Patong was nice but particularly after seeing the non-tourist Thailand Glen was unsure about why people go there and have so much of their own culture, not just food but language too. You could get by without a single word of Thai and could order western food everywhere - even though at the maccas they had some menu items catering to Thai tastes and the receipts had the company name Mac Thai it was still basically a maccas. How do I know this given my high and mighty statement about culture? A cheap ice cream cone at the end of a hot night is heaven. A notable omission from their menu is a thickshake as after a particularly hot day Glen thought it would go down a treat but nowhere makes thickshakes!! Crazy. Anyway back to the point… some people never leave the motel and to them Thailand could be just a warmer version of the Gold Coast. Glen decided that he needed to speak more (although he has never been a linguist) and when asking for the room key did so in Thai. The girls on reception seemed delighted someone was trying and actually remembered our room number - perhaps they were just saving Glen the embarrassment of murdering their language… Ordering moo (pork) or gai (chicken) added to the fun of ordering food. Glen regretted not learning more of the language.
Walking street in Patong is what the tourists want it to be and the bar prices are high. For 100B (about 4 dollars) you can take a photo with a lady boy. The go-go bars from the outside looked quite boring, the girls looked bored and the men not too much less bored. Of course the older men wanted to be with the youngest girls and it looked quite wrong but everyone has to make a living somehow.
Our favourite day was when we went on the Starlight Hong tour. We were picked up early from the motel and driven to Ao Ho pier where we boarded the boat to Phang Ngah Bay (no, not James Bond Island). We were assigned a guide who was to look after us all day by paddling our canoe and showing us how to make a kratong to release in a cave at night and ask forgiveness. At the first stop we were paddled into a cave and shown some bats before emerging into a hong which is basically cliffs all round inside the island. We saw monkey tracks and mud skippers then went back outside to the waiting boat where we got some free time swimming and had a chance to paddle the inflatable canoe. Glen took up this offer and paddled off to a deserted beach then back to pick up Julie and head there again. Back at the boat we swam and tried to run along upturned canoes. On the boat we met a guy from Perth who knew April! Small world.
After another cave, this one pitch black, we emerged inside the island and saw monkeys We were stoked. After an amazing lunch we started to make our kratong. These are usually only made once a year to cast out on the sea to rid the maker of bad luck and ask for forgiveness. The kratong is made of natural materials, such as a banana tree trunk slice, leaves and orchids and have incense and candles. When it got dark we took our kratongs into the cave lit them and set them afloat. It was a beautiful sight. The water also had phosphorous plankton and glowed when disturbed - also beautiful. As an eco tour we had to collect our kratong and return it to the boat but we were promised that it would be burnt the next morning to ensure our bad luck was gone. Back to the dock and home late but a day we will always cherish.
The elephant tour was depressing. Felt sorry for the animals, especially the monkeys.
Julie was really looking forward to Phi Phi Island (Koh Phi Phi Don) and the ferry ride brought us to a beautiful island much changed since Julie was there. Much more development, and a 20B rubbish tax collected at the dock. We were taken to our motel by long tail boat. Reception is right on the beach and a barefoot porter took us to our bungalow. OMG this was nice. Our view was to die for. We had the closest room to the beach with the stunning view even visible from the toilet! We tried to have a swim but low tide meant it wasn't good and we were disappointed and went into the town while the day trippers were still about. It was far more relaxed that the rest of Thailand's tourist hot spots. At night it seemed far more relaxed. We did a snorkel tour the next day and saw thousands of fish. At the time it was the most fish we had seen. The water was clean and warm. We didn't find out until the last morning that all the fish we'd paid to see were literally at our doorstep when the tide was in. We were blown away. One evening we walked up to the Viewpoint at sunset to see the sun set over the island. Very beautiful and worth the litres of sweat :) That evening we also realised how big the town was. We had no idea it was so big and so much more interesting away from the beach strip that we'd frequented. Travellers tip - ditch the people you re travelling with and strike out on your own with no idea where you are going. Embrace with an open mind and heart.
Eventually we had to leave and travelled to Nai Yang Beach for our last night. Had dinner with everyone on the beach (tables and chairs)
The flights home were much more bearable as it was day time and I didn't need to sleep :)