This sad to say, will be my last post from my trip here in south east asia. I am currently in Phuket wasting the next 10 hours or so until my flight. I thought it was either at 4, 6 or 8pm (and forgot to actually check) so caught a 9am ferry over this morning, when I could have easily caught the 2pm ferry and spent some more time on the beach! ah well. Its all good!
I'm heading back to Sydney tonight. I can't say that I'm particularly excited or looking forward to it... I am looking forward to my friends wedding and catching up with friends and family, but I have been really loving travelling and would like to continue doing so.... And once again over the past 4 days while at Phi Phi islands I got that same feeling/incentive like I should stay, that there is a definite ministry opportunity there amongst the travellers and other permanent/temporary residents on the island.
anyway, to recap the last few days......
Saturday I left KO Phangang (via multiple modes of transportation) at the early hours of 5:50am in a mini bus which took me about 2 minutes drive away to a truck taxi where another 3 people were waiting. The truck took us to the pier where we did the typical thai ticket shuffle. I seriously do not understand why the receipt you get from the travel agent is not sufficient to get you from your initial to your final destination. no. instead you swap that for additional tickets along the way which usually say the exact same thing! strange. got the freighter ferry to a town on the mainland where we piled off the ferry, waited in the sun for about 10 min then jumped on a coach bus that took us the 1 hour drive to surat-thani. My talent for being occasionally clumsy (and bruising like a peach) shone again when I slipped down the stairs climbing out of the bus and bashed my arm against the wall. We then waited at the next travel agent with our stickers indicating where our final destination is (I always lose mine though) for the next hour. A mini bus arrived and 3 of us headed to Krabi/Phi Phi jumped on board. It was a very cruisy and comfortable drive. I played guitar most of it, and slept the other half (or at least attempted to). We arrived in Krabi and then I had to wait an hour and a half for the ferry to get to Phi Phi islands. I was informed that we'd arrive at phi phi at 3pm, but that was actually the time that the ferry was going to leave. hmmm. ah well.
Made it to Phi Phi about 5pm, found myself some accommodation after a bit of wandering around and then hit the beach for some chill time. In the evening I happened to stumble past 2 of my old friends, Martin and Raphael from my vietnam days - the french boys who convinced me to buy a guitar!!! It was great to catch up with them. They were working at a cool chilled out roof-top bar called banana bar. Every night afterwards we would go and play guitar when the music stopped (after 1-2am) till the very early hours of the morning. I was really hoping to go diving, but had unfortunatly caught an ear infection while on Koh Tao, so was dosing myself up with antibiotics and ear drops in the hope that it would be clear by tuesday for a dive or 2.
On the advice of one of the diving guys I'd chatted with the night before, I hired out a kayak at about 11:30 for 3 hours and took off for a solid 3 hours of kayaking. By the time I made it back to sure I was pretty much wrecked! I stopped off at Monkey beach to watch the monkeys for a while, have a bit of a swim and then cntinued going around the coast line which is all cliffs. It was quite rough at times and part of me was thinking that it probably wasn't the smartest move in the world as a) no one knew where I was if I went missing b) the people i hired the kayak from didn't know who I was! But I enjoyed getting out on the water and exploring. I actually went all the way up to the other end of the island (the end where phi phi lay of maya bay "the beach" is) before turning around. And I got to see a turtle!!! Not up close, but he was there about 20m away poking his head up for a bit which was cool.
In the afternoon I decided to go the opposite side of the island in the opposite direction with the aim of reaching Long beach. I happened to stop randomly on the side of one beach to take pictures of the boats in front of phi phi lay and who do i spy sitting on the beach? none other than Scott! So funny how we keep bumping into each other randomly. We went out for dinner with some other people he had met on the buses and ferries across from ko tao and all organised to go on a boat trip for the next day. At night I ended up playing guitar with my french friends till 6;30 in the morning... oops :)
After about 2 hours sleep I was up and at again to move rooms into a place sharing with scott so i had cheaper accommodation and he didn't have extremely bizarre habits of other dorm mates impacting his sleep and memory. The group of 6 of us started the boat trip around the two islands that comprise Phi Phi islands. A little hiccup to start with where our driver was pulling apart the engine but other wise no dramas - especially since he was smoking weed pretty much the entire time we were out on the water. We had been informed upon booking that we would get breakfast and lunch, but unfortunately all we got was a very small container of fried rice and some water. So I was pretty much starving hungry when I got back to land!! We stopped at monkey beach to watch the monkeys (obviously), at mosquito island to snorkel (and be stung by a jelly fish and bashed on the head accidently by the pole the rudder is attached to ) at Bamboo island (which ironically is covered in pine trees) to eat lunch and then Maya bay aka "The Beach" on Phi Phi Lay for a couple hours of snorkelling, exploring and chilling in the sun. It got quite rough at some stages while we were out on the water in the long-tail boat, then it rained a bit and we all got wet. The monsoon season is approaching which means that the seas are often a bit more choppy than normal.
At night we went out for dinner, had some good food and then headed to banana bar where we did our usual body painting (there are black lights everywhere which makes the paint glow in the dark), dancing and lounging about. The streets are emptying out quite quickly at the moment as most tourists head to Ko Phangang at the moment for the full moon party on the 28th. On Monday there were 2000 people that took off on the one boat with that destination in mind! I was provided with some education in more music styles and decided that I really like dancing to 'dubstep' an english style of music that is very distinctive. fun fun. :) "early night" whre i ended up getting to bed at about 3, as I was going diving in the morning - had decided my ear was well enough!
Up at 6;30 as I had booked into doing a wreck dive which left at 7am. Unfortunately no one else had booked in for the dive as well, so my other option was to join in on local dives at 9am. I went and had some breakfast on the beach and then chose that option. Both dives went well, not quite as clear as Koh Tao, but we still saw plenty of coral and fishes - a massive puffer fish that was at least half of me!! we saw some dolphins above the water at one stage as well (not while we dove though). Lunch was at Maya bay in between our dives and we were back at our island by 2;30. I went exploring the island to meet up with the group at long beach, which is an extremely nice beach. we chilled out there by the water until the sun set and headed back for food. Had a great night out, chilling, painting people (getting my face completely covered in paint), playing guitar and singing till the early hours of the morning (ie, not going to bed....)
Its been interesting, how I've felt really comfortable here on this island, similar to when I was at Vang Vieng. I've made some good contacts and gotten along with so many people here, and had a great time chilling, jamming and making music. I have had a lot of people tell me I need to do something with my music, start recording. So, I guess we will see what happens when I get back, what further opportunities arise there.
So, that brings us to today and my final hours of my trip in south east asia, well at least for now.... :) I'm counting myself lucky and hoping nothing drastic happens over the next 24 hours. I have managed to survive the last 10 days with no major incidents occurring which has been good as my travel insurance ran out on the 18th and I forgot to extend it so have had no insurance if anything goes wrong...
I am yet to have any proper sleep as I stayed up all night last night (having woken up at 6:30 am yesterday), maybe a 20 minute doze on the ferry over but thats about it. hopefully that forces me to sleep on the plane. i really hope so. I can't sleep unless i'm flat horizontal usually. When I stopped playing guitar (about 5:50am) I went back to my room, had a shower and packed some of my stuff then went and woke up scott to go climb the view point and watch the sun "rise". Awesome, tough walk that just keeps going up and up and up. From the top it is very clear to see how and why the tsunam i in 2004 wiped out the place so badly. It was a bit cloudy so in reality we watched it get light, chatted and listened to some good tunes. It has been awesome seeing how we kept managing to bump into each other on the last few locations without any planning - just sheer coincidence and God at work!!! I've enjoyed our chats about christianity and beliefs and reaching out to people, its been great. That hour or two on top of the mountain was a great end to my days in thailand, and a really chilled out vibe that left me feeling happy and refreshed and ready for whatever adventures are coming my way from now on.
now all there is left to do is catch my plane tonight at 10:20.. (note to self I should REALLY check flight times before catching a flight). It is slightly amusing though when I think about it, as I was early to catch my flight over to vietnam and now i'm extremely early to catch my flight back to aus!