OK, internet is everywhere in Thailand but it's not always cheap and it's almost always slow, which makes it a nightmare when i am putting photo's up aswell. That's my excuse anyway!
Anyway - we left Singapore no problems and got to Phuket ok - nice quick cheap flight, i can recommend Tiger Airways (cheap airline in singapore, http://www.tigerairways.com/) but be careful of the baggage allowance, it's a crappy 15kg so both Rob and i had to pay excess. If you book the flights enough in advance (like we did) it's still the cheapest way by far to get to Thialand flying. Albeit at stupid-o'clock in the morning.
So, Thailand. I was a little apprehensive returning to Thailand, mainly becuase i had the crappest time here before. But, i'm all for giving things a second chance and, after being here for a bit i would urge anyone who's been to a place and hated it to go back, at least once. Maybe at a different time of year or with someone else. Thailand this time around is very cool. Of course that may have something to do with the fact that a) it's gloriously hot here, b) we went on an awsome 4 day liveaboard to the similan/surin national park and saw some really excellent stuff, c) we're not exactly slumming it and d) having someone here with me this time makes everything that much easier.
Enough waffle - here's what we have been up to the last several days....
Off the plane into Phuket and we met a couple in the airport (hi Ryan and Annie!) who were also heading to Phuket solely to get on a liveaboard to the Similan Islands (sensible). One shared taxi ride later we parted ways and Rob and I dumped our belongings in the ScubaCat bar and headed for breakfast (Sub-Way and a fruit smoothie).
After wasting the day emailing and sorting out ferries and accommodation to Phi Phi & Krabi, we got on the boat around 7pm for a long trip through the night to the Similans. Our cabin was awsome! Very comfortable and air conditioned too. We pretty much slept all night and when we woke up it was to the crazy boulders on the islands around us.
We were up every day in time to see sunrise, and doing four one hour plus dives a day we made it every sunset, but probably only just! After being such a lazy diver in the Caribbean i had forgotten all about things like visability under 30m, and currents. :) Rob did very well seeing as all his diving has been in LC and coming from 25/30 minute dives with 30m plus vis and no current to Thailand with 55/65 minute dives, lower visabilty and strong currents! But - you can't beat the diving here for the diversity in the water. Big stuff, little stuff, medium stuff. Then there's the volume. Stuff everywhere. We were lucky enough to see a Manta, but no whale sharks. We might have to head to the west coast of Aus for them. The manta was quite far away but huge and it did a very impressive loop thing before heading off into the blue. The weather for the four days was really good- sunny sunny all the time, and only on the last night did we have a huge storm and lots of rain, but by morning it had cleared up and some people even slept through it. Some people were woken up by other people who can't sleep through storms and because they are awake they think their girlfriends shoud be. All in all a great trip - recommended for anyone who is coming near this area - even if you have to get separate flights like we did - it's totally worth it. Here are a few photos below of stuff we saw.. one of the good things we saw was this nudi that we saw, apparently you only get them in the maldives. Not any more i guess!
So after the live aboard we stayed one night in phuket to get our stuff sorted and then it was onto the ferry to Phi Phi. I've been to Phi Phi before - but that was pre tsunami. In phuket you would never know anything had happened, in Phi Phi, if you've been before - it's a totally different place and clearly something has happened there. When i went there last you couldn't see from one side of the island and there were shops everywhere and people everywhere and it was packed. Now you can see from one side to the other and it's SO quiet. We stayed in the Phi Phi Hotel (recommended) which is one of the few places which did survive, other places are still being fixed up and new places are being built. Nice island, very relaxed and although it's only an hour away from Phuket on the ferry it's miles away from the hustle and horrid smells and phuket-ness of phuket. We found a lovely bar on the opposite side to where the ferry drops you - great back drop (one of the photos below), there is a really nice photo of rob and i sat on the chair with the sun setting in the background and our beers in hand. I won't put it up though as on closer inspection on the laptop you can see my pants. Sharn't be wearing that skirt again!!
Just the one night in Phi Phi and then a ferry, a taxi and a long boat to West Railay. West Railay is lovely too - it's that little bit more remote which makes it nice. The sand on the beach is so fine it's like flour, and with the clear sea and towering cliffs it's certainly a nice backdrop for a meal and a few beers!! We decided to stay here for four nights and then head back to Phi Phi before returning to Phuket to fly to Bangkok. Days were easily filled with lying on the beach, eating, drinking, playing frisbee and playing in the sea. The bungalow we stayed in didn't actually have air conditioning, but i think that's probably best for us as it's the first place so far that hasn't! It was a nice little place though and the resort has a nice pool and is right next to the beach on the nice side (west railay as opposed to east). One of the afternoons/evenings we started the drinking early to watch the sun go down on the beach. We continued through dinner and then decided to go around to the next beach to see what was happening over there. There are a couple of ways to the adjacent beachs, longtail is the easiest and the next option is climbing over the big rocks. By no means an easy feat. Earlier in the day we had gone exploring at the end of West Railay to see if we could get around to one of the beaches around. It was alot of climbing up on hands and knees and it ended in a steep slope upwards from the path (complete with ropes to pull yourself up on). After some persuasion i climbed up it (i actually don't have a problem climbing up, it's the down bits that bother me) and what a great view it was. Then we climbed down (slowly) as to get to the beach we were thinking you had to rock climb straight up - then climb through a cave. That actually sounded like fun but there was a bunch of really serious climbers there that were a little intimidating with their dirty trousers, funny shoes and clippy things. Anyway - back to the point. It appears after a few beers i'm not frightened of climbing down things! Rob made me climb (in the dark with a couple of torches) over the rocks instead of getting the nice relaxing longtail! It was actually quite fun - but i don't think it would have been half as quick if i hadn't had a few beers! One of the main reason we ended up coming to Krabi/Railay was to do some rock climbing, some sort of half day climbing or something. We never did get around to it, it seems all the sitting, relaxing, eating and drinking got in the way.
So we left Railay and headed back to Phi Phi for the night. We had tried to book accommodation on Phi Phi when we were in Railay but couldn't seem to find any that wasn't ridiculously overpriced but decided to go anyway. It's all about the adventure! :)
We ended up staying in a dodgy bungalow. The plus being that we were on a bit of the island that we hadn't seen before and the bars, resturants and beach were lovely! Plus it did have air conditioning which makes it less sweaty to pack the bags! In the evening we headed out and had dinner and cocktails in this very cool restaurant (photos below) and then watched a bit of fire-baton twirling. Though i'm sure it's got a much more manly name than that. After buying some trinkets the next day we hit the ferry and returned to smelly Phuket. Today we fly out to Bangkok for three days before getting back to Singapore.