new years eve, learning to dive and island hopping between Koh Phangan and Koh Tao
28.12.2011 - 12.01.2012
So onto Thailand and the islands to meet up with Kyle, Rachel, Pam and Nick. Unfortunately I just missed seeing them when I arrived in Bangkok as they had to rush off to catch their night bus to the coast and then a ferry onto Koh Phangan where I was to meet them the next day. I had one night on my own on Koh Samui after catching a flight there and then caught the first ferry to Koh Phangan the next morning.
After nearly 3 months of traveling I was so excited to see them all, and after a ferry ride which felt like it took for ever we had a very noisy/emotional reunion on the pier at Had Rind where they were all waiting for me! I was a little bit worried about what the place we were staying at was going to be like as it had been a mission to find somewhere for the 5 of us to stay over new years, but it turned out better than any of us expected! We had small little bungalows right on a secluded beach and the family running the place (Moon Beach Bungalows) were so helpful and friendly.
The 5 of us had the most amazing week on the island and the full moon party on new years eve was next level - definitely one of the best new years I've had in a long time... 30,000 people descending on Had Rind beach where the party takes place for one night... I can't even begin to describe some of the crazy stuff we saw going on but we all made it out relatively unscathed and saw the sun rising over the first day of the new year on our way home.
We had a couple more nights out on Had Rind beach while we were there (equally crazy as new years eve just fewer people) and Nick managed to find a pretty awesome bar near our hotel called Amsterdam Bar which had the most amazing view (although it was a hike and a half to get up to the place) so we ended up spending several afternoons / evenings there as well. On our last day on the island, even though the weather was bad, we decided to hire a car and go explore a little. The only car on offer was a tiny Suzuki jeep thing which we all crammed into and set off on a mission to find elephants and waterfalls. Luckily Nick's map reading skills were better than mine and we managed to find both in a relatively short time - Nick and Rachel got to ride an elephant and we all hiked up to see some waterfalls and go swimming in the pools around them.
After trying to persuade Nick, Pam and Rachel to come with us to Koh Tao, Kyle and I waived goodbye to them on the pier before getting on our ferry. We'd decided on going to Koh Tao as we both wanted to learn how to dive and this was apparently the best (and cheapest) place to learn. As Kyle's friend knew a guy who ran a dive school we headed straight there and sorted out our 3 day Padi course which started the next day. I wasn't sure what I was going to make of diving and was a little bit nervous but it turned out to be the most amazing experience ever and our first proper dive on the second day of the course was incredible. Unfortunately on our third and final day I got horribly sea sick (a first for me) and the first dive of the day was a little hairy as there was a really strong current coupled with the fact that I felt awful from being sick, but we stuck it out and our second dive of the day (and our last dive of the course) was the best I think we had with amazing visibility and we even got to see a huge sea snake (apparently they're quite rare).
We spent our last day in Thailand relaxing on the beach - we were heading to Sri Lanka the next day which would involve a ferry journey, a flight to Bangkok and then a flight to Colombo, followed by a 3 hour taxi journey down to where we were to meet Kyle's friends and Manal and Clare! So goodbye to Thailand after an awesome 2 weeks, I'm sure I'll be back...