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Our Last Hurrah in South East Asia!

View 11 months around the world on geldere's travel map.

We left Siem Reap, Cambodia and bused it nine hours to the Bangkok airport in order to meet up with four friends from home, Teri, Kiley, Adrienne (my PA school classmates) and Matt (Adrienne’s husband). We were so excited to see them! They made the long trip from the East Coast to spend a few days with us and see some of Thailand.

Their flight arrived close to midnight, so after meeting up, we headed straight to the Siam Square Lub’D Hostel for a good night’s sleep. The next day we ventured out to see some sights in Bangkok and even saw a few new sites for us, including Jim Thompson’s House and Wat Arun. Jim Thompson was an American entrepreneur who made it big in the Thai silk trade back in the 1970’s. Unfortunately, he mysteriously disappeared without a trace in Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands and his Bangkok home has since been turned into a museum. From Jim Thompson’s House, we took a canal boat to Wat Arun – a smelly experience. The Bangkok canals collect a lot of trash and water runoff, and are shockingly stinky as a result, so much so that even the locals attempt not to get splashed by canal water for fear of disease – sometimes I wish I could just bottle up the smells here and send them to you – don’t you :)
IMG_2388.jpgIn Jim Thompson's House
IMG_2418.jpgOur tour down the infamous Khao San Road, nicknamed the "backpacker ghetto"
4IMG_2450.jpgWat Arun
IMG_2438.jpgAfter huffing it up the stairs at Wat Arun
DSCN1565.jpgChecking out some Thai boxing
IMG_2460.jpgEnjoying our crazy tuk-tuk ride back to the hostel

After one full day in Bangkok, we jetted south to the island of Phuket and took a ferry to the secluded island of Ko Phi Phi (pronounced “ko pee pee” – we got a few laughs out of that one). I’ve been waiting almost our entire trip to find sugar sand beaches and turquoise blue water and this place seemed to have both in abundance! We spent the better part of three days soaking up the sun, floating in the Andaman Sea, watching amazing sunsets, enjoying delicious fresh fruit shakes, and catching up with old friends. On one day, we took a longtail boat to several nearby beaches and did some great snorkeling. The longtail boat even stopped at gorgeous Maya Bay, the site where the movie “The Beach” was filmed.
2IMG_0730.jpgOn the metro- catching our ealy am flight to Phuket
IMG_2794.jpgReally amazing scenery
IMG_2605.jpgOur beach :)
IMG_2635.jpgThailand's famous longtail boats
IMG_2594.jpgA fire dancer show we saw one night
IMG_2597.jpgOn our walk back from dinner
IMG_2540.jpgViews from out on our longtail boat day trip
IMG_2653.jpgAttempting snorkeling
IMG_2771.jpgReally fantastic sunsets on Ko Phi Phi

After saying a sad goodbye to Ko Phi Phi, we took the ferry back to Phuket and checked in to our hotel a short walk from Kata Beach, a beautiful crescent shaped beach with excellent people watching (including topless 60 plus-ers from Club Med strutting their stuff). In addition to more beach time, we spent one afternoon trekking through the jungle on the backs of huge elephants. Teri and Kiley’s elephant was only 14 (considered a teenager) and had a mind of her own. We’re pretty sure their elephant trainer was also drunk and thus didn’t seem to care that they often took the path less traveled and/or made their own “special path”. Towards the end of the trek, the trainers let us sit in the “manout” position directly behind the elephants ears and try to steer the elephants – an amusing experience.
IMG_2813.jpgOur stretch of sand on Kata Beach
IMG_2952.jpgThe view from our elephant trek- and Teri and Kiley with their elephant on the "road less traveled"
IMG_2918.jpgAdrienne and Matt with their elephant
IMG_2979.jpgThere's really very little of me "guiding" here
IMG_3005.jpgThese gibbons were hilarious- to me this looks like she's saying "yup, just relaxing, how's it going with you?"

Given how isolated Ko Phi Phi is, it did not have much nightlife, so we tried to take advantage of the nightlife around Kata Beach. On our first night, we happened upon a restaurant which had an extremely talented male singer/guitarist covering both old and new American music (it is amazing how popular American music is worldwide). Later that evening, we hit up The Boathouse, a beach front bar with pricy drinks but a great view. Our extremely kind waiter helped us purchase and setoff heart shaped, floating lanterns in honor of Valentine’s Day. Amusingly, Adrienne had to get a second one because her first one crash landed in the ocean seconds after takeoff.
DSCN1897.jpgA shot of Teri and I about to let our lanterns fly

For our second night in Phuket, we headed to the infamous Patong Beach. It has a reputation of being pretty seedy, but in the end it was more like a circus – tons of tourists, neon lights, lady-boy cabarets, shops, go-go dancing bars, etc. It was interesting to just walk around and get a glimpse of tourists behaving badly. We ate dinner at an Irish pub and thoroughly enjoyed singing along with the band in the bar – we may have even requested Journey :) We capped off the evening by stopping by a well known ice cream joint where the waitresses were dressed like French maids – it is Patong after all.
DSCN2055.jpgThe neon and cheesy in Patong
RSCN2072.jpgAt the Irish bar for dinner
RSCN2105.jpgDinner and drinks with an amazing view one night for dinner

We finished up our time in Phuket the next morning at a local spa. The girls and Matt got their first traditional Thai massages while I got a foot reflexology massage and Jeff had his haircut and feet eaten in the fish spa. For the fish spa, you sit with your feet in a big fish tank while special fish eat the dead skin off your feet – it is very popular in Asia and I don’t know how Jeff lasted the whole 20 minutes- seems like it tickles. We all flew back that afternoon to Bangkok where we enjoyed our last dinner together at a Japanese hibachi restaurant. It was amazing for us to spend time with friends from home and to share with them life on the road! It definitely made for some good times and great memories :)
IMG_3072.jpgGetting my reflexology on!
IMG_3065.jpgJeff enjoying the fish spa

It is hard to believe, but our three months in Southeast Asia has come to an end and we are leaving Bangkok for the last time. Our South East Asia guide book says the first time you come to Bangkok you feel overwhelmed and excited, when you return you’ll feel pampered and relieved, and when you leave for the last time you’ll feel sad to go. I find that sentiment to be extremely true! South East Asia was such a change from everything else we have seen on our trip – we really enjoyed it! Overall, the locals here are very friendly and respectful. It was extremely affordable which meant we were able to “live it up” more there than anywhere else on our trip. It is also a part of the world that is developing at a rapid pace and seeing the clash of new and old is fascinating . And even though I am thoroughly done with rice and noodles, I expect I will miss them soon enough :)

We are moving on to Australia next and we’ll write more from the “Land Down Under” soon!

Posted by geldere 04:48 Archived in Thailand

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