27.10.2011 - 01.11.2011 27 °C
- *** Sorry for not writing for ages! I have settled in Koh Lanta diving and will get this blog up to date ASAP!!*****
Back to Bangkok
I arrived in Bangkok on 26th October at the height of the disasterous floods.. I had a great nights sleep on the sleeper train and was preparing myself for the worst when I arrived. Thank fully the train got into the station OK as the floods hadnt hit that area yet, I saw signs of flooding coming in but nothing like what I had seen on the news.
After a quick double check on the internet I booked another sleeper train that night for Hat Yai which was just one stop from my final destination of Koh Lipe - the new phi phi island.. Thankfully this train was also running, I now had 6 hours in Bangkok before my train left.. what to do?!?! After a very fruitless stop at immigration to extend my visa (apparently I should have done this in Laos DOH!!) I decide to go SHOP I hit MBK shopping mall and spent an impressive amount of money in a short time getting some vitals for the beach!
I arrived back in the train station and it was total chaos. it seemed that they had moved half of Bangkok's peeps effected by the flooding into the train station.. I still hadn't seen that much of the effects of the flooding but I could tell that things were not good and I needed to get out asap.As I was standing on the platform I heard a loud announcement in Thai and then everyone started rushing out of the train station.. I gathered that we may be getting a bus connection. There is a massive bundle for the buses but I get on with my massive backpack, with no clue how long we may be on the bus for, if the train is going to meet us somewhere and what time I may get to Hat yai!
The bus connection ended up being about 4 hours and was because of the terrible flooding through central Bangkok, apparently I found out later the trains can't get to the train station due to the water on the tracks. I see some shocking sights out of the window sand bagsand temporary walls in preperation for huge amounts of water, concerned faces, shops shutting early, shops closed for days I see just a little amount of surface water but I can imagine everyone is very concerned about what is still to come... One sight that does make me chuckle is a van wrapped up in black polythene with sellotape.. not sure this is going to protect it against a flood.. only in Thailand!
The train was very similar to the train journey into Bangkok except this one is packed full of Thais making an exit from the city.. There is an unbelievable amount of food sellers on the train passing by every minute offereing different Thai delicacies. There is a really cute old man and daughter next to me that seem to be a sucer for everything and they buy so many snacks! They end up sharing some with me.. I tried a thai sweet whcih was pretty gross a combo of raw jelly and blamanche very bizarre I only just managed to swallow before she offered me the rest of the packet which I politely decline!!
On arrival in Hat yai I know I need to get a mini bus to Pak Bara and then a boat to Lipe. I decide as a money saving technique to jump on the back of a moto taxi rather than a Tuk Tuk.. Only problem is I have my big bag on my back! I kind of look like a crazy out of proportion snail trying to stay on the back of this bike as it winds at top speed through the streets of Hat Yai Very funny sight! I arrive in the mini bus station and after going from desk to desk I get told that the last bus has already left.. after further questioning I find out I can get a bus today but need to go 10k to the other mini bus station! So I jump on another moto and head there.
I meet a lovely German diving instructor in the queue for the mini bus, she is also going to Koh Lipe so now I have company on the journey and we talk diving all the way to the ferry. We take a hour speed boat to Lipe and land in paradise!
On the boat trip over I also meet a girl from San Fransisco, we get on well and decide to go hunting for accomodation together, we find a great place at the end of the beach with the most amazing views over the whole beach! Koh Lipe is a lovely island, it really has the deserted island feel about it it is touristy but not over the top and has a great vibe but everything is a lot more expensive than the main land.
In search of a dive master course...
The next morning I start out early in search of a dive master course.. I don't really know the questions to ask or what im looking for but I know I want to take a while doing my DM, find a fun shop to do it with and pay as little money as possible. I start out on Pataya beach it turns out there is 7 dive shops on the island so I decide to go see all of them and work out which one is the best. One guy tells me I can do my dive master and rescue in 3 weeks - it sounds super fast but I like the guy and he guarentees me work afterwards. The next shop is a small new dive shop the owner Kris is lovely and I am very tempted to go with her but she can't guarentee how busy she will be and there is just her and one other guy working there,, could be a bit boring... I talk to a few others and work out I should spend some time doing this course so when I finally get customers I am fully ready for anything they throw at me.
After talking with 6 of the 7 dive shops - one is closed despite my 2 hour walk to get there as its over the other side of the island (ergh!) I decide to get off the island go sort my visa out and go and check out a recommended dive shop in Koh Lanta - just to throw another option into the mix!
Malaysia visa run
Because of my lack of up to date research and because Thailand has recently made it impossible for Frang (Tourists) to stay without jumping through hoops I head to head out of the country to get a 2 month visa. It ended up being very easy to get to Penang in Malysia it just took some time.. I took at mini bus from the ferry all the way to the border - it was fine just full of crazy Malysian women who had just been on a cheap shopping spree in Thailand - they didn't stop talking all the way to Penang but were very friendly and lovely and keen to hear all about my travels!
Penang itself is pretty non descript I stay in the new Banana guest house which is as cheap as chips but reminds me of a cardboard box.. very bizarre but ok for a night. The next morning I hand my passport to the guest house and book myself onto the bus to Krabi at 4pm with the promise my visa will be back... Its tight but they hold the bus waiting for my visa to be processed, We leave about 10 mins late but I now have a shinning new 2 month visa in my passport! The bus journey back takes 9 hours but I spend the whole journey talking to an American chef who is lovely and time passes quickly.
We arrive in Krabi just after 1am and I realised that per usual I have no hotel room so I jump in the chefs tuk tuk and hope that there is room in his hotel, im in luck and I check into a great room for some much needed sleep before my next trip to Koh Lanta! the next morning I spend a few hours in Krabi getting breakfast and exploring the local produce market - it reminds me a lot of the markets in Tanzania busy, smelly and all types of food you can imagine for sale.
Next stop Blue Planet dive school in Koh Lanta!!!