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Mikey's Escapades

I'm travelling places so hopefully stuff happens

Beach Monkey Beef and Pak Bara

The following day we made our way to Pak Bara, right down south near the border of Malaysia. The roads on the way were gorgeous and empty, and we were able to stop at some secluded beaches en route. They littered the coast, and at any point we could divert ourselves for a few minutes to find a new empty spot to swim. The first of these was a tiny beach at the shoreline where the trees met the sea. There was a little monkey chilling on a beach by the shore, and no one else to be seen. We parked up our bikes and I jumped in the water for a quick swim. This turned into a proper swim after having discovered I could swim alongside the cliffs far out into the water, with jungle creepers falling overhead and directly above me. There were also caves to explore and creatures clambering on the walls.
When I returned to the beach Freddie had a disturbance. The one monkey had turned into many monkeys, and they had raided our bikes, throwing our stuff on the floor, eating our snacks and pouring the water from our bottles. The dominant male was sitting on my bike with an angry face and refusing to move. We were stuck.

After much deliberation we decided the best move was the classic charge. We stood together, puffed out our chests, and then ran stomping full force at the stubborn-looking macaques. At first the male looked non-plussed, and I began to fear an altercation, but luckily upon witnessing us give a hearty shout he startled and ran a few metres back. This was our chance, we jumped on the bikes and hastily turned them on. I fumbled with my keys like the victim of a horror movie, until finally it was going and we were away. The beefy macaque realised we had him and ran after us squarking and cackling, but we were long gone.

At Pak Bara we found a nice guesthouse (Best Guest House I think..) which was set back from the road. It had a water feature kind of pond in the middle and little bridges to cross over to your room. The town itself wasn’t that impressive but we didn’t mind. We were only there to get the ferry to Koh Tarutao the next day.

This meant we had some chill on our times. We bought some average dim sum at a place down the road, then stocked up on beers for the room. And this was how we spent the rest of the night, drinking beer and whiskey and watching shockingly bad cartoons on tv.

That was until Freddie started vomiting like he was some kind of human volcano, but this is a story for another time. 

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On the Water at Pak Meng

Fred and I had organised a boat tour. We had a pickup time of 8am, but neither of us took a time-telling device to breakfast so we were horribly late. Luckily a tiny man wearing a posh red shirt turned up in a minivan and took us to the pier.

We were to go on a boat trip around the Islands by Pak Bara. I had dreams of a little ramshackle boat with a couple of nice boat guy guides, but it was more like a ferry. It must have been around 80 people that got crammed onto it and a man with a megaphone.


This was pretty much the theme for the day, as the boat followed the same route as another 4 or 6 of the same size. So each place was swarming with unloaded boatgoers. But it was still well worth it for the stops were pretty special.

The first was Emerald Beach. It was here everyone on the boat was offloaded one by one outside a watery cave. They wore life jackets and clung to each other’s backs in the water, like a huge seagoing millipede. Each segment a human being, bobbing up and down as the ever increasing waves drove them deeper into the cave. Fred and I were allowed to swim separately, and swam on ahead of the millipede.

What we’d thought was a simple task soon turned pretty terrifying. We were basically swimming through a pitch black cave for thirty metres, hoping we were going the right direction. The only useful light would come from the boat guide behind us, pulling the millepede through at a painfully slow pace. This meant we’d only get a dash of light every thirty seconds or so, and those thirty seconds seemed very long indeed. On top of all this there were huge waves coming in and through the cave, and if you were in the wrong place you’d rise up fast and thump your head on the ceiling.

Eventually, with some relief, we made it to the light at the end of the tunnel. As we followed it we emerged into a huge open chasm with a beach in front. It was rock solid karst stone surrounding us, reaching up to the sky. The only way in or out was the cave, and yet there was a beach filled with fauna, and trees over forty metres tall. It was stunning, except for the fact there was a lot of other people there, each millepeded from their own boats, and yabbering and taking pictures. It was still worth it though.

The other stops of the day were Koh Kradan – a beautiful but expensive island where Fred and I bought beer and drank them as we sat in the sea – and a couple of snorkel stops. These weren’t up to much as boat anchors had destroyed pretty much everything, but I managed to see a moray eel for the first time. It sat in a hole poking its nose into the air, its mouth slightly ajar. I lifted my head out the water to call Fred, and felt a sharp stinging sensation in my foot. I’d kicked a sea urchin. I thought this was the worst thing in the world, but the boat guy I showed it to just laughed.

We returned to shore feeling tired, but it was totally worth it. At the beach Freddie tried putting up a hammock. But he was using the shittiest bungee cords I have ever seen. As he sat on it there was a ‘poing’, and the bungee cord shot into the distance as Freddie was ungracefully dropped to the floor. The large numbers of locals sitting around having their picnics laughed as though witnessing Laurel and Hardy themselves, and stood up and clapped Freddie for giving them such a show.

Motorbike Mayhem

Fred and I decided to head south from Krabi. We jumped on our bikes with our packed bags and hit the road. Fortunately we didn’t physically hit the road, though this was lucky as the traffic leaving Krabi was utterly insane. There were vehicles everywhere, massive and small, overladen, raging at high speed and even some with elephants on the back. Yet we managed to navigate our way out of town and onto the motorway, a proper road trip had begun.


When we got far enough south – after a few hours on the bikes – we branched off from the big roads and hit the coast. This took us past mangroves and on to a tiny little road that led to an empty beach. It was absolutely stunning. We carried on through a forested area and came out at a stretch of sand at the other end. It was kilometres long, golden sand stretching out as far a you can imagine, with huge karst cliffs rising out all along the horizon. Freddie and I were literally the only people we could see, in all directions. Unsurprisingly we hung out there for a while. But sadly eventually we had to hit the road again, which took us to Pak Meng.


Pak Meng is a coastal town with a huge stretch of beach in front, again with karst cliffs and islands as far as you can see. It seemed to be the kind of place the locals go for their own holidays.
We pulled up outside a little restaurant and ordered some food to have on a little table on the beach. It was picturesque to say the least. But then the drama began.


We jumped back on our mopeds to go in search of accommodation, only to find mine was being a little temperamental. It refused to start. Basically it was fucked. ‘Oh dear’ we thought, but luckily the owner of the restaurant had noticed and wandered over. He called to the only other westerner we were to see in our few days here, Richard, who came to discuss our options. They informed us there was a mechanic up the road. But Freddie would have to use a special ‘motorbike’ trick to get me there. He had to drive his motorbike behind mine, pushing me along with his foot on the exhaust while I tried to balance on my totally dead moped. Luckily, somehow, it worked. But not after a few wobbly moments. The mechanic got out a bit of metal and bashed the bike in various places, and miraculously got it working! Though it would now be the case we’d have to kick start the bike every time we used it for the rest of the trip. Nightmare.

We jumped on our bikes, booked a boat trip for the following day, and searched for accomodation. 
Everywhere was fully booked except a proper rough place at the far end of the beach. It was utterly weird. In my room there were pink frilly sheets on the bed, that looked like it had been there two years. There was a ‘Hello Kitty’ towel to use as a blanket – it had a hole in the kitty’s nose. And in the bathrooms there was a mesh cover over a window, that had an entire ecosystem trapped inside it. So while standing having a pleasant wee you were forced to look at a maelstrom of snails, roots and various insects, all struggling in a tiny space they could not escape from. Traumatic.
Unsurprisingly we spent as little time in there as possible, which meant having beers at a table on the beach and watching the sunset. In a further search for food we passed a restaurant with an entire extended family of Thais all singing karaoke. There must have been 50 of them at least. Being the only foreigners they’d seen that day, and being the friendly folk they are, they shouted and insisted we come in and sing them a song. They did not know what they were in for.

For some inexplicable reason ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ was the song of choice, and we totally butchered it. Originally having started with applause, the crowd soon turned to a stunned silence. Then to looks of horror. They didn’t know what to do. They couldn’t look away, and we couldn’t stop. We were committed. All that remained was for us to wade on through the thick uncomfortable air with our terrible voices, until the song finally came to a merciful end. We lowered our eyes and quietly apologised as we left the inhabitants of the restaurant in emotional tatters.

Freddie And The King

Finally the day had come to pick Freddie up at the airport. I could have got a minibus straight from my accommodation to the airport for 100 baht, but again I wanted to be a ‘proper traveller’ and go by songthaew. Songthaews are a kind of random bus service, they’re old pickup trucks with ramshackle roofs galvanised onto the back, with some basic wooden seats in the back. They’re meant to be super cheap, and are also pretty fun, so I walked down to the area I’d seen an airport one the previous day. Unsurprisingly I’d been optimistic and there was none there at all. And I was cutting it fine for meeting Freddie at the airport. I spun around looking everywhere and walked up and down a few streets before finally seeing one shooting past. 
“Waaay!” I shouted, and he smiled and stopped. “Airport?” I asked. He nodded. And so onto the back I jumped.

It was a lovely experience until I got to the airport, where he proceeded to ask me for money. I thought he said 20. “20?” I said. “Noo, two hundred!” He said. 

I was like whaaat!? But this moment I was too flustered thinking about getting to Freddie in time that I couldn’t think logically. The guy was totally mugging me off! I gave him 150 in the end – again over the price of a minibus and took me twice as long. But unlike my previous experiences I felt less satisfied. I Went in to meet Fred, mulling over in my head all the things I should have done – create a scene, give him 50 and walk away, smile and laugh in his face. Ah well you live and learn. The money would go further in his pocket than mine anyway.

So Freddie arrived and I was just in time! This time we got a minibus to the hotel, and all went well. Cant remember what we did that night but I’m pretty sure we had some beers as I had a hangover the next day.

The following day we were meant to be heading south on mopeds. We picked some up for a bargain price – 2000 baht for 2 weeks each (about £45) and sped around. But then we heard the King of Thailand was going to be coming through Krabi that day. Which explained why there were twice as many thais on the streets, all wearing black (it was still a time of mourning after the previous king had died). We debated what to do – continue our plan to drive south, or wait for the king – a ‘once in a lifetime experience’? The deciding factor came in us watching a video on youtube of a previous King’s Parade. He had tanks and beasty cars and and cavalry and troops and everything! ‘YES!’ We thought to ourselves, and decided to stay. He would be coming at 3pm and it was still 10am, so we first visited the Tiger Temple – a few km outside Krabi.

The drive there was scary – this was literally the first time I had driven any kind of motorbike. And Krabi was busy, crazy busy. I could barely stay upright and there were trucks and bikes and cars shooting up and down and all around in all directions. I just thought ‘fuck it’ keeping driving straight and hope they dodge you. Much like on a ski slope, the experienced fast skiers are expected to dodge the slow ones right? Anyway it worked and we got there. 

Then we had to climb the 1264 steps to the top of a cliff. They sounded like a lot but then it turned out to be a lot more when we found out the steps were nearly VERTICAL. It was like climbing a goddamn ladder. Halfway up I genuinely thought I was going to have a heart attack. But it was definitely worth it in the end.


By the time all this had happened we realised it was 2pm, we were nearly late for the King! We jumped on our bikes, now with added wobbly legs, and raged it back to Krabi. On the way the roads were being cleared by the police, ready for the King. At one point we got pulled aside in a little road. A flicker of fear we were going to get robbed appeared in both our minds, but it was soon clear this wasn’t going to happen. Instead we waited as some advance interceptor cars drove past at a ridiculous speed, clearing the road for the convoy. We were released after and had the whole road pretty much empty for the ride into Krabi Town.


Krabi was rammed with locals waiting for the King, an impressive sight, and everyone was full of pride they were going to see him. We grabbed some beers and waited. Only to be told he was going to come at 5 instead of 3. We grabbed some more beers at a strange bar with a totally high guy who was listening to heavy metal. At one point he drove off to get some food and left us at his bar.

Eventually it was 5pm and we waited. We moved to a bar with a decent view and waited some more. Then some more. By 7.30pm we we totally drunk and there was still no sign of the King. But at least there would be tanks. I wanted to see the tanks. At intervals the fast interceptors would keep the roads clear. 


At around 8pm I went for a piss. When I came back Freddie turned to me: 

“You missed him.” 

Great. 

But it turned out there were no tanks, no jeeps, no troops, no horses. Just a man in a car waving his hand. So we got another few beers, and drowned our disappointment. 

The Animal Kingdom Unites

My final days on Ko Jum were fairly uneventful. It did seem for some reason though that the entire ecosystem on the island wanted to get cosy with me. I had a little nature walk back after a delicious curry dinner at Woodland Lodge, shining my torch in all the pitch black nooks and crannies. 

I managed to find a large praying mantis swaying on a leaf. Then I came across some of the largest hermit crabs I have ever seen. They were meandering hopelessly, falling in holes and getting stuck on branches. Every time I got close to one it would quickly hide in its shell, but it was so obvious when doing so I thought ‘what’s the point!?’. It would be better off just sitting there and not bringing bloody attention to itself! Anyway I have no idea how an animal the size of my fist that has such a low level of common sense manages to survive. They are kind of endearing though. Maybe the rest of the animal kingdom leave them alone for this reason.

Anyway I then had a frog jump out of nowhere and land on my foot. This would normally give me a only a little shock but having spent the last hour looking in holes for spiders and snakes I was already on edge. And this goddamn frog sprang from the darkness like a streak of ominous slippery ectoplasm. I flailed like a madman and shouted likewise. The frog was not impressed.

So finally asleep in my bed I thought I’d gotten away from the creatures of the world. But little did I know I would wake up to find not one but TWO wasps nest inside my beach hut! Suddenly, inexplicably my hut was overwhelmed with flying insects, getting right in my grill. I had to carefully extract each nest at arms length and place them outside. In doing so coming across the bloody bees nest on my steps! Where did all these stinging insect civilisations spring from!? By this point I didn’t have the energy to move the bees. We became friends.

But sadly this was the day I left Ko Jum. A lovely island. Super quiet and very beautiful, but something for me was lacking. I can’t quite put my finger on it….

So anyway I returned to Krabi where I was soon to be joined by my good friend Freddie. I got a moped driver to pick me up from the ferry port because I wanted to avoid paying for an expensive minibus and be a ‘proper traveller’. I couldn’t explain where my hotel was, which isn’t surprising considering I didn’t know its name or location, and so he dropped me in the centre of town. I got off and walked in a random direction for what felt like a millennia, then gave up and tried another moped driver. Somehow my explanation of the hotel ended up in him taking me on a 30 minute drive back to the bloody ferry port I started at! But there it was ok cos I worked out a way to explain where I was meant to be going. In the end it took twice as long as the minibus and cost the same. But I felt satisfied anyway.

As I awaited Freddie I explored Krabi, coming across yet more exciting animals. There was a group of tigers hanging out in a cave. A snake hanging out on a rock. And some chickens on their way to worship.

DAY 171. THAI BAR DISASTER KO JUM

Last night was interesting. I went to this bar called Fu Bar which was nice – it had some proper friendly Thais running it, called Gallah and O. Gallah made me a smashing Mojito soon as I got there so I was tipsy pretty quick. I had a few more beers chatting to an Australian couple. They were classic Aussies, asking for tinnies and smashing through them like wildfire. She kept referring to me as little Pommy boy which I kind of liked though it was definitely weird.

Then disaster struck. I realised I’d forgotten my money – it was left in the bungalow way back down the beach. I informed O and asked the Aussies to watch my bag while I grabbed the money. I could have taken my bag but felt I owed the bar guys a bit of insurance I was coming back.

Bear in mind this is a big beach. It took me aaages to get back to my hut. It was also pretty dark, so I was clambering over rocks, falling into mini beach river canyons, stubbing my toes and avoiding rope obstacles. It was like the ‘On A Bear Hunt’ book but in the dark.

Finally I got back to the hut where, as I stood at the door, I realised I’d left my keys back at the bar. In my ‘insurance’ bag. Shit. Either I had to go on another bear hunt, just to get my keys, which of course would involve another TWO bear hunts on top of that in order to grab the money then return once again to the bar. Three more bear hunts was more than I could handle, so I went for the other option, try to break into my hut. 

As mentioned in a previous instalment the hut was not the most cutting edge of constructions. This was good with regards to breaking in, I soon found. I clambered right up to the window, shoved it open, and fell in. It was bad, however, with regards to the huge chunk of the building I obliterated on my way up. I later failed miserably to disguise this.

Once inside I desperately searched for my money pouch. Then it dawned on me. Some time earlier at the bar, before all this drama had begun, I had heard a small thud. I thought nothing of it. ‘Probably just a massive insect or something’ was the thought that passed my brain. But now it became more important. That was my goddamn money!

I climbed out the hut once more, taking out another chunk as I went. Walked briskly back to the bar and there it was, on the floor where I’d first sat. My money pouch. 

What a polava.

Bar Disaster

Last night was interesting. I went to this bar called Fu Bar which was nice – it had some proper friendly Thais running it, called Gallah and O. Gallah made me a smashing Mojito soon as I got there so I was tipsy pretty quick. I had a few more beers chatting to an Australian couple. They were classic Aussies, asking for tinnies and smashing through them like wildfire. She kept referring to me as little Pommy boy which I kind of liked though it was definitely weird.
Then disaster struck. I realised I’d forgotten my money – it was left in the bungalow way back down the beach. I informed O and asked the Aussies to watch my bag while I grabbed the money. I could have taken my bag but felt I owed the bar guys a bit of insurance I was coming back.
Bear in mind this is a big beach. It took me aaages to get back to my hut. It was also pretty dark, so I was clambering over rocks, falling into mini beach river canyons, stubbing my toes and avoiding rope obstacles. It was like the ‘On A Bear Hunt’ book but in the dark.
Finally I got back to the hut where, as I stood at the door, I realised I’d left my keys back at the bar. In my ‘insurance’ bag. Shit. Either I had to go on another bear hunt, just to get my keys, which of course would involve another TWO bear hunts on top of that in order to grab the money then return once again to the bar. Three more bear hunts was more than I could handle, so I went for the other option, try to break into my hut.
As mentioned in a previous instalment the hut was not the most cutting edge of constructions. This was good with regards to breaking in, I soon found. I clambered right up to the window, shoved it open, and fell in. It was bad, however, with regards to the huge chunk of the building I obliterated on my way up. I later failed miserably to disguise this.
Once inside I desperately searched for my money pouch. Then it dawned on me. Some time earlier at the bar, before all this drama had begun, I had heard a small thud. I thought nothing of it. ‘Probably just a massive insect or something’ was the thought that passed my brain. But now it became more important. That was my goddamn money!
I climbed out the hut once more, taking out another chunk as I went. Walked briskly back to the bar and there it was, on the floor where I’d first sat. My money pouch.
What a polava.

Bug Attack

I’ve been on Koh Jum a couple of days now. It hasn’t stopped raining. But I still love the island so I can only imagine what its like in the sun.

The first night it turned out nightmares weren’t necessary, as I had a real life one. I woke in the middle of the night with a start, as I felt something on me. I sat up and turned on my torch – the power is only on here between 7 and 10pm – but there was nothing to be seen. But then I felt a biting sensation in my boxers just above my arsecrack. With a jolt I grabbed whatever it was and threw it into the air. It was a centipede the size of my fucking hand! It landed on the bed, with its solid black segments shining, then used its threatening red legs to scurry off down the side of the bed. I searched everywhere but couldn’t find it, so just hoped it had run off somewhere to kill a different human.

At first it scared the shit out of me, but then it dawned on me the poor bugger was probably just as terrified as I. All he wanted was a little snuggle. I felt guilty for the rest of the night.

Also on top of this I had the cat situation. I ordered an awesome crab curry for dinner at Bo Doeng. Unfortunately this produced some kind of strangely addictive pheromone that only a feline can smell. A black creature emerged from the jungle darkness and perched on my table, constantly meowing and edging closer, and closer, to my plate. Eventually it was getting so close so as to actually take something from the plate itself. I tried to put it off without drawing attention to myself, which is difficult in a restaurant. I tried a low hiss ‘hooosssss’. I tried a wave of the hand, ‘swish, swoosh’. Neither to any avail. So I tried the classic ‘let it sniff a leg of crab then lob it off the table’. It liked the sniffing part, but sadly didn’t follow the leg off the table. I then decided on the solid shove approach. I pushed it gently but firmly until it ended up not on the table, but on the floor. This gave me a split second of respite before it hopped back on the table. At which point I thought ‘fuck it’, and gave it a claw to destroy.

The following morning I swam and explored the beach. Not much here which is perfect. But it didn’t stop raining so I didn’t get far, just The Rock Bar at the end of the beach. A characteristic building constructed on the rocks at the head of the beach, crafted by 2 Thai lads and their friends over two months. It’s very impressive. They made it by shackling together huge chunks of driftwood that rocked up on the beach, and at times had to stall the construction while they waited for a new piece to find its way to shore. I had a beer here, but afterwards the rain was too much and I returned to my hut.

Back at Bo Daeng some locals that had arrived that day were sat playing a guitar and singing with the owner of the bungalows. She was producing a beautiful melancholic thai melody. So with the sea crashing in the background I sat with a beer for a few moments.

Day One

It’s my first proper day in S.E Asia, bosh!
Arrived yesterday at 7am after flights of doom. On the first one I was next to a toddler. He was well behaved which was cool and he was a cute little thing but I didn’t want to interact too much. If I did I knew I’d end up playing with him the whole flight. So I had to be friendly enough so his parents didn’t think I was a dick but not so friendly that the kid liked me. That was difficult but I think I pulled it off.

I stopped in Dubai for two hours, the airport was fantastic and had free internet. So I tried to find and book somewhere in Thailand. This failed but at least I managed to waste some time on YouTube.

Next up was the flight to Bangkok. It was 6 hours so I was planning to have my dinner super quick then sleep for at least 5 hours. But they took ages sorting the dinner so after 2 hours of flight I asked for a gin n tonic. The flight attendant gave me ingredients for two. This was dangerous. I got 2 hours sleep in the end after watching a lot of Brian Cox talking about science. At one point the guy next to me fell asleep then awoke with a violent convulsion. Like when you dream you’re falling of a cliff then start awake, but ten fold. He flung his arms in all directions and thrust his head backwards at maximum speed. I tried to pretend I hadn’t noticed but that was difficult seeing as we were basically touching each other.

(Gin + Tonic) x Science = Flight of Dreams

 

So I finally ended up in Bangkok, and got a free bus to the other Bangkok airport, Don Mueng or something. Turns out this airport is way nicer than the main bangkok one, even though it’s bloody tiny. The flight from there took me to Krabi.

At Krabi, a seaside town with not much to do, I sat down on a kerb for an hour trying to work out what to do. I could gamble on getting to the local islands, or stay in Krabi and get the morning boat to Ko Jum. Eventually I decided on the latter, and found a place in Krabi to wait for the ferry the next day.

That night I wandered. Around aimlessly, totally bossed from all the flying. I had some dinner then thought to myself: ‘It must be at least 10pm by now, time for bed.” I wandered back to the guesthouse to find it was only 7.30pm. Oops. I foolishly sat on the bed ‘for 2 minutes’ to consider my options. Thus began 12 hours of sleep.

The following morning my bank card got sucked into an ATM for about 10 minutes, right before my ferry was due to leave. I genuinely thought it had been eaten and was contemplating what to do. Hang around or go to the bank or leave it and hope? I even checked the back of the machine, which was open, and eyed some locals suspiciously. But then it popped out again thank god. I tried to eye the locals apologetically, but I don’t think that’s possible.

The ferry was ok nothing special, as I had to sit indoors which is kind of pointless. Surely ferries are about hanging on the top looking at the view and getting wet? It was 2.5 hours long as well, I cant even remember what I did.
But now I’m staying in a pretty basic beach hut in Bo Doeng resort on Koh Jum. I had to use my superglue to repair the mosquito net, or I knew I’d have nightmares. This involved sticking a page of my flight confirmation letter to cover the holes. But the people who own it are lovely and the food is fantastic. And it’s only costing £4.

My Hut

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