Saturday, July 07, 2007

Thailand - Bangkok and the islands

I arrived in Bangkok in the afternoon (26th June) and made my way to the Khao San Road. This bustling street is the main traveller area in the city, full of hotels, bars, markets and hawkers. Not wanting to spend too much time in Bangkok I arrived with no real plan on what to do, but I had a week to do it before coming back to meet Nuria. After spending the day in the city checking out the options, I decided to venture south to the island of Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand. The aim was to do some more diving and hit the full moon party on Koh Pangnan, an ajacent island. I signed up to stay at the Coral Grand Dive resort and to do 6 dives with them. From Bangkok I took an overnight bus for about 9 hours to Chumporn, and from there the high speed catamaran to make it to Koh Tao by 11am the next day. Too tired from the journey to dive that afternoon, I lazed by the pool and then on the beach.
The next day I awoke at 6am to check the eqiupment and go out on the dive boat. The first 2 dives were incredible with excellent visibility and numerous sharks. That proved to be the best diving over the next few days, as the visibility deteriorated with the weather. On the Friday night I met up with some of the other divers and we caught the catamaran over to Koh Pangnan for the full moon party. It was apparently the 20th anniversary and some 15,000 people were there. It was what it all night rave on the beach with loads of wasted people. The next morning I returned to Koh Tao and recovered. On the Sunday I finished off the diving and relaxed. The next morning it was time to repeat the journey back to Bangkok, arriving around 9pm.
The following morning I awoke early and made my way to the airport after breakfast. Incredibly excited because I was going to meet Nuria and we hadn't seen each other since I started the trip. I must admit that I was positively nervous waiting in the arrivals hall. We meet and everything was fantastic again. That night we headed out to Patpong and celebrated my birthday in style ;) That Nuria came out to Thailand was the best birthday present I could have wished for...
The rest of the week was filled with sightseeing in Bangkok (mosty temples and the Grand Palace) and making our way around the city in Tuk-Tuk's (small 3 wheel vehicles). We also spent a lot of time shopping and barganing at the markets. The remainder of our time was spent at the massage parlour, relaxing by getting Thai and foot massages. I think that was the highlight of Nuria's time in Bangkok!
After waiting almost 4 days we collected our passports from the tourist agency. We had left them there to obtain the necessary visas for Laos, Vietnam and China. The journey can continue!!
We decided to leave the big smoke ASAP and get the overnight bus to Chiang Mai, a more cultural city in the hills of Northern Thailand.