Tuesday, May 11, 2010

one night (or three) in bangkok

goodbye islands, hello city.

we've arrived in bangkok after nearly two weeks in the paradise of the islands in the south. the majority of our time was spent on ko tao, and the best part was our 5-day visit to remote ao tanot (or, tanote bay). we had a beachside bungalow with an ocean view on an isolated strip of sand. i spent my birthday snorkeling in the shallow reefs - where we saw multiple black tip sharks! - and getting an afternoon massage on the beach. absolutely. wonderful.

and now we've arrived in bangkok, after a long but easy journey via boat, then bus. with all the media coverage of the ongoing political unrest here, we'd keeping an eye on the news reports and seeking advice from other travelers we met in the south who had just come from here. and the verdict was that everything in bangkok was ... business as usual. the protests seem to be settled, and then quickly unsettled. however, in the backpacker area of th khao san, everything is its crazy and boisterous self. the reputation of this small but infamous location does not fail to disappoint.

we will be keeping safe and lapping up our last days until we're set to fly home via tokyo on friday. can't wait!

see you soon (for real this time)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

the beach

this will have to be quick, as the internet is pricey, and i've been dawdling on facebook and email already ...

we are in the south of thailand, on ko pha-ngan to be more specific. we arrived at this island yesterday, after three wonderful days on the magnificent ko samui to the south. our lonely planet describes the three islands we'll be visiting during our travels as kind of "sisters", which i quite enjoy, being from a family of three girls. and the analogy works quite well.

to give you an idea: samui is the biggest sister, and the most developed. it has a lot of resorts, and many of the beachside backpacker bungalows are unfortunately being swallowed up by the big luxurious pricey guys. we managed to find one of the remaining cheap backpacker digs, on the island's popular chaweng beach. we were north of the raucous parties and main strip, which was fine by us, as our resort had one of the nicest views of the ocean. the water was so shallow you could walk out for almost a kilometer and still be only ankle deep, and the temperature was like a bathtub. it was amazing.

next, ko pha-ngan. home to the much-talked-about full moon party (also known as, monthly all-night beach rave), and the aforementioned middle kid. former home to hippie backpackers, it's now apparently growing more resort-y and samui-like. and although we'd heard good things and bad things about the legendary lunar bash, mark and i decided to opt out. in my defense, i don't need to be smushed like a sardine in a crowd of fluorescent-body-painted acid-tripping strangers dancing to house beats all night to feel like our thailand experience has been fulfulling ... (ha! just saying ...) instead, we stayed on samui until the full-moon had passed (and the prices on pha-ngan had lowered).

we'll be here for two more days, and then we are off to ko tao, the baby of the island family. ko tao is the smallest, but it is known for some of the best scuba diving in the world. mark's licensed, so he's looking forward to exploring the ocean depths. i, on the other hand, am both too cheap and too lazy to get certified, and will spend my time beach-lounging and finishing the beach. because, yes, i am very cliched and reading alex garland's cult classic ... while here on the beach.