So we left Bruce Lee and co. and made our way to the train to Kansai Airport... so we thought. There may have been a brief moment where we thought we were on the wrong train.. well, right train, but wrong direction!! We nearly jumped off in a panic, and gave a small Japanese grandpa a heart attack in the process, but thankfully realised just at the last minute that we were in fact AOK and eventually arrived at Kansai.. 5 hours early!! No complaints though, it gave us a great excuse to sit around doing not much at all and not feel even a hint of guilt about it!
After chilling out for a bit we got our butts up and went through customs etc where, oddly enough - in stark contrast to everywhere else in Japan where there seems to be an overabundance of staff (from police that guide traffic even when the lights are working, to a woman watching the woman cleaning the train and we of course can't forget the man pointing to the man pointing to the other man giving traffic directions!!!) - there were only 2 customs officers on duty.. bah, how annoying! Nevertheless, we got through quite quickly and had some more chill out time to contemplate our next and final destination - Koh Samui, Thailand.
14/06/2010 4:00am Welcome to Thailand.. Tough start to the day today.. we arrived at 3:40am only to find that the security check that you have to go through to get into the transit lounge didn't open til 5am and we were stuck in a thoroughfare with literally one bench to sit on for an entire flight of people!! We ended up sleeping on the hard, cold, tiled floor until our backs ached.. thankfully around the same time the security gate opened! Another punishing few hours in the transit lounge waiting for our 9am flight.. the sounds in an airport really do get repetitive after a while. In particular this time on the travelator, a whiny voice kept reminding us that the "End of the waaaalkway" was approaching.. this, along with two loud "BeepBeep! BeepBeep!" could be heard through the whole f%^&*ing airport!! It's difficult to strike the balance of arriving at an airport too early and having to put up with this stuff while you wait, or cutting it too fine and having to rush. Thankfully I won't be spending too much time in airports over the coming year!!
14/06/2010 9:00am Come on Koh Samui.. Finally on the plane.. hopefully we make it to Koh Samui on this tiny little old rattly 70 seat plane!! Oh well, if not, at least I get to enjoy a aeroplane flavoured devon roll in my last hours.. mmmmm, yum!
14/06/2010 11:30am Hello Koh Samui.. Please will you show us to our bags.. yes, our bags please.. can we have them. Our Bags? You know, the place in which our entire lives currently exist?! Umm, where are our bags!? A scary start to our beachside holiday, but thankfully our bags did in fact arrive.. it's just that we didn't have a sticker.. what sticker you ask? We still don't know...
My first impressions of this place are that it's still very old, run down, and not at all as established as I thought it would be. I had images of 100% beautiful island resort style everything! Not quite the case!! Our arrival at the haven amongst the dilapidation that is our Bandara Resort is a welcomed contrast. This place is absolutely gorgeous. (And to think, we paid A$50 per person per night here, compared with about A$30 for hostel living in Japan!!). Off to the pewl!!
15/06/2010 9:00am hmmm.. I'm not sure if last night was just a horrible dream, or if the streets of Koh Samui really are that bad! On advice from the hotel we made our way to Chaweng which is where the tourists generally go. What a horrible place. We were both so overwhelmed and honestly, disappointed and wondering if we made a bad call to come to Koh Samui. The place was just teaming with seediness! From the guy who forced a handshake and had what may have been leprosy (eww.. I'm glad I didn't take his hand with me!! ;o) ).. to the man who tried to sell us "Aussie Beef" and even gave us a taste test - we can't help but think it may have been some other meat (vomit!) and move quickly on until we find a reasonable looking place that serves pizza and beer. The beer was very good... the pizza.. mmm, not so much. Another round of beers thanks.
We decided today that we'd hire a car and go for a drive around the island at our own pace and in air conditioned comfort.. it's so damn hot here that the A/C temperature control only has various levels of cold - no hot! Our little Honda did a great job getting us on the road and handle the crazy traffic really well. We weaved our way through the traffic and stopped for some markets and bits and pieces here and there and finally stopped for lunch at a great spot with a gorgeous view overlooking the water. When we hit the road again after lunch we decided to wing it a little and take a few turn-offs here and there. Seemed like a great idea until we appeared to be driving on private property with signs in red Thai writing that we decided said "Trespassers will be shot!". Needless to say... we kept going. The guards must have been out of bullets that day...
I didn't realise until the end of the day when I was so exhausted, how much hard work it was to concentrate on the scooters, trucks, dogs, children, chickens, farmers, water buffalo, cats, oh and of course cars that were on the road.. it didn't stop there though. After a rest and a freshen up back at Bandara, we decided to head to a restaurant called Orgasmic. Well it certainly was!! The food - Modern Thai - was so good. Our experience tainted only by the fact that we had not a lot of cash on us, and the restaurants credit card facilities were out of order! We cut it fine, but some covert notes and calculations got us well fed, suitably boozed, and under budget!! Back to resort for some cocktails on the beach. Sadly, we were the only ones there.. well, aside of course from the WATER BUFFALO being taken for a walk by its owner down the beach!! Couldn't believe it!! Only in Asia..
16/06/2010 7:00pm Sunburnt and satisfied in the Samui of Koh.. Peeeeow!! What a day!! Up at 7am today for an 8am pick up to go snorkelling. I was super excited, but very disappointed to see lots of yuck clouds in the sky. In fact, there wasn't even a touch of blue and it was as far as the eye could see. Thunderstorms were the forecast of the day.. But we pushed on through and went for it, boardies, towel, sunnies and suncream in tow hoping for the best. Well, initially we didn't exactly get what we had hoped for. The 1½ boat trip north to Koh Tao took us deep into the eye of a rainstorm but mercifully spat us straight back out the other side into glorious, skin-searing, paint-peeling, sand-scorching, mood-lifting sunshine!! And so it remained for the entire day. We snorkelled at two spots around Koh Tao before moving on for lunch a great little place called Buddys for what turned out to be a really surprisingly nice Thai meal. YUM!
After lunch we were back on the boat to Koh Nangyan for some more snorkelling, and the piece de resistance, when our guide took just Beth and I out past the roped off section and to some really impressive coral. It was great being with him as he was showing us some really cool things, and even pointed out what was OK to touch and not. We enjoyed that for a good hour or more and then made our way back to the boat to head home from 3. It was around this time we realised how burnt we were.. well, more Beth on the backs of her legs and neck. The boat trip home was spent sheltering from the sun, enjoying cold water and coke, and then some fresh cut pineapple and cold hand towels! Just what the doctor ordered! Turns out we were even more burnt than first thought.. ah well, nothing a hot shower, some aloe gel, and say.. 102 Singha beers couldn't fix!!
The following is documented - letter for letter, dot for dot - the contents of my notebook which evidently came out with us that night. Please don't judge us.
""She" might be a man."
"I think she's serious."
"I don't like Mondays."
"Tell me why!!"
"The whole day long"
"do doo do dooo"
"Love you long time"
"She has man hands..."
"They are as soft as heaven."
Needles to say, it was a big night. Matched only by the hangover the next day! Oh look we even wrote our names on the wall..
18/06/2010 5:00pm Fisherman's Village Bo Phut - Walking Street.. turns out it really is a walking street.. on Friday nights only, and even then there's no guarantees there'll be cars or scooters screaming up behind you! Lots of fun, markets and stalls and people and cars and dogs and just.. stuff happening!! Knowing this is how good it gets, I wish I was able to stay longer, but alas this is the last night before having to head home to Sydney to prepare for Europe!
20/06/2010 6:30am 45 minutes from landing in Sydney.. the sky above the clouds is absolutely incredible. A view of Sydney you just don't get to see that often! The bluest of blue sky graduates to the deepest of deep orange as the sun tries to light up the sky.. gorgeous! We eventually land, and as we hit the ground realise just how lucky we've been with the warm weather as we're met by 11ºC! Quite a different from the 30+ we've been having! Back to reality for a short moment, but now straight into Europe prep.. next post will be Singapore methinks.. until then...