Imagine this, if you will: A bronzed Swedish beauty standing tall and slender under a waterfall, naked as the day she was born. Her long, wet, blonde hair flowing down her back, like in those Herbal Essence adverts. Got it? Ok, good. Now erase that image from your mind. Erase it. Now imagine our disappointment when Bryan and I hiked to the top of a beautiful waterfall in Khao Lak (called Ton Chong Fa I think) only to find a German woman who I shall describe as a cross between Steffi Graf and Michael Schumacher being photographed by her husband. I could tell they were German because this couple were taking photos of each other in the buff, right out in the open next to a public footpath. That and the accent gave it away. At least the waterfalls were worth it!
That morning, while Ruth and our other friends Laura and Jack were off on a speedboat trip, Bryan and I had rented mopeds after much deliberation. We began by asking the horrendously unfriendly hotel staff if we could hire the same two bikes we’d had a few days previously. No was the clear answer, however they did have two others we could use. The receptionist gave a little smirk and exchanged a few words and a joke in Thai with her friend and told us that they only had a pink and a white one available. They showed us the first bike, which was the kind of metallic pink you only see on the nails of a ‘lady of the night’. Under the sacred rules of shotgun, Bryan was going to have to ride that one. He didn’t mind so much when a Thai girl pulled up in a hot pink scooter covered in flowers moments later. As comfortable as I am with my masculinity, I have to say I flat out refused it, much to the amusement of the hotel staff. We found a beaten up old red one for a cheaper price just round the corner, so there, it pays to be masculinist.
I was totally sold on the mopedding. It’s by far the easiest way to get around and pretty cheap at that. We paid around 200/250 baht (about £4/US $6) for the day’s rent, then fuel was another whole pound. I was pretty surprised by the amount of respect road users had for each other, letting traffic in at a junction, friendly smiles and I felt pretty comfortable the entire time – a far cry from here in Korea where it seems to be pretty much every man for himself and to hell with the rest. So with Ruth sat on the back we bombed it through the countryside checking out the sites of Phuket. Amazing.
Now then, New Year. We discussed at length over the previous few nights about what to do; whether to take it quite easy and find somewhere small to have a blinding good night, or go all out and hit a beach party, for a blinding good night. It didn’t take much to make up our tractable minds. Patong Bay beach party it was to be and what a decision it was. Despite rumours that it was “full of chavs” we had a fantastic time, in fact I don’t think Bryan stopped blurting out exclamations for a good couple of hours after getting there. The night was filled with drinking, dancing, buckets of questionable alcohol, sand, swimming, invitations to ping pong shows, silly string and general merriment; the highlight being the countdown to New Year actually on the beach itself. I have never seen a sky so full of lanterns and so many fireworks – check out the video below that we found on YouTube, it says all that needs to be said really.
Diving in Khao Lak was an activity organised by our friend Jack and we’re grateful for the research he did which fully paid off. Number 1: The dive company he chose were an absolute joy – Sea Dragon Dive Center – Everyone we met was such a laugh and they were always happy to share a story of which there were many as you can imagine: being bitten by sharks, rescue diving in the Antarctic, partying with Sir David Attenborough (that’s right – partying). Number 2: The diving itself was pretty incredible with crystal clear water and plenty to see. The deeper divers definitely got to see more of the big stuff but I got to see my fair share.
All in all it was a great way to spend two weeks away from the Baltic temperatures of Korea and we’ll definitely be returning to The Land of Smiles on our next trip.