Many Rivers To Cross

Hello. I hope you enjoyed reading the last blog, despite the horrific things I wrote about which happened in Cambodia in relation to the Khmer Rouge. I appreciate all your comments both on the site and the ones I have had through personally. I checked the statistics for the blog and there’s literally hundreds of returning vistors. Thank you. Big Love.

In the last blog, I mentioned that I had departed Cambodia and was in Krabi. Well, I have now departed Krabi and I am sat in my hostel in Chinatown in Singapre. I’ll talk about Singapore in the next one. This blog will be about my time in Krabi.

I had flown from Bangkok to Krabi International Airport, which took about an hour or so. The journey was OK. I done a bit of reading and the sooner we were up in the air, we were preparing to land. At Krabi airport I got onto the shuttle bus and headed for Ao-Nang, which is where my hostel was situated.

The journey took about 30 minutes. My hostel was called Fundee Hostel. I was initially booked in for two nights and planned to head off after those two nights to another island. Maybe Koh Lanta. As it happened, this plan was changed and I ended up staying in the Fundee Hostel for 10 nights.

When I arrived, I checked in and booked a tour for the next day. The tour was to see some local attractions; The Emerald Pool, The Hot Water Springs and Tiger Temple. After that I headed down to the beach. The hostel was on a road which if you followed to the end came to Ao-Nang beach. I went down onto the sand and had a little walk in the water, which was really warm and not as clear as the water in Cambodia. I decided against sitting on the beach because there was no beds and I didn’t have a towel with me either, so I headed to a nearby bar. There they had one of those big round basket chairs, suitable for two……or one of me. I ordered a coffee and sat there watching the world go by. Here’s a picture of the beach.

Whilst I was sat there, a girl came and sat on the chair next to me. I didn’t think she was English (not sure why), but I smiled as she sat down. We got chatting and I found out that she was from London. She asked me about where I had been etc. And told me she was unexpectedly here on her own too. We chatted for a couple of hours as the sun set. Her name was Rachel and she said she was staying in a hotel on the same road that my hostel was on. We agreed to meet up later that evening to go for something to eat and then head to the reggae bar. We went to a nice restaurant on the same road as the reggae bar. It was quite a quirky little place, which had trees and plants inside with a wooden interior. There was also a couple of girls dancing on the stage. They were only young and one in particular looked really awkward, glancing over to her companion for either direction on dance moves, approval or in an attempt to say ‘Let’s stop!’ They danced away as we munched on Chicken Pad Thai (still my favourite dish in Thailand). After that we headed up to the reggae bar where there was a live band, playing an array of music. This was the bar, earlier in the day when it was shut.

The following morning, I was up at about 8am for a pick up at 8.30am. I was the last person to be picked up and took my seat in the modern, air conditioned minibus. I put my headphones on for the duration of the journey to the Hot Water Springs.

It took about 45 minutes to get there. There was a little foot path which was canopied by trees and forestry on both sides. The shade provided by the trees was a welcome shelter from the morning sun. The path led to the Hot Water Springs. This was a collection of rocks with natural water flowing into a lake. The water in the springs was hot. It was a strange sensation. It felt like getting into a hot bath, but outside in the jungle. I got talking to a couple from Sunderland, who as it turned out were staying at the end of the other block near my hostel. Here’s a couple of pictures from the hot springs. Chilling…..

After about an hour or so there, we headed back to the mini bus ands onto the Emerald Pool. This was about 25 minutes away and it was a site which consisted of two pools of water. The first was the Emerald Pool, which you were able to swim in. It was colder water than the hot springs which was nice because the temperature was rising. At one point I was stood in the middle of the pool and looked around at the other people who were there. Literally EVERYONE had a smile on their faces. It was great to see. People of all ages, nationalities and religions being peaceful and happy in the same space. Kids were screeching with laughter as they splashed about, couples canoodled over by a tiny waterfall which flowed from the nearby mountains and elderly relatives and friends sat on the banks with their feet in the water.

Further up the path from the Emerald Pool was Sa Nam Phut. This was a pool of blue water, which supposedly sprung up when you clapped near it. Needless to say there were various people, myself included, clapping vigourously in an attempt to get some movement in the water. There was slight bubbles, but I’m not convinced they were as a result of the clapping. Here’s a few pictures of the pool and the sign which advises tourists to clap. CLAP EVERYONE…..CLAP

After the clapping extravaganza, it was time for lunch. We ate at a place near the clapping spot. The grub was pretty decent. They gave it to us for groups of three, so I ate with the couple from Sunderland. We got an assortment of dishes pork, beef, noodles soup and rice, and then fruit for dessert. Happy days. We then made our way to Tiger Temple. This temple is on top of a mountain and to get to it, one has to climb 1,237 steps. At various points on the way up, numbers are painted on the railings. I still can’t decide whether this is a help or a hindrance. It was some task getting there. It was mid-afternoon and the temperature must have been mid 30’s, even though the steps themselves sat in the shade. The beginning of the steps had monkeys knocking about on them. We began our ascent. It was quite clear that it was going to be a challenge. On the way up, people were passing us on the way down. They looked into my eyes and gave me a smile that  said. ‘Rather you than me…..’ These people had been up, they knew what was in store for me and my pins. It was a look I would be giving to others in the not too distant future. When I was coming down. Some of the steps were shallow but the majority were very steep. Tranmere’s pre-season training regime on the sand dunes of New Brighton has become somewhat infamous within the borough…..that’s nothing compared to this.

It took about 40 minutes I think to reach the top. We were asked to remove our footwear, as it was a temple and nearly suffered 3rd degree burns on the soles of our feet from the sun’s heat on the red tiles. A huge statue of Buddha watched gracefully over the town. Two dogs laid in the little part of shade there was at the top. I wondered, how did they get up here? How long did it take them and do they go down the steps every day? If they do, they must be dogs that belong to a butcher, because they’re supposed to be fit aren’t they? In the distance you could just make out some mountains but because of the heat the view that side was quite blurred. The other side, you could see right over the town. Here’s a few pictures from the top of the mountain.

After getting some pictures and admiring the view, I began my descent. Going down was slightly easier than going up, but my legs were wobbling the further down I went. We eventually reached the bottom. What a relief. By this time, there was a lot more monkeys gathered at the bottom of the steps. They were not shy. Sliding down the railings and blocking the exit for some weary climbers. I managed to get a couple of pictures. Here’s one.

That night I headed out for some food with Dom and his girlfriend (the Sunderland couple). Whilst talking we realised that we’re due to be in India at the same time, so agreed to meet up. The following day, I headed to Railey Beach. In the morning, Cah, a Brazilian girl who was staying in my hostel said she’d come with me. So we headed down to the beach to get the taxi boat. Railey is literally a couple of bays away from Ao-Nang. It took about 10 minutes to get there. It was lovely. We chilled on the beach, talked about travelling and Cah told me how she once served David Cameron as a waitress. She had been in Chiang Mai for a few months and had headed to Ao-Nang for the last part of her travels before returning to the States. We got a kayak out and headed round to the next bay. I have to say, my skills were a lot more advanced than when I kayaked with Josie in Vietnam; a time which seems like a lifetime ago. At one point I asked Cah not to row, just to see if I could do it. We glided to the shore no problems. Josie, if you ever read this…..I think my kayaking skills were OK. Here’s a couple of pics of the day.

My memory isn’t serving me well, but I think this night I headed to the reggae bar again after watching the Crystal Palace vs Leicester City game in a bar opposite. The bar had a fella playing guitar and singing and he asked me if I wanted a request. He showed me his book of songs he played and I ended up singing ‘Yellow’ by Coldplay with him. Here’s a little clip…..

The following day was pretty uneventful. I didn’t go on any trips, deciding instead to chill. In the afternoon I headed for something to eat and got an Indian. I think it’s the first time I’ve had an Indian meal in the afternoon. On my way to the restaurant, a school bus passed by. Loads of the kids were hanging out the windows, shouting ‘Hello’ and waving at tourists. They all had smiles on their faces as the bus slowed down at the top of the hill where I was. One young lad, who may have been about 11 or 12, shouted ‘Hello,’ to me, waved and combined the wave with sticking his middle finger up at me, laughing hysterically. The rest of the bus looked and awaited my reaction. I thought it was brilliant. It reminded me of ‘The Inbetweeners’ episode where the lads go on a field trip and do a similar thing to a bus of elderly people (not that I’m endorsing the use of obscene hand gestures to anyone, least the elderly) but the kid made me laugh. When they saw I was laughing, it almost gave the rest of them permission to laugh as well. He’d had one over on me the youngster. I did think in my head ‘You’re off to school lad, I’m going the beach,’ and in the words of Alan Partridge (again) ‘Needless to say I had the last laugh.’ The Indian was nice, the beach was nice, the sunset was nice. The end of that day.

As I said above, I’d only planned on staying here in Ao-Nang for 3 nights, but such was the warm atmosphere of the hostel, coupled with the other nice guests, I decided to extend my stay for a little longer. I booked a trip to the Phi Phi Islands. I had to be up for a pick up at 8.30am. The times here in Thailand are kept to, more so than in Cambodia. I headed down to the beach where all the boats were. Our boat wouldn’t start for about 25 minutes. People were beginning to get restless and there was the occasional rolling of the eyes between passengers. We eventually got going and headed for the first stop which was Bamboo Island. If you’re on my Facebook, you may have seen a video I posted from here. It was stunning. It reminded me slightly of Long Beach in Koh Rong. The sand was brilliantly white and the water was a bright blue. The difference here was that there was a lot more tourists. It is a popular stop off for people going to Phi Phi. There is no accommodation on this island, just an area of trees and as I discovered a warning sign in case of earthquakes and tsunamis.

We were here for about 40 minutes before heading on to our next destination. The trip was sold as a 7 island tour. Naively perhaps, I’d assumed we would get off the boat at 7 different islands. This was not the case. Some of the islands were just bits of rocks, where the boat would stop in the sea and there would be an opportunity to take photos.   We then headed for Maya Bay. This was beautiful but really crowded. Again we were here for about 40 minutes. I swam in the water and rather egotistically, carved my initials in the sand, which moments later were banished by the rolling waves of the sea. Nature ensuring I remain humble. Haha. I still managed to capture a picture.

We stopped further on for lunch and then headed to a few places to snorkel. There was loads of fish around and one of the boatmen threw them some food to encourage them to swim closer to us. I struggled at first, getting the hang of breathing with a snorkel and took gulps of water on a few occasions. It was amazing though, seeing fish that close by and the corals also. A Go-Pro would have come in handy here, to get some underwater pictures. I had to make do with this from the boat. It doesn’t really do it justice as there was literally hundreds of the little bleeders swimming by.

We had another stop for photos and then headed back to Ao-Nang. During one of the stops, I was out the front of the boat getting a picture and a Thai lady who had nodded earlier to me from a distance said hello and started to tell me her sister was married to a man from Cardiff. She asked if I was travelling alone and said she was from the north of Thailand. This was about the extent of the conversations but within the space of about 5 minutes of me taking pictures from different parts of the boat she must have said ‘Hello’ to me about 15 times. I’m not exaggerating. Sometimes, I would say ‘Hello,’ back, other times I’d just smile. It wasn’t as though there was a long period of time in between the ‘Hellos.’ It was literally a few seconds sometimes, like when I turned around from facing out of the boat. She then asked if I had an app on my phone, the name of which I can’t recall; but it’s the Thai equivalent of Whatsapp, I later found out. I said I didn’t and she asked if I had email. I do. She asked for my email address. We hadn’t spoken for more than a couple of minutes max, so I thought it was a bold move on her part. I wasn’t attracted to her either, I was being polite and like chatting to people, the majority of the time. In my head I debated what to do. Do I give a false email address (Why would I do this?); Do I give my real email address (Why would I do this?) or do I just say that I don’t have email (Why would I do that?). She was quite persistent though, as I didn’t have the initial app she wanted to communicate through. I decide to give her my real email address. I am still waiting to hear from her. It’s been two weeks. I was expecting an email that night to be honest. What’s wrong with me? Does she no longer want to talk? Did she ever? Or was she just collecting emails randomly? I may never know. Haha.

The following day was again rather uneventful. I mooched around, had something to eat and spoke on FaceTime with Dave Harland who was sunning himself on a beach in Barcelona. The initial call had been to discuss technical problems relating to the blog. It then went off on a tangent and the said technical hitch wasn’t resolved by David, so he won’t be getting commission for that call. It was nice to see his face. He makes me laugh. This was the day I was having trouble with uploading the blog. It was the last blog, so I may encounter the same problems when it comes to publish this one. I’ve been slack with them recently. I endeavour to decrease the time in between. It means I don’t have to remember a weeks worth of stuff and they may be a little shorter. I can waffle enough as it is can’t I?

The next day, I again extended my stay. I had met some lovely people in Fundee Hostel, whose company I was enjoying. There was Cah, from Brazil, Marcelo, another Brazilian, who played guitar, Sofie who came from Denmark, Clara from Germany, Jake, a lad from Nottingham and Tom, a lad from Ellesmere Port. In addition I met a couple from the States who now live in Bangkok, Mike and Jessica. The hostel owners were lovely also and the place had a good feel to it. That day, Cah and I headed for Poda Island. This was about 20 minutes in the boat from Ao-Nang. It was lovely. Another of these white sandy paradises with little development. There was one set of toilets, one shop (which only sold the Thai equivalent of pot noodles for food and drinks) and the obligatory tsunami warning signs. One of my mates Jay had said before I came away that he expected a picture of me on a beach, with a vest on, in a spiritual pose, with a shit man bun. His words. Here was me obliging, minus the vest.

I spent the day sunbathing, reading and talking. The wind was quite prevalent and there were clouds. I was lay talking to Cah, on my front for about 20 minutes, but the sunburn I got in that time, you’d have thought someone had painted me red. My back and legs were burnt. Cah thought it was hilarious. I was in pain..  Here’s a picture of us in the sea near Poda..

That evening, we both went for some food. Chicken Pad Thai appealing to my taste buds again, with a side of spring rolls.   And I wasn’t sunbathing with socks on, that is the light’s reflection.

The following day was due to be my last. I had booked a hostel in Ko Lanta, which is an island about an hour away from Ao-Nang. I needed to make a decision about what to do with my flight to Jakarta also. I had initially put that in to go and see UB40 there, but following the attacks in the city in January this year, the gig was no longer happening there. I had debated whether to go and see the city for one night and then get a connecting flight to Bali. Whilst in Fundee, I had heard reports of over 20,000 taxi drivers protesting in Jakarta against private firms such as Uber. Mike, the lad from the States had said he had received an email from the US Embassy, warning against travelling there as there’d been reports of violence against tourists also. It wasn’t a place I’d longed to go before heading out. It was just because of the UB40 gig I had put it on the itinerary. I thought about it, but didn’t decide what to do just yet. The rest of the day consisted of me being covered in Aloe Vera and chilling in the hostel, safe from the sun. That Aloe Vera is good stuff isn’t it? Applied twice, was right as rain the next day.

The next day, I was due to travel to Ko Lanta. In the morning, the rest of the group here were going on a boat trip with the owners of the hostel. They asked if I wanted to join them. This would mean not going to Ko Lanta. I was enjoying my time here with these people and didn’t need to feel restricted to plans. They can change. I decided to cancel my transfer and got a refund and headed on the boat trip. I did, however forget to cancel my hostel until the next day, so ended up having to pay for the 2 nights accommodation I had booked. Not the end of the world. The boat trip was amazing. We travelled in the jeep for about 25 minutes to a nearby river. The boat passed through a narrow river, with parallel banks of trees and greenery. We then came to the mouth of the river which flowed out into a mass of stunning water. We stopped the boat and took some pictures.
During the trip we stopped at a few little beaches. There was no-one on them. They were only accessible from the water. We then came to one, where there was a few other people on the beach. This one had a swing attached to a tree. The inner child came out. Here’s a few pictures.

On the way home, we stopped at a lake. It reminded me of the place where you clap to get the water to spring, which I had visited earlier that week. We headed back to the hostel after another great day. The owners were so nice. Very welcoming and made sure we all felt at home whilst staying at the hostel. I couldn’t recommend this place enough if anyone is ever heading over to Ao-Nang. Because of my missed trip to Ko Lanta, I decided to stay for another two nights until my flight to Signapore from Phuket.

The penultimate day of my stay here, Cah, Clara, Sofie and myself headed off to the cove next to Railey Beach. We got the taxi boat over and headed for the caves we had heard about. They weren’t so much caves, as pieces of rock missing with a massive selection of various sized penis statues in. There was a statue to a Goddess of Love amongst the collection. I was disappointed. I had geared myself up for a trek through caves. It didn’t materialise. I don”t know what it is about caves and genitals.  The same happened in Ha Long Bay, if you remember the tour guide that day was keen to point out bits of rock, which he thought resembled genitals.  That seems like ages ago.  We headed along the path from this cove to Railey beach. Along the path, there was loads of monkeys just knocking about. Some were in the trees, others at our feet on the foot path. One was playing with an empty can of Coca-Cola. They weren’t as aggressive as the ones on the mountains by Tiger Temple and wre obviously used to the passing traffic of tourists.

At Railey, we headed to a little coffee shop, which as well as beautiful coffee, provided much needed air conditioning from the blistering sun and the heat. In there I got talking to a lovely bloke from Istanbul called Yurdakul. He introduced himself as Yurda and I said I had a mate from Turkey of the same name. He said it was quite uncommon. We spoke about football; Yurda was a season ticket holder for Arsenal. We both agreed we wanted Leicester to win the league. We also got on to talking politics. I like that travellers are very keen to talk politics. Yurda told me about politics in Turkey and we debated what the meaning of democracy was. I said in the UK we have a perceived democracy, which by admission could be seen as true democracy, in comparison to other countries. We talked about the Royal family too. I think Yurda was surprised I wasn’t a fan. I suppose they’re supposed to be a great British institute aren’t they; the Monarchy?  I’m just not a fan. Won’t get into the reasons here, unless anyone wants that? No…..OK. I showed Yurda the book I’m reading at the moment, which is called ‘The Confessions of an Economic Hitman,’ by John Perkins. I might talk about it in a later post in more depth, when I finish it. But if anyone is remotely interested in the spread of imperialism, capitalism, the growth of the US empire and how their actions have more than contributed to current fragile relations in the Middle East, get hold of a copy of this book. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has read it.

We spent about an hour and half chatting over coffee and then we all headed back to Ao-Nang, Later that evening, five of us; Cah, Clara, Sofia, Tom and Yurda headed out for some street food and then back to the hostel. It was a nice way to spend my last night in Ao-Nang; with lovely people.

The next day I was definately leaving. I had a flight from Phuket to catch, so had to stay there this evening. In the morning, I went for a foot massage (probably about my 5th during this week) and said my goodbyes. I was picked up in a minibus for the 2 hour journey to Phuket Airport. I wasn’t going into the airport so had to then get a taxi to Phuket Airport Hostel, where I would stay the night. During the day, I got embroiled in a discussion (well, I got insulted basically) online with some supporters of UKIP. There’s a page on Facebook called ‘The Rise of UKIP.’ I’d tried to engage in rational debate, having seen some posts which basically just perpetuated the ignorance shown to refugees by using the recent attacks in Belgium as a vehicle to spout more venom, when one chap had referred to me as ‘Fatty Houghton.’ Haha. It made me  laugh. I wasn’t prepared for this kind of intelligent discussion. There’s a vlog I’ve made about it which I’ll try and upload to my YouTube channel.

The next day, I headed off to the airport where I was to catch a flight to Singpaore. Thailand was a beautiful place, where I met some amazing people and like elsewhere on my travels, gathered memories I’ll treasure forever. It was now time to move on.

I’ll try and get the Singapore/Malaysia blog up quite quickly after this one, as I’m already in my next destination after that. I am currently in Bali, Indonesia.
I hope you’re all well and that you’ve enjoyed this latest addition.
Stay blessed
Big Love

Matty x

4 thoughts on “Many Rivers To Cross

  1. Reading this was like being back there Matty! I love your writing and will continue to read your adventures to come! Big hugs xoxo

  2. Nice one matt very informative ,Judith Charmers eat your heart out.Enjoy the rest of your travels and as the seargent always says on Hill Street blues” be careful out there”
    See you

  3. Mat sure your not reading the beano and wrote the book and author down when you were in smiths great story mat take care be careful Angela hawkesworth xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *