04.10.2008 - 16.10.2008 26 °C
I was welcomed into Thailand with a beautiful view of Phuket Island out of the window of the plane. Once on the ground a taxi was easily arranged and we headed to the Guesthouse. En route we came accross one of the vegitarian festival parades and traffic came to a standstill as drums banged, firecrackers crackled loudly and people filled the road displaying various forms of faial mutilation, generally through the cheek, with swords or pipes. One man even had a hack saw through his face.
The place we stayed for the first few days was much quieter than the parades we had passed but we soon moved over to Phuket Town where the parades were daily and when they werent there were always firecrackers being thrown around. Phuket Town appeared to have no draw but the vegi festival and consequent vegi markets so after a few days we caught a bus to Phang Nga.
Phang Nga bus termainal is the stomping ground of a few tour companies of which Mr Kean was the most keen (get it?! I could have used the word eager but I couldnt resist.) to acquire our business and so immediately we set out to spend a night at the Muslim Island Village in Phang Nga Bay, arranged by the charasmatic Mr Kean, before leaving for a long boat tour of the bay and its many caves, mangrove forests and Islands. One of the Islands here is used in a James Bond film and is unimaginatively called James Bond Island, it must have had a name prior to this but I could not find it anywhere. Thats tourism for you.
Rather than Winter and Summer, here the seasons would be divided into a hot weather season and then the one that we are in South East Asia for... Monsoon Season. It rained from the start of our journey toward the pier at the end of our boat tour, constantly through the night. And it has rained pretty much every night since, luckily remaining mostly dry in the day.
We had planned our time to coincide our stay on Ko Tao with the full moon. This cluster of Islands, particularly neighbouring Ko Phang Na, is famed for its Full Moon Festival and a good party can always be expected. Or so I thought. On the night in question we ate on a bech front restaurant, watched big lanterns beeing lit and let loose to light up the sky and felt generally good about the less rave-like take on the full moon partying we'd opted for by staying in Ko Tao. Down to the advertised club we walked to see fire poi being performed on the beach but upon closer inspection the club was dead and none of the hedonistic party excess I may have expected, not even relaxed drinking and chatting. No one there to utter a word.
Leaving the southern part of Thailand and taking a long overnight journey up to central Thailand we arrived in Ayuttaya off the train and began a more kinetic stage of our Thailand tour.