A Travellerspoint blog

THE END

And so our adventure has come to a close. It has been a fantastic and eye-opening six months, and one that we are not likely to forget in a hurry!

We count ourselves very lucky that we've been able to share this experience together and have been able to rely on each other when at times, we've found it hard. And that we've managed to get on so well despite spending six months non-stop in each others company :-)

We want to thank everyone out there that has been a part of this trip, all the people that we've met (or have joined us!) along the way and made it that much more fabulous! We know we've made some friends for life among you!

A big thank you also to all of you back home that have been so wonderful at keeping in touch, even when we have been a bit useless! We are very much looking forward to seeing you all again in the next couple of weeks!

We hope you've enjoyed reading our little (or sometimes not so little!) ramblings, and have laughed with us over some of the ridiculous situations we've found ourselves in over the last six months!

For now though, its over and out from us and our blog.

xxxxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 18:30 Comments (1)

Goodbye Thai Islands


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The top ten things we've learnt whilst in the Thai Islands:

1. Diving is amazing!
2. Rubber rings and the sea is a match made in heaven! Definitely not just for children!
3. Phuket is full of people in white crocheted outfits conducting inappropriate beach photo shoots!
4. We have become master bargainers after six months in Asia!
5. Phuket offers a vast array of overpriced, totally rubbish day trips.
6. Sunsets are most enjoyable when sat in a Reggae bar drinking cocktails!
7. Tam has a little baby niece!!! Congratulations!
8. If you're sneaky you can infiltrate a five star resort to use their pool ;-)
9. Chicken and cashew nuts is good ANYWHERE!
10. Making a scene gets you the refund, even when you've signed a form relinquishing said refund the night before!

Posted by Tam-Jo 18:28 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Boxing, ladyboys and a sad farewell

sunny 35 °C
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Our last destination on the official six month tour of Asia - Ko Samui. We found a basic, cheap, but nice resort on a quiet beach and set up camp here for the last five nights (or three in Sarah's case) of our trip. Sob sob!

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There is not much to report from the days that we spent here. Tam and Sarah found a very fancy resort just down the beach one day, whilst I was trying to sleep off a cold (a cold in this heat?! Not fair!)! It is blatantly a five star place but as it was virtually empty they have let us use their pool for two days, provided we buy some of their hugely overpriced food and drink (Diet Coke to share, anyone?). Score! Otherwise we've been at the beach, just chilling out at the beach bar in our own place, or having some very relaxing, and cheap, massages! Heaven!

The dogs at the resort appear to have adopted us over all the other guests and beg most nights to be allowed into our room after an evening of sleeping at our feet! Our two favourites are a pair of gender confused retreievers that we've named Suzie (male) and Hank (female) (we named them before we knew their sex, but they both seem pretty happy with their new names!)! Suzie is particularly protective of us, walking us all the way to the fancy resort one day, and refusing to believe in our safety until he had escorted us into the pool! All very funny, although I doubt the fancy resort staff thought so! After being herded out of the place by a very sad Tam, Suzie waited on the beach for the remainder of the day until he could escort us home. How could you not love a guy like that?!

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The evenings have been more eventful, as we ventured into the main tourist trap to take in some very cheap street cocktails, fake designer purses, Thai Boxing and a ladyboy cabaret show - how could we say no?! The boxing was pretty brutal and we found ourselves really cheering contestants on, much to our surprise. Sarah also found the pre-match spiritual blessings a tad odd (obviously Tam and I have been on this continent too long, as it was nothing new to us!). For Sarah's last night we headed back to the main strip for some last minute shopping, a manicure/pedicure, and the ladyboy cabaret performance at the local Moulin Rouge! AMAZING! Those ladies can really lipsync (most of the time!!). It was a very, very entertaining evening!

Yesterday lunchtime our little group began to disband as Sarah started on her long journey home. Tomorow morning the six month partnership that has survived many toils and much staring, will finally come to an end as I head off to Ko Samui airport, leaving Tam behind here at the beach.

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 18:22 Archived in Thailand Tagged kosamui Comments (0)

Ko Tao

sunny 36 °C
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After a long day of travelling we made it to the island of Ko Tao! On first impressions, much more lively than our previous destination of Koh Lanta which we had expected. What we hadn't expected was that we would hate it! We had booked to stay in a pretty nice resort on the "quieter" north end of Sairee beach (it was not in fact quiet at all...very developed, litter, boats everywhere in the water etc...). On checking in, the resort (supposedly) upgraded us to a superior room. What this actually meant was instead of getting a triple room with a cold shower we got a double room with a hot shower and what can only be described as plank for an extra bed with a mouldy pillow. Yuck! Needless to say, we checked out the following morning and managed to get the majority of our money back after Jo and I complained profusely and refused to move from reception (we think they were concerned that we were going to make a scene!).

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With nowhere to stay that night we took our chances and got a taxi over to Tanote Bay on the other side of the island (thanks to the plank bed I couldn't sleep much last night so researched all the beaches on the island to find one we might actually like). Our luck was in! Tanote Bay looked idyllic and a lovely bungalow resort right on the bay had a family room with a seaview balcony available that was in our budget. And so that is where we spent our remaining five nights on the island.

First item on my agenda on our first afternoon in Tanote Bay; sign up for a PADI Open Water Diver course. We've met so many people on our travels who have raved about how amazing diving is (you know who you all are!), that I decided to set aside my fear of sharks and claustrophobia and just do it!! And in fact I didn't just sign up for the course, I completed my first chapter of theory there and then. Keen or what!?

When Jo found out that it was just me on the course she decided she couldn't pass up the opportunity to learn with just two people in the class. Sadly Sarah was still too poorly to join us so instead spent the time we were on the course by the lovely pool at the dive resort.

The three day course consisted of some self study, tests, a final exam, a contained water dive in the pool and four dives in the sea.

Day one was our contained water dive in the swimming pool so Sarah got to watch us doing all the exercises. I'm sure at times it was quite amusing; Jo and I both had trouble with the buoyancy control...I kept floating to the top and Jo kept hitting the bottom. Oops! But otherwise, we managed just fine. Beforehand, Jo was very anxious about the mask clearing exercise (where you let your mask flood and have to clear it) as this was something she wasn't able to do last time she attempted to get her Open Water certification. But she managed it on the first attempt! A huge credit to our amazing instructor who was so patient and calm with us the whole time.

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On day two we did our first two open water dives which were both directly off the beach in the bay. The first dive was obviously the scariest for us but as soon as we were underwater, we both relaxed and just enjoyed the underwater world! On these first two dives we saw scorpion fish, moray eels, yellowtails, barracuda, triggerfish (which can give you a nasty bite if you invade their territory and don't get out quick...luckily the one we saw paid us no attention!), a school of rabbit fish and juvenile sweetlips.

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We had an early start on day three (7.45am!) to go out on the boat for our last two open water dives of the course in Hin Wong Pinnacle and Hin Wong Bay. Thankfully we both slept amazingly well, no longer anxious about donning our scuba gear and going underwater. Just extremelly excited! During the dive at Hin Wong Pinnacle (where we were underwater for an impressive 55 minutes!) we saw trevally, coral groupers and a hawksbill turtle. Seeing the turtle was incredible! The first time we saw it, it was swimming above us on the surface, a silhouette silently moving above us. As it descended we lost sight of it but saw it again later feeding on a rock. We were able to get so close...amazing! The next dive at Hin Wong Bay was just as incredible where we saw a sea snake, seal putterfish and malabar groupers. At one point a giant shoal of fusiliers was right above us practically blocking out all the sunlight. We also went through a cave system that, whilst a little scary at times, was beautiful.

I'm very happy to report that at the end of our course,we passed! And had the most amazing time doing so! I think it's safe to say we are both now hooked on diving and are already planning some weekend trips away to get our dive fix!

Thanks again Montalay Diving!

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Whilst not on our dive course, we spent our time lazing by the pool, reading, snorkeling in the bay, lying in the hammock on our breezy balcony and eating tasty food at the dive resort's restaurant. Jo and Sarah also found the time to fashion Patch a snorkel so he could join us on our last excursion around the bay (see the photo!). I'm not exaggerating when I say it took them hours. But I think you'll agree it's a work of art!

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We were all very sad to leave our lovely little bay on Ko Tao but ready for our final (sad face) destination of Koh Samui!

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 17:49 Archived in Thailand Tagged kotao Comments (1)

Health status update!!


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Just so everyone knows, we arrived safely in Ko Tao. Tam will tell you more about this in the Ko Tao blog to come shortly. But I thought that I should reassure everyone that Sarah did not, in fact, die and is now fit and healthy again! Whoop!

Jo xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 17:33 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Rubber rings, rugby and the hangover from hell.....

or was it the fish??

sunny 37 °C
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At first I thought that there was not a lot to report from our time in Koh Lanta, but upon further reflection it seems that there is a bit to say....

It didn't start off the best - an hour long wait at the port for a second boat load of guests to arrive before we could make the fifteen minute drive to the resort, and it is HOT here! But all is forgiven as our resort is very, very nice, and the staff are very, very friendly :-)

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Our time here has been spent either at the beach, which is beautiful and near empty most of the time, or in a cabana at our resort. A lot of reading has been done and a lot of lying in the sea on our rubber rings. So passed our first few days on Koh Lanta - an island seemingly only known to rich sailors and poor backpackers! Bliss!

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And then came the event which all English people will be dreading me writing about - the rugby. You may all breathe a sigh of relief though, as the boys in red did all the talking on the pitch and have left me nothing more to add! Needless to say, we had a very drunken night! It began with the Ireland vs Italy game, during which we decided to play a six nations drinking game. Safe to say that by the time Wales vs England began at midnight we were all pretty hammered. So much so that Sarah and I were belting out the Welsh national anthem at the top of our lungs in the middle of the Irish bar! I think we made a fair job of it. We didn't get any quieter as the night went on, and I'm afraid that our ferocity may have scared a few England supporters away, as at the end of the match we were surrounded by Welsh and poor Tam was feeling a little lonely!

But we paid for our fun the following day! Tam was very unwell for 24 hours, which perhaps had to do with something other than the beer the night before, although that can't have helped! Sarah ventured out to the beach at 4pm and I managed to get out for dinner at 7pm! Otherwise, we were bed bound all day!

Whilst no one was feeling one hundred percent the following day, we did make it down to the beach - it was our last day there after all! Unfortunately we did not end Koh Lanta on a high..... Late last night I awoke to find Sarah up and about fiddling with the air conditioning and complaining that she was cold. I ignored her - she is actually a grown up and quite capable of controlling her own temperature. But this faffing continued for the next half an hour, much to my annoyance! Eventually I snapped and stomped over to the aircon device to turn it up, ignoring her protests that Tam and I would be too hot. And then she started crying. At this point it became clear that something was not right - Sarah does not cry! Whilst she was constantly shivering, she was also burning up. Her whole body felt like it was on fire! But it was nigh on impossible to convince her to take off her jumper and pull away some of the covers.

After an hour or so, and a cold shower (which must have been unpleasant for her!) she was a bit cooler, although still in high fever territory and in quite a bit of pain. So the remainder of the night was pretty sleepless for her (for obvious reasons) and for me as I was half convinced that she had contracted some deadly tropical virus and was going to die in the night (thanks for giving me the trait to overthink things, Mum :-) )!

Today, she seems better. Not like she might topple over and die at least!! So we have decided to make the journey to Ko Tao. Whilst it is a long journey (10 hours) and will be uncomfortable for her, we think that there will be better medical facilities there should she get worse! Fingers crossed she gets better soon! So my day consists of helping two invalids (Tam is still not 100% right!) survive the long journey ahead!

Jo xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 17:27 Archived in Thailand Tagged kohlanta Comments (0)

Goodbye Cambodia


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The top ten things we've learnt whilst in Cambodia:

1. Best tuk tuk drivers EVER!
2. We were very ignorant of history. We hope we've managed to put this to rights.
3. We love bucket showers! We know, this was in the Malaysian top 10, but it really can't be overstated!!!
4. Bats - fascinating!!
5. Jo has two left feet.
6. It's fun pretending to be Lara Croft for the day!
7. Boat rides in high winds can be scary!
8. It takes two attempts to kill a cockroach with an angry bird flipflop!
9. We love Dairy Queen! The blizzard - a McFlurry but one hundred times better! Why, oh why, don't you exist in the UK?!
10. Sometimes it pays to embrace the corruption and bribe the man who momentarily holds all the sway over whether or not you get a visa!

Posted by Tam-Jo 17:13 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Goodbye Vietnam


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The top ten things we've learnt whilst in Vietnam:

1. Tam REALLY hates 24 hour bus journeys!
2. It's a dollar - just pay him to stamp the passport!
3. Puppets performing in water are highly amusing.
4. Winter is nice when it comes for a few days.
5. Just because beer is cheaper than water it doesn't mean that you should drink non-stop!
6. BEDBUGS ARE REAL AND THEY DO BITE!!
7. Just because it's a tourist attraction it does not mean it's worth seeing!
8. Hhhhmmmmm, cough, cough...... Communist propaganda.... who said that?!
9. Jo found a soup she liked - Pho Bo.
10. Quad bikes are fun, if not a little dangerous when Tam is behind the wheel!

Posted by Tam-Jo 17:11 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Goodbye Laos


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The top ten things we've learnt whilst in Laos:

1. Chicken fried rice is most tasty when eaten in a filthy looking, roadside "cafe" (aka someone's home!)
2. Big stone jars are cool!
3. We actually DO have standards of hygiene when it comes to accommodation.
4. Tubing is boring - next time opt for the kayak!
5. "Friends" NEVER gets old! Oh Joey, we love you!
6. We like steak and red wine.
7. Joma Cafe is our downfall.
8. We knew very little about some shocking, and relatively recent, history.
9. Bowling at midnight just outside the city bounds - a great way around the UNESCO curfew!
10. Boats don't sink, no matter how many people you pile in them!

Posted by Tam-Jo 17:10 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

Phuket

all seasons in one day 30 °C
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Oh Phuket! What a let down you were.

Thinking that it might be fun to start Sarah's holiday off somewhere lively, we chose to spend five nights in Phuket. We made a concious decision to steer clear of Patong beach, the busiest (and most notorious) beach in Phuket, opting instead for the "quieter" Kata beach.

The stay started off well. On checking into our hotel, we managed to get a very good deal to upgrade to an air conditioned room. Several days later, however, we had the staff telling us we had to pay more, saying they had "miscalculated". We obviously refused to pay any more as they were clearly just trying their luck to get even more money from us!

Our first evening, we took a stroll down Kata beach. One word...disappointing. Extremelly crowded, a bit grubby and loud! And randomly full of Russians! I think we were the only non-Russian people on the whole beach (not that it matters of course; it was just surprising)!

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The next day we spent at Kata Noi beach south of Kata beach. Much more pleasant than Kata! Quiter, softer sand and clear water! And we found a fancy resort to go to for lunch with an all you can eat buffet!

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The next two days we spent on the amazing Nai Harn beach which was recommended by some lovely Welsh ladies who Sarah and Jo befriended. As it was quite far from the main resorts, it was a lot more peaceful and, dare I say, exclusive! Clearly a playground for the rich (many private yachts and catamarans were moored not far off shore), the beach was a little more "high-brow" than Kata and Kata Noi. And we liked it!! We found a nice peaceful little cove with sun loungers and parasols, and bought some inflatable rubber rings to float out at sea in.

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One of the evenings (also on the recommendation of the Welsh ladies) we went to a reggae bar at the top of a hill between Nai Harn and Kata to enjoy some cocktails whilst watching the sunset. Lovely!

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Our final day in Phuket was the worst day trip Jo and I have been on in our whole five months away (and that is saying something)! Supposedly we would be taken to a cave, some mangrove forest, a muslim village, James Bond island and to do some sea kayaking. The cave was underwhelming, we sped past the mangroves on the boat, we never even saw the muslim village (there wasn't time after lunch!), spent all of twenty minutes on James Bond island, and didn't even get to kayak...we just sat in the inflatable kayak and a "guide" paddled us around. I also go soaked on the journey back to the bus as the lady in front of me insisted on holding down the tarpaulin which was there to prevent such a drenching. And continued to do so even after I irritably told her to stop. A fitting end to the trip really!

Needless to say we are not sad to leave Phuket and cannot wait to get to our next destination of Koh Lanta!!

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 05:41 Archived in Thailand Tagged phuket Comments (1)

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