Today we have a guest post from our friend Ally who joined us in Thailand with her partner Karina. Over to Ally:
Our trip to Thailand was a special one this time. Having first been here as a scrubby gap yah backpacker, then a few work trips to Bangkok and a short holiday in Krabi since, I already felt particularly excited about the food in the lead up. The gastric scale shifts in the perennial warmth of Thailand and it’s difficult to get a meal that disappoints the palate. The dinner adjectives shift up a notch and I couldn’t wait to experience the burn from adding prik nam-pla* or the flavourful punch of holy basil.
However this time on top of tasting island life again in southern Thailand, we were reuniting with the third time round the world travellers Becki and Jack; Couple On Tour, and I’m now bestowed with the honour of being their guest blogger.
I think Ko Lipe is one of my favourite islands in Thailand. While I couldn’t pick a specific star of the show from the buzzwords a holiday maker might look for, it is the combination of a lot of things done well that makes this a highlight.
It might not boast deserted stretches of endless sand, one way footprints into the sea type of beaches. But there is still beauty to be found in the turquoise clear waters and silky sand, with the regular crowd of people milling up and down creating a relaxed air of activity.
It’s sizeable enough to have a wander to another part when a slither of energy breaks through the cloud of laziness and not too small to lack enough variety for our six nights there. There’s a good evening vibe helped by the friendly locals and selection of decent bars – which I particularly noticed now that my priority isn’t to drown myself in Thai buckets from any old trashy place I stumble into (albeit the buckets still featured on NYE). Not to mention of course, a tantalising array of delicious restaurants stocking delicacies like fresh prawns bigger than my head.
Having arrived in Lipe by Ferry from Langkawi in Malaysia, we had to first decipher our heavily Thai accented names being yelled out through a megaphone from the shorts and flip flop clad ‘immigration control’, in order retrieve our passports back on Pattaya beach. Whisked off by moped to Sunrise Beach on the opposite side, it wasn’t long before we were having cocktails on the beachfront decking of Mali Beach Resort with our very own Becki and Jack.
Being six months on from their bon voyage drinks on St. John’s Hill in our concrete capital, it was quite the change of scene. I quickly became immersed, chatting and laughing away again with our firm friends, while sipping on pina coladas filled with the freshest of coconuts against the backdrop of Ko Lipe’s shoreline. This truly was, the life.
Highlights of Lipe:
- The open-air club with central dance podium only accessed via a swimming pool that we all danced at on New Year’s Eve.
- The view of the Andaman Sea from On the Rocks ocean front restaurant while devouring Thai green curry and pad see ew (stir fried noodles with soy and greens).
- The hippy vibe and quirky decor at all night bar Sea La Vie and where we watched the first sunrise of the New Year.
- The introduction to 20 Baht (44p) roti’s (pancakes) covered in condensed milk sold from street vendors. There was always space for one, two and once three more after our evening forage.
- Lounging on our resort sun beds, sharing good food and spending quality time with Couple On Tour.
Ko Phi Phi
Karina and I headed off for the middle section of our holiday to a quiet spot in the north of Ko Phi Phi to Villa 360 whose selling point was an ocean view from every room, while Becki and Jack hopped off the boat at Koh Lanta (Jack: where it also rained solidly) on the way.
Though we were planning on heading into the party ‘town’ Tonsai Bay and taking a boat trip which included the beach from The Beach and sightings of the bioluminescent plankton, an unusually high level of rain fall gave us two long days of the wet stuff which meant we had to spend longer than we might have liked mostly confined to our villa.
The boats weren’t running around the island and we didn’t have all that much nearby so we had to amuse ourselves in other ways. This led us to take part in a few competitive rounds of Jenga while fighting off the overly affectionate local mosquitos and a few hours of swimming in the hotel’s infinity pool under nature’s shower.
Before the rain came we managed a stint of sea kayaking along the shore of Loh Ba Kao Bay. As well as a couple of trips into the nearby village (accessed only in low tide otherwise you’re in for a swim home) for more of those fresh pina coladas and a shovelling of fried rice and noodles into our now chilli encased stomachs.
Luckily on the morning of our departure the rain clouds shuffled off to give way to blue skies so that our boat could still run to our final destination, and where we were re-joining Becki and Jack: Phuket.
While I had my suspicions around how much I might enjoy resort life, the 5* Kathathani Beach Resort managed to quash any of those within a few steps of arriving onto its grounds. Days spent in the open air with the beach flooding my view and the sound of the ocean waves sandwiching my sleep – are days I could choose to live more often.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Phuket either, but I knew lurking somewhere with dubious sources of evidence was an image of dusty roads, shanty housing and 18 year olds getting trashed in embarrassingly skimpy outfits. While this part might exist it wasn’t to be seen in the area of our luxury accommodation. With everything on offer at the resort we didn’t travel too far from our own little haven and it was a gorgeous end to such a fabulous trip.
Highlights of Phuket
- Cocktails at Kata Rocks while watching the sunset. A beautiful scene with the bar set next to the infinity pool with a view out onto the horizon.
- Phuket Old Town had some lovely coffee shops and interesting streets for wandering and was a welcome change of scene for a few hours. Becki finding a curry roti canai (roti and curry for dipping) from a place she somehow remembered from three years ago was a bonus!
- Katathani Beach Resort was in itself a highlight because it was easy to feel comfortable and while away the hours with everything we might want just moments away
- My favourite restaurant here was probably the cheapest. The flavourful Chai restaurant in Kata Town.
- The best kind of breakfast buffet where you can create a three course meal covering five different cuisines. Surely carbonara followed by egg fried rice and finished off with waffles couldn’t be enjoyed before 11am? Well…it turns out it could!
Becki and Jack – thank you for helping to make our holiday so fabulous. It was so good to meet up with you both on your travels, whiling away the hours together with sun, sea, cocktails and curries. I wish we were still there with you. Enjoy the rest of your trip – WE MISS YOU! x
*fresh chillis in fish sauce