chonburi, malaysia, and heading to australia.

So, at a certain point of traveling through Southeast Asia, the desire to pull out my big camera became somewhat nonexistent. Therefore, the following photos are all iPhone photos, and not the greatest! But they still document this time, this time when the end was looming before me and I began to feel it strongly, when I became a bit sad about leaving Asia, when reality started setting in. 

From our last stop in Koh Phangan, Bex and I spent our remaining days in Chonburi, where two lovely friends I'd made in Vietnam were teaching English. We stayed with them for a few nights, getting our last Thai massages and drinking coffee and eating toasties. It was a nice way to wind down from the flurry of island-hopping and sleeping in hostels.

And then we were on our way to Sydney! We made our way back to Bangkok and spent one night in a hotel by the airport, where we might have drank too much whiskey and might have almost missed our early morning flight. We had a 12 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur, so spent the day exploring Malaysia! We didn't venture too far, but it was fun to see the Petronas Towers and experience yet another currency and culture. After an exhausting 12 hours, we waited for our midnight flight and were on our way to Sydney!

More to come on my current situation....

thai islands!

Next, I headed out from Krabi towards the islands in the south of Thailand!

So, I'm sort of pushing hard to get these blog posts rolled out (this was almost a month ago!) because I'm currently in Sydney and 1. it's beautiful here and I really want to share it with you, and 2. I've had a lot more free time now that I'm staying in one place and can take the time to properly blog all these amazing places.

I was SO excited to finally get to the islands and spend what I thought was the end of my trip lounging on beaches in the sun getting tan, but that didn't quite happen right away. Bex and Scarlett and I took the ferry out to Koh Phi Phi, after an adventurous and unruly night out in Ao Nang. (Ferry + a hangover = not so good, ahem.) Our first night there was somewhat clear and we actually saw the sun set, but after that it was just days and days of nonstop rain. In retrospect we wish we had left the island a little sooner, but we thought all the islands were just as bad and so we decided to stay put for a bit. 

Most of our days were spent wandering through shops in rain ponchos, sweating to death in our bungalow with cheap Chang beers from 7-Eleven, taking a chance on the one hour of no rain and hiking up to a viewpoint, surviving an immediate deluge once we got to the top and hiking down in the mud and rain an hour later, taking lots of naps, eating lots of toasties, and dancing on the beach late into the night. Despite the rain, it was quite a cozy and fun few days and we finally headed off the island.

I'm keeping the islands all to one post but have separated them out, so scroll down to read more about the next two: Koh Tao and Koh Phangan :)

Koh Tao! Honestly, my favorite of the islands.

Bex and Scarlett headed out to Krabi, which I had already been to, so I  made my way to Koh Tao solo. I spent one night in a little hostel by the ferry, excited to spend a full day on my own, and even more excited to finally see sun. I had big plans to wake up early, rent a motorbike, go to a yoga class by the ocean, write in my journal, and just explore in general. As soon as I rented the bike though, I had a bad feeling about it. I felt nervous about driving on Koh Tao's bad roads and almost turned around as soon as I left the shop. It was a good lesson in listening to my gut, because the day went horribly -- yoga was cancelled, I got lost and drove in circles, and I ended up falling off the bike in the middle of the road. I wasn't really hurt and it wasn't a bad accident, but the bike was damaged and returned it right away, shaken.

The day got better though, as I headed to the other side of the island to a little resort on the coast. I met my friend Will there, who flew in from Vietnam, and we had the best time -- we ate good food, drank cocktails on the beach, I even went snorkeling for the first time ever in the most beautiful area. To this day that resort is fixed in my mind as one of my favorite places ever. I wish we spent more time there, but we headed back to the main part of the island to meet up with Bex and Scarlett.

Altogether I spent almost a week on Koh Tao and didn't want to leave. We laid on the beach, went swimming, ate amazing pizzas, did the island bar crawl, slept in, did a snorkel boat tour, and just had so much fun. Besides my one night of terror in which a strange man came into my room while I was sleeping (heh), and besides all the history of murders of foreigners on the island (heh), it was my favorite week in Thailand, perhaps. 

Reluctantly, we left Koh Tao to make our way to Koh Phangan. I really didn't want to leave, but at this point I still didn't know what my plans were and thought I might need to head home soon. Koh Phangan is home to the Full Moon Party, which is a crazy monthly party on the beach filled with drugs and lots of drinking and people getting injured, which I was happy to miss. However, there wasn't much going on on the island in the meantime. Being low season, without the full moon parties the island is pretty quiet. Coming from busy, fun Koh Tao, we were a little bummed!

We hopped from a bunch of hostels and resorts, spending time at a pool club, lying on the beach, swimming in the ocean, watching the sun sets, and stuffing ourselves full of the last Thai food we'd be eating. (This obviously included many 7-Eleven toasties.) In retrospect I wish we'd spent more time on the other side of the island away from all the hostels, but it was still a relaxing few days. Definitely not my favorite island though!

On Koh Phangan, I accepted a job in Sydney and made the solid decision to move there! We tearfully said goodbye to Scarlett, who was flying off to Australia a week before us. From there, Bex and I made our way back to Bangkok, and then were off to visit the friends I'd made in Vietnam who lived just outside of the city. Last Asia post coming soon!

krabi, thailand.

Ah, rainy rainy Krabi. A large province situated on the western coast of southern Thailand, Krabi includes lots of well known places like Railay Beach and Ao Nang. I was so excited to finally hit up the islands region.....but wasn't prepared for the rain. So. Much. Rain.

I parted ways with Bex and Scarlett and flew off the Krabi on my own -- solo travel for the first time in awhile. I was a bit nervous but of course it ended up fine! The first night I spent in Ao Nang in a very empty hostel, as low season was in full effect and the full moon party was taking place in Koh Phangan. It was bizarre to sleep in an empty dorm room and I was starting to feel weird. Add to that the fact that I had a very disturbing conversation with a bunch of old white foreign men who were perhaps the most racist/violent people I've ever met (I won't even go into it because I get too upset), I was so ready to leave Ao Nang and take the long tail boat to Tonsai Beach.

Tonsai and Railay are beaches on the mainland but they feel like islands -- huge limestone cliffs block them off from roads and so they're only accessible by boat. My plan was to stay in Tonsai and then move down to Railay, but I ended up spending all my time in Tonsai. The first morning I had some sun and managed to lie on the beach for a bit, but the rain quickly moved in and didn't stop for the rest of my five days there. Despite that, I fell in love with Tonsai and its people.

Every single person I met was kind and friendly and talkative. Not one person was unkind. I was shocked at this! It was so refreshing and I made some really wonderful friends in that short amount of time. The rain kept me from having too many beach days, but I spent my days getting Thai massages, playing with kittens at my bungalow, sitting in the cutest chai shop writing my book, taking naps, eating chicken burgers (the most amazing one ever, on Tonsai!), getting pummeled by waves as I tried to cross to Railay quite dangerously, and watching fire dancers at the bars. Again, I had to put myself out there as a solo traveler and met two really lovely women from Canada, the sweetest woman from Brazil who had been working in Australia, a great couple from New Zealand/England, and more. I felt so grateful to have made so many good friends in such a small place and in such a short amount of time.

After a bunch of days, the rain and clouds and my rustic bungalow started to run out of charm (plus the amount of mosquito bites were becoming a bit of a problem...), and I couldn't wait to head back to Ao Nang to meet up with Bex and Scarlett again. I felt like I was risking my life trying to get a boat out of Tonsai, but once I was on solid ground again I was so glad. 

Onward to the islands!