Once again we find ourselves in Bangkok as our hub for Asia travel, although this time we only need the one night before heading down South to hit some of the world famous Thai islands.
So this was it, our first night train! Obviously when traveling, the beauty of a night train is that it saves you the cost of a nights accommodation, while getting you where you wanted to be next-so we were excited to see how we would get on.
We had a day to pass before the train departed at 7.30PM and so we left our bags at the train station and set off to get some food and have a mooch around, the only reason why I tell you this is that we actually found the most outrageous shopping centre that absolutely needs a mention-Terminal 21. This place was ridiculously good, it’s set out like an airport and each floor is a different world city. From San Francisco to Istanbul-each floor is fashioned after the city that it represents, to give you an idea-here’s a couple of snaps from London:
It won’t surprise you to find out that I managed to bag myself another bargain t-shirt special here…You’ll see more of that later.
Fast forward a fair few hours and we’re boarding the night train for our inaugural voyage, and boy were we impressed! We approached the train with a fair amount of trepidation, as we were going to be booking the 1st class tickets but they had sold out-so we had to go with the 2nd class A/C option…Who knew what we were going to be faced with upon finding our seats?! With much joy and relief, what we found were ingenious seats that converted into sleeping berths-fantastic!
Fed, watered and rested; 12 hours later and we had arrive in Surat Thani, the central transport hub for southern Thailand. From here we had a three hour bus transfer to Krabi, from which we were going to decide on our first Thai island to explore. Sitting on the coast of the Andaman Sea, the beaches around Krabi are famous for the many lime rocks jutting out from the water-think James Bond in Man With the Golden Gun.
The beach areas of Ao Nang, Railay and Koh Phi Phi are major tourist destinations, but we were looking for something a little out of the norm-and so after much research we plumped for Koh Jung.
Having booked our island retreat, we first had some time to explore Krabi Town, and the most notable excursion was to visit the Tiger Temple. Set in the hills just outside Krabi, we had an afternoon exploring a bit of jungle where the monks live in caves, with some pretty hefty spiders for company it has to be noted, and then set off on the hike up the steps to the actual temple. There are over 1,200 steps to the top, so you can imagine that we made the obvious and wise decision to attempt this jaunt at the peak of the midday heat-nice! The climb was so much more difficult than either of us was expecting, but oh boy were the rewards worth it!
So after a couple of days in Krabi we set off on our first island adventure in Thailand, and what can I say-we struck absolute gold! As I mentioned before, our research had lead us to Koh Jum, much less popular than it’s famous neighbours, Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi…..Koh Jum doesn’t even have a pier for a ferry to drop you off at. Instead you start your adventure with the ferry to Koh Lanta, and after about an hour the ferry just comes to a stop in the middle of the sea, and you have to literally jump onto long-tail boat that has come rushing off the island to meet you. It was mental, and a little scary! Certainly we were wondering what we had let ourselves into as we watched bags being flung from our ferry into this rickety old boat below. What was to come was truly wonderful….And will have to be saved for my next post as bedtime is calling!