Flying all day to get here! Relaxing on an island! Couple of days in Bangers.
Saturday 22nd June 2019 (day 1)
Well hello folks, here we are again, mid year and it's time to escape the Australian winter (mild as it is) and head to the Northern Hemisphere to enjoy the summer weather up there. It looks like I am going to write a blog, but I'm only going to do it when I have time. There are always posts on FB with photos.
This year Lyn and I are traveling together again - after heading off in different directions last year. And we are going to attempt another European bike ride - the first together since Lyn's fateful bike accident in Belgium a few years ago. Don't worry we are taking it easy and our ride along 3 beautiful rivers in Germany is not going to be too difficult. Although, yes we are camping, so lets just see how it goes.
So for those of you who are interested, a rough idea of this years itinerary:
Fly Australia to Thailand (spending a week here as our stopover to visit Lyn's son Patrick who lives on the Thai island of Ko Samui)
Fly Thailand to Frankfurt, Germany - here we will purchase bicycles and ride for about 4 weeks along the Saar, Mosel & Rhine rivers
Fly Germany to Malta - the usual 4 weeks relaxing on the beautiful islands of Malta and Gozo - can't seem to not visit this favourite destination - here we will meet up with our travel buddy Dolly.
Fly Malta to Sicily to Naples - 10 days enjoying a small piece of Sicily, before flying to Naples for 10 days around there and a little of the Amalfi Coast
Train Naples to Rome to collect a hire car for 10 days exploring the hilltop villages just north of Rome
Fly Rome to Indonesia where we will be joined by 4 friends flying over from Australia and again Dolly for 4 weeks of Indo Adventure Island Hopping.
From Indonesia I fly on to New Zealand to have a catch up with mates over there, before retuning back to Brisbane in the first week of December.
Big thank you to Mitchell for getting us up nice and early this morning to drive us down to Coolangatta airport for our morning flight. I usually prefer to fly at night, as a whole day is lost sitting in the plane to get from Australia to Asia, but I guess at the time this was what was available when I was booking.
There are 2 things that I really hate about traveling. #1 is packing i.e. deciding what I need to pack/take for my travels. You would think after the amount of trips I have done that this would be an easy task, but alas no. I am not exactly an over packer, but I am also not a light packer. Of course it's very difficult when we are doing a bike tour as this involves taking bike paraphernalia as well as camping/cooking gear. The clothing part of this scenario is very easy, 2 sets of on bike clothes and a set of off bike clothes. But its the other gear that takes up room and weight.
Which brings me to my #2 hate: airport check-ins. This always gets my heart rate pumping because 9 out of 10 times I seem to be over the weight limit or at least very close to it. Have been lucky in the past to just scrape through with overweigh check-in luggage, but not today! The Air Asia check-in lady was not letting us get away with even 100 gram over our allowance. She was good enough to allow us to remove some heavy items from our checked luggage and said it would be ok to take on as carry on. Little did she know our carry on was already double the weight of the allowance. Nevertheless, our bags disappeared along the belt and we walked away struggling under the weight of our carry on, trying to make it look like it was light as a feather! Hard to do with a grimace on your face!
The almost 9 hour flight from Coolangatta to Kuala Lumpur was a little more bumpy than usual. As we chose not to pay extra to pick our own seats we ended up with an aisle and a middle seat. Which wasn't too bad, I did actually sleep a good majority of the flight, hence why I am still up at 1am typing this. Our 2.5 hour stop over in Kuala Lumpur airport was just enough time to grab something to eat and head to the gate for our next flight to Bangkok. Unfortunately, during this security check the guards suddenly decided that the 2 tape measures Lyn was carrying to give to Patrick were a safety hazard and could be used as a weapon due to the sharp edge of the tape and said she could not take them any further. Unreal that they had already made it through 4 previous security checks, but not this one. No point in arguing and we had no time to go and try and check them in as our flight was boarding.
The flight to Bangkok left late but was only 2 hours in duration. Minutes after take off Lyn was hit with sudden air sickness and spent the entire time down the back of the plane vomiting. No idea what brought that on as we had eaten the same thing in KL. Luckily our overnight hotel was just a short overpass walk from the airport and we were there in minutes. I purposely chose this close location due to our all day flying and this turned out to be an even better idea since Lyn was feeling crook. We are at the Amari Hotel, very nice and they gave us a free room upgrade - not sure why but not complaining. Lovely way to start our holiday in a flash hotel - but best not get used to it.
Lyn jumped in the shower and went straight to bed, I walked down the street to the 711 to get some milk for a cup of tea. I tell you it's hot and humid here in Asia! 10pm at night and its like 28 degrees Celsius and about 88 percent humidity. I've been complaining about the cold at home the last few weeks and was longing for some heat, well here it is! Enjoy!
We are just one night here in our flash hotel, tomorrow we fly to Koh Samui for some beach R & R.
Sunday 23rd June 2019 (day 2)
We were awake early this morning after a good rest in our lovely hotel room. We opted not to have the expensive hotel breakfast, instead had a cup of tea and a muffin left over from some snacks I brought from home to have on the Air Asia flights.
Today we are flying to Ko Samui, a touristy Thai island situated in the South of the Gulf of Thailand. Lyn's youngest son Patrick lives on Ko Samui so we are going there to catch up with him. Seemed like a perfect excuse for a stopover - not that we need one!
Last night we flew into Don Mueng Airport and today we need to fly out of the main Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport - which is about an hour away. There is a free shuttle bus between the airports which we decided to take advantage of since a taxi or GRAB (Uber) was going to cost us 640 baht (aud$30), which doesn't sound like much but every baht saved is another baht towards a meal or better still a cocktail. And since it was just a short 4 minute walk back to the airport it was fairly easy for us to move our luggage and catch the bus. We were allocated to the 9.40am bus and arrived at the airport in plenty of time about an hour later.
Again with checking in the luggage we were over weight so we took a few things out of the check in bags to carry on. Hopefully once we drop off the bag of goodies Lyn is transporting for Patrick we should be able to organize our luggage better.
A coffee from Coffee Club at the airport, 130 baht each (aud$6.06) - typical airport prices.
It's just a short 2 hour flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui on Bangkok Airways and we were surprised that we were served quite a substantial snack, which was good enough to be called lunch in our books. Spice fish with rice which had my tongue burning for the remainder of the flight - that said, I must admit I have a very low tolerance of any chilly in food whatsoever.
Patrick and a mate were there at the airport to meet us. Weather looks a little cloudy today, but no doubt it will be better tomorrow and the next day. First up we stopped for some lunch, but since we had eaten on the flight, Lyn and I opted for our first cocktail of the trip. Not a bad pina colada (not the best) but a good start, and the orchid was a nice touch.
After lunch, Pat drove us around his work site. He is working as a construction manager for a company building luxury condos being sold to wealthy Chinese investors. The site is on the side of a hill - although to me it resembled a side of a cliff more than a hill. He certainly has a very stressful job, kudos to him. We then took our luggage and settled into 'Chez Patrick' - Pat's place of abode and our home for the next 5 nights. Room with a view!
Dinner was at a local pad thai shack that cost us a total of 216baht (aud$10.09). Lyn and I had seafood & Pat had chicken pad thai (noodles). Loving the price of food in Thailand.
Pretty early into bed tonight, still catching up on lost sleep and getting into holiday mode.
Monday 24th June 2019 (day 3)
A very lazy morning, Patrick went off to work and Lyn and I hung around the bungalow in our pj's until hunger got the better of us and we decided we would have go for a walk to find food. It's warm and sunny outside today, still cloudy but the heat is there. Lucky for us Pat decided to come home at lunch time to take us out, so we didn't have to brave walking the busy road in the heat.
Lunch was at a beach side restaurant on Lamai Beach. You can really tell its off season as the beach is almost deserted. We take a seat with a perfect view for the ocean and order lunch. I had noodles with porK and a delicious coconut shake, Lyn went for a bacon baguette (not very Thai lol) and a coconut shake also. Pat went all out and had a chicken sandwich, and then had to go back to work so left us as we headed to the water for a swim.
Love the temperature of the water in Thailand, warm and inviting, we stayed in for about 30 minutes enjoying the sun that was playing hide and seek with the overhead clouds.
Time to get out and head to the main shopping street to find somewhere for a manicure and pedicure for both of us. After a quick up and down the street we chose the first place we saw and sat in the air con for our hour and a half pampering session. This wonderful service was half the price that we would pay at home, with the mani / pedi costing us 500 baht (aud$23) each. Money well spent we now have beautiful nails.
Time for a drink! We found a restaurant that had a sign offering happy hour cocktails for 70 baht each, so we took a seat and ordered off the cocktail menu. They did not have our first choice so we opted for the usual pina colada - and this was a good one. Better than the one we had yesterday so we decided on a second round.
Just as we started on our 2nd drink, Pat showed up to collect us to go to another bar for sundowner drinks. So we downed the cocktail and headed off to a quiet little beach side bar which did not have a direct view of the sunset, but did have the hazy colours reflected on the water and rock formations. Our third pina colada for today was served up in a coconut!
Dinner was an assortment of Thai dishes at the Pown Restaurant - another little gem Patrick has taken us to.
Holiday progressing splendidly so far!
Tuesday 25th June 2019 (day 4)
Another relaxing morning, Pat collected us and we returned to Bamboo Restaurant on Lamai Beach for another lunch with a view.
I had pork with Thai basil (which has an aniseed flavour) with rice 100 baht ($.4.64) and a coconut shake 60 baht ($2.80).
When we returned to Chez Pat, Lyn had a bit of a nap and I sat on the balcony and watched the rain. Most of it was light, but we did get a good down pour which prevented me from waking Lyn as we were going to take Patricks bike out for a ride around this afternoon.
Instead we had happy hour on the balcony with a couple of Tiger Radlers aka lemon beer, until it was time to go out for dinner.
Tuesday Taco Night at Tips Tacos has a special of 3 tacos + a beer for 200 baht ($9.29). Pretty good deal and the tacos were much bigger and filling than we expected.
And so come an end to another island day for us, tomorrow we have plans to be a little more 'active'.
Wednesday 26th June 2019 (day 5)
Today Patrick took a full day off work as we are heading out on a boat to visit a couple of small islands off Koh Samui.
Breakfast stop first, at Bamboo Restaurant, for bacon and eggs and a fresh juice smoothy.
After breakfast we drove to Captain Tom's Beach Bar on Bang Kao Beach to meet our boat which would be taking us out to Tan Island today. We climbed into the long tail and headed off out to sea. It was just a little choppy, so we travelled slowly as to not make it too rough a ride. It took about 45 minutes to reach the island, however we stopped before hitting the beach to do a little fish feeding. The warm water was very inviting and lots of small fish gathered around us in a feeding frenzy as the captain threw in little pieces of stale donut. The fish were loving it and must have thought it was xmas with a change from normal stale old bread to this tasty sweet, albeit soggy human food.
We only stayed in the water long enough to cool off and I think the Captain ate more of the donuts than the fish were given, so maybe they were not stale at all? We were only 100 metres off the sandy beach shoreline so it didn't take long before the boat was beached and we climbed out. The beach on this side was not much, but Patrick assured us there was a nicer beach on the other side of the island. Obviously, this was too far and too hot to walk to so we hired a golf cart (500 baht) to take us to the other side.
We did a bit of a tour along the way, stopped at another beach that unfortunately was littered with lots of plastic rubbish. All rubbish that had washed in from the ocean, so sad to see this.
Tan Island is still very underdeveloped and it would be nice if it stayed like this forever, but I doubt it as progress will happen and I guess this island will become another overcrowded paradise like everywhere else. But today it's still lovely, with the interior thick jungle still.
There are supposed to be wild boar on the island although the only ones we saw were cement statues at a roundabout. And we did see quite a bit of buffalo poo on the cement path. But the only wild life we did encounter were a couple of goats.
We could not drive the buggy down to our secluded beach, we had to follow the goat track (in pic above) down to the water. It did turn out to be a beautiful beach and we went straight into the sea to cool off. The water was crystal clear and no another sole on the beach, except for the curious goat that kept an eye on us. We had bought lunch with us so we ate and enjoyed a bit of down time. Unfortunately, the buggy had a time limit on it so we had to head back up the hill and return to the beach where our boat was waiting.
We thought we were lost trying to find our way back to the boat, which didn't matter except for the fact that the battery on the buggy was running low. Managed to guess the correct turns and we made it back without having to push the cart.
Back in the boat we were taken to another smaller island where we stopped for a quick swim. Matsum Island is another day-tripper stop, but this late in the afternoon there was no one.
The ride back to Samui was ok, the waves were starting to get up but we travelled slow and just sort of rode the waves in. Back at Captain Toms Beach Bar we had a dinner of bbq fish.
Had a great day today, managed to get a bit of sun so we will sleep well tonight.
Thursday 27th June 2019 (day 6)
Another relaxing day on Koh Samui. Lyn and I went for a little ride around on Patricks motorbike.
We went for a swim at Chewang Beach. Weather was hot and sunny today. The water was beautiful.
Friday 28th June 2019 (day 7)
We flew back to Bangkok from Koh Samui today. Not before our last meal at Bamboo Restaurant to enjoy the beach view.
Our hotel in Bangkok is close to the airport that we fly into and that we will be flying out of in a few days time. BS Residences offer free shuttle to and from the airport, have a food market in the same street and have a very nice pool which we used during our stay. Our first stop was to the 711 down the street to fill the minibar with a few supplies for our stay.
We ate dinner from food purchased in the local market.
Saturday 29th June 2019 (day 8)
Lazy day by the pool, food from the local market. Tomorrow we fly to Europe!