When I was 20, after my first year of university, I decided I couldn’t face 4 long months of living back in Reigate with my parents and set my sights on Thailand. With none of my friends willing or able to come I didn’t really care, and went ahead and booked my flights anyway #YOLO.
I flew into Bangkok on 14th June 2013 and when I got there I had no idea where I was staying. I asked the taxi driver to take me to Khao San Road, as that’s the only place I’d heard of and I thought there would be loads of accommodation there. I tried for ages to find a place to stay, I couldn’t find any hostels and had never heard of Hostel World at this point, so I was in a guesthouse for the night and went into a computer cafe to find myself a hostel for the next night. The hostel I booked was called Rainbow Hostel which sounds nice and happy, but it was a grubby cockroachy mess with an out of use toilet sitting on the balcony for some reason. There was only one other boy in my room from America so I was a bit stuck for friends and felt ill the first day so I had a Burger King and sat around all day wondering what I’d let myself in for. When I felt better I went to the Golden Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha which is AMAZING. Then to Wat Pho which has a GIANT golden lying down Buddha statue.
I went out with two boys I’d met and we met an Australian guy and his two English friends and then went to a club. I caught a flight to Koh Samui the next day very hungover.
When I got to Koh Samui I immediately got a boat to Koh Phangan as I was going for the Full Moon Party. I stayed in Palio Hostel which was really nice but really quiet, definitely not a party hostel. I made friends with 2 girls in my room, one girl who immediately told me all about where she’d had sex in the outside area of the hostel the night before. Fun people at last! We went to the ‘Jungle Party’ which is the night before Full Moon which is pretty cool, very dance musicy. The next night was Full Moon and the hostel gave us all free buckets (if you didn’t know – drinks are served in buckets over here) which tasted like onions which was so so foul. But they also did free face and body painting. The three of us went to Full Moon, which is essentially just a massive party on a beach, it’s cool but I’m not sure why it’s hyped up so much, and there are a lot of idiots around. About half an hour in a hangover and the onion-tasting bucket got the better of me and I had to go and chunder in the toilet. Once you’ve left someone there you’re screwed because you will NEVER find them again, so I had to call it a night after that.
After Koh Phangan I hopped on a boat to Koh Tao, my favourite place in Thailand I think. Once again I was hostel-less (book ahead!) I booked a hostel from my third night onwards and after an extremely hot and uncomfortable sleep at a guesthouse I decided to get a fancy hotel with air-con. The towels were even folded like swans. Here’s a really terrible disposable camera photo of it that I’m going to say is artsy:
I had a balcony, an outdoor shower in my room, there was a pool, even a TV! It was probably only about £20 but very expensive compared to hostels in Thailand, and lonely. I went and got a pedicure and a massage to cure my loneliness and watched a lot of CSI. My hostel was called Nomads Coral Grand Koh Tao, I actually thought it was quite nice but looking at the reviews online it seems to be quite unpopular. It had a pool though! I finally made some friends and went out to the beach bar, met up with the Australian guy I met in Bangkok, and then watched him climb the scaffolding outside his hotel to break into his room because his friend had his key. Surprisingly he made it and didn’t die. The next night I went out and couldn’t find him, I left my iPhone at home because I just thought there would be no wifi and I’d lose it, so unless there was an internet cafe around I just couldn’t contact people. So I did what any normal drunk person would do and went to his hotel room to find the door conveniently unlocked and him sleeping inside lol.
Next was a looong journey up to Chiang Mai via boat and bus. Here I stayed at Spicy Thai which was the best hostel yet. It had such a social atmosphere and when I first arrived everyone in the hostel went to the market together, and then in the evening we went out to a bar and a club (also called Spicy). And then onto McDonald’s where I spent a long time trying to convince one of the boys to buy a stray cat a Filet O’ Fish. I didn’t have enough money and it looked so sad 🙁
The next day me, Alex (the selfish cat-hating boy) and another girl from the hostel, Ally, went to Tiger Kingdom. At the time I really believed when they said they weren’t drugged and I thought it was all fine but I wouldn’t go again now. It was kind of weird and slightly terrifying but the baby ones were cute.
Ally and I booked a kind of day out through the hostel for the following day, where we would be driven to see a tribe, a butterfly farm, go to a waterfall and then an elephant place. Basically we were too lazy to do a hike.
The butterfly farm was cool I guess? Just some butterflies in a room of plants. The tribe thing was a bit awks because they were just trying to sell you stuff and nobody really wanted any of it.
Elephants are not comfortable and kind of terrifying to ride. When our guide got off ours wandered into a ditch on a search for food, and you can see here how unpleasant this experience was for us:
While we were riding the elephant I dropped my disposable camera and while the elephant trainer was getting it for me he took a cheeky selfie.
Again with the elephant place, they said it was a sanctuary but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t, and I wouldn’t go again. I did see this baby monkey there though which pretty much made my life, he was really cheeky and kept grabbing at our boobs. It was tied to a post though which made me sad, and I wish I could have rescued it.
Chiang Mai is a nice place, it has a LOT of temples. They’re all really pretty but you do get to a point in Thailand where you’re just like, how many fucking temples do you need???
Next up was the bus journey to Pai, a route with many many bends, on a few of which we saw crashed buses, which was not so comforting. I stayed at Spicy Pai here, run by the same people as Spicy Thai (and Spicy Tao in Koh Tao). It’s so nice here, the common area is raised off the ground and has hammocks all round. It was also really sociable there just like Spicy Thai and everyone went out together. Even the dogs came out with us and met up with the other dogs, then would come home with us later. In Pai I rented a scooter even though I am the world’s worst driver and actually survived, but I did see a lot of people who’d been in accidents. PSA: drink driving isn’t acceptable just because you’re in Thailand! We drove up to a view point and got this very tragic jumping picture:
There was a club near the hostel we went to, can’t remember what it was called but it’s probably the only club there. It was cool but it has a very bouncy, unstable floor that might make you feel nervous.
Have you ever seen anyone paler after 4 weeks in Thailand? I amaze myself. I took my scooted out and visited Pai Canyon, and all I’m thinking looking at this photo now is that I could’ve fallen off and died very easily so maybe don’t walk on it.
There’s also some kind of strawberry farm? Dunno but it looks cute.
At this point my 4 weeks was drawing to a close but I didn’t want to go home so I changed my flight and decided to do a visa run at 4 weeks. In the meantime I went to visit Kanchanburi via Bangkok. Again, I couldn’t find a hostel here but I stayed in a guesthouse and went out to do some lonely educational sightseeing. During the construction of the Burma Railway, a bridge was constructed over the River Kwai here, and nearly half the workers involved died in the process. There’s a museum all about it, which was very sad. There’s also a great Chinese temple here.
I went back to Bangkok and had booked a hostel called The Overstay. This place was cool and kinda strange. It had a hippy vibe and it probably would have been fun if I’d had a chance to socialise, but I was only here to do a visa run. I’d just found the visa run on a random website and it said to just turn up in a car park of a supermarket. I had to navigate the sky metro system which was very tricky considering nothing is in English, and by some miracle managed to get there just in time. We had a long journey to the border with Cambodia where we just had to get our passports stamped but stayed in the casino for a while. I was getting stared at a lot and randomers were coming up and saying hi. I don’t think they see a lot of blonde people.
OK so at this point I could have gone to explore somewhere else but everyone I’d met was heading to Full Moon so like a true party animal, I decided to go again. I went to Koh Tao first, where I stayed at Spicy Tao, another of the Spicy hostels. Again it was super fun there, the hostel organised BBQs and we had ‘Jungle Juice’ night, where they just made loads of whatever ‘Jungle Juice’ is. All I know is it contains a drink called Black Cock, and it is very strong, because I ended up going out without any flip flops on.
I also decided I was going to go scuba diving with Big Blue Diving I’d never been before and although it is quite pricey I think it’s a lot cheaper than if you went anywhere else in the world. I did the SSI Open Water qualification. I went to the theory lesson inside and then into the pool to practice, and it was all going fine until it was time to go underwater in the pool. It was here that I realised that I’m terrified of putting my head underwater. Inconvenient. We were in the training pool and after 20 minutes of telling the instructor ‘I can’t do it!’ she finally got me to go under for more than 10 seconds and I realised that I could, in fact, breathe and maybe wouldn’t die. The actual scuba diving was good and we saw loads of cool stuff, but every time I remembered I was under the sea I got a bit freaked out.
Next was a boat to Koh Phangan, where I stayed at Jaya Hostel, which was a very decent hostel. The first night I met up with 3 of the girls I’d met from the other hostel to go to the Pool Party. This is not something I recommend because it’s just lots of having buckets of water thrown in your face by rowdy dickheads. We left promptly and just drank watered down vodka and coke on the beach, having a full blown argument with a bartender who gave it to us, did some laughing gas and went home. The next day I was super ill and but soldiered on to the Jungle Party, I had to leave early and spent the night chundering strangely black sick at the hostel. On the day of Full Moon I felt even worse and I had lost my debit card long ago in Koh Samui (the card machines take a really long time to give you your card back, don’t be a div like me and forget and walk off) plus I had maxed out my credit card, and was waiting for the money I’d transferred onto it to clear. I was penniless but I couldn’t eat anyway so that was OK. Buuuut you can’t really be on Koh Phangan and not go to Full Moon. Once again I soldiered on (so brave) and went sober. Everyone from the previous hostel met up and soon someone was giving me their bucket so having not eaten all day I was soon sozzled and vomming by the chill out zone.
We then went to some bar on a really nice quieter beach where you can literally buy drugs from behind the bar. On the boat taxi there a boy I was with took whatever the boat taxi guy had given him (not advisable) and proceeded to freak out seeing weird shit. I then watched two guys from the hostel tripping on acid till 1pm the next day. It wasn’t pretty. The bar is really cool though and much quieter than the main party.
Everyone pretty much left after full moon except me and another guy who went out the next night to a bar on the beach and watched some fire show. After that it was back to Bangkok ahead of the journey home. I stayed at some hostel which was nice but I can’t remember the name. I was once again out of money and had to make several trips to Western Union after begging my dad to transfer me money. I couldn’t really do much so just waited for my flight home.
Overall during this trip I was a disaster. I was constantly out of money, losing my flip flops and getting drunk. I am amazed that I am still alive. I can’t remember how much I spent but it was a lot and I think the majority of it was on novelty t shirts (got plenty of PJ tops now though). I’m planning to go to South East Asia again after I graduate and actually do cool shit instead of partying like I’m in Magaluf, but I had fun.