So we never really planned the next day after the full moon party and found ourselves waking up around 11am. Checkout time was noon and so unmotivated were we that we just decided to stay another day. That and the fact that we missed the boat over to Koh Tao, a neighboring island we were hopping to. Jason's three canadian friends (oh yes, the tall, dark and handsome ones!) who had met up with us for the party, left off to another island from where we were going next. It became a lazy day on the beach where we laid out, did yoga or explored around the beach. All and all it was a totally relaxed day.
The next day, we got up bright and early and headed to the dock at Koh Phangan where hundreds of other Full Moon party goers were also waiting to catch a boat. The day was clear and bright and the colors around seemed extremely vibrant. I managed to steal my new friend Marina's camera from her and snapped a bunch of shots as we headed over to Koh Tao on the ferry which was a couple hours away. I was very conscious of putting sunscreen on even though I wanted the deepest, darkest tan I could get. I don't burn in the states but so close to the equator, the strength of the sun is almost always underestimated by tourists. So 30spf, 6, or 50, whatever was around, I put it on.
We weren't sure where we were staying yet, but that was ok because right when we exited off the boat, we were met by tons of people trying to get us to various resorts. Jason did the negotiating until he found something satisfactory on the beach. While we were standing around, I caught this monk taking a photo of me on his camera phone, so I took one right back of him. I don't get it-what are the rules?? Oh well, time for a coconut to cool us off in the almost unbearable humidity. I drank these daily on my trip.
We checked into our adorable beachside bungalows and Marina, Jason and Tony went snorkeling that afternoon. I felt utterly helpless because my camera battery was dead so Jared and I headed into "town" in the hopes of finding a solution. I borrowed Marina's camera again for the trip and we searched every possible store to no avail. So we headed back, rented snorkeling equipment walked over to look for our friends in the next cove, shark bay.
Once there, we immediately found the other three in our crew as they were done snorkeling and running stairs. lol, working out was the LAST thing on my mind! But relaxing was also the last thing on my mind too so in spite of my not having snorkeled too much before I jumped right into it so that at least I was doing SOMETHING. Three out of four of them had been in Thailand for a few months so they weren't on a mission to see as much stuff as they could in 9 days like I was. I was already getting antsy at day 4 of my trip being my 2nd day "relaxing" on the beach.
Jared and I swam out towards a orange buoy in the middle of the bay as per Jason's suggestion. They hadn't seen any sharks; we were hoping we would be a lot more fortunate. And we boy were we lucky! I think all and all we saw close to 20 sharks as we paddled around that sunny afternoon. The horrible thing was the condition of the reef; so much of it was broken or dead. I thought back to how many years prior the Tsunami had hit, and assumed in 8 years that some of it would have started to grow back! We didn't see much for other marine life but we swam close to each other; gesturing our hand like a fin everything time we spotted a shark. And we kept a good distance from them, but still followed out of curiosity. Jared had his underwater camera so got some photos; I'm going to have to snag some from him to add to this blog.
We spent at least an hour and a half paddling around and had built up quite an appetite. So we picked a restaurant nearby that was overlooking the cove and savored the view as late afternoon gave way to sunset. Jared spoke on his longtime involvement with foster kids, and how he and Jason are on this trip traveling multiple countries for months on end inluding India prior to this leg of the trip. Regret struck me at that moment as I thought of the amazing photos that I was missing out on of the view.
When we got back to the resort, the sun had long since kissed the ocean and the early evening colors were breathtaking so I snagged the camera from Marina and wandered around. I snapped photos until the unthinkable happened. Her battery died too!! I took that as a sign and called it a night.
I had thought about leaving on Saturday night on the night ferry out but was really hesitant to travel across the country by myself with the shadienss of all the stops they made us do to try and sell us stuff, as well as the attempted robbery and counterfeit money situations that had happened to me. The group convinced me to stay till Sunday evening where they would also take the night boat with me. So Marina and I snorkeled in two different spots as the three guys dove; Tony in an effort to finish his dive certification.
We left that evening at 9pm on an overnight boat where we slept like sardines side by side till 5am. Then it was a bus across the country with all the same horrible stops minus the bus breakdown. The whole set up of all of it was really starting to get to me. We arrived back to Tiger Muay Thai by noon; in time for us to get some relax time in.
Jared came and picked me up on his scooter late afternoon and took me to eat in Rawaii Beach where I gave him some camera tips. As we rode around I shot photos off the back of the scooter. It's crazy to me how many people use these tiny machines as ways to get around Thailand. As they drive on the opposite side of the road than I'm used to, and they all drive CRAZY, I didn't feel comfortable renting one, however cheap it was at 200baht a day. We went to Promthep Cape before we took off up to the Big Buddha which is located on a hill above Phuket and can be seen from all sides. It was coming up on sunset and I wanted to get photos with the colors in the sky framing the iconic figure. We spent at least an hour shooting around as an indigo blue color painted across the sky. We then met up with Jason and Marina for dinner and after a long day of travel I called it an early night.
My buddy Jared picked me up at 6am because I wanted to get some early morning photos of Wat Chalong, the most important Buddhist Temple in Phuket. The sunrise wasn't particularly amazing but it was cool to get some time to shoot without tons of people around. We got there as it was beginning to get light and then stayed for another hour and a half.
I got back to Tiger with the intention of shooting the Pro Morning Muay Thai practice but there was almost no one in the Pro Ring at 9am (practice started at 8) and I was being picked up for a tour I booked on a whim at 9:30. The driver was there at 9:15 to pick me up so without shooting that morning at Tiger, I took off.
Our first stop of the day was to Wat Suwannakuha, or the Monkey Temple Cave. We were warned against feeding the monkeys as they are quite aggressive. I was more than content to just keep my distance and take photos of the buggers as they grabbed bananas from some of the braver tourists. I entered into the cave that they hung outside of to see a number of buddhas including an extremely large reclining golden buddha. The cavern housing this temple was huge and continued up some stairs into another area; I climbed all the way as far as I could exploring the place.
Our next stop was via boat for a lunch in Panyee Village, a Muslim floating fishing village. The tour provided a lunch with cashew nut chicken, tempura shrimp, papaya salad, and more. I unfortunately got caught up with some work that kept me from walking around checking out the place.
I made sure to put my phone away for the rest of the tour as I didn't want to miss anything else. The next stop we made via our long boat was to Ko Tapu, otherwise known as James Bond Island from it's appearance in the movie, The Man with the Golden Gun. We had about an hour to spend here. The place was crawling with people and offered snack bars as well as tons of souvenir shops. In spite of the craziness and chaos, I was able to get some cool photos of the notable island from the film. A stinky old guy who was sitting next to me on the tour bus had decided that he was my protector and spent the rest of the trip from here on out looking out for me.
We boarded onto the longtail boat again and made it to our last stop, kayaking the hongs or sea caves. These were only accessible at low tide and as we were paddled around and through them by local guides, I could see why. Some of the caves we entered were so low I didn't think as I laid on my back in the floor of the canoe that my camera would be able to fit from it's perch flat on my stomach. I could hear the shouts of a number of the tourists as they were scared of the closeness of the rocks and outcroppings. It was cool to see and they encouraged our cameras in spite of being on a small boat on the water. Note: the guys help each other out in encouraging you to tip them. I had no problem with extending a small tip; it's not a common practice though in most of thailand.
I was delivered safe and sound back to Tiger road by about 6:30 that evening. The entire day tour including lunch had cost me 1200 baht which is about $40 bucks US. Not too shabby for all of that! I walked down the street to Ja Ja's with my neighbor for dinner and then called it an early night so I could prepare my seminar for the following day.
Wednesday was my Tiger Muay Thai day. I had plans to spend most of my day there starting with shooting the practice in the pro ring. I made the mistake of showing up late thinking they would be doing drills and running first. Instead I missed most of sparring and padwork because they do that first, followed by bagwork and drills. I grabbed lunch up the street with some friends at Ja Ja's. This became my favorite place to eat on Tiger Road and I ended up there at least once a day.
After I finished, I was back at Tiger to present a social media seminar. A large crowd was on hand to hear my very informal seminar that included a lot of tips and tricks as well as explanations of things that many find confusing when it comes to social media. I told everyone to just jump in when they had questions to ask and finally finished up after close to 2 hours. Afterward, I talked to a number of the people from my seminar individually and set up some meetings for later that week as well. It seemed to go well and I wanted to stay longer so I spoke with Philippe about extended my stay an extra few days, and planned another "lunch and learn" seminar for the following Wednesday. I booked a flight to singapore on Jetstar for 1049baht. That's a little over $30 bucks US- the price made it super easy to decide to extend my trip!
I went back to Siam Hostel, the hotel next to Tiger where I was staying for a little break and to enjoy some aircon (air conditiong for those of you who don't know). The air was super humid and I was taking about 3 showers a day- my routine had become religion. Shower, lotion, deoderant, body spray, bug spray, and then sunscreen. I was always an array of scents when I was done! I took advantage of the pool at my place as much as I could to help cool down my body temperature in the heat of the day. The pool always felt good when you got in but within minutes after getting used to it felt like warm bath water. The grounds of Siam hostel were very well kept and each "hotel room" was it's own little bungalow.
I was back at Tiger by 4:30pm (late) to shoot the afternoon Pro practice. This time I caught some of the padwork. When the pro muay thai classes are small like it was that day, it's almost like you're having a private session because of how many trainers are taking part in each class. I alternated shooting that with the afternoon MMA Class going on as well. The facility at Tiger is quite large boasting at least 5 or 6 rings and a cage so this meant a lot of walking back and forth.
Hunger drove me to it and I found myself back at Ja Ja's again grabbing one of their tasty dishes and then polishing off an amazing mango sticky rice. The mangos were insanely sweet and could be enough of a dessert by themselves. Each meal I ate usually came to about $2 or $3 total; insane!! As I drifted off to sleep that night reflecting on the previous week of my trip and thought about the next week to come. There had been a bunch of ups and downs but I feel like I had settled in well at this point and had made a bunch of friends which was super easy to do along Tiger Rd.