…And all in the space of a week! We headed over to Koh Samui for a very quick island trip with zero expectations. Flew down from Bangkok to Surat Thani (30 quid return), hopped on a coach and then jumped on a ferry to soak ourselves in a couple of days of leisurely beach and partying time. We used 12Go Asia to book our travel (https://12go.asia/en), easy and cheap!
Our room was… interesting. We booked an extremely basic private 3 bed that was coloured with pop art both in our rooms and in and around the building. We tried to ask for a safe in our room a few times and were promised one… but nein. But it was just a short walk away from the beach and at 8 quid a night, we couldn’t really complain.
Most of our time on the island was spent eating and partying where we had the choice of hip-hop and rnb venues as well as beach parties which resembled a fraction of what I expected the full moon party to be like – EDMy. The night life was pretty good, I must say! Of the 3 main islands off the East coast of Thailand, Koh Samui seems to be the most resort orientated. The most common modes of transport on the island are either mopeds or truck taxis which were cheap (always remember to negotiate prices beforehand, always). We had a few hours on the beach each day with mostly clear and sunny skies, then out of nowhere we would be stuck in a torrential downpour for an hour so. You can’t help but laugh when everyone runs to seek shelter under the beach restaurant. I used this time to get myself a full body massage accompanied by therapeutic rain surround sound. Luckily, when it stopped raining it actually stopped for a long time, sometimes until the next day, unlike British weather. The reliable weather allowed us to plan our short time mainly around tanning, eating and drinking. It was a nice little intro to the Thai islands – I couldn’t wait to come back and explore the others.
We had crammed in a lot in these 3 weeks as Olivia and I got over excited as per usual. If I were planning these 3 weeks again I wouldn’t travel for almost an entire day via ferry, bus and plane to get back to Bangkok for only a night, to then catch an early 4 hour flight to Colombo. But what I would do again, is fly with Sri Lankan airlines. I cannot fault them at all, from the uniforms, to the hospitality, to the food and entertainment; the flight was a real luxury. We landed in Colombo where we needed to get a taxi to the train station to travel to Kandy (approx 4 hours away) because we just love to keep moving!! So instead of getting a taxi from within the airport, I wanted to ‘experience’ the taxi culture outside and boy did I get what I asked for. The airport were quoting 2000 Rupees (10 GBP) for a half hour journey, Olivia manages to find a guy for 200 RP just outside – now I know this sounds ridiculous and we probably should have guessed he was playing us, but we got in anyway, what the heck! So we’re driving along for about 10 minutes or so where the cab driver starts dialling ‘home’ on his phone… many, many things start traipsing through my mind. We ask for the air conditioning to be turned on where he says ‘200 Rupees’… huh? Charging extra for air conditioning? A very common thing they try in Sri Lanka. He then says ‘2200 Rupees’… I’m sorry WHAT!? That’s even more expensive than the airport quoted us! Why didn’t we just get in the airport taxi, why oh why? I was envisioning this getting ugly. Our taxi driver then passed the phone over to Olivia to speak to his wife to clarify the amount. After some arguing we ended up paying 2000 Rupees. Moral of the story is, if it sounds too good to be true, don’t be stupid.
Pretty much all the locals speak English which was a pleasant surprise. We learned from a local girl at the train station that we were actually at the wrong station – great! We have a chat with the nice girl (whose name has escaped my mind) as we wait for the train. She was very excited to talk to us, and I imagine she couldn’t get enough of Olivia’s big blue eyes and blonde hair. A rare sight in Sri Lanka! The train was jam packed, the 4 of us were standing in between seats and the door way with our huge bags; this was not going to be a comfortable journey. Once the girl reached her stop and we say our good byes and a man, who I assumed to be the train guard asks me to get off the train, WHAT?! He tells me to bring my things with me, so I listen and Olivia follows. He takes us to the back of the carriage where we are presented with an empty room with no seats, just a few locals leaning against the train walls. This is when we realise he was trying to help give us some room and comfort with our luggage. The train starts to move and Emily is still in the front carriage! Before we have time to panic the guard opens the door between us and we’re all happily reunited again!
The train journey was very long, but the spectacular views made it all the more bearable. We had the two doors on either side of us wide open. Anything goes in Asia, I love it.
Finally, we reach our destination and are greeted with the warmest of greetings by staff at Blue Haven Guesthouse. With Olivia and Emily sharing a room, I had a room all to myself for a couple of nights!
We were lucky enough to be in Kandy during the Esala Perahera festival, a festival filled with majestic elephants and dancers to pay respect to Buddha’s Sacred Tooth Relic – the biggest attraction in Kandy. Like locals, we sat down on the pavements on plastic sheets for a couple of hours to take in the festivities.
We also paid a visit to Udawattakele national park, where we rocked up with a curry and rice takeaway. Going to a park full of cheeky monkeys and a couple of dogs at the entrance with hot and spicy food was not the smartest of ideas. After fighting off (running away and hiding) the dogs and getting our food down us, we went for a lovely stroll in the historic forest. At one point we were afraid we had entered monkey territory as we were stared down when walking slowly passed them.
Sri Lanka is way too big and beautiful to be seen in just 5 days. If I were to go back to go back, I would go for around 3 weeks – there’s just so much to see and do! We attempted to visit the big rock Sigiriya, which is a bit of a drive away from Kandy, but after visiting a temple and herbal garden on the way we were too tired to continue. It was a massive shame, but one big thing I’ve learned whilst travelling is that you can’t do everything and that’s okay.
Before we knew it we were back in Colombo! After getting ripped off by a couple of tuk tuk drivers and some rest we headed out for some food and to the beach for the sunset. The beach is bang in the middle of the city which made it all the more unique. Filled with families and coated with a beautiful orange sky, we couldn’t ask for a better Sri Lankan farewell.