A Travellerspoint blog

Sophie's second visit to Koh Tao

Well I returned by myself to continue with my new passion of diving and was welcomed back with a smile from the dive instructors! Unlike last time I wasn't straight into it so had the afternoon to mooch about and then met up with the David and Laura who I did my open water with! It was good to see them and then we all went for food. I dont mind travelling about by myself but the whole eating by yourself in a restaurant would just make me feel like a plonker so I am glad I had them around! Otherwise it was really easy to meet people as we all had something in common.... Diving! The second day of diving was in the afternoon, we had a fish ID dive which was rediculously easy. You just kind of point at a fish and that's it! Then we had a navigation dive using the compass underwater which wasn't too hard either! It was really fun being back in the water! But you could tell it was just after the full moon party as it was so much busier than before! The boat was full everyday! Then that evening we went on our night dive! I was getting very hyped up about this as people had loved it.... However the visibility wasn't great and my torch was crap! So it didn't live up to my high hopes! But I did get to see a stingray which was pretty cool! Nearly swam into some coral though... Not cool!

So early night that night then up for morning dives! Today was out deep dive and wreck dive! The deep dive was good although it didn't feel like we were that deep! At 30 meters though you have to test for nitrogen narcosis (when you act like your dunk because of the depth and pressure) so we did some math calculations (I had told him I was rubbish at math before we got into the water), I was actually good at those though..... Shock considering dad questions on a regular basis how I passed maths gcse! And then we did a kind of copy game where you copied how many fingers he held up! I was doing good until he held up his middle finger as a joke...... One piece of advise try not to laugh underwater it's not good! But anyway we then swam shallower as the fish swim round the corals! Then it was onto our wreck dive, the visibility in some areas wasn't great but we swam through the wreck which was amazing! I felt like I was discovering the titanic! Very eerie but I loved it! Then to top it all off when we went across to swim around the corals guess what we saw..... A TURTLE yesss I had wanted to see one of them since we first began! Very good end to the last dive of the advanced course!

Then It was my birthday.... 19 bit of a boring age really but Abi arrived on koh Tao on the first and we went out for cocktails that night on the beach which was really nice! And then a bit of fire limbo! Only had one attempt when it was at its highest..... What? Had to have a go and decided t wasn't sensible to try when it was getting lower and lower!
It was a really good night and went out with some of the other I met from diving! All very nice people!




Anyway awoke on my birthday and didn't do much as was feeling very tired ad then heat was a bit too much, but we had celebrated last nice which was really good so it didn't matter! Had a lovely Skype with the family and then chilled! That evening we had decided to leave to go to Rai lay on the night boat which was interesting! Don't think sleeper boats will ever be classed as my favourite type of transport! It reminded me of slavery ships where you are lined up next to each other like pencils just with a bit more luxury and not chained up! (I know probably not best comparison)

Anyway onto railay! A quiet area off krabi, a bit more expensive but heard it was nice.... Here we go!

Posted by Sophie_241 05:41 Comments (0)


25th March to 29th

We managed to arrive safely on koh phangan and you could tell as soon as you got on the boat that everyone was gearing themselves for the full moon party. We managed to find out little bungalow on the beach! It was basic as basic but you didn't notice as much as you walked out straight onto the beach, with a great view and a resort next door where you could use their pool and eat at their restaurant! Perfect really. And we met a group of really nice people from the other resort! Apparently all the parties the nights before are better but we decided we needed a chilled night the night before the full moon. So that's what we did!

The following day was spent chilling by the pool and planning what to wear for the full moon party, we needed to invest in some bright coloured clothes and paints! We also spent some time with the group of people we met jaims, joey, Rees and Jen. They in the early evening we had organised to meet 3 girls that we had met at the very beginning of our trip in Bangkok! It was fun to get ready with them and start going wild with the neon paints! They also had some guys they knew with them who were all really nice. Then at about 12 we headed out to the beach, there were so many people! We tried to stay all together We ended up just in one place which was a bit of a shame as we didn't explore the whole beach and all of its goings on! Not sure we would want to do it again but if we did we would definitely explore the beach more! Never the less we both had a good night out!




The following day I returned back to our bungalow on the beach whilst abi stayed with the girls for the day, I chilled by the pool and abi did the same at the coral bungalows where the girls were staying! I know I was going to go back to koh tao to do my advanced divers course and Abi decided she wanted to see koh samui and see the girls there which was nice for her as there wasn't a huge amount for her to do whilst I was diving! We booked our tickets for the 29th though as the boat to koh Tao was fully booked. So we got to spend another day together before going our separate ways for a few days! Abi arrived back mid afternoon and I was glad to see her, I was getting bored by myself! Abu chilled on the beach and jaims and I headed off in search of a watermelon that abi requested (fruit was scarce of the island to buy so it was a fun challenge). We managed to find one from a lady doing fruit shakes, she though it was very amusing but proceeded to cut up the entire watermelon for us. Turned out Abu didn't want a whole watermelon but was impressed with our efforts! We missed out on a photo opportunity though which was shame because there was A LOT of watermelon! Was very amusing!

The 28th was spent chilling on the beach and mooching about, including a few visits to our new favourite shop 7eleven! Purely because of its amazing air conditioning and toasties. There wasn't much to do on koh phangan if there wasn't a party and a lot of people seemed to leave the day after! Then the 29th it was time to hearing to the pier and head our separate ways, I have to say it was very weird to split up! But we were now well into the swing of things so it wasn't daunting at all!

Posted by Sophie_241 02:57 Comments (0)



We arrive here after a long bus journey from Bangkok at 5.30 in the morning with no stops!! and then a nice boat ride to the island of Koh Tao! Have to say I was so excited to get here and dragged Abi about to look for a dive center for me to do my open water course! it didn't take long before i found one called Siam Dive Center. I went straight into watching the videos for the open water! 5 hours of videos to try and catch up with a couple who were on their second video! have to say i am glad i got it over and done with. Abi had a good explore whist i was doing this and met a cool Brazilian called Diego! I have to say by the end of the videos i was brain dead so we both had an early night. we both got up together and then headed our separate ways for the day, in the morning we went through the chapter reviews of the book as we had an exam at the end of it. was too much like being back at school, my brain still wasn't fully functional, but in the afternoon we went for 2 dives!! the first was in the shallowish water to learn the skills needed like how to empty your mask underwater and sharing the regulator if you run out of air etc, it was actually really fun and wasn't as scary as i thought it would be! I pretty much fell in love with it there and then with the fish just swimming past your face as you practice the skills. then the second dive was a fun dive to about 12 meters where we didn't need to do any skills, it was so nice to just watch all of the fish. we saw loads of things such as, long-tailed banner fish, bat fish, grouper, butterfly fish, trigger fish and so much more, i loved it! ( i would upload so pictures as well but the computer won't let me) Meanwhile Abi had gone off for the day with Diego and his motorbike exploring the island, she managed to fall off a rock and cut her hand and the bottom of her feet and so when we were reunited in the evening she took herself to the doctors, and came back in a bit of a mood because they charged her so much for bandages for her feet, But no worries i helped her bandage her feet up and we had a good laugh about it! it was another early night though as more diving the next day!

photo 1

photo 1

The second day of diving was more skills and a fun dive again! The skills included taking your BCD off under water and then at the surface. CanaRy first all these skills seemed pretty scary but as soon as you do them it's fine! Can't tell you how much I had fallen in love with diving already! The two dives were really fun and the second fun dive at about 12 meters we had to do a few skills including taking the mask off and flooding it etc! We saw the same usual fish! And lots of trigger fish which have. Territory which you have to watch out for but everything was fine! On our second dive we also saw a whale shark in the distance from our boat which was awesome! But we didn't manage to swim with it on our dive as we had to stay near the dive site!

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photo 3

These photos are all from our video of our last two dives on the third and final day of our open water! For the final day we had morning dives which you have to get up early for but are definitely worth it! There are a lot less divers about which is nice. We went to one of the best dive sites on koh tao which is called chumphon pinnacle, that is amazing, there are so many different colourful fish and although we saw many similar fish somehow they all seem different and you don't really care that you see them so often! It's an amazing underwater world down there! We had these last 2 dives videod which was great fun and the video is really good! Me and the Dutch couple got on really well during open water course so all agreed to come back to do our advanced together!

We had a couple more days on the island to explore a bit so we decided to take a visit to Shark Bay to do some snorkelling with 2 girls that were sharing our room with us! Abu sat on the beach doing what she does best and soaking up the rays on the beach which I went snorkelling with the girls, all in all I saw 12 reef sharks and 3 cobia, which are massive fish which people sometimes mistake for the reef sharks! The sharks were very beautiful just swimming along the bottles floor not bothered at all by the people floating above! I could have stayed watching them for ages, but when your hands start to look like wrinkly prunes you know it's probably time to get out!

I have to say that I loved koh Tao and met so many nice people which I hope to keep in touch with! The dive instructors were also really lovely and so easy to get on with! I especially enjoyed the showings of finding nemo in the dive shop! And I enjoyed going out with the dive instructors, they really know how to make you feel like a part of a family!

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photo 2

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photo 1-2

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photo 2-2

Ps sorry for the lack of posting entries! It's been hard to get to computers, we are currently trying to catchup on ourselves :) hope everyone Well at home! Xx

Posted by Sophie_241 02:28 Comments (0)

CHIANG MAI - Elephant Land!


Yes a few days behind on the ole blog sorry! The Islands are lacking on the wifi so apologies.

On the 14th we arrived in Chiang Mai after a very comfy sleeper train. We met 2 lovely Thai people actually; a man who treated us to supper on the train which was very nice and being on a budget and all we were very grateful!! (don't worry we did offer to pay!!) Then a lady sat opposite Soph came on the train at the next stop and chatted until bed time! She was great fun and made the hours pass by quite quickly! Her husband was from Hereford and now obviously has moved out to Chiang Mai with her - how small a world is it!! His family had a butchers in Hereford, with the surname 'Watkins" but as we both said, most people are related in Hereford so could be anyone!!

We stayed in a lovely guesthouse, called SK house 2 and we just loved it. The atmosphere was relaxed, the rooms were big and tidy and it had a swimming pool and roof terrace to sunbathe on which was great! The staff were lovely there and most helpful. On arrival we met a couple, Martyn and Ruth who were 22 from Swindon. We started talking to them and asked them about the elephant trekking and they really recommended us to go to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre. Its the only place in Thailand where the elephants go to school. They are treated very well at this place and it is the home to the Royal Elephants. We were hyped to go there after Ruth and Martyn had told us all about it so we went there the next day!

And oh wasn't it worth it!! We had to make our own way there but we managed by going by a little green bus which was very crammed but luckily was only an hour journey so heaven compared to what we have been used to!

We arrived at The Mahout Training School at 9am and that's when our fun day commenced! There was 4 of us together, us 2 and 2 girls from America who were in their late 20's who were a good laugh! We each had our own elephant, Soph had the monster out of them! Her's was 11 foot 5 and weighed 3.5 tonnes and mine was a female who was 10 foot and didn't quite weigh as much as the giant!! We each had a Mahout (trainer) who helped us throughout the day with our elephants. We spent pretty much the whole day with them, using their command words to command them and make interaction with them, we rode them, fed them and bathed them at the end - AMAZING EXPERIENCE!! We watched an elephant show too which was very impressive, especially the paintings the elephants produced! We got to see the baby elephants - really weird looking but cute at the same time - if possible?!! And then also visited the elephant hospital where there was three injured; one had a broken shoulder and leg due to falling whilst labouring, one had trodden on a landmine and the other had a skin disease but all being treated and well looked after by what we could see! They even had water therapy baths for them!!
Our day was over by about 4pm - and we did not want to leave!! We got dropped off by one of the staff on the side of the highway (very fast road!!) and waited for our little green bus back home. We waited for an hour and half and no bus went past (apparently one was meant to go past every 30 mins) but it didn't. We weren't sure what to do as we were in the middle of nowhere and panic started to arise. Luckily, a lovely Thai couple had pulled over and asked if we wanted a lift back to Chiang Mai - never in our lives have we been so thankful!! Apparently, they had driven past us and seen us looking worried/scared/bored! Typical us!! So we got back, insisted on giving them some money for the journey but they wouldn't take it! So if that incident isn't travelling for you I don't know what is!! After a great day out, we soon headed for bed that night!

The next few days were spent just relaxing and wandering around. We visited the markets but compared to the ones in Vietnam they were pretty rubbish! The weather was very hot there (35degrees+) so I was in my element sunbathing and Sophie (water baby) in the swimming pool. However, I still think Soph caught more sun than I did whilst she sat in the shade!!

We committed ourselves to watching the England vs Wales match but wish we never bothered stay up for it as was such a rubbish game but I skyped home after which made it a little bit more worthwhile!!

On the night of the 17th we said goodbye to SK House (both quite sad to leave Chiang Mai actually) as had a whale of a time but we had a sleeper train booked which we needed to get on to take us back to the muggy, busy Bangkok! We splashed out on this sleeper and both went for the bottom berths which the beds were equivalent to a double bed, or very close too! I did have to laugh, Soph had a rather large guy (emphasise on the "rather') hehe!! on the top berth which I found hilarious! Thought he was going to squash her as the top beds aren't the most generous!!

Early hours of the 18th we arrived into a very empty and deserted Bangkok and had the day to chill there. We tried to get the boat and ferry to go to Koh Tao (South Islands in Thailand) that night to save on accommodation but we failed as it was fully booked. So we had some breaky and then went on the hunt for a room for the night. Luckily the room we had had great air conditioning so for the majority of the day we spent our time in there with the aircon turned right up!! We shared a local Thai bbq fish that evening which was very good and then headed for bed, buzzing for the early wake up as you could imagine!

So we loved Chiang Mai and both thoroughly pleased we went to the elephant conservation centre! (Thanks to Martyn and Ruth) Although quite expensive, it's a memory that we will both have for a lifetime!

Sorry I am trying to attach some photos but the computer says no!!

Posted by abi_phillips 05:18 Comments (0)

Hanoi (9th - 12th)

So after a long journey (19hrs) to Hanoi we finally arrived at 9am! Still feeling really tired. Definitely think no matter how much you sleep on the sleeper buses its never good enough sleep so we always seem to still be tired once we arrive.
this is a photo of us and a Canadian guy we met, he was actually travelling with a friend but he's taking the photo! they were really nice and the 4 of us managed to share the 5 seats at the back! almost like a giant sofa. it made the journey a lot more enjoyable being sociable as I guess on most sleeper buses people are just trying to sleep rather than making friends! There was also some Germans on our bus who kept us amused, through their need for 'Wodka' at every place we stopped at. I don't think the bus driver was paarticularly impressed with the amount of alcohol they were consuming, but we were impressed that they hadn't passed out yet since they had obviously been drinking ALL day. They did pass out at 9ish though which was nice and gave everyone a chance to catch some ZZZ's.



Once we arrived we checked into the hotel and spent most of the day chilling in our room, I know we should have probably been out exploring the city but I think we were in a desperate need of a day doing nothing! We headed out to the night market that night though which was good although I began feeling really ill at this point so I returned to the hotel after our look round. Ab went out again for a mooch whilst i stayed in our room.

We woke up early the next morning, well me earlier due to the bug, and then packed up our stuff to go on a 2 day, 1 night boat trip around Halong bay. I wasn't sure i was up for it at first but i am glad I went as although the weather wasn't brilliant, there was still amazing scenery.

This was the boat we stayed on which was really nice and we had a really nice bunch of people on board. The guide who appears in the right of the photo was also really nice to me and understanding when I said i was ill.


These are the caves we visited on one of the islands which was really good actually although we felt like we were on a school trip being rounded up every so often to look at the different creatures our guide thought he could see in the rocks. it became very amusing after a while though, but I think we were all a bit relieved when we got out.


We then ventured to Ti Top island where Abi climbed to the top, it was apparently quite hard work and then some of the others went for a swim, can't say i envied them though as it was cold!

This was the spectacular view of Hanoi bay, the view that always seemed to appear on the postcards, admittedly it would have been even more amazing if we had had some sunshine but never the less, at least it wasn't raining!


This was our room on the boat! it was pretty cosy and a LOT nicer than being stuffed on a box (bedroom) on a yacht! we even had heated blankets!!! Which was really nice considering it was actually quite cold throughout the day!


The food was amazing too and a shame that i couldn't eat much of it but abi enjoyed it and especially enjoyed taking pictures of the flowers they had made out of some carrots and a chilli!

we Got back to Hanoi yesterday (11th) at about 5ish and decided to laze about abit, and abi had a well needed nap. The four hour journey back was very bumpy so people were lucky to getsome shut eye if they were tired.

Today (12th) it is raining! feels like we are almost home! athough i hear there is now snow in Hereford. We are catching a flight at 5.10 this afternoon to Bangkok and they we shall begin our adventures around thailand! I guess we should have spent more time exploring the city but we were going to today but the weather is horrible! we shall venture out for some good vietnamese food though!

Hope everything is well with eveyone at home.

Until next time......

Posted by Sophie_241 21:30 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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