kb's rush

Life & Other Things

Thailand & Contiki Thai Hopper West Tour 2013

“Travel brings power and love back into your life.” – Rumi

Where to start? I waited so long before I did this post and it is long overdue, but it feels like I was leaving for my trip to Thailand just yesterday! So many memories were made.

I was dropped off at the airport on Saturday 23rd March. Every nerve in my body was just screaming with excitement, maybe I was a little nervous as well. My first time travelling overseas, and I was going alone. I was excited, not nervous. Although the friend that dropped me off at the Airport did make a great attempt at trying to make me nervous.

I just remember my Mom calling and SMSing me every 5 minutes about being safe and not letting anyone near my bags. LOL

Sitting waiting to board the flight, I just looked around at everyone else that was waiting to get onto the flight thinking that I was going to a “freaking couple’s destination”!! There were couples everywhere waiting to board the same flight as me.

Boarding tickets!!

Boarding tickets!!

The flight went by really quickly (a whole 10.5 hours quick), I couldn’t sleep so I watched 4 movies on the flight, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” was one of them. Do yourself a favour, if you haven’t seen it yet, DO IT, NOW.

We landed in Bangkok at some crazy hour early in the morning. I think it was like 6am in Bangkok and 2am in SA. All you SA Twitter people were all out partying by the looks of what was on my TL at the time.

Gorgeous sunrise at the Bangkok Airport!

Gorgeous sunrise at the Bangkok Airport!

Flying from Bangkok to Phuket was great, the scenery below was breathtaking, and I got to see the stunning Islands as we were flying over them.

*Squeal*

*Squeal*

When we got to the Airport in Phuket it was quick to find my luggage, which was a huge relief!

When I walked out of the airport the heat hit me instantly, I can’t remember whether the sweat started running down my crack or cleavage first! Wearing jeans, sneakers and a really thick top probably didn’t help the matter!

My taxi was right there waiting for me *happy days*, we didn’t even move 5 meters out the parking and a bus scraped the side of his car *ouch* the poor dude was so upset.

It was boiling, I don’t even think that aircon in the car was working that day. You know when someone drives “jerkingly” they ride the clutch/breaks, or whatever? Well my taxi driver was doing that, all I was picturing was me sticking my head of the window and vomming right out the window. Major car sickness!

Anyway we made it safely to the Hotel that I was going to be staying in for 2 nights (Andakira Resort), it looked really pretty and all the staff were super friendly. Actually EVERY SINGLE Thai person that I encountered was friendly. *Sawadekaaa* echoing wherever I walked, it was lovely!

I was unable to check in as my room wasn’t ready as yet (it was only 11am), but I was upgraded to a deluxe room with a gorgeous view 🙂

View of the Andakira pool from my room!

View of the Andakira pool from my room!

While they were getting my room ready I decided to go and explore the nearby area (in my jeans, sneakers & vest) I was cooking! The looks I was getting were either because I was dressed like an Eskimo or because I had the stupidest grin on my face, just plastered there. Haha. Yeah, probably the latter. I WAS IN FREAKING THAILAND, ALONE!!The receptionists gave me directions to a nearby mall, which was just under a km from the Hotel. On the way there I managed to exchange some Dollars to Baht, I bumped into an American guy that was part of a Contiki group that had arrived 2 days before me. We started chatting and walked to the mall together. I eventually managed to get away from him. Haha. Shopping on your ace is ALWAYS better. I bought a gorgeous little skirt from the mall, they had some really pretty (pricey) things there, I was YET to discover the proper market! 🙂

I checked into the Hotel, yes my first question was “do you have Wi-Fi?” That’s probably where the Wi-Fi bug started that I had throughout the tour and probably one of the reasons the below picture was edited by one of the guys on the tour. 😉

 

Wi-Fi bug!!

Wi-Fi bug!!

 

Bags unpacked, 1st plan was the beach, so I hopped on a shuttle to Patong beach front, erm… what a disappointment… okay maybe not that bad, but the water wasn’t crystal clear, in fact it was murky brown and the beach was busy (with half naked women walking around, and gross, REALLY old fat men in Speedos) yuck! Haha

I had a quick swim and then went to walk along the market, OMGEE, the handbags! I fell in love, but managed to hold back and didn’t buy anything 🙂 everything I touched, slops, sarongs, tops or handbags the locals just wanted to sell to me! You would ask the price and they’d say “1500 Baht”, if you started walking away they’d just say “okay, okay, good price for you 900 Baht” WTF? That is like a 30% discount. Attempt to walk away again and they just ask you what you will pay, major bartering people. I was learning quickly! 😉

I spent that first night at the Hotel, eating in the restaurant. The Thai food was delicious! I made contact with one of the guys that was going to be on tour with me on FB, and we decided to meet up the next day to go do some exploring together.

Room with a view!

Room with a view!

That Monday (25th March) we went down to Patong beach and I had my first beer at like 11am in the morning, another 3 followed that. We bartered with a tuk-tuk to take us to the next beach around the corner (Kata & Karon). On the way up a really steep hill the darn thing started losing power, we thought we were too heavy, turns out we were running out of gas because the driver had to stop on the hill to refill the tuk-tuk, fun times.

Finally my dreams were coming true because we found a beach where the water was clear and they had the boats (Long Tail Boats) I had been seeing in all the pictures of Thailand.

Magnifique!

Magnifique!

It was a great day of exploring, yummy lunch (with free Wi-Fi) and MANY MANY scooters and motorbikes. I was in heaven!

Scooters for Thailand!

Scooters for Thailand!

We decided to book at day tour for the next day as we still had an extra day before the Contiki tour was going to start. I managed to barter a tour to Coral & Raya Island down from 2300 Baht to 1500 Baht. I was a pro, yo.

The next day Tuesday (25th March) I checked out of Andakira and into the Sawaddi Patong Resort, oh my word. Let me just say that, Andakira was really nice but it had nothing on the Sawaddi Patong Resort. It was gorgeous, comfortable, the staff were even friendlier, the pool was stunning and the rooms were great!

Breathtaking Resort!

Breathtaking Resort!

The tour company picked us up at the Hotel for our Island day trip and it was a 30 minute drive across Phuket to the Chalong Pier. There were stacks of people also going on the same day tour.

We all got onto our speedboats, our tour guide for the day was such a character, his accent was brilliant, we were in the “ollange group” (orange group), he said to us (and say in Thai accent after me “today we go to 2 ‘eye’land, 2 ‘eye’land, we spend 2 and a half hour at Coral Island, when I say, ollange, ollange, ollange, you come to me.” It’s a moment thing I guess, you just have to be there, it was brilliant, I still laugh when I think about that.

"2 eye'land"

“2 eye’land”

Coral Island was stunning, the beaches and the water were just getting better. We hit the parasailing as soon as we got the Island, it was great fun. We were allowed to go up alone because the wind was still calm. It was super pretty. I managed to get a war wound because the rope bore into my wrist. It was so worth it! A bit of swimming and exploring of the Island, I had my first beer at 10:30 am 🙂 but didn’t drink anymore for the rest of the day. My belly is grateful today.

What the hell must I do with the ropes?

What the hell must I do with the ropes?

Coral Island... purdy!

I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts! ;)

I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts! 😉

When the “ollange” group was called together we boarded and started heading to our next Island, “Raya Island”! Just, WOW. The bay that we sailed into was beautiful, a gorgeous looking resort against the side of the hill with bright white sand in front of it, leading into the clearest of water.

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

We had a lunch there, after walking up the longest hill in the hottest of heat. I made the mistake of making use of the local lavatories before lunch *VOM* my lunch barely went down.

I made friends with 2 Pakistani guys that were on the tour with us, they had moved to Thailand, one of them owned an Indian Cuisine restaurant in Patong.

Later that afternoon we went snorkelling at one of the bays around the corner also part of Raya Island. It was so exciting, the fish would swim right up to you and they were so colourful. I decided then and there I needed to get my Scuba license right up there on my bucket list.

Our boat was being full of shit and we struggled to get it started, the trip back to Chalong Pier was quite a long one as our speedboat was without its speed.

We got back to the Hotel after 5pm and headed straight to the pool for some happy hour cocktails, yummy yummy. The pool had jets… just saying. This is where we met Deanna, one of the other ladies that was also on our Contiki Tour.

The three of us (Ben, Deanna & I) met up and went for dinner on Bangla road that night, we also decided to go watch a “Ping-Pong” show. The things that I have seen, cannot be unseen. I literally sat there with my can of beer in my hand gaping at the stage! We also learnt that painting on the half naked, g-string clad strippers walking around would land you in forking out tips of 200 Baht!

When I got back the Hotel I found my new Contiki roommate already asleep in the room. Sleeping next to a complete stranger for the night and then waking up next to her the next morning, a tad awkward! We hit it off immediately, chatting as if we had been best buddies for years, it was pretty awesome to have a roomie that was cool and I was already getting along with.

We had breaky together and then walked to Patong beach to explore a bit and so that she could see the beach. We had our first cocktail at 10am already! And then another… haha

Later that day when we got back to the Hotel we booked a spa treatment, it was pretty average. I still regret not getting a massage on the street while I was in Thailand.

At 6pm the whole group met up on the restaurant for the meet-up, it was quite strange just sitting there looking at a group of people that I didn’t know!

I was sitting next to Tony, who 2 nights later became my pole dancing buddy. LOL

Our first night was pretty chilled, well dinner was! After dinner the group hit Bangla road, where we went to a little bar down some side road, right next door to Suzy Wong’s ass smacking bar! A couple of the guys attempted to play “connect four” with an erm… lady of the night. Every time she won, you were supposed to buy her a drink!

Connect 4

Connect 4

I wasn’t drinking the first night because I didn’t want to feel ill on the boat tour the next day but that didn’t stop me from getting on the bar counter (sober) and dancing on a pole 🙂 hehe. The night ended off at a club, which was so much fun! There was a Thai guy that was dancing with and around us wearing a top that said “I’m in Phi Phi Bitch” on it. Loved it! I think I need to go back just to buy one of those tops.

The next morning (Thursday 28th March) we met up early in the reception to leave for the James Bond Island tour. It was a great day, our first day that we all spent together and the scenery was gorgeous. My favourite part of the day was when we got to the floating Koh Phanyi village, such great photo opportunities in the village!

The lady with the Golden Gun :)

The lady with the Golden Gun 🙂

We all went through to watch some fights at the Patong Muay Thai boxing stadium that night, it was great fun! The first couple of fights were a bit hectic because the fighters were young teenagers, but pretty soon after a couple of Chang beers I was getting into it. The one guy from Australia that was fighting was proper fit! He knocked his opponent right out!

Muay Thai fights.

Muay Thai fights.

Drinking Chang beers whilst sitting is extremely dangerous, by the time I stood up I must have already had about 5 beers and was so in the mood to party! I taught a few of the others on tour what a “having a rubber arm” meant! We ended up back at the bar from the previous night, the Tequila was DIRT cheap, and I was right back on the bar counter around the pole again, this time with two other people that were on tour right behind me! That night we ended up at the Banana Discotheque right by the beach, it was debauchery! All I can remember is squashing into a tuk-tuk to get to the party and then NOTHING that occurred after that. That night remains a mystery. I must have danced like one hell of a crazy person!

Thank goodness our next day was a free day, a bunch of us caught a tuk-tuk to the Big Buddha and Wat Chalong Temple. A couple of us felt so sorry for ourselves because of the previous nights drinking and partying! Super funny, try wrapping yourself up in multiple layers in 55 degree heat so that you look respectable when visiting the Buddha! *vom*

Big Buddah in Phuket

Big Buddah in Phuket

Temples of Wat Chalong

We found an authentic Thai place for lunch along the beach, lay in the sun tanning and swimming in the waves and then caught our tuk-tuk back to the Hotel where we lay relaxing at the pool side.

The Simon Lady Boy Cabaret that night was… interesting. They have better pairs of boobies than mine!

Sexy lady boys ;)

Sexy lady boys 😉

I got sick that night, can’t say that lying on the floor of a Swedish bar’s toilet is much fun, but my night was ended short. I probably needed the sleep anyway!

Our ferry to Koh Phi Phi on the 30th March was great, the Island itself when we got there though. Phi Phi stole my heart the minute I stepped onto that pier. I think it may still be there on the Island somewhere.

We had to walk quite far along the shops and beach to get to our resort, but it was so worth it. The resort was not as pretty or as comfortable as Sawaddi but the view was stunning.

Walking the streets of Phi Phi to the Bayview Resort

Walking the streets of Phi Phi to the Bayview Resort

Phi Phi was amazing, I love the beaches, I loved the foreign people that were everywhere, I loved the food, I loved the love that just oozed out of every pore of the place.

We partied really hard on that Island, there were flame throwers, there was a large ‘statue’ penis, there were over 350 stairs to get to a viewpoint on top of the Island, there were fluro parties, there was delicious pizza (especially at 3am after a good party), there were great clubs, I learnt how to play beer pong, there was *sigh* the cutest guy from Holland on that Island, I played beer pong against said really cute guy on that Island. Have I mentioned how yummy younger boys look? Haha. So not the norm as far as my taste goes, but heck, they are great to look at, and as flirty as hell!

I could go on and on about Koh Phi Phi, but I would rather share a few pictures of the Island instead.

Koh Phi Phi Sunset

Koh Phi Phi Sunset

Beautiful isn't it?

Beautiful isn’t it?

Those boats... that water :)

Obligatory jump off the speedboat!

Obligatory jump off the speedboat!

Bamboo Island, it doesn't look real!

View of Phi Phi, such a beautiful Island.

View of Phi Phi, such a beautiful Island.

Obligatory Contiki jump!

Obligatory Contiki jump!

My heart almost broke when we left the Island, also I was super hung over on the ferry trip to Krabi (AoNang), mad.

Krabi was ok, the Hotel we stayed in was another luxurious one, but AoNang itself did not excite me much.

We just relaxed there, one of the mornings was spent doing an elephant forest ride, which was fun. The ellies were beautiful. I had a bug fly into my ear during the ride and it buzzed away for almost an hour before I managed to get it out, probably pay back for riding the poor elephant!

Ellie rides with TK :)

Ellie rides with TK 🙂

When we got back to the Hotel we decided to catch a Long Tail Boat to Railay beach which was said to be one of the prettiest beaches in the area. It was pretty but nothing in comparison to what we had already seen on the tour.

Beaching it up :)

Beaching it up 🙂

That night was our last dinner together as the Contiki group. It was bitter sweet. We all went out partying afterwards and smashed Thai Whiskey buckets, loved it. One of the barmen took my SA beads that I was wearing around my neck and put it on, they were obsessed with the things! LOL.

I do not know what the facination was with those beads?

I do not know what the facination was with those beads?

The next day the group split ways, 3 stayed on in Krabi and the rest of us headed back to Phuket/Patong, the bus ride back was really interesting. Let’s just say I was regretting the previous nights Whiskey bucket splurge and I was fighting back the urge to projectile vom the whole way back to Sawaddi. There is one last stretch before driving down into the Patong bay that you go around corners down a hill, I had a plastic bag ready! Luckily we made it and I was in an aircon room swiftly after we arrived.

Some of the group were not staying in the same resort that night but managed to book a hotel right next door to ours, it is amazing how cheap accommodation is there.

We all went out and grabbed some lunch and then lay relaxing around the pool for the rest of the afternoon. That night those of us that were still left (9 of the 15) decided to go out for dinner in Patong together, we landed up in a really Western bar/restaurant place which was absolutely horrible, luckily they had NO space for us to sit down for dinner so we were very quickly out of there and back on the streets again. After being really indecisive we managed to find a really authentic Thai restaurant on the street that was packed to the brim, but those friendly Thai people made a plan and soon we had our own very own ‘last supper’ table, which moved about 10 minutes later onto a veranda because it started raining. I can say with confidence that dinner was one of my favourite dinners on the entire trip.

The "last supper"

The “last supper”

A friend of mine asked me when I got back if I had a moment on the trip, where I just felt it, the whole contentment of what I was experiencing of where I was and I could not answer him. Thinking back, I can say that I remember sitting on the veranda while the rain was slowly coming down, looking over the table watching everyone chatting away and just feeling so content and happy. It was not a feeling that I had felt during the tour until that moment.

After dinner some of the group decided to go watch a ping-ping show and because Deanna and I had already done it we decided to head back to the Swedish bar to drink. I had so much fun chatting to her and couldn’t for the life of me think of why I had not spent more time hanging out with her on the tour.

A little later we found ourselves at a club, dancing away like drunk hippies. It was a sad goodbye for a couple of us as Deanna I left to go back to the Hotel. It was pissing down with rain on the street and the two of us decided to get those plastic ponchos and to walk back to the Resort instead of catching a tuk-tuk.

The two of us skipped around on the street in our ponchos in the rain thinking we were completely invincible because we were not getting wet. I think I laughed until I got tears in my eyes that night.

We were invincible!

We were invincible!

When I awoke the next day, the realisation occurred to me that my trip was finally coming to an end. I spent the day in a somewhat morbid bitter sweet state. I did some shopping and then lay around the pool relaxing, it was overcast, somewhat appropriate weather for the mood I was in.

I settled my account at the reception, packed my bags and dressed for the trip back to the airport.

Saying goodbye has never been easy for me and I can’t say saying goodbye to those people that had so quickly crept into my heart was any better. Tears were shed and my heart was bursting.

My flight to Bangkok and then back to SA went by so quickly, by the time I walked out into the SA I already felt travel blues and that I would never be the same again.

Some of my favourite moments on tour!

Some of the best moments!

Some of the best moments!

I cannot wait to travel again, and it will hopefully be soon. And one day, I will return to Thailand.

Travel, travel some more and when you return book your next trip so that you are travelling soon again.

Istanbul, I am coming for you! 😉

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17 thoughts on “Thailand & Contiki Thai Hopper West Tour 2013

  1. Oh wow! I didn’t realise that you had actually gone alone! That’s so brave. I followed your trip on Twitter and Instagram so it’s nice to actually read about it. Gorgeous pics btw!

    • I did go alone 🙂 it was quite an experience! Thanks, I still don’t think any of the pictures do it any justice because it is even prettier!

  2. Pingback: It Has Been A Great Year So Far! | kbs'rush

  3. Hey I was going through reviews for the contiki group for Thailand and came across yours. The pictures look amazing and the experience is what I hope for. Would you mind if I ask what tour you booked and if you had to upgrade for the hotels? I was thinking I would let the company book my flights etc to make sure I arrive at the right place at the right time.

    I’m curious to “pick your brain” as this will be my first solo trip too!

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi! Thanks for the comment. I booked the Thai Hopper West through Contiki Tours, I am actually currently looking at booking a tour to the East next. Thailand is really beautiful. Contiki Tours books the Hotels for you so you do not need to worry about any of that. Booking flights is not too difficult. You will need to fly into Phuket (via Bangkok if you want to). The Tour started in Phuket and ended in Phuket, it was 9 days in total and I went for a few extra days on each side, I would recommend staying a few days longer if you can. In terms of safety, Thailand is very safe, the people there are extremely friendly, I never felt worried as a single female traveller. The only thing is that the excursions are not covered in the Tour price so you will need to keep that in mind. Hope this helps. If you have any more questions, let me have them!

  4. Great tour review – sounds like you had an awesome time!

  5. Jennifer on said:

    How did you like going alone?
    Are there a lot of other single travelers in the group?
    Did you think that the West trip provided a good enough view of Thailand for the price?

    i’m thinking of traveling alone and arriving 5 days before the tour starts so i can check out Singapore, Bangkok and Chiang Mai

    • Hi Jennifer, there were mostly singles on my Contiki Trip and I was actually one of the youngest in the group. It was well worth the money I spent and I loved every minute – just got caught with the additional I had to pay for the day tours as this was not included in the package so make sure you budget for additional tours. Definitely go a few days before so that you get used to your surroundings and can explore on your own a bit – most of all enjoy it! 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

      • Kaylie on said:

        Hey there, how are you? I am going on this trip early next year and was wondering how much you spent on the optional day trips and food etc?

  6. Sinead on said:

    Hi great article ! just wondering about clothes. Did you travel light or did you bring normal suitcase full of clothes? Whenevr i travel i tend to bring my whole wardrobe along- Just wondering if this is practical>? 🙂

    • Hi Sinead, I didn’t travel light on my Trip to Thailand, I actually took a suitcase full of clothes. But I wasn’t backpacking so it wasn’t a problem to take a big bag 🙂 I do however wish I had taken less bulky clothes and clothing items such as denims. As it really is way to hot for these items there 🙂

  7. hey ! Loved reading ur blog…I am planning to go on the same trip for Dec 2016 over NYE.

    Can u pls advise names of all hotels that Contiki books for each place pls?

    Thanks 🙂

    • Hi Maitri, thanks for reading my blog! Sorry that it has taken so long to respond 🙂 I cannot remember all the hotels that we stayed at anymore, but one of the hotels I do remember is the one in Patong – Sawaddi Patong, it is a stunning hotel. I am sure you could contact them and ask them once you have booked it though? Enjoy the tour, I loved every minute of it. In fact I recently went back to Thailand by myself and went to most of the places I visited there before.

  8. Kaylie on said:

    Hi there, I loved reading your blog post!
    I am going on this trip early next year, and I was wondering if you remember how much extra you spent all up for the 9 days including optional day trips, meals, drinks etc?

    Thanks a lot! =)

    • Hi Kaylie, I remember back then the tours being between 800 – 1500 baht. However when I was back in Thailand recently the tours were anything between 1800 – 3000 baht, the tours generally include lunch & water. Your tour guide should get you good prices, I also think they do advise you which tours they take you on at the different islands that you go to so just check on Google how much the tours are. I can’t quite remember all the itinerary per island.

      Beers at restaurants range between 100 – 250 baht (we bought the large beers (Changs/Singha) and shared them – order ice with the beers so they stay colder for longer.
      Beers at the 7 eleven or family mart cost +- 55 baht, we bought and kept them in our fridge! Enjoy them on the beach or on your patio! Cocktails at the hotels or at restaurants range anything between 200 – 350 baht
      Rice portions depending on which restaurant you go to +- 20 baht
      Meals (Phad Thai/Curries etc) range anything between 180 – 250 baht.
      Water, depending on what size you buy – we had water on us all day because of dehydration in that heat, at the 7 eleven & family mart, anything from 7 – 14 baht
      Most tours include lunches & water.

      Take loads of sunscreen – do not put it in your hand luggage, especially on the Thailand internal flights as they take it away!
      Take some basic meds with you for nausea, upset tummy stuff, mosquito repellent/balm, headache pills, sinus spray (you might get blocked sinus from the sun & snorkeling), vitamin c, sounds a bit crazy but you do not want to get stuck (also they actually have A LOT of pharmacies all over the place which are quite well stocked, but you do not want to waste your money on meds on holiday if you can get it cheap at home)

      Oh and ALWAYS barter!! Tuktuks, shopping at markets etc. do not even feel bad about it. Tuktuk’s won’t budge quite as easily – try shave like 50 – 100 baht whatever they ask you to pay, at the markets offer them 50% less than what they tell you the price is and then maybe settle for like 70% of what they asked for the item, unless you really want it! Lol

      I hope you have an incredible time. I have been back to Thailand twice again since my Contiki Tour.

  9. Victoria Blee on said:

    Hi!

    Brilliant blog.
    I am doing this tour next year and was wondering if you had to choose between the james bond island and the beach experience in the me time option, which one would you pick?
    I don’t think i would be able to afford both!

    Kind regards

    • Hi Victoria, It was a great tour – I am sure you are going to love it. The James Bond Island was definitely worth doing, it is sort of the first day tour we did as a Contiki group after everyone had arrived at the hotel and was a great way to get to know each other. I would not skip it. Why don’t you go online and price the tour and save for it? I know that your guide will arrange a discount on the price you find online as you are booking as a group so you may end up saving a little. Enjoy!

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