Sunday, 27 April 2014

Journey to the Thai Islands

Since my last post, Angela and I have been exploring the extreme south of Thailand, enjoying some of the beautiful islands and coastal regions that the country has to offer. The two-day journey from Chiang Mai to Phuket wasn't the most pleasant of trips, involving two sweaty night-trains with no air conditioning, a stopover in Bangkok, and a visit to the hospital after a cut on my leg became infected. Also hampering us has been the unrelenting heat. Down here in the south it's even hotter than in Bangkok, with afternoon highs frequently surpassing 100 degrees fahrenheit. However, the natural beauty we've seen here really makes up for our being constantly drenched in sweat.

We only stayed in Phuket for a couple of nights, as the island itself did not seem especially beautiful to us (the real stunning scenery would come later in Phi Phi and Krabi). However, it was a pleasant, relatively quiet place to unwind after our long journey across the country.

Our route south from Chiang Mai to Phuket.
From Chiang Mai to Bangkok we took a sixteen-hour sleeper train. It was loud, stuffy and generally very uncomfortable.

Once in Bangkok we went to a local hospital to treat my leg. During Songkran I'd grazed it a little, and somehow (possibly due to the dirty water from the festival) it had become infected. By the time we got to Bangkok it had swelled into a volcano of pus, so the doctor had to drain it, which was quite a painful process. It's been about a week since then and I've been having to visit various different hospitals each day to get the wound cleaned and re-bandaged. The whole thing has cost me a little bit of money, and I haven't been able to swim in the ocean or go snorkelling like I would have liked, but I'm lucky it didn't get any worse, and as I write this it's almost healed up entirely.
After my hospital visit, we had several hours to kill before our next night train, so we went shopping at the massive mall in Siam Centre.

Posing at a promotion space for The Amazing Spiderman 2.
We also watched Darren Aranofsky's new film Noah at the cinema there.
We almost missed our train south, as Angela misread the time on the ticket. We had to rush with our backpacks across the train station with barely a few minutes to spare. This train journey was a little shorter than the last one, though it still took all night. We passed some of the time by playing Uno.
In the morning, we woke up to found ourselves soaring over a sea of palm trees.
We departed the train at Surat Thani, a small city near the Gulf of Thailand, and then took a bus across the Malay Peninsula, passing some spectacular limestone scenery.

Crossing the short strait between the mainland and Thailand's largest island, Phuket.
We stayed at Kata, a relaxed, tourist-friendly region with a beach on the Andaman Sea.

The next morning, we paid a visit to Bangkok Hospital in Phuket Town. The hospitals we've been to in this country have all been of a very high standard: clean, efficient, and with very competent, English-speaking staff.
After the hospital, we went straight back to the beach for some sunbathing.

That evening I ate one of the best salads I've ever had, with cucumbers, tomatoes, chicken, bacon, egg, cheese, peppers and a bazillion other delicious ingredients.
The next day, it was time to leave Phuket behind us.

Phuket was a nice place, but it was our next destination that would really prove to us what a beautiful country Thailand really is. Coming up in the next post: The Phi Phi Islands!

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