Island edition: Koh Lanta and Koh Mook

I just arrived back to Bangkok from the islands near Trang. I spent 8 days at beaches of Koh Lanta and Koh Mook. I really didn’t know what to expect because I’ve never been before at islands and I don’t even remember the last time I had a beach holiday. I was afraid that I would get bored and miss action. The truth is that I relaxed 110% and I’ve never been as lazy as I was in Koh Mook and Koh Lanta. I got lazier every day and basically my 8 days consisted of this: eating, sleeping, sunbathing, swimming in the sea and one day I rented a scooter and one I day I walked around the island for couple of hours (and that wore me down hehe). In the last few days I have been sleeping quite well and long but still I’ve been very tired all the time. In conclusion I enjoyed the islands a lot!

I travelled with a friend who came from Finland. We met in Bangkok and flew together to Trang Town. As I mentioned above we decided to visit Koh Lanta and Ko Mook. Our aim was to find peaceful beaches that aren’t too touristic, if that is possible here anymore. So no full moon parties this time.

We stayed the first night in Trang Town because we arrived so late so we couldn’t take a ferry or a minibus to Koh Lanta anymore. Trang seems to be very small and sympathetic town but not very interesting. We went twice to the night market which surprisingly was one of the best I’ve visited so far. It doesn’t have much stuff that I want to buy but it was full of food that I wanted to taste.

After Trang we took a minibus to Koh Lanta which was quite affordable, only 280 bahts (7 eur). We stayed there around 3,5 days which was quite enough. The island is nice and quite quiet but it was full of Swedes, Finns and Germans. In Lanta we rented scooters and cruised around the island to see the other beaches. I have never driven a scooter before but I definitely wanted to do it because the traffic was relaxed compared to the other cities’ traffic where I‘ve been. Also the left-hand traffic didn’t feel bad because I got used to it in Japan. I wonder how the Finnish right-hand traffic will feel like when I return.

In Lanta we found very nice restaurant right next to our hotel. I don’t know the name of it because it had only one sign that said “Drink and foods” :-D. The food was really tasty and quite cheap! Also one of my favorite things on the island was a pancake that one lady made on the street from her “moped street kitchen”. I went there twice to have a banana & pineapple pancake with vanilla/chocolate sauce. It was only 30 bahts (0,75 eur) which was just ridiculous!! It was soooo good..

Also what was a bit surprising is that majority of the people living in Koh Lanta are Muslims. They also had Muslim women driving the tuk tuks which was great but when you are not used to the view it can seem a bit strange. I’ve seen nowhere else women driving a tuk tuk and here the women drove it with the Muslim scarf. Which is great!! I hope every woman all over the world can do what the men do if they want to.

After Koh Lanta we headed to Koh Mook which blew my mind right from the beginning. The Had Farang beach looks amazing! Very peaceful and quiet, amazing scenery, crystal clear water, affordable food and only few restaurants. I am amazed how untouched the island seems to be. One thing though probably scarred me for life. Our bungalow was quite near to the jungle and I saw twice monkeys eat anything they found from the yards. But on the second time the monkeys weren’t so nice because the assholes tried to attack me. They were stalking under our bungalow and in the bushes. I thought that I could still pass them and go to MY bungalow because I had passed them earlier but this time all of the monkeys went nuts and one of them almost assaulted me. It made awful noises and ran a bit after me aggressively. I screamed like crazy and I can just remember the teeth that looked surprisingly sharp and big. I will forever hate monkeys. I had also other encounters with fauna of the islands. One small gecko was sitting on my shoulder blade, a small jellyfish burnt my skin and a bird pooped on my back. I was waiting that a snake would also bite me but luckily at least that didn’t happen.

Few words about the accommodation:

Guest House in Trang: Yamawa

  • not far from the Railway Station
  • very basic facilities but it was ok
  • very sweet and helpful owners
  • free towel and water
  • nice and hard beds (good for your back) but a bit shaky
  • no breakfast
  • 13 eur per night in a twin room

Hotel in Koh Lanta: Lemonade Inn

  • very good location, very near to the Klong Dao beach
  • nice and helpful staff
  • new looking rooms and facilities
  • free towel and water
  • no breakfast
  • 950 bahts (about 24 eur) per night in a double room

Bungalow in Koh Mook: Had Farang

  • very basic bungalow (washroom, twin bed, a chair and small table, a terrace with two chairs)
  • like a children’s playhouse :-D
  • the beds were ok but not great
  • internet only in the “lobby”/restaurant
  • near to the best beach of the island
  • small monkey problem
  • One night around 14 euros per night

Trang Hotel in Trang Town

  • I don’t really recommend this. Yamawa was better experience.
  • Breakfast should had been included but it was hard to get an answer that what part of the breakfast is free because I didn’t have a common language with the waiters
  • Internet worked only in the lobby
  • Gloomy rooms even though the whole building was very colourful.
  • Looked like it was stuck in the 60’s
  • I think it was around 14 euros per night

PS: I would recommend the Nok Air airline company! We flew with it from Bangkok to Trang Town and back to Bangkok, and everything went smoothly. We paid around 55 euros per tickets, and a small snack (a pastry and a small cup of water) on a flight was included. The Nok Air has airplanes that look pretty new and they are branded in an interesting way. Lots of colours and the planes look like birds haha! They look so cute!

Tomorrow will be my last day abroad. My flight will leave in midnight so this will be also my last post abroad.. I will still write few posts but here is my last greeting physically from overseas. I can tell already that I’ve had an amazing trip!



Sunny and hot Sihanoukville

I’m in the midway of my trip! Oh no! At the moment I am very happy that I am doing this trip and I am enjoying it to the fullest. At the same time I am excited about going home and seeing my friends and eating the food that I’ve missed. Mixed feelings!

I just arrived to Siem Reap today. After Phnom Penh I went to Sihanoukville which is a beach resort in Cambodia. I stayed there only for two days because I don’t want to spend too many days at a beach resort because I am planning to spend couple of weeks in Thailand and I want to go to the beaches there. And I was afraid that my skin couldn’t take the sun and I was right. I spend only one day at the beach in Sihanoukville and managed to get a light tan to the front of my body and an interesting red colour to the back of my body. It doesn’t seem like I burnt the skin but it sure is a reaction to the sun. It’s still a bit reddish (three days after) but I am sure that it will be ok tomorrow. It was the same thing with my chest that I burnt in Phnom Penh. It is just red and it doesn’t even hurt.

I went to Sihanoukville from Phnom Penh on Tuesday 17th of February. That has been the wildest bus trip so far! First my seat was double booked but luckily the next seat was free and I took it and no one had that seat marked on their tickets. Second the bus was really full-booked and some people (mainly the locals) sat on the aisle on tiny plastic chairs. Third someone came to sit in front of me on the floor which meant zero space for my feet but at least I had a seat (I sat on the second floor and in the front row and there was some extra space in front of me). Fourth instead of five hours the trip took eight hours because we couldn’t leave faster the Phnom Penh city area due to a traffic jam. And fifth the bus was boiling hot. Not a very pleasant trip. I paid for the bus ride 8 USD. My advice is to pay couple of dollars more because that could mean a more pleasant bus ride. Due to Chinese New Year I couldn’t book a night bus from Sihanoukville to Siem Reap because they were full-booked for few nights ahead (I understood that that is the only bus line to Siem Reap). I decided to go back to Phnom Penh because there would be more bus options and dividing the trip sounded tempting. The bus trip back to Phnom Penh was way better and took only five hours even though my seat was again double booked. But because I was sitting on that seat first I could stay there. I paid 9 USD for the bus back. Also most of the affordable accommodation options in Sihanoukville were full-booked.

I would say Sihanoukville is worth of visiting but make your mind what you want from it. There are few islands, e.g. Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, for people who want to party or to relax. Sihanoukville seems to be a bit too touristic but it has many beaches to choose from. I went to Otres beach which is supposed to be the most quiet and “untouched” beach of Sihanoukville. I loved the beach! I spent the whole day in Rise which had very nice staff, nice sun chairs, good food and fair prices.

The day that I spent on the beach was also my birthday :-) I turned 28. Twenty eight. At the moment I think that it is the end of a certain period. I feel more “adult” even though it may not look like it hehe. I am ready to move on and I am happy with my life. I decided that this year is my year when I become adult. It doesn’t mean I become boring but there are some things that interest me now that haven’t interested before like saving money for an apartment. Also I want to start saving money so that I could someday buy a dog and I also want to save money for my next trip. I also want to graduate this year (start and get rid of my master thesis) and get a full-time job later this year. That’s all what I want for now. Simple but happy life with goals.

I really enjoyed Sihanoukville and I hope the sun made my skin a bit more tolerant so that I can enjoy sunbathing and swimming in Thailand later. I did a 3 island tour which showed me what I missed. I thought about going to the islands for couple of nights but I decided that Thailand will give me the island experience. The island tour was ok but the most memorable was the boat trip – in a good and bad way. We spent most of the time on the boat and at first it was always nice but after like a half an hour I started counting the seconds for reaching the next destination. The engine was very loud and there were a lot of big waves that rocked the boat. Many people became seasick and puked. Even I was close to puke but I didn’t.

Back in Phnom Penh I just decided to have a really late lunch / early dinner at a restaurant where I went earlier and then just relax the rest of the evening. I really like the Asia Spice Café because of the customer service and it looks authentic. Also the prices are affordable and the food tasty. I recommend Asian Spice Café to everyone who likes Cambodian and other Asian food!

For some reason in Sihanoukville and after that I noticed that locals were acknowledging me more. Or maybe I started noticing my environment. Sometimes I have a tendency to slip to my own world and not care of the unknown people around me. It is also a way to protect myself from losing my nerves because I noticed that in Asia (sorry, generalization) people tend to stare at me because I look different. It makes me really uncomfortable. But for the first time during this trip some locals wanted to have a picture with me, called me beautiful haha and some young girls looked at me shyly. Maybe it was because I became a living person again because I got some colour on my skin and wasn’t like a ghost anymore :-D

Some comments about the hostels:

Backpackers Heaven (Sihanoukville)

  • The price was too high compared to the premises
  • The bar was very nice and cozy but not very lively
  • There was a pool
  • Towel included in the price
  • No breakfast
  • The bed was good but no private reading light
  • Washroom was ok but you couldn’t lock it
  • The receptionists and bar staff were very nice and sweet
  • You get a free beer after check-in
  • Not very good internet connection
  • 12 USD in a mixed 8 bed dorm

Top Banana Café (Phnom Penh)

  • Price is very good!
  • The beds are comfortable but there is a party every night which keeps you awake but only until 1am (then is perfect silence)
  • You can get a towel if you pay a deposit
  • No breakfast included
  • The staff are very nice (receptionists = bar staff)
  • Very nice and lively bar and nice balcony areas
  • You get a free drink (beer, coffee or tea) after check-in
  • Good location
  • Not very good internet connection
  • 6 USD in a female 4 bed dorm

PS. Sorry for no links. For some reason the internet connection and my computer don’t work well in the current hostel. With my phone it works better..