Dec 12-Jan 4 (Christmas & New Years)
The last time I wrote here I had spent two weeks riding and not meeting anybody, not seeing any other tourists and especially no cycle tourists. It was kind of a bummer because you can only have limited conversations with the locals in the small villages because a lot of them don’t speak English.
I had spent a few nights with the Jadin family who told me to go to Krabi because it was a place that wasn’t overrun by tourists and was really pretty. So after leaving Koh Samui I started over to Krabi.
After 3 days of riding I was finally coming into Krabi. The road going into Krabi is this pleasant downhill past these huge rock faces, one of them even had a temple way at the top. Too high up for a good picture sadly.
I arrived at the Pak-Up Hostel at noon and got a shower in. The room was very hot but it was one of the nicer hostels I’ve stayed in, especially in Thailand.
About an hour after I arrived I met Woody, Dylan and Josh who were in my room as well. Woody and Dylan were traveling together and they were from England and Josh was from New York.
Over the three days I was in the town of Krabi we rented motor bikes and drove to some amazing places around the city. We went to waterfall hot springs the first day which were amazing. It was multiple pools of hot water going down into a cold river, so you go down from pool to pool and then into the cold river to cool off.
The next day we went to Ao Nang where you catch the Longtail Boats to Railey beach which is only accessible by water. Railey beach is a beach with a little town behind it. The town was FULL of monkeys trying to steal your stuff. It also had a lookout point that required you to climb up a rope over some crazy rocks for about ten minutes. There were signs all over saying “at your own risk”.
The next day we did the Dragons Crest hike. Which is a 4km trail up a mountain to cliffs looking out over the whole area of Krabi. And what made it even better is there was absolutely no safety. There was one warning sign but you could walk right up to the edge of these cliffs and if you fall it’s certain death.
On the way down we found this little spring that was so clear you can’t even tell there’s water in the photo. It had a ladle next to it and miss above it so I figured it was fine and took a sip. No issues yet.
The next day I bid them farewell as I got on a ferry to Koh Phi Phi and they got on a bus to Koh Lanta. Before we split up we were at lunch and they invited me to their christmas celebration at a Villa on Koh Tao with some of their travel friends. So of course I said yes and for the first time in a long time I actually had a place to be on a set date.
On the ferry to Koh Phi Phi I worked out the logistics on how much time I had to explore the island and how much time I’d need to bike back across southern Thailand to Koh Tao.
I arrived to Phi Phi on Dec 18, giving me 4 days to explore and 2 days to ride across in order to make it to Koh Tao on the 24th.
Koh Phi Phi is a tiny island on the west part of southern Thailand. In the photo above you can see the whole town, the part at sea level. On the cliffs on the opposite side of town there is nothing and on the cliffs I was up on there are only trails. The water is so clear and there’s tropical fish and coral reefs to snorkel in all around the island. It’s so pretty. And traveling in Covid means way less tourists, so instead of insanely crowded beaches like it would normally be on Phi Phi there were maybe 10 people max at the beaches.
I checked into a hotel on Phi Phi because the hostel was way too expensive and the cheapest hotel on the island was half the price. Granted it smelled like dirt and was quite humid inside but oh well, I saved some money.
My first night on the island I was eating dinner on the pier when I heard a guy invite some random couple on a boat trip so he could pay less. So I walked up to him and asked him if I could tag along.
The next day I’m at the beach at 7 in the morning and I realize he only asked couples to go. So it was 4 couples in their 30-40s and me. The boat ride was pretty boring social wise but the snorkeling was amazing. I spent 4 hours in total in the water that day just swimming with the fish. The whole tour was 8 hours around a mini archipelago of Phi Phi, only for $15.
I was invited to join them at the bar later which I also went to and that was more fun because everyone was talking to each other but I was still kind of on my own. Then I went up to use the bathroom and when I came down another solo travelled named Mille had joined us and was sitting in the seat next to me. I looked at her and I said “I’ve been with this group all day and it’s just a bunch of middle aged couples and me” and she thought it was so funny. She told me that she was undefeated at Connect 4, and if you know me you know I’m strangely good at Connect 4, so I challenged her to a game, but I lost.
We talked for about 15 min before the group went back to the organizer’s hotel pool and he brought out a big bottle of rum. I had had a lot of sun and not much water that day so I didn’t really drink too much, but I was in charge of running to the 7-11 across the island for more drinks when they ran out.
The table we were sitting at had the guys and Mille on one side and the girls and me on the other side, but I was in the middle so I could hear both sides of the table and as the German guy had more and more to drink he got really flirty with Mille even though he was there with his girlfriend of seven years. And his girlfriend was just watching him like a hawk from across the table and talking about him to all the girls.
I ended up leaving around midnight but I was really interested to see what would’ve happened. Mille also left around that time and when I told her about that later she said she had no idea it was going on.
The next day I didn’t really want to hang out with that same group, since I felt a bit out of place, so I spent the day with Mille and some guys from the hostel named Joseph and Seb. Joseph was from Texas and Seb was Swiss.
We rented kayaks and went out to a sea cave that I saw the day before. It was deep dark clear water and a sandy bottom about 15 feet down. We left because the tide started to come in and waves would lap in the dark corners and make terrifying sounds. I thought I was going to die twice because the waves go up so high in the back corners and then they come straight at you. Maybe it wasn’t the smartest idea to go in with the tide but we lived and enjoyed it.
When we got back we went for dinner and saw a horseshoe crab outside a restaurant and the owner let us all hold it. I also lost another game of Connect 4 to Mille.
When we all left Phi Phi I was heading to christmas, Joseph was going home and Seb was going to meet friends. Mille had no plans so I invited her to christmas, and that kicked off our two weeks traveling together, making her travel partner number 6 on this trip.
She still had another day on the island to do some snorkeling but I had to leave if I wanted to make it to christmas. We met up again in Surat Thani which is the town by the ferry port and we went to Koh Phangan for one night before Koh Tao, Because we had to take the ferry from island to island.
That night Mille stayed in the dorm to study and I went to check out the hostel. I met Elias from Canada, Guillermo from Spain and Luke from England and they took me on the backs of their mopeds to “go find the party”. When we got to the party they heard about we all had a big laugh because what we found was a bunch of middle aged white people sporting dreadlocks and dancing around a fire on psychedelics.
The next morning (the 24th) we hopped on the ferry for Koh Tao. In Scandinavia they celebrate christmas on the 24th so what we did is we had the 4 danish people and the Swedish chef make christmas dinner on the 24th. Me and Josh from NY made breakfast on the 25th and the 4 English guys made dinner on the 25th.
The danish guys made roasted ham, Mille made a danish salad and Chef Karl made Swedish meatballs.
The next morning Josh and I made breakfast sandwhiches.
Christmas dinner was three whole cooked chickens and roasted potatoes.
It was my first Christmas away from home, but I have to say it was one of the best. It was 13 of us young travelers and for a lot of us it was the first christmas without family, so we all got really close and it felt like a family in itself. It’s something I’ll remember and appreciate forever.
The next morning we all went out separate ways before meeting up for the new year. Mille and I went back to the hostel on Koh Phangan. We were back in the same dorm as before but this time there was this Swedish guy named Eddy. He was maybe 30 and had come to Thailand and bought a motorcycle and a kite surf setup. He was such a funny guy.
Mille and I ended up both getting some stomach issue so we were kind of out of it until the new year, but magically they both went away on Dec 30. So the New Years party was back on.
The Koh Phangan New Years Party is one of the biggest in the world. Everyone floods to one beach and it’s just a big party. We met back up with the friends from Christmas and I saw Guillermo and Elias again and a few other people I had met on the road. The party shut down at 1 because of covid and I was walking back with a group of four people, one of the Brit’s from christmas, Mille and a French guy from the hostel. I went to go pee before we left and when I came back they were gone. I ended up hitchhiking back to the hostel with 4 Israelis and went straight to sleep.
The next couple days was spent just relaxing around on the island. I watched Mille and Eddy do their kite surfing a few times. We spent Mille’s last day before she went home hanging out at a treehouse bar and watching the clouds which doesn’t sound too fun but it was a good last day. AND I WON TWO GAMES OF CONNECT 4 AGAINST MILLE. I was pretty proud of being the only person to beat her. She told me she needs to find a whole new identity now that she isn’t undefeated. It was her claim to fame. Mille, if you’re reading this: I’m sorry but I wouldn’t take it back if I could.
Jan 5-15 Northern Thailand
Mille’s last day in Thailand was also my last day in the south. I took the night train from Surat Thani to Bangkok. 14hrs overnight. I stayed at Tropical Summer Hostel with Francis again. I spent a few days in Bangkok at the hostel and I got my third Covid vaccine at the local hospital.
I left Bangkok after three days and went to Ayutthaya which is a town that was founded in 1351AD and used to be the capital of Thailand so it has all these old stone temple ruins all over the city.
Riding Northern Thailand is very different from the south. There’s a lot more real culture, the dialect is slightly different, there are tons of rice fields and water buffalos and it’s significantly cheaper.
I stayed with a WarmShowers host on the way up north. WarmShowers is an app you sign up for where you can host cycle tourists in your home and you can also be hosted on your travels by reaching out to members. My warmshowers was a guy named Mark in Phitsanulok. He showed me around the town, took me to the markets, introduced me to his friends and family and let me stay in his hostel. I had a great time with him. When I first arrived he took me to a temple to do a sauna with the monks. When I left he rode 10 miles out of the city with me.
I made it to Chiang Mai 1.5 months later than I originally thought I would. I was supposed to start there but I changed my mind last minute and skipped my flight and went south instead.
I stayed in Chiang mai for 3 days. I stayed at a hotel the first night because I needed wifi for a Podcast interview. The next two days I stayed at the cheapest hostel in the city $2 a night. Chiang Mai is a very big but laid back city which I liked. There’s a main square that has anything you need and you can walk anywhere in the city. It’s also very cheap. I had two main meals and a drink at a restaurant for $3.80. It has tons of temples in the city too that have amazing architecture and some crazy statues.
I talked to some Dutch guys at my hostel and told them my next stop was Pai. They advised me not to do it. They said Pai is an amazing place but I won’t make it by bike. I really wanted to go though because everyone told me Pai was the best. So the next day I mounted my bike at 7-11 and stocked up on tons of water to get ready for the 130 km ride from Chiang Mai at 300 meters above sea level to Pai at 2000. The road went up 3 mountains and has 762 turns up and down these mountains. I spent 10 hours riding it before finally making it to Pai and I can say with confidence that it was the hardest day of the trip. But it felt really good to accomplish that.
I’ve been in Pai for a week now and I love this town. It’s a little town but there’s still so much to do. I’ve been hanging out with two Israeli girls, named Avital and Shai, a couple from Canada, named Kaili and Tai, and a German man named Merlin and we’ve gone all over the place. Hot springs, Chinese village, the huge Buddha in the mountains, the canyon, the night market, seen elephants, gone tubing. The list goes on. It’s also cold outside here which is so nice after spending so long in southern Thailand where it’s heat all day and night. Pai is situated in a valley with mountains all around and a river running through it so it has amazing scenery. You can find all sorts of people here too so it’s easy to find a good group to fit into while hanging out here.
I’m staying at a hostel and sleeping outside in the hammocks that are so comfortable.
My next steps are unknown. I’m going to try to stay in Thailand longer because there are no land borders open, so I want to wait in Thailand until I can bike across borders. But my visa is expiring soon so I need to apply for the covid extension that will allow me 60 extra days.
After Pai, Avital and I went to a Buddhist Monestary to learn about how Thai monks practice Buddhism. We followed a strict schedule for two days and we’re able to see a small window into the life of a monk.
It was a very interesting experience. When we arrived we changed into white clothes and we were thrown right into the schedule. I really enjoyed learning about their beliefs. It was definitely a tourist attraction but still an interesting way to learn about Buddhism as supposed to my high school history class.