This is my first official blog post in the Thailand Travelling Series.
I desperately wanted to blog whilst I was out there and share my experiences as and when they were happening; however, anyone who's been to Thailand before will tell you that the wifi quality in the country is absolutely SHOCKING. Admittedly, it's not terrible everywhere - but generally in most places.
As an avid lover of having a great wifi connection to be able to blog, use social media and follow the news regularly - I struggled with the Thailand wifi SO MUCH at times. Therefore, I had to ultimately accept that blogging while I was backpacking was just out of the question. Hence why I'm a little late with these posts, but never fear, I would never leave you for long!
Here's 3 bits of bad luck that will set your Thailand trip off to an unfortunate start:
I spent the last couple of days before we flew out to Thailand frantically Googling the weather forecast at every opportunity. Uncharacteristically for Thailand in January (the coolest and driest month), they had a severe amount of rainfall and flooding this year affecting almost one million people in ten of the country's southern provinces. It's so sad as some people even died. (Yes, it was THAT bad!)
Koh Samui is an island in the Gulf of Thailand and one of the worst places affected by the flooding, with many of the main streets being engulfed in dirty brown water overflowing from the lakes and rivers. As January is the peak season for holiday-makers and backpackers visiting Thailand, many tourists were left stranded on the islands as several flights, buses and ferries were cancelled.
At one point, Nic and I didn't think we'd be able to fly out there. Luckily, the rain eased up the day we were flying (we had to do a flight from Manchester to Dubai, then a flight from Dubai to Bangkok, before heading to Koh Samui from Bangkok) and we made it over there in one piece.
We've never been so apprehensive about travelling to a place before though and, sure enough, when we arrived there were definitely some sights to see! I've never EVER seen flooding like that before - there were people floating down the roads on inflatables to get from A to B, for goodness sake!
A lot of the flooding had been cleared up before we were due to travel onto Koh Phangan via ferry a few days later, so even though the flooding was disruptive while we were in Samui (let's face it, what can you really do when it's tipping it down and it's impossible to get anywhere?!) we managed to make it out in one piece.
Hallelujah, PRAISE THE LORD!
2. When a sickness and diarrhoea bug decides to attack your sister a few days in and then makes it way around to you.
In my previous post, my first one since returning from travelling around Thailand, I talked about 10 things that no one tells you about backpacking (read it here).
Number two read, and I quote:
'Never book an important party at the start of your trip as delayed transportation or nasty tummy bugs are bound to happen meaning you miss out on your party :( SADFACE.'
Needless to say, this happened to us. When I say us, I'm referring to my sister (my Chief Travelling Buddy) and I. It started with her and then inevitably - as we were sharing the same bedroom, bathroom, toilet, door handles, you name it - I caught the nastiness.
The main reason why tourists visit Koh Phangan (another island in the Gulf of Thailand) is to go to the infamous Full Moon Party. This is, essentially, a rave on the beach. With ten thousand people. Everyone dresses in neon gear, throws on a load of face paint and acts like animals in the jungle.
I've been before and I wasn't a fan because it is super overrated and you get a lot of people off their faces on alcohol and lord knows what else. I was willing to give it another chance, however, for my sister as she's never been and really wanted to experience it.
But the tummy bug had other plans. It struck a few days into the trip and it struck HARD - first with my sister, who had both sickness and diarrhoea, and then with me, but I managed to skip the sickness bit (no idea how)! This meant we had to miss the Full Moon Party, the Waterfall Party and whatever other parties were going on. #gutted
I was more upset for Nic than I was for myself, but I just wanted to be healthy again more than anything. Traveller's diarrhoea is not fun, it's uncomfortable and it really does wipe you out for a good few days. Plus you miss out on FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD and even drinking water is a struggle.
We learned the hard way that it doesn't help matters such as these if you're in a two star resort, which brings me nicely onto number three.
3. When you're staying in a place with bed bugs, mosquitoes and lack of housekeeping.
I'm not really sure if it's fair to name names here or not, as it was my personal choice to stay in this accommodation after staying there once previously during my first backpacking trip in 2014.
The first time around, I remember getting bitten by mosquitoes a little bit. But, this time around, we got bitten to death - and not just by mosquitoes. The islands are well known for their lingering mosquitoes, but we also had a different type of bites this time around... Bed bug bites. (Face palm!)
Bed bugs are horrible. They are tiny but it doesn't make them any less irritating. They live in sheets and bedding and attack you when you're sleeping. I don't remember this particular accommodation having bed bugs previously, so it's such a shame that they have let their standards go. It's possible, of course, that they didn't know that bed bugs were present in our bedding as they're so freakin' TINY. Or, they did know bed bugs are an issue and they haven't boiled the sheets properly to get rid of the infestation.
Anyway the bed bugs, combined with the mozzies and the tummy bug (which was NOT THEIR FAULT, obviously) made our stay at this accommodation absolutely miserable this time around. It didn't help that we were sleeping in a tiny bungalow with no quilt on the bedding (this is awful when you have a fever with the tummy bug and you keep going hot and cold) and you have to go to Reception to request housekeeping, otherwise your room won't get cleaned. You can imagine how badly we needed the room cleaning on a regular basis when we were both pooing for England and my sister was vomiting all over the place uncontrollably. (Sorry to be graphic, but it's true!)
It just wasn't pleasant.
To be fair to the resort, they did clean the room whenever we asked them to (and cleaned it well) and maybe it's our own fault for not having the energy to complain about the bed bugs (because then they might have done something about it)! But you LIVE and you LEARN...
...And we did get to look upon this view every day as the resort was on the beach, so it wasn't all bad!
These 3 bits of bad luck meant that the first week of the four-week backpacking trip around Thailand hadn't got off to the greatest start!
Fortunately we were back on our feet by the end of week one, ready to proceed to Ao Nang in Krabi where our luck was about to change...
Stay tuned, folks!