Category Archives: Thailand

Thanks For The Memories

This is it guys. My last post here in Southeast Asia before I set off for the next half of this extraordinary adventure around the world. I can also finally say that I have accomplished something that most backpackers traveling throughout Southeast Asia for a long period of time have not done. And that is, not getting sick! I got motion sick a few times but I can’t really help that. I’m talking no colds, no coughs, no fevers, no vomiting, no stuffy noses, none of that! I had a great run in Asia. Here’s how I spent my last couple of days…

The day after Rob and I went biking, we didn’t do too much besides relax and eat all day. Us, along with Lulu, Schunk, and Toni went out to a Mexican restaurant near pub street that night. Leticia was supposed to meet us but unfortunately she was stuck at her volunteering organization. I have been craving some good Mexican food ever since I left the States and this restaurant didn’t disappoint! Afterwards, Rob went back to the hostel but the rest of us stayed and enjoyed 50 cent draft beers and pizza. I taught them how to play a fun card game I learned in South Africa last year called $hithead, which they caught onto quick and even beat me in a few times. Soon, we called it a night and went back.

The next night, as Lulu and Toni went to Angkor Wat, Rob, Schunk, and I pretty much ate, played cards, and lounged all day. It was exhausting! ;). Once the girls came back, we all went upstairs to the Sandbar for one final night of fun before everyone departed in the morning.

Rob was supposed to leave two days ago, but never could time his buses and flights properly, but this morning he would be leaving for sure. I never met any other person in Southeast Asia or even at home that could eat as much as I can! Whenever we both finished off a meal at a restaurant, we always decided it was a great idea to both order another full dinner! It was easy to be a pig when I had a buddy who was a pig just like me. And ever since we’ve met in Phnom Penh, we have been on the same page with everything. He’s been a really great traveling buddy and someone I know I’ll visit in the future. He was on his way back to Holland for a couple of weeks before he started up a year of Uni in London. Safe travels home Sean Connery! I say that because every word that started with an “s” he pronounced with a “sh”, sounding like Sean Connery. Next, I said goodbye to the three German siblings. I literally only met them a couple of days ago but we all hit it off very fast. They were on their way to Bangkok and straight to the southern islands. I’ve already traveled that route so I was able to give them some useful tips. They are frequent visitors of Oktoberfest so they told me whenever I’m up there, to let them know! This is a picture of Lulu, Schunk, and Toni below.


All of my friends were gone and I was now by myself. I could easily meet more people around but I chose to recluse myself because I had a few things I needed to do. Respond to emails, laundry, and most importantly, catch up on my blogs. For my Facebook friends, you may have noticed that I have been posting more frequently the last few days than usual. Thats because I wanted to be entirely caught up before I start the next phase of this trip in Africa.

I’ve met tons of unique and awesome people in each of the four main countries (Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia) that I’ve been to. Even though I left home alone, I was never, ever alone here. Lucy, the volunteers, teachers, and students in Saigon. Kimmie and Ibriham in Hanoi. Alison, Abbie, Tristan, Megan, Claire, Alys, Josephine, Si, Meg, and Lauryn in Laos. All the crazy Brits in Chiang Mai. Björn, Kevin, and Viola in Pai. Clint in Bangkok. Leonoor, Thom, Jack, Kevin, and the two German friends in the islands. Rob, Leticia, Luke, Schunk, Lulu, Toni, Djoeke, Lianne, and Other Dan in Cambodia. It was them and a host of other random zany backpackers and locals alike that made this trip even better than what I could have imagined! I’m sorry if I’m forgetting anyone significant. I met SO many people out here!























And to my main traveling buddies that were there with me through the long haul: Lucy, Björn, Kevin, Viola, and Rob. You guys are all great! Thanks for sharing in the memories.

Initially, Malaysia and Indonesia were supposed to be a part of the Southeast Asian excursion, but I spent so much time in each country I visited that I couldn’t fit those two in. I’d have to save them for a different trip in the future. I spent my last two days completely resetting myself in preparation for the next three months where I will cross continents and go back to Africa.


Wiped Out!

Every kid growing up in the early 90’s has dreamed of participating in Nickelodeon’s Guts and Legend of The Hidden Temple, and also my personal favorite, American Gladiators. Game shows where you test your might and strength by traversing through numerous obstacle courses and compete for the best time. Nowadays we have shows like Ninja Warrior and Wipeout, which I would still love to participate in both pretty much. I forgot who I heard it from, but rumor had it that there was a makeshift Wipeout course somewhere on Koh Phangnan! If that was true, I had to find it!

I googled it before I actually tried to find it and yup, it’s a real thing! An imitation course on a lake somewhere on the island. It’s a lot smaller than the real deal but still looked awfully entertaining! It had the rolling barrels, an inflated mountain, monkey bars, a swing where you leap into the water, and most importantly, those infamous giant red balls! The day after the Full Moon, we said our goodbyes to Jack who was going to Phuket, Kevin who was going to the island of Koh Samui and the two Germans. Viola and I took a taxi to a lake where apparently this course was laid out on the other side of the island. We were one of the first ones there. Actually, there were other people but they were just sitting around. Why?! I think they were waiting for others to guinea pig their way through the courses first. Viola and I were glad to be those guinea pigs!

We put on life jackets because we were bound to be exhausted doing some of these obstacles. The first hurdle we had to go through was swinging our way into the lake to kick off the course. Pretty simple, yet extremely fun!



Swim across to the first obstacle where we had to make our way across two giant inner tubes, with a bunch of smaller floatation devices in the middle of them. Those floats in the middle didn’t look stable at all, so I went around the big tubes themselves.


Next up were monkey bars. A picnic.



After that were the rolling barrels. Easier than it looks. Just don’t stop moving or you’re doomed!


Soon was the inflated mountain. Just climb up this bad boy and jump from the top. The first time I climbed it, I went to the top and accidentally slid right off into the water! It’s mighty slippery.


Finally, we came to the giant red balls. Just climbing up to the balls was a task in themselves. Once I was up there, I figured the best way to approach it was to just try and run across. I immediately failed! I went back up to the balls and tried running again, and again, and again.
It seemed impossible. I saw on the tv show, the few contestants that made it, hopped on their knees one at a time. So then I tried that…Didn’t work for me. I think I tried going across the red balls about 30 times and only made it as far as the second ball.



I wasn’t the only one who had issues!




Viola and I tried the course as a whole a few times, getting a little quicker with each attempt. Viola even tried the launch pad. She laid on a giant inflated bag, then two guys jumped on the other end, launching her into the air!








She did an unintentional backflip! I figured I was too heavy and wouldn’t launch that high so I skipped that and concentrated on conquering those red balls. I tried my best, but eventually I felt like I just got the living crap physically beaten out of me. Same with poor Viola. We left after a few hours of a horrible defeat.

As great as this day was, it was also bittersweet as this would be my last full day with Viola before we part ways in the morning. For old times sake, we went to the night market and pigged out some more. It was easy to stuff ourselves here since the food was so good and best of all, cheap!


The next morning, I woke up early and headed straight to Viola’s bungalow where we planned to have one last breakfast together. Traveling with Viola since Pai, all the way down to the islands was unexpected but has been an absolute pleasure. She has been game to do anything and everything with nothing stopping her! She only has a few more days left in Thailand, in which afterwards she heads back home to Holland. She has big plans to travel again immediately, either in Peru or South Africa (both are great choices) in the near future. I’m pretty certain I’ll be seeing Viola again in the future. Viola if you’re reading this right now, I just wanted to tell you that you’re disgusting, annoying, creepy, and not possible 😉 and all I wanna do is have some fun. Also, you were right, it’s a guy and not a lady that sings that song, although I still find it hard to believe! And this photo of you is the best!


I departed the island and took a ferry back to the Thailand mainland and from there took a bus back to Bangkok. I waited a few hours until the bus for my next destination arrived. And that destination would be a brand new country: Cambodia.

How to Survive a Full Moon Party

Take a look up in the sky tonight. If you see a perfectly full moon up there, know that within hours, one of the biggest parties in the world is happening. It’s called a Full Moon party and it takes place about once every month on Koh Phangan when there’s a full moon in the sky. Nearly 30,000 backpackers attend this boozefest every month where you dance like maniacs on the beach, limbo under kerosene soaked ropes, paint yourself with neon colors, and drink a seemingly unlimited supply of beer and buckets. It started in the 90’s with a few friends who liked to have a party on the beach when there was a full moon out. As years went by, it caught the eyes of other people and grew into the phenomenon it is today. I went there. But instead of detailing my exact experience (thus saving myself and the others from embarrassment!), I thought I would give my two cents on how to make it through a full moon party alive!

1. Get Decked Out

When you attend a Full Moon party it’s not mandatory to decorate yourselves with neon colors and wear bright tank tops, but it’s frowned upon if you don’t – and why shouldn’t you? Even a guy like me, who normally wears boring solid colors, who you would never ever catch in a million years wearing a bright tank top, went all out in the spirit of Full Moon. It adds to the mood and you’re telling everyone “I’m here for a good time!” Besides, part of the fun was painting Viola, who had no idea what I was drawing on her face and vice versa. Oh and wear shoes, not flip flops. You’re going to be walking on a kerosene soaked beach, riddled with litter and glass and who knows what else.




2. Avoid the Drugs

You won’t believe how incredibly easy it is to get your hands on any drug you’ve ever wanted in life on this island. And I couldn’t believe the stories I’ve heard of backpackers who’ve been cuffed and locked up after buying from undercover officials. Unlike back home, entrapment is legal here. Even if someone came to you offering to sell something nice, and you buy it from them, there is a chance it could be a trap and before you know it, off you go to jail. I’ve heard multiple stories of backpackers who have been locked up for days, with the police taking out the maximum withdrawal amount out of the ATM from the poor backpacker’s bank account, until they have paid off their fines and are “satisfied”. Also, I’ve seen people here do stupid things after a few hits of something. A guy in my dorm bought some kind of drugs from a bar owner and ended up running around the beach naked and getting his wallet and clothes stolen after not realizing the enormous high the drugs gave him. This is Thailand! The stuff here is crazy different than what you’re used to back home man. I don’t know much at all about drugs, but I’ve seen and heard enough to know it’s best for everyone to just avoid them. Period.

3. Keep An Eye On the Local Creepers

Jack noticed at the Jungle Party, there were bummy locals, who had no business being there, alone and creeping on the most drunken people, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to steal their stuff. After he told me this, I noticed it at the Full Moon party as well. Except here, you would witness these creepers, casually drop a little “somethin somethin” into the buckets of completely oblivious female backpackers. Date-rape drug? Most likely. I don’t need to say more. Just stay close to your friends and watch your precious drinks.

4. Boost Up Before You Go

I have the bad habit of buying drinks for everyone around me, even for people I don’t know, after I have had a few too many already. To ease the burden on my wallet, it’s common knowledge to pregame at home before you go out. It’s cheaper and you enter the fray in a terrific mood. I may still buy drinks for completely random strangers, but at least I saved a little money by boosting up beforehand right? Which brings me to my next point…


5. Secure Your Valuables

Common sense here. The only things I brought were my wallet with some cash. I left my bank cards, I.D, and other important stuff locked up in a safe in my hostel. Also, one of the single most important things I brought was a business card of the hostel I was staying at. I put a couple in my wallet, and one in my pocket. This was in case I got separated from my group (I did) and didn’t know how to get back. Just had to show this card with the address on it to a tuk-tuk driver. I didn’t bring a camera, I don’t have a camera small enough to carry around. If I still had my iPhone, I would of brought that with caution. Its easier for guys I think. Girls have big bowling bag purses with loads of things they want to bring. Before you know it, you’re walking through a crowd of wild tourists and even locals, and you come out seeing your bag is missing or has been tampered with. Just leave all the stuff at home. Come with as little as possible. A money-belt and small camera would be ideal.

6. Water Saves The Day!

One thing I found cool about Koh Phangan, is that the local stores all over the island sold bundles of bottled water for extremely cheap. We managed to find a bundle of six for 80 cents! Do yourself a favor and buy a bundle and leave it on your bed. I bought myself a bundle and drank water all day, right up to the start of the Full Moon. And then as soon as I got back to my hostel afterwards, I chugged a bottle or two, even when I didn’t want too, and then went to bed. Yes, I had to wake up and use the bathroom every hour but I woke up feeling absolutely perfect even after how much I drank the night before. My dorm mates also bought water but were too intoxicated to remember to drink them. They woke up feeling like death. Water works wonders.

7. Stay as Long as You Can!

The Full Moon party starts fairly early, around 6 or 7 pm and its lasts until 9 or 10 am. My group didn’t get there until around midnight (we were busy boosting up!) and we tried to stay as long as possible. What other time in your life will you have the chance to go wild with no responsibilities with people from all over the world as long as you can in one of the biggest parties in the world? Now is the time to live it up and have as much fun as possible. In my group, Viola and Kevin were the only ones to make it through the entire party. At one point, in the middle of the night, one by one, we all became separated. There was just so many people! I was knackered and ended up leaving around 5 am. Do go home whenever you want but try and go the extra mile! There were still tons of people by the time the sun rose.



In my personal opinion, this is the most important rule of all. I’ve rented motorbikes in Laos, northern Thailand, and even on Koh Tao. But I didn’t even think about getting one here in Koh Phangan. The idea of riding a motorbike in a foreign country on an island full of young drunk backpackers who think they rule the world should never sit right with anyone. Whenever I walked from my hostel to Viola’s, I would pass a hospital, and inside this hospital would always be about a dozen or so tourists, bloody and bandaged up, from a motorbike incident. Everyday, I would see a handful of backpackers, with a cast on their leg, huge scrapes and gashes on their arms and legs, and even some in crutches. It was mind-blowing how many accidents there are everyday. Most of them are alcohol related and the fact that most people who rent a motorbike, have little to no experience riding them. Two days before I arrived on the island, there was a death and serious injury from a motorbike incident. Then there were those tourists who liked to show off and blaze down the road (no helmets even) with a girl they just met at a party. Idiots. Avoid the temptation. Motorbikes are fun, but not on a boozed up party island.

By the way, to continue where I left off from the previous post, the next morning after the Jungle Party, I went to Cosy Bungalows where everyone was residing, to check and see if they were okay. They were all there, some in better condition than others, but all safe. And after going to the Full Moon the next day, we all decided that we liked the Jungle Party a lot better. Other backpackers we talked to said they preferred the Waterfall Party, or the Pool Party. There was just so many people at the Full Moon and it was hard to move! I personally didn’t enjoy the constant sand flying into my bucket. But regardless we all still had a great time. This is just my personal advice for surviving a Full Moon party, with the bottom line being to have as much fun as possible.


Even though the Full Moon Party is the main attraction for the majority of tourists on this island, it wasn’t for me. There was something else that drew me to this island…and I’ll explain what it is on the next post. For now, just think Giant Red Balls :).

Jiggy Jangle Jungle Jam

When people talk about the Thailand island of Koh Phangan, you won’t hear how great the beaches are. Instead you’ll hear people talking about all of the larger-than-life parties that are held on almost a daily basis. There are Jungle parties, Boat parties, Float parties, Waterfall parties, Pool parties, Full Moon parties, Half Moon parties, Black Moon parties, Moonlight parties, etc. The grand daddy of those would be the Full Moon Party. More about the Full Moon Party on the next post.

Viola and I took a ferry to Koh Phangan and walked across the dock and into the beginnings of the town to find Viola a place to stay for the night. Silly Viola booked a stay at Cosy Bungalows that would start the next day instead of today. We managed to find her an accommodation for the night for a decent price, surprisingly. The costs of accommodations skyrocket when a Full Moon party is near, with most hostels forcing you stay a minimum of three to five nights when you book. We both needed to reset ourselves, shower, and maybe get a brief nap after being out in the boat and the sun all morning, so I went to my hostel I booked separately down the road called The Nomad House. I originally booked for a cheap, fan room only dorm but the owner said they were having problems and upgraded me to an air conditioned room for no extra cost! Score! Air conditioning is such a luxury here in Thailand. I love it so!

After winding down for a bit, I met up with Viola at her place. There was a Jungle Party happening tonight somewhere on the island and apparently it’s THE place to be, but that didn’t start until around 9pm. Viola planned for her friend that she briefly met in Chiang Mai a couple weeks ago to meet us, as he so happened to be on the island and they’ve kept in touch ever since. His name is Jack (England) and along with him was his friend Kevin (Austria), whom he just met at his bungalows on the island. Kevin speaks just like Arnold Schwarzenegger! Fittingly so, since they are both from Austria. After meeting up, we all decided to “boost up” as Viola liked to call it. “Boosting up” means the same as “pregaming” or “predrinking”. I like the term “Let’s boost up!”. I think I’m going to adopt that into my vocabulary. It sounds a little better.

We got some food at a local night market first off. The food here was so good and so cheap! Massaman curry and fruit smoothies for $3. You can’t beat that! Definitely the cheapest place on the island to eat by far. It was so good, I got two of each – two servings of curry and two fruit smoothies! The others stuffed themselves as well. So much that it was hard to boost up at the pub we went to nearby because we were so full! We were completely fine with it though. “Alright guys, let’s not get too crazy tonight. We have to stay alive for the Full Moon Party tomorrow!” At least that was the idea in our head. The Jungle Party didn’t mean anything to me at the time. All I’ve ever heard about is the insanity of the Full Moon Party and how it lasts from 7pm until 9am the next morning. The rough plan was to just have a good time tonight, nothing to crazy…

We didn’t follow that plan at all…








It’s hard to when the entry ticket allows you two free drinks and then there are cheap buckets everywhere you look. One look at the tone and taste of the atmosphere, and you just wanna go nuts like everyone else! We’re in Thailand, on a tropical island known for it’s parties, we kinda have to! Another backpacker from Jacks bungalow joined us from Germany to the jungle. It was literally a party in the middle of the jungle, with large screens, lots of flashy lights, and packed with people from all over the world. The music was a bit too “techno-y” for my liking but other than that, everything was spot on. Not even a pesky mosquito in sight! I also spotted many backpackers I met throughout my trip in Southeast Asia, including this little lady:


It’s Lucy! She was here on the island as well and would remain until her trip to Bali. Later on she found us and started to paint away.




I won’t get into details but the night ended after some of us escorted someone who was waaaay intoxicated back home, after mingling with random backpackers, and after somehow riding in a taxi in a hammock, and after getting separated within the blink of the eye. I guess we all went home at separate times in the night too! It was so late that I remember falling asleep in the taxi ride full of random backpackers. They had to wake me up to tell me I arrived at my hostel. I slugged through my hostel, outside to the back, and up two flights of stairs to my dorm. I chugged a whole liter of water that I stole from one of my dorm-mates (I would repay him in the morning, I just desperately needed water!) and passed right out in my nice air conditioned room. I had no idea if the others made it back safely to their respective stays. I’d just have to find out in the morning!

License to Krill (Part Two)

Today is my final day of scuba training! This morning, we would take two more dives in different locations, practicing a different set of skills in each area. We set out to sea early in the morning to our first dive spot called The Pinnacle Rock. It was here that we would dive to our deepest depth yet – 18 meters underwater! Some of the skills we practiced mainly had to do with running out of oxygen underwater and how to ascend properly when you have no air left. Besides that, the dive here was pretty neat. We went along the anchored rope beneath the ocean, equalizing every few feet along the way. I could barely see the ocean floor below me, schools of fish were all around, bubbles were everywhere – I felt a sense of serenity. I was able to perform tasks fine during this dive, like the mask clearing, equalizing and other skills perfectly when no one was watching. I also noticed that I use up a ton of oxygen, more than anyone else in my dive group. I was aware of this last summer in Zanzibar, and it’s still the case now. Whenever Natalie would signal to me asking “How much air I have left in my tank”, my number would always be much lower than everyone else’s – especially the deeper I am underwater. Sometimes it’s so low that Natalie sends one of the dive assistants to resurface with me so I don’t run out of air. I asked her, is it normal that I use so much more oxygen than everyone else? She said that it’s completely fine and that everyone breathes differently. I just breathe heavier than the norm, even outside of the water. Overtime I will use less oxygen, the more I dive.


After diving at Pinnacle, we sailed to our next and last dive spot, Shark Island. It’s called Shark Island because the huge rock island is shaped like a shark fin.


This was perhaps the best time to dive; the water was super calm and clear, the sun was shining bright, and visibility was amazing. But it was also here that I was going to have to take off my mask underwater, put it back on, and then clear it. I was a bit nervous because I was going to have to do this on the ocean floor, and if I freaked out, it wouldn’t be good. We descended to the very bottom and Natalie had me watch Viola and the others do it. Piece of cake for them. And piece of cake for me…when no one is watching and testing me! Weird I know. But we went through other tasks, like how to navigate underwater with a compass, and floating at a neutral buoyancy right above the floor. Natalie decided she wanted me to wait until we were about to resurface to do the mask clearing, so first we went on our dive!

I brought my GoPro on this trip, mainly because I wanted to capture footage underwater. But I was told by previous divers that I would need to hire a videographer if I wanted underwater photos. The dive instructors wanted us to concentrate on diving and not fiddling around with a camera, especially while learning. I was disappointed…but there was no way I could leave this without getting some underwater footage! There was no videographer nearby our resort to hire and the one I found costed a pretty penny. Skip that man! I have my GoPro which is great underwater, it’s such a waste not to use. So my plan was to sneak it in with me and use it very subtly and when the instructors weren’t paying attention. I put the GoPro in my wetsuit, snug against my chest. During our final dive, I would casually pull out my camera and record everything while holding it close to my body so it wouldn’t look blatantly obvious. Sometimes, I would tap the others on the shoulder, pointing to my camera, signaling them to smile and wave. I grew a little lax and at one point, Natalie turned around and saw me with my camera. But instead of her signaling me to put it away, she made a full on rockstar pose and resumed guiding us. This let me know that it was okay to have my camera, then I started to record everything!





It’s hard to describe the sensation you get from freely diving, meters and meters under the sea. As cliché as this sounds, it really is like exploring a completely different world – like a strange alien planet. Except this time, you’re flying through this new world, weightless, and you’re always with other explorers who share the exact same feeling as you do. You never knew exactly what kind of marine life would pop out unexpectedly, or what ship wrecks you would come across.



It was nearing the end of the dive, which meant it was time for me to clear my mask! During the dive, along with recording everything, I was thinking to myself “What is it that I do differently on my own than when I’m being tested in front of Natalie?” I figured it out! For some very, very odd reason, every time I try and clear my mask with Natalie, I exhale out of my nose…and mouth which results in water flying into my nose. On my own, I naturally just exhale out of my nose when clearing my mask. I don’t know why I do that, but I figured thats the reason. I got to try it when Natalie tested me again and presto! Mask was cleared in one fell swoop. I could literally hear Natalie cheering with joy underwater as she pumped her arms in the water for me! Myself, I was relieved. 🙂




And that was that! We resurfaced and celebrated like kids! We took the boat back to Sunshine Resorts where the instructors gave us our temporary license (our permanent license will be mailed to us!). Later on, Viola and I went and enjoyed dinner with the Aussies who dove with us at a Thai restaurant down the road. Then afterwards, Viola and I drank away the night with the two Aussie guys at the beach, where we all went for a night swim under the moonlit ocean. The water here in Koh Tao is extremely warm, no matter if it’s day or night.


If I had more time here, I would continue my training for my advanced license which would include diving during the night and going through ship wrecks. Exciting! But, for now I have to put a hold on that because Viola and I were headed to another island called Koh Phangan.

There’s a full moon ahead…