Well since I'm heading to Cambodia tomorrow I figure I might as well do a wrap-up on Southern Thailand.
I had a great time here, it really turned into a vacation after some hard traveling in India. It seemed to me like traveling through this part of the country isn't really traveling at all, it's vacationing. I didn't really see a lot of culture at all. I mean the people here are amazing, and it was cool to see the laid back island life, but as far as sightseeing it's really all beaches, snorkling, scuba diving and bars. Not that I'm complaining, I had a great time doing all of those things. It's easy to understand why everyone retires out here, life is great in Thailand.
The highlights of this leg are not few and far between. Ton Sai, I love you. That little laid back rock climbing community was the coolest place and had the best atmosphere out of anywhere I went in Thailand. The rock climbing course I took there showed me that I'm beating my fear of heights. Partying in Koh Phi Phi. I met and partied with a ton of really great people on that little island, and that Christmas Eve will go down in the books as the drunkest one yet and probably ever. The New Years Eve Party on Koh Phangan has to be mentioned, it was and probably always will be the craziest party I've ever been to. Scuba Diving was excellent, I'm incredibly glad I'm certified in what will be a new hobby for me.
There's not a lot to mention as far as the bad goes. The bus/boat package system can be a little disorganized at times, but it was leaps and bounds better than it was in India. Koh Samui sucked, I would never recommend that island to anyone, it was the most unsocial place I went to in Thailand. Taking the boat from Koh Samui for the New Years Eve Party was also horrible (see the 'New Years Eve Mayhem' post). The Hell Day I had on the way to Koh Phi Phi was just that, hell (see the 'Hell Day' post).
All in all, I love this country, and will be back for sure in the future. I partied hard, I don't think my blood alcohol level has ever been consistently so high. I can't wait to see what's in store for me when I come back to do the north in a week or so. Needless to say, I'm excited about it.
Roughly $1500 on daily expenses (food, lodging, transport, misc stuff like internet)
My Open Water Diver course was $317, and I did a $40 tour of the south islands. I could have done this country quite a bit cheaper, I did A LOT of drinking, and that is a major budget killer. Also the wasted expenses on the Hell Day from missing my boat/having to return to Ton Sai hurt my budget a little.
I'll also mention my last couple days before departing. Bangkok was MUCH better this time around, as it's now high season. It's great what a little more Farang (tourists) and a little less heat will do for this city. I hit up Wat Pho today to see the Reclining Buddha, which was awesome. It was funny to see the same touts trying to scam me, and my Veteran Traveler responses to them. I even recognized one of them from when I was here four months ago. Tonight I'm going to try and catch some more live music, which the area around Khao San Road is full of.