We'd heard that Railay was a limestone outcropped tropical paradise, although a roadless one, so having left the bikes stored in Krabi we high-tailed it, or rather long-tailed it (i.e. on a long-tail boat), over there. As it is low tourist season in Thailand we'd read that we would be safe enough in just rocking up somewhere without a reservation. We'd also read that the west side had the best beach but also, as a result, the more expensive beachside accommodation options. We hadn't realised quite how expensive and developed it really was or we could have saved ourselves the hot, heavy (we had our gear in tow) walk across which involved negotiating hordes of tourists. So we ended up back where we started and set about searching “the strip” on the east side to find somewhere to stay which suited both us and our wallets a bit better. I went ahead of the increasingly hot and bothered BC and MC (my new nicknames for Curly and Luca are “BC” i.e. Big Curly and “MC” i.e. Mini Curly, as Luca is currently his Daddy's shadow) and thought that I'd found a good if not quite perfect place for us. I came back to the boys and sent BC to check it out while Luca and I enjoyed a cold drink in the shade while looking after the bags.

I ordered two 7-Up's eschewing Luca's usual fruit juices for something a bit easier on his tummy as he'd had a few days of “Thai belly”. The waitress asked me something about glasses so I just said “Yes, in glasses and with ice please”. Nothing too unusual in this. Our drinks arrived bedecked with a slice of lime and a flower and, as always, with any drink in Thailand, a straw. So Luca and I, both thirsty from our earlier search for lodgings, began to quaff. I did think that perhaps my 7-Up tasted a bit odd but it was Luca who vocalised how queer it tasted when said to me - “Mama, WHAT is in this?”. And I, while taking another sip, replied with a confused look “Hmm..I don't know. Maybe it's the lime or....” while, mentally, the penny had started to drop. Our drink was a draft. There were definitely spirits present. At the same time the barman, noting my bewilderment, came over to the table to confirm that we were both drinking Vodkas and 7-Up! My 2 year old son and I. From a straw. “Woops!” is probably a massive understatement! Now, while we were having one of those days that would drive you to drink I don't think that even I would partake in a rendez-vous with hard liquor at 2pm, much less actually order it for my two year old son. I wouldn't normally even order him a fizzy drink. Anyway after the intial shock and checking of Luca to make sure he was okay (we'd both probably only had two tiny sips) much hilarity ensued between mother and son (he was very cute; slapping his cheeks with a shocked look and saying – “Mama, I was drinking alcohol!”), waitress (she was lovely, well until she tried to charge for the 2 vodka's and 7-Up later on, but WHAT was she thinking?), bar tender and the nearby table of English tourists. Order was subsequently restored with the delivery to us of 2 7-Ups, in a can for the avoidance of doubt with the ubiquitious straws, which we both enjoyed while regalling BC with our toddler tipple faux pas when he joined us having found an even better spot for us to stay.

We ended up staying for 3 nights on Railay where we did have a nice time in the end but, to be honest, it just wasn't really our kind of place. Maybe we have actually turned into “real travellers” (I suppose we officially qualify now?) as we prefer somewhere quieter, more of-the-country you are in and, well, more low key. We bumped into two girls who we'd met in Koh Lanta and they said to us "Isn't it just beautiful here?”. We gave a polite, but slightly underwhelmed response and, privately later BC and I wondered : “What is it about Railay that we just don't get?”. The beach and sunsets on the west side are very impressive, but, it's just a bit too resort-ey and busy for us. Having said that we are going from Krabi to Phuket tomorrow. Phuket, from the reports we've heard and the research we've done, is really not supposed to be our kind of place either. But, as we'll arrive there early evening, we have to stay one night. I've done a bit of research and think (hope!) we've sourced a quiet, chilled out and reasonably priced place to stay. From there we cycle to Bangkok which will take a couple of weeks probably. So I'd better to bed.

But before I do I'd like to wish my big sister, one of our best commenters, Aine, and her family a truly amazing birthday weekend Down Under ( I won't “out” her age on our blog but it's a biggie and she doesn't look it!)... I'll be thinking of you in a very special way. And, wishing one of our other best commenters, my sister Niamh, and family, a wonderful Royal Wedding party tomorrow in Kidmore House and, finally, wishing William and Kate all of the very best for tomorrow and the rest of their lives.

Good Night from Krabi Town.

"It is not down in any map; true places never are" Herman Melville


Happy Easter everybody. We're spending our Easter weekend cycling to Krabi, so we'll catch you all next week. Hope you have an egg-cellent break!

Linda, Phil & Luca


I'm writing this while swinging gently in a hammock overlooking the Andaman Sea! Yes, that's right, we're still on Ko Lanta. This reluctance to leave island paradises is becoming something of a trend in our trip. We had a good reason this time though, honest!

We stayed for the first few nights in Mango House in Old Town, which the missus aptly described in her previous post, as being very Somerset Maugham, but with mod cons. Well, one thing it lacked was service.... of any kind. We didn't see another soul from the moment we checked in. The cafe and restaurant were closed and the reception was all shuttered up. It was a bit of a nuisance, as an onsite restaurant can be very handy for the parents of a two year old.... we can put him to bed at his usual time, use the baby monitor on my iPhone and pop next door for a bite and a beer in peace and quiet. No offence, Luca!

We left Old Town and headed to the west coast and to the really beautiful, chilled out beaches there, where we spent about a week doing very little, apart from lazing on the beach and reading.

While there, we met a few other cycle tourers. They were heading south into Malaysia and, as we're heading north along the route they've just taken, we were able to swap tales, advice and routes. Very handy. We were all set to head off on our way up north, but Mango House, having received our complaint, offered us a week's stay, free of charge. Hard to turn down, when the place was so beautiful. So, here we are, back in the hammock on our balcony overlooking the sea in Mango House. We're going to stay for 3 or 4 nights here and then head on again. Having planned our route from Ko Lanta to Bangkok in a bit more detail now, we're keen to get going again. Then again, this hammock is rather comfortable....


Luca thanked the Thai custom officials, upon our entry into Thailand two days ago, in Malaysian. Naturally I quickly looked up our trusty Lonely Planet to learn to express the Thai equivalent and have been repeating it to Luca, and to whomever appropriate the situation in Thailand dictates, ever since. Luca is also playing little games to himself and talking out loud as he does so about how much different things cost: 2 Ringits, 4 Ringits. (The Ringit being the Malay currency). The latter and his border  faux pas, which everyone smiled adoringly at, quite aptly manages to sum up the way we've all felt over the last day or two. As we all de-Malaysian-ize ourselves and  Thai-ify ourselves.  It must be an island country dweller thing (is it? Anyone?) but I never fail to be amazed at how one can cross the border into a neighbouring country and suddenly be in such a vastly different place, within minutes. (Now I know that there's a border on our own island - I am literally talking about non-island countries).  I remarked the same when we were cycling through Europe - constantly.

Some very initial thoughts on Thailand and how it compares with Malaysia (remember this is only after 2/3 days): greener, wilder,  more rustic, friendlier (with a caveat*), a bit more relaxed (again this comes with a slight health warning*), cheaper, dog friendlier (we only saw approx. 2 dogs in Muslim Malaysia; Muslims consider dogs dirty)  and, well, spicier. Thailand seems cycle friendlier too with designated lanes on roads for cyclists and motorbikes.

We've encountered only one problem cycling in Thailand so far and that's keeping our hands on the handlebars as we  wave back at friendly passers-by constantly :). The Thai's love children and are tickled pink at the sight of Luca on his Dad's bike seat.  We spent our first  night in Thailand in the Southern town of Trang which, despite attracting an underwhelmed paragraph in The Lonely Planet, we really enjoyed apart from some stressful cycling as we dodged the mopeds and motorbikes which came at us from all sides  like speeding bullets. There were fantastic night markets and coffee houses there. From there we made our way by mini-bus and ferry to Koh Lanta. We chose to stay two nights in the Old Town - a working fishing village where the old style wooden houses hang over the ocean. We were staying in a beautiful dark teak wooden cabin which literally rested above the ocean, which we heard lapping at night, as we lay nicely fanned under our billowing  mosquito net. Very Somerset Maugham - with mod cons. Yesterday we cycled to the other side of the island to do a reconnaissance and found a lovely beachside spot to move onto from here. So we're currently packing up to move on. Goodbye Old Town. Hello again beach living.
(*The Malay are exceedingly friendly as are the Thai. But we've found that the Thai are a little bit more relaxed/less formal, maybe, if that's the right word. The Malay are very by the book. The Thai seem willing to bend the rules  a bit. There are good and bad aspects to both from a travellers viewpoint.)




On Sunday, we left the gourmet heaven that is Georgetown, Penang and made our way to yet another Malaysian paradise island, Langkawi, where we've been languising for the last few days. Due to flooding in northern Malaysia and southern Thailand some of the roads in this province were closed and the main port town with ferry links to Langkawi island was under half a metre of water, so we thought it prudent not to attempt to cycle through the floods and instead caught a ferry here directly from Penang. We then cycled the 30km or so to the western side of the island and, despite cycling in the blistering midday heat, were glad we did, as the beach here is a long stretch of white sand perfection. We're also treated to the most amazing sunsets every evening, which we usually enjoy whilst having a cold beer – Langkawi, in stark contrast to the primarily Muslim Perhentian islands, is a duty-free island!

We had planned to cycle from here across the border into Thailand, but the floods in the south have made our proposed route a bit more complicated. It seems that we can't cycle in over the road border in the Satun province, as many of the roads there are impassable due to the floods. To further complicate matters, travel through the other provinces along the Thai-Malaysian border is strongly advised against by both the Irish and British foreign affairs offices, due to insurgencent attacks and a recent history of violence against tourists. As a result, we've decided to get a ferry from here to Satun town itself at the end of the week. Hopefully, we'll arrive after the worst of the flooding (the rains there have eased) and north of the worst affected areas and will be able to merrily cycle our way north through Thailand from there. But, before then, we still have a few days in Langkawi to laze, sunbathe, soak, potter around on a moped I rented, enjoy the sunsets and say a fond farewell to Malaysia after almost six weeks here.