While on the island of Koh Tao, I’d volunteered to be Trash Hero on several occasions and was tickled to see that Koh Lipe had their own Trash Hero organization as well!
Koh Lipe has amazingly beautiful clean and clear waters surrounding all its edges, which honestly was surprising seeing how many longtail boats (easily over 100 with petrol run engines) were parked along the shores and the amount of trash that could be found washed up along the beaches.
Yes, this was my only critique of this otherwise lovely island. Trash could be found everywhere on the beaches. Generally the trash was washed up fairly high along the coast line so you could easily find spots closer to the water free from trash to lay on, but still seeing all the waste was disconcerting.
The Trash Hero chapter on Koh Lipe thankfully is quite well organized however. They meet every Monday at the start of the Walking Street along Pattaya Beach (if at other locations, someone at the Dive shop there will direct you). Along with the weekly trash pick-ups on Mondays they offer full day and even week-long trash volunteer programs where you can be dropped off on an island for up to 2 weeks, camp and eat there, enjoy the nature and pick up trash for 4 hours a day! Had I the time to stay longer, I would have signed up for that adventure, but alas…
I showed up along with 2 other volunteers at the end of the Walking Street on a Monday morning, and we were directed by one of the Dive Shop employees that the meeting location had been moved to the north end of Sunrise beach. So we headed off and were joined with another 5 people waiting to volunteer.
From there, we hopped on a longtail boat and headed to a nearby island (Ko Adang) to get started on picking up trash. To my surprise, when we arrived, there were at least 5 other longtail boats already there, each carrying at least 5-10 people! So in total, between the organizers (about 5) and the volunteers, there were probably about 30 of us! It was amazing to see such a great turnout!!!
We spent several hours picking up trash, then enjoyed a nice break with fresh watermelon and beers! Volunteers even enjoyed a nice swim at the end some even did some snorkeling 🙂 The amount of trash picked up in such a small amount of space was astounding!! I would venture to guess over 50 large trash bags worth! Absolutely unbelievable as the stretch of beach we picked trash from was no more than about 50 meters long.
Once the beers were consumed and the swimming was finished, we loaded the trash into the boats and headed back to Koh Lipe. From there, the group went to a local bar for some lunch and socializing.
A few things I’d recommend for anyone out there wanting to volunteer for Trash Hero on Koh Lipe: First, bring a camera because you never know where you are going to go and the beauty to be seen! Second, wear your bathing suit so you can join in with the swimming! Third, bring money and don’t make any plans after the fact if you are wanting to join the others for a late lunch after volunteering:)
But most importantly, if you are going to visit Koh Lipe, please do your part. Don’t litter while there, and join in to be a Trash Hero!!
The next day, having risen at the rear-crack of morning (also known as 11 am) we bounded out for something to eat before hitting up the beach. Now, again, we had been so very starved of food selection while living in Sangkhlaburi, so food or eating or snacking or anything to do with any food topic seriously took up most of our consideration! I also wanted some coffee, so we found a place down the street, on the way to the beach, called The Coffee Club. They also served food of course!
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Now, another thing about me… I never, I mean NEVER take pictures of my food. I’ve never understood it before… I understand plating can be quite well done and very picturesque, but in general have never understood why people take pictures of their food. However, on this occasion, after having looked at their menu and seeing that they had a grilled chicken sandwich that included AVOCADO (I seriously almost fainted when I saw that and then nearly cried!!!) I couldn’t help but take a picture of both the menu AND the food once it arrived. I mean, come on! It was even served on ciabatta bread!!! I again almost cried at seeing REAL bread again!! So yes, I’m now a photographer of food…
In any event, we spent the rest of that day lounging on the beach with some beers and I proceeded to get one of the worst burns I’ve had in a long time! Not just along my shoulders, but my stomach and high up on my thighs as well. It’s now been almost a week since that burn, and though I’ve been slathering myself with coconut oil and pure aloe vera, I’m still red and a bit itchy, lol! The day basically just passed on the beach (rough life I know) then we went off for a few happy hour cocktails on one of the beach bars along the pier. We sipped on several cocktails, talking away the hours when we were suddenly visited by some interesting guests on the roof of the next bar over.
Yes, three macaques decided to see what all the happy hour fuss was about! I wasn’t sure what to expect from them because they can be quite violent at times, but these three just seemed to keep to themselves, accepting bits of food they wanted from sharing people. Once dinner time came around, we opted for the Spanish Tapas restaurant It did not disappoint!! We ordered a liter of homemade sangria and had about 6 different dishes between us! It was quite a treat that neither of us had had in a long time. We were supposed to have left the next day but Jo heard that there was a Muay Thai fight the next night, so we decided to extend our stay for a night in order to catch it.
Hua Hin Beach
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When we rose that next day, it seemed to just be a comedy of errors. Of course, despite my burns we still had to go to the beach to hang out and swim for a bit. We didn’t last that long though as the heat of the day felt twice as hot on my skin and as there wasn’t any shade to sit under, I could only bear it so long. From the brief beach time, we went off to scout where the fighting was to take place but when we got there, we found out they only had fights 2 nights a week (Thursdays and Saturdays- and we were on a Friday). Dejected by that, our next thought was to go get some food (again with the food, I know!! ;)). Jo had seen something on TripAdvisor about a mexican food place that got great reviews along Dechanuchit Alley, near Prapokkiao (street?). So off we went in search of that…
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Another brick wall was hit as even though we were using the GPS app on TripAdvisor to find the place, it seemingly didn’t exist. However, the street where it was supposed to exist on was an absolute bustle of energy! There were restaurants lined one after another along this strip of road and though they were each already quite spacious, the street was being turned into an extension of the restaurants so people could sit in the street and other general shop owners were setting up for a street market!
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At this point I was seriously kicking myself for not bringing my camera because it seriously was a sight to see! Hundreds of people walked about busily setting up their shops. I mean not a single person was simply hanging about (except us). Everyone had a job to do and there were even people who set up a little lemonade stand and walked up and down the road selling cups of lemonade to the workers. Jo and I got a coffee from a shop nearby Ko’s restaurant and simply watched the life around us.
Interestingly for us, a bar was even being set up on the street just next to where we sat! So of course, even though at this point neither of us had had any breakfast or lunch, we just HAD to get some cocktails once the bar opened up! As we sat on the street downing some beverages, a banner caught my eye several food stalls down. I went to get a closer look and (suspenseful music here) lo and behold it was an advertisement for a Muay Thai fighting match TONIGHT!! Yay!!! So essentially, had it not been for us wandering to find the non-existent Mexican food place, and for us to decide to hang out with coffee to watch the street wake up for nighttime activities, and for us to decide on having a few cocktails at the street bar, then I never would have seen the advert for the Muay Thai!! We took this as a very good sign that we were supposed to see a fight on this night!
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After our several cocktails (and a free whisky shot) we stumbled our way to the site of the fight (the name escapes me now, go figure!) bought our tickets (800 baht each!!) and finally had some food at the Italian place next door. Though all the events of the day seemed to just line up in random ways so that we could see a Muay Thai fight, after having seen the 7 fights, I still call the day a comedy of errors. I say that because only about 3 of the 7 fights were actually worth watching. It was a disappointment and honestly we saw better fights over New Year’s in Sangkhlaburi than what we watched there. Oh well! And we weren’t the only ones who felt cheated as there was another couple in 7-11 (where we went after for more booze) who were talking about how lack-luster the fights were and how disappointed they were. I mean, come on, for 800 baht we were expecting some really good fights! Not seemingly mismatched, gloves on, not highly ranked matches! Oh well. Just goes to show not everything turns out as you’d like. 🙂
Cinque Terre in Italian literally means the 5 lands. The 5 lands in this case is made of 5 villages on the Tuscan Mediterranean coast including, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Monterosso al Mare is the northernmost village, and the Riomaggiore the southernmost. In the summer time these spots are quite a popular vacation destination, and from the few pictures I’ve included, it’s easy to see why!!
My dad and I drove there on a sunny late-summer day through the windy roads and arrived in Vernazza, #4 village of 5…
Seriously I will put this out that if you get car sick easily, you may want to consider taking a train into any of the villages of Cinque Terre… Because those roads are seriously no joke!! It’s really amazing that there is even a road to begin with that connect each village, as I’m sure that they started as simply foot paths then expanded to allow cars! Mind you, they haven’t really expanded that much… The roads are barely wide enough for 2 cars, and of course Italians speed around the blind corners of the really windy and narrow roads as if they could see the other side…
Since I’m on the topic a little, I’ve just got to vent for a few seconds that Italian drivers area absolutely NUTS!!! I’m not even being prejudice in that statement because I include my father in there too, lol!! And he knows about it, lol!! But seriously, anyone who has ever been to Italy knows exactly what I’m talking about! If there is an inch of space, it will be taken by a car or Vespa or bus!! It amazes me how there aren’t more traffic accidents than there are!! They are all crazy drivers yet somehow it just works out!! It’s beyond me how, but it does! My only saving grace on this trip was the absolutely stunning views around each and every terrifying corner!! Simply beautiful and amazing!!
Sorry for the tangent! Back on course here: We arrived in Vernazza about mid-morning, parked the car in the lot outside the village and walked down to the village for some exploring. Now, this area of Italy is sometimes quite prone to dangerous and damaging floods. Everything is literally built on the edge of the mountain that dives into the Sea, so when the floods come, it leaves lots of damage in the wake. About 2 or 3 years ago a flood had happened in the Cinque Terre area and in fact as we walked down the road to the Village, you could still see evidence of the damage it did years ago.
We wandered around the village, spotted a cave that led to a little beach that is only visible (and passable) when the tide is down, wandered up to the church and tower at the top of the village, then had some lunch at one of the restaurants with a view of the water:) The region of the 5 lands is in Liguria, which is famous for its pesto sauce!! Yum!!! In addition, Liguria is also known for a special shape pasta called Trofie, which is a hand rolled pasta made from pieces of dough that are twisted together. So “when in Rome” I of course had to have a plate of Trofie al pesto!! It was quite delicious and hard to stop eating until of course the plate went empty… So I had to stop, lol!! We wandered a bit more, had a gelato then headed back to the car for Portovenere.
Oh, before I leave this section- for those into hiking, there is actually a pedestrian trail that goes from the first village to the last!! It is quite a long hike though (remember to calculate in stop times to take a gazillion picts!) and the terrain has lots of ups and downs (literally)!! It would probably take all day to walk one to the next, but I imagine it would be well worth it for the views alone!!
Australian Traveller that loves to "Roam" our globe, creator of ENDLESSROAMING.COM sharing the experience through word and photography. Currently residing in my home of Newtown Sydney but hope to be back on the road late 2020. Feedback / questions are more than welcome, happy travels