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Back to Ao Nang & Off To Phuket Old Town | Thailand

After our 8 relaxing nights on Koh Lipe, we headed back to Ao Nang on the mainland where we met up with Shay's sister and brother-in-law. I have to say that by this point in our journey I think both Shay and I were very much itching to see some friendly faces and we had such a good time catching up and having a laugh. In the days we spent together we hired a private boat to do a trip to the Hong Islands which only ended up being 850b each with lunch, snorkels and life jackets included. Because safety equipment is totally a unique selling point out here, ha! But when you consider you'll pay 400b for a group boat trip and be crammed on with about 30 other people, it was quite a good deal. The Hong Islands are breath-takingly beautiful; if you're in Ao Nang I insist you do a day trip. If you do get a private boat, make sure you head off as early as possible, we left at 8am and consequently beat all the group trips and had the beaches basically to ourselves, it was fab. I was a bit naughty though and forgot to take lots of pictures, mainly because we were having too much fun!

A few days in to our time on Ao Nang, we were also greeted by a friend I used to work with in London. Together we all went to the Ao Nang Beach Festival as well as going to watch some Muay Thai boxing, which was suitably brutal... I still definitely managed to get into it by the end though. Think of a 'My Fair Lady' situation here. Although Ao Nang is fairly touristy, I'd still say it's worth a visit, certainly as a jumping off point for some of the islands as well. On our last night in Ao Nang, we spent the night in a 5 star resort, the Centara Grand Beach Resort Krabi, courtesy of Shay's mum as a Christmas present. It was ah-mazing and by that point in our journey, very well needed. We made our way over by boat - yes it has it's own beach - as early as possible and after check-in we promptly plonked ourselves on the comfy beach beds and ran amok on the sand and likewise in the gorgeous pool. The food and drink was a little pricey for us, so in the afternoon we headed out for some food and then ended up in a massage parlour. Shay had never had a massage before but he is now converted, infact I think we created a monster ha. Obviously we made sure to head back and use all of the facilities in our room for maximum comfort and enjoyment, which meant having a bath, I don't even really like baths, but you can bet I bloomin' had one. And before we knew it we were checking out the next day to head to Phuket.

We had two nights booked in Phuket Old Town, which we booked yonks ago. Upon arrival we were worried that we'd booked in the wrong part of the island, but it turned out to be just excellent. A lot of the action in Phuket happens on the beaches, the most notable of all being Patong beach (we grabbed the public bus for 30b each, as opposed to 500b for a taxi). I have no words to describe this place, but for two people who like a quiet pint in our local pub, it wasn't ideal. I'll paint a picture, mega clubs the size of shopping centres, music so loud you can't actually talk to anyone or hear anyone for that matter, and constantly being berated to go and watch a ping pong show. Yeah. Not forgetting the overpriced drinks. But we did one night there and had a laugh once we found a more deserted Irish bar off the main strip! By contrast the Old Town is charming and beautiful with colonial buildings and lots of heritage. We ate some fab food here, including a dish of peppered pork and rice with Chinese black olives from a small cafe - nothing like we've ever had before as well as stumbling across i46 for a bite to eat and some well-needed lime smoothies; some respite from the midday heat. It's safe to say we totally fell in love with the Old Town, it's filled with little cafes and eateries and not much else really, which was perfect.

When our time in Phuket Town was up, on Christmas Eve we headed off to Koh Lanta to spend some time with friends for the few days over Christmas. We inadvertedly stopped at Koh Phi Phi on the way and saw the famous Maya Bay, the beach from 'The Beach' which as you can imagine was totally overrun with tourists - I'm sure Phi Phi island has a lot to offer but I'm personally glad we opted against forking out the money to do a specific trip because the Hong island trip we did was so amazing. I've not got much to report for Koh Lanta as we spent the time with friends but it's a beautiful island that I'd love to go back to as well one day.

At this point our our Thai adventure had come to an end and it was time to head back to the mainland to start making our way to Vietnam!