Islands of Thailand

Oops. I’ve neglected this blog… and it’s officially been a year since I hit SEA. Let’s see if I can dust off the cobwebs and recall a time pre-law school, when I was a young warthog gallivanting through paradise.

Day 4
July 9, 2017

Koh Phangan, Thailand

 I left KL around 12 PM to the Surat Thani Airport in Thailand. This airport gets you to the ferry jump-off point for the islands of Thailand. I had originally planned to go straight to Koh Tao, but as fate would have it, the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan just happened to fall during my trip… so of course I had to make a pit stop to see what all the fuss was about.

Hot AF but thanks Mama Choi for the fan 🙂

You have to bus to the ferry pier from the airport, and it was roughly an hour long ride if my memory serves correctly. Make sure to hold onto your bus ticket unlike a *certain someone* who lost hers and had to pay for the return T-T. It’s a full day trek in total (flight + bus + ferry) so make sure to factor that into your schedule if you do visit the islands. The ferry you want to book is called Lomprayah high speed catamaran–they have an app with the times/schedules, but fair warning–the ferries are always running on island time. And traveling during monsoon season means you’re running a huge gamble of no ferries running due to storms! Luckily, I was able to catch my ferry pretty seamlessly.


All these people headed to the Full Moon Party

Once you land, there are plenty of “taxi” drivers on motorbikes. I hopped on the back of one (admittedly quaking in my Chacos with Mama Choi’s scolding voice in the back of my head), and had the driver take me to Jungle Vibes Hostel.

Once I arrived at the hostel, I got settled in pretty quickly. Dario and Johnny are two of the most amazing hosts I’ve met out of any hostel I’ve stayed in. It really felt like home away from home. I dream of going back and just spending a few weeks there.

The hostel at night

I met some of my hostel mates and joined them for a snack at the outdoor hawker market nearby. There was quite a selection but TBH my stomach was wrecked from adjusting to the new biome over in SEA so I didn’t get to enjoy the food all that much.

Walking through the night market. Miss you Mary!!!
Fried chicken–a universally adored treasure

I was pretty tired from staying up til 4 AM with Judifth in KL, but Johnny quickly persuaded me to join the group for Jungle Experience Party, the official pre-party to the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. I’m honestly glad he convinced me because it was better than the Full Moon Party IMHO. The Jungle Vibes crew put on a BBQ before the party which I gladly partook in.

Ready to grub!
Grillmaster Johnny

After our dinner, Johnny and Dario arranged for taxis to take the gang over to the Jungle Experience party. I hopped on the back of Dario’s motorbike. Sorry mom!

Entrance to the party

The music was mostly EDM and there were plenty of people dancing and roaming around. The best part of these parties are the huge bucket drinks, Red Bull + vodka being one of the classics. Careful—the Red Bull in SEA is much more potent. I swear they must put crack in it because I could not sleep one wink, even with all the jetlag and sleep deprivation.

Mary & Gavin & Studio Ghibli

Overall great party! It was not so crowded that you couldn’t find your friends, unlike the Full Moon shit show. And I met a Cal alum! Small, small world.

Day 5
July 10, 2017

Koh Phangan, Thailand

On the back of yet another motorbike. Vacation Clara is wreckless. Sorry Mama
Little chickadees outside of our hostel

The morning after Jungle Experience was a lazy one–I basked in finally being able to just kick back. Sometimes I think I forget to relax on vacations lolol.

Jungle Vibes by day
Miss this hammock
Calm before the Full Moon Party

Here we are recovering from a wild night. Was Jungle Experience the night Alec got lost in the woods? Or was that after Full Moon Party? Lololol

Alec, my hostel mate who came to Thailand from where he’s stationed in Japan

After a brief respite, we cleaned ourselves up, splashed on some neon paint, and got ready for what most of us came for–the Full Moon Party.

Jungle Vibes Fam


At the Full Moon Party

So this party happens EVERY SINGLE FULL MOON. What I would compare it to is Spring Break in Miami or Cancun… but in Thailand. The beach is packed with partygoers, fire show dudes, alcohol vendors, etc. Each bar has a different stage with (usually electronic) music blasting. And you lose your friends immediately. Good luck.

Lost these guys and found them again!
The brief five minutes we were together
Face paint is a must
Plenty of random places for you to show off your acrobatic prowess… or hurt yourself LOL
Chill dudes

Wreckless Vaca Clara makes another debut. Here I am climbing a tall ass structure over very shallow ocean water. I know for a fact that it’s very shallow because someone decided to jump off the structure and sprained their ankle. *It wasn’t me*

I made it out alive and unscathed.

Overall, I’d say I would not do FMP again (although I think it’s worth perusing once in your lifetime but maybe if you could get a time machine to when you were 19 years old), but I would go back to Jungle Vibes and hang out with the crew I met there. They’re what made the experience unforgettable.

Day 6
July 11, 2017

Koh Tao, Thailand

What did I do the day after FMP? Took an early ass ferry off the island to another island called Koh Tao AKA Death Island AKA Scuba Factory. Fun (or not so fun) fact: as I was en route to Koh Tao I decided to do some light googling and found quite a few frightening articles that sealed the deal that I would not be drinking on Koh Tao. I can get a little sassy when inebriated so I decided pissing off the Thai mafia would not behoove me. This was probably for the best anyways considering that I was there to get PADI certified. Hangover + scuba = probs not the wisest decision. I had pre-booked my scuba certification at Simple Life Divers in case FMP traffic was crazy but this was unnecessary since there’s a plethora of dive shops on the island. Also, it turns out I didn’t need to rush to Koh Tao since the divemaster asked me to push my class back a day. SEA Travel Tip: don’t pre-book flights since plans change all the time and flights on AirAsia are super cheap regardless of last minute booking. 

With time to kill, I decided to go hike to the John Suwan Lookout Point with my Taco Shack Hostel 2 bunk mate, Cody.

Psssst getting certified on Koh Tao is SUUUPER easy–a kid in my class didn’t even know how to swim and tests were open book. I DO NOT SUGGEST YOU GET CERTIFIED IF YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO SWIM. Also it’s so so so cheap! ~8600 baht = ~260 USD$

Fueling up before our hike! Breakfast with a view
Miss these fresh fruit smoothies.. Probably what F-ed up my stomach but… WORTH IT

We had to hire a tuk tuk to take us to the trailhead of John Suwan since it’s on the southern end of the island, far from the main drag of Koh Tao. Remember to barter! I’m typically terrible at it, esp when I feel the prices are so cheap relative to ubers/taxis in America. My dude Cody pulled through with his clutch negotiating skills.

Amazing beach by the trailhead

The hike was short, but strenuous. Toward the end, the trail gets very steep—so much so that there are ropes for you to grab onto. Worked up quite a sweat but the view, I must say, was worth it.

Miss being this carefree
Me and Cody at the lookout point!
Seriously, what the heck, nature!
Can I runaway here? Why am I in law school?
Little boats on the shore

Clumsy Clara strikes again: I lost TWO debit cards to this ATM. Learn from my mistakes and remember to take your card after you withdraw your cash—it’ll save you a lot of $$$ and heartache. I ended up withdrawing cash from credit and eventually had to wire myself money to a Western Union in Cambodia.

Curse you, stupid robot!

When we got back to the hostel, I met two English blokes, Sam and Joe, who had also hit a rough patch in their travels when they crashed a motorbike and had to pay for repairs and medical bills. So I bought them beer to cheer them up and spectated some good old American beer pong.

Notice bandage on Sam’s leg from the accident T-T

Days 7 – 10
July 12 – 15, 2017

Koh Tao, Thailand

I didn’t take many pictures over the course of my PADI class since we were mostly in the water. There were a total of six people in my class and we did a mix of classroom instruction, pool dives, and ocean dives. The pool dive was actually much more terrifying than the ocean dive.


Of course the day of our ocean dive it’s storming, and I had a nightmare the night before that I dove in the water and got electrocuted and died. I called my mom and she said I probs shouldn’t dive then. Wreckless vaca Clara decided otherwise.

Young PADIwan preparing to dive. Rain or shine!
You can kind of see the rain in this pic.
Our dive boat had pet squirrels that would do back flips!

Although the weather was shit, the water was still SO warm. It was only slightly cold once we got out of the ocean.

Cailin & Pauline warming up with hot tea and biscuits

Immediately after our certification ocean dive, our divemaster offered a 40$ deal for a shipwreck dive. Of course I said yes! GoPro footage in video below!!! The ship had actually been donated to Thailand by the U.S., and after using it for several years Thailand decided to sink the ship to create a natural ecosystem for the little fishies and coral.

Shindy, Kristin, Pauline, and Cailin–very girl centric scuba squad

Scuba cert done! Bucket list item accomplished 🙂 Later that night I celebrated by getting an amazing Thai massage (for 3$!!!) & meeting up my Jungle Vibes Hostel mates and fellow Cal alum at a Thai lady boy show. They were pretty damn good. Footage of their performance is also in the GoPro video below.

You gotta pay to play (or in this case, take a picture)

Last night on the island, and I decided to take it easy and stay in at Taco Shack Hostel 2. All of the hostels have different events going on each night. The pic below is from a game night/scavenger hunt (e.g. first person to bring up a condom gets a point, bring up a bra, LOL). The teams that tied ended up having to break the tie with strip rock paper scissors.

The dude on the left lost LOL
Stray pups galore + swing at Taco Shack Hostel 2

This is Joe (19 y.o.), the other English bloke involved in the motorbike accident. After a night of hanging out and drinking, he pauses, stares, and without missing a beat says “You know, you’re pretty fun for 27.” And that, ladies and gents, is the definition of a backhanded compliment. Punch me in the gut, why dontcha? Lololol in all seriousness, I was pretty touched. I can still hang with the youngsters.

After my very serious biscuit lesson. Gonna have to make it to the UK one of these days to sample for myself!
El fin

That’s all she wrote! Stay tuned for my next post on Vietnam and remember—appreciate the little things, always.

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