Dream Island aka Koh Lipe

There are many different things about travelling that Shay and I have come to love; food, adventure, warm weather and culture all spring to mind. But one factor that really has struck us as enjoyable is the ability to make a decision and move on to a new place within a matter of hours. We did it when leaving Sihanoukville for Siem Reap, and we did it again from moving on from Krabi Town to Koh Lipe. But what made it even more exciting this time is that we didn't even know we were going to Koh Lipe. We knew we wanted to head to and island, but we weren't sure whether that would be Koh Jum or elsewhere, after some quick research we found Koh Lipe and booked our travel with our hostel. Easy peasy.

It was a slightly arduous journey, starting at 7am with a 4 hour bus journey then a 1 hour very loud and fast speed boat, but we made it. The journey was made better by making friends with the lovely Lucy from Brighton. We chatted pretty much the whole way and were also able to share the moment of arriving on the island - which was in all honesty one of the most bright-eyed and bushy tailed moments of my life, in a good way. None of us could beleive what we were seeing; crystal clear, turquoise water, a relatively empty beach and a splattering of chilled out beach bars lining the main beach, Pattaya beach. I hope I never forget that moment of such wonder and amazement.

Koh Lipe is a tiny island about 60km of the mainland of Thailand, and here is where you can ignore the Lonely Planet guide, it's on the up but still very much nice and chilled, there are bars and restaurants popping up all the time, development is a plenty on the island and there are ATMs - contrary to what the Lonely Planet says. Bear in mind however that Koh Lipe is fairly expensive - you can find plates of food for 70-90b but there aren't many places, and a small Chang will set you back anywhere from 80-100b. Much more than the mainland offers and after discussing with some bar staff, apparently Lipe is the most expensive island at the moment. But considering Lipe is actually closer to Malaysia, you can understand the costs that it takes to get food and drink there. Totally worth every penny though.

We stopped to take in our surroundings with a few cold beers before heading off to our accommodation that Shay and I had pre-booked. Although my advice, if you're heading this way would be not to pre-book, unless you're not on a budget, as there's plenty of accommodation on the island that you can find for cheaper than online. By the end of our stay on the island - 8 nights - we were in a 700b a night room on walking street.

We wanted to do some diving whilst in South Thailand, but in all honesty, we were shocked by the prices... 1800b minimum for one dive for one person if I can recall correctly and our backpacker budget just wouldn't have stretched that far, which I don't regret because I know we'll get another chance to do it, hopefully when we have more money, and also there's no way I'm not going back to Koh Lipe. And that's final.

We spent a very chilled 8 days on Koh Lipe, wandering around the island, although it only takes about 10-20 minutes to walk from Pattaya beach to Sunset beach and only about 5 minutes to walk from Pattaya beach to Sunrise beach. There's not so much to discover and explore on the island, as most of everything is concentrated to the Pattaya and Sunrise beaches and the main/only street that connects the two, aptly named walking street because it would be totally criminal to get a taxi anywhere on this island - nowhere is far enough.

Trying to stick within budget as much as possible, we ate at a lot of the same places - our favourite being Thai Lady Pancake Shop. They offer a fairly extensive thai menu as well as western food including some b a n g i n g baguette sandwiches (tuna and cheese oh yeah) and about a million smoothies and pancake options. Another favourite restaurant we ate at (twice) was the Bombay Indian restaurant located at the end and to the left of walking st. If you find yourself on Lipe you HAVE to go. By this point in our travels we were craving curry so bad and Bombay not only totally hit the spot, they totally smashed it. Being that much closer to India than the UK is, the spices and recipes are a lot closer to what I would assume you'd find in India. Maybe? I don't know, I guess we'll have to visit to find out, but our new favourite Indian dishes include Masala Poppadom - why this isn't served in the UK, I'll never know - and Jeera Rice - likewise.

Anyway enough about Indian food in Thailand, we ended up having the most magically wonderful time on this island and I will always look back at our *first* time there with such fond memories. And for now, it's off back to the mainland to see some familiar faces.

FYI, I apparently didn't actually take ANY photos of Pattaya beach - woops, naughty blogger. But the below photos show Sunrise beach and Sunset beach, which has darker sand, as well as lots of lovely photos of curry :)

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