What’s so cool about Singapore…over Edinburgh…is that we get mid-sem break. What better way to spend the two weeks than in thailand?! Mutual agreement amongst the exchangers at NUS was to book up the flights (going for 0.00 SGD!) and go round a few of the islands.
Starting off with Ko Phi Phi, which is just 2 hours on a boat from Krabi Airport. Ko Phi Phi is a small and compact island, so everyone gets to know each other very quickly. We took a boat trip to Mia Bay which is where “The Beach” was filmed, and it was just stunning. We went in a Long Boat which is very, very old fashioned, and slightly nerve-racking, if you’re conscious about health and safety! At night, the beach opens up into a strip of clubs and as the night progresses, people move along the strip. It was almost surreal bumping into all the recognisable faces from Singapore (NUS) at different points on the island. We walked up the trek up the mountain where you get a view of the whole island as the sun sets… beautiful!
Next stop: Ko Phangen, where the famous Full Moon Party is held every month. In fact, it’s not just one night of parties; there’s a build up the whole week before. Once again, a strip of clubs on the beach and the famous ‘buckets’ of alcohol from the bucket stalls. During the day the beach is packed and plenty of watersports to do. Be careful though, several of our friends had wallets stolen, 2 passports, several phones. The worst of all was a poor girl in our group’s bag strap snapped as she was standing at the railing on the ferry to the island. Bye bye handbag…. that ended in a trip to the embassy at Bangkok for several people and changing flights home. Not an ideal end to a trip, but if you are careful then there’s no need to worry. Another slight downfall was the epidermic of conjuncitivis which spread amongst the entire pack of NUS exchangers, not at all comfortable and looked pretty disgusting! But beside the shortfalls, a trip to Koh Phangen is definitely worth it, even for just a night or two.
Next, and last, stop: Koh Lanta. Time to chill out a bit after the mayhem in the previous two islands. A thai cooking school was a popular favourite and we learned to cook 5 dishes: Massaman curry and the paste, thai beef salad, thai coconut chicken soup, sweet and sour with sea food, and thai green curry. That’s a great skill to take back home the UK! Renting mopeds was another popular favourite and a brillant way to get around and explore the island, and places like the gypsy village and the caves. Finally, an elephant trek was another memorable part of our trip before heading back on the short flight to Singapore.
In all, doing an exchange offers us amazing travelling opportunities, provided you get ahead with your work before you leave for travelling. It’s unbelievably to think that for how long I’ve wanted to spend the summer in Thailand but not being able to, due to the length and cost of the flight from the UK, that we can just nip over for 1 or 2 weeks from Singapore… so surreal. It’s also great to have a mid-way break in the university course, to be refreshed for starting the second half of the semester. Find a good balance between work and play and that really maximises the opportunities of living abroad!