Nico and I had been planning to spend New Year’s Eve in Koh Lipe, Thailand since we were in London. After extensive communication with my dear friends, Lili and Mandy, we had all agreed to join one another around New Years on this secluded island that doesn’t even come up when you search for it on Google Maps (try it! You’ll get a bed in the middle of the sea!) (unless they’ve changed it!).
Nico and I faced a few predicaments… we had planned our trip around Malaysia in anticipation of the time we would need to be in Koh Lipe to join the girls… we also planned our trip to Langkawi with the assumption that we could find a solution to our visa woes before entering Thailand.
Our visa woes – in summary – revolved around the fact you can only be issued a 15-day visa-on-arrival when entering Thailand overland. When in Thailand, you can go to immigration offices and apply for extensions, but these would cost 1900THB each and can only be extended by 7 days. At minimum, Nico and I required a 30-day visa as we purchased flights from Phuket to Chang Mai in Thailand later on in January. We also had planned to stop moving for a bit… enjoy some ‘down time’ on the beach… do some snorkelling… do loads of rock climbing… read a few books… write in my diary or in my blog… have a vacation from our vacation… 😉
After extensive research, we realised the best, most secure decision would be to detour… venture south again to Penang… to apply for a Tourist visa in advance to our border crossing. This deviation would set us back by 1 day when meeting with Lilz and Mandy.
We bought our return ticket from Penang to Langkawi before departing….walked to the next ticket counter to buy our afternoon ticket from Langkawi to Koh Lipe on the same day… only to be informed that all spaces on the ferry were sold out… sold out until the 10th of January.
We went to Penang… stayed at a lovely hotel/ hostel called Hutton Lodge… the male receptionist was incredibly helpful… and shared with us the bad news that the Thai Consulate would be shut on the 2nd of Jan… Brilliant. This set us back by another day…
We had planned to spend 3 days in Koh Lipe and 3 in Koh Lanta… unfortunately, I’ve missed out on the opportunity to stay in Koh Lipe… which is unfortunate… but… the beauty of travelling is that nothing can… or will… go exactly to plan… we’ve visited and will be visiting plenty of beautiful places in the coming months…
On a more positive note, Nico and I had the opportunity to spend a short time in the ‘food heaven’ of Penang. A travel writer from Yahoo! Travel ranked Penang as one of the top 10 islands to visit before you die… I don’t know whether I agree or disagree with this… but, let’s just say… from the 2 nights we spent there, it became apparent that it was a pretty special place….I’ll share some photos and videos below.