After turning in the kayak, we evaluated the options on Ton Sai for the best place to post up for New Years Eve. After perusing a few different places, we stumbled into one where a couple of guys were asking the audience if any one can play the drums. I stepped in, and proceeded to jam out with some other tourists playing an odd mix of mellow jazzy stuff with a touch of reggae when some local guys joined in. We played right up to the countdown, and then watched some pretty rad fireworks taking place on the beaches all around. It was a very different place compared to dancing in a bar in Silverton like I did the year prior, but both were undoubtedly some of the most fun I've ever had for New Years.
One of the biggest highlights was when John and I rented a tandem sea kayak and paddled to an island just north of Koh Lipe, called Koh Adang. Koh Adang is a nature preserve, and no one but the park rangers are allowed to live on the island. When we found the deserted beach on its western shore, John described it very accurately by saying it was "like walking into a stock photograph in your computer's screensaver."
From Karakol, we drove 40 minutes to Ichke Jergez for a night with a wonderful local family, and then surfed the back of a flat-bed truck up an already melted-out mud road to the start of an hour long tour to the yurt, known as Jalpak Tash. The location is pretty much unbeatable, all things considered, from the views of the mountains above to the lake below.
We took the bus from the AirAsia "discount" airport to KL Central Station, and then took the above-ground metro to our hostel, the Reggae Mansion. We settled in at the rooftop bar with a few beers, and, for the only time during our entire stay, some reggae music. The clouds broke and we admired the Kuala Lumpur Tower as rain splattered around and Bob Marley skipped on the speakers.
I noticed quite a few people will ask you, upon finding out that you traveled to Indonesia, Malaysia, and/or Thailand, "what was the weirdest thing you ate?" For me, it was definitely Chicken Foot Soup. Don't get me wrong, the dish was delicious, with fresh veggies and bits of chicken, but it was a little odd putting a chicken foot in my mouth, suckling the fat off it, and spitting the foot bones out. Luckily, by the time I got to the sixth toe, I felt like a natural.