I skyped my parents whilst we were staying in the hotel in Phuket, and amongst other pointed questions, my mum happened to comment ‘I thought you were meant to be camping your way across the world, not staying in hotels?’

Although she did buy the argument that our ‘low-season’ timings were rendering accommodation prices too good to be true (as well as the other 9-10 compelling arguments I reeled off) I couldn’t help but entertain my guiltiness at the 30-70 split we’d devised for camping vs. accommodation. And it’s a pretty sad state of affairs when your mum tells you to harden (TF) up.

With that in mind – we rolled into the (name) national park north of Phuket, heading up the Andaman coast.

Ahhh… language barriers. Yes, I am ashamed that I can only say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ but really, why would I learn Thai? I’d much rather focus my studies on learning a language where you’re likely to get shot or put in a gulag for the wrong answer (Cue the Berlitz Russian in 60 minutes CD).

So, after saying hello many times and playing the pointing game with the roof tent and doing what appeared to be the YMCA, I think the NP staff understood that we wanted to camp, and scootered ahead to show us the spot, complete with showers, toilets, a private beach and the restaurant staff who were packing up for the day but were happy to whip us up a special take away dinner for later…(FYI - I’m not bothering to cook in Asia and my reasons are this: a. everytime we go to Tesco Lotus we blow our budget for the day b. restaurant food is cheaper and much nicer than anything I can cook c. we did have food in the car and once again we also had a rodent. Game over.)

Admittedly the spot was picturesque, in a jungletastic meets rocky beach way, and it was a great place to camp, quiet, safe and pretty. My only problem is that it’s just so extremely hot here….and although Joe has now installed a fan in the tent, I must admit, perhaps I’m not that die-hard after all…

Having said that, we decided to camp the next night as well, at Khao Sok National Park. There’s my rubber arm being twisted again.

On our way there we visited a Tsunami memorial – a police boat which was washed 2km inland by the wave and now stands stranded in a field, and a hut like museum with some pretty gory photos. Not quite the tribute I was expecting for the scale of the disaster, but I guess it was just such an awful, awful time that people want to forget about it and move on. The entire Andaman coastline is an active memorial, every street and bay scarred with signposts for tsunami hazard zones and evacuation routes – I can only imagine it makes it even harder for the locals to forget.

Khao Sok National Park was stunning – the same Limestone karsts that we’d seen around Krabi shoot up out of the landscape like jurasic shards of earth forcing their way through the surface.

 We camped right near a babbling little river, got belted on Chang and couldn’t find our way back to the car in the dark.

Our skirt up the Andaman coast ended with a soak at the Hot Springs of Ranong, near the Burmese border, and after catching a glimpse of the isthmus, we crossed the short distance from the west to the east side, towards the Gulf of Thailand.