Thailand

The country of smiles

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Exchange rate at time of travel: 32 Thai Baht to 1 Dollar

09.08.2010

Travelling and leaving Don Det… Went to Pakse with Anna and Marianne, wanted to stay in Pakse but decided in the last moment to go to Thailand instead (unfortunately I have about 150 000 kip left which I can’t exchange apart from at extortionate rates…) Boarder-crossing went without any problems whatsoever and I arrived in Ubon. Ubon does not have many guesthouses so I had to go to the other side of town to find a guesthouse (using a sawnthaew… a converted pickup with two rows of benches at the back which cost me less then 10 p). I found it eventually (120 Baht a night (3 dollar)) after walking around for a two good hours with my backpack and ending up at the most expensive hotel in Ubon looking for the cheapest… Anyhow, I found it, however so late that all eateries had already closed and I had to eat at 7 eleven (which tasted awful…)

 

10.08.2010

A day in which I had to get a few things sorted like buying a new camera (old one got wet). Found one quite cheap (60 euros). We are going to see how the photos turn out…

Otherwise, this morning I had only been writing up this blog (hadn’t done it for quite some time).

In the afternoon, I decided to go and see some of the sights of Ubon. Finding a way into the city proved already to be difficult: in Ubon (as well as in most cities here), they use sawngthaew (a converted pickup truck with two benches in the back in to which up to 30-40 people can pile…trust me I have seen 30 people crammed in and on top of sawgtheaw). The sawngthaew have distinct routes that they drive. Locals will know which sawngthaew drives which route, but falang (foreigners) don’t. With my little Thai that I speak (actually nothing), the non-existent English of most Thai in this region as well as the difference in Sanscrit and Latin script meant that I could not say nor show where I wanted to go. However, after three failed attempts I finally got a transport into the city (10 baht for as far as you want, which was equivalent to a bit less than 30 US cents). I entered the first temple through the back door, which meant that I had to go through a school. The school had just finished and the parents were picking up their kid. You can imagine what looks I got; a foreigner in a thai school. Awesome…

The best way to describe what I saw is to look at the photos I made with my new camera (which is less awful than I thought).

A statue on the main square of Ubon

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The other highlight of the day was that I tried bambus juice, a really good tasting sweet and refreshing drink. Anytime again…

11.08.2010

I went to the train station at 8.30 wanting to go to Buriram. When arriving there, I got told that the train was late by 1.30 hours. Transportation delays are totally normal here so I was expecting it already anyway. When I finally got to buy my ticket (which weirdly enough I could only half an hour before arrival of the train), I got told that it would cost me 90 baht (Roughly 3 dollars) which I thought was fair enough. 15 min later I looked at the train ticket and it was only 40 baht (1 dollar,20 cents). After complaining to the station manager, weirdly enough I got upgraded to 2nd class. I rather doubt that he did it just to be friendly (which it may have been…) and think that of every money that the cashier cheated falang off, he got his share…

Anyhow the train was delayed for a further 1.30 hours (meaning that instead of 8.45 we left at 11.30) but all in all I had quite a spacious travel to Buriram. There I transferred to a bus to Nang Rong (thai pronounce it Nam long) where, after some long searching, I found a Thai who could speak some English and actually knew what a guesthouse was (they didn’t even understand the sleeping sign…). After some even longer searching (and walking) I found the Honey Inn.The night cost me 200 baht (5,70 Dollar) but I got an absolutely amazing room with my own bathroom and everything stupendously clean.

5 dollars for that awesome room!

That night I met a Singapurian who has been travelling for three years already. He is now retired (at 36…) and travelling in order to write a book about the history of Asia as it was not published before (Thai say that their country has never been conquered, although the Burmese, the Javanese, the Chin and some other countries all conquered them… A fact that is largely expunged from history records). I also met an Italian couple there and all three of us went eating in quite an expensive restaurant (at least more expensive than the usual foodstalls I eat in..) and then afterwards me and the singapurian dude had a conversation about the history of Asia before I went to bed.

 

12.08.2010

That day I went to see the old Khmer temple ruins. I had struck up a conversation the previous day with two men who also stayed at my hotel. They had a rental car and wanted to go and see the ruins (which are a bit spaced apart) and invited me to come with them. Basically I had free transport to 5 different temples which I would not have seen otherwise (in total we did 200 kilometers during the whole day). It was absolutely fascinating. I went to the temple Phnom Rung, Phnom Meuang Ta and three other temples which names I have forgotten. The photos will speak for themselves.

 

Phnom Rung

 

 

13.08.2010

I wanted to go to Phimai, which is the old capital of the Khmer kingdom (if the Thais never got conquered, how come that the capital of the Khmer kingdom is in the middle of Thailand?) and which contains the biggest Khmer temple in Thailand (Angkor Wat near Seam Riep was copied from the temple in Phimai). This time I took the bus, a much more comfortable, faster and a lot more expensive way to travel than the train. I went to Khorat (pronounced Kolat) and from there to Phimai. I arrived at about 14.30 (after only 3 hours travel!) and visited the temple. Again the photos will speak a language for itself. I stayed in the Old Phimai Guesthouse where I met a German (Victor).

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14.08.2010

I left at around 10 from Phimai, after having taken my time to pack and eat. I took the next bus to Khorat (pronounced Kolat). The bus deposited me near the market there and I had to find a sawngthaew to the train station. It proved a problem since I got once one that didn’t drive there at all and the second time the right one but it drove in the wrong direction.

The sawngthaew (pronounced song-teo) driver then hailed another sawngtheaw that drove me in the right direction. It was all very confusing. I arrived at the train station and took the next train to Ayuttayah, the old Thai capital (which was weirdly enough built by a Javanese king although the Thai pretend that he was Thai… again the government interfering with history) where after long searching and a long walk, I found an agreeable accommodation for 100 baht per night. If you are interested, it is situated right opposite Tony’s place.

Later on, after a less than plentiful dinner, I met three girls (Australian, English and American) with whom I went to see the temples of Ayuttayah lit up in the night. As soon as saw the first temple, a big fat rain started to fall and we had to take refuge in a McDonalds like streetcafe where we ended our day playing Jenga while waiting for it to stop raining.

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15.08.2010

The next morning I rented, together with the girls, a bicycle, and we started a tour around the ruins of Ayutthaya. We started our tour by wanting to go to the south of the train station where the biggest temple was (where I had been already years before with my dad). We came by the floating market of Ayutthaya, which looked different from all other markets I have seen here in SE asia. It was kind of compairing Tesco with Harrods in England. Obviously it was a market where mostly tourist were.

Anyway, before entering the market, we got held up at a elephant riding station, where Jo managed to barter an elephant ride for 100 baht per person (down from 600).

 First, let me tell you something about the way that elephants are usually treated in Thailand. Elephants having a very thick skin, the mahuri (the elephant master) has got a massive spike with which they hit the elephants in order to break their spirit so that they do what the mahuri tells them to do. Here, at this place in Ayutthaya, they had those big long sticks with them; however, they did seem to treat the elephants alright, the big “nails” seeming to just serve as reassurance.

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Another thing that convinced me of doing an elephant ride was Jo’s philosophy that so many tourists were there (including Thai tourists because it was Queen’s birthday) that they would get ridden anyway and her hope was that if she spends money on riding the elephant, it would eventually trickle down to the elephants… 

Either way, I did do the ride, which at first, turned out to be quite uncomfortable but as soon as I got used to the rhythm of the elephants walking, was actually quite enjoyable. The mahuri also just shouted commands to the elephant and the elephant did it (basically like riding a horse).

Jo and me riding an elephant in Ayatthuya

 After flaundering through the floating market, we went further on the tour and looked at the diverse temples and ruins strewn around the whole area. The photos give a better impression of what it was like (unfortunately I had to delete some of the previous ones…) In the evening, I met another bunch of girls (the other ones had to leave) and spend an amicable night watching the magical tricks of Sato (the guesthouse owner) who got very drunk, seemingly with the rest of the Thai Ayutthaya inhabitants.

 

16.08.2010

That day I left early in the morning in order to find some presents for my grandparents (since they are also reading that blog, it would be telling to reveal the presents). After some very long searching with me not knowing the Thai word for what I was searching, I finally managed to find what I was looking for and went to the post office and sent the parcel to Germany (I sincerely hope the address was right…). I had included the postcards for Franzi, my best friend, in there as well. When they told me that apparently it was going to take two month to arrive, I was feeling a little disappointed… Either way, that day I travelled to Bangkok in third class on the train (15 baht for 1 and 30 hours). When the train arrived, I had to squash myself into the carriage. The photo shows it all…

Train Ayutthaya to Bangkok (by then I did not know what the word FULL means)

In Bangkok, I had time to kill till my overnight train to Surat-thani left. I decided to go to Chinatown but regretted it as soon as I walked out of Hualamphong station. Bangkok didn’t change much and it is still full of traffic and in general not nice. I do not see what other people see as good there. I then went back to the station, killed the time on Internet and then went on to the train to Surat-Thani. I spent some time talking to a French guy of my age called Alfa who was going to Ko Samui and had been travelling to India for 6 month beforehand. In my second class sitting area, I had quite a nice sleep till Surat-thani.

 

17.08.2010

From Surat-thani I left for Krabi (didn’t fall in the tourist trap but rather chose a local bus for half the price) down to Krabi. In Krabi, I took the ferry to Ko Phi Phi (very expensive (300 baht)).

When I arrived there, I thought it was the ugliest town ever, totally overrun by tourists, everything in English, everything very expensive… I found a room for 200 baht, a “cheap” place for Ko Phi Phi, which consisted of a bed and a fan (and that’s it… for that money I had had the nicest room ever with integrated shower and toilet in Nam Rong). I decided to go out and party that night.

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18.08.2010

I recovered slowly from the night, just to see that my shoes got stolen that night. I moved to a dorm with a lot of other people of my age there…

Went down to the beach of Ko Phi Phi, which would have been absolutely beautiful weren’t it for the masses of tourists. There I went swimming in the piss-warm lagoon (one had to walk about 500 m to get into water to swim). Here I also met Jen. We understood each other immediately really well and decided to book the same day a hotel in Ko Pha Ngang for the full moon party. Nothing much happened that day apart from that we saw the most amazing sunset ever…

This night I went out partying with Rueth, Paul (from Alaska) and Jen, which all were great characters. I had a great time (and spent only 120 baht).5 going partying

 

19.08.2010

Jen and me had decided the previous night that we wanted to walk to the other beaches. This plan evaporated when Jen heard of a private boat tour. After some discussions who wanted to do what, it was again Paul, Jen, Rueth and me who went onto a tour. We went snorkeling (mediocre compared to Indonesia) and then went around the islands. We got deposited after 3 hours on Runteree beach where we just lay on the beach. The trek back to our side of the island involved a trek through the jungle up a steep hill. From the view point, we saw the sunset as well as how lovely Ko Phi Phi could have been (but isn’t because of the mass tourism). After the amazing sunset, we went back to chill out in a bar. Since it was a really touristy bar (with fake kickboxing for drunk tourists) and I was tired, I went back pretty soon afterwards.

Ko Phi Phi Boat trip


Sunset on Ko Phi Phi

 

20.08.2010

Left early as I hated Ko Phi Phi and decided to go to Ton sai beach. After some travel by tuk-tuk bus and further using a long-boat, I arrived here in Ton sai and this is heaven. It is really chilled out here…

Relaxed for the afternoon, then met 3 girls travelling as well and went out with them to see the fireshow as well as around a few bars. Since I had already spent my daily allowance, I did not drink with them but it was superb either way. Unfortunately my batteries for my camera died half-way through the night and I cannot find any new ones here…

We witnessed a fire show that night as well

 

21.08.2010

Went over to Railay beach just next door through a jungle trek of about 20 minutes. Although I had mosquito repellent on, I got eaten alive by them.

I just stopped quickly for a slash and had already about 20 mosquitoes around me. I arrived in Railay just to find that it is as touristy but even more beautiful then Ko Phi Phi, surrounded by towering Karst mountains shimmering in all hues between red, brown, grey and black.

I decided to go up to the viewpoint, what I thought would be a small trek. As it turned out, I was very wrong. It was rock-climbing (I had flip-flops on) as well as very steap ascents and descents on wet (it had started to rain a little bit) red clay (my flip-flops did not have any profile whatsoever) in the middle of the jungle. Arrived at the top safely, after having considerable safety issues because I was climbing alone, I had a look at the view point (uninteresting…) and then wanted to go further to the lagoon. At first I thought that the path to the lagoon was actually the path that went down from the viewpoint again. When I realized my mistake, the path had gone from difficult to near impossible (at that point I was abseiling on a rope next to the track). Out of respect for the climb (and disrespect for my flip-flops), I started to go up again the slippery path again (using only my arms because it was so steep and slippery). When I finally got back down, I looked at the cliffs towering a good 200 meters above me and was thinking: “First time I have ever done rock-climbing in flip-flops”. To be fair I also looked the worst for wear…

I cleaned up in the sea on Railay beach and went back to Tonsei to my home. That night, I realized that I had developed a fever.

The hut where I was staying

 

22.08.2010

Stayed in bed for the whole morning, sleeping away. At about three I realized that the fever was gone and that I could eat again. However, I did not do anything that day and went early to bed, knowing that the next day I had to get up early.

 

23.08.2010

Got up early, just to be surprised by a “big, fat raindrops (litteral translation from Thai)” shower. I was already starting to fear that I would not be able to leave the island and renew my visa. When the rain finally stopped I went to the boat station. There I had to wait for a further hour until we had 7 passengers to make the trip to the mainland worthwhile. From the mainland, it was quite easy to catch a bus to the bus station. However, once arrived at the bus station, I got told that the bus to Ranong (Burmese border) that I needed to take to renew my visa on time was cancelled so I had to wait for two hours for the bus to leave. I arrived in Ranong at 6, far too late for renewing my visa. After some searching, I stayed in a far overpriced guesthouse (200 baht) for the night. There I also met a Japanese guy who was just building up a bar on an island nearby. He was quite an interesting personality, who had travelled far around the world but yet had to visit Europe…

 

 

24.08.2010

The previous day, the hotel owner had proposed me to do a visa run for 1000 baht. Knowing that I could get it cheaper, I had declined the offer (I had 20 dollars in a nearly new banknote: the visa would have cost me brand new 10 dollars…). So I got up at 6 am, to take a sawngtheo to the Burmese boarder crossing. I had to take a boat that was making the Visa run.

There I waited for the boarder to open, hoping against hope that I would not have to pay the 500 baht overstay costs if I turned up at the border as soon as it opened, and told them the story of my bus being cancelled. Unfortunately this proved a wrong hope. The first agent to arrive was really uptight about the rules and I started arguing about the exact length of the stay with him (it was worth a try…). He then started counting the days that I had spent in Thailand, and counted wrong. I was already getting hopeful but then he simply said that we should wait for his boss to arrive…

 

At the end, the official realized his mistake and I had to pay 500 baht overstay (which constitutes about ¾ of my daily allowance). Finally, I could go and do my border crossing, which involved taking a boat for about an hour to the Burmese border and then 1 hour to go back. The hassle at the start was horrible but I managed to get the price of the border crossing down from 500 to 300 baht. 

On the boat to Burma

It was quite an interesting crossing, however, I got told at the crossing that they did not want to take my 20 dollar note because it had a tiny smudge at the corner of the note (they only take brand new dollar notes, no idea why…). I had to go and change at a horrendous exchange rate of 41.6 Baht to the Dollar (which I still managed to bargain down by 34 baht) and obtained 10 pristine dollars. With that in my luggage, the border crossing went without any problems. I just managed in time to get the minibus to Surat-thani as well as the last ferry over to Ko Phan Ngan where I had already booked a bungalow room with a friend. The ferry took three hours and then the taxis wanted a further 100 baht to take us to our hotels (which I refused to pay, not having any money anymore).

Luckily, shortly afterwards a nice German woman agreed to take me with her scooter for free to my hotel since it was located along her way. After some searching, I found the place. It was the best room I had slept in for a long time, in the best scenery I had been a long time (right next to the sea, which had barely any tourists lying on the beach and was heavenly calm… exactly the kind of place I love). My friend however had not turned up and she only told me the next day over facebook that she had changed plans (which did not really bother me that much since she had already paid for the accomodation…).

 

25.08.2010

Spent the day doing nothing and resting for the full moon party. It was great…

Resting...

In the evening, I had the full moon party. About 10,000 people, loud music, a beach and the sea… what a party that was… I also met, weirdly enough, the friend of my ex. Apparently he recognized me from a photo she had shown to him, and spoke to me. Obviously I was quite surprised to hear the name “Louise Hawkins” at a place about 10.000 km away from her (btw that was at about 6 in the morning…). Later on, I realised that it was actually an experience to do maybe once but never again. Yes, there were loads of people there who were celebrating and the music was loud. What was disgusting were the couples having sex next to you or the ones that snorted whatever they could find up their noses. Once is fine... but never again.

10.000 people partied very drunkenly

Me, spitting fire- a trick I had learned in Loas

 

 

26.08.2010

A day of recovering from the full moon party… That day I also met a group of 7 French who I decided to spend the next day with exploring the island.

27.08.2010

We, the Frenchies and me, wanted to leave at 10.

It didn’t really happen… At the end, we left at around 1, and not the 8 of us but only 5 (one of them, Tom, had really burnt strongly burnt himself at the Full Moon Party, trying to hold a burning rope in his hands and putting it around his head… The other one stayed because he still had a hangover from Full Moon and the girl, Pauline, was pissed off because of something one of the guys had said before). We rented scooters.

We wanted to go from Ban Tai (the place I was staying at) to the waterfalls and then to the other side of the island. We hit the first problem, when the nicely tarmacked road started to disintegrated into a dusty field road. The problem with scooters is that, due to their small wheels, they are only stable when driven at speed. When the back wheel is not turning anymore but scraping over the loose, dusty path, then the scooter becomes incredibly unstable. If the front wheel is sliding, then you can immediately kiss the world goodbye. This, as well as the fact that their tires usually have no profile at all, makes them very difficult to drive offroad (which, considering the non-existence of tarmac, we were). The other problem is that Ko Pha Ngan is very mountainous.

The path therefore had steep inclines as well as descents. Mix both and you get quite a unique, (very Asian) situation. The inclines were accompanied with prayers that the back wheel does not slip, and the descents by that the brakes hold and that they don’t lock… When we came past the “road” that leads to the waterfalls, 2 people came out of it. They told us that it was a very bad idea to go down there, and, after having a look at the guys, who were bloody from one too many crash, we decided that it would rather show off our intelligence nicely, not to go down there. After a while, I remembered the lessons in Indonesian driving that Andy (mate from Indonesia) had given me: Do not use breaks… I took this advice (with some precautions: to use breaks less…) and it worked. The wheels were kept spinning and the scooter did not weir off the path as much. At the end we arrived at the other side of the island, to some really lovely beaches with crystal clear water.

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Going back was a lot easier, since we found a route back that had at least half of its roads tarmacked. That night, all we did was go to the tiny night market of Thong Sala. I went early to bed, wanting to get up early the next morning.

 

28.08.2010

Had a really stressful morning, during which I tried to organize my travelling out of Ko Phan Ngan (Tim: “where does the ferry leave from?” Asian woman: “Yes” Tim: “ So you know where the ferry leaves from?” Asian woman: “Yes” Tim: “You don’t know where the ferry leaves from?” Asian woman: “Yes” Tim: “Ferry Surat-thani” Asian woman: “No have”). After they sent me around the different piers for a couple of times (you got to love Thailand…) always saying “No have” to whatever I was saying (even when I was saying it in thai…), I finally, after two hours, managed to extradite the information that I would not be able to buy a ticket at the counter until half an hour before the departure.

Frustrated, I returned, booked ticket through an agency at the same price, packed my stuff, gave back my scooter (classically they wanted to make me pay for scratches that I did not make. I threatened them with calling the tourist police and they returned the passport to me…), said goodbye to my new mates from France and went away from Ko Phan Ngan, where contrary to previous belief, I had spent an awesome time, with the plan in my head to stay one night in Surat-thani and then go to Kao sok National park.

Arriving at Surat-thani at 5, the travel agency who had helped me beforehand was closed, so I set out to find a cheap accommodation. Turns out that this does not exist and the only place I could find was a hotel for 280 baht. Again, my plan to go to Kao Sok only tomorrow, was shot to hell and I booked a place in a minivan to go to Kao Sok that same night. Turns out that we were driven there with a sawng-theaw instead of a minivan, because the mini-van had had an accident earlier… Awesome (Tried to have get some money back but that conversation with the manager ended with a “Fuck off” from his side…). Arrived in Kao Sok late and found a really nice room for 180 baht (that’s 80 more than I wanted to spend…)

 

29.08.2010

Looked around for cheaper hotelroom to see if I could find any. However, everything seems to hover at 200 baht and above. In the end, I decided to leave the place where I was at, for a bungalow that was only 13 baht cheaper but had a much nicer feel to it, as well as more friendly staff…

For 167 Baht, it was not that bad a deal to get this beautiful bungalow...

At around 1, I went jungle trekking in the national park. With ¾ of the trails closed due to rainy season, I set off. After leaving the trail for the first time to a short way in the jungle - which is completely different here from what I had seen before in Indonesia- I realized that I really did not have the correct cloths on for jungle walking. My legs attracted in no time about 10 leeches. Most of them, I was able to peel off pretty quickly before the bit me, but one, actually my first one, was vigorously drinking my life juice out of my veins. I grew to hate them… That day, although I saw really beautiful things, what I can remember the most vividly are the two leaches that bit through my sock inside my shoe to get to my blood as well as the two leeches that had successfully attacked my legs (in the end it was less successful for them because I burnt them off… trick learnt in Indonesia)

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Tired, I went back, had a shower (my shirt was absolutely drenched in sweat… I had to wring out the sweat…), had a wonderful dinner of khao pad muu (fried rice with pork) at a reduced price from my really nice landlady and then went out to a bar. All bars were empty apart from one, where three Russians were sitting and drinking. I talked to them until the owner of the bar excitedly shouted for us to come over. He had found a LEMUR. I HAVE SEEN A LEMUR. These really shy apes are difficult to see because they are night active and are usually, as far I know, quite shy. This lemur, a small one, about thirty to 40 cm long of a grey white fur and brown spots around his eyes, was trying to flee from us. It went up to walk along the electric cable. The thing to know about electric cables in Thailand is that they are usually not insulated, at least not at the points where the cable attaches to the pole. We tried to hinder it from going into the direction of the pole by shining a flashlight at it but it stoically stayed on its paths.

A nice story to portray the dangers of the electrical poles to wildlife was told to me by one of the Russians who where with me at a table: One day they sat in a restaurant. There was a massive bang outside of the restaurant as well as bright lightening. The lights in about 4 houses suddenly went out. They told me that suddenly the stench of burning flesh was present. Upon leaving the bar, they saw the still burning carcass of a bird where it had dropped after taking 2000 V through its feet.

This is exactly the kind of fate that we saw the lemur have. The big sigh of relieve could nearly be felt, when it managed to pass the pole without being cremated.

 

30.08.2010

Another day at the national park. I was a bit disappointed that I had already seen the majority of the trails. However, it was still great fun to see the jungle as well as its many life forms. I have made photos of the most interesting ones.

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Loads and loads of ants

When I came back, the hostel staff had just cut the trees that were in the way of the customers. As a joke, they asked if I could help clear away the cut branches and trees for a free dinner and a coke. On a hunch, I accepted. So during about an hour, I helped carrying branches. It proved to be one of the best ideas that I had because afterwards the staff was a lot friendlier to me. Combined with my willingness to learn Thai (as well as my rather restricted Thai vocabulary), it made me quite an unusual tourist. Most people don’t bother to learn the language. Following that day, the staff made an extra effort to speak English and Rattana (the cook) was really nice to me (that night I had a conversation with her, which ended up in me speaking, her nodding her head and smiling, not having understood anything, and then asking a couple of basic questions, the answers to which she did not understand… It was all quite entertaining.).

That evening, I also got asked if I wanted to help the next day to build a carport. On account that I still wanted to visit the temple, I declined the question to help already in the morning, but told them that I would help in the evening.

I then had a shower during which I realized that leeches are a lot tougher than I thought. 5 or 6 of them had bitten through my jogging trousers without me realizing it and I was bleeding copiously. Wishing leeches to hell and beyond, I dressed (the leech bites continued to bleed so I had blood stains all over my shorts), I had my free meal and my coke and then went out to the bar for some socializing. At the same bar as yesterday, I met a group of 10 girls and 1 rather shy guy who were doing an organized tour around Thailand. I struck up a friendship with two of them and we decided to go to the nearby temple and to the cave the next day.

 

31.08.2010

I met the 2 girls at 10 the next morning. We had asked just beforehand their Thai guide. He told us that the caves we wanted to explore were about 8 kilometers away. Having read differently in a guidebook (it is hard to trust Thais when asking them for information because if they don’t know the answer to a question, they tend to say (or point) whatever first comes to their mind in order not to lose face.) I tend to ask several different people, weigh up the likehood that they actually know something together with overlapping information and then try to syphon out the truth. Somewhat of a pain at some points but still an unforgettable experience. In Indonesia, I once asked how far it would be to walk to a town. The Indonesian woman told me that it was only about 4 kilometers and that I would take about ¾ of an hour for it. After 5 hours, I still had not arrived… After taking an ojek (motorcycle taxi) for another ten minutes, I finally came to the town. When looking at the map that night, it turned out that I had walked over 22 kilometers. So much for Asian accuracy…

Turned out that the information that the guide gave us was also wrong. However we did not find that out until we had walked for an hour and gotten a ride back home with a Thai girl who actually knew where the cave was. Turns out that it was only 500 meters from our starting point. However, we still had a nice walk down the country side.

Me and the two girls.

A horde of monkeys lives at the temple and a woman has actually set up a business where she sells bananas and lichees to tourists who then feed the monkeys. She also owns a pet monkey, according to Jessica (the blond girl from California. I must confess I have forgotten the name of the German girl that also came to see the cave.) a baby gibbon. 

Me and the Baby Gibbon

In the afternoon, I helped the hotel staff to build a carport. In less than a day, we managed to erect the carport. In the evening, we celebrated the building of the carport with a small party between the four builders. Rattana, the manager of the “resort”, provided the drink. It was a very nice evening.

I left at around 9.30 and went to the same bar as yesterday where I met Jessica and the other girls from the group. We played a few games of cards, then they went to bed and I stayed on to talk to some long-time backpackers sitting just behind me, one of whom turned out to be also from Durham.

 

01.09.2010

Took the bus from Kao Sok to Phuket. The previous day, I got told that the beach Nai Yang was very near the airport. The Lonely Planet books said that this beach was really isolated, not full of tourists and relatively cheap. When I arrived there, I came to a tourist beach full of kite surfers and family holiday goers, with the cheapest rooms (basically just huts) going for 500 baht per night (which is my daily budget). Found one in the end very far away from the beach and really really bad for 200 baht but comparing that little hut with the room that I got for 200 baht in Isan or Kao Sok shames it. The rest of the day was spent with killing time, waiting for my plane to leave the next morning.

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02.09.2010

I left Thailand to enter the wondrous city of Hongkong. Please note that the next week cannot be done on 20 dollars a day. I was travelling with my dad, who was on a conference in Hongkong.

 

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