A Travellerspoint blog

Happy New Year

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Johnny got up at 6 to chase down the world’s biggest flower. Despite the early bedtime, Rachel was still too tired from yesterday’s hike to rouse from bed. So Johnny scrambled up the mountain on his own and first found a coffee brown giant cabbage with a fleshy inside, the bud of Rafflesia. The flower in full bloom is incredibly prehistoric, no leaves or branch or stem, just a giant peachy, flesh-colored bloom coming right out of the ground. Curiosity satisfied, he headed back to his favorite flower, Rachel, who had actually gotten up, had breakfast and packed – lets go! Our destination was pre-determined by the Thai government, which only gives visitors entering the country by land 14 days in country – then you have to do a border run to exit and re-enter the country for 14 more days. A new policy courtesy of the new government, and not one travelers are appreciating. So, it was off to Ranong at the border of Myanmar for us. We arrived by bus, rented a scooter, and headed to the immigration office. After a harrowing boat ride to Myanmar, dealing with hustlers on both sides, our passports were stamped and we were good to go. Ranong isn’t much of a town, but it does have hot springs, Thai style – which means you don’t actually get into the hot spring, but sit on the edge and splash the healing water onto yourself. There’s also a heated floor, outdoors but rather like a gymnasium, that one can lie on after the hot springs to get even more… hot. Interesting. Then its back to our hotel room where we were able to catch up on email via wireless Internet and movies via satellite TV. Ah, technology.

Posted by ladierae 06:33 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Wrapping up the year - Jungle Style

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Time to get into the park! We’re up and going before 9am, enjoying a breakfast of Nescafe coffee and donuts on our way into the jungle. What we thought would be an hour or two of hiking turned into an all day adventure – the park’s map was a little off. Luckily there was a park headquarters halfway in, so we were able to get water and snacks like fried snap peas and strange garlic/butter flavored crackers. Our destination was a 100 ft tall waterfall, which required serious bouldering and crossing a fairly deep section of the river. It was worth it – see photo. The water was freezing but we were a sweaty mess, so the cool down was great. On our way out we missed the wild elephants we were hoping to see, but did get to see the trampled bamboo they left in their wake. We also enjoyed lots of birds chirping, bugs chattering and lizards scrambling around, though Rachel was feeling pretty tired and itchy by the end. Too wiped for much else, we cleaned up back in our tree house and then headed to New Year’s Eve dinner – but where to go? We had no idea, so ended up at a restaurant just down the road from our jungle hut, Thai Herb, which was actually quite good. For the first time either of us can remember, we did not stay up for midnight! We must be getting old…

Posted by ladierae 06:32 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Jungle Boogie

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

We’ve had enough beach. Its time for the jungle. So we hop on a bus to Khao Sok, a national park about 4 hours away. The drive is beautiful, lovely green mountains on both sides. For a snack we have banana leaves stuffed with sticky rice and banana, sticky rice and sweet potato, sticky rice and an undetermined root vegetable. Delicious. When we arrive in Khao Sok it was surprisingly full, but we found a giant tree house with a hot shower, perfect for Rachel’s itchy welts. We toddle around on a motorbike, taking in the scenery and some local villages, Johnny swims in the river behind an exclusive resort, we scramble through a hidden cave to another point of the river and Johnny swims again, surrounded by tons of orange fish. After a curry dinner, we call it an early night.

Posted by ladierae 06:23 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Bed Bugs

Sunday and Monday, December 28th & 29th, 2008

We know we’re not long for Railay (too expensive, too crowded, too too) so we pack in the morning with a tricky climb up slippery red rocks to an absolutely gorgeous lookout point that reminds you why the place got popular to begin with. Then a scramble down to the hidden beach Johnny found the night before, only to discover that half of the other tourists on Railay had also discovered it. Still, we had a really nice swim in beautiful, clear turquoise water lapping both sand and cliff, and then hustled back to our resort in time to check out. Lunch on the nice beach, then a boat across to Ao Nang, our first mainland stop in Thailand. The town is really just a take off spot for various activities – island hopping, shopping, tons of massage parlors – but we decide to stay a couple nights to sneak in an 8-island tour. It was worth it – Rachel got to snorkel for the first time and absolutely loved it, we hiked around the island on which the film “The Beach” was shot, really beautiful spot, had a nice lunch on Koh Phi Phi (or Koh Poo Poo, if you don’t like crowds) and in general soaked in a lot of sun, sand, and pristinely blue water. The day was just about perfect…

Until Rachel discovered she’d been eaten alive by bed bugs the night before.

That’s right, bed bugs. Nasty, horrible, disgusting little bloodsuckers made breakfast, lunch and dinner out of her. Why did it take us a day of island hopping to discover this sad truth? Because bed bug bites take time to appear, sometimes as long as 9 hours, so as we hopped islands, Rachel sported more and more itchy red welts – and in all kinds of interesting locations that mosquitoes, at least when one is wearing clothes, can’t attack. By the time we got back to our hotel, Rachel was a bit of a disaster, and it was time to do some online research into the appearance and nature of bed bug bites, since neither of us had any previous experience. Yup – google confirmed our suspicions, and we had to move hotels. The good news is we upgraded significantly while downgraded our price – Johnny bargained us into a gorgeous room with a semi-outdoor, dark wooden tub that should be upwards of 2900 Baht for a mere 800 Baht – or about $22. Mini bar, TV, DVD player, outdoor tub, ac, big bathroom with a wall separating the shower (if you’ve been to Asia, you know how rare this is), complimentary flip flops and umbrellas, lovely décor – if you have to be miserably covered in itchy red welts, well that’s the kind of place to do it. The bath turned out to be a godsend, as hot water is a very relieving treatment for the itch of bedbug bites, so Rachel actually got some sleep after a good long soak. And… a viewing of “The Beach” on DVD, in honor of our 8-island tour.

Posted by ladierae 06:22 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Day lost track

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

After last night’s farewell party, we don’t have it in us to travel far today, so we take a ferry to Railay Beach, about 90 minutes away. Railay is a paradise that has, unfortunately, been over-run by pasty paradise-seekers. Gorgeous rocky and green cliffs frame a perfectly white beach on the west side of the island, which not coincidentally is also the tres expensive side – so we head to east search of something closer to the $15 a night hut we’ve just abandoned on Koh Lanta. Not to be found – so we spend a bit more for a solid bungalow sporting hot water and a TV, and the pool is nice too. The east-side beach, however, is dirty and smelly and really not so nice, which sends us back to the west-side beach for dinner. Rachel has pizza, which is actually quite good, and Johnny enjoys a spicy green curry. That’s about all Mrs. I can handle, so the mister tucks her in and goes exploring a bit on his own, discovering a hidden beach, some caves, and a resort so spendy they have 24 hour guards patrolling the grounds with flashlights in order to keep the riffraff out. Too bad, or Johnny would certainly have sampled their no doubt more expansive pool before heading back to a very sleepy wife.

Posted by ladierae 06:21 Comments (0)

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