Thursday, 24 May 2012

Week two - playing catch up!

Week 2 (ok so not technically, but easier to start a day early)
Week two is a blur of stress, luxury, trying to fit in and relaxation, oh how good is relaxation!

Today we are headed to Krabi, Krabi is a providence that is on the opposite side of the bay to Phuket. We know that right behind us is a bus station that apparently according to the wonderful WWW. all the buses in Phuket leave from, plus a mini-bus company that will take us for 180 baht each... Except we are fresh out of luck today, and after an hour of nothingness my head is going insane. No lady at the minibus stall, she "ducked to the market" a neighbor says. No bus from the station to Krabi, only a bus from a different station. A new station has been built out of town and the www is yet to catch up on the news. So we catch, much to Becs disgust I am sure, the bright pink local bus to the other station. I race inside to get two tickets on the local bus to Krabi town and come back out to find Bec looking utterly bewildered and frustrated that the bus is full in front of us and the driver would not let her on despite me getting tickets inside. Our luck however had changed and there was someone on the bus with no ticket and the ticket counter would not allow the driver to buy the ticket for her, so she is kicked off, and we are huddled on. We are allocated the seats near the door and our packs get the doorway and half our seats. All good though, we are on the bus and not waiting any longer at a bus station!!! And the bus is nice, a little to nice to make me think we are in Thailand, leather seats, air-con that works! Luxury really.

We arrive in Krabi town after running some errands, including dropping medical supplies (diligently nursed by Bec, no pun there!!) at a hospital and are huddled off the bus. Only to be meet by more of the taxis and tuk-tuk drivers... Please no! Not more of them! There is no bus to klong muang, taxi it appears to be, we refuse the first offer of 800baht and walk off. The taxi organiser chases down the street and we get the ride for 600baht, by this point we have given up and just want to get there. In the air-con taxi, 4x80kmh was the level of the air-con, that's right windows down. And finally we are there... Out the front of the Sofitel. Yes you read right! We were staying at the Sofitel. Luxury all the way... No budget for the wander which way girls!!

I think the funniest part of our trip occurred on arrival to the sofitel, with us wandering in through the pool area with our backpacks on... All loaded up! A poor little pool boy, all dressed in white runs over to us, are you ok he asks with a puzzled look on his face (I swear he was thinking we were lost, we certainly did not look like we belonged that's for sure). We assure him that we need to check in and he quickly ushers us from the pool area, we were messing with the aesthetics of the place, and to reception. Luxury, yes it is! The room is huge, twin beds of which we only use one it is that big, the view splendid. The pool massive! If anyone knows me, they will know the first place I wanted to head was the pool, but no, things to do... Washing mainly. Imagine a room at the Sofitel, bathroom bigger than some of our previous hotel rooms, and us, in the bath splashing around with all our dirty laundry, soon to be clean washing courtesy of the Sofitel bath, soaps and some elbow grease!

So really you must be wondering why two girls like us have stumbled into the world that is so not us, so luxury, so proper. For the wedding of Sharon and Mark. We are here for a wedding, and the reason our trip was planned to start in may. The wet season in Thailand... We never were straight forward girls, why not visit in the wet season?

The next three days are a blur of wedding, mixed with socializing, swimming and eating.

A beautiful day was had by all on the day of the wedding, even if the groom was a little worse for wear (first ondansetron from the first aid kit used, seems its cheaper to just buy the whole bottle of whiskey here ;] ). The bride was stunning and the setting amazing! (Bec...... Have to add an amazing bridesmaid, pretty hot I think!!!!).

After all this opulence how were we to cope with the "budget life" we were familiar with?? That's right a move to more financially sensible lodgings was to come! Us packed and off down the road we wandered back to the Sofitel luxury and pool to visit Mark and Shazi and also for a sad farewell as they return to normality!!!!

Monsoon rains are short lived in Thailand

The remainder of the week at Klong Muang was spent down the road from the Sofitel. We had booked two nights but extended to four when Bec fell in love with the quaint little guest house and I just needed some more chill out time. Klong muang sunset house, is great, quiet, opposite the beach and the perfect place to base yourself...

Picturesque view

Members only fitness spa, and....

And beautiful sunsets... What more could you ever want? Decadence minus the price tag!

The only down fall is being so far out of town, but not a problem for us as we wonder the beaches and do a great deal of exploring, shell finding (on Becs behalf) and not much else.

Two special days were had whilst at sunset house, one was the day that we meet Nim, a baboon that had been trained for coconut collecting!! And here is where I hand over to Bec to describe this....
We had decided to go for another day of beach walking and try make it to the national park look out that we had heard about. We started off by heading out our front door straight to the beach and wow the coooooooooooolest thing!!!!!! This monkey ( baboon) I think but not sure was on a lead and wandering with his owner near our track, very cautiously we approached. Glad we took it so easy as the owner was a little guarded and the animal made it very clear that he was a no-go zone, for those who dont know primate .......eyebrows raised, teeth flashed and strange noises!! Kim will know what I mean by this but we were put in our place very quickly by this very cool animal! We were polite and very respectful to both man and beast and with our asking about how to approach a warm smile slowly spread over the mans face. Both him and his wife were willing to explain what exactly they were doing with such a beautiful animal and allow us to watch.

'Nim' meaning one,

was trained at the monkey school to harvest coconuts from the trees. He was about 5 years we think we worked out through the language barrier and had taken a reasonable amount of time to train how to collect the coconuts. Nim knew which ones were the ripe ones, green the sweetest to drink and the yellowish for cooking. This animal was up this tree so fast and how he jumped around the top picking the ripe fruit, bitting the stem and twisting until nut was free, absolutely amazing!!! Apparently he can pick a good few thousand a week, today was for the household.
As Nim worked away he started to jump frantically and got tangled in his lead and the tree, for a moment my heart jumped as I had visions of him hung, stuck up the tree but no he untangled and slid down. On the ground he made some strange noises that the lady told me he was him upset that he had been bitten by most likely ants. The man walked over to Nim and brushed him off, lifting his arms and tending to him as a loved friend. He then took one of the green coconuts, cut off the top tried the milk for taste and handed it to Nim who had a big drink and then let his master finish it off.

I had initially some conflicting feelings towards this animal tethered but then was witness to this act of love and devotion. The lady told us that Nim was her husbands and he did not like even her to go near him unless her husband told him to allow her. I felt a little less put out by this, the 'animal person' I am as it was not just me but anyone but 'the boss' Nim would display his back off signs to.
This unassuming genuine three allowed us to watch, question and even offered to share the fruits of their hard labour with us with reciprocated understanding and respect. What a true treat and privilege to have witnessed this, thank you Nim and family!!!!

While we never made the lookout we had an amazing walk around the point and through some true local village towns, we also came across a family rebuilding their shop with minimal tools just hands, concrete and determination. It was while Lena and I were taking refuge from a typically short deluge in their semibuilt shop front that we noticed it was not a dog one of the ladies was nursing but a baby primate the same as Nim, this one called Mimi with a sweet tooth for chocolate milk and a good grasp on the use of poppers!!! The three children laughed cautiously at us as we started in amazement at their cute pet, I wanting to touch but when asked was told no by the lady ( I think this may be another example of language barrier as Mimi jumped on Lena and it seemed ok).

The apprehension was gone when I handed over our camera for the kids to get the perfect shot for us and I have to say when one of the girls said the animals name Mimi squeaked back, raised her eyebrows and looked straight at the camera! Not the next national geographic photographer but priceless to say the least!!
Rain gone and we are reluctantly off to try find our way around this not so tourist spot.

Our final adventure for this area was a four island boat trip, our diligent host at sunset house rang through for us and we were to be picked up bright and early the next morning. We were up and ready with our host getting up even earlier to make sure our daily breakfast was made before we left. I have to at this point just put in a note about how diligent this lovely lady was, when we first got there Lena asked for banana pancakes but the lady had no banana but apologized profusely and promised that if Lena would be happy with pineapple today she would have banana tomorrow! The next morning she had banana as promised. However as Lena had asked for milk the previous day she thought that would be what she wanted, 'juice' asked Lena so as our breakfast was set in front of us (made beautifully from scratch with the love an aunt would put into the cooking) and Lena thinking she had forgot her juice our tiny host gets on her scooter zips up the road only to return a few minutes later with a bottle of juice, glass sat in front of us and we have learnt that the Thais really due aim to please!!!!!!! What a great little place we found here!!!

Back to the boat trip, a guy rocks up early as we are half way through our brekkie so our host sits him down with a coffee as we finish. I am interested in his smoke papers, they are funny looking so I ask and he tells me it is bamboo of sorts and the tobacco is like marijuana but not illegal "same same but different" as he offers one to me. I politely decline as he laughs at me, what must he think we are like?!?!?!?! Into the back of his converted ute as is the common form of transport and zip off we go! I have to admit I felt a little nervous on this trip as he flew through the roads all over the place at some rate of knots. Us skidding over the wooden seats in the tray back ( yes I know all the things our nurse/doctor friends are thinking went through my head and my sphincter had a rough time with it!!!!!!!!). Arriving at ao nang after a few stops to pick up other people and I felt like kissing the ground!!! We we're then given a color coded sticker and promptly sat, waited and watched as dozens of tourists arrived to this little booth. Buses, trucks, cars, bikes and all thinkable forms of transport ferry people here as they all get herded into lines and color coded based on the tour they are taking. This company really has monopolized the island trip market.

Our guide was a rasta hat wearing good looking young guy by the name of Alex, he had a wicked sense of humor and a good grasp on English. We went to daeng island first and had a snorkel around the waters there. I was first in as I did a scuba roll over the front after getting bored watching these asian tourists with ill fitting life jackets struggle around the steps. There was some great fish but poor visibility and strange little jellyfish with nasty little sting shortened our stay.

There was one russian girl who got seasick ( it was a boat trip, what did she expect), an interesting shade none the less!!!!
We had lunch at lading island, a national park with rangers who are stationed for short stints on the island. The island was only recently opened to tourists and the rangers are there to help protect the birds who nest there, apparently there is a big trade in nests!!!

Next we were shown around hong island lagoon, a tidal lagoon that was accessible only at high tide or else you got to walk in!!!
We then stopped on the island for a bit of R&R, as if it had been hard work anyway!! The Russian's were funny, scantly clothed in provocative poses for photos to send back home, so framed all that was missing was a lube and oil boy!!!!

The sunami that hit the bottom coast in 2004 had left a boat graveyard on hong island with the "bones" of long tail boats dumped far into the jungle on the island. The national parks have left this as a memorial and strong reminder of just how powerful nature is. While there are sunami signs all around this is the first recognizable sign of the devastation that occurred and I have a sudden sadness sweep over me. To see something like that on tv you think 'oh that's horrible' change channel and push it from your mind but to actually see the evidence before you is a big reality check and I feel guilty for being one of those people who thought 'oh that's horrible' from the comfort of my lounge room. I consider myself a very lucky and blessed person!

Wandering further and Lena needs a squat, with threats of "keep watch and don't take a picture" I giggle and snap away, only to get an all mighty dose of karma as hundreds of ants had strategically placed themselves on my feet for a coordinated series of attacks!!!! Aaaarrrgggghhhhhhh i skip and jump around like a total fool, "hahahahahaha, that will teach you" says Lena as we head quickly back for some salt water, sun and a dash back to the main land! Oh for those who are like me and don't like sunscreen and only apply under protest, the tops of your knees are a good place to start in a seated boat ride, FYI !!!!
Stay tuned for week three... Thai national park = death deifying caving, lizards as deadly as cobra and blood sucking creatures = heaven on earth!!!!

Wander Which Way Girls

Location:Kangmuong St,Vang Vieng,Laos

1 comment:

  1. Hi Helena and Bec

    The best pic on this page so far is of Mimi!!! :-) really cute.

    By the way are you looking to get Bear Grills job by eating bugs? or are you budgeting to save some coin? or are you just getting ready for your next adventure.

    Keep the stories coming.