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Published: December 21st 2006
Sorry it has taken awhile for the next blog! We have been out of contact for a few days in Khao Sok National Park and only just arrived in Phuket yesterday afternoon. Internet is 150baht an hour at the resort... just cause we are staying in 5 star doesnt mean we can actually afford it! Haha! In Patong Beach at the moment to get some laundry done and try update the blog and have gotten sidetracked in thai 'secret rooms' buying illegal dvds! Shhhhh! More about our crazy shopping spree in the next blog!
Where do I start?! I will probably forget lots but will add it all later when I think of it!
Thailand Transport - its a scam!
So after all my research I was certain we were NOT going to get ripped off with any private bus companies! But suddenly trying to figure out the Govt bus system from Ko Pha-ngan to Khao Sok seemed too hard... the lady did get me at a vulnerable time right after the 4 metre waves episode so I guess I can use that as an excuse?! She seemed soooo nice!
The better treehouse at Arts
Treehouse C was gorgeous inside and out! And the location was much prettier!
started as planned.... Raja Car Ferry to the mainland, and while it wasnt 4 metres waves I was still VERY nervous with the side to side rocking! 2 1/2 hours later I was glad to hit dry land! We were herded onto a bus and driven to Surat Thani... we were assured by the lady we bought our tickets off that we would be taken straight to Khao Sok (no waiting) but suddenly found ourselves kicked off the bus at Surat Thani... a man looked at our sticker on our chest written in thai ( I later found out its translation was rich money or something equally stupid?!) and led into a small back alley where we were crammed into a little open ute with 20 others! We were then dropped off at some dodgy cafe and told to wait.... 2 hours later I was fuming and every time I asked I was assured "Khao Sok 10 min"... We then were put in the back of another vehicle and taken to a travel agent and told to 'sit and wait'... Half an hour later as I watched the Govt bus pull out from across the road with Khao Sok on
its front I was getting very mad... I was then told to "come come" and led 50 metres up the road to some dodgy shop with nothing but chairs... "you wait khao sok 10 min"... another 20 min past and we were then crammed into a mini van with a bunch of thais and off we set... hopefully for khao sok!
We were dumped 2 hours later at the entrance to khao sok... the sod didnt even have the decency to drive us the extra 2 kms to the hotel... when I asked him to he just looked at me, jumped out, opened up the back of the van and dumped my bags on the side of the road... hmmmm ok then! A nice man approached and said he would take us... 'how much?!' - 'me take you for free jump in' ... in the back of a old ute we got and 5 minutes later we were at the hotel... free of charge! I almost gave him a tip! But didnt!!!
Khao Sok National Park
We arranged a 3 night stay at Khao Sok National Park through Kris at Limestone Lake Tours... she was
Chieow Laan Lake
On our way out to the floating rafthouse... the photos really are disappointing ... they do not do the place the justice it deserves
brilliant and so was our stay. We booked into Arts Riverview Lodge the first night and were taken to Treehouse D for the night.... It was pretty nice but not as nice as what I was hoping .... it had walls and a roof, but they didnt connect so it made for some interesting house guests at night.... luckily we were safely encased in mosquito nets! Getting up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night however was NOT an option no matter how much I was busting... and there was some tree banging against a little piece of tin right above my bed... it sounded like monkeys jumping up and down all night.... Not impressed! The food was amazing however and the restaurant overlooks the river where wild monkeys come down to feed and play around sunset... it was great to watch with a cocktail (and the cocktails were much cheaper than at Milky Bay)...
Day 2 dawned and we were up bright and early to head to Chieow Laan Lake (think that might be spelt wrong?!)... the drive there was the most spectacular thing I have ever seen... I swear that if anyone comes
Chieow Laan Lake
On our way out to the floating rafthouse...
to Thailand you just have to do Khao Sok and the Lake... my pictures certainly will not do it the justice it deserves... it was breathtaking.... there are limestone karsts everywhere... kind of like a mountain but they go straight up and down.. there is no way you could get up one... We arrived at the lake and met with Kris who introduced us to our guide Ou that would be taking us to the Floating Rafthouses for the night. We jumped in a longtail boat and set off on a 45min ride across the lake.... again this was the highlight of my whole Thailand trip... I hope the pictures do it some justice...
We arrived at the Rafthouses and given a room right at the end furtherest away from the Restaurant and toilets... great! I wasnt that impressed with the room... although the whole place was basic we were definately given one of the least attractive and smallest rooms.... The Floating Rafthouse is exactly that.... Bamboo huts floating in the middle of the lake... you have to walk across a dodgy walkway for ages to get to land to the toilets.... and as the night went on and
the wind picked up the walkway started to disentergrate! Funny stuff!
We went for a swim and Trent went out in the canoe.. he thought he saw a fish so went to investigate only to find it was a snake out for a swim! He paddled away pretty quickly... he then didnt want to get in again so I said "Trent that was probably an once off, I will bet you 2000 baht we dont see another!" ... doh! Half an hour later I went to get something out of the room and I could hear some rustling (like a plastic bag)... I thought there might of been a plastic bag caught in the water so turned to have a look just as a snake fell from the roof above my head and plopped into the water right next to me!
2000 baht and a move to a bungalow closer to civilisation later we headed out for a jungle walk and to explore a cave after an amazing lunch... we chickened out of the big cave as we were told there are heaps of spiders in there and opted for Coral Cave... it was a baby cave but
we did manage to see one spider... First we took the Longtail Boat for about 15 min followed by a jungle walk in which Trent stayed one step behind the guide the whole time (very funny to watch) we arrived at a little floating bungalow where we borrowed a raft (literally bamboo tied together with a motor on the back) which took us to the cave... we only spend 10 min in the cave and then headed back... very tame activity but both Trent and I were scaredy cats!!
When we got back we had another swim and some dinner.... the food served there was amazing then played Connect 4 for an hour (there is not much to do but relax out there)... there were two other tour groups out there (incl a group of Swedish Bikers! Very funny to watch) .... we sat on our balcony for ages watching people stumble past on their way to the toilet... due to the high wind (it is normally calm but the weather seemed to follow us) the walkway was slowly disentergrating before our eyes... watching people almost fall through right in front of us was hilarious.... I swear we were
both 13 that night.... giggling and even at one point hiding in our room to watch people almost fall through!! Very funny.... it ended up being a sleepless night though as all I could hear was the bamboo snapping and I had visions of us waking up in our floating bungalow somewhere on the other side of this massive lake!!
The next morning was a great breakfast (Trent had his first official 'thai' breakfast of rice soup with chicken which he loved) and then Trent and the guide went out for a canoe while I had a swim... and then we headed back to Arts for our final night.... Although it was very quiet out there I actually felt pangs of sadness about leaving as we rode back to shore.... it truly was a magical beautiful place that everyone should see once in their lifetime... I am hoping to do a day trip next week with Heath as I know he would love the place too....
When we arrived back at Arts Kris had requested another treehouse due to the 'tree episode'.... we were put in Treehouse C on the other side of the property overlooking the river
Our First Room At The Floating Rafthouses!
This is the one where the snake dropped from the verandah roof above my head... I was standing where you can see Trents feet!
where the monkeys play... this treehouse was magical... very beautiful and surprisingly the same price etc as the last one.... if you ever go here request A B or C they were in the best position and had beautiful stained glass windows and great balconies.... In the afternoon we were taken to a river for some canoeing... Trent and I just sat back while some poor little Thai boy (probably about 16 yo) paddled for an hour and a half... we kind of felt guilty especially when we got my fat ass stuck on a rock (was sitting in the middle) and when he tried to dislodge the canoe he fell in! The scenery was great except for the moment he stopped the canoe and went back to under a big tree saying "look snake" pointing upwards... Trent and I were both "no look snake keep going"... "but look see" "no look no see lets get outta here"!!
We gave him a tip at the end due to the guilt of how hard he worked...
When we got back to Arts we were walking to our Treehouse when a monkey appeared from the tree in front of us...
The Dodgy Walkway
This progressively got worse thru the night!
we were like "ahhhh ok wild monkey not good"... we made it to the safety of our treehouse only to have about 3 of them surround us in the trees and one made the special trip up the stairs... we couldnt get inside fast enough.... eventually they all climbed really high above us so we bolted for the safety of the restaurant! These ones seemed to be more tame than the ones we encountered in Bangkok but I think we are scarred forever and didnt want to take the risk of rabies!!!
We had early nights in Khao Sok... there was not alot to do... we were in bed asleep by 9pm at Arts safely encased in the mosquito nets! When we woke up the last morning we packed to leave and trust me to have a spider in my jumper! Both Trent and I are equally terrified so it was pretty amusing trying to get the spider off the jumper... and then he just disappeared... kind of like my toast at brekkie this morning (but thats another story!)....
The Scary Bus Ride to Phuket
Arts dropped us to the main road around 830am and
Just before he spotted the snake in the water!
we waited for a bus to appear... we had the choice of fan or airconditioned and considering it could take anywhere between 3-5 hours to get to Phuket we decided to get a/c. The fan bus turned up first and it was tempting till a guy jumped out and stuck a wedge behind the wheel as a handbrake... hmmm tempting NOT! The a/c bus turned up about half an hour later and we jumped on... unsure how much it would cost... we had heard crazy stories about the driving and I have to admit after everything that has happened lately I was slightly nervous... the day before on the way to Arts from the Floating Rafthouses we had almost had a head-on with some crazy bus that came screaming around a corner at us almost tipping over from the speed! It had just missed us!
The bus cost us a crazy 320 baht for both of us (only $12 approx) which was a bargain.... but what a ride! The first hour was spent gripping the armrest and trying to breathe normally as it screamed down windy steep narrow roads at a speed way too fast! It is one of
those really tall buses where the driver is sitting underneath the passengers... and it felt tall as it careered down the hill! Once we got to the bottom he seemed to slow down but then the real fun began... I honestly could not believe my eyes and I can laugh about it today!
Here we were on a big mother bus screaming around blind corners and over crests on the wrong side of the road overtaking up to 3-4 cars at a time.... We couldnt see what was coming the other way at all! I honestly thought our time might be up and I am now a huge believer in fate... when your time is up! On the occassions there were cars coming the other way they simply moved over as did the cars we were overtaking and it was 3 abreast! Seriously!
I was so glad to see Phuket!! The driving over here is something you really cannot grasp! From the family of 5 on a motorbike with no helmets to overtaking cars when there is a truck coming towards you... Makes you wonder.... maybe the Oz Govt is wasting their money promoting seatbelts, helmets and speed
Swimming at the Lake
We were told the water is heavy so it was best to wear life jackets when swimming... very relaxing just floating there
limits! Hahaha! The Thais seem to do it just fine! Surprisingly I have not seen one accident although I have heard that the death/accident rate is pretty high!
Phuket and Merlin Beach Resort
Merlin Beach is beautiful... Phuket is great although my feelings at this stage are mixed... it is very westernised and almost like being in Queensland! Which we kind of love as its not so full on but at the same time I wouldnt trade the experiences to date, to only spend my time here - it has the feeling of being in your 'comfort zone' if that makes sense! We have overspent again here in only 24 hrs and think its time we retreat to the comfort of our expensive resort to enjoy (even though we cant afford the bloody food there!!!)
Aussies are everywhere in Phuket and especially at Merlin Beach Resort. We honestly havent encountered another Aussie in any other place we have been... maybe that is why it feels so 'comfort zone-ish'... I dont really have alot to say at this stage about Phuket as we have only been here 24 hours... sadly Trent only has 2 more sleeps....
When we went on our trek, there were hundreds of these little frogs everywhere!
tonight we are going to splurge and eat at the resort and tomorrow we are going to spend the day at the resort followed by the famous Friday Night BBQ that is organised on the TripAdvisor Phuket forum by a local couple Richard and Megumi... lots of Aussies, Brits and others go and I think we have at least 30 organised for tomorrow night... more about that in the next blog!
Breakfast was pretty good... a huge buffet and my first bacon and eggs brekkie since I have been in Thailand... tried to not do it up until now but have put on 2 kgs since being here anyway so I should of just done it! I happened to watch a piece of toast disappear into thin air this morning... we put our bread in one of those toaster things and only one slice came out! Trents came out after mine and we thought it might push mine (if it was stuck) but it seriously just disappeared! Only me huh!
Shopping in Phuket
We have gone a little shopping crazy in the past 24 hours...
Examples of what things have cost here so far:
Gorgeous Gucci Bag (that I really didnt need) + 2 pairs of Oakley Sunglasses = 1500 baht
DVDs last night 60 baht + this morning (1st customer special again) 50 baht Music DVD 80 baht
Kids Billabong Shorts 200 baht
Womans Billabong Shorts 200 baht
Mens Billabong Tshirts 150 baht
Kids Billabong Tshirts 150 baht
Element and NY caps 250 baht each
Yep pretty much out of shopping money now! Until Thursday! Hahahaha!
Anyway that is a long blog so sorry if you have fallen asleep! Hope you didnt give up on me! I am outta here... Heath arrives on Sunday and we have some big plans for the time he is here... I expect it to be a little more fast paced due to being able to do more night activities than what Trent and I have been able to do... I hope to do a day trip up to Khao Sok with Heath and we will probably hire a car and attempt to do a bit of Thai Style Driving! Hehehehe! Interesting I am sure!
Love to you all... emails appreciated.. everyone is a bit quiet lately! I cant believe it is 4 days
to Xmas... being over here we have lost track of days/dates etc and it doesnt feel like Xmas time at all!
Reet & Trent xxxx
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