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Published: February 26th 2009
Here's your "Thailand" photo. Boring, but requisite.
Best three weeks ever. Fiona and I had hoped to find a quiet spot to write a couple papers for our Masters and decompress after Seoul. We were looking for a nice beach, a quiet bungalow and that was really about it. We got a lot more out of it though than we could reasonably have hoped for. (I know I just ended a sentence with a preposition, no nasty e-mails please Mom. (Yes, I know that was a run-on.))
Not to be too analytical, but I think you can boil down the excellence of the experience to two factors, which these days you'd be hard pressed to separate, Wally and the Island. We'll start with the less interesting of the two. The island has between 4 and 5 large beaches depending on the tides and although I know my professional level photos are knocking your socks off right about now, they don't really do the place justice. Not only is each one covered with your clichéd powder white sand, but every one of them has schools of tropical fish, teeming just a few meters from the shore on extremely well preserved reefs. This is especially neato bandito when you
One of a large population of frogs fond of our toilet cistern. Apparently it's the froggy equivalent of a human spa pool.
consider the tsunami tore through here a scant three years ago. The snorkeling blew anything Fi and I had ever done before away. Our bungalow was just a five minute walk away from the three best beaches and the walks through the jungle were impressive in their own right. The little island had all the expected jungle paraphernalia: exotic birds, snakes (we'll get to more on that in a minute), frogs, large hairy spiders, centipedes, and the occasional rat of course. Where there are coconuts so there are rats; so Wally says. It had a little meadow and fir tree copse that lined the path to one beach. It had a couple small mangrove forests. It had cliffs butted up right against the sea, and it had the most shallow, gradually sloping beaches you're likely to find. Each day you could see "snorkelers" walking around in waste deep water 100 meters out, practically on top of the farthest reaches of the reef.
Of course, when you live in a cozy little bamboo hut in the jungle, the local wildlife is bound to be jealous of your sweet digs. If you've read the photo captions you've probably cottoned to the
Wally in His Element
Bringing home the bacon.
fact that our bathroom was ours in name only. Really it belonged to the lovely little frogs and I wouldn't have had it any other way. The roof, well that belonged to the green snakes. And the porch while well worn with our tracks was even better covered by the dusty footprints of the local pooch pack (9-15 strong, depending who you asked). Our most exciting visitor was certainly the 2 meter cobra that made an appearance about two weeks into our stay. Wally's eyes aren't what they once were and his identification of the animal which slithered out from underneath the restaurant quickly went from brown rat snake, to python to...wait, what's this? python's don't have hoods. That's right folks a very large cobra was killed with in half a slither's length of our bungalow front door. Our cook / lady-boy hit it in the head a few times with a length of bamboo and cut off the head with a hoe. That was the end of that snake. Supposedly they're rare on the island, but they seemed a little thick on the ground to me. Aside from unfriendly visitors, there was also Lively, our rent-a-dog. Apparently if you
stay long enough some member of the pack will pick you out as their favorite. Lively picked us. You'll see a couple photos of her. She followed us everywhere, knocked on our door in the middle of the night to let her in to sleep under the bed, and basically begged for love we were happy to give the whole time.
So much for the island, My little clinical description of the place isn't going to capture it and a couple snapshots, even less so. However, despite all its statistical charms, somewhere up there near those of a 34-24-36 Austrian girl, that sort of thing can wear a bit thin (so I'm told) without a bit of personality and brains to fill out the internals, so to speak. For Koh Kradan, that's Wally. He runs the Paradise Lost resort in the middle of the island, and man are we glad we found him. He absolutely bent over backwards for Fi and I. I don't know exactly how you'd describe him and I'm not really sure I should try. Let's say he's a retired, down to earth, bon vivant
still viving bonly.
He spent the last 30 years or so
Can't Leave Well Enough Alone
Can I help it, she's so beautiful?
sailing around the Pacific islands and he's got the stories to show for it. Now there were a few "yachties" who came around the resort spreading their big fish stores of pirates and lightning strikes, but Wally's stories were more entertaining and they also had the virtue of being true. He cooks the best food on the Island, and in fact, the best food on any of the surrounding islands and anywhere we went on the mainland. He arranged really superb transportation to some notable spots in the surrounding area, back to the mainland for some cash and supplies, and all the way back to Phuket for our flight out to Singapore, really without us even having to ask. He let us (well me) mix drinks in the kitchen, hold a couple live wires while working on the wiring, turn a screwdriver to fix a fuel leak in the generator, and do a little tech support on the side. What a guy. I'm not doing this right. Not at all. Fi and I were leaking tears when we left. We loved the guy, and we're really going to have to make an effort to get back there.
Sunset photo #32.05.43332
there three weeks and I can't tell you every story about all the great people we met there. We met an excellent couple from Amsterdam (an ex-fetish shop operator, how cool is that?!). We saw a little bit more of some Catalans than we could have hoped for. (Actually they're very nice, but have perhaps an overly open view of nudity.) We hung out with an excellent pack of American hunter-gatherers, I mean hunters and fishermen. And we chilled with a sexy (depressingly so) Austrian couple and met a very charming German-English couple with their cute little boy. Hope I didn't leave any notables out.
Well I hope you enjoyed my first blog entry of this trip. There should be many many more in the future and hopefully they don't peter out in size as the trip goes on. I love hearing from anyone and everyone so drop me a line, and don't forget to say nice things about my photos. I have a fragile ego. Now I'll hand the mic over to Fi.
P.S. I know the Travelblog.org location says this entry is for Ko Muk, but we were really on Ko Kradan, a 30 minute boat
ride away. It's not an option for the blog for some reason.
Yes, it's all true. The island was as perfect as it sounds. As well as all the cool stuff already mentioned by Gabe we also did a wee trip around the surrounding islands one day. The highlight of that was Emerald Cave. It's this neat little cave on Koh Mok. It's a karst limestone rock, where the inside has been hollowed out. You swim through the cave for about 50m, before getting to the middle where there is a awesome little beach and shallow water to splash around in. Apparently, once upon a time, it was used by pirates to hide their stash. Now there are too many tourists to get away with that kind of thing.
As for Wally, he is definitely a one of a kind guy and an absolute gem. His kindness made our time on Kradan not just enjoyable, but memorable too. Thanks Wally, you're a star!
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