Craig and Ross in Thailand

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December 23rd 2009
Published: December 23rd 2009
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Eposide 4: South to the Islands
(entry by Craig ,December 23, 2009)
Hello everyone. This is likely to be our last entry before we return home on December 28/29.
We continue to have an excellent time. This may well have been the best trip ever.
Our last blog was from Chiang Mai in the North. We spent the last day at a very touristy Village of long neck women. It was interesting, and when I sat beside them, my neck looked almost as long! Mostly they tried to sell us stuff. Ross liked the look of a little carved box for his sister, Wendy. But I said it looked like it was carved from ivory. We asked what it was made of - through our guide, who acted as interpreter. She made motions with her hands implying elephant tusk. I said, certainly not - we cannot take elephant tusk back into Oz, and I would not want to. When this was communicated to her, she made motions to her legs and arms, and the guide said, she had made a mistake and it was actually bone.
"No, we could not take bone into Australia either".
Then she ran to a tree and started rubbing it. The guide said she made another mistake, it was actually made of wood.
"Ah, NO, we could not take wood back into Australia either".
Then she found a rock on the ground and rubbed that. The guide said she made another mistake and it was actually made of stone, and that it had been polished to look like ivory....or bone...or wood !!!!
We politely declined.
We flew from Chiang Mai to Phuket, but then headed one hour north and stayed at the seaside area of Khao Lak. It was a nice spot to stay overnight en route to our next wilderness area, Khao Sok National Park. We had a bungalow on the beach. It was lovely, but full of tourists (mostly German and Scandanavian folks) and prices were high for everything - well, for Thailand.
Anyway, we then went the next day to Khao Sok national park. In a trip of so many highlights, this was the highlight for me. We first stayed in a treehouse by the river, which was basic but lots of fun. When we went inside, Ross opened one window to air it out, as I opened the opposite one. A bat promptly flew in one window, circled a few times, then out the other window. There were cheeky monkeys here (macaques) which we watched from the bar in late arvo while sipping on Chang beer (Bryan, you would love it). Then we got a boat one hour north to stay on bamboo raft houses deep in the park. This area was fantastic, with amazing limestone karst mountains all around, dense jungle at the base, on a huge lake. We met a great bunch of people staying on the lake. (The whole complex was floating on logs, strung between two islands, including bar and huts).
One couple was from Alaska, and Ross said to me that I should ask him what he did- he might be a park ranger (my dream job, long since abandoned). I said, yeah sure. ....He asked him, and YES, he was a park ranger ! He had me transfixed with all his stories of grizzly bears, and day to day life in the park, and what it involves (Yes, Sue, I wanted to give up lab work then and there !). Our guide at the raft house was a young guy called "You". This made for amusing conversations. He ended up getting smashed on Thai whiskey early in the evening then tried to articulate to us what we had planned for the next day of the tour. Well, he went off on tangents and made little sense, and was so fucking funny we were all in tears of laughter. You (that is, the guide) had apparently recovered by dawn, when we went on a dawn cruise and saw langurs (monkeys), gibbons, hornbills (huge colourful birds).
We then travelled down to Krabi town - the worst of all white knuckle rides - luckily the last. Stayed there overnight then got boat to West Railay - this is one of the most beautiful beaches, again with amazing limestone karst formations all around. The place is laid back rasta/hippie with smell of marijuana here and there. The water is like a warm bath. We spent the night drinking too much with an Aussie couple and Americans from Seattle - who were Democrat voting atheists. They love Dawkins. Lots of funny discussions, mainly at the expense of organised religions.
Tomorrow we go to the well renowned Phi Phi island - supposedly worlds best beach. We will be there for Xmas day, (and on Boxing day, when it will be the five year tsunami anniversary) then up to Phuket for last minute shopping, then fly out on night of Dec 28.
To those in Sydney, see you on or after Dec 29. To those in Melb, I will regrettably be back at work on Jan 3.
Love to all and merry Christmas.
Craig and Ross


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