Wednesday, February 4, 2009
more in far southern thailand
After sadly leaving our tropical paradise island, we headed toward the jungle - in the form of Khao Sok National Park. Famous for being home to the biggest flower in the world - which smells like rotten meat when blooming. How nice. Many of the 'towns' like the ones we encountered in India or earlier in Thailand near these national parks try to leech off of the proximity of the park and often offer tours into the park. Usually they offer transport into the park, food, specialized walking tours, a knowledgeable guide, and often it doesn't cost more than twice the admission to the park. Well, this town had gaul. Not only was the park within walking distance and without roads inside, the entrance fee was only four dollars. And what did these hotels offer? They offered to have a guide walk you around on the clearly marked trails for thirty-five dollars! Plus you have to pay your own admittance! The nerve (or as Uncle Mike would put it, the noive!)
Having avoided the terrible scammery here, we could enjoy even more the first official tropical rainforest we've ever been thoroughly inside (previous little jaunts into the amazon and other tropical forests were often in monsoon - not rain - forests). The first visitors inside, we immediate spotted some fluffy white gibbons swinging in the treetops, and a little while later, some long-tailed macaques. We climbed over gigantic vines, gaped at forests of the most gargantuan grass in the world - bamboo - as the sun leaked through the most air. After a long break for lunch in the hottest part of the day, we did an insanely vertical trail that was clearly created by a madman and, 500 feet from the end of the trail, Alex spotted a mouse deer. The smallest hoofed animal in the world, it is a whole 4 and a half lbs. and about a foot long. Nature is amazing.
After this, back to beach world, but this time we had to face all those beach bums who rent four-wheelers and speedboats. Ko Lanta, an island inexplicably filled to the brim with Swedes, was where we came to scuba dive the Andaman Sea. Since, during our diving course, we dove in the Gulf of Thailand, we saved our money so that we had enough to do one dive on the other side of Thailand, in the Andaman. Checking out a bunch of places, we went with the cheapest on the island, the biggest school which was run by - what do you know - Swedes! Tall and rosy-cheeked, I felt a little bit like I was home with them.
A few days later, we hopped on their slow boat to go dive 90 minutes away on Ko Bida. With our somewhat careless divemaster Liam - who kept kicking the coral and anemones with his flippers - we again entered the gorgeous underwater universe. There were schools of hundreds of fish, lobsters, crabs, sheer walls of anemones, giant fan coral, jellyfish, lionfish, scorpion fish, and trumpetfish. Ahhhhh. If only diving where cheaper, I'd never come up.