Back to Bangkok

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Feb 192006

Krabi (Wednesday, February 15, 2006)

Suddenly, It’s All Over

The group’s last full day in Thailand began quietly at the Maritime’s breakfast buffet. We arrived at the airport and despite some inefficiency at the check-in counter, we had plenty of time to shop and chat before boarding our flight from Krabi to Bangkok. The plane was packed, and the snack wasn’t very interesting, but we had a big lunch and an even bigger dinner to look forward to. Continue reading »

Rest and Relaxation

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Feb 142006

Koh Poda (Monday, February 13, 2006)

I awoke with the Poda island roosters around 5:40 AM, and could not fall back asleep. I tried to photograph sunrise through the clouds, and by 7:00 AM I had captured a few decent shots. Looking at the wind on the water, I decided I was feeling too lazy to snorkel, and headed back to the cabin to shower and pack. After an immense breakfast of chow fun-like wide rice noodles (with more than ample cooking oil), we loaded up two longtail boats for some scenic touring on the way back to Krabi. Continue reading »

Idyllic Island Home

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Feb 122006

Krabi (Saturday, February 11, 2006)

Based on the 2005 trip, I was totally unprepared for the huge crowds at our various destinations today. It started with the breakfast buffet, when I could not find an empty table, and all of the tables for our party were full. I joined Kasma briefly, because she had persuaded the kitchen to make an omelet of our left over kua kling beef from the night before. (A spicy beef dish that starts off seeming medium hot and very flavorful, and builds to hot hot hot.) After a mad dash of packing, we were into our vans and off to the pier to catch our longtail boat to our idyllic island home Koh Poda (gaw po-DA). We would go by way of some of the more popular spots in the area. Continue reading »

We Finally Found the Tourists

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Feb 102006

Trang (Thursday, February 9, 2006)

We enjoyed Trang’s restaurants and night market, but it was time to move on to Krabi, where we have upgraded accommodations and some of the finest food we will eat on our trip. The towns are not far apart, so it makes sense to stop a few places along the way and support the local tourism economy. But first, a breakfast of dim sum, Trang style. Continue reading »

Trang — Returning to Solid Ground

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Feb 082006

Koh Lipe (Tuesday, February 7, 2006)

Plans to try for another sunrise had to be scuttled when I overslept my alarm by 40 minutes. Perhaps the noise of the ceiling fan drowned it out, or my subconscious chose additional sleep. After a quick cold shower and a sprint of packing, I arrived in the dining room to a filling breakfast of rice porridge with a few chunks of fish, slivers of ginger, toasted garlic, and optional crushed chillies. Mmmm, seconds please. Continue reading »

Tarutao Marine Park (Mu Koh Tarutao)

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Feb 062006

Satun (Saturday, February 4, 2006)

The noisy air conditioner and defective showerhead made rising and shining a chore, but I made it to the lobby on time. We sped from Satun North and West to Pak Bara Pier where we dropped in on a local shop for a breakfast of pad thai noodles. I picked up a bunch of bananas for the island, but they would only survive 30 hours before becoming too overripe to keep eating. Continue reading »

West to Satun

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Feb 032006

Songkhla (Friday, February 3, 2006)

We hit the BP Samila’s Tonson buffet for a final breakfast, and the rice porridge with various mix-ins was fine. But there had been several snafus with laundry the evening before (not affecting me) which delayed our departure. Service seemed to be falling down in general: they forgot to bring my bags down from the hallway. Eventually we were underway to the South end of the town to visit a small fishing village and view boats painted in the style of the Southernmost provinces. The boats seemed rather worn out, and the garbage that washed up on this part of the beach did not provide an attractive background. Life here looked difficult; whether it was always thus, or was related to recent problems (drenching rains and flooding) we couldn’t tell. But it was time to move on. Continue reading »

South to Songkhla

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Feb 022006

Nakhon Si Thammarat (Tuesday, January 31, 2006)

“The Circus Comes to Town”

Along the road between Nakhon Si Thammarat and Songkhla, they probably do not see a lot of foreigners (or farang as we are known here). So we spent the day inserting ourselves into situations in which our presence becomes as much of an event as the local attraction we have come to see. It’s fun, sort of. Continue reading »

East to the Gulf of Thailand

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Jan 302006

Khao Sok Park (Saturday, January 28, 2006)

Fifth cold shower in a row, but because the cabin had cooled well during the night, this definitely was the coldest. Fortunately, it should be the last one for a while. We gathered with our bags in the open-air dining room for rice porridge with a tray of toppings, including fried garlic, ground chillies, white pepper, and a strange peppery blend sold under the Tiger brand. Thus fortified, we returned to the lake for the journey back through the karsts. We didn’t spot any more langurs, and perhaps not coincidentally, the lake was very busy. It was Saturday morning and Chinese New Year, so crowds of people had come out to party. We stopped at the visitor center atop the dam for a scenic overview, remarkably clean restrooms, and some drinks and snacks (coffee for some, ice cream for me). Then we set out for the monkey training school. Continue reading »

From the Sublime to the Rustic

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Jan 272006

Khuraburi (Friday, January 27, 2006)

“No hot water.” I eyed the earnest young man from the hotel staff incredulously and repeated “No hot water today.” He gave me the wai — the partial bow with hands pressed together — and departed. Not wanting anyone to lose face, I let him go, my resort fantasy in ruins. As I typed out some notes Friday morning, the room appeared to be swaying. I didn’t have anything to drink Thursday night, so I thought it might have been the residual effect of our somewhat rough ocean voyages the past few days, like the odd feeling you have after returning from an ocean cruise. Maybe a cold shower would help? Continue reading »

Into the Lap of Luxury

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Jan 262006

Koh Surin (Thursday, January 26, 2006)

After a brisk shower of Surin spring water, and a breakfast of rice porridge with fish chunks, we went our separate ways. In my case, this involved packing and finding a protective container for the Moken boat: using a box from a case of canned sodas, a Swiss Army knife and some duct tape I borrowed from a fellow traveler, I was able to create something good enough to get back to the vans. With other gifts accumulated in my luggage, a more permanent box cannot be far down the road. Continue reading »

First Snorkel

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Jan 252006

Ranong (Monday, January 23, 2006)

The Palm Court opened early at our request. In addition to the usual eggs, toast, and rice porridge, the restaurant served the Southern staple of thin rice noodles with various sauces. One was a traditional mild peanut sauce (more like a soup than the peanut sauce served with satays) and the other a stronger flavored fish curry. Two small bowls of noodles and three cups of Lipton tea would have to be enough to hold me until lunch. We convoyed to the pier without incident and loaded onto our boat for the two hour journey West to the Surin islands. Continue reading »

The Journey South

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Jan 222006

Bangkok (Sunday, January 22, 2006)

I woke before 4:00, feeling a bit sore from the massage (or the bed?). Time to clean up and pack for a day of driving and snacking. I miscalculated the time needed to pack and ended up the last to check out — 10 minutes late. Kasma gave me her most disapproving look; I must do better from now on. Continue reading »

Bangkok Revisited

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Jan 212006

Bangkok (Friday, January 20, 2006)

I kept waking up. Was it jet lag? The huge sticky rice and mango dessert I wolfed down the night before? Random worries left over from work? The rock-hard bed? Or just the nervous anticipation of hooking up with a new group, 12 people I have never met with whom I am about to spend 28 days in very close quarters. I distracted myself with the computer and occasional glances at the city lit by sunrise. The relatively clear sky above the smog layer promises another hot day (we don’t get forecasts in Fahrenheit here, but I suspect it will be in the 92-95 range). Continue reading »

The Getaway

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Jan 192006

San Francisco (Tuesday, January 17, 2006)

Breathe, breathe, I had to remind myself while rushing through last minute details at the office, running through Long’s for Pepto and bottled water, and packing too much stuff into too little space. The stress was intense, but the effort was repaid with a leisurely 2 hours at the airport before boarding our red-eye flight. (Note: I don’t recommend the chicken salad at the Andalé Mexican Restaurant and Bar.) Continue reading »