Our time in Thailand is drawing to a close. A bit more shopping and eating is all we can fit in before boarding our onward flights.
Today is our “free day,” where we can roam Krabi freely and do whatever we like. With the harsh afternoon sun muted by overcast skies, it’s a little more realistic than usual to get in a lot of shopping, a temple, a massage, maybe even some physical activity. But relaxing also sounds really, really nice.
Our last three swimsuit days involved a dip in a hot spring, a splash in a pleasantly cool crystal-clear pond, and two boat trips to picturesque islands. Strenuous undersea workouts were followed by lavish Thai dinners. Really, it’s impossible for you to have any sympathy for my minor annoyances.
Every Southern trip is a bit different, but the most significant change for me this year will be two full day excursions to new snorkel spots near the island of Koh Lanta. But before leaving Trang, we will have a couple more food-related stops to make.
We will be taking a break from snorkeling for three days, and then resuming from our new island base on Koh Lanta. In the meantime, we’ll feast on Chinese-Thai cuisine, do a little early morning birding, and take a little time to relax. Or update our blogs. ;-)
On my first trip to Thailand, I did my first snorkeling in the Tarutao park. The undersea life includes enormous colorful clams and soft corals, which were quite novel to me as I had never seen anything like them in Hawaii or Cancun. In recent years, the one island in the park open to development, Koh Lipe, has seen enormous growth. Setting “Survivor Thailand” here might also have increased the popularity of the park.
Today I needed to be alone with my computer to finish my timesheets for January and to post a few blog updates. Luckily the battery held out until evening when we visited a new hotel with ample 24-hour electricity but spotty wi-fi. The battle continues.
Fish and coral; coral and fish. The program for an excursion to Koh Surin can be a bit repetitive, but for snorkeling lovers, there is a lot to see here, including the occasional octopus and reef shark, monkeys raiding the garbage, and a somewhat tamed hornbill. Add a visit to a “sea gypsy” village and you have a very full and exhausting four-day weekend. Just don’t plan on having internet access.
Despite many wonderful distractions around Nahkon Si Thammarat, we are focused on our journey to the Koh Surin marine national park (Mu Koh Surin) tomorrow. Today we have a lot of driving to cross over to the West side of the peninsula, so we have just a couple of quick stops on our way to the beautiful Greenview Resort in Khuraburi. After just one night there we head out to the islands where we will float around face down looking at fish and coral.
Since we had to skip a template on the way from Chumphon to Khao Sok, today will be our big temple day. Which means wearing long pants and trying hard to avoid offending anyone. But no day in Thailand is without humor and fun. Or food: there’s always more food than you can possibly eat.
With somewhere between 85,000 and 120,000 residents, Nakhon Si Thammarat is Southern Thailand’s cultural capital, and one of the South’s larger towns. With many more Thai than Western tourists and strong traditional influences, it’s still a place where many children look at pale skinned foreigners as a different species. That’s okay, I’m sure we don’t really understand them, either.
Khao Sok park is dominated by an enormous reservoir popularly known as Cheow Lan Lake. The dam built to create this reservoir was justified on the grounds of bringing hydroelectric power to Southern Thailand, but I can’t help thinking that someone foresaw the impact of easy access by boat to an otherwise difficult-to-explore forest. Now often hyped as “Guilin, Thailand,” the park’s magnificent karsts and reticent primates draw numerous tourists inland from their beach resorts for one-day or overnight adventures. Like us.
On previous trips, we covered over 500km to reach Ranong so we were in position to head to the pier early Monday morning. This year, we are sticking to the Gulf side of the Malay peninsula, so we should have a slightly more leisurely day, and we will stay at a resort I’ve never visited before. Change is good.
We have just one full day in Bangkok and we’re going shopping. With hundreds of vendor stalls, Chatuchak weekend market almost certainly has what you’re looking for (even if you don’t know until you see it). But with its confusing layout and crowded walkways, will you find it before the heat and stuffiness force you to the periphery for a refreshing beverage? Fortunately, refreshing beverages are everywhere you look. You might even find a full bar nestled among the souvenirs.
Since United keeps raising the number of award miles required for a First Class seat, I am again flying EVA’s Premium Economy (“Elite”) class. Compared with United’s Economy Plus, you get a better seat, better food, more personalized service, two free checked bags, and expedited check-in. I think it’s worth the extra cost, and now I can accumulate United miles because they joined Star Alliance. Oh, hold on, those are the miles I can never redeem. I must be a glutton for punishment.