Khao Sok expedition
13.10.2010 - 13.10.2010 28 °C
The next morning at 8 I was ready for the jungle experience. I got picked up after the breakfast and was in a group with three Germans. Lars, Lian and Louisa. Not very German names indeed. We went for a 65km ride to a lake. The lake was formed by the building of a dam. Before, it was all rainforest. The view, like so often, is amazing and beautifull. The boatride took one hour and since I got up, it is raining, raining. But really, monsoon raining. So everyone wears there fashionable raincoats . I have a blue one. And in the group we have red, black, yellow and green. And, sure it was more, but I forgot. Under way, we also picked up an older couple from yes, Argentina .
But they lived in Israel for a long while already. When I asked the man which soccer team he supports, he said; argentina. It's in my heart. And he wore an Argentina cap. That's why I knew so quickly.
We arrived at a village build on the water. Had an amazing lunch. A lot of food. Really needed for the 4 hour hike ahead. Also, we had a swim in the lake. The water is really good. It's more warm than any shower I had since Dubai. And I really long for a hot shower again.
After, it was time to just take the nescessary stuff and go. Some people had a waterproof bag (diving bag, luckily), so we could take the camera with us. So there we went; our barefoot Thai guide, 3 Germans, me and the older Argentinian couple. The start of the hike was already pretty tough. It was on a steep slope, next to the river. Still, monsoon was welcoming us . When you did a misstap, the sand would fall in the water. And, the river was not a good one to fall in. Stones and a lot, a lot of current. Some of us got the first leeches on their feel. Happily being taken off by others. Blegh, anoying animals. I already had one this morning on me. He was just starting to suck my blood when I took him off. We continued. The walk was phenominal. But yes, difficult. Some parts were really small and steep and you had to look carefully where to put your feet. Until now everyone was still fairly dry, except for the monsoon rain that soaked the clothing. But then, we had to cross the river on a rope. No way to stay dry now. The current was very strong and the tourguide went first, helping the argentinian man. The Argentinian womam was second in line and I was thirth. She was in the middle of the rope, but the current was too strong and she barely hold on to the rope. With the right technique it was ok, but you also needed to use your arms correctly and if possible, try to put your feet down on the rocky ground. She was literally floating on the water, with her hands on the rope, but not having a lot of energy. So, I helped her to get to the other side of the river. It was quite funny, because for her it was really scary. For me it was a difficult river crossing, but not too bad. Yes, if you would loose the rope, you would hit a lot of rocks and be washed away tens of metres.
The travel continued and now we were not only wet from the rain, but also soaked because of the river. I had walking shoes and they were soaking, as were my socks. Others had walking sandals. But there were leeches. More and more. So yes, everyone got some of those dirty animals sucking the blood and we took them off. It turned out not to be so difficult, but no, they are really disgusting. We saw some spiders and a few monkeys Yes. Another river crossing. This time a bit easier. Totally we crossed the river 4 times. But only one was really difficult. Also, we waded trough the shallower parts of the river, water until the waist. You could really feel the current strongly when you went a bit deeper. Slowly, the rain was becoming less. But still, we were soaked and the mud, river and small pools were there. Sometimes someone slipt, fell, sometimes we took leeches out of the ankles, or thighs. Sometimes we had to watch out for spiky branches, rocks, currents or weak undergrounds. Yes, it was a very adventurous walk. I will not say dangerous, but yes, you needed to take care. Then we arrived at a cave. The tourguide explained that normally we could go trough the cave, but now, because of the rain, the water level was until the neck. One big rainfall more would create a washflood, which would literally mean that you would die in the cave, because the water level hits the wall and you are trapped. This year, 7 travellers died because of this and just one survived. It was not save to go into the cave. We all immediately agreed on this. We went to the waterfall instead. It was great to see the might of the nature. It was a heavy walk, but not dangerous. Yes, you could snap your ankle, and especially, when we were wading trough the water, you had to be carefull how to walk. If you would slip, you might really hurt yourself. The rain started again. We went back. Now the monsoon was really on its hardest. And we were all happy we didn't go into the cave (the tourguide wouldn't have let us anyway). The way back turned out to be more difficult than when we arrived. You could really feel the increase of the current due to the extra rainfall. Very adventurous. The argentinian man waited about 30min from the waterfall. It was too difficult for him. His wive, surprisingly, made it. My compliments. They were both around 60 years.
We waded trought the river. Water that on the way to there was till the ankles, was now until the knees. I have a limited supply of pictures, where you see the water. Yes, we were actually int the water. Luckily we had the waterproof diving bags. You had to be carefull not to rely on the wrong sticks. Some are actually not stable and fell down, or just hang in the trees. Some had spikes, or spiders. So all with all, very interesting. And yes, you need a basic level of stamina, balance and adventure. It's not for everyone. When we almost arrived back to our boat, one of the German girls hold on to a stick that broke. The slided down. The German guy was behind her and I was behind. It turned out that there was a wasp nest in that stick. The wasps immediately came out and stung the German guy 5 times. I got one stung. The guy quickly slided down and cut his hand due to this. The German girl had about 2 stings. Almost at the end. Well, it was a great walk. And everyone who is a bit adventurous, I would really recommand this. But yes, you need to be prepared with good shoes, a basic level of stamina and willing to accept some scratches, stings or leech bites.
We went back with the boat. I didn't have extra clothing, because I already used it for swimming. So I was having my wet clothing on. And I felt I was getting a cold. A one hour boatride (super quick, impressive) brought us back to the bus. In the evening I had dinner with the three Germans. They all go to Paradise Island (Koh Tao). I hope for them that the monsoon does not continue too much. I learned that the monsoon is on its top in October/November there. They go, and for if they go diving, I gave them the contact details of Leo.
That evening, when back in my house (Bamboo house on poles, yes ), I started to feel more bad. I had a cold, obviously.
The next morning I had a breakfast and went into Khao Sok national park. Soon after my arrival, it started to rain. I am talking monsoon rain. So the raincoat came in very handy. I felt that the cold was still in my body and after about one hour I realised that this excersise, although less than yesterday, was too much for my body. So I decided to head back to the the Bamboo house.
When I arrived I explained that I didn't feel so good and liked to rent the appartment for 4 hours to have a sleep until the bus arrived. The women responded very distant and even turned away to watch television. The man did respond, but not too helpful. In the end, they charged 150 bath. Normal price for a day is 200 baht. My first response was; that's a lot. And yes, it is. I ended up paying it. But the relationship with these guys was already bad. At first when I arrived with the other couple, it was ok. But I just wanted to have some rest and didn't want to mingle with everyone. So most of the time I was in the forest or in my hut. And for dinner, yes, I went somewhere else sometimes, because the food was better and cheaper in the restaurant. And I didn't book tours with them, because they charged far too much. It's not that they were very unfriendly, it's just that we lacked the connection. In the end I slept for 4 hours. After, I took lunch at their place. The women cooked, but when she brought it, she didn't even look at me. And when I paid, the first time ever after Egypt (of course, Egypt), I am not sure, but I heard the word 'tip?'. Of course I gave exactly the right amount.
Just later the bus arrived to bring me to Bangkok. The woman and men left with their car, without saying goodbye. So, actually, for a while I was alone in their house (hut), with their children and dogs. And 5 minutes later, the bus that brought me to Bangkok left. On the way we passed by their car and the driver of the bus signaled them. They did make eye contact with the driver. Not with me.
Very strange experience. Absolutely non-thai. Party it might have been because of me. At first, when the French couple was there, we had dinnner together and the Thai man showed us a gecko. And he cleared my room that was full, really full of ants. But after the day in the forest (that I booked somewhere else; cheaper + free breakfast), and the dinner that I didn't have in their house, but in a restaurant with the Germans, and me being more in my room after a long day, the connection turned bad. Not negatively, but just ignoring each other. I tried to be friendly, but after a while I gave up and just ordered my food and didn't invest energy. I was too tired and had a cold anyway.
So luckily, away from this place. When I say this, I mean,luckily away from Bamboo House. Khao Sok itself was incredible and beautifull.
The small bus brought me to the bus station of Surrat Thani. There I had lunch and waited for the bus, reading 'the art of war' by Sun Tzu. A very interesting, but difficult book to read. Also, I asked for the place where the bus would arrive. Everyone was very helpful. Nevertheless, I had the feeling no one really knew where the bus would arrive. But, when it arrived, everyone pointed me in the right direction. Wow, how friendly.
Today was also my first interaction with the famous Thai appearance of lady-boy. She (or he?) worked for the bus company and helped me finding the right bus to go to Bangkok. I am writing this blog now when I am already in cambodia (28th of october). And since then, I have met more lady-boys. Two work in a street restaurant in Bangkok, where I ate almost every day. It seems like the Thai culture is very open to lady-boys. I think that is something that the Thai could be very proud about; respecting everyone. Later, Pong told me that still Thai make fun about the lady-boys. But yes, it is far more accepted than in a lot of other countries.
A long 12 hours bus ride to Bangkok was starting. A bus ride in the so-called VIP bus. A bus that is beautifully painted and very luxurious. We got water and a snack from the bus company. At a stop, everyone going with the bus, got a dinner. This was all included. A sheet for sleeping and seats that actually could really go so far down, that sleeping was possible. Wow, a real luxourious bus indeed. During the ride until about 2300, they showed a movie. Luckily, after, they respect the fact that people like to sleep. Sometimes I hear stories about the night-reggeaton busses that go trough south America (Sorry Lud, bonita). They forget that people actually take a night bus to try to have a sleep in the bus and be at their destination the next morning. Luckily the VIP bus company knows the reason why people take the overnight bus and I have to say that it is absolute quality.
In the early morning on the 13th of October, I arrived in Bangkok east bus station.
13th of october until 22th of october
Bangkok. Back in Bangkok. First, I had to find my way to Khao San Road. Taxidrivers started to offer me rides for 500 bath (12,50 euro). I knew that was too much. But, anyone (except the people of Bamboo hut) are friendly int Thailand. So, in contrary to Egypt, you can smile when you negotiate with taxi drivers. In the end they offered 200 bath. But by then, I talked to one guy that gives information trough a speaker (DJ style), and he told me there would be a bus at 5.30 am. That was just 15minutes from now. So I walked to the bus station and took a bus to Khao San Road. Price was about 25 baht (0,60 euro). From there, early morning, I walked along Khao San Road towards Soi Rambuttri. On the Khao San Road I saw a few hoes with a white tourist. Regularly you see the older or ugly guy with a young good, or bad-looking Thai girl. This time I was surprised to seee the goodlooking young player-style guy; the guy that goes to a club and always gets a lot of girls, actually paying a girl. Wow, who is controlling who?
The Lamphu house, where I stayed before, was fully booked, so I walked on, trying to find another place. It turned out most places around were booked. I walked a bit away from the main streets and found a nice hotel to stay ….......................
This would be my hotel for the next 10 days. Free internet, my own fan room and a hot shower for 200 bath. (5 euro)
10 days? Yes, well I didn't know that by then. My idea was 4 days. I would meet up with Pong and see some of the surrounding area and get my India visa done.
After some extra sleep I went to find mister Thai Travel. My bonita advised me to get my visa with them. I actually found the place. But their prices were quite hight. I tried to negotiate, but they didn't go with it. I ended up going to ….. travel..P.K.B travel. They arranged my India visa (10 days) and Cambodia Visa (1 day). Also, I booked a few day tours with them.
So, 10 days in Bangkok. What am I going to do? First day, I needed rest after a 12 hours bus ride. The cold was almost over. The day tours would take 3 days; Ayutthaya; the former capital of Thailand, the floating market and a day tour to the River Kwai Bridge. Also, I intended to work a bit on my websites for 2 or 3 days. By then., most of the 10 days would have been used.
I could have been going to Chang Mai, where they have the village with the long necks. I don't know when they say this, they mean this distrespectfull, or just as a decription of the fact that these people put rings on their necks, to make their necks long. But to Chang Mai would take 10 hours one way by train. By then I didn't kow that in a few days there would be immense floodings in the east and north of Bangkok, so Chang Mai was only reachable by bus or plane. But I didn't feel like going 10 hours one way and back 10 hours. After a while you just want to have rest instead of going Amsterdam – Bordeaux and Bordeaux-Amsterdam in 4 days.
So I dropped this plan and just settled down in Bangkok.
The next 3 days there were day trips. Every morning starting at 6.50. Oeeff..that's not really what I think of by having holiday. But then, it has a good reason.
The first day was Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya is the former capital of Thailand, or Siam as it used to be called. Here I went to some of the old Khmer Temples and an immense buddha. Well, actually Gato and I went to Ayutthaya, with a tourbus. Most of the temples were not too spectacular. But nice to see. But one was really good. This is the temple were we, luckily, could spend a lot of time. Also, there was a shrine close to here. It was very interesting to visit this sacred place. After, on walking distance, there is a place with elephants. I did have a look, but didn't ride the elephant. I already rode on camels and horses. For me, it is not so spectacular to try to ride every ridable animal. They also let the elephant do tricks. I did look, but this is a reason why I don't pay or make a picture of this. An elephant standing on its two rear legs, or with its front legs crossed with its back legs, nos hight, is not an elephant. It's something that is created to please the audience, but not the elephant.
So no pictures of that.
During the trip we also had an incredible lunch. Included in the tour. The tour was 450 baht; 11,25 euro.