Thursday, May 28, 2009

Asia Adventures - Post 10 (Koh Phangan Island, Thailand)

The group signed up for an all-day adventure that took us to all the island notable spots. We started the morning with elephant riding. I’ve seen elephants in the zoo, but I’ve always been far away because of all the protective moats and fencing. To see one up close I thought “my God this beast has a HUGE MELON HEAD”! The skull was enormous. Riding on an elephant was like being in a rocking boat. You would shift and slide to the right, pause, then back to the left. The guide even let us get out of the safety seat and ride on the elephant’s neck. Yeah one thing I noticed about traveling outside of the USA is that safety standards are completely lax (sure touch the tiger, he is a good kitty, we haven’t had an incident in over seven months). Afterwards, we fed bananas to the elephants that slimed our hands.

Next stop was a Chinese temple on a Thai island. Nothing much to mention except that all the statues had super scary eyes. Seriously, they were possessed and watched me as I walked around.

We went hiking in the Phaeng Waterfall Park. Well it was more rugged than we anticipated and basically had to make our own path through trees and sharp pointy rocks. Evan only wore flip-flop sandals which kept sliding off his feet so he had to eventually trek in his bare-feet. Ouch! We got to play in some waterfall pools and eventually made it to the high point of the island (Mt. Khao Ra) for a fantastic view.

Next was a gourmet lunch at a restaurant situated on a cliff that overlooked two white beaches. The fish was served whole (head, scales, fins, etc) which was a first for me. It looked to be still alive, and I was waiting for it to look at me and offer some garlic bread.

We spent the next few hours snorkeling and sunbathing on Ao Mae Haad Beach. The coral reef was cool and again there were absolutely no safety standards. Basically it was “sure touch the reef, chase the fish, you know how to swim right so I don’t need to get out the life jackets right”. I gathered a ton of coral on the beach that was bleached stark white. I figured it would look pretty in a bowl for my coffee table.

The last stop on the tour was a visit to the King’s waterfalls. Usually every King of Thailand travels to these particular waterfalls and carves his name (or symbol) in the rocks. I guess the tradition goes back some 200 years. Our guide took us to a pool at the base of the waterfall and told us to jump off the cliff…into a narrow ravine…and hit a 3 foot x 3 foot spot in the pool. The water was only about knee deep but that small spot was about 10 feet deep. If we missed, then we would be jumping into essentially a baby pool and probably would fracture our ankle or leg. Yaaay, who wants to go first! Don’t worry, we all jumped and survived without injury (although Gabby and I managed to wipe out on the same rocks).


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