Saturday, January 15, 2011

What a few days....

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the wide world of awesome.  Ok, well maybe not awesome for you, but seriously awesome for me.  I will start up right where I left off for those of you who are still following this for some reason.

Our last day on Koh Lanta Brian and I rented scooters with Megan and Chad (cousin and husband) and went to a restaurant that had an amazing view.  It was perched on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean.  Normally for a view like this you would expect lunch, dinner, or even a cocktail to cost you a minimum of 15 dollars.  However that was not the case.  The average price for the expensive food was 4 dollars.  After this we headed to a isolated beach and after a fun jungle change (I forgot to put my board shorts on before I left my hotel) we did some light snorkeling and swimming.  This was followed by a trip to Chad and Megan's place and a dinner of street food after.  Following that Chad and I decided to go for a scooter trip around the island at night.  Being a partially seasoned motorcycle driver I couldn't resist the temptation.  We ended up doing three laps of the island on our scooters. It was great, except for the occasional man sized pothole that would sneak up on you and threaten to eat your scooter alive.  After the laps Brian and I said goodbye to Chad and Megan and I gave Brian a lift back to our hotel.  I have to admit the view of the two of us on a scooter must have been a little ridiculous, but we made it.

Following that we decided to head to Railay Beach near Krabi.  While not technically an island, it may as well been.  The area was only accessible by boat and was host to the most stunning scenery I saw in Thailand.  The cliffs there were absolutely epic.  Huge limestone karsts sticking straight up out of water and land alike.  This place is a climbers dream.  In fact half the tourism on the island is devoted to rock climbing.  The first day we arrived around noon, found our place and went for a swim on Railay West (Railay is divided into east and west with the west being the best).  After dinner we walked back to our Bungalow to grab some sleep and start our last full day travelling together.  We awoke that morning and decided to hike to Tonsai Bay/beach.  The sign said it was only about 800 meters, and while that technically may have been correct, it neglected to say they were jungle meters and over jungle hills on a small path.  It wasn't too horrid, it just really wasn't expected by two guys who wanted to go get a quick breakfast.  After trekking through and seeing quite possibly the biggest spider I've ever seen in my life we made it to the beach and had our breakfast.

We took a boat back to Railay West and booked a sunset snorkeling tour.  For 30 bucks it included: mask, snorkel, boat ride, dinner, and guide.  It was worth every scent, and it even included a night swim amongst phosphorescent algae.  We started off with an hour boat ride to a spot to do some deep water snorkeling.  While swimming around and seeing some stuff, it turns out the greatest discovery of this part was the small jellyfish I almost swam right into.  This was the second time I actually almost swam into one (the first time being on Koh Lanta without a mask and blind).  After that spot we went to the next place which was just beautiful.  It had coral, sea slugs, fish galore and even sea urchins.  The next stop was to watch the sunset on a small island and have a BBQ there.  This is when mother nature decided to hate us.  We were caught in a downpour for almost 2 hours after we hit the island and this included Brian and I eating in the rain.  It was quite like the army, and even the guide agreed.  Most the people were huddled under a small tin roof eating, but there was not space for Brian and I, and I had given up being dry and was embracing the rain.

We made it back to Railay well after dark and Brian and I had our last dinner together.  We awoke the next morning and headed our separate ways.  I was headed to Bangkok and then Laos, he was headed to Phuket.  I should have noticed yesterday when I got of the boat that I was doomed in my travels.  As I hopped off the boat into the water (which was about knee deep) I was hit by a wave that was waist high.  This was annoying but not crucially important.  The next part of the trip went fine with a taxi ride and an air trip to Bangkok.  However, in Bangkok stuff started to go wrong, and primarily it was all my fault.  I had an option of a flight that got in a 5 in the evening or got in at 11 in the morning.  I should have taken the earlier one because I forgot that I was trying to take the night train on a Friday during peak times.  I needed to purchase earlier in the day, and while I got out of the airport in decent time, traffic jams conspired to get me to the train station at 7:30 for an 8:00 train.  After finding out the trains for the whole night were sold out I found a guesthouse next to the train station for 10 bucks a night and sat down to figure out my next play.

I needed to figure out how I would be getting to Laos to continue my journey.  A night train was an option, but in reality not a good one.  It was going to give me 3 nights in Luang Prabang, but only 2 days.  This was not acceptable as there was too much that I wanted to see and do here and I needed at least 3 full days to do it.  I decided to catch the morning flight to Luang Prabang and after my first trip in a prop plane in well over 15 years I landed in Laos.

Unfortunately my post on Luang Prabang will have to wait until next time, but I have the feeling it will be glowing.  There is just an air about this place, a feeling that is impossible to describe right now.  You walk off the plane and it settles around you.  Perhaps a word to closely describe it is serenity, but that is not the right choice.  I will let you know in the next few days.  Pictures will be up soon I promise.

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