Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"The Beach" no more

You know the movie "The Beach"? With Leonardo Decaprio? Well I went to the island where the movie was filmed, just like everyone else who had the chance I guess, and it's not that I didn't expect 100,000 people there but... I didn't expect 100,000 people there. Ok maybe my number is a bit high but well it was just too crowded. I knew that it was going to be busy and I thought, well that's alright for a few days and its supposed to be gorgeous there right? And it is, its frickin' fantastic with the scenery except that there are so many damn people in the way! Don't get me wrong, I wasn't miserable or anything it really is very beautiful. It's just when you have a picture in your head about what something should look like its hard to shake the reality. So we only stayed three nights. The tour we went on was nice, we went to a lot of places but again too crowded and the garbage! That really disturbed me. What is sad is that there is no governmental intervention to restrict the overwhelming growth in Tourism. There is not even sufficient water to sustain the growth. The water in our overpriced guesthouse was brown with silt. Read Dan's thoughts

No one disputes the beauty



Ok no time for more pictures to post but you should still check them out

So now we are really looking for that island paradise, or at least a beach to ourselves. We plan on finding it on one of the islands in Ko Touratau Marine National Park. The park is really close to the Malaysian boarder and apparently not quite 'discovered' yet... We'll see. We are planning on camping on a beach somewhere in the park Rawi island is my bet but it depends upon what the park rangers recommend. If we can not find a fresh water source we have to carry all our water in. I really hope that it works out to conclude our islands visit as it is soon time for another visa run... Laos is in sight.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tall Sights

Pang Na is a great place to go if you want to see towering cliffs of limestone and sheer pinnacles jutting skyward for hundreds of meters out of the sea. Also featured are mangrove forests and a quaint Muslim stilt fishing village. The topography of this place is mind boggling. Pang Na the city is not actually coastal so one of the sights nearby was a cave Wat with monkeys! The cave was not that impressive and when we went in there were no monkeys to be seen. But when we got out, they were everywhere. We spent more than an hour watching, photographing and feeding the monkeys bananas and peanuts.

So cute!

more monkeys

Mmmmmm... monkey like banana

but monkey like peanuts more! I loved the little ones, though the older ones would usually try to steal or take from them, then beat them up if they didn't obey! Sounds like my childhood... lol

This is my favorite picture of the cave
For more monkey business go here

To see the bay we took an all day and overnight boat tour staying at the Muslim village for the night and it was neat to see up-close the limestone formations. First we went through mangrove forest to the sea then to several islands and we explored a few small caves. Some caves we were able to go through on the boat and other islands had turquoise lagoons in them. The most popular island by far was "James Bond Island" where the movie "Man with a golden gun" was partly shot. The famous 'pinnacle in the bay' picture is from here, which is very impressive but the popularity of the island has convinced many vendors to set up here, very aggressive vendors! 'havea look' 'special price for you' 'it very nice you buy' 'OK OK, discount'- all when I have not even said anything yet! They will even take Jewelry and try to put it on you to get you to buy it. These people make me nervous and I usually don't end up buying anything when they approach me this way. The village where we spent the night was quite impressive, about 2000 people live cramped together on stilt houses. Fishing and fish farms are the main income earners while the women inside try to sell goods to tourists. What was cool was that there was a storm last night and we were able to watch the lightening and hear the thunder close by. The stormy weather combined with the prayers coming from the mosque created a unique goose-bump atmosphere. The islands in Pang Na bay were amazing to see but our snorkeling gear is getting dry so today we are heading to Railey in Karabi province where rock-climbing, snorkeling and fabulous beaches await.

Boat tour pictures:
mangrove forest

Tham Lod or 'through cave'

Pretty cool eh?

Huge I know!

So many islands

So Beautiful

One of the lagoons from inside a cave

We saw some neat things

James Bond Island

And again
More great pictures

Muslim fishing village



Abandoned-for good reason

Fish farm


Happy Valentine's day everyone! I got a rose fortunately for a fraction of the price any of you would have had to pay; a whole 10 baht or 25 cents each!

In other news, we are already half-way through our travels! Crazy right? But maybe time goes a bit more slowly when you are at home. I really don't think that I am homesick but there are a few things I miss:
Family and friend bonding time or having fun. I feel like I'm missing a lot in not seeing my nephews grow. I miss you soo much Cabe and Cale!

A big juicy medium-rare steak
Good Pizza
Cereal; frosted mini-wheats or honey nut cheerios
CHEESE! My god do I miss cheese, (anything but processed)
Butter chicken and nan bread from Himalaya sweets and restaurant
Watching movies at home on a comfy couch
A glass of skim milk and cookie dough
Driving my own car... although if it runs when I get back I will be surprised!
Knowing my surroundings
Eating a dinner with family that doesn't burn my mouth with chilies

All back in three months, I'm sure that will be all too soon.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Amazing Sea Life

Camping on one of the Surin Islands was amazing. We went snorkeling almost every day and saw some spectacular underwater life. Among the highlights were HUGE developed and colourful corrals of all sorts, cool fish like schools of barracuda and tones of others I don't know the names of, also I really loved the clown fish hiding in the sea anemone. We also saw sea turtles, an eel and an octopus! The only bad thing was that sometimes there were tiny jellyfish that stung like crazy. We met a couple (Dan and Jose) that we spent a lot of our time with, and found that we have a lot in common. At night we would entertain ourselves with card games and a version of pictionary. All in all the island was very beautiful and a great place to be, but at the end of our week there it became very busy because of a Thai holiday so it was time to go.
By the way...did you know that it has been four years already? Unfortunately we spent our special day traveling but I'm sure we will find time to celebrate later on our restricted budget.
Now we are in Pang Na, further south and hotter. There is some incredible limestone topography here and we plan to do some caves and hiking.

Now for some visuals of the Surin Islands:

oooo, look at all that great water!

ok so basically run AWAY from the beach!

Just steps from our camping spot


Dan Jose and Dan en route to a snorkeling spot

Its a race! Hermit crabs littered the beaches

This one is red hot

pretty nice, we had seven sunny days! I swam twice to the beach in the distance, not too many people go there.

This is my artsy picture do you like it?

Mmmmmmmm so inviting!

and here are the rest of our pictures

We also went to a Moken village.
The Moken are traditionally a tribe of gypsies that travel and live on boats that house a whole family. In the rainy season they set up houses on land to live, but this village has homes for all year. Unfortunately the Thai government doesn't recognize these people as citizens, so they are denied certain rights and land. Also they are influenced by the tones of tourists from the national park that they have to share. They sell carved wooden boats and baskets to the tourists and although they are able to make money this way, it seems all other interactions with foreign culture are degrading their cultural behaviors and health. However it was amazing to see how just one km away from the park HQ a tribe of people live such different lives...

Moken child


Hand carved boats for sale

Yes they are playing BINGO and more Moken photos

Friday, February 03, 2006

To clearer waters

The three days and nights that we spent on Koh Chang were nice, charming really but it just didn't have the same spark as Koh Tao. The water is murky from river effluent and the beach had this mysterious black silt-like sand. This was fine because I basically spent two days reading, and I discovered my new favorite book for the moment. 'Memoirs of a Geisha' is a beautiful book with all the things I love reading about, creative imagery, enchanting story, a bit of history and of course it must be addictive and it was, I loved it. You should all read it. I loved sitting in hammock all day and just reading as the sun passes through the sky. Now I have started 'The Puma's Shadow' (fiction)about Inca culture in south America, and it looks promising. Tomorrow we are going to the Surin Islands and I am very excited about this, it is the number three top dive destination in the world! We wont be diving unfortunately but we have snorkeling gear. We will be camping on the beach for a week and swimming every day...ahhhh yeah! I hope to see the Malayan flying Lemur and sea turtles and maybe even a whale shark would be cool. If only I had an underwater camera. Ok so no contact for a week because there is hardly electricity on the island but I will talk to you all soon.