Love is Blindness

Trip Start Dec 15, 2009
Trip End Aug 27, 2010

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Flag of Thailand  , Surat Thani,
Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How do you top the excitement of riding elephants? It's not easy, but the following day one of us definitely managed it. We hired a driver for the day and set out to explore some of the other tourist highlights of Chiang Mai. First stop was a Snake Farm; Sarah is absolutely terrified of snakes and so this provided a good adrenalin fix as we watched the experts "play" with snakes. They performed a variety of stunts with various types of snakes including King Cobras and Rat Snakes, both of which we were given the opportunity to touch. Highlight of the performance was when “snake-man” plunged into a pit of water, into which they had just released a huge Python, then eventually surfacing with the snake wrapped around his neck, apparently strangling him…nice!

Next stop was the mixed emotions of the monkey centre where the chain-bearing inmates were trained to perform various stunts for the pleasure of the paying tourist. I find it hard to take much pleasure from a place like this, especially as the monkeys did not seem to be enjoying themselves. However, the kids did enjoy seeing the monkeys shoot hoops (basketball), pick coconuts from trees, identify numbers, ride a bicycle and even work-out with “weights”, doing push-ups and sit-ups.

The highlight of the day and potentially the entire trip for Lauren, was a visit to Tiger Kingdom. For those of you that don’t know, Lauren is a huge fan of big cats and has been for a couple of years now. Her favourite cat is the snow leopard, but any feline is “adorable” to Lauren. For her 7th birthday she had a zoo birthday party and was thrilled by a trip to the tiger house where she got to stand on the opposite side of a thick metal fence to Boris, a 600lb tiger. So, imagine her delight at being able to go into an enclosure with a live tiger and hug and pet it! Now we did explain the risks, but she loves her big cats and you know what they say about love? Thankfully, due to her age and size (and probably the cost of insurance) they wouldn’t allow her in with the adults, but she spent the best fifteen minutes of her life (her words) with a pair of 4-6 month old tiger cubs. Apparently they were asleep most of the time, but methinks this was a good thing??? For the rest of the family, the tigers were interesting, but not enough to pay the entry fee four times, so we just sent Lauren into the tiger enclosure on her own …. what? … what?

The day finished with a visit to a couple of local wats (temples) in the old part of Chiang Mai. We seem to have reached the “So-wat” stage, so I think we’ll take a rest from temples and save ourselves for the mother of all temples in a few weeks time in Cambodia. Another (not so interesting) point of note is the amount of time we spent in Chiang Mai researching travel and accommodation arrangements for Koh Samui, the next destination (all part of the deal). It’s peak season in Thailand and so all of the nice places are at not-so-nice prices….we think we found something that will meet our needs, but time will tell….

Chiang Mai is a really pleasant laid-back old city with lots to see and do and we could probably have filled a week here quite easily. Still, it was time to leave her behind and head for some of Thailand’s famed beaches. We flew from Chiang Mai to Bangkok where we had a few hours to kill before boarding the south-bound train. What better way to spend a few hours than to go to Pantip Plaza, which we were told was a good place to shop for electronics. What we discovered was a five storey mall full of nothing but electronics outlets! There was so much to choose from that we didn’t actually buy anything other than a set of mini speakersL We will do some research then maybe return during our final pass through Bangkok in a week’s time…..

After Pantip, it was time to head back to the train station, whereupon the nice taxi driver tried to rip us off with a “fast meter” which ran up to a distance and price four times greater than it was in the opposite direction. Derek took no small degree of satisfaction from his strategy of sitting tight until we got there, then throwing the correct money at him, pointing to his driver i.d.# and threatening to report him to the authorities. He got the message and drove off in a hurry (believe me, an angry Derek does engender the desire in a person to be somewhere else). This time on the overnight train to Surat Thani, due to difficulty in getting tickets (they were all sold-out to people heading to the full-moon-party) we only had two beds, although they were first class, which meant that we had a cabin to ourselves…. Our private little cabin gave us an opportunity to use our new speakers and after watching a couple of movies, it was time for bed. The beds were fairly large and we all slept relatively well, at least until we arrived at Surat Thani at 4am. We were herded off of the train and on to a bus which took us to a rather dirty and run-down rest area, where we waited for a couple of hours before being shepherded onto another bus which took us to the ferry terminal. A relatively short ferry ride took us to the port of Nathon on the island of Koh Samui, Thailands third largest island. We were picked up from the ferry terminal and driven to our resort, but unfortunately our room wasn’t ready (they were putting in new windows and doors!?!) so we were forced to hang out on the beach for a few hours….it’s a tough life but we’re managing.

The long slow journey to get here was worth it and the resort we found seems to be a pretty good one. We have a large room which backs on to the pool and also has an oceanview. The restaurant is on the beach and is about 25 metres from our room. The connection isn’t very fast, but we even have WIFI on the beach, so this blog entry is being written with sun on my back and sand between the toes! We’ll be here for a week chilling out on the beach and taking some time off from “travelling” and sightseeing.
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Stephen MacKay on

Following your family adventures sure makes it hard for me to stay in my windowless office and focus on working...having said that if I didn't follow your blog I could not vicarously travel the world. Adventure on and Thanks.

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