South Thailand Island life

Trip Start Jul 15, 2009
Trip End Jun 01, 2010

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Where I stayed
Ko Chang Resort

Flag of Thailand  , Ranong,
Saturday, March 6, 2010

Logistics:  We made the long train rides down from north Thailand to the Andaman Coast.  I am writing this entry from Ranong, Thailand.  The Train rides from Chiang Mai on the overnight second class seat instead of sleeper (there weren't any left when we booked) was a little rough, but not totally unreasonable.  We saved a bit of money, but I think I would rather have had the sleeper car. Other issues: the second class seat ended up not being an A/C car. Yes another reason the trip was a bit rough, but more money saving.  The trip ended up costing about 20 dollars American for the both of us.  pretty low coast for a cross country trip.  We were late to arrive in Bangkok so the train for the second leg of our trip was missed.  We rebooked and waited around the train station at Bangkok for half a day.  Trains are always late here and I think everyone expects things to go as they will.  We got a train and the lady from the guesthouse at the other end was there to meet us at almost midnight.  Nice to see the sign for Suda Guesthouse to greet us.  We slept hard after a twenty eight hour trip.  Next day we caught an A/C mini-van (2.5 hours) then a boat (1 hour) and we were on Ko Chang, the least populated island off the southern coast that we could find.  there is only one or maybe two one lane roads on the island and no cars. there are a dozen bungalow resorts scattered around the island and we landed at Ko Chang Resort that had a dozen bungalows and we took one for 200 baht (less than 8 dollars) a night.  The ocean was thirty feet from our front door. We stayed for four days, three nights.

Ko Chang (not to be confused with the big Ko Chang near Cambodia) is a splendid little island.  Each day we went swimming and snorkling in the ocean, walking on some of the paths, we visited the mini market for water and we had meals prepared for us at our own guest house and others.  It is not the easiest thing being a vegetarian in Thailand.  Most Thais are not vegetarian except for the monastic community.  We are learning to get the point across that if they feed me shrimp I just might die in their restuarant.  Generally, when I say vegetarian, they understand now. at first it took much more discussion, hand waving, misunderstanding and general confusion for everyone.  That being our only hurdle was fine.  With no cars there was no noise except for birds, dogs, and lizards.  We got to rest, really be restful in a way that an average day traveling through the city doesn't allow for much.

One disturbing moment was on the third night.  I awoke to hear the sound of explosions out at sea.  There are a couple of explanations for this.  The first and most likely is very sad, not that the other explanation is not.  Most likely the explosions were fisherman, bombing the reefs off the coast.  The sad part of this is that they do it to catch fish and they are sealing the fate of the fact that there will be no fish there again for them to catch.  The sustainability of the fishing industry is being destroyed by the very people that depend on it for their livelyhood.  This is definitely not the only environmental disaster going on in Thailand but it is terrible.  This isn't the only place in the world this is happening and it really needs to stop.  The second possibility is that fisherman were having a shoot out over fishing rights, most likely killing each other.  The sound of the blasts, and I have heard underwater blasts before, tells me that the first explanation is the most likely.

On to more beautiful stories, each morning we woke in our cute, and somewhat musty, bamboo bungalow, to the sound of a large bird outside.  There was a hornbill that would visit each day and perch low in the trees while searching for food.  What an incredible, and slightly weird looking bird.  We didn't get a photo so you will have to look it up on the internet.  What a curious bird as it swayed its head back and forth, first one eye to the ground then the other, scanning the area for something to eat.  We saw a number of other bird species, including a sea eagle among them.  There are many birds that feed on nectar from flowers, small but not as small as a hummingbird.  So many species of birds.  We had out our binoculars and our Birds of Thailand field guide, but it quickly became apparant to me that making lists of the birds may be futile at this point.  I have given in to just enjoying watching them, whatever their name is I haven't found it necesary to know.

There are also a large variety of lizards on the island, we have seem many that range from a few centemeters to as big as my arm.  Last night there was a scuffle on the back wall of our bungalow, I looked at Misty and said, "what was that?", What was what? she replied.  Just then over the top of the wall a lizard that was green with blue and red spots and the length of my forearm not including the tail, was starring at us, while clinging to the wall a few feet away.   I was a little frightened, I'd had a run in with a green, red, and blue lizard my last time in India.  It ended with me being chased down the street by a freakin' lizard (but that is another story). Let's say, I was a little scared, maybe even a little more frightened than Misty.  A few seconds later, we realized why this lizard had scurried over the wall and into our bungalow.  A much larger lizard, that looked far more carnivorous of larger animals was now starring at me, well, at least that is what I thought.  It's tough, breathing in my sweaty stench, and it considering whether or not I was suitable prey, at least if it couldn't find the lizard it was chasing that was quickly turning the color of the wall.  Before my fright could go on for too long the bigger more vicious looking lizard slowly, with out a sound, left sight and must have returned to the night.  The other lizard didn't choose to leave until after I had gotten the courage to get out from under my mosquito net to take its picture.  And it was gone, just as fast at the duo had appeared.  We were left to enjoy the calls of the small lizards, that chased the bugs on our ceiling.

The boat ride back to the mainland included picking up people from various bungalows before heading off.  Although our bungalow resort had a small dock, others required the guests to wade out into the ocean before climbing a ladder to get into the boat.  We had gone hiking one day through a cashew farm and a rubber tree farm.  While we rode the boat we made a stop near the cashew farm and the boat was loaded with at least 500 kilograms of cashews.  It was cool to see where those nuts come from.  The process of harvesting, growing, and transporting makes me understand why they cost so much.  They hadn't even been roasted and packaged and delivered to the supermarket in the United States yet. Neat to see. But the smell of the fermenting fruit while I wandered through the farm was something I could have done without.  I will take that any day compared to the trash piles in Bangkok.

I guess another disturbing aspect of life in Thailand, and many "third world" countries is the trash.  Trash is piled everywhere.  Too much of that trash is plastic. And too much of that plastic is plastic bottles from drinking water and plastic bags from the 7-eleven.  It's a concept imported from the west, the plastic bag.  It is devestating.  The entire boat ride to and from the mainland we watched as the plastic floated by.  There just isn't a system to deal with it.  The worse part is that places like the United States have found ways to deal with it and we produce so much of it as well.  The truth is that plastic will probably be what is left of the humans when we are all gone.  What a legacy to leave.  We figured out how to make a plastic bag very thin and very strong, look you can even carry four plastic bottle of water in it. 

We are headed to the Gulf coast tomorrow a bus ride and then an overnight ride to another island.  Ko Pha Ngan is the name of the island we are heading to. 

And Kelli, we have booked a bungalow a short hour walk away from Bottle Beach.  We will be sure to visit at least once while we are there. We will write your name in the sand and dance around it, singing with you, where ever you are.

It is a bit funny to think of me visiting this island.  It is an island considered to be "the party destination" for South East Asia.  The big party is on the full moon. Which we will miss.  We are booked to stay on the opposite side of the island from this "party destination" on a very relaxing set of bungalows, on a small private beach with a coral reef just off shore.  We wanted to get a island visit on both coasts, and this seems to be one of the less crowded islands (at least outside of the full moon).  Soon we will sleep and prepare for a bit of an epic travel day, they all seem to be epic, don't they.

Onward. and sideways, and backways and forways, upways and this ways and that ways and what ever happens next, will be a privilege to be part of....
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Kelli Bush on

Yippee Bottle Beach! Is it on the "big party island" ? I haven't done much research, just accidentally found out about it while working on Bottle Beach State Park. The photos sure made it look like a lovely place! Words can not express how much delight I find in the idea of the two of you dancing around my name written in the sand! What an honor :)
How cool to see a horn bill each morning from your bamboo hut. What an interesting bird. The story about the lizards is too funny, it reminds me of some of the thatch huts we have stayed in. They tend to be little ecosystems. The larger lizard sounds a bit scary, and that small lizard is not that small! Sometime I want to hear your India lizard story. Enjoying the blog so much, thanks! Circle hug each other for me please, or if that seems too demanding, I will settle for just writing my name in the sand :) We love the two of you very much!

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