Fun in the sun...

Trip Start Apr 01, 2008
Trip End Jun 30, 2008

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Monday, June 30, 2008

He says:

20 hours, 3 planes, 4 airports and many thousands of kilometres later we eventually found ourselves in our hotel at Bophut fishing village on the north coast of Koh Samui...  Thailand was our obligatory stopover in Asia required for our cheap round-the-world ticket, and as it is meant to be the wet season at the moment, I wasn't expecting much other then massages, thai food, beer and sending Gaynor off with the little left of our budget for some shopping therapy.  So the fact that the weather has been great (only rained twice, once during the night and one brief afternoon storm) means we have been able to do  that and quite a bit more...

In the end we have had a nice mix between relaxation and adventure...  We have spent a lot of time relaxing by the pool, drinking beer, eating briiliant food, shopping and exploiting the cheap labour for numerous massages, which has all been brilliant and a great way to finish off what, in many ways, has been a hectic 3 1/2 months of solid travelling.  However, I am not one who can just sit around for days on end so we have also hired a jeep and have been on numerous day trips around the island.  I originally wanted to hire a motorbike but the thought of Gaynor screaming and probably choking me to death from behind, eventually made me reconsider...  Feeling pretty happy with my bargaining skills after a days shopping in Chaweng I was determined to find the cheapest deal possible on a jeep.  So finding ourselves in a dodgy shop on a dodgy strip I happily bargained my new friends down to 600 baht a day...  This my friends is the point where I should point out the first law of bargaining, which is, know what you are bargaining for...  As it turned out I had bargained for a rusting old jeep that had holes in the floor (covered by welcome mats), a handbrake that didn't work, windscreen wipers that didn't work, wing mirrors that flapped in the wind and windows that didn't close...  Determined to not admit my mistake, I insisted to Gaynor on the way back to Bophut that 'Bart' was the perfect jeep to explore Koh Samui in and that it all simply added to his character.  The next morning as we pushed (with the help of 3 friendly locals) Bart up a steep hill to the side of the road, where the no longer working jeep would be out of the road of the traffic, I began to see what she meant about Bart being 'a piece of crap'... A quick call to the hire place and a 30 minute wait later a lonely guy on a scooter appeared fiddled with the throttle for a few minutes, insisted that it was all better and swiftly disappeared in the opposite direction...  My confidence in Bart shattered we limped off to explore the island...  That day we circumnavigated the island, going down side roads in the south west, where Koh Samui is the least developed and to keep the Queen happy we went elephant trekking, which was actually quite a bit of fun.  The elephant we had was a character and was quite effective at communicating her displeasure or level of comfort she had with what her mahmoot was asking of her, which was very amusing.  About 10 minutes into our hour long trek the mahmoot got off and invited us up front for what I thought was a photo opp Gaynor, being in a mini skirt, politely declined.  Anyway it turns out he just didn't like riding the elephant, so from that point on it was Tommy the jungle boy controlling the elephant (well not really but it makes for a better story that way) with the mahmoot trailing along behind taking the odd photo and showing off the elephants dexterity and sure footedness on steep slopes and slippery rocks...

After the elephant ride Bart was still playing up and as it was looking like we were in for one hell of a storm and we had no windscreen wipers, I'd had enough so we bolted back to the hire place where I had it out with them and we got a replacement...  'Suzie' was all you could want in a jeep and more...  She had working windscreen wipers, floors that stopped water being splashed up your legs and purred like a, slightly asthmatic, kitten...

The next day I was feeling slightly immasculated by my failure to secure us a good jeep, so to make myself feel big and tough and more like a man it was off to the shooting range to fire the biggest gun Thailand could provide...  Unfortunately my requests for a rocket launcher and an AK47 weren't realistic so instead I had to settle for the biggest handgun they had.  What can I say but it was fun, and if it wasn't so expensive I'd be up there again today...  Needless to say I impressed them with my skills hitting 11 out of 12 targets with my first pistol shoot ever and with my masculinity restored I was now right to face the day and week ahead...

I may have been feeling a little too good about myself, for as we were about to discover, I got us into a bit of a situation...  We drove and walked up to a waterfall, which was meant to be the most beautiful on Koh Samui, though the name escapes me at the moment...  Anyways, we eventually reached the base of the waterfall (which was indeed beautiful, and huge) and as it was about 40 degrees and 150% humidity I was dying for a swim...  Unfortunately the water hole at the base of the waterfall was crowded with tourists and kids and was less than appealing.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view) we decided to walk a bit further along a track and saw a local thai man waving at us from, what looked like, a ledge halfway up the waterfall, gesturing to us that we could swim up there.  Now what follows is one of those experiences that I think you only get while travelling, for I think it requires a combination of language barriers, missunderstandings due to aformentioned language barrier and a complete disregard for any sort of OH&S or insurance...  So blissfully ignorant we headed up to where he was waving to us from, the first thing that struck me upon arriving was the distinct lack of watering holes, the second, and probably the most important, was the strong smell of a particulary sweet smelling tobacco.  Anyway, without a word he began leading us up the mountain side, which didn't end and was so steep that it came complete with climbing ropes, bamboo ladders and precarious rock faces, I should point out at this stage that we were both well equipped for mountain climbing, Gaynor especially so, dressed as she was in mini skirt and thongs...  I kept on assuring her that it had to be around the next bend...  By the 50th bend I was myself begining to have my doubts, but the residual adreniline from shooting a big arse gun and the acute dehydration that was taking hold ensured that I kept following my pot smoking mountain guide higher...

Thankfully the trek was worth it and we were rewarded with our own private waterhole, surrounded by dense jungle, flowing out over the edge into, what looked like, a 100 metre drop and was located at the base of a perfect tropical waterfall, which you could swim behind into a cave where another waterfall cascaded in from the back of the cave...   Couldn't have asked for a more cliched or perfect location for a swim in the jungle...

I'll leave it up to Gaynor to talk about the shopping if she feels like it, but we have got some tailored clothes while we have been here, so most of our evening have been spent getting fittings and eating fantastic Thai food...  We made the mistake on the first night of going to one of the bigger, more touristy, resturants, and while it was fine, it certainly wasn't great...  Since then we have stuck to the local places and have paid half the price for Thai that is twice as good.  We have spent the majority of nights at a 'no name' place just down the road that has an extensive seafood menu (all at between 70-150 baht a dish) and it has all been fantastic...  After sounding suprised at where we were eating, our tailors gave us another local tip, which we took them up on and was even cheaper and better, though the dishes were so hot that I was at the limits of my tolerance and I don't know how Gaynor survived...

So here I am sitting on our deck watching and listening to the ocean, drinking a beer and contemplating another swim...  It's hard to believe that we are less then 3 days from home.  I am currently far less depressed at the thought then I thought I would be...  It'll be nice to be home and see people again, though I am very aware that the Canberra winter and the reality of 9-5 working life will probably sink me into the depths of depression before too long...

Oh well, I will just have to start planning the next trip...  I'm thinking SE Asia...  Or Eastern Europe...  Or maybe South America...?
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