|Hin Ta, Hin Yai (Grandpa & Grandma Rock)|
|See, told you!|
The few days that we spent on Koh Samui marked the end of any semblance of plans that Bob and I had made in Bangkok. Before we left Bangkok initially, we planned on heading to Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, Koh Tao, and Koh Samui. After that…it was all back to drawing board to think up what other kinds of crazy places we could go explore and experience. This made Koh Samui an interesting point in our trip; we were happy to be on an island in the Gulf of Thailand (no doi), but we were actually a bit sad to be leaving Koh Tao, and also highly aware that it was time to get back to the plan-making phase – this time, making sure to include a visa run to Malaysia so as to extend our stay in Thailand before being able to apply for a worker’s visa once we are actually employed. Since this is all quite foreign to us, we spent a good amount of time on the Internet and in-and-out of immigration offices and tourist visa-run shops trying to figure out what the deal was. Not that exciting, so I am going to cease blogging about that instantly and show you a cool picture instead.
We extended our stay one more day, not for the same reasons that we spent extra time in Koh Tao, but instead, really just to figure out what the heck to do next. So we booked a night at the Hakuna Matata hostel, hit the beach for mine and Bob’s maximum relaxation/regrouping time quota of about 45 minutes (enough for some reading and a swim) before we met Jiggy, an adorable, goofy, and kind travel agent who hooked us up with our taxi --> bus --> ferry --> bus --> minivan --> bus --> car travel itinerary in order to get from one side of the isthmus to the other.
|Sometimes this is what our planning looks like.|
|Chia and Trusty Sidekick "UK Gary"|
Okay, it's Emily again! Saturday morning, we caught a van and then a tuk-tuk to make it to the pier, only to find that all of the ferryboats to Koh Tarutao are booked. We had done a ton of reading and researching about this island and we were so psyched for this trip. Needless to say, we were feeling a little deflated. It was a whole lot of traveling to have a wrench thrown in the works now, but that seems to be how it always goes. When you are in the midst of one of these dilemmas, it feels like your troubles might register on the scale of a grand catastrophe. We had a PLAN - and now, all of a sudden…once again, we didn’t. Now, when you picture us landing at the pier and discovering that the ferryboats are all booked, I’m guessing you probably picture us walking up to the ticket booth, slap-happy as a bunch of clams, to find a sign in the window that says “Sold Out” – or maybe you envision an official at the counter apologizing and delivering the bad news. But that’s not how it goes at Pak Bara Pier. There is no organized Ticket Booth, or Ferry Ticket Organization, or anything like that. Instead, you get dropped off with all of your bags in the hot, southern Thailand sun, and you make your way around an enormous horse-shoe loop the size of your average high school track field, checking in at each and every tiny ticket shop along the way to see who you can haggle to the lowest price, and to see if ANY of them can get you on a boat. In this case, nobody could.
So, we get on the ferry, slowly but surely - because after an extensive ferry-delay, those nice folks on the pier that you spent time people-watching, exchanging smiles with, or small-talking with, somehow drastically morph into nothing but elbows and suitcases. People. Get. Pushy. And our biggest gripe with that? The fervent intent to avoid eye-contact. I think sometimes people think that not looking at you as they execute these rude maneuvers makes them appear oblivious, like maybe their rudeness will be excused as an accidental "Oops! Didn't see you there." Now, I am a big fan of the common-courtesy merging approach. We all take a little and give a little. We create an organized system. We let the family with two small children stay intact instead of forcing the mom to peer over shoulders and peek through cracks in the crowd to make sure that her girls are still walking behind their dad, holding on to the straps of his backpack in a vain attempt to not get separated. We say excuse me, pardon me, Kor-thod-Ka. We look at each other. But, alas, the world is not that way. Some people want to get on the boat, claim their real estate, and get right back to sitting. But that is all tangential – I want to tell you about our amazing trip!
|Although not on the boat, one of Em's many mini-naps throughout our travels!|
|Thailand: Land of the Free|
|Land of Smiles|
|Upon entering Koh Adang....we transformed into Coconut Heads|
We ate dinner at the only restaurant on the island. Typically Thai dishes have a format: They lay out the basics for you of the noodle, rice, or curry dish, and then you add either vegetables/tofu, chicken, or seafood (sometimes pork). When the people of Koh Adang say “seafood,” what they mean to say is “obscene amounts of shrimp and squid.” Literally, I have never come close to eating that much squid in my LIFE. And I think I’m all set for a little while now. There was one particularly enormous tentacle that I’m envisioning now, that I basically ate out of some macho, delirious impulse to impress Bob. As if eating squid is somehow impressive. But I’m sure you can picture my thoughts as I ate – something along the lines of, “Yeah, Bob. I don’t care about the size of those suction cups poking out of my coconut curry between the green beans and ginger root. What? You think I only eat those calamari-esque O-rings you find at TGIFriday’s? (What part of the squid do the circles even come from?) I’ll eat the 2.5 inch-long purple arm pieces; I don’t care.”
I’ll segue here for a moment and elaborate on the tongue-soup story.
|View of Koh Lipe from the cliffs of Koh Adang|
|Birthday Party atop the cliff!|
So we hiked and climbed and looked and swam and read and relaxed and ate and….began a new hike! This was ambitious, but we knew it was our last day on Koh Adang and we wanted to see as much as we could.
|Really vague, unclear photo of the mystery rodent - but it's the best we could do.|
We also saw BATS up close and personal for the entirety of our quick jaunt back to the beach in the twilight. Bob had a number of very close bat-to-the-face encounters, but we made it out alive and well and happy in time for dinner, followed by another night swim where Bob, impressively, completed 8 underwater somersaults without coming up for air. Invigorating stuff.
Earlier you saw photos of Koh Lipe from the cliffs of the neighboring island, Koh Adang. We spent one night on Koh Lipe after Koh Adang which is just a short 10-minute boat taxi away. We stayed in my favorite accommodation so far: A Bamboo Hut! If you have heard the song by The Who entitled, "Eminence Front,"then you can sing along to our anthem of the night. "I BEEN LIVIN IN A HUT......C'MON! IN A BAMBOO HUT."
|"Livin in a hut"|