Travel notes from the trip to Phuket, Thailand in June 2001.The story is comprised of two parts: [Part 1] [Part 2]
This is part 2 of the story.
Published: June 2001
travel, Thailand, Thai, boat, hike, hotel, Phuket, Phi-Phi island, Phi Phi, go-go bar, snorkeling, massage, sauna, Butterfly Garden, bungy jumping, Kathu waterfall, Phang-Nga, resort, weather
Waking up early, arghhhhhhhhhhh. 7:00 during vacation? but what could I do. I've had to take a long ride across the whole Phuket island to Phang-Nga, while resides on the mainland of Thailand. This time the group was very small -- only 8 people including me. The day ahead was heavily packed with places to see and things to do.
After about two hours ride, we have arrived to Phang-Nga. The first stop was at the Buddha cave where we have seen a huge silver Buddha laying on his side inside a huge cave. The entrance to the cave was populated by many monkeys, which are obviously there because of the people who come to visit the place and feed them on the way. The monkeys were cute, as usual :)
Later on we continued to ride till a small pier at Phang-Nga and where we have boarded on a long canoe-like but much longer boat with a huge engine, which was very noisy when sailing. When we took off we started to trail through nature reserve which comprised of many water canals and land covered with small trees and bushes. This reminded me of Narochie lands in Belarus.
After awhile many small and big rock islands started to appear. Under one of such islands a Muslim fisherman village was located. The village is built pretty much on the water and stuck to the small mountain-island erecting from the water.
Next we have boarded a big ship anchored to the ground where we have moved to the real sea canoes and started to trail along the many caves inside the big islands massive, which was quite fun. Since I was alone, I've had my own canoe with a personal driver, which didn't forget to ask whether I've "had" a lady in Phuket, which was not the last time I've heard this question on the same day.
The next stop was the famous James Bond island, where the James Bond movie 'Tomorrow never dies' was filmed. It was a nice place, but too much hype. I've spent all my time on the island shooting the pictures of the stunning nature, away from the noisy shopping area.
After the hyped island, we sailed to yet another island on which there was a rubber plantation. There we have had a wonderful Thai lunch in the place where were no people at all (Whoah!). After the lunch we have had a show of how the rubber is collected from the rubber trees and how the final rubber is made. A fact: Rubber is one of the biggest Thailand exports. 60% of the Thailand population works on the rubber plantations.
This was the end of the trip for the whole group but not me, apparently I've booked a bigger adventure, so I've been transferred into a private car which took me to my next stop -- "the elephant's stomach cave" ("Tam Pung Chang" in Thai).
I've arrived to the base of the huge green mountain which reminded a huge elephant by its shape, hence the name of the mountain ("Khao Chang") and the cave. Thai people say that the cave are the stomach of the elephant, since when you go through it, various parts of it remind you of guts, brain, ribs and whatever you find inside an elephant. The interesting thing was that I was the only "farong" (a "foreigner" in Thai) in the group, which I've joined. The rest were local Thai people who of course visit attractions as well (note that they pay much less than "farongs" since obviously they cannot afford the prices which are ridiculously cheap for us). None of them (including the guide) didn't speak proper English, so there were a few of them trying to translate things to me, but it was even cooler than if they spoke perfect English. This changes the spirit of the guided tour where I usually get bored all the time.
The cave was amazing, we were walking in the water, climbing on the walls, sometimes crossing a deep water on the bamboo rafts and sometimes are just going deep in the water. The cave was surprisingly warm. I've been in a few caves and they are usually quite cold, even if it's very hot outside. At that day it was a little bit rainy, so inside it was very nice. The scenarios were amazing and I've taken many cool pictures. What I liked the most is that the guide was identifying various figures of the animals in the stones, something I was used to do when I was a kid. I've shown him a few new stone-animals and he told me that on the next tours he will tell others that they were discovered by me (so I've a sort of patent :). Most of the identified animals inside the cave were elephants, which is another reason for calling this track as "an elephant track".
At the end of the trip the guide (whose nick name was Eakapat Kumnarong / Rin) has invited me to stay at his house for free but the place was far away from my hotel and I had other plans for the evening. He also invited me to come to live at his place next time I come to Thailand. Now this guy is amazing. He believes in the lucky number 7. He has this number drawn across the whole wall of one of the rooms. Inside the room in the corner of the ceiling there was a huge bees hive and lots of honey in the bee combs. This is his room of luck. After he was using number 7 in the Thai lottery for awhile he has won more than 1,000,000 Baht (US$25,000) but still a huge fortune in Thailand. He has built his house by himself. The house was built in the 14th century's Thailand style. The house has no locks and stands in the open space under the huge green mountain. The nature surrounding the house is simply stunning.
Rin has sent his son to take me back to Phuket and on the way I've been again asked the usual lady question, and learned a few words in Thai: Sawaticup (Hello), Laron (Good bye), Kun Dee Ma (you are very good), Kun Swua Ma (you are very beautiful), Ton (straight) and a few others that I've forgotten already. Back in the Phuket I went directly to Tima, my foot masseuse from the day before. After doing the foot massage for one hour I've asked for the one hour oil massage too. To my surprise, Tima has resurrected my view of the massage business in Thailand, since she has done it very professionally and had no provocative patting :) It was so good, I couldn't do anything after these two hours, but to go to sleep.
A sad day, since I've to leave today... Finally got to the beach after rushing around islands for the last three days. The Andaman sea is wonderful with very clear water and white sand. Add the perfect sunny weather and empty of people beach and you get the idea of the perfect picture of deserted tropical island. Not surprise that this is a great place for diving.
Needed to checkout at 12:00, so I had to interrupt my relaxation session, but after a short checkout I went for my favourite masseuse, Tima, and had a wonderful hour of foot massage followed by an hour of Thai massage. I couldn't move after these two hours, so relaxed I was. The Thai massage was especially good. I have had it twice during my four-days stay. It's especially good for joints. I'll be looking for it here in Singapore. Here I have my weekly Chinese traditional massage, which is very very good too, and my masseuse in Singapore is very strong (which is very important for a good massage of a big body), but it's quite different from the Thai massage. So alternating the two can be a good idea. Of course the foot massage is great too, but it does a subtle work on the whole body and mainly organs, whereas after the Thai or Chinese massage you can feel your body rejuvenated.
After the massage I'd a dilemma whether to go and do yet another attraction or to come back to the beach and lay on the sand till the time I have to leave to the airport. Finally I decided to go to the 'Shooting range' where the bullets were quite expensive relative to other attractions in Thailand. I shoot 10 bullets from 0.42mm gun for my first time, but years of practice with a twice smaller calibre didn't go wasted, I've placed the bullets all together, though into the upper part of the target, but that's because I didn't have a chance to try the gun before. Anyway, I was satisfied with the results.
After the shooting I've rushed back to the beach to finish my relaxation session (Originally I've planned to stay on the beach for all four days, but the reality was different, and for good.) so I've swam in the sea, dipped myself into the swimming pool and shoot some last pictures of the Phuket island.
Now I'm on my way to the airport, documenting my vacation experience.
The four days have passed by so fast :( I guess if I were to stay on the beach, I won't feel that way, but laying on the beach all the time is not for me... A few more days would be extremely helpful, because I've pretty much exhausted the number of offered attractions (there are many places I didn't go, but they all pretty much the same. Otherwise there are many more things one can do here).
My trip was at the great timing. It wasn't the tourist season, so there were very few tourists and many services staying idle, so there was no problem to book things cheaper and all the places I went to weren't crowded at all. In most cases they were *empty* of people! Of course I was lucky on the weather. Three days of sun and one day of light rain, which I almost didn't feel, since I was most of the day at the Phang-Nga district where it almost didn't rain.
But the most amazing thing in this trip was the Thai people. I haven't yet met so kind nation in my life. If you didn't go to Thailand yet, you should. And ASAP, since the more western people get there the worse becomes the place.