Last post was one from the heart. Many of you have expressed your caring and support and it is very much appreciated. Worry not, as always, I am quite peachy and it takes more then a decision to choose a country to travel to actually get me depressed. It is just a very interesting choice and thought that it had a larger question looming behind all the personal relevance.
In between the sudden life choices, there has been quite a bit of travel involved in the area of Thailand that I reside in. As of this past weekend almost all options in the mainland province of Satun have been throughly explored and documented for propriety. Since I want you to really get a feel for the areas, I'm going to create a small gallery for each location.
The first up is Thale Ban National Park, a massive sprawling jungle that connects Thailand and Malaysia from border to border. There is a small pocket in between the mountains and jungle that serves as a extremely welcoming break from walking about the dense flora quietly having heart spasms because every vine is a King Cobra; a snake which is roughly 18ft, poisonous and has extremely effective jungle camouflage.
Along this walkway are some really beautiful lizards. They are hidden under leaves, clutching posts and generally being delightful to watch. The variance in their colors is spectacular. Often I found myself quietly mesmerized by their antics and took great joy in sneaking up and photographing them.
Not everything in the jungle was delightful though. For instance, the path was not so much a path as it was a minutely less dense section of vines and ferns. In truth, a lovely sight. One I would have enjoyed more if it was not accompanied by the sounds of thousands of ants marching under my feet. Normally, an ant is an ant. I don't bother them and they don't bother me. But when the ant is question is no longer a tiny creature and more along the line of the thickness of my finger…well, you quickly see me turn from a intrepid outdoorsman into a very freaked out coward. Just look at them! That is NOT something that you want crawling up your pants and into your boots. Look at it! That is not a macro photo, I am standing a very healthy distance away.
All in all, the positives of jungle trekking far outweigh the negatives. Although having experienced it, I much prefer a deciduous forests and mountains over a tropical jungle. I'm a trailblazer. Going off trail in sub-tropical or temperate areas is much less hazardous to my health.
Check out the following gallery for more photos of the critters of Thaleban National Park
Next on the list of fantastical places is the lovely little island of Koh Bulone Leh. After being overloaded by the sheer development and westernization of Koh Lipe, we looked for a more quiet, less popular option for our next island.
Koh Bulone is a tranquil little spot about 22km off the coast of Thailand and is home to a lovely population of squid-fishing sea gypsies (Chow Laeir). The island itself is simply pristine. Even the areas that have heavy development are really nothing more then a concrete sidewalk. When you compare this to the other islands in this section of Thailand, it's rather refreshing. There is only one store for tourists to get their shopping fix which, after Lipe, I was delighted to see. Besides these isolated walkways the island is either dense jungle or small groups of thatched huts and tiny shore side eateries.
The food is fantastic, the prices at resorts are absurdly low, ~$10 a night, and the locals are friendly. What else could you ask for in an island?
The true draw here is the lovely quietness of this particular island (something that is not found on the others). Like I mentioned, the development is limited so many of the people, tourist or Thai, enjoy the quiet and are very laid back. We didn't find anything of much excitement here. Thankfully, that's exactly what we were looking for. The photos here speak for themselves: Beautiful coral is one reason to come to Bulone, long sandy beaches aren't so horrible either, but in the end, in final reason is it's serenity. Also, we got to our boat on the local mail truck..so there's that too. Check out Bulone's gallery.
After this island, we really didn't have anything left! So what did we do? Went river rafting of course. Isn't this the obvious choice that everyone would make? I won't say to much about the river, aside from the peaceful flow of the water that was present there, the sweltering heat and the deafening roar of insects (which I took great pleasure in shattering by occasionally jumping out of mangrove trees into the river). The best part about it was that I was on a river..in Thailand.
Oddly enough though, the Thais thought it was unbelievable that a westerner could handle a boat, let alone one going down a river. It really made wonder what westerners have been on this river. A trip like this though could not be complete without waterfalls. I cannot stress enough how many different waterfalls are in Thailand and each one is unique. The waterfall here, Sai Chai, looks like something out of a LOTR or Harry Potter movie. Water flows from a cave on the hillside into perfectly formed, multi-tiered levels that create natural swimming pools. Honestly, I tried very hard to get a photo that can do this justice..but I just couldn't. Check out the gallery from the river and the waterfall. Next post? Koh Mook, jellyfish, underwater caves and sunburn!