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Thailand-Travelogue  |  Travel time: September 2005 - March 2006  |  by Matthew Audley

Khao Sok National Park

Alright, a lot of pictures and very little text here. We left Ton Sai about the time it was getting a little old... at least it was for Catherine. Maybe I could've stayed there longer.

Early morning in Ton Sai.  I only saw it because I had to go diving.

Early morning in Ton Sai. I only saw it because I had to go diving.

From there it was back to old faithful Krabi town, comfortable and boring, but maybe I already mentioned that. We even stayed a day longer than we had to, since we got a room in the really nice, cheap GH. Good sandwhiches. I think I've mentioned the Krabi thing, but it's really just an excuse for this picture.

I'm particularly amused (and i'm not alone of this one) by PORK SHOP.

I'm particularly amused (and i'm not alone of this one) by PORK SHOP.

From Krabi it was a bus to Khao Sok National Park, in the rain. The rain was kind enough to really pick up right when they kicked us off the bus at the side of the road. Fortunately there was a shelter (this is a rainforest.. we should be somewhat prepared). I just got to give my rain gear a proper workout (it's rarely happened this WHOLE trip.)

Khao Sok.

Khao Sok.

As it turned out, finding a cheap, nice place to stay just outside the National Park was really really easy. There were a few nice touts waiting at the bus stop and some guy said he had rooms for 150B and a big van waiting across the street. And they were nice clean little huts with private bathrooms, five minutes from the park. Sometimes this is just way too easy.

Does this require a caption?

Does this require a caption?

So we got up the first day... vaguely early. Maybe not as early as intended, but we did manage to get in a very full day. I pulled on my marvellous hiking shoes and then noticed my badly stubbed toe was hurting a little. Should probably put a bandaid on that. So i take off my shoe and my sock is covered with hordes of black and red ants. These sort of mid-sized guys that i happen to know pack a pretty decent bite. There were a lot of dead ones in the bottom of it, too, but none in the other one. Something tasty in there apparently. The real miracle here is that not one of them managed to bite me. I choose to take it as a good omen.

This picture is gonna stand in for all the other jungle pictures, the jungle being fairly homogenous on this scale.

This picture is gonna stand in for all the other jungle pictures, the jungle being fairly homogenous on this scale.

It was very very hhhhhumid.

It was very very hhhhhumid.

So, i've wanted to go hiking through the jungle pretty well since we arrived. This was just what the doctor ordered. From the office, there was about 2km of fireroad before it became a tiny hiking trail. Sometimes it was pretty tight and there was much of the up and down.

Spiky bamboo.  You gotta look before you grab a branch around here.

Spiky bamboo. You gotta look before you grab a branch around here.

Did i mention the humidity? If i hadn't been having so much fun it might've been some sort of gruelling death-march.

...these things happen.

...these things happen.

Also, we did get to discover the river that we spent most of the afternoon following. Yeah, I was a little bit paranoid about leeches and schisotomiasis and.. you know.. jungle fresh water, but there were OTHER PEOPLE swimming. That means it must be safe. right? Anyway, no leeches.

And look how worthwhile it obviously was.

And look how worthwhile it obviously was.

There was a frog living in our sink.  Indescribably cute.

There was a frog living in our sink. Indescribably cute.

Hmm... Khao Sok Day 2 was more of the same. We went on a short loop up way into the hills, but there were a lot of concrete stairs and I wasn't too impressed with that. Then, we decided we'd head out the same trail as yesterday, but make it to the end, where the map claimed there was a nice place for swimming. So somehow we ended up trekking even further the second day. Very sort legs and feet. But it was worth it. Spectacular.

The swimming hole at Ton Kloi Waterfall.

The swimming hole at Ton Kloi Waterfall.

While we were in swimming, bees attacked our clothing. Lots of bees. It was an interesting half hour, with our time till sunset steadily dwindling and two hours hike from civilization. Those bees were hard to separate from our things. Ask me about it sometime.

So, from Khao Sok we headed to Khao Lak the next day. Khao Lak is really just a place from which to go scuba diving in the Similan Islands National Park, widely touted as the best diving in Thailand. So this stop was mostly for me.

Khao Lak was a weird, ghosty kind of town when we arrived. Expensive accomodation too, but we can handle it. I signed up for a dive early the next day.

Off the beach at Khao Lak.

Off the beach at Khao Lak.

Yaddy yadda yadda, the diving was fantastic. The best so far, though the speed boat trip out there was pain. I needed a kidney belt and a dramamine and had neither. It was a little rough. Saw a big leatherback turtle and a GIANT moray and lots and lots of fish. Very nice stuff. Very good for my last dive and the second dive in particular felt very effortless.

Khao Lak at night.

Khao Lak at night.

What next? A bit of travelling. We headed to Ranong (again, again) to renew our visas, as they wouldn't last us until the 19th. This was the most bizarre, extremely sketchy border crossing. It goes like this: we head to the immigration office in town, via a circuitous route on a little songthaew. Immediately a helpful woman is telling us where to go, obviously with a vested interest. We acquire little bits of paper in the office and then head back out where she tells us she has a boat and will take us across (and back) for 650B. She did settle for 400, so we went off on the back of her motorcycle. You just have to trust random strangers sometimes. Or maybe quite a lot, when travelling.

Welcome to Kawthaung.  Travel into Myanmar from here by road is strictly outlawed.

Welcome to Kawthaung. Travel into Myanmar from here by road is strictly outlawed.

So we ended up in this creepy little back alley port where they're cutting up fish carcasses all over the place. There's a bunch of little longtails and we're directed to a tiny one captained by a twelve-year-old boy. There was another kid along for the ride too, maybe a little older.

I only look relaxed because we were done the really weird part.

I only look relaxed because we were done the really weird part.

So, we go up the river a little way to this wee shack. It SAYS immigration on the front, but i'd swear this was a joke. The boy took our passports and came back with official looking exit stamps though.. guess .. i can't complain?

This is immigration.  No, really.

This is immigration. No, really.

The next stop was another little shack labelled "immigration checkpoint". This was where we had to pay the fee so, as i'm not so good at trusting people with these things, I had to insist on going in myself. The woman had previously insisted that I had to change money because they only took USD at immigration and this did not inspire my trust, particularly as she offered an appaling exchange rate.

IMMIGRATION CHECKPOINT!

IMMIGRATION CHECKPOINT!

So i am glad i went in to this place, if only to soak up the atmosphere. So freakin' weird. Turns out it was 5USD or 300B (a very bad rate), but of course they took my Baht. Anyway, in this little shack you've got a radio blaring seventies rock in the corner. You've got a few desks, a fridge, and a bunch of sweaty guys in yellowed tank tops sitting around with official immigration stamps.

Anyway, we survived the ordeal. Mostly it was just nerve-wracking. Apparently there was no real reason to worry.

Sooo, now we're back up in Hua Hin for a couple days, soaking up the rich, fat ambience. Back to BKK tomorrow and stuck there until the 19th when it's TOKYO BOUND!!

Take care, everyone.

© Matthew Audley, 2005
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The trip
 
Description:
Leaving for bangkok on Sept. 12. Where we go from there is anyone's guess. Hoping to see Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos. Be back in six months or so if everything goes well. There really isn't much of a route planned - we'll see what happens.
Details:
Start of journey: Sep 12, 2005
Duration: 6 months
End of journey: Mar 19, 2006
Travelled countries: Thailand
Canada
Laos
Vietnam
Cambodia
Southeastern Asia
Malaysia
The Author
 
Matthew Audley is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 13 years.
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