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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Elephant Trekking and Bamboo Rafting

Patong Beach, Phuket

So we got to Phuket Airport and of course the internet on my phone doesn’t work here, and therefore we didn’t have the address or phone number for our hostel. The tourist information agents at the airport were no help either, they’ve never heard of our hostel before, nor did they have a phone book. All we knew was that we were staying 2 blocks away from Patong Beach, on the western shore of Phuket Island. Anyways, an Australian woman overheard us and offered to share a taxi with her to Patong Beach, where she was staying and once we go there we could use the internet at her hotel and figure out where we were going. She was very nice but very strange. First off she had no luggage and she is here for 2 weeks. Secondly, why was she flying in from Malaysia if she was here for a dentist appointment from Australia? A layover maybe? Everything ended up working out just fine, her hotel is only a few blocks from ours. We finally go to our hostel a little after 10pm. We checked in, dropped off our backpacks and headed out for a night out on the town! I don’t think either of us have gotten ready that fast in our entire lives.

Our hostel is in a great location, 2 blocks from the beach and one block from the major night time hot spots. The street is blocked off to traffic at night and is full of hundreds of bars, restaurants and clubs. We knew Phuket is known as the prostitution capital of the world but we were still quite shocked to see hoe prevalent and how open it is here! They are not discrete about it, at all. Anyways, we found a place that doesn’t allow any of this to go on in their club and bar and hung out there for the night. The whole place was full of young non-thai tourists, just like us. There was also a beach party going on when we first arrived and we just caught the end of it and some famous DJ I’ve never heard of, David Morales, but apparently he’s a big deal.  The beach party was fun and people were lighting and setting off sky lanterns, just like I did on New Year’s Eve in Argentina a few years ago!

Sky Lanterns floating and lighting up the sky

Saturday we spent the day at the beach reading, relaxing and eating mango!

Today we went to Khao Lak tropical forest  National Park. We went bamboo rafting and elephant trekking. The little river we went down had some small rapids and I didn’t think we’d make it, but we did, we just got a little wet. Our tour guide liked to point everything out to us - frogs, fish, coconuts- and giant spiders, which I wish we hadn’t seen. I was freaked out by them and not to mention the two smaller ones that I found crawling on me!!

Me on the Bamboo Raft

Our elephant trek through the woods was quicker than I thought but I still enjoyed it! The only thing I didn’t like was how our guide treated the elephant. He had a wooded stick with a small axe on the end and a very sharp nail too and would hit the elephant or stick the nail into its head if it stopped to eat leaves or walked the wrong way. The way they treat animals here is very different and very sad.  Even the cows look under-nourished and too skinny like they aren’t being fed enough or taken care of right. I was disgusted by the way the guide treated the elephant, and it’s probably a good thing he didn’t speak English or I would have yelled at him!

Katie & I riding an elephant

I even got to feed him bananas

After this we went to a Royal Navy Battle Ship site and saw a boat that had been anchored at the beach when the tsunami hit but is now 2km away in a field, in the exact same spot it was found after the tsunami. We saw so many pictures of the tsunami and the damage but they cleaned up and rebuilt fast and if you didn’t know, you would have no idea the whole island had been devastated by a tsunami 5 years ago.

We had lunch at a Thai seafood restaurant on the beach. We had Shrimp and fish coconut milk soup, cashew chicken and chicken with chili. All so good! We spent a little time at the beach there then went to a turtle farm, where they call clown fish nemos, and then to a cashew factory. It was more of a store where we could sample different types of cashews - honeyed, salted, chocolate covered, sesame brittle - and dried fruit too! They even had cashew soda, which is one of the strangest things I’ve ever tried.

Rubber trees are everywhere here and we saw a few rubber tree tapings. Our tour guide also told us that in Thailand the people use bio-diesel, which is 5% palm oil (from a palm tree) and this is why gas is so much cheaper here. I found this festinating and such a smart idea! And it made me think, why doesn’t America do something like this???

Ruber Tapping

Tonight we celebrated our 1 month of traveling together and went out for Mexican food and Margaritas. Then we went shopping and walked around for a while. Tomorrow morning we are off to Kho Phi Phi Island for a few days!

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