Rain, Sweat, Monitor Lizards, and Flopped Full Moon Parties

I’m writing from my hotel room in the town of Krabi, which is located on the southwestern coast of Thailand. After leaving Koh Tao, which is off the east coast, in the Gulf of Thailand, I went west, to Khao Sok National Park, located in the middle of the peninsula, between the Gulf, and the Andaman Sea. This large park is within the worlds oldest evergreen rainforest, and has more diverse flora and fauna than the Amazon. Unfortunately, I discovered that most of the park was closed for the rainy season, as there is a significant threat of flash flooding in the park. However, it was still nice to be in a real rainforest during the rainy season. The weather was cool, and it rained off and on every day I was there, ranging from light sprinkles to full on downpours and thunderstorms.

While there, I did some hiking in the small part of the park that was open to the public, and the highlight was when I stumbled across a huge monitor lizard that was hanging out on the trail. He was probably a meter in length and not too happy to see me. Unfortunately I didn’t run across any of the wild elephants or tigers that live in the park…. I also rented a scooter and rode to Rajjaprabha Dam, and took a boat ride around on the huge reservoir created by that dam.

Time really seemed to slow down while I was there. It is the off season, so hardly anything was open in the small town I stayed in, and I was the only person staying in my hotel. I had my choice of two restaurants in town — one overly expensive “Italian” place, and a really good & cheap Thai restaurant. Internet was expensive, so I opted to break my connection with the outside world and not check email for 5 days or so. I’d seen all the touristy things to see in two days, but chose to stay longer, because A) it was cool weather, and I love the rain — a nice change from the sweaty heat on Koh Tao, B) it was cheap — only 200 Baht per night for my private bungalow (that’s $6.17 to you & me), and C) I still had a few hundred pictures I needed to process in order to catch up. So by day I worked on pictures, and by night I sat outside and watched the rain, the huge toads, the small jumping frogs, the geckos, the bats, and of course the mosquitoes.

After Khao Sok, I was on my way to Railay Beachon the west coast, and of course, back into the heat. This is a picturesque peninsula that is still connected to the mainland, but is only accessible by boat. The limestone cliffs in the area are pretty amazing to see. Again, this is the off season in this area, and there was hardly anyone in Railay. This meant lodging and food was cheap, so it worked out for me, even though there wasn’t much going on. The day I got there, many people were leaving and on their way to Koh Phangan for the upcoming “Full Moon Party”, so Railay was even extra dead…. The highlight was hiking up to a lookout point and looking down on the beach, then on my way back down, I watched a group of about 40 monkeys walking along a fence. After two nights, I’d had enough, and it was off to Phi Phi to meet up with my friends Barratt and Asuka.

Phi Phi Islands, made famous by that stupid movie with Leonardo DiCaprio in it, “The Beach”. I’m not sure if that movie caused tourism to flourish there, or if it was already a huge tourist destination spot, but I was surprised by how big the town was, and how expensive everything was there. Still, there were relatively few tourists this time of year. Maybe because it’s the rainy season, and when it’s not raining it’s ridiculously hot. That said, the islands are amazing — white sandy beaches, and turquoise water. I met up with my friends from San Francisco, Barratt & Asuka who now live in Singapore, and had flown in to Thailand for the weekend. One day we hired a longtail boat for a few hours and went out for some snorkeling, and to see the famous bay from the movie, which is actually a national park. On our last night there it was a full moon, and as such all the beach bars where gearing up for the full moon party. All had lasers, and disco lights, and fire shows going on, and of course loud pumping music. There were about 6 big bars on the beach all competing for the roughly 50 or so tourists I saw. There seemed to be more fire performers and employees than actual customers. I suppose anyone who really wanted to party went over to Koh Phangan, which is famous for full moon parties.

Now I’m in Krabi, and will probably be here a few days working on posting all my processed pictures up to the site. Then I’ll be off to Malaysia.