A Travellerspoint blog

A Change in Plans

...Again

Sirs,

Well, as the title suggests, our plans have changed and we aren't where I thought we'd be at this time. On a whim, Agnes and I ditched the whole plan of going to Phanom Rung and other random areas in the northeast, and instead we travelled up up up to the tip top of the northeast. We are now in Nong Khai, and consequently on the Laotian border as well.

Nong Khai is a pretty swell place I must say. Although there is a fairly dense tourist population, it doesn't seem as if the locals attempt to cater to them at all. It is still in the Isan area, and is basically the transition from Thai culture to Laotian. We've traversed local markets and had a movie night at a bar run by some fellow from the UK - due to an accent thicker than peanut butter I didn't catch the exact location, but it sounded something like "suuthalahnd." By the way, Men Who Stare at Goats is a brilliant movie, one of the Cohen brothers' best in my opinion.
We hope to also check out a local sculpture park that was created by a wacky Laotian fellow. He tried to combine Hindu and Buddhist mythology into one great big batch of sculptures, and it sounds like it's quite a spectacle.

Agnes and I have also signed up to the WWOOF organisation (world wide opportunities on organic farms) and have been emailing and reading up on different places. It seems as if we're going to work in the Chiang Mai region sometime in the beginning of March. Having said that, plans could easily change, but we're both very excited about it and hopefully it will happen. To tell the truth I'm getting a little antsy and feel like I need to do something besides just being a tourist.

Well folks, that's all I have for you now. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that we're heading to Laos right after our stay in Nong Khai. Also, we don't have any literature on Laos, so any suggestions on what to see and do would be greatly appreciated. We'll probably stay in the northern bit because we don't have time to venture too far from northern Thailand, but who knows. Ta ta for now.
Signed,
Maximus, your travelling boy on the Mekhong.

Posted by soupy 22:53 Comments (4)

Monkeys and Otters and Crocs Oh My!

Yay for Khao Yai!

To My Dedicated Blogees,

We safely made it out of the grasp of the dirty gutters of Khao San and headed northeast. We needed something natural after that whole ordeal, and we figured that the most natural thing we could think of was a National Park! So we packed our packs and headed to Khao Yai. Here are some interesting tidbits about Khao Yai:

-It holds the largest monsoon rainforest in all of Asia
-It was the first National Park established in Thailand

We arrived at the park not knowing what to expect, and at first it really seemed like we had made a huge mistake. Deciding to "wing it," we unfortunately brought little cash and no food whatsoever. Did we think there would be ATMs and restaurants? I don't know what went through our heads, but we got there in the evening and found no food, no ATMs, and no English speakers. After some rather rudimentary communication (consisting partly of charades, and partly of gutteral grunts) we got ourselves a tent and a meal in a plastic bag. From there the rest of the time went very smoothly. We discovered that there was a small restaurant nearby, and to our delight, everything was so cheap that we didn't even need an ATM at all (praise Fortuna!). The park is really quite a spectacle. It is quite elevated, so we were quite happy to find that it's quite cool and breezy. We spent our time clambering across the trails they've built, hitchhiking across the park, and marvelling at the beauty of the rainforest. We managed to see most of the wildlife that lives in the park, including barking deer, gibbons, macaques, otters, and even a crocodile! It was really quite a stay, and a good time was had by all.
At the end of our stay, our group experienced its first split. Katie and Tamir have now headed to Cambodia, and Agnes and I are going to stick around in the northeast, and then head to Laos. We've been fiddling around with the idea of WWOOFing, but as usual, everything is up in the air. All we know for sure is that we're heading towards Phanom Rung Historical Park which is home to some really well known Khmer ruins. We really haven't established a plan for what comes next, but it's exactly our intentions to keep it that way.
Until next time,
Claude, your natural travelling boy.

Posted by soupy 02:01 Comments (0)

What The?

Uuuuugh, Khao San again

Well, one thing led to another and we now find ourselves back on bustling Khao San Road in Bangkok. How did this happen? I don't rightly know myself, perhaps Fortuna has played a devious trick on us, but all I know for sure is that we're here.

Ranong was really really excellent for the whole 3 days we were there. We took a ferry from Koh Phayam to Ranong, and had the most wonderful welcoming party. We only had to clamber over 2 boats and then up a ladder that looked like it was built by a 6 year old. But aside from the sketchy beginning, the rest of it went very well. We ventured out into town a lot, ate most meals at a nearby food market (experiencing virtually no English speakers for the first time), got massages, and checked out the local "waterfall," which in fact looked more like a pissy dribble than anything else.

Our grand plan was to head from Ranong to Kachanaburi, but we ran into some roadblocks at Chumphon. Basically the train was more than we thought, longer than we thought, and crappier than we thought, and we all simultaneously lost enthusiasm. Instead, we decided to stop by in Bangkok for a few nights to get our heads straight and figure out our next move. You now may find yourself asking, "what is this ever-so mysterious next move that our dutiful blogger speaks of?" Well, it is a move that will soon take us to Khao Yai. I actually don't really know much about Khao Yai because Tamir was the mastermind behind the move, but I'm pretty sure it's a national park, and we can rent tents there (because we won't be spending enough time in tents for the next 6 months). In the meantime though, we are spending time at Khao San road in Bangkok. I hate it here. It's filled with tourists, persistent vendors, expensive food and drinks, loud parties, and "ping pong shows" (don't ask). Hopefully we will depart tomorrow from this unpleasant place... assuming Fortuna spins us with a benevolent hand.

Sincerely,
Rutherford, your exasperated travelling boy.

Posted by soupy 06:50 Comments (4)

Part One, Gregory Vs. The Pacific Ocean

Who will win? Read on ye faithful bloggees!

Well folks, our time at Koh Phayam is officially over... how sad. It was really lovely for the whole 8 days. We motorcycled some more, sunned ourselves reptillian style, and read (I've already finished all 3 books I brought along), and it was truly great. We even tried out some snorkeling... unfortunately it ended in tragedy, and here is the story of "Part One, Gregory vs. the Pacific Ocean:"

It began with a dream, nay, a vision. Agnes and I were to observe the beautiful aquatic life off the coast of Koh Phayam through the means of snorkeling. It began with high spirits, but a lack of underwater life caused the expedition to slowly lose its vigor. Being a non-Asian male, my feet were far too big for my fins, and I removed them, not knowing the future consequences of my decision. I also got bored and decided to head back due to the lack of excitement... and also partly because of a slight fear of sharks. I was in a bit of a hurry to get out of the water, and increased anxiety led me to take a short cut out of the water, one that involved a bit of clambering over rocky beds... bad bad idea. The very same rocks that attracted my tender little soles previously attracted hundreds of strange oysteresque creatures, and unbenownst to me, their shells are very, very sharp. I stepped on and immediately felt it tear through my soft North American feet. I gasped, stepped back, cut my other foot, fell, sliced open my hand, and dropped my fins down some god-forsaken ocean crevice - no doubt brimming with the teeth and pincers of innumerable eager sea creatures. I stood there stunned, and bleeding. It was right then when my shark anxiety climaxed, and I started frantically swimming back to shore (avoiding barnacled rocks like the plague) and screaming back to Agnes that I hurt myself, and that I had dropped my flippers. Every three or four feeble strokes, I frantically glanced over my shoulders for approaching dorsal fins. But alas, I made it to shore without catastrophe, and really only had major wounds on my hand and heel. In summary; round one goes to the Pacific... but I'll get it back, if it's the last things I do.

That was the most exciting event I have to write about. Besides that we just hung out until it was time to leave. Now we're in Ranong for 3 nights. Ranong is very Thai, very interesting, and very smelly (hot springs and garbage present a violent olfactory sensation).

Until next time,
Pierre, your wounded travelling boy.

Posted by soupy 05:22 Comments (4)

On an Island in the Sun

Wonderful wonderful Koh Phayam

Koh Phayam is definitely the best place we've been to thus far. It is really cheap (about $5 each a night), sunny, and beautiful, but most importantly it is relaxed and not excessively touristy. The island is really small, about 600 permanent residents, and isn't jam packed with sunburned whities. The locals are some of the most laid back people I've ever seen, and there seems to be strong reggae and hippy influences on the culture. A European man who now lives in Ranong told me that this area is what Thailand was like in the 80's... and that's just peachy. There are only sidewalks on Koh Phayam, and that means no cars or trucks, only motorcycles and tractors. So far we've been spending oodles of time on the beach boogie boarding, reading and so on. We rented motorcycles two days ago and spent the day motoring down every road on the island (there are about three) and up and down the beaches. Katie took a bit of a spill right off the bat, but the rest went smoothly and we remain intact.
The island is nearly perfect, there is only one drawback. Unfortunately something about the ocean surrounding the island attracts obscene amounts of plankton, and the little buggers sting every several seconds. It makes swimming in the ocean a little less pleasant, but hey, nothing in life is perfect. I'm not sure how long we are going to stay here, probably another week or so, and then who knows.
Signed,
Todd, your pacifist working boy.

Posted by soupy 20:14 Comments (4)

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