I got up early this morning to send this blogg of our latest adventure; yesterday we drove down to San Rioa National Park (South of where we are staying) and there we climbed a mountain and searched a cave system. It was extremely humid and through the exertion I sweated at least 2 litres of water and managed to turn my legs into rubber on the descent. I don’t think I need to visit the gym today so will spend some time on the internet.
It turned out to be fortunate that we went into the cave system, we found a group of students in there, they had been lost for several hours and were desperate for us to show them the way out. Luckily, Jamie had brought his video camera to film the caves and we found it useful as its light was quite bright. Though we could see where we were going (mostly), usually it was where Jamie was going and we had to stumble with great care.
Later, to cool off Sarah and I had a swim on a quite gorgeous beach next to a fishing village, we ignored the seemingly million jellyfish intent on stinging us. Jamie managed to coax one of the local women into cooking him some fried rice and pork, I don’t know how he does it as she couldn’t speak English. He sat on an upturned boat and scoffed the lot, watched on by the local and ravenous dogs. Sue said later that he had also tried to get the woman to make him an omelette. Hmm, rice and pork was being a bit cheeky, but then I suppose that is Jamie for you!
A day spent in San Rioa Park is always special, we have been several times over the years. The scenery is stunning, the beaches are deserted and the locals are so friendly. We had lunch at the Ranger Station located at the far end of the park, which itself is in a huge ancient volcanic crater. Afterwards, as is now traditional, we took a walk through the mangroves, throwing berries at each other. Exasperatingly, this year Jamie and Sarah were far more accurate than when younger and when hit, the little fruits do sting greatly (I tried to not encourage them by flinching and show that they hurt). Towards the end of the boardwalk, Sarah and ganged up on Jamie, cornering him underneath a watch tower and there he paid the price for all those earlier sneaky little throws. He surrendered only after being hit so many times he was beginning to look like a Dalmatian (dog).
Coming across a troupe of Macaques (monkeys), we spent some time feeding them some of the food we were carrying. We then looked for the Dusky Langurs (also monkeys) reputedly living in the mangroves but failed to find them, so we paused for the family monkeys (Jamie and Sarah) to have their drinks. While we were monkeying around, Sue enjoyed herself using the binoculars and looking at the bird life, butterflies and mud-skippers in the mangroves. She later chatted with the locals as Sarah and I went back to the beach, to recover the flip-flops she had left there, of course they were mine and she had borrowed them!
A few days ago we did something we always said that we would do. In fact, secretly Sarah and I had been planning to do this all year. We drove north west to the largest body of water in Thailand, Kaen Kratchaen Dam, it is located near the Burmese border. We have been there many times, it’s very beautiful and very remote. Three years ago, by accident we discovered a place called Paradise Boat resort. It is situated next to the lake, down a very muddy cart track. It IS paradise. The resort is made up of several Sampans (boats) built/floating on the shore within their own concrete pools. Their interiors are absolutely 6 star and the views are unbelievably stunning.
On previous occasions we have just had lunch there, and been the only guests. I have often conjectured whether a Thai millionaire had once discovered this spot by accident and decided that it would be a unique and beautiful spot to build a very plush and stylish resort. This time, unlike on previous occasions when just the staff were around, this year the owner was present. Sarah and I had planned that we would stay in one of the boats and though at first a little reluctant, the lady owner accepted our request and booked us into one of the Sampans near the entrance.
In conversation, she confessed that she and her wealthy husband had discovered this spot on a day out from their business in Bangkok and had decided to build themselves a weekend Sampan here to enjoy the location. She then persuaded him to build some more Sampans and a restaurant and let her run it as a resort.
As expected our Sampan was soooooo nice, very luxurious with no expense spared on fittings. As soon as we checked in, people in uniform started to arrive. It seems that the General of the Thai Armed Forces had booked a party in the garden next to the lake to celebrate his wife’s birthday.
That afternoon we swam in the lake, canoed around a small island and then hired some bicycles and went for a an exhausting evening ride.
By the time we had dressed for dinner and seated our selves on the veranda by the restaurant, a stage and tables had been set up next to the shoreline and a great many guests dressed in military uniform and ball gowns had arrived. Chatting to one of the party, Sarah found that it was the general’s wife’s 34th birthday, but to me she looked more like 50yrs old. Of course, you can guess that the ordinary ranks were waiting on the tables and the officers were doing the celebrating. They provided us with our evening entertainment, but I must admit that If I had paid to watch it I would have wanted my money back, the professional dancers were good, but the Thais do like to karaoke and they are dire at it. As the only guests staying in the resort we had been invited to join the party but we turned it down, preferring to eat and watch from the sanctuary of the restaurant.
As I was taking photos of the stage acts from the shore, the General, his wife and very pretty daughter came over to our table and spoke to Sue, they again requested that we join in their celebration. His daughter was quite taken with Jamie and wanted a photo of them together, which took place. We chose not to join the party as they were now beginning the Karaoke sessions and we did not want to do that, so politely made our thanks and retired to our boat. The party went on well into the small hours.
The following morning during breakfast we discovered that quite a lot of the party goers had decided to stay and had checked into some of the other Sampans. The stage and tables had somehow magically disappeared.
After checking out of the resort, we decided to go further that we have been before on our previous visits. I filled the car up with petrol and we headed off further into the jungle along a dirt track towards Pran Buri falls. After quite a distance with a few stops for me to get out of the car and walk ahead to check the road surface, we came to an encampment and were stopped by a barrier. There was plenty of evidence of wild elephants and also leopards. On one occasion we came across a huge monitor lizard and swarms of colourful butterflies. The camp seemed deserted except for three rangers, who showed no interest in us. Sue, Sarah and Jamie went off for a walk along the river while I nosed around the campsite. I was glad when they returned as it had started to drizzle and I was sure that if it rained heavily we wouldn’t have been able to get the car back up and over the mountains on the road we had just come. However, we did get back and it didn’t rain heavily and we regret that we left without exploring further. Sarah professed that she would love to go back there one day and camp herself, and I think she probably will. We all enjoyed that little trip, what a brilliant day!
On our next trip we went to Lawana. We discovered the place years ago, it has a beautiful infinity pool over looking a river and fishing village, so picturesque. As usual we were the only guests, we had lunch and then a swim in the pool. Afterwards, Sarah and I took a walk up the river towards the sea. There was a police boat in the middle of the estuary stopping and searching the fishing boats returning from the sea. From the pool we had been watching the boats using binoculars, but couldn’t see clearly what the police were searching for. We spent a pleasant hour sitting on the bank observing the police at work. As the fishing boats entered the estuary, they were being watched by the police. If they did anything suspicious then they pulled them in for boarding and a search. They were looking for drugs. We watched in interest the panic onboard the fishing boats when the crew spotted the police boat, and then dumped the packets of drugs overboard. We knew they were drugs, because they were floating onto the beach in front of us!!! Of course when the boat had been searched, there were no drugs on board, so the police let them go.
The police had watched them being dump overboard, but I suppose like the fishermen, they play the game as well. The drugs had gone, the fishermen had been encouraged to fish, in a fashion. And, everybody avoids fuss and paperwork! The irony was, that at 5 o’clock the police boat steamed away into the harbour, the officers got onto their mopeds and went home. Of course, there were still fishing boats entering estuary, this time with no panic stations.
At around 5.15 a larger Navy boat came into the estuary and made his way down the river, I guess he had been out at sea hunting the bigger boats that were servicing the smaller fishing boats. It had been an interesting afternoon.
Well, I have loads more to tell, but not the time to tell it….. must be off, or they will be wondering where I am.