Jungle interlude

Returning (presumably) back to Wi-Fi after a brief drop off the grid, I’m actually drafting this post on a ferry from Surat Thani (ish) to Koh Phang An to be posted whenever we are in the vicinity of an internet connection. I just happen to have an excess of time at the moment.

We spent four days in Phuket, land of luxury of five whole towels and lovely clean bathroom. Highlight of which, second to the joy of sleeping in AC, was the Gibbon Rehabilitation Center. We stayed on what I think is a quieter part of the island up north, called Surin Bay, though there was still a strip of very trendy beach clubs along the water with lots of menus in Russian. We splurged on dinner at a trendy and totally worth it fusion restaurant that cost about an entire day’s budget for one meal, in addition to our indulgent soap-providing room. It sadly seems like the rainy season has kicked in on the Andaman coast though, as we had our first extended series of grey, damp days.

Splurge is really unpleasant word and I will try not to use it again.

We also caved to the luxury impulse and got massages on Phuket. Why I wasted so many days not getting massages, I do not know.

After that we spent a solid full day in minibuses re-tightening all my muscles attempting to get to Khao Sok National Park as we cross over to the Gulf of Thailand side of the country. This involved going all the way to Surat Thani for about three hours, then turning around and going back the way we came for about two more before we finally got to the park, with no stops for food, much to our great dismay. By the time we got there we probably would have gotten in any free pickup truck that promised to bring us to dinner. Sadly/luckily, there were none of those.

Took a jungle trek inside the park the following day, which mostly involved more sitting and some swimming with about 45 minutes of trekking, including a hike through a cave. I spent most of the cave part silently panicking and wishing I had brought a ball of string along so I could follow it out later. I survived (clearly) with minimal injury and zero leeches, which were my real concern after freak cave-ins or rising water levels. Again, I am the world’s least fun traveler. The park is beautiful though, and a nice break from the busy and litter-covered beach towns.

That was enough nature, so now we are trying to get to Koh Phang An, home of the Full Moon Party (which won’t be happening while we’re there), to resume our beaching and hopefully more frugal ways. Down to T-10 days in Thailand until our visas expire and we have to skip town to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat, and I aspire to spend as many of them lying on the beach eating pad thai as possible. (The best pad thai so far is still Curry Restaurant in Koh Lanta. Worst is the street carts on Khao San Road in Bangkok.)

It would probably be remiss of me not to mention that yes, Thailand is under martial law now, and we spent most of the hour-long van ride to the jungle yesterday talking about it with the other people on our tour. So far things in the south seem quiet, either because it’s not a big deal here, we aren’t in a political part of the country, or they are just reluctant to upset the tourist industry. Fingers crossed they stay that way and hopefully by the time we have to go back through Bangkok to get to Siem Reap things will be less tumultuous.

If you were curious, which I somehow doubt, Kindle is declared officially dead. I wasted eight of my precious international emergency call minutes calling Amazon tech support, three of which were squandered on their “did you try turning it on and turning it off again” filter before they even transferred me to a specialist. Then they spent two more trying to sell me a refurbished Kindle Fire. I do not want a Kindle Fire, I want my Kindle to be functional again, but apparently that is a pipe dream and it is the dubious overpriced bookstores for me. Or the iPad, but you can’t exactly bring that to the beach.

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