I’ll start this week’s update with an apology — I missed a week!
I did write a post in the meantime — if you give it a read you’ll understand why I wasn’t able to write last week’s update…
I’ve been exploring…
Khao Sok National Park
I finished the last weekly update with a teaser photo:
Khao Sok National Park is where I headed after Koh Phangan — I took the ferry to Surat Thani and then the bus to Khao Sok (via various bus terminals and roadside stops — I think it was 3 busses in the end).
I arrived fairly late in the evening in Khao Sok, feeling pretty glad that I’d booked a room in advance and didn’t need to search around for one in the dark. I found my way to bed and breakfast that I’d booked and was told that… it was full. Although the lady in charge seemed to think that the conversation ended there, I stuck around and pointed out that I’d booked online and that should mean something…
Searching Khao Sok (a fairly small village on the edge of the national park) for a room in the dark did not appeal.
Thankfully the B&B woman spoke to her friend two doors down and arranged a room there for me. It actually ended up being a major upgrade — I got a private room with a huge (queen?) bed, air conditioning, a bathroom… I fell on my feet.
In the morning I set out to the National Park to do some hiking. The park has some pretty awesome jungle and although the hikes weren’t that exciting (the crazier ones require a guide and a full day / multiple days) it was pretty cool.
I saw monkeys (really hard to photograph them from a distance… here’s my poor attempt):
I’d planned to spend the whole day hiking but by 1pm I’d covered a decent portion of the hiking routes, so I decided to head over to the man-made lake — Khao Sok’s main attraction.
The lake was created to provide electricity — there’s a pretty big dam there. Since it’s creation it’s turned into a huge draw for tourists due to the wildlife there and the amazing limestone karst formations. There’s a ton of tour options but I wanted to go down the independent route so I hired a moped and biked over there.
Although I got some cool views from the shore of the lake, I think you’ve got to take a boat out on it to really appreciate its beauty. I turned up too late in the day to rent a boat, so I was limited to views like this (which were still pretty great…):
The highlight, as it turned out, was actually the journey to the lake. For the majority of the journey there were limestone karst formations on at least one side of the road, often on both sides. I stopped pretty often just to take in the view — looking around too much whilst on the road was pretty treacherous…
After my day in Khao Sok I stayed another night in my massive room and then set out early in the morning for Railay, the home of climbing in Thailand.
I hadn’t managed to arrange any accommodation — everything online was expensive — so I decided I’d take a look around neighbouring Ao Nang. It was the next bay over and you could easily travel to Railay via longboat.
Ao Nang didn’t grab me and (although I did end up using free wifi in a McDonalds there a few days later) I quickly decided that I didn’t want to stay there. Instead I hopped on a boat to Railay, hoping I’d find a cheap bungalow like we did in Koh Phangan.
I was blown away by the beauty of Railay immediately. Although I’d seen tons of limestone karsts in Khao Sok, there was something totally different about seeing them rising out of the sea:
After a little searching I found some bungalows on Railay East Beach which did the job. Straight after arriving I met a group who had also just arrived and we set off together to explore. We spent a couple of days together, renting kayaks and exploring Railay’s beaches and some of the small islands close by.
The views really are incredible and if you’re in to rock climbing it looks like an amazing spot for it. Here are photo highlights:
After those guys left I decided to make the move to Tonsai beach, the most remote of Railay’s beaches. Although Railay is cut off from the rest of the mainland by mountains (meaning there are no roads into Railay or in Railay), it’s easy to walk between the other beaches along concrete pathways. Tonsai, however, can only be reached by either a) a trek through the jungle or b) a trek over some rocks / through some shallow water.
As I had my big bag with all my valuables, I decided to stick clear of the wet option and head through the jungle. Although I still think this was the best option, it was tough — it was super hot and my bag is pretty heavy. By the time I got to Tonsai I was desperate to find some accommodation to dump my bag at.
Thankfully I was in luck — I quickly found a bungalow for half the price I had been paying in Railay East (300 baht = <£7, vs. 600 baht on East).
After paying for the bungalow I headed towards the beach to find food. After eating I sat down on the beach, chilling and digesting. After a little while I felt a little stomach ache — nothing out of the ordinary for Thailand. After 10 minutes, however, it got worse — it really started hurting. I feared the worst and quickly headed back to my bungalow to lie down.
I got food poisoning. I’ll spare you the graphic details but needless to say it wasn’t too much fun. The rest of my time in Tonsai (and the rest of the time covered by the post) were spent in my bungalow, alternating between sweating, puking and… oh wait, no graphic details… out every ounce of moisture in my body.
I’m glad to say that I’m now pretty much fully recovered (it’s been a week) and I’ve got some more great stuff to write about in my next post — Ko Lanta and some new books that I’ve been reading.
Until next week!