Last Night in Koh Chang

Sadly, yesterday was our last full day on Koh Chang Island. We decided to give ourselves our own little personal tour of the island.  We started out pretty early in the morning with a 5 K walk to the nearest waterfall.  We did well navigating and since it was early the sun wasn’t too strong yet.  We walked to the sign that said “Klong Plu Waterfall” and then a native in a pickup truck offered to give us a ride for free to the waterfall.  In the US this would be considered hitchhiking, but in Thailand this is pretty much the norm.  Knowing the waterfall was at least another 30 minute walk we accepted.  The five of us piled into the back of the pickup truck and reminded ourselves: safety in numbers 🙂 After a 5 minute ride we arrived at the national park and soon found out that the random guy who gave us a ride was actually the park manager.  We got to the gates and realized that you had to pay to get in.  We had some money, but were running low, so we didn’t want to pay the full price.  One of my friends tried to explain that we didn’t know that it cost money so we didn’t bring any, but the lady wasn’t buying it.  She offered that if we had student IDs we could get in for half the price.  Instead we told her we were teachers in Korea and pulled out our Korean ARCs.  She bought it and let us all in for half price.  We were so proud to be the first people to get in to this park with the “Korean Teacher’s Discount.” Love it! We walked another 700m through the forest until we got to the waterfall.  Because it is the dry season the waterfall is not that big, but there was enough water to take a nice swim.  The water was cool and refreshing.  We spent some time at the waterfall and then took a taxi to a really nice lookout point to get some last-minute pictures.  I figured out that I had a panoramic setting on my camera so I was able to take some really nice panoramic shots.

After our little adventure we stopped for some lunch.  My friends headed back to the rooms for a nap, but I decided to nap on the beach and enjoy the little time we had left there.  Around sunset I got one last massage and shopped for some last minute gifts and souvenirs.  Later that night while eating my last authentic pad thai, I looked at the street and noticed my two girlfriends from Seoul! I knew they were coming this week and I messaged them where I was staying, but I never thought I would actually see them.  I was so excited to see them. They were walking around with their backpacks still on and they looked exhausted so I told them I would wait for them to find a place to stay and then we would hang for a bit.  We ended up meeting up and I showed them where to eat.  We had a few drinks and danced a little.  It was nice to see them and I was glad they made it safely.  It’s so surreal that my trip here has come to an end.  There are some things I didn’t get to do.  I didn’t get to play with any baby tigers, I didn’t get a traditional bamboo tattoo done, I didn’t see any “Lady boy” shows or “ping pong” shows (I’ll let you google that one).  But there is always next time! I’ve enjoyed every minute of the trip and now I’m looking forward to getting back to Seoul and my routine of teaching again with a refreshed new outlook.  Can’t wait to post some pics!

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A View Of Thailand From Up Above and Down Below

All the days have blended together so I am trying my best to get a few minutes here and there on the computer to update.  It’s about 8:00 P.M. here and I am already ready for bed after a long and adventurous day.  First I will backtrack to yesterday.  Yesterday I woke up a little earlier to get some beach time by myself.  I love traveling with the group, but it was nice to get some alone time.  As I relaxed on the beach I watched a few people go parasailing and I decided that it was something I had to do before I left.  Unfortunately most of my friends are running low on cash and weren’t really up to it so I ended up going by myself, but it was amazing! It was much cheaper than parasailing in the Caribbean so the cost was no problem.  I was driven by one of the natives to a small speed boat, which was then filled up with 6 more natives that were in charge of getting me strapped into my gear.  So yes I was alone with about six strange men, but since I was twice the size of each of them I wasn’t that terrified.  Southeastern Asian men are pretty small.  They strap me into the parachute and yell , “1,2, run okay?” So I say, “1, 2, and then I run?” Then I start panicking and think, “What if I can’t run fast enough? or What if I don’t run at the right time? I am not good at these things…. but before I could think anymore they yelled, “1. 2….” and  I took a step forward and was launched hundreds of feet into the air. I don’t know exactly how high I got, but it was high enough to have a great view of the coast and the open ocean.  It was pretty windy that day so I was getting blown around quite a bit.  For me, it’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to flying.  The speed boat carried me around for about 10 minutes and then I started to wonder about how exactly I would land and I felt a little nervous.  But no worries.  I made a smooth landing and as quickly as I was strapped up I was on my way back to meet my friends.  I felt such a rush of excitement and freedom.  Amazing.

Today was the big snorkeling trip.  My friends and I signed up to go on a day-long snorkeling tour that goes to four islands. We left the hostel around 830 A.M. and went for a 2 hour boat ride to some islands surrounded by coral reef.  With goggles and snorkel strapped on I was ready to go.  As I started swimming I realized that I forgot how tiring swimming actually was.  Thankfully I swam a lot as a kid so it was like riding a bike again, but I knew I would sleep well that night.  We snorkeled around four small islands and I even kayaked for a bit too.  The water wasn’t too deep, probably about 10-12 feet at the deepest.  We saw some amazing fish though.  We saw bright colored fish, schools of fish, starfish, sea cucumbers, and even an eel.  The sad part was that there is a lot of dead coral and the little bit that is left around the island will eventually be destroyed from the boats and people touching it.  I snorkeled for probably a total of 3 hours straight.  Its so peaceful swimming in the water surrounded by fish. They don’t bother you.  They just swim around you like you’re one of them.  It was also a relief not to have any scary sharks or octopus lurking around.  I don’t think I could ever do any scuba diving but a little light snorkeling is pretty nice.  It was nice to experience Thailand from high in the sky and in the depths of the ocean.  Only one more full day left….but I have to say that we have done our best to make the most of this vacation so I can leave here with no regrets 🙂