21.10.2012 - 22.10.2012
On 21st October we decided to get a longtail boat to a nearby beach called Railay Beach. It was only a very short ride for 100THB each way per person. When we arrived, it was a little busier than we had expected, but we still found a small spot on the beach on our own. The weather was lovely. Mark gets a bit bored just laying around (he has ants in his pants ) so went to buy a small wicker ball that the Thai’s play a keepy uppy game with. We both played this for quite a while (I was pretty good, even if I do say so myself) with quite a few trips into the sea to cool down. We were both pretty hot so went looking for an ice lolly.
As soon as we sat down to eat our ice lollies, we noticed that the sky was starting to become overcast with some very dark grey coloured clouds. We looked at each other and started walking back towards the beach to try and get the boat out of there before it began to rain….NO CHANCE!
We had taken only a handful of steps before a massive clutter of thunder erupted right above our heads and straight after huge bolts of lightning lit up the dark sky. The rain came down like I had never seen, it made the Bangkok rain look like a shower. We ran for the boat, as we were practically by it anyway, hoping maybe that the driver could get us outa there! The visibility had rapidly decreased and we could no longer see the cliff at the edge of the beach. We were stuck here till the storm passed.
The boat offered little shelter. There was a Thai family already seated under the cover with quite a few small children, so Mark and I squeezed on the edge half in, half out. I am NOT a fan of thunder storms, never have been. I felt pretty silly sat among the children being the only one holding my ears haha. I didn’t like the fact we were on a small boat with lots of metal bits, including the frame that I had to lean on, in the torrential rain with massive bolts of lightning flying around everywhere! Not an experience I’ll be looking to repeat any time soon.
Monday 22nd October was our Thepphanon Travel and Tour full day trip. We were collected from our hostel and headed to our first stop of the day, the Hot Springs. They are naturally hot pools of water in the middle of the forest. It was pretty busy when we got there, but there were quite a few different sections so we found a space in one. The water was surprisingly hot! I know that sounds silly due to the name, but I was expecting warm not hot bath hot. It was a shock when I first got in and I didn’t know if I’d be able to stay in there, but I quickly got used to the temperature and then it was really nice. We moved around the different sections making sure we had seen all of it. Unfortunately while we were climbing over one of the rocks I noticed the catch had come open on my waterproof camera and the cover to the battery & memory card section was open! I didn’t know how long it had been open for, and Mark quickly took it and laid the bits out and left the cover open on top of our bag in the hope it would dry out and all would be ok. We would have to wait and see I ended up staying in the water a little too long, I felt quite funny when I got out and there was nowhere to cool down because it’s so hot, not very clever Jen.
Next stop was the Emerald Pool. Almost like a natural swimming pool, the water was so clear. There was a quite a walk from the entrance to get to the pool, it was quite far into the forest. On the way a big lizard decided to run across the path right in front of Mark and me and scared us half to death. It ran so fast on only its back legs, with the front of its body and legs up in the air. Fascinating to see up close!
It was extremely slippery round the edge of the pool so we had to be really careful. I nearly fell over quite a few times haha. I was happy to find the water was cooler here. Not cold though. We enjoyed swimming around then looked at the nearby streams which also had crystal clear water, it was amazing. We tried my camera while we were there and so far all was ok! Yay! We had our included lunch back by the entrance, Thai green curry, stir-fry chicken with cashew nuts (yummy) and rice.
After lunch unfortunately on the drive to our next stop we got caught up in a police checking point and were held up there for quite some time , but then it was time for our third stop Elephant Trekking (yaay! This was always going to be the highlight of my day). We went up on the platform ready for the elephants, and then I could see them coming towards us. I could not believe our luck, it was a family. The dad came first and collected the Chinese couple in front of us and then the mum followed with her baby attached to her by a long rope. This was our elephant! We got to have the baby with us the whole time and it was sooo precious to see. (Quick update on the camera situation, at this point the lens had condensation over it on the inside so was all foggy when you took a photo gutted that it had become useless at this point. At least we still had Marks. I did have my DSLR with me but as it was raining I didn’t really want to get it out).
The relationship between the family was lovely. At first the baby was rushing ahead in an attempt to catch up with his daddy but they had stopped so we could catch up and they could all walk together. The baby then became more playful, kneeling down and putting his head in the mud, grabbing at tree branches and bushes, pulling some off and throwing it over his head onto his back haha. Every now and then he would go close to his mum and she would touch him with her trunk then he would be off again, going from side to side. At one point the rope joining him to his mum got caught under his legs so the mahout stopped the mum and said a command to the baby. Hearing the words, the baby first lifted his front leg and then his back, freeing up the rope. AMAZING!
A little bit into the ride, the mahout jumped down of the elephant and signalled for me to climb forward, high onto the elephant’s neck. He then took our camera and started walking along side us and in front snapping away. We were on the elephant on our own and the mahout was using only words spoken gently to direct her. This proves that if you have a good relationship with the animal there is no need for chains and sticks. This elephant was happy and you could see it. She had her family with her and stopped when she pleased.
We got to some water and the baby had a fantastic time. He was rolling over, going under the water, and splashing it everywhere. It looked like so much fun, I wanted to jump in and join in!
The mum found a nearby tree overhanging the water which obviously had a little something she fancied. After she had eaten the bits lower down and knocked some off for the baby, who had appeared by her side, she wanted the food that was higher up. Well, Mark and I had to hang on as she went up onto her back legs and reached up with her trunk. As her head was tilted so far back there was no longer a space where my legs had been, so I just leant back and had one hand on her head and the other on Marks leg behind me ha ha. It was such an experience, I didn’t think it could get any better, and then it did.
After the ride was finished we got to feed the elephants and get up close with them. The Mum’s eyes were so gorgeous and she was so big but also gentle and friendly. The baby, made my heart melt. Those eyes, the playful nature and so small (but big at the same time) and cute, so cute. I had his trunk in my ear at one point ha ha and he also grabbed my wrist with his trunk and was trying to put my hand in his mouth ha ha. Mark wanted to give the mahout a tip as we had really enjoyed ourselves and he gestured at Mark to give to the elephant to take with her trunk. Mark looked at bit concerned that she would just eat it (as was I), but sure enough, she took the money and passed it to her mahout.
These moments with these precious animals was so magical and definitely one of the best moments of my life. I am going to treasure them forever. I just did not want it to end! Elephants are so intelligent, I find them so interesting, and I wish I could do something working with these fascinating creatures.
Our last stop of the day was The Tiger Temple Caves. We only had 50 minutes here (not really enough time, I blame the hold up earlier on in the day) and had two options; 1.We explore the different buildings on the grounds or 2.We climb the steep stairs to the temple at the top of the mountain. Having read about the temple on the top of the mountain and the views you get from being up there we had already decided to take option two. (Camera update; it was now switching on but to take a photo you had to press the off button. It would then take a photo and then switch off the actual shutter button was not doing anything other than focusing).
To get to the Temple at the top we had 1,237 steps to climb. Full of energy and on a high from the elephant experience we both joked and started to jog up the first flights of stairs. This very quickly turned to a walk and then to a struggle! Ha ha!
Wow we had completely underestimated just how hard it would be due to the fact we had a limited amount of time to get up there, enjoy it and then get back down. The steps were so big and steep we kept needing to stop as we were sweating so much due to the exertion combined with the heat. I don’t know about Mark but I know the only thing that kept me going and keeping some sort of pace was the fact I didn’t want to have to turn straight back round to come down as soon as we reached the top. I wanted at least 5 minutes to enjoy what we had worked so hard to see. It took us 25 minutes to get to the top, so we spent 10mins at the top before we had to rush back down. We were practically running down the steps to get back in time. Our legs were all shaky, we’d had a bloody good work out!
We were the only ones out of our minibus that had attempted the mountain, the others said they knew they wouldn’t have got up and back down in time. We were so happy to get back on the bus to cool down in the air-con. Safe to say we both slept well that night! (We left the camera open, hoping that it would dry out some more overnight and be miraculously fixed and in full working order by the morning).