Our last week of adventures in Thailand was spent in the jungle. Our host picked us up from the resort and drove us to the his bungalow. We left the beach and entered a completely new and different side of Thailand. As soon as we pulled into the driveway, we were blown away by the beauty of this property. It was located on a hill, surrounded by tropical forest, mountains and overlooking the bay. Being there really felt like middle of nowhere. Our one bedroom bungalow had an amazing dining room located on the porch looking directly to the cliffs and ocean. Our host, Baw, took us to the local market in the village. We were the only western people there, everyone kept looking at us and again, loved our two little blondinos :) We also made a stop at the grocery store (Thai’s version of Costco), went back home and finally did laundry (7 days worth of dirty clothes). Waking up in the morning was a true dreamland…I won't say more, take a look at the video below…
So since we do not have a car and can’t explore anything on our own, Baw is our personal driver for the week. He owns and lives on the property and offers his guests full concierge service. After breakfast, we met with Baw and went our first adventure to Phanom Bencha National Park. We went on a short hike to the Nam Tok Huai To Waterfall. It was simply beautiful! We could not go for a swim there since the current was pretty strong but still enjoyed the spectacular power of the falls. We ate a quick lunch and headed back towards the car where Baw was waiting for us.
Next, he took us to Wat Tham Suena or the Tiger Cave Temple. Back in 1975, a monk traveled there to meditate, and when he opened his eyes, he was surrounded by tigers and hence the name. We walked for a bit around the temples and admired the thai architecture. But the best was yet to come. At the top of the mountain, there is a Buddha is the sky. 1,260 steps up the staircase to reach it. At first, we were hesitant as it was 90+ degrees and I didn’t feel particularly well. We were also worried about Leo and his physical ability to climb so many steps, but what we learned so far is to never underestimate your children : ) It was definitely challenging, but we did it! The four of us climbed all the way to the top in 95 degrees heat! We made several stops along the way and met some wonderful people (including a young couple from New York). The views at the top were stunning - you could see a panoramic picture of Krabi. At the summit there is a gold statue of Buddha and many people were meditating and praying there. It was an amazing experience, filled mostly with locals who meditate at the top, and one solid workout. On our way down, we passed plenty of monkeys just chilling on the side of the steps. Leo and Mila were fascinated by them since they were running all over! We bought Leo a gatorade and candy bar and the monkey was trying to steal it from him, hahaha. Rick actually had to pull Leo away as one encounter was a bit too close and the monkey’s can get aggressive. We had to remind Leo of the episode in the movie RIO where the monkeys steal everything. It was such a funny situation! We ended our excursion with some homemade coconut ice-cream and walked back to the parking lot to meet with Baw. It was out favorite day in Thailand. We’ve enjoyed Bangkok and the Thai islands but we feel best away from the crowds, experiencing local cultures and traditions, that’s our element.
The following day we decided to take it easy and stay at the bungalow. We took a short walk to the local beach and made a wrong turn. It put us on the wrong side of the bay, but we had no idea. However, what we saw was an eye opening experience. We passed many compounds or shacks. Hand made tents and shades where people were living…I would not call it living but rather survival. The conditions were awful. It smelled like dead fish (or sewage), debris and garbage everywhere. No resources like fresh water or electricity. It was heartbreaking. Places like that really put your life in a different perspective. We later learned from Baw, it is a fisherman’s village. The people live there for 2-3 months to work the waters then head back to their “normal” living arrangements. You gain a new found perspective for the basic necessities in life; clean water, electric, shelter, and food.
That evening our host Baw prepared dinner for us…we could not wait to try his cooking especially since we read a lot of reviews bragging about his culinary skills, and they were spot on. He made us green curry chicken with chestnuts, rice and broccoli. It was another amazing Thai dish, definitely one of our favorite!!! We finished the night with Oreo cookies on our beautiful porch with a stunning sunset…it’s the little things!
The next day Baw arranged a private island tour. He drove us down to the nearby beach where we were picked up by a long boat and the captain. It felt kinda amazing to have this special Thai experience just for the four of us. After 30 minutes we arrived on on the first island - Koh Loa. There were a few boats parked along the beach but it was not crowded at all. Leo and Mila immediately ran to the trees and a little swing, go figure! We swam for a little bit, walked around and headed back to our boat.
Our next destination was only about 10 minutes away. I don't remember the name of that beach but it was ok. Kinda small, a bit dirty and much more touristy than the previous one. Leo and Rick went to snorkel while Mila and I splashed in the turquoise water. The sky turned grey and it started to rain. We rushed onto the boat before you knew it were we in a Thunderstorm. The heavy rain made this place even more exotic and mysterious. We entered a shallow bay area and it really felt like a different world. It was still raining and the four of us were cuddling inside the boat under a beach towel, trying to stay dry! Our captain picked up the speed and transported us to the last island on the list, Ko Hong Island. The rain was all gone and the beautiful sunshine was out again. I guess the rainy weather got Mila very tired because she fell asleep on the boat. We carried her out and she continued her nap on the blanket at the beach. This was definitely our favorite spot. It was big, very clean and not too touristy. Baw packed us a lunch - fried rice with chicken and veggies, as well as a container of fresh pineapple. We ate this delicious meal under a palm tree and joined Mila for an afternoon siesta. Once she was up, we all went to the water, snorkeled and simply enjoyed the scenery. After few hours of this bliss, it was time to head back to our bungalow. As we were leaving the island, we saw a komodo dragon shoot out of the jungle into the water! It was about 100m away from us but a cool yet eery experience. Once we got back to our bungalow, the rain started to fall again. We enjoyed our dinner on the porch under the sounds of the tropical rain storm.
During our last day in Thailand we planned on kayaking across the bay and floating among old caves. The weather called for rain all day, but we decided to do this adventure anyway. Baw provided us with one family kayak and life jackets for all four of us. He drove us down to the local beach which was our starting point. The wind picked up a bit and so did the waves, but we kept good spirits. The distance to the bay was about 3 kilometers and we were excited to conquer another challenge - kayaking with two little kids. The current of the ocean was getting stronger and made it pretty hard to paddle but we kept going...and then came the rain...about one third of the way we were stuck, being pushed left and right by the wind and water. We had to make a quick decision- either we continue and fight with the Mother Nature or turn around. You never mess with Mother Nature, we turned around immediately. The storm started to get nasty and we were very grateful that we made it back to the shore. All wet and cold we set on a bench and tried to keep the kids warm. And then something amazing happened...next to the shore was that little village where people lived in shacks and probably worst conditions we have ever seen. As soon as they saw us, they offered us a small space with a little foil roof. We kindly accepted it but they were not done...next, they asked if we would like to eat and drink something...my heart still breaks for these people and their poverty, and mostly because even tho they had nothing, they managed to offer us the most significant thing - their pure hearts, full of love and help. Moments like these ensure me that there is still hope in today's humanity. One of the men spoke a little English and asked us where we were from ( we did not want to get into our whole story) and we responded that from USA, Florida. He put a big smile on his face and said, Miami!!! I know, I watch the football team! Hahaha! I'm not sure where he watches it since there is not electricity there but perhaps he goes up to the next village where people run the power lines on small wooden sticks ( I imagine this could cause a huge hazard but who I am to interfere). That afternoon, we borrowed Baw’s scooter and went for a ride. I absolutely loved it! So did Leo and Mila. They both cried when it was time to go back home. I told Rick that my next vehicle is going to be a scooter!
Our adventure in Thailand is coming to an end. We had an amazing two weeks in this beautiful and exotic country. Arriving here straight from Switzerland was a cultural shock but we managed to adapt to our new environment. Another set of wonderful memories and unforgettable moments. During my whole life, Asia seemed like a never reachable place, very far far away...and here we are, sitting on our amazing porch with the Indian Ocean in front of us and eating a delicious Thai red curry chicken prepared by Baw...life is good.