Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Beach

As I mentioned in the last update, we’ve left the garbage-eating cows of Cambodia behind for the Thai islands. We spent several days in Bangkok taking care of last-minute shopping before heading to the first island, Ko Mak. And right now we’re on Ko Pha Ngan, our last stop before returning to Bangkok and flying out of Asia.

But we’ll get to all that soon enough. First we’ve got a backlog of photos to catch up on, so here you go.

This shiny fellow is the reclining Buddha at Wat Po in Bangkok. It’s hard to say which is bigger, this reclining Buddha, or the one we saw in Laos. Either way, they’re both enormous, although this one is slightly more impressive due to the gold leaf.

Another shot to hopefully add more perspective. I still don’t think the statue’s colossal size comes across very well in our photos.

Some more shots around Wat Po. Liz and I both thought the rooftops looked a lot like ultra-fancy 7-11s.

I don’t think I’ve written anything about the Thai King yet. I barely realized that Thailand was a kingdom before we arrived, but once you’re here it’s impossible to miss. The Thai people absolutely love the King and have erected monuments and images literally everywhere. Now, I don’t toss around the word literally lightly, as Jeff “Punk Rock” Martin and the other writers at CB&S can attest. To use the word incorrectly (“My tongue is literally on fire!”) is to risk a figurative lashing from my grammar-minded co-workers. So believe me when I say that you will find an image of the King or the King and Queen in every store, every restaurant, every office and on every street in Thailand. Literally.

Some creative recycling on one of the monuments.

This is like a product Homer Simpson would invent.

Robot dog on Khao San road. Of course, it’s just a real dog in a robot costume (as one might encounter anywhere), but the owner was actually controlling it with a remote-control.

This also reminds me of the Simpsons a bit.

Ko Mak! This was the first Thai Island we visited, and also the quietest.

There were a lot of beach dogs that looked to be pretty well taken care of. This one was named Yogurt.

No bars, restaurants, bungalows or ping pong shows in sight.

We each have our own method of getting coconuts.

Ko Mak had some of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve seen yet.

The worst haircut of my life. It’s actually grown out a bit here; I had it cut back near Khao San road in Bangkok and it looked worse before. Here’s the story: Liz and I both needed haircuts. We found a place where it looked like we could both get our haircuts at the same time. But no, Liz went first and got the hairdresser who spoke English pretty well. When she was done, I sat down, and got the hairdresser who only knew how to say, “Ou!!!! Sorry!!!” which was a commonly heard phrase throughout the haircut.

Basically she started right above my ear on one side and nearly shaved me bald before she realized what she was doing. So then she did the other side to match. My hair was so stupid looking at the end that I just borrowed the buzzer and took the whole thing down to a 3. But it still wasn’t short enough to cover up my near bald spots.

You’ve heard of a faux-hawk, right? I call this the faux-mullet.

Just because we haven’t posted any photos of food in a while. The truth is, we’ve had fairly mediocre food since we left Vietnam. In Cambodia you pretty much have to eat in the western restaurants; the local khmer ones often have dodgy ingredients. And because the Thai islands primarily cater to falang, it’s difficult to find anything with real flavor and spice. Anyway, this pad see iew was pretty decent by island standards.

This was the bathroom that housed the giant spider that tormented us for 3 days. It was OK until it decided to crawl out of the bathroom and make for our bed. I went to smash it with a shoe but missed (!) and we ended up getting a neighbor to chase it out through the roof.

Our front porch.

This is not the spider in question. We found this one in an extremely clean western-style diner in Trang, so it just goes to show you: You’re never safe. This thing was about 5 inches across.

Here we are on Ko Lanta. I used a bizarre setting on the camera to get the insane night background.

Lanta was also really beautiful and mellow. Some locals got together a soccer game nearly every night at sunset.


And they had free wifi!

Sunglasses #6. I went cop-style with these.

Ko Phi Phi. After Ko Lanta, we knew we were going to meet up with Austin and his friend Brynn on either Ko Samui or Ko Pha Ngan. But before that, we had a couple days to visit another island and we had to choose between Railay Beach (which is not actually an island) and Ko Phi Phi. They are both considered to be spectacular but spoiled, but we chose Phi Phi because I wanted to see the spot where they filmed “The Beach.” This isn’t it, by the way.

To be more European, we decided to include glamour shots of ourselves.

We stayed near Tonsai beach on Phi Phi, the most crowded and overdeveloped spot on the island. But across the short peninsula (the island has twin crescent beaches that are back to back) there was a fairly nice white-sand beach with the clearest water ever.

This is the ruined side.

Once we arrived, I figured out that they didn’t actually film “The Beach” on Ko Phi Phi Don, they filmed it on Ko Phi Phi Leh, which is 6 kilometers south. But you can’t actually stay on Phi Phi Leh, which helps protect the island from being ruined. We ended up taking a short day trip there that included snorkeling and kayaking. These are some of the limestone cliffs that ring the island.

Now this is where they actually filmed “The Beach.” And I have to say, I think it’s the best beach I’ve ever seen in the world. That includes Hawaii, California, the Dominican Republic, the azure coast in Italy, Cambodia, Vietnam and all the other Thai islands. It’s really a great beach.

The water is shallow, but not TOO shallow… clear but with a hint of beautiful turquoise… and the sand is out of this world. The softest white sand I’ve ever set foot on. Basically, it makes you want to do this.

Just because I will probably never be this tan again.

This guy really enjoyed the sand.

Oh yeah, did I mention that this perfect sand and water is ringed with amazing limestone cliffs?

Look at that freaking sand and water!

Liz hates this picture, but just look at the water. That’s really what it looked like.

That’s all for now. We’re on Ko Pha Ngan at the moment, recovering from a 3-bucket night. I’ll explain that in the next update.

1 comment:

Seth said...

The haircut didn't look that bad. Now the beard, that's another story...

You missed a great Chili Cook Off.