Nepal and Thailand 23 Oct 2005 07:24 am

Back in Thailand, Koh-Samui

Hi all,

Thanks for the emails, we read them all, although didn’t have the chance to reply.
We are now back in Thailand, back in civillization (although a non-English speaking one).

The last thing we wrote about was the ABC trek, after which we took a day off in Pokhara to rest and do some laundry (2.5 NIS / Kg). The day after we went to a 3-day rafting tour on the Kali Gandaki river, with a group of 28 people from all around the world. It was a great experience, although the rafting itself wasn’t very hard and was rather less exciting than we expected. But we slept in tents on the river bank for two nights, ate camping food and made bonfires, talking with lots of interesting people. The guides were all Nepali, very experienced and professional – so we felt quite safe. They did everything from steering the rafts, manning safety kayaks, cooking our food, helping establish the tent camp, and even supplying “something to smoke” in the evening. Actually, when they ran out of Hashish, they rushed to a nearby village to get some more (from some grandmother, as one of the guys who went with them said). In the meantime, the people were not neglected as it turned out that an English couple that was in the group had a supply of their own. This was all really entertaining, though of course we didn’t take anything (Shabak – are you reading ?!). We were 8 people in the raft (plus a guide named Saila), 3 Israelis, 3 Germans and two Canadians (father and son who actually live in Nepal). Our boat didn’t turn over during the whole rafting and only one guy fell off in the rapids (the other Israeli) and bruised his legs a little. Naturally, in calmer waters we pushed each other out of the raft quite a lot :-)

Afterwards we took another day off. Pokhara is a really great, calm place for relaxing. The lodges are cheap (ours costed 17 NIS per night), food is cheap and you can just walk around, staring at the lake and the surrounding forests and mountains, doing nothing.

Then, we went to the Royal Chitwan National Park, in the south of Nepal, to visit the jungle and ride on elephants. We managed to do quite a lot in the day and a half we spent there – we visited an elephant breeding center and played with baby elephants (which are born weighting 100 Kg), sailed in a canoe along the river seeing a crocodile, walked in the jungle for a few hours with monkeys jumping from tree to tree all around us, and rode an elephant for about 3 hours under a rain (besides, the elephant decided it would be very funny to throw mud on us !). During the elephant ride we saw two rhinos (both of them lying lazily in small ponds) and one tiger (hiding from the rain under a bush) in the jungle, which is quite rare (we can consider ourselves very lucky to have seen a tiger). So our visit in Chitwan was short, but fruitful. On the 20th we hurried to Kathmandu for the flight back to Bangkok, which took off at 8:30 on the 21st.

Just after landing in Bangkok, we tried to book a bus to Koh Samui (the most popular of the tourist islands in southern Thailand – especially after Koh Pi Pi and Phuket were damaged by the tsunami last year) in one of the travel agencies in Khoa San. Not surprisingly, it turned out that booking a 18:00 bus at 16:30 is quite difficult, and after checking with 4 different agencies, we realized that all the tourist buses from Khoa San are full. We didn’t dispair though, and bravely rushed on a Tuk Tuk to Bangkok’s southern central bus station to try and get a bus from there. This turned out to be a completely different Bangkok – one where no one speaks English, all the signs are in Thai and there is barely one western face in one hundred. To make a long story short, we did manage to get our tickets eventually, for 19:30. This is a night bus (with a toilet, seats which fold back at a 135 degree angle and plenty of space for the feet) which reached Surathani (a southern coast city about 800 Km from Bangkok) at 5 in the morning, and after another two buses and a ferry we finally arrived to Koh Samui at noon.

Our plan here is mainly to relax and rest. We found a great lodge (akin to an Israeli tzimmer) on the Lamai coast strip just 20 metres from the sea, and we see the beach from the porch. Last night we got to see a Thai-boxing fight show. The weather here is not perfect, with weak rain from time to time, but it’s still warm and very nice.

We already booked our bus back to Bangkok – our flight takes off on the night between the 26th and 27th, and on 27th morning we’ll be back in Israel. So see you then !

We uploaded some new photos to http://www.flickr.com/photos/annaben/

Happy Sukkot
Anna & Eli

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