Thailand (Fall 2008)
If I had to come up with one word to describe Thailand, it would conveniently and honestly be surreal. This country may be my favorite worldwide destination to date, because it offers so very much in addition to the unsurpassable scenery, including a rich culture, friendly people and delicious (and inexpensive) food! We arrived on the southwest coast of the country in the town of Krabi, near the famous city of Phuket. Though we were there for the monsoon season, we must have gotten a lucky break in the weather because we only had two days of rain out of two weeks on the west coast. This allowed us to explore the exotic beach landscapes of Ao Nang and Railay, the latter being located on a cape that was only accessible by long boat due to the dense surrounding rainforest. But the incredible site of a cavern on the beach was well worth the long boat fee! We also did a bit of rainforest trekking to reach some of the beaches in the area and had some very close encounters with bats and monkeys (none fatal). We then embarked on a scuba diving crusade to the famous Phi Phi Island (featured in the movie “The Beach”), but before jumping into the blue for some world-class diving we hiked to the highest point of the island for a breathtaking view. After our adventures on the west coast, we headed inland to the tiny town of Khao Sok, nestled in the middle of a lush rainforest, complete with wild elephants and tigers (though we didn’t actually come across any–probably for the best!). We spent our time here exploring the hidden treasures of the jungle and stayed for several nights in a tree house with an occasional jungle visitor. We then spent some time on the east and did some diving (including a briliant whale shark encounter!) before heading north to the big city. Bangkok was a blast, but in terms of photographic integrity I have to give credit to the former capital of Thailand, Ayutthya, a ruined city sacked by the Burmese in the mid 18th Century. The statues and spires among the ruinswere awe-inspiring, as was the famous Buddha head around which a large Banyan tree had grown. I had to be sure to crawl when taking this photo, as it is illegal and punishable by imprisonment to approach the tree with your head higher than Buddha’s!
For a much more detailed description of this trip (including more photos and some videos), check out my old blog.