Monday, March 2, 2009

Thai Experience

Everyone has a different idea of what they'd like to do on their holiday. Thailand offers a mass of different tours catering for everything. If you have the time, of course it's more exciting to just hire a car and go wandering off by yourself...discovering things as you go. But for most of us, time is limited and it's better to go on an organised trip. The two day trip we have just done will give you an example of what's on offer and the cost.

Mini bus picked us all up from the house at 0800.
We travelled through Phuket heading north in the Koa Lak Nature Reserve about a two hour drive away.

The first stop was at an elephant trek. Many of the elephant treks are just 20 minute rides around a bit of scrub. This was a full two hour incursion into thick jungle and along streams. The 'trek' was followed by cold drinks etc and we then moved off for lunch...which was brilliant. All sorts of dishes...including vegetarian. We did not have to unravel menus and then wait for ages...5 minutes after we arrived at the restaurant lunch was on the table.

River Kayak......after lunch we were taken to the nearby river to experience a 2 hour scenic tour of the karst formations and the river....this was photo's cos it was a bit of a wet gotta take your trunks...the rapids are a bit damp and great fun!


After this it was anther 2 hour drive through mountain scenery to the east of the southern part of the area to Thailand's largest province Suratani. We were off to sample the seafood from this coastal town. For you lovers of food, this was incredible. The River Prawns were massive...I'm talking of over 1lb each! Plus crabs, shell fish, crayfish and a range of different'd love it. And need to think...just arrive and minutes later the food was on the table.


Again, no photo's cos you'd need pretty sophisticated gear for this part of the trip. After dinner we were taken on a longtail boat through the canals of Suratani towards the sea. The aim of this part of the trip was to see the fireflies which the area is famous for. There's a certain kind of tree that attracts the firefly (I dunno what it's called!) and it grows right on the water's edge. These trees were crammed with was like seeing a mass of Christmas trees lit up by white flashing lights.......pretty amazing stuff.

We were then taken to a fabulous hotel...and it was now a long and action packed first day. Those who had any energy left went to a local bar but others with more sense called in a lady masseur and enjoyed a period of relaxation in the privacy of their hotel room....very nice!

Next day....the first trip was to Thailand's Number One monkey training school...I've been to a couple of these before...good fun but this was something else. The trainer really cares for these monkeys and the owners invest a lot of money in the training schedule that lasts four months to a year! Basically, it's all about teaching the monkey to scale the coconut tree, pick out the ripe coconuts and release them from the tree. If the next tree is within jumping range, the monkey crosses trees and continues the work. The human workers below collect and stack the coconuts ready to take to market.

The owner treasures his monkey. It's an expensive investment and the monkey is extremely well cared for. Only some farmers can afford this investment and in Suratani, which is a big area, there are only two farmers that own monkey pickers...and they are in BIG demand.

After the Monkey School it was on to a fishing village where the fishing concentrates on crab. The village also makes its money from silk...right from the basic material, weaving it and creating the clothes which are for sale in a number of village shops. As you can imagine the range of clothing and silk accessories is enormous and it's very much cheaper to buy here than in Bangkok!!

Then on to the Cultural side................the trip was to include the oldest temple (1200 years old) in the region. We were given a guided tour of what it was all about by a very well spoken Thai monk...a charming, elderly gentleman who was genuinely delighted to see Europeans taking an interest in 'his' temple.

Three Buddhas.over 1000 years old. People get a bit confused as to why there are so many Buddhas all over the place...well, just how many Buddhas are there???? The answer is one. Thai's a Terrawadic Buddhas. That means they follow the TEACHING of the Buddha (Buddhism started 2552 years ago) and the many Buddhas are indicating aspects of the TEACHING contained within the 4 Noble Paths that lead to Enlightenment. These 3 Buddhas are pointing downwards with their right hands...which refers to the evil spirit of Mata and that everyone should be on the guard against evil. Leading a good life (in the ways outlined in the four Noble Paths ) will protect you from evil.

The Tai temples harken back to Hinduism which is where there intricacy and ornateness originates.

Buddha in 'Be aware of Evil' seems that 1200 years ago there was a lot of evil about as the bulk of these Buddhas are warning against it....good job things have changed so much now....the Big Buddha of Phuket currently under construction, is the world's largest Buddha in Meditation pose. So, obviously the current message is sit on top of a mountain in a scenic spot and 'Chill Out'!!!!!!!


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