From Trang we headed down to Pak Bara and caught a boat to Ko Tarutao Marine National Park. No doubt modeled in part on the US Park system, with its manicured lawns and proper signage, this was a sleepy little area off the tourist routes. We spent the better part of a week there, mostly hanging out on the beach and going on little excursions. One afternoon we went snorkeling, although the stories we heard from our boat driver were more interesting than anything we saw in the water, as it was plenty murky. He made us Nescafe on board before we dived in the ocean. Another day we trekked through the jungle, then climbed up a rocky river bed to get to a waterfall where we could swim. The water was cold but felt good. It was clear and we could dive in off the surrounding rocks. We met a Korean women there who lives in Beijing and works for Greenpeace.

Turns out Greenpeace has sixty people in their Beijing office and actually does direct actions in China, which our new friend told us makes life there occasionally dicey. She described the precarious life of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) in China, and how the Chinese had just shut one down, which addresses social and environmental issues, to send a message to all the rest. We talked about which activists are still in jail and how strictly environmental organizations have an easier time than those which also address social issues.

Our five days in Tarutao were our Grande Finale, after which we headed back to Bangkok so Audrey could catch her flight home. We stayed with an old friend from New York City who is now a very successful architect living and designing buildings in Bangkok. Lara and I had four days after this before our flight back to China, so we headed out to an island called Ko Si Chang where Westerners rarely go. The boat there and back was filled almost completely with Thais, in sharp contrast to many boats in Thailand which predominantly carry Europeans. We had two nights here, spending one afternoon at a Buddhist center, the Tham Yai Prik Monastery, where we were able to meditate in a cave and get a tour by a Thai nun who spoke French. She was married and living in Paris, but felt drawn back to Thailand and a Buddhist life. She was very calm and happy and spent a good deal of time with us, even making us lunch.

They had little teaching pavilions, roofed structures with seats and photos and text in Thai and English wrapping around the inside of the structure, concerning basic Buddhist thought. There was a real emphasis on impermanence and the inevitability of death. Among other things she showed us human remains, a decomposing body in a little building, kept there to remind us of our impermanent state. We sat in this building, about ‘10 x ‘5 in diameter, and talked, while she took the body’s arm and modeled her own, showing how this would be her some day. They had pieces of wood on top of the body, which she’d pick up, saying, “See, no difference.” They had mats rolled up in the room in case one wanted to sleep there. Everyone at the monetary was very kind, including the many dogs which happily followed us around on our tour. After spending the better part of the afternoon there, we left a donation and walked down the road. We flew out of Bangkok back to China two days later.

___________

What follow is a fairly chronological photo essay of our trip to Thailand. We’re now back in China, which experienced their worst winter in over fifty years while we were away. It’s cold and damp here. We can see our breath indoors and steam rises from the toilet when I pee. Looking at these photos reminds me of what it’s like to be warm.

There are some new photos from Thailand in the Signs page as well, thanks to my Ghost Poster back in Portland.

Reclining Buddha
The Reclining Buddha, the largest in the world, at Wat Pho in Bangkok. This image depicts the Buddha just before he died.

Rilay
Railay

longboatmotor
The most common form of water transport in Thailand is the longboat. This motor is the type that makes them go.

Greenplanet
The longboat driver for an afternoon Four Island Tour organized by a group ironically called Green Planet.

Sunkenships
Sunken ships in harbor in Krabi.

RedBoat
Thai fishing boat.

Mistymountains
Mountains surrounding Chiaw Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park. This was on the way to trek in the jungle and visit the cave.

Splitthesky
Chiaw Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park.

Standalone
Chiaw Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park.

Jungle
The jungle of Khao Sok National Park.

Cave Entrance
The Cave entrance.

MistymountainsII
Misty Mountains: Chiaw Lan Lake.

Riverboats
Chiaw Lan Lake.

boatmoorings
Boat moorings, Chiaw Lan Lake.

PhiPhiView
The view of Phi Phi (pronounced Pee Pee): “Excuse me, which boat do we get to Phi Phi in?”

PHIPHI
The secluded beach on Phi Phi. To the left is the Funky Bongo.

rockybeach
Ko Tarutao Marine National Park.

The Beach
The beach at Ko Tarutao.

Waterfall
An hours trek through the jungle and up a riverbed got us to this waterfall and swimming hole: clear water and fish!

sunset
Sunset on Ko Tarutao beach.

trashmonkey
Almost every morning at Ko Tarutao National Park the monkeys come through raiding all the trash cans. This Trash Monkey scored some chips.

Modern Bangkok
Modern Bangkok from a water taxi.

BangkokRiver
Bangkok.

TheKing
One of thousands of the larger-than-life pictures of the King you’ll find all over Thailand. No comment.

TempleofDawn
The Temple of Dawn, downtown Bangkok.

rickshaw
The most badass Rickshaw I’ve seen in Asia next to those of Punjab, India. These are all over the island of Ko Si Chang.

Tham Yai Prik Monastery
Tham Yai Prik Monastery, Ko Si Chang.

Advertisements