Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day Five - Koh Chang

Sleeping in the bungalows is wonderful!  There is a breeze from the sea, the sound of the waves, and the faint sound of music from a nearby restaurant.  I slept later than I have on any other day. Andy woke up before we did!

The first thing on the agenda is to set up the elephant riding adventure.  Khun has tickets and will arrange for our transportation to and from the place.  We are going at 3 this afternoon.

Ian bought a dragon fruit for us to try.  He cut it open and we peeled the pink peel off.  It was white with little dots and tasted kind of like kiwi.


Breakfast and then off to the main road for shopping.  We want a few things to take home that are unique to Thailand (and made in Thailand).  I feel a little more comfortable shopping now after seeing Shawn negotiate yesterday.  Andy went with Jody and me to a few shops where I purchased a pair of pants (loose fitting with ties that wrap around to the front and tie), a gauze dress, a large silk scarf, and a green cloth purse with elephants on it.  We browsed the shops for several hours.

Andy showed us this really cool plant that closes when you touch it.


I like sitting in the "outside cafe" at the bungalows, watching people, eating snacks of Thai vegetables and fruit, and relaxing.  This is how we spent the rest of the time before going to the elephants.

We took a song-taew to the elephants.  (This is not the actual one we rode in but it is a picture of what they look like.)

A couple went with us who were also staying at the bungalows.  Later we would learn that they were Inga from Astoria and Edgar from Columbia, both of whom now live in Berlin.  They had originally been going to the south but because of the flooding had changed their plans and gone to Koh Chang.  They liked it so much, they extended their stay for several days.

On the elephant trekking, Jody and I rode together and Andy rode one of his own.  At first we were one seats on the elephants with a driver but later had the opportunity to ride on the neck (which Andy and I did not do).  The drivers ride on the neck and steer the elephants by putting pressure behind their ears.  They have a large hook to hit on the elephants head to keep them in line (which seemed somewhat cruel).

The elephants are able to walk through unbelievably rocky terrain.  The are careful where they step and if the one in front poops, the next one is careful not to step in it.

We walked through the jungle up and down the mountains.  There are lot of rubber trees which Andy had pointed out a few days before on the bus ride.  The trees are scored in a spiral down the trunk with a contained at the bottom to catch the sap to make latex.

At the end the tried to sell us ivory jewelry and framed pictures of us on the elephants which made the whole thing a little commercialized but it was an experience just the same.

Walking back to the bungalows from the main road, there was a young man walking into a store.  He looked back at us and Andy said "Oh my god, Elliott!"  It turned out it was a person he had met in Bangkok when they were on the way to Laos.  They had taken him with them to the 4000 Islands on the Mekong River last October.  When they left, he stayed there a while and them traveled to India.  They had lost contact with him and wondered what happened to him so both Ian and Andy were glad to reconnect with him.

That evening we went to a Korean barbecue in the next town.  The owners are parents of their students and both boys rushed over to greet Ian and Andy when we got there.

The food was mostly raw that you take to your table and cook on a grill set up on a bucket of hot coals.  The meat goes in the center and drains down into water around the sides where vegetables simmer to create soup.  Ian was the main cooker and did a great job!  We saw some other people (folongs - or foreigners) trying to use the grills.  The staff was very helpful instructing people but one guy put his clump of noodles (like ramen noodles) on the grill section rather than in the simmering broth.  We didn't watch but I have to wonder how that turned out.

Afterward we walked along the main street, browsed the shops and had a few beers.  The hardest part for me was crossing the street because the cars drive on the opposite side of the street.  I finally just decided to look both ways until no cars or motorbikes were coming at all.

We went back to Lonely Island, to the Banana Leaf bar.  It was quieter than it had been the night before but it was still nice to be there.  The only problem was the slight smell of diesel fuel which we discovered later had been spilt near our table earlier in the day.

We went back to Ian and Shawn's bungalow for a few more beers.  When we got there the couple we met elephant riding were sitting on the porch across the path!  Andy invited them to join us and we all stayed up and talked for several more hours.

This island is definitely a place for the most adventurous people in the world!  Everyone you see and meet is a person that is experiencing life to the fullest!

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