Surat Thani, Thailand and a New Year!
2014 has turned into 2015 and I would like to wish all of you out there that are following my little walk the very best year to come!
A fair bit has happened since I posted last. I left Ko Phi Phi on a ferry loaded with backpackers and headed towards Karabi, where I was suposed to meet my friend Anna-Maria. She is going to be walking with me for most of January. If you have been following the-walk since I was in France you will remember that she walked with me from Bourdeaux to Biaritz. That made her the person that has walked the longest part of the-walk with me and I think she was a bit put off when Charlie suddenly turned up and walked with me for three weeks in Texas…
So to reclaim her “longest walker” title, she joined me in Krabi and is going to walk with me to Hua Hin.
We had planned to meet in Krabi and to get in touch when we both arrived. So I took a bus into the city center, hopped off and went to the nearest corner to set down my backpack and try to call her. Just as I put the pack down, I looked up and there was Anna-Maria, arriving to the same corner in order to try to get in touch with me!
While in Krabi we stayed with friends of A-M (and now me), Göran and Noi. They picked us up in town and drove us to their house outside Krabi.
To make up for the bus rides and the car ride home to Göran and Noi, I had to do some walking and A-M walked with me. Naturally we got caught in a thunderstorm on the first day…
The area around Krabi is spectacular with perpendicular cliffs rising out of the countryside. The harshness of the cliff sides contrasts with the lush greenery and makes a very compelling landscape. Add to that the beaches and it is gorgeous.
then trying to decide what to eat from our “christmas food” menu!
That was followed by trying to guess what the different prohibition signs were trying to convey at the entrance to the national park…
How many ´can you get right?
We then rounded off the afternoon of with a dip in the emerald pool. I am not missing a white christmas!
Christmas day was more of the same, but this time we went to Railay Beach. Great swimming, scenery and lots of cliffs to climb.
I could see myself spending a lot more time there, off-season, to relax, write and learn to climb…
On Boxing Day it was time for A-M and me to set of across Thailand with our sights set on Surat Thani and Ko Samui. A-M found the going very hot the first few days and managed to scare the local kids with her new fashion, a buff with large chunks of ice inserted in it. Her head looked lumpy and distorted and there was a constant stream of water running down her face and neck. Poor kid will probably never recover..
Apart from that we have made good time even though we are taking it easy and trying to find time to put up the hammock at least once a day.
The best experience with walking through Thailand is the people. They are incredibly friendly, helpful and generous. More than once we have been invited in for a coconut or a cup of coffee.
The market are another attraction, everything from ready-made salad to stuff that could put you of dinner all together.
The “service stations” can be a bit basic, but some are fully equipped, like this one.
We have managed to find some wonderful places to rest, especially on the days when we can stay away from the larger roads.
We have even seen a bit of the wild-life, but nowhere near as much as might be expected. No live snakes yet, to A-M’s great delight.
What we have seen a lot of are rubber tree plantations. Lots and lots!
Along with rubber mats hanging out to dry.
Take-away coffee is purchased in plastic bags, not exactly Starbucks but coffee is coffee!
A lot of the local hotels we have been staying in have a, for us, strange appearance. They look more like do-it-yourself garages rather than hotels. Strange but functional. They also all tend to have condoms provided in the rooms, along with large mirrors beside the beds. We have taken to calling them “condom hotels”, the one time we have stayed in a more “normal looking hotel there were no condoms and no mirrors..
It’s not uncommon to meet an oxen on the road, on the way to be placed at a new area to graze.
Also not uncommon are three-wheeled “restaurants”. They run around all over the place and you can just flag them down and buy some food. They all have their own specialities, from dumplings to grilled chicken or maybe noodle soup.
A-M is fascinated by the “wild-life” and her camera is busy capturing all the oxen, cows and dogs we pass.
All our meals are often consumed in small local food stalls. They are often simple affairs but the food is both great and cheap. Seldom more than 100 bath for the both of us.
Everywhere we pass by, people call out to us “Hello, were you going?” and try to make sure that we are all right and know where we are going. As I wrote earlier, people are very friendly, always making sure we are ok and asking if they can help. It feels very strange, but there are often so many people trying to help us through the day that we have to try to remember not to get annoyed… Isn’t wonderful that it is possible to travel through a country that almost feels too friendly!
We were even invited in to the Police Station and given a cup of coffee, some biscuits and a yogurt drink. They were not very good at english and we had some difficulty communicating but A-M managed to become Facebook friends with a woman officer anyway.
Food is abundantly available and there is even one or two ice-cream scooters running around. Even on the smaller roads!
I don’t think I can explain just how friendly and helpful people are to us as we walk by. Thailand is now officially the friendliest place I have ever traveled in!
It has been a great start to the new year and I hope it continues along the same lines. I don’t need to make any New Years resolutions, I already know what I need to do the coming year. Walk.
The plan is hopefully to reach Sydney before the next new year and maybe then I will need to decide what I will continue with during 2017. Continue walking maybe..?
This time last year I was in Palma de Mallorca and since then I have finished the european part of the-walk, crossed the USA and made good headway inte the Asian part of the-walk. So much has happened and I have met so many wonderful people that it is difficult to comprehend that only one year has passed. Yet at the same time it feels like only yesterday that I left my apartment in Stockholm, dropped the keys through the mail slot and started walking towards Sydney. It has already been a great adventure and I hope the coming year will continue in the same way.
I wish you all a wonderful New Year and hope that it is as great as my past year has been!
I’ll leave you with some photos of an Austin 4wd we walked passed today, for no other reason than that I like old, rusted cars (to photograph, not to own).