Monday, 25 November 2013

Our last day of adventures on Ko Samui

Monday 25th November

We started today early after another good nights sleep in our comfortable bed, after a swift shower we wandered downstairs to the the bar to meet one of Carol's friends that she made last time she was here. Adam of Rainbow Diving based in Ko Samui joined us for breakfast and a catch up with Carol. 

Following breakfast we wandered down the street looking for bikes to hire and found a place prepared to offer us a couple of higher CC engined bikes, but when they demanded that we leave our passports we chose to look else where and ended up with two red scooters. Our plan for the day was to explore Ko Samui and travel the circular road that goes all around the island. A simple enough plan you would think, but this is Curious Adventures, when has anything we have undertaken been simple?

Being out on two wheels again was a blast of freedom in paradise and quickly settled into the winding roads experience that riding around the island has. However there were a few too many loons out there and some of the other drivers were taking things a little too close for comfort to near death experiences for us. We stopped for tea at Smiles resort which although very pretty and with immaculate furnishings and staff was a little too plastic for my tastes, but Carol assures me that the place is first rate. The iced thick shake was fantastic and more than made up for the sight of many obese semi naked German tourists asleep on the small beach! 

Our next stop was the elegant granite slabs of the Grand Mother and Grand Father rocks, these two massive structures carved into the landscape by nature resembled the intimate parts of both a man and a woman laying together. Carol was gob-smacked that my usual stream of filth was restrained as I complained that she had simply brought me to a site that was in effect just a big rude joke! It was though utterly beautiful and in truth I could have spent many happy hours there just playing on the rock. Thailand has so many undiscovered climbs on those elegant cliffs spread across the country.

Carol sat on the Grandmothers Clitoral hood!
Back on the roads and things were starting to get more hectic with traffic getting heavier and more aggressive. I had a small taxi van attempting to drive onto my pillion seat and when he eventually overtook me, he cut back in so sharply I nearly hit his back bumper. Carol seeing this pulled over and we took five minutes out to calm down before heading over to the water falls.

The waterfall park is very tourist orientated and as such it felt a bit false. As we wandered up the path towards to restaurant we followed in the slow ponderous footsteps on elephants carrying  tourists in specially rigged seats. Seeing such magnificent animals up close was wonderful, but our feelings were tainted by the knowledge that these animals are tied to trees and made to do what the owners want. On the flip side of the coin though, these animals were once used as mining animals to haul heavy carts full of rock and ore. Once the mines closed the owners were left with animals that they could not care for and with the huge cost of feed the animals faced starvation. With them being captive animals they would struggle to rehabilitate back into the wild and their future was bleak. It is a complex issue and although we can see both sides of the argument, we still had feelings of empathy for the animals, even though it was clear that the owners loved them. 

At the restaurant we witnessed another pair of animals that had been removed from nature, namely two otters that were begging for food from the kitchen staff. There are some things in Thailand that are incongruous, the budhist way that all life is sacred and then the destruction of the natural habitat for cash crops. When poverty and the environment clash, there is only one outcome and it is not good for either side.

After our drinks and with me having forgotten my pain medication, I was effectively out of action, yet we wanted to see the waterfalls, so for a small fee we were able to jump onto (yes on top of the roof!) one of the ubiquitous Toyota Hi-Lux 4x4 trusks they have here and take a slow gentle ride up the hill. The driver though had other ideas and we were propelled at horrific speed across country, being bounced and battered as we went. Our feeble cries and bangings on the windscreen went unnoticed and with a final jolt we landed at the first waterfall! Painfully we climbed down from the truck, limping, dragging our mangled bodies as we walked up to what we thought was the falls. Not so, in typical Thai fashion we had simply been driven to a set of steps that climbed the cliff up to the falls.

The view from the truck, just before he went mad in the cab!

The falls were breathtakingly beautiful, again had been ruined by tourism. The wooden constructed pathway above the rushing waters was almost derelict and  with many people trying to get across them, the erosion to the path way was starting to show. As we took in the view, a pair of unruly British tourists decided to jump into the pools, so cue two grown men stripping down to their pants and leaping into the water. It made a lovely view! Back at the car park where our truck was waiting we declined to get back in, which caused a large amount of distress to the Thai driver and he was deeply sorry for the pain he had caused us. He stated that so many people like a adrenalin fuelled ride, that he had become accustomed to driving like that. However we remained unconvinced and so took another truck back down to the main park. Our visit to the waterfalls felt decidedly sour and with the rain now falling in vast sheets of water, we headed back home and got thoroughly soaked. 

Riding in the rain in Thailand is wonderful, the warm rain water soaked us to the skin, but the equally warm wind blew through our wet clothes taking away so much heat that we actually felt strangely comfortable. So much so that I could have kept riding for ever, but the pain in my shoulder was now so bad that I craved only pills and my bed. We returned the bikes and wandered up to our room.

After a warm shower to wash away the road dirt, we decided that the battered parts of our body needed some soothing, so we walked around the corner to Pin Tong massage for an hour of extreme comfort. She massaged away my aches and pains and when she touched my shoulder, the pain made me gasp. She studied it for a moment and then with hands of magic began to work around the area, kneading away what felt like bubbles in my flesh. The pain was exquisite, but as she worked, something in my arm clicked and my hand which always feels puffy and painful suddenly cleared and I even had full feeling in my fingers briefly. It seems like something is pressing on the nerves and as she massaged it away, the release in my arm and hand was divine. However as soon as she stopped, full pain resumed. Puzzled by this she worked my hand and arm and after our hour I had a fully working hand and no pain which lasted for close to half an hour. Yet as we sat in the bar, the pain slowly crept back into my system and as I write this, it is back to the usual high levels. For that time though, I felt energised and supple. Thai massage is wonderful, even if it does feel like a work out.

Facing our final night, we sat with out friends in the bar, enjoyed our dinner and finally said good night as we went to bed. Our time on Ko Samui although short has been greatly enjoyable, I think that both of us are sad to be leaving.