Sunday, 10 November 2013

Rainforest - a bad idea or the lungs of the planet? Only on Curious Adventures...

Saturday 9th November

Happy Birthday foo foo, funny anniversary I know but there you go.

Bangkok station

Today is another day of travel and we are taking the nicest train we have seen yet, although the air con is on so high I am actually cold! There is no pleasing some people is there. The views from the train have been spectacular and Carol has taken so many photos as we shoot along the tracks, although I suspect that some of the reason for this is so she can escape from the ice box carriage.

After last nights disaster at the restaurant I am unable to get the taste of sick from my mouth. Yes, I got up at about three and tried to keep the contents of my stomach there, some of them have stayed, but I feel like I have a canon ball in my tummy and at some point am going to have a bottom explosion!

The journey from Bangkok has been one of feelings of sadness at times, the storm that is coming has already swept through some of the areas it seems and we have seen people flooded out of their homes, even if those homes are just tin shacks made from corrugated steel and old wood.

At the same time we have seen some of wild Thailand, the wooded slopes of mountains covered in the thick green canopy of the jungle. It looks beautiful from the cool of our carriage, but out there the heat is dense and claustrophobic. Trekking through there would see us soaked in sweat in minutes and with this load we are carrying as we travel to our next hotel, I doubt that we could walk more that a mile or two before exhaustion wiped us out for the night. The jungle starts a few feet from the train and is a impenetrable wall of green, I have never seen forest like it and where it does open up it is to reveal a plantation of palms. The jungle floor is also a thick green carpet of plants, however some of them cover the rivers and streams that flow through and walking there would suddenly get you very wet feet. For some where so warm, I cannot imagine anywhere more hostile to the humble traveller and thinking back to the men and women who have fought wars here I am filled with even more respect for them.

A while ago lunch was served on the train, not something I expected I will be honest, but Thailand does things differently. Anyway, lunch was a series of plastic pots with foil lids containing boiled rice, herring in chilli sauce and something I did not manage to identify. With my complete lack of appetite I did not want to eat and even Carol turned down this little treat! The thought of chilli herring did little to appeal to her palate it seems.

I am not asleep, I am resting my eyes!

As long as this guy stays awake, all is OK.
The journey from the station to the guest house was fast, not just speedy, but down right fast. The guy driving the truck drone like he was at Le Mans! How he did this with a clear conscience I do not know because hi friends were stood on the lowered tail gate because the truck was full! They must be used to it though because one of them answered his phone during the ride and had to bend down out of the wind to talk, which he did ar great speed also! I did not ask if they had taken any speed too, but it did seem likely with their wildly animated actions and complete disregard for other road users and their passengers!

Thankfully we landed safely at the guest house and we were met by the landlady of the place, who seemed very new and enthusiastic at the guest-house business. Her place was simple, basic but nice and the bed was pretty comfortable, although no where as nice as the bed at Tara. The more places we stay in, the more that I realise just how utterly spoiled we were there. Once we had settled and sorted our kit into the room, it was time to find something to eat and with little about it was down to a choice of local places. So we picked one that was an outside place, with a tarp over the frame work to keep any rain off the cooking and diners. It sounds rough, but it was clear that he woman who owned it was lovely in a Mumsy kind of way. Her daughter was also about and together they spoke some good English and then helped us to improve our Thai. The food was quickly cooked and when served smelled delicious, the taste though was another story, under the gentle flavour there was fire and with in seconds my mouth felt like I was eating molten metal! With each mouthful the pain got greater and the chilli rush got more intense, this was not just a meal, this was a chilli work out and I loved every burning mouthful, we then retired to our room and both fell asleep quite soon, only to be woken by a terrific storm. The rain was beyond heavy, it was a torrent, a wrath of god shower and with in seconds the street flooded as the drains struggled to carry the sudden load. The pathways disappeared under water and I grew concerned that as Thai custom was to leave your shoes outside, ours would be swept away. Thankfully the rain finally stopped, but my heart went out to all the very poor in Thailand, the ones who live in tin shacks beside the railway. So many of them had already been flooded out, the extra rain would decimate their homes, leaving them standing in water up to the knees in places.

The following morning we packed and left quickly, probably so that the Landlady could get rid of the foreign toe rags that has soaked her bathroom and farted in her room! Yes, me guilty.

Sunday 10th November

The bus ride to the middle of no-where!

The taxi who dropped us off shot off at speed and left stood lost in the middle of the bus station, a local who we mistook for a ticket tout at first directed us to his bus and then tried to tell us to buy a ticket, it turned out that he was the conductor of the bus we needed and he assumed that we were going to Phuket. Once we sorted it out, him and Carol then compared knock off Zippo lighters and I had a lesson in Thai speaking from a local woman who was off on her holidays to the rain forest. The journey on the bus was hot and sticky and the half filled bus quickly filled up at each stop until it was crammed full like a box of extra sticky dates!

Our bus, not the dents, peeling paint and smashed front light!
Jayne learning to speak more Thai
Our bus inside
Local housing
After what felt like hours (in relative comfort to be honest) on the coach we finally set down in the Khao Sok National Park and it is such a beautiful place it can almost bring a weary traveller to tears. Our room for the next few nights does not have many comforts, but then we are now sleeping in the rain forest with only a simple shelter for our safety. We do have though a large fly net that comes draped over our bed and this has a fine mesh that can keep out the most serious of biting pests, such as tigers, bears, dogs, fruit bats and if we are lucky, a couple of the seriously hungry mosquitoes!

our new home, yes it is on stilts, but this is rain forest, it rains a lot here.
Our room
This is our place, lovely but it sways in the wind.
As you can see, rain forest.
This is where we have lunch
The place we are staying is utterly breath taking, the sounds of the rain forest are like no other you have heard, at one point I though I could hear a power drill going for ages but this turned out to be a type of grass hopper! It was so loud it was almost torture and as I type this from bed, it sounds like an extra loud hearing test is being conducted here with frogs, lizards, birds, insects and lord knows what else making their songs heard. What is this all in aid of? Shagging... All of those noisy bastards are advertising their bodies for the use of procreation. Not that I am jealous at all, but when the house you live in sways as you walk across the floor, anything more vigorous is going to induce sea sickness!

Our first meal in the rainforest was sublime, the owner of the site (a massive Liverpool football club fan) had a game on the TV that he was quietly following while enjoying a beer or two, given a change of language to something more caustic and he could have been in the UK. What we ordered was a yellow curry, what came was a bowl of the most fantastically good tasting curried chicken, with rice and a side order of fries (well the chips smelled so good it would have been rude not to!) The gentle under-flavour of pineapple came from the freshly picked fruit taken from a near by tree, it added to the sharp burn of the curry and with a gentle flavour also tempered it down a little. It would seem that for much of this trip, I have become a food critic, but as some one with a lot of food allergies, I have had very little problems with the fresh from the tree produce that they have here.  After dinner we sat and enjoyed the local site, the owner was pointing out what animal made each noise and I noticed that there was a snail the size of a small car zooming (at snail speed) past out table. We got strafed by a huge bat that flew across the bar area and was utterly beautiful and incredibly fast and we also had our usual wall climbing lizards.

The rain when it came back though was another huge down pour that quickly flooded the woodland floor and caused us to worry that we would be flooded out. The owner though just laughed and said quietly "welcome to the rain forest, it will stop again in fifteen minutes!" and he was not wrong.

The rain fall is impressive and flooded here in minutes.
Once the rain stopped the water simply soaked away and with in minutes the floor was clear and the walkways almost dry, the temperature had dropped though to a more comfortable furnace.

So as I prepare for sleep, you can rest assured that I am enjoying the rain forest, even though the parking and shopping facilities are awful. A nice concrete multi-storey with added mall would be useful for somewhere to go to get away from the heat!

A car park here would have spectacular views!