Waterfalls and swimming pools

The following morning Miss ‘I never stay in bed that late when I’ve been drinking the night before’ Delany managed to sleep until 1pm! I’d taken full advantage of the free coffee at our guesthouse and consumed about 3 mugs of it, together with a large bottle of water, in an attempt to aid my dehydration. I then ate breakfast at The Food Centre (the cheap restaurant we’d found the night before) and headed down to the beach. It was a gorgeous day and the sun was shining in full force, and I thought this was a sign of what sort of weather I could expect over the next couple of weeks. Sadly, it was not to be . . .

Having sped through my reading of “Saving Fish From Drowning”, I exchanged it for the infamous “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden, and began to learn about the life of young Chiyo Sakamoto, as she was taken from her home in Yorido, Japan, and sold into the life of a geisha girl in Kyoto, whilst I waited for Siobhian to join me. We spent the afternoon sunbathing, reading, chatting and swimming down on White Sands beach. Unfortunately it’s not a particularly attractive beach : yes, the sand is white(ish) but due to the fact that the entire beach is covered with water during high tide, the sand is not fine and fluffy and soft but hard and uncomfortable to lie on.

In the evening we stumbled upon Oodies Bar, a live music venue and bar where the owner Oodie, his two Thai employees/friends, and whoever they invite to join them play a mix of rock and blues nightly from around 10pm. One member of the band, who they affectionately call ‘Mr T’ (even though he in no way resembles the big black dude from The A-Team) is enormously talented : he sings, plays guitar, bass and drums, and switches effortlessly between each of them. He also always seems to be (by some degree) intoxicated, and still remains incredibly focussed, and plays each note with complete accuracy.

The next day the weather turned. It had been raining heavily throughout the night (the exaggerated sounds of the rain drops upon the corrugated iron rooves of our bungalows had kept Siobhian and I awake) and it remained cloudy for the majority of the day. We attempted to find somewhere to treat ourselves to a massage but even with a 50% discount, the cheapest massage on offer was still 350THB. Considering that I’d got a Thai massage at a certified massage parlour in Chiang Mai for 150THB, neither of us were desperate enough for a massage to be willing to pay more than double that figure. So we spent most of the day reading on our bungalow verandas, making friends with the resident dog and waiting for the cloud to clear. It didn’t.

We also enquired about the opportunity to do some elephant bathing at Ban Kwan Chang. An hour long trek would have cost a massive 500THB, and as I’d already done some elephant trekking up in Mae Sariang with James and Siobian would have the chance to do some a lot cheaper in Chaing Mai in the next couple of weeks, we’d already ruled that option off our agenda. The strange man in the travel agent told us that we were unable to partake in elephant bathing due to it now being the wet season. In hindsight, what he probably meant was that this particular activity was not available in low season but he left us completely confused as to why the increase in water (which is surely condusive to bathing) would be the reason as to why we were unable partake in the pursuit.

The following day, we decided to visit Ko Chang’s National Park. We hailed a songthaew for 50THB to take us to Klong Plu Waterfall, which was the main attraction within the national park. We didn’t realise that it was also the only attraction, for there were no marked walks through the park, no guides available to hire, and nothing indicated on the map aside from the waterfall itself. Being unaware of this at the time, we paid our 200THB entrance fee and set about spending a good few hours at the park. As soon as we entered the park the heavens opened, making the 500m climb up to the waterfall a rather wet and muddy experience. When we reached the top, there was quite a bit of water flowing powerfully down to the base of the falls, where several locals were bathing fully clothed. We took a few photos and then hurried back down to take some shelter.
As tends to be the way in countries with a tropical climate, the rain stopped almost as soon as we’d reached the park entrance and 5 minutes later the sun was burning down on our shoulders as we walked down the road in search of a taxi to take us back to White Sands. Until we were back on the main road our search was in vain, as there would be no taxis coming from the park unless they’d just transported some passengers to the park. So we walked along in the scorching heat, taking in the sights of Ko Chang’s countryside. It got so hot at one point that the sign advertising a swimming pool outside a very luxurious looking resort complex looked very inviting. So we walked in, with the gait of affluent guest (even though we were dressed like a pair of backpackers) and used the pool. As we walked through the grounds of the complex, it was obvious this was a 5 star resort. The gardens were professionally designed and tended with great care, and even the equipment (slides/swings/climbing frames) within the small childrens playground was painted in the same colour as the buildings within the resort. We felt completely out of place at the Ramayana Resort but as the only people using the pool were a couple of young Thai children and their nanny (who was constantly on her cellphone at the side of the pool), we managed not to get busted. The children seemed to be enjoying themselves, especially the young boy who was finding it hugely entertaining playing ‘splash the foreigners’, an annoying (for us) activity that his nanny seemed to be playing little attention to. If we were to have splashed him back i’m sure she would noticed and in turn disapproved, so instead we continued to grin at him through gritted teeth. Still, it was a small price for the priviledge of using a pool at a resort we weren’t even supposed to be at.
Siobhian was supposed to be leaving today but after a couple of beer Chang last night (she’s even more of a lightweight than me!) she asked me, “if I stay tomorrow, will you be up for hiring a couple of motorbikes?” Neither of us had ever driven a motorbike before (I haven’t even driven a car on a regular basis since I passed my test when I was 17!) but we decided that there’s got to be a first time for everything. In Thailand they drive on the same side of the road as both Britain and Australia, Ko Chang’s roads seem relatively quiet and we’d noticed that it was possible to hire automatics, so we wouldn’t have to worry about gears; just with driving the vehicle and keeping it on the road, which was to prove a lot more difficult than we’d imagined!
Lake we passed on our walk back from Khlong Plu Waterfall, Ko Chang
Siobhian chilling in the luxurious pool at the Ramayana Resort, Ko Chang

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