Monday, December 12, 2005

Camping out at the Chaweng Regent. Spacious room, bathroom set up for multiple users if necessary. Quite thoughtful. Room temperature can get quite cold, but if we were experiencing hot weather the air-con would be a relief. Really courteous English-speaking staff so we're quite comfortable here.

Started our explorations of Samui with the half-day tour of the island. Hotel pickup to experience elephant trekking, a waterfall view, a gander at the undecomposed body of a dead monk, a monkey show, a visit to the local aquarium-zoo, a break for a Thai lunch, and a view of the "grandfather" & "grandmother" rock formations.

Elephant riding is ok for a while. Passengers sit on a metal bench perched on the elephant's back. There's a little sway to get used to and some unexpected lurches as the elephant tries to find footing along the jungle pathway and into the river on the way to Namaung Falls I, a photo op location. We had a young, chatty mahout who allowed me to sit on the elephant's neck where he usually would be sitting for most of the ride. Meantime, he sat behind with June. Wonder if he planned it that way?

Kinda' sad to see the elephants work the way they do. Yes, they do earn their keep and there seems to be no end of tourists to keep them rolling in bananas, but as I sat balancing myself on the great beast's head, I had to wonder about the routineness of his life and if he would be happier in the wild, without this sort of "work" imposed on him. Sadly, the alternative is extinction. Not much of a choice there.

Same thing with the tigers who were supposed to put on a show for us at the zoo. But the weather turned nasty so the tigers got the day off. The zoo tried to run the bird show anyway. We saw a few bird tricks like a macaw picking up empty beer cans and depositing them in a step-bin, and a budgie who pecked a 100b note from a tourist's fingers (but became uncooperative when instructed to return it -- clever fellow). But we never got to see the end of the show. It absolutely poured right into the arena, effectively cancelling the programme for us.

The larger Namaung Falls II was also on the tour programme, but the bad weather made it too dangerous to get to. Sigh.

Our group had a simple Thai meal at an eatery by the beach. Rice and assorted dishes. The deep-fried spring rolls were delicious. Even our tour companion, an elderly Brit who claimed he wouldn't eat anything other than junk food found himself picking from the dishes anyway.

Last stop: the natural rock formations that look remarkably like anatomically correct, um... phallic and fertility symbols. Gawk and photo-op time. There are a number of souvenir shops here as well and we picked up some pandan-flavoured coconut caramel which everyone here hand-makes for sale. It's sweet and has a nice bite. It's also not going to survive the night. Haha!

Found some tom yum for June for dinner 'cos there wasn't any at lunch. Around us the smell of barbecued seafood was so good. KIV for dinner tomorrow.

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