Thursday, November 10, 2011

Final Lap

  For my last day I chose take a lap around the entire island following the coastline to the west. I had a few interesting sights in mind, particularly Hin Ya and Hin Tae (Grandmother and Grandfather rocks), the Mummified Monk and a few waterfalls. My first stop was the old monk. I imagined that I was going to see a dead body wrapped up in orange cloth and preserved in a glass coffin. Maybe I've seen too many mummy films, but I wasn't too far off. The cadaver was positioned upright, sitting in a hunched Indian-style position fully clothed in orange monk robes. When he was alive he was renowned for his meditation practice. "He was also able to foresee his own death, which happened in 1973 when he was 79 years and 8 months. After death his body remained under-composed" and he was placed in his current position. The guy has been dead for almost 40 years and he still looks freshly expired. His skin looked a bit leathery and the little hairs on his head are plainly visible. It was pretty cool to see a dead guy up close. What made the Monk even cooler was his black ray ban shades that covered his sunken eyes. This made the sight rather comical. Seeing a dead monk rockin' ray bans in the afterlife made me laugh to myself as I approached the glass case. I wouldn't mind being buried with my ray bans on my face. In fact, that sounds like a good way to go.
  The grandmother and grandfather rocks were even funnier than the monk. When I arrived at the sight along the coast I walked out to a giant rock platform which gradually sloped down to the ocean. I looked to my right and saw grandfather rock in all his glory, completely erect amongst the other boulders. It's hard to believe that the rock is a natural formation. Moreover, that it's coincidentally located next to a female formation of equal stature. Grandmother rock was more difficult to find. I finally found it within the gradual slope of rock that meets the ocean waves. I'm happy that I saw these hilarious formation and snapped some memorable photos.                                                                 
  My next destination was the main waterfall near the center of the island. I was dismayed when I made it to the entrance of the falls only to discover the 300 baht entrance tour fee. From the advertised photos it didn't seem to compare to the other falls I had seen at Koh Chang and Khao Yai. Rather than spend the money I hopped back on my bike and sped off down the coast to continue my lap. I had no more sights marked on the map, so I stopped for anything that caught my interest. When I reached the southern tip of the island I pulled over at a vacant restaurant for a break and a small meal. The restaurant had an outdoor patio area that overlooked the distant uninhabited islands. It was peaceful to enjoy my meal (chicken with ginger) and look out across the calm water as a few wooden boats bobbed up and down. The woman who owned the restaurant was eager to compliment my shameful ability to speak the only few Thai phrases I know. Maybe she meant to flatter me before telling me how old her daughter was. I'm sure the woman was just being nice, but to me it felt like some kind of offer or suggestive hint, using our comparable ages as a commonality. This made me wonder how many tourists actually visit this virtually deserted restaurant. When one unexpectedly shows up they must be pleasantly surprised. I'm sure the woman would have loved to see her daughter gleefully jump on the back of my motorbike and wave goodbye with a big smile. As I processed these thoughts I kindly acknowledged the woman's daughter and thanked her for the meal. This was my final stop before returning to headquarters at the Mermaid three hours later. I suppose my lap was a grand total of five or six hours. Focusing my concentration on the road for so long really wore me out. I promptly passed out in my bed when I reached the Mermaid. 

  Comparing the islands: So far I've visited Koh Samet, Koh Chang and Koh Samui. Each has it's own distinctive identity and culture. Koh Samet, with its bleached powdery sand is the smallest of the three. It is definitely a couple's retreat. From what I could see the coastline was riddled with romantic bungalows. There aren't any attractions other than the beautiful beach itself and the company of someone else. However, I can't leave out the spectacular fire show. Samet is renowned for its amazing fire shows that you'll find hard to match at any other island. Koh Chang offers great options for snorkeling and scuba diving at surrounding miniature islands. The main island itself is fun to explore by motorbike, as long as you can handle the twisting mountainous roads. In my opinion, the beach there cannot compare to Samet. The stretch of beach I visited required a trek through residential areas and along a few treacherous trails that were altogether disorienting. Upon reaching the coarse sand I could see palm trees following the coast. I had basically stumbled out of the jungle and onto the beach. As for the island of Koh Samui, it has it all. Beautiful beaches, plenty of sights to see and the terrain is easily navigable. You can have a wonderful time there whether you prefer solitude or a traveling party of friends. Also, it is conveniently located close to Koh Phangan and Koh Tao if you're looking to pursue your scuba diving license or go wild at a full moon party. My review of Koh Phi Phi will be following shortly...

Song of the Day:
  Sometimes when you're traveling by yourself you think about who you'd like to share your experience with. More specifically who you'd like to have sitting next to you in a beach chair as you watch the sun set. Yeah it sounds a bit sentimental, yet most of us can't deny that a similar feeling briefly catches us in the moment. Click the song title for download. 

Cut Copy - 'Need You Now'

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