Mar 31, 2007

Kayaking in Krabi, Thailand

Although for me, the highlight of Thailand is the diving, there were also some kayaking trips they based out of Krabi that were a lot of fun. I did a one day trip that went to Ao Thalene. Having only one day to do this trip, I didn't have a lot of choices of operators, so I and some European travel buddies I met went with @rt-canoeing in Ao Nang. In retrospect I think I could have bargained for 10% more of a discount than I did originally, but it was still cheaper than Sea Kayak.

There were about a dozen tourists in our group, and we sat two to a kayak. It worked out well for me since I got paired up with a guy who seemed to be in pretty much the same good physical shape that I am, so I didn't end up pulling an unfair portion of the weight.

This gnarly Thai dude was our tour guide. He does this same kayak tour every day in the midday sun, and it shows. Not an ounce of fat anywhere, like the physique of one of those Kenyan long distance runners. I drank almost two liters of water during three hours of kayaking, and I don't think this dude had more than a few sips during that time.

This is what a lot of the scenery looks like, karst rock formations and mangroves.

There are some troupes of monkeys in the area that are very used to visitors. It turns out that these macaques are in fact highly aquatic. They could swim from the shore about 10 yards or more to tourists' kayaks, where they would climb aboard and scavenge for food.

Look at those teeth! Acclimated to humans or not, I wasn't too keen on having one in my kayak, and neither was my South African kayak partner, who regarded them as pests like we would regard seagulls.

It was equally entertaining to watch them climb onto other people's kayaks.

"Ja wohl! Es gibt ein Macaque auf meinem Kayak!"

Here is a German guy who's getting a kick out of the fact that a macaque has climbed onto the back of his kayak.

Of course, he's not yet realized that the macaque has just taken a giant dump on the kayak. You can see the miniature Jimmy Dean sausages in this photo. I'm not a primate expert, but my guess is that defecating on someone's kayak is not a sign of respect.

These are some of the mangroves you can see when kayaking. There were some big 3 to 4 ft long monitor lizards crawling around if you could spot them.

We started our trip at high tide, and coming back afterwards the tide had gone out, and there was about 200 yards of muck to wade through to get back to shore. The comical point for me was watching this forty year old Japanese lady in a pristine white sun dress shouting and yelping with disgust as she tried to get back to shore. It was pretty obvious that she wasn't used to outdoor activities.

After kayaking until the mid-afternoon, our group had a late lunch back on shore. The lunch was very sketchy, and I calculated my odds of getting food poisoning, or at the very least rumble-guts at about 50%. Asia is a very dirty place, and I've had a lot of questionable food while living and traveling here. I must have played the game of Russian Roulette lunch correctly, as I didn't have any after effects.

After lunch, we loaded into the back of a converted pick up truck (sangtaew) for the last part of the trip. We first stopped off at a cave, and then finally at a very unique swimmin' hole called the Emerald Pool. Despite it's small width, it's actually 100 meters deep. The Thai guys there were climbing up one of the larger trees to the left and jumping in.

Mar 25, 2007

Andaman dive boat impressions

These are some photos from various scuba diving boats I went on in Thailand.

This here is a small boat from Octopus divers in Koh Lanta that I was on for one day. There was only 3 ft. or so seas that day, but the boat was knocking around like a cork and there were about four land lovers on the boat who vomited over the sides. I had to take extra care not to jump into someone's floating puddle of puke when I did my giant stride entry off the back. Going with this particular dive shop for a day was highly entertaining. In addition to seeing multiple puking divers, I got to buddy with the shop owner, who was very amused by grabbing highly venomous sea snakes that we encountered by their tails. Not to mention, there was an older-looking Czech diver on board who was a dead-ringer for Hunter S. Thompson.

Even in this day and age some scuba divers like to smoke between dives, which is not a smart thing to do. This was a good chance to get a close up of some of the good anti-smoking labels that the Thai government puts on cigarettes.

Glass bottles for Coke and Pepsi were pretty much already out of use when I was growing up, replaced by aluminum cans and plastic bottles. Same thing for China by the time I got there. But in Thailand they still use large reusable glass bottles. It's much nicer, I think, to drink out of a cold glass bottle than an aluminum can, especially in the tropics. It would be great if there's a resurgence of glass bottles in the US or China.

This is what most of the island-type dive sites in the Andaman Sea look like, very steep rock formations jutting out of the water. Most dive sites called Koh-Something (island) look like this from the surface, whereas Hin-Something rock would look similar under the water, but you wouldn't see anything from the surface.

Mar 20, 2007

Another doppelgänger

I was traveling around southern Thailand the other week, where I snapped this photo on a boat from Koh Lanta to Krabi.

If you look closer at the man in the distance, you might notice that it's none other than Paul Sr. from American Chopper! He obviously trimmed the Fu Manchu moustache to cope with Thailand's tropical climate.

On the right hand side is a photo of the real Paul Sr.