|Travelled to Pak Chong which is 60 kms from Khao Yai National Park. The hotel was a bit on the outskirts of the city and we had to negotiate a dark alley of threatening dogs and cross 4 sets of railway tracks to get into it ...but we only did it once!!! That was enough!
Went to the night market and and saw all sorts of wierd and wonderful foods, fried insects and grasshoppers amongst other things. Avoiding these delicacies we went for chicken and rice for 25 baht (53 pence!).
This next two weeks was a rather odd assortment of visits with Osha, our guide (O' for short.) We visited some randon water fall area called Namtok Chet Saonoi National Park,in which local scouts squealed as they dipped in fully clothed, A mock Italian Village (Disneyfied resorts are what the Thai's seem to be into)...but we are from Europe and so a mock Italian village, not surprisingly is no great attraction. Best thing in it was an expensive Duck salad! Some hot springs that were not hot! but finally a bat cave visited to witness the thousands of bats exiting at dusk...that WAS amazing!
Khoa Yai National Park:
At last we got to the National Park which despite having a very poor visitor centre, was beautiful. We visited two waterfalls and one was Haew Suwat Waterfall made famous by the film "The Beach". We got kitted out with Leech Socks here, a pair of cotton leggings to wear over your trousers...I needed these in Chitwan but here we just walked on concrete visitor centre type paths so not needed really...just given to us for effect I think!
On leaving the park we visited an elephant temple...very cute.
Next good visit was to one of Thailands only vineyards. Amazing tour to see how the vines were grown and harvested and of course a wine tasting. Beautiful area but managed by a New Zealander and other Thai owners. Wine is hugely expensive in Thailand as it has 60% govt tax on it. After the wine tasting I decided my favourite was, of course, the most expensive!But we treated ourselves to a bottle for our beach holiday.
We were to take a night bus to Rayong and then Koh Samet for our beach part of this trip, so we decided to visit nearby Lopburi during the day.This ancient capital is famous for it's monkey's that cause general mayhem in the city. We were warned not to wear bright jewellery and dangly earings as the monkey's snatch anything they can! Indeed when we were there we saw a monkey snatch the charm off a girls mobile phone. The town is FULL of monkeys and windows have grills over them to stop the monkey's going into buildings....it was like an Ape version of Hitchcocks "The Birds". Great museum there though.
That night we took a midnight bus to Rayong down South and headed to Koh Samet for our beach week.The bus was a bit cramped and so many stops to let people on and off (not like those in S. America) meant we didn't get much sleep. Arrive Rayong 5.30am and got a Songthaew to the pier (40 windy minutes!) and then a fishing boat across to Koh Samet as the sun was rising....very picturesque and peaceful after our harrowing night.
We had to wait ages for5 our room as we were so early and were told we couldn't go to our original hotel because it was full...this one looked very basic and was in a very busy part....so we spent our waiting time checking out the original hotel which had looked great on the web! It was loveley, so we booked ourselves in there for the remainder of the stay...Had to stay one night at the basic place though, but the difference was chalk and cheese, Samed Villa resort was a collection of bugalows on the beach and very lovely. See pics and spot the difference!The place was on a quieter beach and we had a very lovely time there.
Fire shows on the beach at night and dinner in the open air listening to the water lap....Bliss.