Elephants in the Morning Mist – Khao Sok, Thailand

I am not usually the type of person that likes to get up early in the morning while I am on vacation, but I was not really given a choice today. The plan was to get up early to travel to one of the more iconic spots on this vast lake, and it was worth the annoying ring of my alarm. Khao Sok looks completely different in the morning. The clouds hang low over the hills creating a misty atmosphere that I originally thought could only be seen in a Hollywood movie about this part of the world. I wondered what it would have looked like during the rainy season, or if the clouds would have dipped down even further, making it impossible to see anything at all.

Being on a boat in Khao Sok National Park is also an amazing experience whether it is in the heat of the afternoon, or early in the morning. The water instantly cools you off, and there are so many nooks and crannies to explore in the mountains. It is fun to find the explore the dramatic landscape and find the place for the perfect picture. Of course, the guides know these spots already and will take you there, and most of the time they know how to rotate boats in and out so it appears that you are the only person on the lake, but there are a couple of places where the boats get a little packed in, but with patience you can still find that perfect shot.

The place we stayed in also had kayaks that we could take out on to the lake anytime that we wanted to which gave us a little more freedom to explore, though they told us not to wander too far away from the place. One of the things about Khao Sok and the surrounding area is that a storm could roll in at any time and catch you unaware. While we were there, we got to witness two of these storms. One of them came rolling in while we were lounging around the dock, swimming and kayaking. We were close enough to find shelter quickly. But the other one caught us while we were on the bigger boat looking for the perfect evening shots. There was not much we could do but rush back to our resort while holding the life jackets over our heads to try to stay as dry as possible.

Needless to say, it did not work very well.

It just meant that we got to spend more time on the boat in the morning. And we were lucky that we did because as we started to make our way back to our resort after enjoying the sunrise, someone with an eagle eye caught a glimpse of an elephant on the distant shore. Breakfast was going to be delayed for a little bit because we had to go check out these rare sights to the park.

Khao Sok does have a multitude of animals that run around through its forests, but most of them remain hidden, and it is only once in awhile where they venture out to the places where humans can witness them. If you are around during one of those rare instances, you go out and enjoy it.

What looked like one elephant far away turned into a family of elephants enjoying their morning breakfast. We sat there and watch for awhile as they munched on leaves and tore down trees, but after a bit, we decided to get some breakfast of our own and give them some privacy.

After our breakfast, we could still see them as they got in the water a moved a little further down the coast to get closer to us. This is where the kayaks came in beautifully. We hopped on one, paddled out to where they were and enjoyed their presence for a little bit longer before they wandered back into the trees.

These kinds of experiences have been what has made this place such a wonderful one to visit. I know we have been pretty lucky so far with the experience, but I am sure that whoever comes out here will get to collect their own stories to tell. It is why that it is regular destination for many Thai people, and a must add to an itinerary for people thinking about making their way out to Thailand.

Thanks Autocorrect – It’s spelled Railay

It may only be a small outcropping of land on the southern tip of Thailand with only a handful of resorts on it, but it is one of the biggest tourist spots in the country. The pictures that are often shown of the country often include at least one from this location. Yet when I type in the name of this country into Facebook to share photos with my friends, the geniuses of grammar and spelling that put together their algorithm want to tell me that it is spelled Railway. In fact, it will often change it for me because they believe so much that this is what I wanted to say, but this is not where I am at. I am at Railay, Thailand.

Railay is a must see stop if you ever come to Thailand. It is located in the Krabi province, and even though it is part of the mainland, it can only be accessed by boat because of the huge cliffs that surround this stretch of land. You might have to wait a bit to get on one of these boats because they will wait until they have enough passengers to make sure that the trip is worth their time, but they only need a total of six to make it happen. And if you are traveling down here by car, there is an old parking lot that you can pay 200 baht at to make sure that your vehicle is secure.

But once you get there, the worries that you brought with you in your car get left behind quickly because you get lost in the views of this tiny resort town. It doesn’t matter where you turn, there is something new and exciting to see. They have huge cliffs that attract many rock climbers from all around the world. There are cave that have been dug into their limestones that can be explored. They have many beaches that you can lay out on, or even rent a kayak for a couple of hours to explore the tiny islands that pop up all along the coast. There is even a charming downtown area with nice bars and restaurants, and guides that will take you out kayaking or rock climbing.

It is a great town with lots to see and do. It is one of Thailand’s greatest tourist spots that people should know about including the fine people at autocorrect. It has been one of my biggest struggles while living in Asia. Many of the locations that I wish to texts about or post on Facebook are unknown to people out of Asia and the spelling of them is being constantly changed on me because some computer program is trying to tell me what it is I meant to say.

Either way, Railay is an amazing place and should be one that is written down on everybody’s bucket list. Just make sure that this list is not being kept on a computer because you will look at it later and wonder why you would want to go to the Railway before you die.

My Own Paparazzi – Around the World Day 16

The problem with writing a blog series about my experiences while I take the time to circumvent the globe is that I am the one always taking the pictures, so rarely am I in the pictures. You get to read about my experiences, but sometimes it is hard to make the connection with the moment and the person who is having it. At the same time, I am not going to hire my own camera man to walk around with me to take pictures so I can share them with you. Yes, you would benefit, but I would always be in this constant weird place where I someone would always be lurking around the corner so they could record my life.

This is part of the reason that I enjoyed the experience I had on my last full day in Lagos. Christine and I went on a kayaking tour around the coast line to see the rocks up close and sneak into some of the caves along the way. The danger to cameras while doing this is obvious. A wave can come along, and sweep it into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Even if it just falls into the water, being soaked in salt water can’t be good for any piece of electronics. The company that took us on our voyage understood this, and had their own camera man come along to take pictures of us as we went along that we could use as we saw fit when we got back. Granted, it was like the old days where we had to wait until the next morning before we were able to access them, but it is okay in this age of instant gratification to have to wait for things a little while.

There was another added bonus that I didn’t even think about. We got to enjoy the moment without having to record it for prosperity’s sake. This is another problem that many people don’t realize in the age of digital cameras that can record every moment and share it instantly with everybody that we know. We are so concerned with taking picture of what we are doing instead of just enjoying the moment. Go to concerts and you will see people holding up their cell phones so they can record the whole show instead of just enjoying the music. Go to any tourist spot, and there are tour groups shoving each other out of the way so they can get the perfect picture. Even while going out to dinner, people need to take picture of the food before they eat, and take selfies of themselves enjoying it, instead of just enjoying it. You can’t take a picture of the taste. You are just going to have to savor it in your memory. So why do you need a picture of it?

Now, I am not saying that you should quit taking pictures. It is a fun hobby that I enjoy. I like thinking of the composition of each of my shots and what I can do to make them unique and tell a story at the same time. And they are a great way to preserve the moments for all time. All I am saying is to keep it in perspective. You do not need to take a picture of every moment you live. Sometimes, it is better to just enjoy the moment because that memory will be more vivid than any picture you ever take. And you will find that you enjoy the moment more that way.

This is what EZRides allowed us to do on that kayaking trip. It was fun to explore those caves, and I got to sit there a moment longer to marvel at the rock structures I was looking at instead of quickly taking a picture so I could move on to the next marvel. I got to listen to the guide explain how the cliffs were formed and about the beaches we traveled by. I got to enjoy the moment for what it had to offer, and because of that it was easily the best kayak trip I have ever taken. It changed my perspective on things. I now wonder if I should put the camera down from time to time and just enjoy the moment for what it is.

This blog post was written without the knowledge of EZRides, and I highly recommend their service if you ever find yourself in Lagos and want to go kayaking. You will enjoy the experience.