February 14th, 2010 – by: kirowind
Lots of monkeys!
So, this year, February 14th was both Valentine's Day as well as Chinese New Years. What did I do? See wildlife. Our first stop on this package tour was a place in Phang-Nga called the Monkey Cave. And man, were there a lot of monkeys. They were roaming the grounds outside of the cave everywhere when we got there. They scampered to and fro, plucking bananas and nuts out of people's hands. If I had to guess, there were over 100 monkeys running, climbing trees and scaling the rock cliff to the cave. The cave itself wasn't much of a monkey cave inside, but it did house several Buddha statues. And it also had bats, lots of them.
From there, our minivan drove us along a mountain trail to the elephant trek. We climbed up an open scaffolding so that we were level with the elephant's back to board it.
Traversing the forest trail on elephant back.
Our initial group was small and since I was traveling alone, I got an elephant all to myself. I was strapped in to a bench housed on the elephant's back and held in with rope. The elephant's skin was rather hairy to my initial surprise, but was dry and leathery underneath. Walking the trail was very rough in the sense that I swayed to and fro as we walked up and down dipping terrain. Overall, it was a pretty neat experience. From there, we went to see a baby elephant show. These elephants were 3 and 6 years old, but still were about 7 feet tall and looked heavy enough too. The trainers had them do several tricks for us such as sit, shoot baskets, and throw darts at balloons. I even got an elephant massage. I pretty much laid on a mat while one of the elephants lightly stepped on my back.
The elephant show: sit!
By lightly, it still was heavy enough so I could feel pressure, but no pain. And I got my Valentine's Day kiss from an elephant. What it did was put its trunk on my cheek and then inhale till there was a pop sound. The trunk was moist before I felt my cheek get sucked in. I missed getting a picture of that though.
We also took a detour to swim in a small lake with a waterfall. That was also very neat, mainly because I always wanted to swim under a waterfall. The actual area for the falls was kind of enclosed as well as slippery so I had to eke my way under the falls and then try to meditate there. Needless to say, the water was very heavy and I had to spend most of my effort holding myself up. At least that's another thing off of my list of to-do's.
After lunch, we got to embark onto our whitewater rafting adventure. We were given a quick briefing and then sat in our rafts waiting for the water to rise. That would be triggered by when they opened the dam farther upriver. And when it opened, wow, did the water coming rushing down. Along with several other rafts from people that had started higher up. Due to the number of people, I shared a raft with one other traveler who sat on the left and I on the right along with 2 guides at the front and back. The rapids were only up to level III which is moderate, but our guide tried to make the most of it by crashing us into rocks and walls all the time. I literally came halfway out of my foot straps a few times hurtling forward into the center of the raft at these times.
Small but scenic lake and waterfall.
It was also fun and goofy as people would splash each other with water all the time with their paddles. I even had a short period where I swam in the water with other people. That pretty much describes the whole trip and it was quite worthwhile. On a final note for the day, Phuket Town that night was very quiet. Sure there were some lanterns brightly lit in the center, but there was no large spectacle or celebration. There were signs to suggest there would be a major party on February 19-21st, but I still found it odd there wasn't anything going on for that Sunday night.
The next entry will talk about the 3 scuba dives I made on the 15th.