Friday, September 30, 2011
Yesterday Stan, Beth, Michael and I went on an excursion to the islands known as the Hongs. A hong is basically a hollow island of old limestone cliffs with a lagoon inside. It took an hour and a half to get there and then we got to swim a little while we waited for the tide to be right. Swimming was challenging with the current but Michael and I tried it so we can now say that we have been in the Andaman Sea. When the water had dropped a little we got in the canoes and paddled into the first sea cave. We saw a little monitor lizard right off but it was the stone structures that were jaw dropping. I am posting a few photos here but the connection speed at our resort is slow so not too many. Anyway the second cave that we went into went on through to the interior lagoon. You had to lay back in the canoe to get through without hitting your head. But spectacular just doesn't even describe how awesome it was when we came into the lagoon.
The boat relocated to another island and off we went again in the canoes, into a long, dark cave filled with little bats. When we emerged into the inside lagoon there were other big fruit bats flying from the trees at the top of the wall. It was a very special place. Later back on the boat we made krathongs, a type of offering to respect the water is how our guides described it. Usually this is part of the Loy Krathong festival which happens in the first week of November. We had a great dinner while we waited for it to get dark for the floating of the krathongs. It included chicken curry, prawns, two grilled fishes, and kebabs. I guarantee that we have been eating very well. Just before it got dark we could see monkeys on the shore. A troop of about a dozen or more. We had also seen sea eagles and brahminy kites earlier. Finally at dark we got back into the canoes and released our decorated krathongs. Just beautiful!
So that was yesterday. Today we parted ways with Stan and Beth for a little while. They went to Bangkok to meet up with the interns and we flew up to Chiang Mai to a small resort, Kao Mai Lanna, south of the city. This is a very peaceful spot where they have furnished old tobacco barns as guest rooms. Quite a bit nicer than it sounds. Looking forward to a little more R&R before the ECHO conference gets rolling on Tuesday.