After seeing the elephants outside of Chiang Mai, we headed back to meet our friend Michelle in Bangkok. If you haven’t guessed, she’s the chic wearing Birkenstocks and calf thingies and holding an REI tote bag. Yep, she’s from Portland. She came all the way to Thailand to run the North Face Ultra Marathon near Khao Yai National Park in central Thailand. After figuring out that it would be cheaper and far more comfortable to rent a car and drive from Bangkok to our hotel outside of Khao Yai National Park, we loaded up and were off. Jaime volunteered to be the driver, thank God, with driving on the left hand side of the road and the chaotic, no traffic rules driving culture of Thailand, I think I would have killed us all had I taken the wheel.
After a little bit of cursing and screaming, we made it safely to our hotel, the ever so colorful Mountain View Hotel. The hotel was very Howard Johnson circa 1985 and in a color scheme of pink, purple and light green so we called it “the Rainbow Inn.” There was this really interesting hippie-Buddhist looking wall of statues and figures as well as a huge temple in the shape of what appears to be a monk under construction near our hotel. They’re kind of in the middle of nowhere so I have no idea what the significance of either is.
We had a full day to tour the Khao Yai National Park before Michelle was to run her big race. Khao Yai is Thailand’s oldest national park and also one of the largest in area at over 2000 square kilometers. Since we only had a day, we had time to tour the southern tip of the park. We saw some beautiful waterfalls, macaque monkeys, one big lizard and some fresh elephant poo. The wild elephants evaded us that day but apparently you can get some glimpses of them from time to time.
After a full day of national park touring, we headed to bed early so Michelle could rest up for her race. Here is a pic of Michelle at the finish line the next day after running 50KM (31 miles) in the scorching Thai heat. Pretty brutal race course and she did great.
After Michelle’s race it was time for some beach time so we headed to Koh Samui, one of the islands in the southern part of Thailand. If you like beaches, it is pretty hard to beat Thailand – beautiful water, white sand and great snorkeling. Along with some lazy beach time, we had a great day of kayaking around the beautiful Ang Thong National Park through limestone cliffs and small caves.
We also took a snorkeling expedition to the nearby island of Koh Tao with a great reef. Lots of colorful fish and other interesting sea life. We were trying to beat a storm on the way back so we had one heck of a bumpy ride back to Koh Samui.
After saying goodbye to Michelle, Jaime and I hunkered down in Bangkok for a few days to plan for our next country, Myanmar. More to come on our adventures in this fascinating country.