Friday

Our good friend and now roommate, Eric, had some friends visiting from Colorado recently who wanted to go explore. Eric had invited us to go with them. We have been wanting to see the rest of Thailand and so considered it briefly, but then decided that six people traveling together would be too much of a logistical problem. It's easy enough to squeeze four people into a room but with six you have to wonder if an extra room is worth it. The morning that they were leaving we all met up and Fletch and I changed our minds. We might never be back to Thailand; there really wasn't a good reason not to go.

So we went and booked six tickets to Krabi, went home and packed, and that night we walked down to the pier and hopped on the night ferry. The night ferry from Koh Tao to Surat Thani is really cool. It is a large cargo boat, so it hauls around cars and bikes, and then the cabins are equipped with bright orange, hostel-style bunk beds. We were each assigned our own bunk as we walked onto the boat but once on board, realized that there were double bed sized bunks in addition to the twins that we were assigned. That'll have to happen next time.

Once on board and settled in we helped ourselves to Fletch's stash of chocolates, a special stash from Colorado, and began to play a simple but fun drinking game. I say simple but a few minutes in I turned into a vegetable, compliments of the candy, and passed out, only to wake up and wonder  how we were in Surat Thani already.

Saturday

A shuttle bus picked us up from the ferry and brought us over to the bus station. The guy driving the mini bus that picked us up ended up being a very scary and religious individual. Thai culture views feet as the lowest part of the body and therefor dirty and profane. It is very disrespectful to point at or touch something with your feet. How seriously the Thais take this varies from person to person, but our driver obviously took it very seriously as he started yelling at a girl in the back seat who had her feet propped up  against  a surface higher then the ground. We were all a little on edge after that. Thai people also put garlands of flowers as blessing at the front of boats and cars and our driver made a stop first thing to buy new flowers and swap out the old ones that didn't look more than a day or two old. Then he drove us across the thin tail of Thailand over to the west coast city of Krabi.

After being dropped off in Krabi Town we waited for a transfer to take us over to Ao Nang, what we understood to be the best area to stay in as tourists. In Ao Nang we were dropped off in front of McDonald's, much to Eric's delight. While everyone else ordered that, Fletch and I walked across the street to a little inn with a restaurant and ordered egg sandwiches.

Once we were all fed and happy we started walking down the street looking for a place to sleep. Our first option, a hostel named Slumber Party, was completely booked so after looking into several other hotels, we ended up with two rooms at a nice place called Princeville. After we had settled in we started looking at options for things to do for the rest of our day. I had seen a waterfall and hot springs advertised on several brochures when we had been walking around looking for a hotel, and everyone agreed that that sounded like a good option. We walked out to the main street and stopped at the first tourist stand we found, and told the lady we wanted to see the waterfall and the hot springs. She arranged for a minivan to pick us up driven by a nice guy who called himself Mr. Don.

During the hour long drive, it started pouring rain. Our first stop was the Emerald Pool, and the rain did little to dissuade us from hiking the short trail to the pool. We emerged in a clearing in the forest to find a turquoise colored pond, and wasted little time stripping down to our swim suits and jumping in. The water was refreshing and inviting, maybe a degree or two warmer than the ocean. We played chicken fights, with me on Fletch's shoulders and Ronnie on Joe's, but neither I nor Ronnie wanted to fight each other so it was more a game of playful pokes. After that we started a game of Marco Polo, and managed to get an enthusiastic Thai lady to join in the fun. She laughed and screamed and played along with us until her friends were leaving and she said goodbye, telling us to come visit her shop next to Boogie Bar that night.


Our next stop was the hot stream waterfall, or Namtok Ron. Mr. Don tried warning us several times that because of the rain it might not be hot, but we assured him that we still wanted to go. He probably though we were crazy for wanting to go on nature hikes in the pouring rain. Another short hike away from where Mr. Don dropped us off we found a tile-lined pool full of mud colored water. We poked our toes in to test it out and much to our delight it was like warm bath water. You're probably thinking that a hot spring doesn't sound all that inviting in the tropics, but with all the rain the day had turned a bit chilly and the spring was incredibly inviting. We lounged and relaxed for a while and then decided to follow a path into the woods where we found the source of the warm water, pouring down the mountainside in a hot stream.


On the hour ride home everyone passed out, tired after the night of traveling and the day spent in the water. After we showered and changed we went out to find a place for dinner and found a very large selection of restaurants all offering Thai, Italian, and Indian cuisine. Every last restaurant along the beach had all three, nothing more and nothing less. We finally chose one and liking the idea of Indian food, I ordered squid masala. I know it seems strange to order Indian food in Thailand, but I've been eating Thai food for eight months now and haven't had Indian food since leaving home, so it sounded like a nice change. What came out was actually fish masala, but it was still delicious.

Our bellies full, we waddled out of the Thai/Italian/Indian restaurant and found the cutest little kitten in the street. We didn't see a mama cat running around so we scooped it up and took turns cuddling it as we walked along.


We found Boogie Bar, the bar that our new Thai friend from the Emerald Pool had said she had a shop nearby. We found a shop and a lady that we thought might be her, but no one could remember for sure if it was her or not and she didn't seem to recognize us so we ended up standing in front of Boogie Bar for a few minutes and listening to the live music that there was a large turn out for. 

We continued walking and passed several massage parlors. At one in particular, the ladies were very friendly and welcoming and since it was still pretty early, Fletch and I decided to stop for an hour while the others continued on to the bars. I handed our little kitty friend to Eli for safe keeping and we walked inside. My massage lady was very large and grandmotherly and the hour that followed was peaceful and relaxing. 

An hour later we emerged from lala land and checked our phones to see where the others were at. Eric said to meet them on the McDonald's road at Ice Bar, so we started walking up the street looking for an Ice Bar. There weren't too many bars on the street and we were nearing the end of any activity that was happening. The last bar we saw was a reggae bar so we figured maybe that was it and started looking around. Sure enough there they were, under an advertisement for Smirnoff Ice. We sat down and ordered drinks and watched the fire dancer putting on a show in the middle of the street. I've only ever seen fire dancers on the beach so to see this guy doing his tricks on the pavement was pretty cool. The main guy who everyone kept cheering was pretty awesome. Usually you'll have fire dancers spinning their flames while music plays in the background, but this guy was perfectly in sync to the beats, speeding up or slowing down his rhythm as necessary with each new song that played. 

After the reggae bar we walked down a street full of stripper bars and ended up at one called Kitty Bar where we drank with some very friendly Thai strippers. After the tequila shots things got a little hazy but Eli played four in a row with one of the girls and lost. The same girl kept pulling me over to dance with her. So yeah, I've danced with a Thai stripper. Guess I can check that one off the bucket list.