Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Saturday, April 04, 2015

23. Kho Samui, Thailand

Kho Samui, Thailand

Our Itinerary for the Day
Kho Samui is the 3rd largest island of Thailand. Last year about 1.3 million people from around the world visited this 25 by 25 mile island. The beaches are stunning, the hotels mostly modern and the people smiling and friendly. There is mainly just a narrow ring road around the island. The center is still jungle and unexplored, despite the mass of people visiting. Traffic is busy on this road. We could have rented a motor scooter but opted for a guided tour, we did not want to miss the ship so we played it safe.

Climbing on From the Platform

Our excursion, planned by the tour company of the cruise ship, took us again for an elephant ride. Since we now know how it is to ride atop an elephant, we just relaxed and let the mahout do all the work. We rode a 6-year old female elephant whose mom took over the lead as soon as she could. It was a bit strange, but nicely though, to be within the elephant family. Mom Elephant and daughter were giving tourists a ride. It felt cozy.

Travelling Through the Bush by Elephant
Next we witnessed a training session for young elephants. I am not so sure I liked this part, I understand that young elephants need to be trained, but do they have to be exposed to screaming loudspeakers? Do they have to learn how to kick a soccer ball? I know it was supposedly for fun, but I felt it was abuse of a trusting animal.

Recipe for Green Papaya Salad, SPICY!

Preparing Spicy Green Papaya Salad

The next parts of our tour I liked; a Thai food cooking show and a monkey show. For the cooking lesson we had a demonstration of preparing a typical papaya salad, spicy, fresh and pungent. The spices used are an acquired taste, the heat of the spices, for sure, needs some time to get used to. Hot, hot, hot food is normal to most Thai.

Monkey Trained to Gather Coconuts and His Trainer
The monkey show was more than just a show. It was explained to us that this is how coconuts were harvested on plantations. A trained animal is essential to get the ripe nuts out of the trees with the most efficiency. The monkey lives with the handler’s family. The animal is part of his household, a bit like we would have a dog, let’s say. Every day the man of the house, along with the monkey, goes to work. In a plantation where hundreds if not thousands of coconut trees are planted, the monkey climbs a tree, twists only
Demonstrating How He Learns to Twist Coconuts
Off a Pipe at a Low Height at First
the ripe coconuts and lets them drop to the ground. The coconut trees are about 30 meters tall and the nuts only grow at the very top of the tree. Sure, a man can climb one tree or maybe even four or five trees a day, but it is very strenuous to climb trees like that. A monkey however, is in his natural habitat. For a monkey to climb trees is natural. A fish swims, a monkey climbs. The training comes in for a monkey to learn to just pick the ripe nuts and to learn how to twist the nut off. The animal we saw seemed to love doing the “work.”  Within no time at all, the monkey was way up in the crown of the tree and nuts were falling down to the ground in front of us. This is a good way to harvest naturally. The monkey is not mistreated. The animal is part of the handler’s or harvester’s family. The monkey lives with the family, sleeps with the family, eats with them and sits on the handler’s knee when not working. I believe the monkey sees in the humans, the group he belongs to. 


Too Many People and Too Commercial
One of the stops on this tour was to see a waterfall in the jungle. My mind played romantic images in front of my eyes. I see a 100 foot waterfall (Na Muang Waterfall) with a pool below for swimming. Purple rocks mixed with green foliage gives this place an exotic appeal, right? Well, all that we were told was true, but there were just too many people there. The locals told too many people. The place was overrun with tourists. Vendors were hawking any kind of souvenir including bathing
suits. Nice idea, but way too commercial.


Beautiful Spot For Lunch

It is time for lunch. Coconut milk soup, ginger chicken, local fish with rice was our lunch fare. If there is no rice with a meal in Thailand then it is not considered a meal. Yes, we had rice too. The venue you ask? Is a lovely local eatery immediately at the beach. It is idyllic to just hang out; eat, drink and take a nap. But no, the tour company had one more item for us to look at.
The Big Buddha
It is said that if you do not see the Big Buddha (39 feet tall, gold painted) when on Kho Samui, then you just have never been to Kho Samui. Well we needed to look at this big man, climb another 80 steps in the heat, ring a few bells on top of the stupa, climb down the 80 steps again, along Naga the snake god image, and now I can say I have been to Kho Samui.

Dragon Railing on the Steps

Many Large Bells at the Top of the Stupa

It was a good outing. It was a hot day, we walked a lot. A perfect beach day but the tour did not let us nap. It was a day jam-packed with one event after another.

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