Thoughts of Our Honeymoon Make Me Gag

Memories of our honeymoon make me nauseous. Literally. Reminiscing about it makes me want to vomit. Never again will I eat Thai food, and I loved it dearly once. I almost can't look at the words 'Thai food' without gagging.

Morning sickness hit me hard in Phuket and continued on through the rest of our journey until we returned to home soil. For that reason, I will forever be grossed out talking about my time in Thailand.

When pregnant the senses are heightened. Being in Thailand is sensory overload for the average human. A human growing another mini human should not go to Thailand... Lesson learned!

Already extreme scents of trash and sewers in 30+ degree weather becomes magnified ten fold. Sea sickness from rocky trips aboard the world's least sturdy vessels where 1 out of every 5 people on board were leaning over the sides throwing up sent me to bed for at least 24 hours upon reaching the shore. The only thing that calmed my queasy stomach was being in the water (certainly not ON the water) whether in the cooler swimming pool or the warm ocean. That and bread. For some reason I needed bread desperately (something I don't normally care for).

I was that "Farang" ordering Western Food at the traditional Thai cafe and insulting everyone around me, simply because I needed some normalcy. Yes, I felt ashamed but my body needed something familiar to keep down and I wasn't going to perpetuate things by not obliging or eating another damn pepper.

I'm going to give it a few years and first try walking past a Thai restaurant without quickly averting my eyes and thinking "happy thoughts" of anything but the food inside the walls. Maybe then, just maybe, I can enjoy the memories of our honeymoon and my favourite Thai dishes once again.

 

 

The Islands of Koh Phangang and Koh Samui

During our final dozen days abroad we made our way to the Gulf of Thailand for some island-hopping.

On the small island of Koh Pha Ngan we settled into our beachside bungalow for 5 days of, well, mostly torrential rain. When the clouds broke and the sun showed it's face for the final couple days of our stay we took advantage of it and rented another motorbike. For $200 bhat/day (less than $8 Canadian) how could we not?

We managed to circle the entire island of Koh Phan Gnan over the course of one day, with stops at some amazing viewpoints, a seaside lunch, one frustrating game of mini-golf, and a dip in the ocean to cool down.

After 5 days exploring we headed to the larger island of Koh Samui, located an hour south by (ridiculously rocky) ferry.

Stopping for a view atop one of Koh Pha Ngan's many steep hills.

After nearly a month of enjoying Thai cuisine we decided to take a cooking course in order to bring a bit of Thailand back home with us.

Our excursion with Island Organics Thai Cooking School commenced with a tour of our hosts- Lat and Cameron's- lush property. From the compost and worm fertilizer, to the aquaponics and mushroom shed, they're enthusiasm and knowledge for sustainable practices was impressive.

During the garden tour we picked fresh herbs and vegetables and prepared a feast of several dishes- including chicken satay, Pad Thai, both green and red curries which were turned into sauces and soups. We even created coconut broth from start to finish by finely grating and liquefying the freshly cracked coconut.

If you ever find yourself on the island of Koh Samui, we'd highly recommend checking out Islands Organics Thai Cooking School. Lat was the most patient teacher, and together with her husband Cameron they've created an outstanding and authentic Thai experience.

The motorbikes look like your typical scooter- but they pack a punch, with the chance to reach speeds well above 120 km/hr. We did not test this feature!

The final days of our trip were spent taking in the sights of Koh Samui by motorbike once again. The very last day we took our time driving around the perimeter of the island, touring the many temples, enjoying the many beaches, vistas, and outdoor markets, then capped off with body-surfing in the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

What an eye-opening experience. Coming to an environment so very different from the one we're accustomed to, each foreign encounter eased by the accommodating nature of the Thai people, and every day unique.

And now, back to reality.

Ko Phi Phi Snorkeling and the Beauty of Krabi

We've spent the past week bouncing around the province of Krabi, first on the party island Ko Phi Phi, then to the quiet coastal district of Ao Nang in Krabi Town.

The main pier and welcoming point to Ko Phi Phi island. 

The main pier and welcoming point to Ko Phi Phi island. 

Ko Phi Phi was not my favourite.

Perhaps 5 years ago when partying harder was high on my list of priorities I could have enjoyed it more. Or maybe if I were into shopping for neon bro tshirts with sayings like "Six Pack Coming Soon" or "Same Same." But I'm not.

Though we did have one incredible experience day tripping off Ko Phi Phi when we snorkelled around the island of Phi Phi Le.

Early afternoon we made our way about 30 minutes by long tail boat to several spots including Maya Bay where the movie 'the Beach' was filmed- a massive selling feature for every tour company (of course).

Snorkel tour off the island of Phi Phi Le

Snorkel tour off the island of Phi Phi Le

We snorkelled over coral reefs, with dozens of species of tropical fish, sea turtles and reef sharks. Once I got over my initial fear of not being able to swim so well mixed with sea sickness, it was awesome!

After a few days on the Phi Phi Islands we hopped back to the mainland by ferry, and I was relieved to see how spread out and lush Krabi was compared to the previous places we've been.

Railay Beach in Krabi

Railay Beach in Krabi

In the area we made home for a few days, Ao Nang, there's just one main seaside stretch. Several kilometres of beach line one side, and hundreds of shops, bars, and restaurants on the opposite side.

The scenery in Krabi is some of the best- towering steep peaks of limestone cut straight from the earth and topped with greenery. The cleanest beaches, pristine ocean, and so many preserved green spaces add to its appeal.

Khao Phanom Bencha National Park

Khao Phanom Bencha National Park

We rented motorbikes again to explore actual Krabi town, then headed off down a beautiful remote road into Khao Phanom Bencha National Park. Once parked we stretched our legs with a quick jungle hike to an impressive seven-tiered waterfall.

Khao Phanom Bencha National Park

Khao Phanom Bencha National Park

We're getting settled now on the (very damp) island of Koh Phanang where apparently there's some party happening??

Yep, the infamous Full Moon Party kicks off tonight shortly before midnight and doesn't end until after sunrise tomorrow. Oy, what are we getting ourselves into?

Overnight Stay at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai

We spent the past couple of days at Elephant Nature Park- an elephant rescue and rehabilitation centre about an hour and a bit outside of the province of Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand.

Two old gals who have found freedom at ENP. 

Two old gals who have found freedom at ENP. 

ENP is home to dozens of elephants, most brought to the park after having previously been abused, overworked, and even disabled from the now illegal logging industry, as well as tourism and trekking parks.

When trapped and taken to work in trekking camps the elephants are forced to shuttle around photo-op-hungry tourists on their fragile backs for hours on end every day.

One partially blind elephant and her close confident and protector. 

One partially blind elephant and her close confident and protector. 

Unable to behave normally or socialize with other elephants properly, they can develop long-term disabilities to both their mental and physical health.

Several of the older elephants who now call ENP home have noticeable spinal, hip, and leg damage. Many still suffer from the memories of being mistreated in logging and trekking camps and by former owners.

One of the few babies sharing food with an adoptive mother.

One of the few babies sharing food with an adoptive mother.

Here they're free to roam the massive grounds, bathe in the river, create mini herds with other elephants they feel a connection with, and start to restablish some of their long-lost natural tendencies.

An adolescent elephant who roams solo, not yet able to fit in with a community due to behavioural issues.

An adolescent elephant who roams solo, not yet able to fit in with a community due to behavioural issues.

ENP's grounds have expanded from it's initial mere few dozen acres in a corner of the jungle in the mid 90's to what is now an impressively large protected park for not only the elephants, but also cats, dogs, and water buffalo rescued from the meat-trade industry or the streets.

The herd of 77 water buffalo and one brave pup.

The herd of 77 water buffalo and one brave pup.

We participated in the overnight stay, allowing us to take our time at the park and observe the elephants in their natural habitat. This program allowed us to visit a smaller preserved space up the road from ENP where two of the more senior elephants are being reintroduced back into the jungle. There they are still guided by their mahouts, who teach them to forage for food instead of simply waiting on hand-outs from humans.

One of two elder female elephants who are starting to be reintroduced back into the wild on protected grounds further up in the village past the sanctuary. 

One of two elder female elephants who are starting to be reintroduced back into the wild on protected grounds further up in the village past the sanctuary. 

Elephant Nature Park has been a highlight of our Thai adventure so far, it was hard to leave behind these beautiful old girls who have been through to much turmoil and suffering. Thanks to Elephant Nature Park they've now found a beautiful home and well-deserved freedom.