Sunday 7 October 2012
Highlights: Elephant ride, Patting a tiger, Ferry crossing to Koh Samui.
Today we headed to the island of Koh Samui located on the East Coast in the Gulf of Thailand. A roughly 3 hour van transfer saw us arrive at Don Sak Pier for our ferry trip. Incredible scenery with mountains, the coast and a giant Buddha in the background. After we eventually found the right ferry to catch we were off to Koh Samui which is one of over 80 islands in an archipelago.
The ferry ride took about 2 hours and was very relaxing. Sophie found a good ‘backpackers’ viewing spot on the top deck floor facing out into the gulf. It wasn’t long until a few of us agreed that this was the way to enjoy this trip.
A short van trip and we arrived at the FX a resort style hotel. No included wifi and I decided not to pay this time but to let life outside the trip move on without me. I decided on the Elephant riding activity for today deciding against the cooking class (it’s probably too late for me to learn now).
On the elephant tour we had Laurence, Kirsty, Sue, Ray, Sarah, Catherine, Sophie and Yasmin. We all opted for the one hour ride. We had been assured these was a good park and the animals were well looked after, which appeared to be the case. We had rain just before our 2 pm pickup so my rain jacket got only its second appearance due to being a cold climate jacket.
Before we started we had the chance to get our photos taken with tigers. I choose one of the bigger tigers, after watching Ray survive mind you. This was the only one they left on a chain, maybe that should have been a sign to go with one of the others. In the end I got to pat the tiger and we took a few photos. This are enormous creatures and you could see them killing someone very easily.
The elephant ride was amazing. You get on from a platform and sit in a chair on the back. Being nine people with two to an elephant I ended up by myself on the only chair without a seatbelt! The elephant slowly walked around the park guided by our ‘driver’ on it’s head. I witnessed our elephant easily break and eat coconuts, barely stopping.
In the distance I saw Kirsty take over driving duties moving to the elephants head. More impressive as her and Laurence’s elephant was still going down a hill. At the time I didn’t expect that I would be driving my own elephant in 10 minutes, I was just in awe of Kirsty’s courage at the time.
About half way in my guide jumped off taking my camera and asking me to move down to the elephant’s head. In doing this tricky adjustment I started wondering if my insurance policy covered this activity. My guide kept wanting me to move further down, I thought at one point I’d be like Fred Flintstone and sail down the trunk! I settled with me legs just behind the elephants ears.
And from this points I realised you can’t control elephants and I had nothing really to hang on to air above the ground. Concern was raised when a pack of dogs decided to run down to bark and play with the elephants. Luckily elephants don’t really care about smaller creatures, myself included. It was a awesome, occasionally nail biting experience. Most of the group got to drive their elephant but most impressive was Sophie who seemed in her element. Luckily the entire event went off without raining.
After returning I walked down to the beach, passing a MacDonald’s (I didn’t go in) I got to see a beautiful beach. You can get a Thai massage on the beach which I declined for now but it is a goal before the end of the trip. Probably get the massage in Bangkok, talking to those who have had one they are very rough and intense.
The group was doing lots of different activities in the late afternoon and our planned get together at 7 pm didn’t work. I found out later a few people met up in the Reggae Bar but for me it was an easy night.