A Year in Bangkok – Road Trip to Krabi – Part 2.

13 11 2010

Our first waterfall of this part of the drive.

Well, sorry for the long break in my blogging. Knowing I would be manically busy on our return to Bangkok, I took the laptop on holiday to try and keep up to date. In our Best Western hotel in Krabi, I plugged in and turned on, all the while waiting for the creative juices to start flowing. Suddenly, the air conditioner burped and the laptop made a kind of gentle popping noise. It was a power surge. The air con came back no problem but the laptop had just blown up, albeit rather quietly. I suspect that is because it is rather old and therefore didn’t want to make too much fuss about exploding. The hotel’s IT person had a look at it and declared it to be repairable but we had to wait until we got back to Bangkok to have that done – hence the long gap as I have indeed been busy.

...and a close-up of that waterfall.

We left Ranong quite late in the morning but that didn’t seem to be much of an issue as I thought we only had about three hundred kilometers to drive. We headed south on route 4 which was busy at first but we soon left the traffic behind as almost all of it headed across the country to pick up one of the main roads on the gulf coast side. We saw waterfalls, waterfalls and more waterfalls. Then we saw some waterfalls. Because of the massive amount of rain, we also saw run-offs which looked like waterfalls.

A distant buffalo herd.

We saw herds of buffalo, an increasingly rare sight here. And, as we got further south, we saw more and more participants in the week long vegetarian festival which is celebrated throughout Thailand but is celebrated spectacularly in the deep south. Actually, it’s nine days rather than a week and, for a vegetarian festival, you can see an awful lot of blood. I first witnessed this event in Phuket six years ago – just before the tsunami and it is truly mind boggling.

I'm about to be blessed by the spirit of a Taoist emperor god!

This takes place during the first nine days of the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar – in my limited experience that means October. It is the beginning of Taoist Lent and the nine Taoist emperor gods are brought to earth by mediums who act as hosts, entering into a trance state and making animal-like whimpering noises while they are posessed. I’m not sure what the whimpering noises represent but they seem to be an integral part of all this. They also move their heads slowly from side to side. While in this trance state, some pierce their cheeks with all manner of sharp pointy things like knives, spears and sharpened tree branches. Others beat their foreheads with axes producing torrents of blood which flow down their chests. And they abstain from eating meat – hence the name. The participants seem to be exclusively of Chinese origin.

...and now its the car's turn.

In one village, I stopped to photograph a group of them including three women who were possessed by the spirits of the emperor gods and received some sort of blessing. They then went on to bless the car. It worked too.

View from the roadside restaurant where we had lunch.

We had been driving along between the mountains and the coast and the road now took us back into the mountains. These mountains are called the Tenasserim and are basically a long granite ridge which is older than the Himalayas.

Optimistic sign at our lunch stop.

So far, we’d had rain showers and sunny periods but up in the mountains it rained. And it rained. The scenery was beautiful and moody but impossible to portray in a photograph. People had cut terraces into the mountains to use the land for agriculture and the road kept disappearing. Literally disappearing. The heavy rains this year have caused landslips in several parts of Thailand. I hadn’t thought of that when setting out on this trip but I was starting to think about it now.

It rained and it rained!

The first landslip we saw had taken away the crash barrier on the inside of a hairpin bend. Scary stuff. Then we came to another hairpin where the inside half of the road had gone. I didn’t look too hard at the massive drop as I was concentrating on staying on the bit of road which was left and also being immensely grateful to the spirit of the Taoist emperor god who had blessed the car a little earlier.Thankfully, it wasn’t long before we got back to a complete road. We found a lovely little roadside restaurant where we had a not so lovely lunch but, hey, the views were great!

We saw our first karst in the distance as we started to come down from the mountains.

Then, in the rain of course, we dropped down to Phangnga for our first view of the limestone karsts this area is famous for. What a pity I couldn’t take a photograph. Phangnga is ringed by karsts and is a beautiful sight. From there it was a straight forward drive to Ao Nang Bay just north of Krabi where we were booked in to a hotel for four nights. It had taken us about six hours to get here but we had made several stops so the actual driving wasn’t too long at all.

Home for the next four nights.

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7 responses

13 11 2010
adrian spendlow

You should have got them to bless the laptop

14 11 2010
Ben Salmons

I should I should!

14 11 2010
Alan

Thank you so much for your stories, for bringing me the gift of laughter. Please tell me when it becomes a book, it’ll be my Christmas presents for everybody!

14 11 2010
Ben Salmons

And thank you for your kind comment. Yes, I will!

17 11 2010
Nicky Allen

Nice one Ben. You gonna write about being in Krabi?

17 11 2010
Ben Salmons

Just as soon as I have time Nicky.

17 11 2010
kaitlin

sweet

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