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Guest: An American Student in Thailand Part 2
An American Student in Thailand
I Followed My Heart to the Land of Smiles
Part 2

By Lindsey Koro

the writer and friends, Krabi, Thailand

limestone karst formations, Krabi with boats in the foreground

efore coming to Thailand, I was feeling guilty about my amazing life (hehe). I thought that coming here would be my chance to be challenged and work hard to give back to the world without having everything handed to me. Working as an English teacher has certainly been a challenge, but this past weekend had me wondering yet again what I've done to be such an incredibly lucky person.

On Saturday we went kayaking in the Andaman Sea. Just about fifteen minutes from where I am staying. Guess we're not really inland after all.... It was incredible, relaxing, beautiful in every way. We went into 3 caves, one of which we had to lye down in our kayaks in order to fit through under a tree. We walked into one cave with 3,000 year old cave paintings...


boats cruising inside limestone cave, Krabi
A group of us visited "Wat Tham Seua" (Tiger Cave Temple) 5 km from Krabi Town, a small temple built inside a long shallow limestone cave, surrounded by natural forest. The temple, one of the south's most famous meditation centres, takes its name from a stone formation nearby which resembles a tiger's claw. Today, about 250 monks and nuns live in the temple compound."

part of the 1,237 steps leading to the limestone mountain
We climbed the infamous 1,237 steps to get to the top of the limestone mountain...each step being the size of my calves and the width of my foot. It was quite the experience holding onto the railing to pull myself up each "step". Luckily there are landings at each flight of about 50 stairs to take a quick breather every so often.

Once at the top, dripping in sweat and nearly out of breathe, I remember thinking that I had never felt so genuinely rewarded. A massive golden Buddha sits in the middle of a huge platform, along with a pagoda and several other beautiful Buddha statues. We had intentionally arrived at the temple extra early to avoid the intense heat and hundreds of tourists, so we were the only ones at the top. I stood there in amazement circling around the big Buddha and taking in the 360 view of Krabi, the surrounding areas, and the sea. It was the most perfect combination of spirituality and nature, and I loved that we had to work hard to have the chance to see it.

one of the monkeys at the Tiger Temple

After making our way down (which was much harder than you'd think), we sat amongst all the scary looking monkies that live around the temple area. I had been anticipating my first encounter with wild monkies for months...maybe even years. My vision of cuddling with a cute little monkey did not quite match my experience with the dozens and dozens of crazy monkies jumping around at the Tiger Temple. They were everywhere, and they were vicious! They jump and swing around grabbing anything in sight...which unfortunately included my reusable water bottle! I stood up for a second to take a picture when this sneaky monkey jumps along and snatches it away from me. He was very infatuated with it, cuddling it, tossing it around, and eventually untwisting the cap, so I decided to let him keep it (ha ha). Thank god he didn't decide to go for my camera!

My legs are still pulsing from Saturday and I am more sunburnt than I have ever been (not an exaggeration), but it's just my body's way of constantly reminding me of my incredible weekend.

Thai woman with watermelon on boat; Thai boy at pier

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FEEDBACK FOR PATTI

I enjoy your newsletters -and particularly Patti Nickell's article about the 'Pudding Club' in the Cotswold's. An old friend of mine is taking a holiday there this year and plans to try their Jam Roly Poly and Spotted Dick - amongst many!

--- John & Maggie - UK

FEEDBACK FOR JULIO

The way I read this article, you stayed at the "Breeze and Waves". Do you have any pictures of the cottages, and would you recommend to some first time visitors to Caramoan?

--- Richard Simons, Stockton, CA

Hi Richard,

Breeze and Waves was still under construction when I stayed there in Feb. 2010. It should be finished by now. You can see pictures of the resort on this page. We got to stay in one of the small cottages in the picture. I'll recommend it to budget travelers but you might want to look at other options. We chose it because of its location right by the beach. You can try other resorts in the Caramoan town proper (you have to get a ride to get to the beach and the jump-off point to go island-hopping but it's a relatively short distance). There are also two higher end resorts located on a cove and very near the islands: Gota Village Resort (unfortunately there is something wrong with their website right now) and its twin resort Hunongan Cove. Caramoan is a relatively new tourism development so resorts are just now being built.

You can go to this site for a good list of choices for accommodations in Caramoan.

I should add that it might be good to go to Caramoan (and almost anywhere in the Philippines) during the dry season from December to May. June to November are the typhoon months and sometimes typhoons will still come during early December.

Julio

* * * * *

Hi, I'm planning to go to Caramoan this coming May. Would you know the number of Breeze and Waves Cottages? Thanks!

--- Ann, Manila, Philippines

Hi Ann,

Breeze and Waves' phone number is 0908-2911072. Look for Freddie. Hope you have a grand time at Caramoan!

Julio

FEEDBACK FOR WENDY

For Nature's Playground: The South Island of New Zealand

Hi Wendy,

In winter, Heritage Heights Apts. now offers free shuttle service to and from Queenstown 24/7 to guests without cars. We own a 7-passenger 4-wd Toyota Highlander used specifically to taxi guests up and down the hill during winter months. We also run advance purchase winter promotions which include a 4-wd rental.

If any of your readers head over this direction, I will enjoy extending Heritage Heights hospitality!!

Cheers

--- Ailey, Owner, Queenstown, NZ

* * * * *

New Zealand text and pix top drawer! Almost as good as making the trip. ( but one still wants to. . . ) Full of useful detail. Only trouble with the website: It's tough figuring out which feedback goes with which article, and the more there are, the tougher it gets!

--- Ken W., Camarillo CA

Thanks Ken..."álmost" is right, you really have to experience the South Island firsthand. Granted this piece is long, but still all I can think about is how much I left out! I agree abut the relevancy factor re the feedback--it can be confusing...sometimes I have a "Wait a minute...what?" moment myself.

Thanks for writing,

Wendy

* * * * *

Okay Wendy, from now on whenever you book your travel, please reserve space for me. I will carry your luggage, bring you cold drinks, massage your shoulders, and change the film in your camera (oops, I guess you don't have to do that anymore). Wonderful ideas and recommendations. Can you get to New Zealand from Boston in less than a week?

--- Carl A., South Easton, MA

Ha ha ha Carl, you're quite the comedian! But you'd be surprised how short that flight feels. I suspect Qantas isn't the only airline who's figured out that 3 movies, 2 full meals, lots of snacks and a complimentary travel pack (eye mask, warm socks and neck pillow) equals a quiet, well-behaved cabin. It really isn't bad. Just fly direct--pick the shortest flight w/ no lengthy layovers and you'll be fine. Re: signing on as my Super Sherpa...why not? I think you know I seldom travel in anything less than Party mode. There's just that pesky background check...

Thanks for writing,

Wendy

For Excellence Riviera Cancun:

Wendy, I truly enjoyed your info especially since we leave in a week to celebrate my 50th Birthday. Was it necessary to make reservations at the restaurants? Was there a dress code for the restaurants? What would you recommend not missing while there? Was the spa experience worth it? Did you travel away from the resort while there? Thanks,

--- Kim P. Fuquay, Varina, NC

Hi Kim.

Sorry for the delay in responding...you had heavy competition with the holidays. Reservations at Excellence restaurants are not necessary and you will not find a wait. The dress code is basically no bathing suits and flip-flops...with a decided a mix of atmospheres. Mostly the open-air beachside spots are super casual, the rest slightly more formal. Truly, as long as you are clothed, I don't think you'd be turned away anywhere, though most people seemed to enjoy dressing up at night...I suspect more for their own pleasure than any sense of decorum.

The spa experience was worth it, though my favorite part wasn't the actual massage. The precursor was a 45 min. or so rotation from sauna to a series of (kind of wild) water jets which was very different and very cool, not just for women. In its' entirety, and with the serenity of the beach/champagne/strawberries, it was memorable.

We did not travel away from the hotel this trip, but the hotel is very helpful in arranging day excursions to fit your desires and you do not have to book these until you arrive.

Have a great time!

--- Wendy

FEEDBACK FOR NINO

I enjoyed Nino's contribution, since we all read about the frightening terrorist attack. Having travelled somewhat through India years ago, I am continually impressed with this country and the gentle spiritual aspects of this nation. Some day I look forward to going back. Nino has encouraged me. Thank you!

--- Yoka Y., Westlake Village, CA

FEEDBACK FOR RUSH & CHUCK

Dear Mr.s/counselors Brown and Koro,

Thank you for a very informed and succinct article on motorcycle accidents and the law. It inspired me to think about getting a motorcycle, but not have an accident. But, if I do I am now well informed with the basics of what to do providing I do not perish in the accident. Any tips about that too?

--- Unnamed

Dear Rush and Chuck,

I wish I had read your article before our camping trip the Friday prior to President's Day.

My wife and I were in a car accident on our way to a camp ground. We were "rear-ended" and the impact caused our car to crash into the car in front of us. The contents of the truck that we were riding scattered onto several lanes. It's a miracle our two dogs decided to stay inside the car. My wife and I were shaken up badly but despite the mess, I was still able to walk out of the car. I got the license plate of the driver in front of me but, to my surprise, after reviewing the little damage on his car, he then sped off. I didn't know you could do that! The driver who hit me from behind gave me his information and then he too left the scene without saying good 'bye. When the police arrived all I had to go by was the little information I had jotted down which I hope was truthful. What if it was bogus? What if I had written the plate number incorrectly? How would that affect my insurance? What if we were unconscious, who would have written down all that information?

I do have one suggestion if you are injured in an accident. The police asked if my wife wanted an ambulance to bring her to the hospital but we declined the offer. I remembered when I rode an ambulance years ago that it was not a comfortable ride. I was strapped to the stretcher and there were all sorts of medical equipment dangling noisily above me. As long as you are able, it is a more relaxful ride inside a car. Besides, isn't there a fee for ambulance service?

--- Dave S. of Pasadena, CA



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