Clean fun… mucky fun

 My time in Phuket draws to a close, and it’s a shame as I’ve had a great time. Today I went on an “adventure” excursion. This included white water rafting, 4×4 ATV driving, swimming by a waterfall, ox-cart riding (which I did this time) and elephant riding. I ended up spending the day tagging along with Juanita from New York, who’d separated from her tour group to do a bit more of “her own thing” for a few days. She was wonderful company and another person who helps restore my faith in a nation I can’t help but have a bad opinion of due to their pathetic little president’s actions. But I’ll save the politics for another blog!

The rafting, by the staff’s own admission, is better during the wet season. To help, they have dams set up along the route and water is released every morning at 11. It was still great fun, but I’d guess the severity of the rapids would only rate as a 2 on the 5-point scale they use. I’m no expert, though. One to add to the list for New Zealand, methinks.

We were then driven to a waterfall deep in the jungle. The water was much cleaner than the one in Chiang Mai from the previous week as there has been less rainfall. It was only a short stop, but I did get a swim and a few pictures.

Lunch wasn’t as impressive as that on the Bond tour, but still very good and very filling. It seems to be standard practice to have a noisy begging cat at any outdoor Thai restaurant and this place was no different. Again, I may have accidentally dropped some food.

After we were all filled to the gills, we were driven to the same elephant park I’d visited on Friday. Juanita decided to buy her photo from the rapids ride, as did the fella from NZ who’d been on it with us. We then saw half an elephant show (the young female had run off and they couldn’t find her) and had an elephant ride. I actually enjoyed this one a little more then the one in Chiang Mai. The elephant didn’t bestow a gift of snotty legs on me, and the scenery was a lot nicer.

As mentioned above, I actually did the ox-cart ride this time. It was literally two minutes round a hand-made track, though somehow rather enjoyable. I think it was the effort that had gone into making it which impressed me.

Finally, ATV riding. Ozzy Osbourne and Rik Mayall have both come croppers on these in the fairly recent history, so I took it easy.

Not.

 I only got four laps, but I hared round. I think I lapped everyone else who was there at the same time as me and I definitely got muddier. One lad on the tour gave up after three laps (he crashed twice) so I got his last lap. Thanks to Juanita for taking a pic of me flying past on the last corner. It’s my fault it came out blurry as I was so darn fast!

On the way back, we stopped at a gem showroom (not on the schedule). Inevitably, all the woman headed for the sparklies while their partners stuffed all their cash into their shoes. Personally, I was fascinated by the hugely impressive fishtanks. One contained six small sharks (the largest maybe a foot long), while another had some amazing creatures including the most unusual eel I’ve ever seen. If it stayed still it looked like white porcelain with black spots on it.

I didn’t get a chance to find out Juanita’s email or anything as we were separated into different buses for our trips back to our various hotels. A shame, as she apparently has a nice large apartment and I’ve not visited New York yet 😉 Just in case she finds this blog, “thank you” for the conversation and the company. Cherry on the top of a very enjoyable day!

By now you’ll be expecting me to tell you how much I enjoyed my last trip to Swensons in Phuket. Hold still your beating hearts… but I didn’t go. Siobhan was late getting back from diving, and by 7:30 I was ravenous so wandered off by myself and wolfed down a McD’s. Going to Swenson’s alone would negate the guilt-sharing formula so I skipped it.

Unfortunately, all good things etc. Just over an hour later, I was on the back of a moped (with 15.6kg of rucksack attached to me) being zoomed through the streets of Phuket by a madman. Fortunately, this was only for five or ten minutes until we reached his house and all my luggage was transferred to his car.

I felt safer on the bike.

Now I’ve driven some clunkers in my time, but this took the oil-soaked biscuit. Anything less then third gear and something clanked near the front right wheel. Actually, it felt like the wheel itself doing the clunking which was really worrying.

Somehow we made it to the airport in good time for me to check in. Between this fare and the one at Bangkok, it cost me 49Baht less in taxi fares than I’d spent on the air fare (not including taxes).

I had a spare hour or so until my flight boarded, so I switched this little beast on and started tapping… and was pleasantly surprised to find not one but four unsecure wireless connections in the area. One didn’t work, two led to pages telling me I needed to buy airtime and one got me right online with no fuss. I managed to get a few emails off before someone noticed the little green light flickering on the box in the corner of their office and pulled the plug. Spoilsports.

About this time, I glanced up and noticed the FA Cup semi between Boro and West Ham was on the tellies in the departure lounge. I can’t remember the last time I hoped for a 75-minute delay for a flight. This wasn’t to be and we actually took off promptly and landed in Bangkok twenty minutes early. Still, I saw the first half hour.

I’m now sat in Big John’s, my laundry’s been handed in and I’m sleeping in the 12-bed dorm for the first time. I wish I’d booked it before as it’s 60Baht cheaper than the 6-bed. However, there aren’t any decent lockers so I might still try and pinch one in the other room for my laptop when I’m out tomorrow. I’m going to upload this lot and crash out – after the replay of the Liverpool match from yesterday has finished! Posted by Picasa

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