Saturday, July 17, 2010

Island Hopping

Kathryn and I have been travelling for about one week now, and we are having a great time!  We flew from Taipei to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last Sunday.  Our flight wasn't bad, and I didnt run into any problems leaving Taiwan, although I did have to pay a fine for overstaying my 30 day visa.  We decided that we were tired of the big cities and so we didn't stay in KL.  Instead we took the train to Butterworth (in Malaysia) were we continued onto the island of Pinang by ferry.  It was a long journey, we were travelling for about 24 hours (Taipei-Pinang) but it was definitely worth it!

Waiting for the ferry in Malaysia

The island was beautiful, and there were not many tourists there.  We stayed in a nice little hotel that cost about $3.50 a night each. :)  We also had a somewhat scary encounter with the monkeys in the national park.  It was our last day and we decided it would be fun to do some hiking in the jungle there.  We had a great day until we got to the last trail of the day heading towards monkey beach.  I've had a lot of experience with monkeys in South America and up until this point considered them pretty harmless although they can be quite mischievous.  Kathryn didn't get a chance to hike monkey mountain while she was visiting us in Kaohsiung so she was anxious to see some wildlife as well.

We were walking down the trail when we heard the tell tale sound of monkeys in the trees and saw one right above us.  Before we could even think of getting out our cameras it came right down to the ground (very unusual for wild monkeys) and sat on a rock about 2 feet away starting at us.  I was a little confused (and concerned) by it's behavior but was completely shocked when it jumped onto my backpack and literally started hissing at me and showing it's teeth!  We both pretty much freaked out at this point and I started screaming at the money (in an attempt to scare it) while Kathryn looked around (unsuccessfully) for a stick or some other object to scare it away.  I dropped my backpack (camera, money, and everything else inside) while the monkey actually tried to drag it away into the jungle!  Luckily my bag was too heavy for the monkey to run off with it but anytime I approached the either the monkey or the bag it hissed at me like it was going to attack us.

Kathryn managed to find a granola bar in her bag and hoping to distract the monkey I took it, which didnt really work because it practically grabbed the bar out of my hand before I got a chance to throw it far enough away.  Even with the food in hand it continued to defend its place in between me and the backpack.  Finally it retreated into a tree above my bag to eat the bar and I managed to grab my backpack and we literally ran as fast as we could all the way back down the trail to the entrance of the park.  To say the least, we are avoiding all trails or attractions involving monkeys for the rest of our trip.

Our trip has been pleasantly uneventful since then, and we crossed the border to Thailand on Wednesday.  We made our way to the coast where we took a ferry from Trang to Ko Lanta where we are currently staying.  Right now we are on the Andaman Coast, which is the western coast of Thailand.  Ko Lanta has a more relaxed reputation compared to some of the more developed islands.  It is one of the largest islands and we practically have the whole place to ourselves because it is low season here and many tourists avoid the islands because of the occasional rain.  The weather hasnt been bad, except for the occasional shower and we are enjoying the discounted prices due to the lack of tourists.  Our beachfront bungalow is costing us $4 per night each (and we are staying at one of the more expensive resorts on the island).

The boats between islands aren't running regularly, but we ran into a couple on their honeymoon at the dock who is heading to Ko Phi Phi tomorrow so we are going to try to negotiate with one of the longboat drivers to take the four of us there.  If there aren't any boats we will have to go to Krabi (on the mainland) and then take a ferry from there to Ko Phi Phi.  The beaches on Ko Phi Phi are often referred to as the most beautiful beaches in the world so we are really excited! We have a Thai cooking class at our hotel in a little bit, and I cant wait to learn how to make Thai food at home :)

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