Reading Week: Thailand II

To continue the rest of my shenanigans in Thailand, my friends and I opted for a day long guided tour in a cramped van with an A/C unit as strong as a mouse's cough.

Wat Chalong

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About 95% of the Thai population is Buddhist - not a surprising statistic when you notice the number of beautifully constructed temples.
 

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Within the temple I tried to remain quiet and discreet as possible. In times like this, I wish I still had my X100 and quietly document these kind of environments.
 

 

 

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When I arrived, I was immediately intrigued but this interesting structure and the strange smoke emerging from the top. I quickly realized that it was to house firecrackers - of the ear-piercingly loud kind. Needless to say, I might have been caught off guard by these explosions. 

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A passing-by couple demonstrating just how loud they were. It was kind of odd to encourage this kind of racket in such a quiet and peaceful place.

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Nearby, a couple of gentlemen were playing sepaktakra, a popular sport in Southeast Asia, similar to volleyball, except for the fact that you can use every part of your body except for your hands and arms (kind of opposite of volleyball). It was incredible just watching these guys go at this game, seeing them jump incredible heights and accurately land trick shots after trick shots. Almost like Thai hacky sack, if you will.
 

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A couple of food carts were also parked to attract the growing hunger and thirst of us tourists. Here, a local cracks open a fresh, ice cold coconut for some refreshing coconut water. Though I'm not a fan of coconut, I became a coconut water addict during my time in Thailand.
 

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We became the attraction for some local strays. 
 

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Next to the cleaver-wielding man was a stall selling grilled meats on a stick. What kind of meats you ask? I'm not too sure myself.
 

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I bought some sort of chicken. I have a sneaking suspicious that this was chicken heart. 
 

Phuket Big Buddha

We began ascending up a mountain, with a promised big Buddha at the top, racing against time to capture the sunset. Unfortunately, by the time our van arrived, the sun was already quickly sinking down into the horizon.
 

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A full sunset or not, it still gave rise to a beautiful sky across Phuket.

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Atop this mountain, you could see all around the region and its beautiful rolling mountains surrounding the Phuket area.

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Unfortunately, the Big Buddha perched on top of this mountain was not fully constructed yet. Scaffolding surrounds majority of this structure, so I didn't think it was at its most photogenic state to be photographed. Maybe next time I'm here.
 

Island Hopping

Our guided tour also involved travelling to various neighbouring islands in the Pacific, with small tours of local caves and natural formations on quaint little rowboats.

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The guide on our boat was describing the schedule of our day, but I wasn't paying the most attention. I was too easily distracted by the beautiful views that past us as we skittered slowly across the ocean.
 

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I absolutely love how these islands fade off into the horizon.
 

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Hopping into our boats to explore some caves.
 

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Traversing through these pitch black caves was quite an experience.
 

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In and around these natural formations were some incredible sights.

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Later on, we arrived at Khao Phing Kan Island. Again, a small quaint little island home to some of nature's most beautiful creations.

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I always find it fascinating how certain things turn out after millions and millions of years of nature doing its thing.
 

Tucked away from the blistering heat was a small little drinks stand, appropriately named 'Jamesbond Coffee'. I tried Thai iced milk tea for the first time in a Thai takeaway bag. It was novel for a couple minutes but it isn't exactly the most convenient form of consuming beverages... I'll stick with my cup.

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After a long day's worth of sunburn and sailing around the ocean, we headed back to Phuket just in time to catch the sun setting at Patong Beach.

Koh Phi Phi Don

Asides from Phuket, we also stayed a night in at a resort on Koh Phi Phi Don, an island whose economy mainly revolves around drunk tourists. 

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We disembarked at Ton Sai Bay, home to countless resorts, bars, and restaurants. It also acted as the main port for people to get to their own hotels around the island. 
 

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Atop the eastern lookout point, overlooking Koh Phi Phi Don as the sun began to set.

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We stayed at a beautiful resort off the coast of Rantee Bay - an endless serene blue.
 

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The resort also had a (sometimes) friendly monkey that hung around eating snacks and hissing at the occasional passer-by.

And that wraps up my time in Thailand. A quick post outlining my exploits in Malaysia will come shortly!