THAILAND – Arriving in Ranong

Nibble it, just a little bit, I wanna see you nibble it…

(Written by Steph, photos by Nick)

Welcome to Thailand, where everything is SPICIER!

We jumped off the boat in Kawthong, Myanmar, and half an hour later, we were on a tiny boat headed for Thailand. Fifteen minutes later we had arrived. It was a bizarre way to cross the border, and it was a bizzare feeling to be leaving Myanmar, only softened by the beers our German friend, Tamino, had fetched us to mark the occasion.

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Arriving at thai immigration

We passed the journey sipping on Myanmar beer, aptly named, “Myanmar,” and discussing how much we were looking forward to Thai curry. Nick and I had sampled the taste explosions in Bangkok on our transit stop between Nepal and Myanmar, and Tamino and Lisa had both been to Thailand before.

The four of us got off the boat, feet on Thai soil, and the bartering began. I had told an English girl we had met travelling in Myanmar about me trying to buy a top in Bangkok. When I decided I didn’t want to pay more than I would in England and walked off, the market holder practically screamed at me. This was the point at which I ran for my life…and my ears. Those Thai women have REALLY high-pitched voices. The English girl, who had been to Thailand many times, told me in no uncertain terms that I had upset the girl because I hadn’t bartered!

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Thou shalt not worship false idols

In Myanmar, bartering is received quizzically for the most part. In places for tourists, there were some people overcharging, and there, you could barter them down, but in general the price was the price. Here, not so. As several taxi drivers decended upon us, we practised the advice given to us. Without blinking or protesting, the price went from sky high to pretty good. This was obviously just part of the routine. We would have to remember that.

We all checked into an amazing hotel – pristine, modern and oh so comfortable – and only £12 for a room with aircon and balcony. Heaven. Showered and refreshed we headed out for that all important curry.

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Hanging out in our hotel lobby (with a 7Eleven banana muffin - mmm)

 “Don’t order spicy,” came the advice from Lisa…

We had heard this before. You think you know spicy? You think you can handle spicy? Pah. Those Thais laugh in the sweaty face of your chili intolerant ignorance. Spicy here is a whole ‘nother level. We did what most people that can handle their spice back home do – ordered “medium” and still perspired a whole ocean whilst trying to disguise our hiccups and tissue away our obvious inadequacy.

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Panang curry - the best curry ever..?

The next day it did just what you want in Thailand – it weed for England. It wasn’t exactly what we had hoped for, but we eventually found solice in our new hangout – Pornrang hot springs. After all, if you’re going to get wet, you might as well embrace it. 

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The hot springs were off a big road. Like a dual carriage way, if you went past your destination, you had to keep going until you could find a place to turn around, and then repeat on the other side of the road. We did this so many times in our search for the place, I find it tedious even writing about it. Once we found the right road, though, we were pleased to discover the springs set within the forest, where they also had a few bungalows, complete with stream running past. It was the perfect place to stay for the night.

The pools ranged from “freeze your nuts off” to “Delia could boil an egg in there,” and we were astonished to see some Thai people actually submerge their bodies in the latter of those choices! Nick and I managed a limb or two, before having to admit defeat and opt for luke warm. Nick had been talking about baths for pretty much the last 2 months, so here he finally got to live that fantasy.

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The best place to be when it's raining

The next day we awoke to heavy rain again. To mix it up a bit, we had a quick dip in the warm bath before deciding to check out the fresh water river running through the place. It looked decidedly refreshing…

Tentatively we dipped a toe in the water. After the lush of the soft warm water, we would have to ease ourselves in. Waist high, we were beginning to get comfortable.

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Swimming with the fishes

“Ow!…What was that?!

We stood still, surveying the water.

“Ow, ow, ow!”

We waded out of the water and stared back in.

You’ve heard of those fish tanks they use in beauty salons, right? The ones where you submerge your feet, hundreds of tiny fish feast on your dead skin, and you leave red raw and several pounds lighter? Makes sense they are known as piranas’ little brothers. Well, this was their place of residence.

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A strange variation of thai massage

We debated getting the hell outta there, but curiosity got the better of us.  Following Nick’s lead, we sat on the bank and gingerly submerged a foot. Suddenly they were swarming around, darting in for a nibble. It was much easier to let them when you could keep an eye on exactly how much flesh they were hacking off. None the less, some of them were really aggressive, literally headbutting me in the ankle, where there was definitely no dead skin. Little buggers. Despite this, we stayed sat there for a long time, in the end competing to see who could get the most fish.

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