A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: AnnaL

The final chapter...

Forest fun with rehabilitating Gibbons, Dune bashing madness and home sweet home...

sunny 40 °C

dubai.jpgFrom Khao Lak we headed South in a monsoon to a small Muslim village on the island of Phuket, right by the entrance to the National Park and the forest. We settled into very basic accomodation with lots of animals everywhere and met our fellow volunteers. The Gibbon Rehab Project takes gibbons who have been taken from their mothers shot out of the upper canopy as babies, and sold as pets or tourist attractions, though it usually takes 4 or 5 dead mothers and babies to get an alive one. Some of the gibbons at the project have been abused, and one sweeet one was abused so badly she had 2 limbs amputated. The project aims to rehabiliate the gibbons, and they go through a spell in quarantine checking for diseased, and then into the rehab site where they are cared for but dont interact with humans, and they learn to swing, drink with their hands, and sing with other gibbons. If they can sing they can hopefully 'bond' with a mate, and eventually have a baby, and be released into the rainforest as a family. Its a long but very rewarding process. On our first day we woke up at dawn and trekked 2 hours uphill into the rainforest, getting very sweaty along the way, and it rained intermitttently. Eventually we came to the area where the most recently released family live, and we posted a kilo of fruit, which they continue to get one year after release, up into the canopy. After a while we felt a pattering of raindrops falling as the leaves moved high above and looking up we saw the male adult gibbon swinging from tree to tree and over to the food, followed by the 2 children and the MOther. It was amazing to see them in their natural environment again, havbing been made totally extinct in the rainforest by hunters. It gave us the motivation we needed for the next week, which involved early starts, feeding and cleaning, health checks and givving tourists information at the tour desk and shop. We went out with the Thai staff and fellow volunteers, and made curries and fried rice from ingredients from the local market, and visited Phuket town too. It was a wonderful experience and we were really sad to leave. I can recommend it to anyone wishing to do this type of volunteer work.

We headed back to Bangkok for a day before our flight, and had some more crazy tuk tuk driving, Wats, good food and the fun of staying on the Khao San road, replete with touts for Ping Pong shows, deep fried locusts and very cheap and strong cocktails! From there we flew to Dubai, where it was about 38 degrees and incredibly humid, basically impossible to be outside for more than 10 minutes. The building going on there, the 7 star hotel, the Palm Island (not yet finshied and 2 more AND the World being built) are just incredible feats. We did a wondeful trip into the desert one evening, went dune bashing which was exciting and pretty scary, the drivers were mentalists! They tehn took us to a wonderful camp in the desert dunes, with little lanterns, and 3 camels who we rode on! There we smoked some shisha, got Henna tattoos, and had a HUGE wonderful meal of BBQed meat, houmous and chapattis, rice, veggies, curried lentils, etc, and watched the stars come out, pure magic :)
Yesterday we flew home and now Paul is back in Herts and Anna in sunny Devon, and we cant wait to catch up with friends and family asap. Thanks for following this blog and our adventure! Love A&P XXX

Posted by AnnaL 05:16 Archived in United Arab Emirates

From hedonism to helpful....

We hit Khao Lak Tsunami Volunteer centre

sunny 32 °C

HI ALL and pinch and a punch first of the month! WOW September already, crazy. Anyways, after more fun on beautiful Koh Panang, including a day of tantric Yoga for Anna and a pirate party on the beach watching lightning storms on the horizon, sipping buckets of thai whisky and coke, and dancing on the white sands to some crazy trance music, we decided it was time to do something meaningful and give something back to this beautiful country and its warm welcoming people. We emailed both the Phuket Gibbon rehabiliation project and the Tsunami volunteer centre and the latter got back to us to we headed to Khao Lak, on the west coast, which was particularly badly hit by the Tsunami. Its been rebuilt well, and theres a lot of building still happening, but its still eerie looking out to sea and imagining the waves coming. Nearly 10,000 people were killed in this area, including 75% of the english speaking population of Thais, so there is a real lack of english speaking people in this area, which relies mainly on tourism. What the project does is offer free english lessons in schools, community centres and even a local bar.

OK continuing the blog on 4th september now! We have had 3 days teaching, in 2 different schools, a community centre (Paul taught a ladyboy who sat ever so close to him!) a local bar, and we have gone into shops and an optician teaching people too. The locals are very sweet and friendly, with brilliant senses of humour too. Today we had a very spicy lunch which the Thai teachers found hilarious watching me struggle and gulp water, and we witnessed a hilarious start to the day. Basically they all line up in the playground, the teachers pick 3 children to go up on the stage, then cheesy Thai pop music blares out and they all dance! We were enjoying watching this and giggling when we got called out to go up to the front and dance with them! Absolutely sweat-inducing, but very funny :) The children are great to teach, though very excitable and naughty. After a week here we'll be heading to Phuket 2 hours south to help out at the Gibbon Project, which is in desperate need of volunteers. We'll be living in the jungle and working a lot, as they help to gradually rehabiliate the gibbons into the wild, a process which can take years. Shooters and poachers want to get the baby gibbons for shows in bars to attract tourists, but it usually takes killing 4 mothers out of the trees before they get an alive baby. Then when they hit sexual maturity at 6 years old, they get aggressive, and are dumped somewhere, unable to look after themeselves :( Anyways, thats where were going next, should be very rewarding. The political situation in Thailand is causing problems too with flights and buses, as the Thais try to make the prime minister resign. But noone should worry we're safe and sound :)

Love to All,
A&P XXXpiccie.jpgtsunami2.jpgbatik2.jpg

Posted by AnnaL 21:58

Koh Phangan, island of dreams and effalumps

There is more to the island than the Full Moon...

semi-overcast 29 °C

Greetings ALL from Koh Phangan, or Panang, beautiful island south of Koh Tao, where we arrived a few days ago. Whts the day today? after a leisurely debate on the beach we decided it might be Thursday :) Most come to the iland for the legendary full moon parties where farang, foreigners come to drink copious amounts of whicky in buckets, do drugs and party all night. BUt nowadays its not just the Full moon, but Half moon, and the 30th is the black moon party! Anyways, were staying in the north of the island which is peaceful and stunningly beautiful. Our beach, Haad yao, jhas perfect white powder sand and clear blue waters. But very shallow in the morning, so were scooting to other beaches, and yesterday we went inland to the jungle where they have wild crocs, cobras, vipers, and other jungle animals, in search of elephants! We found them and went on an hrs ride on a HUGE female called Chao Po. At first we sat on a basket on her back bu8t then the man dismounted and let us take turns sitting on her head and nudging her ears and saying 'MA MA!" 'go, go!" and it was absolutely amazing :) g0t some gr8n photos wll post when home.
Hope everyones well and much love from us both

Posted by AnnaL 22:01 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking

Ko Tao - Turtle Island

Sun sea and sand in island paradise

sunny 30 °C

ChalokBaanKaobig.jpg800px-Am_S.._Ko_Tao.jpgSA WA DI KA everyone! Hello from Ko Tao, island near Panang off East coast of southern Thailand. Quite an everntful journey trying to find the bus in a real Monsoon and a long overnight journey where we were forced to watch 2 hoprrific films - The Kingdom and the Last King of Scotland, great films but not really appropriate late at night and on a coach full of children! We were dropped at a stop in the middle of nowhere at 3:30 am and then collected by a minubus and taken to the port, where we got a boat for a few hours and arrived on the Island in the morning - it was already very hot, but the views of the beahces were breathtaking, perfect turquoise and blue clear waters, as warm as a hot bath, and lots of coconut trees, rising green hills and little huts along the main beach. We are staying at a diving school, Paul is starting his PADI Openwater tonight and I may start in the day after, still enjoying relaxing a bit for the moment, and theres lots of cheap massage and yoga places tempting me! We went snorkelling yeserday and saw amazing beautiful different types of coral, brain coral, ones that looked like autumn leaves, schools of parrot fish, bigger red and black fish, all beautiful colours, lots of urchins and HUGE sea cucumbers! SO beautiful. There are also whale sharks and blacktipped reef shark you xcan see here apparently (NOT dangerous!) The food is cheap and delicious, green curries, pad thai, we have been eating from street vendors where we can see it cooked, very amusing when we have no idea whats been ordered! The fruit too is gorgeous, lots of fresh coconuts, mangoes, bananas, etc.
Oh I forgot Bangkok - we stayed there too days and managed to survive! Very busy, polluted, noisy, but wonderfully colourful, friendly people, gorgeous temples, etc. We stayed in a hostel a little out of the city and there was an amazing weekend market where you could literally have found anything in the world, and very easy to get lost! We visited the temples of Wat Arun and Wat Pho, and saw the largest reclining Buddha in the world, at 46 m long and 15m high. We also visisted a laesser known temple, and ended up in the prayer room for 'successful ' people as we were told so that bodes well :) Driving round Bangkok in a Tuk Tuk is quite an expoereince!
WELL we'll say ciao 4 now and update again soon, love to everyone and hope your Augusts are sweet and sunny :)
Anna & Paul XXX

Posted by AnnaL 20:16 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking


More South Island fun on the slopes and in the Sounds

snow -2 °C

Greetings ALL those still faithfully watching the blogathon! WE are in Hamilton, home of the newly arrived James Clarke who has already made his way into 'recommendations' in the Local city guide ;) Last few days spent sadly leaving the South Island and making our way up north ready to get the plane to Thailand on Thursday. Ferry crossing was very rough and I just kept control luckily, despite the sick bags that were placed ALL around the boat which didnt help! Anyways, we made our way from the Glaciers, Franz Josef and also Fox, to Lake Matheson, known for its gorgeous reflections, and from there down South to Queenstown. The first day we went skiing at Treble Cone, where the snow was great, though the slopes challenging, many sneakily becoming black halfway down and not pisted in the main. A great day, with some lovely sunshine, and stunning views over the Southern Lakes. The weather got colder and icier as the day went on and we eventually stopped and hit the town for some 'apres-ski'. The next day was cloudy, so we headed south to the 'Milford Sound', inappropriately named as it is actually a Fjord, being carved from a glacier and incredibly deep. It was a long round trip, despite the short distance, as the mountains make the shortest route impassable except on foot as a 5 day walk, open in Summer. The drive was windy, icy, cloudy, but our Campervan did well and we made it by dusk. The Sound is beautiful, really still and silent, mist lurking up in the mountians, and the odd bird diving into its dark depths. We took a nature boat trip and within minutes spotted New zealand fur seals, a penguin, and many birds. The highlight was on the return when a pod of bottlenose dolphins joined us and swam alongside us, pulled along with the boat, and jumped up and around, clearly watching us and showing off, a truly magical moment :)
From there it was back to Queenstown, and another day skiing at Cardrona, where, depsite being sunny in the valley, it was snowing, and we had the fun expereince of putting snow chains on the Van to get up the hill! Great snow and good slopes, but bitterly cold esp. as we hadnt got the full gear (Paul in jeans and a hoodie as usual! njo gloves!) and on the lifts we literally froze. My hair iced over at the ends , and in the end mid afternoon the snostorm set in, visibility reduced severely, and we headed back for a Gluhwein, mmm :) Drove to a town called Omarama where we had the luxury of a holiday park and elecreticity and a shower (5 days with no shower at this point,ewww...) as normally we just pull the van up in some beauty spot. Its pretty freezing at night, minus 3 in the van the other night, I am SO ready for Thailand!
OK folks thats it for now hope everyone is great and enjoying August and We'll write from Thailandia!
Baci, A&P XXXtb_milford_sound.jpgmatheson.jpg

Posted by AnnaL 23:23 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

South Island fun in the sun (some!)

Picton, Nelson & Glacier-ville


A_P_149.jpgHey ALL! Anna and Paul writing from the Fox glacier village, in a national park forgotten name of. WE arrived in the stunning South Island at Picton, a pretty little port town. Had an early start and were lucky to get the ferry as not many were running and they werent taking bookings until last minute. Journey was pretty rolley due to the storms and wind (which have cost NZ an estimated 50 m dollars....) but great to arrive and head off. Oh dear time running out! Will try to cpntinue soon, today climbed Franz Josef huge glacier in sun then freezing conditions, very satisfying, amazing seeing ice caverns and how it is advancing and retreating over the ages.

Posted by AnnaL 23:49 Archived in New Zealand

North Island fun!

Wild n windy northland!

rain 8 °C

Greeetings all, HAERE MAI to the Northisland update! (Maori for welcome :) We'rein very rainy Wellington before corssing to the Sourth Island. Since last update we discovered the sulphur bath whilst fun at the time is impossible to wash off! Still smell like farts for 4 days now, especially my hair :( Getting less tho! Have had crazy weather last few days, rain, storms, gales, and lots of damage has been done (not to our camper luckily!) Driving t6oday have passed lots of tree surgeons and people repairing stuff. Spent 2 days in the beautiful Tongariro national park where a lot of Lord of the rings stuff was filmed, right by mount doom! We couldnt do the famous great walk due to the weather, but we managed half a day skiing on the active volcano Mount Ruapehu in the Whakapapa (maori for ancestry) village which was great, tho poor visibility and really freezing. also did waterfall walk, veruy beautiful. Spent last night on the east coast and are now heading south jhopefully for better weather and for the skiing, glaciers, national parks, etc. NZ scenery everywhere is stunning, and lots of animals arpound too. Still not seen the elusiuve kiwi bird but havew eaten a fair few! (fruits:) The camper is doing well and not leaking tho the gales blew us around a bit! Cooking u0p some nice warming meals on it after our 'tramps' as they call hikes here.
Love to All!

Posted by AnnaL 18:12 Archived in New Zealand Tagged gay_travel

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