3:15am I was awoken with a very sudden jolt, quite literally, because the bed was shaking from side to side. My eyes were huge and my heart racing as I turned to see if it had been (please!!!!) David rolling over, but no, he was sleeping like a baby. It stopped, but it had scared me, and I wondered if it was the prelude to a larger one, or if that was all we would get.
I managed to half doze after a while, but of course I was still on alert too. Just fading a little into sleep at last, the bed shook again. It was that rhythmic rock that earthquakes do have – following the same path and distance with each rock. I turned quickly to see if it could still possibly have been David moving but no, he was totally at peace and breathing steadily and slowly.
There was no sound with the movements. Earthquakes have a noise, and these had been silent, but the rocking was a 100% match.
I now lay facing David, still hoping to find that it had been movements from him, but found it almost impossible to go back to sleep for fear of another quake. And then my mobile phone rang. 3:30 in the morning, and it was an unknown (to me) Australian number. I pressed ‘ignore’. I wasn’t going to accept a wrong number phone call when I would have to pay international phone rates to tell them their mistake. I still couldn’t fall asleep for fear of another earthquake though.
We went downstairs for breakfast once it was after 8am and the restaurant would be open, and both ordered The Scrambler. This was really nice with onion, capsicum and a few other items in, and was served with a slice of toast with butter and jam. Then it was back to our room to batten down everything so that it would not be interfered with by the cleaners. I haven’t mentioned that I had suddenly found my umbrella on an umbrella stand next to the TV. I will *swear* that I’d had my umbrella in my case! So we moved, stacked, covered and/or locked away everything. Having no safe, that meant in our cases, and I positioned a garment on the top of my case very precisely so that I’d be able to tell if it had been moved. I am very grateful to say that it had not by the end of the day, but they *did* put our chips, biscuits, and water bottles in the fridge again. Aaarrggghhhhh!!!! I’d wanted to tell reception after Monday’s incident that we didn’t want anyone in our room, but David said I was being silly. As usual, I think the truth lies half way between his opinion and mine.
We got our things together and set off left out of the hotel for the first time. We’d come in this way when we first arrived and David had seen a tuk tuk stand. There was a taxi stand much closer to the resort but we didn’t want a taxi – that’s boring, we can do that any time, and we’d been told it was 600 Baht to Patong. Patong was where the action all is, and 600 Baht is around AU$30. That is *not* cheap! Tuk tuk’s are traditionally cheaper.
Our bumpy dirt road was worse than usual because they were doing works on it, believe it or not, but that involved having a water pump throwing water onto the road so we ‘went bush’ in the greenery along the side of the road. We had some company; exactly what you’d expect across the road from a hotel…
2 goats and a cow. Of course!!! And several very slim chickens.
At the end of this road we turned left again, walking along a narrow footpath and over a bridge. Then began the climb! It was a fairly hefty hill of about 500 metres and then a flat walk of the same distance again. One surprising sight along the way was some more wildlife, chained in a yard.
The walk had been a little further than we expected, but far from a problem, and we approached the 2 guys near the tuk tuks. They asked 2,000 Baht to hire one for the day and we said yes. I’m sure all you bargain-hunters and barterers out there are cringeing, but it’s just not where we come from to argue. We either buy or we don’t. Well we did, and we scored a very friendly driver, named Mr A, and a gorgeously bright and cheery yellow chariot.
The first thing Mr A did was to call in for fuel. I am not joking, the fuel cost 42 Baht a litre. That’s like 14 cents!!! We told him that in Australia (well, Perth anyway!) it was equivalent to around 450 Baht.
Our first request was to go to the Butterfly Garden. It took about 40 minutes to get there but we enjoyed driving along with the wind in our hair and no seatbelts, looking at the scenery. I mentioned in our last story about Phuket about the electric wires that are everywhere, but I got a beautiful shot along the way showing how bad these could be. Love how the excess wires are just wound up and left hanging there! Actually, I also see a tsunami warning siren there amongst it all too. The ever-present small reminders of what has been.
We first went to use the facilities and I was amused at the bin by the side of the toilet and the sign asking that you put your paper in there to avoid blockages. I couldn’t do it! I’m sorry Phuket, I just couldn’t!!! I was also a bit afraid of lifting that lid eeeeeekkk!!! After I’d washed my hands, I looked around for paper towels or a dryer, but there was a large circular toilet paper dispenser and a sign that said “Please only use one sheet”. Have you ever tried to dry your hands on one sheet of toilet paper? All that gained was to stick tiny bits of paper all over my hands, so I rinsed my hands again and went out and dried them on David’s t.shirt 😀
David paid our entry fee and we were given some teensy little plastic heart-shaped dishes filled with ‘butterfly food’. I felt deeply honoured, and carried it tenderly ROFL.
In the next room were the compulsory dead, framed butterflies, moths and insects, along with some live scorpions and tarantulas. Try using a DSLR camera in Manual mode while cradling a tiny, fragile dish in one hand! In no time flat my dish had tipped and what I’d thought was something like a set jelly, turned out to be very liquid and landed with a splat on my shoe and the floor. My shoes were open-weave fabric so I had butterfly goo dripping between my toes to go with my disappointment that I was no longer going to be able to feed the butterflies. David was very kind and went back to the desk to ask if I could have another, and she gave us 2 more and said not to worry about the mess on the floor, so I tried to mop it up with a tissue. I was now balancing 2 food dishes, a soggy tissue and still trying to make adjustments to my camera and take photos. Some people never learn LOL
We pretty soon gave up and went through to the butterfly garden. It was very pretty through there with a really good quantity of butterflies and many lovely tropical flowers. I’m wrestling with myself whether to say this though… it wasn’t a spot on the one at Sentosa Island in Singapore. The difference was only that the Singaporean one had so many beautifully coloured butterflies and many of them were huge! This Phuket one had as many butterflies but there was a choice of black with white, white with yellow (who refused to be photographed) and black with a green tinge if you caught the light right. It was lovely, it just falls short by comparison and I don’t mean to run this one down. I was chasing wonderful photos and that’s the main reason I found this one to be ‘less than’.
David’s camera battery went flat and as we reached for the spare, it wasn’t there. He’d changed his mind on which bag to bring at the last minute and the spare battery was safely inside a tiny, hidden pocket on the bag back at the resort. Such a shame, he’s really enjoying DSLR photography and has such a good eye.
Oh I haven’t said! We held our precious little bowls of butterfly food out at arm’s length when we got into the garden, but none of them ever came for it. Then I read in the brochure that we should place them at the butterfly feeding stations around the place – so there was never any point having them in the first place!!! Can only laugh!
We had a quick look through the gift shop that we had no choice but to traverse to get out, and went back to the tuk tuk. I was having a bit of trouble making someone wait around for me, or I’d have suggested a coffee in the nice-looking café here.
Mr A was ready for us and showed us some brochures, asking if we wanted to go to the featured places shown. Many were suitable for children, or people who wanted to shop so we said no thanks to them all and we were on our way.
I love the traffic lights here, the same as we’d seen in Bali, where they have a countdown to how long until they will change colour. Check out the electric wires being overgrown behind them too!
We had next asked to go to the big temple, Wat Chalong, so were rather surprised to pull in to a shop parking lot. The sign said Cashew Factory and Orchid Display and Mr A asked if we would like to go inside. Not really, but we guessed it made him happy to get brownie points and/or commission so we went inside. We were given stickers with a number on our arm and presented to a personal shopping assistant whose duty appeared to be to propel us as quickly as possible through the tasting room. We were given tasters of about 20 different flavours, one after another, sweet, savoury, spicy before we’d even finished chewing. We agreed to buy small tubs of 2 flavours, but she wasn’t done and took us into another room full of dried fruits and a heap of totally disgusting sounding dried things like squid and worse. No – definitely not going to be chomping on those!!! She soon gave up on us and moved us to the checkout – phew tee hee!
I took a hasty photo of one poor guy, seated at a tray of nuts which he was opening, one by one with a ‘prising-open-machine’. He was wearing gloves because the nuts were all covered in a dark oily substance. I believe that cashews have to be soaked in a poison to get them to open at all. But what an awful way to spend your day! I do hope he doesn’t have to do that all day!
Next door was a cashew tree, proudly sporting artificial fruit so that we could see what it does look like when it’s fruiting. I was grateful to them because it was very interesting.
However, I was more delighted with a tiny concrete ‘pond’ that proudly displayed such a beautiful water lily and couldn’t wait to point my camera at it. Mr A, in an attempt to be helpful, turned the flower towards me. It was really sweet of him and I appreciated the gesture, though having a hand in the shot wasn’t *quite* what I’d intended LOL
From here we drove without any more unexpected stops to Wat Chalong. It was further away than I’d expected – not that it was a problem. There was a massive parking area full of cars, coaches and scooters, but Mr A found a spot to park and let us out. I put on a garment that I’d taken with me to cover my shoulders better than the dress I was wearing so that I’d be decent for the Temple.
As we started to cross the car park there was a huge racket of fire-crackers and we saw a large brick beehive with smoke coming out of it. It’s actually possible that I don’t have much to say about the temple, but we shall see 😉 I’ll start to insert the photos and we’ll see what happens with the words.
Does anyone know what the story is with the flaking gold? There were bits of it around the room that had been blown from the statues.
I think this is the main Temple. Inside was so ornately decorated with gold and statues on all 4 levels.
This was in a small room at the very top and was the only room we couldn’t go into. From the very top we had wonderful views all around and to my great excitement I saw several ponds full of beautiful water lilies (lotus flowers) below us!
The stairs between each level were very steep and high and, when turning to come back down from the very top, there was a tall threshold before the start of the staircase. You *sure* wouldn’t want to trip over it!!! Once down at the ground floor again we went to retrieve our shoes.
I had a lady come and ask me some questions – just purely a survey of visitors – and then we went over towards the tuk tuk. On the way, it became obvious that one of the coaches had hit a parked vehicle and it appeared to be the most interesting thing that had happened for years judging by the attention it gained from everyone. We went to a stall to buy a coconut and some water to drink but the stall-holder blatantly ignored us and continued to stare at what was happening with the car chasing the coach. We allowed her a time but she most certainly knew we were there and was deliberately ignoring us so I said to David “Put it back!!!” and he willingly did, so we came away with no drink. What I truly wanted to do was walk off with it without paying – she deserved it – but neither of us are capable of doing that.
And have you noticed anything? I didn’t. Not until the next day. I DIDN’T PHOTOGRAPH THE WATER LILIES!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m so cross with myself! How could I *do* that!?!?!?!
I will leave this page here and tell you about our *amazing* lunch on the next page.
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