In my previous post I could not remember what had happened Friday afternoon, but Ethan kindly reminded me that we did have a somewhat eventful day. We decided a while ago that we wanted to go to Sukhothai, which is one of the old capitals of Thailand. It has a bunch of ruins and other cool things to see and we were planning on meeting some friends from orientation there (Alexis and Shannon who teach near Bangkok). But we still had to figure out how to get a bus there and how to buy the tickets, so we spoke to Kru Rin who told us where to buy them. We headed out to get gas first and then go to the ticket agent. After we left the gas station we heard a strange noise coming from the motorbike and it bouncing a lot. I looked down to see the back tire completely flat. We had no idea what to do, but luckily there was a car repair shop within pushing distance. We pushed it up there and managed to communicate that we needed air in the tire. They also managed to tell us where we could get it repaired. Unfortunately, the place was closed and we had no idea what time they opened on Saturday morning. The air the put in the tire lasted until we got a few hundred yards from the school, so we walked the bike to the school and left it there. We decided we just needed to talk to Kru Rin about what to do because we didn’t know if anyone left at the school would be able to help. So we borrowed Kru Rin’s bike from Caitlin and Kristin and rode over to her house. She said that there was a repair shop in town that we could push the bike to (no thanks!) or we could wait until the guy down the road from the school opened in the morning. She was almost positive that he opened really early so our trip to Doi Phu Kha would not be cancelled. We really had no reason not to trust her, but there was definitely an air of uncertainty.
Saturday Ethan woke up fairly early and pushed the bike down the road to the repair shop. Turns out there was a whole in the inner tube that the guy was able to patch for only 30baht! After he got back we got ready to head out to Pua (We never made it to the bus ticket agent, which was annoying, but more about that later). We were going to Doi Phu Kha national park with the Pua gang and were super excited. Right before we left Caitlin found a seriously nasty scorpion outside her room so naturally Ethan messed around with it for 15 minutes before we left. I seriously hoped we didn’t run into any more over the weekend.
|B.E.A – utiful!|
Doi Phu Kha is a national park about half an hour outside of Pua. It is home to the highest mountain peak in the Nan province and provides some incredible scenery. The drive up to the park was amazing and the higher we got, the cooler the temperature. It felt really nice and it smelled even better. Surprisingly there are pine trees the higher up you get and they smelled so good and reminded me of home. Our motorbikes are manual shift so we kept having to shift down to 1st gear when going up hills. It made for pretty slow going and Caitlin and Kristin (who are riding Kru Rin’s really old motor bike) were forced to stop a few times. That motorbike has seen better days and did not do well with the steep hills. Eventually we made it to the waterfall that is just outside the park. We hopped off our bikes where we hoped there was a trail down to the fall. The trail was muddy and slippery (Caitlin slipped in the first 10 feet) and there were prickly plants (I got my hair caught in one). It was treacherous, but we eventually made it to the waterfall. We ate our lunch then the boys and Kristin explored the falls and climbed all over the rocks. The water was cold and I was still exhausted from our Loy Krathong excursion so I opted out.
|the falls that claimed Ethan’s ring :[|
After a while, we noticed that the guys had been in the same spot for quite a long time. We wondered what they were doing. Then Ethan came down with a strange look on his face and held out his left hand. I realized immediately that his ring was gone, but Ethan likes to joke that it’s lost all time. So I didn’t take him seriously at first, but he definitely wasn’t joking. He had slid down a rock and it slipped off into the water. He felt (still feels) awful about it, but there was nothing we could do. It could have been anywhere. The boys had been looking for it that whole time and came up with nothing. I was sad, but it also was only $30 and easily replaceable, although the sentimental value might be lost forever. :[
We were bummed, but weren’t about to let it ruin our weekend. We trekked back up to our bikes and after driving through a teeny tiny hill tribe village, headed to the park. We checked in at the park headquarters and decided to rent two bungalows for the night. (Ethan- There is usually a 200 baht entrance fee for farangs, but we brought our work visas with us and got the 40 baht local price. SCHWING!) When we pulled up to the set of bungalows I was pleasantly surprised. They were relatively modern and really clean. They consisted of one big room with 4 twin sized beds (two were pushed together to form a “double bed” a toilet room, shower room, sink area, closet, and refrigerator. There was also a shared patio area that overlooked some really awesome views of the park. We decided to chill for a while and catch the sunset before we headed back down to the restaurant in the park for dinner. We had a delicious meal of chicken fried rice and stir fried veggies.
|giant moth! Ahhh.|
After dinner we hung out at a larger common area that had picnic tables and everyone, except me, got fairly inebriated. It was a pretty entertaining evening and we met a Thai man who had lived in England for 20 years. His name was David and he spoke perfect (albeit British) English as well as Thai. We also met his family and friends and ended up chatting with them for a decently long time. After a series of failed attempts to get everyone to bed I gave up and passed out.
In the morning, it took everyone a pretty long time to get it together, but eventually we did. We ate lunch at the restaurant and then headed out to hike the nature trail. We didn’t know anything about this trail other than it was 4 kilometers long. While I wasn’t too happy about hiking that far, I was excited to explore the jungle. That excitement quickly faded after the first few hills, but it didn’t get terrible until we figured out that there were leeches everywhere. At first, we thought they were just weird worms because they were so tiny. After we continued walking I felt something sort of sting my foot. I looked down and attached to the back of my ankle was a tiny little leech. I flicked it off, but then wondered if any more had gotten stuck on me. I took off my shoe and there between my toes was a leech getting fat from sucking my blood. I screamed and flicked him off, but it was too late. Blood came pouring from my foot and wouldn’t stop. It was so gross. I started crying and told Ethan I didn’t want to keep going. I was wearing my Keen sandals that have holes all over them and just couldn’t keep walking in the leech infested jungle knowing that they were just going to continue sticking on my feet. (We had been told that they can carry diseases as serious as AIDS in places in Thailand and had been warned that there might be leeches in the park, but that the likelihood was slim, so we didn’t take it seriously). After I gathered myself, I borrowed Kelly’s socks to help protect my feet and made it my mission to get out of there without any more leech bites.
The rest of the walk was long and filled with many stops to check for leeches and scrape any off that attached themselves to us. It was a huge bummer that we didn’t really get to enjoy the trek because we were scared of the leeches. In reality, I’m sure there was nothing for us to worry about, but they were really gross and being leeched is not fun. Ethan ended up getting about 18 bites and by the end of the hike his feet were very bloody. We cleaned them out as best we could at the lodge and then again when we got home and put Neosporin on them just in case. We’re also taking antibiotics that would hopefully kill any infection they might have been carrying.
|Ethan’s wounds! Only a quarter of them…|
The ride home was a lot faster and just as beautiful as the ride up. We stopped in Pua to eat dinner with the gang, played a game of bananagrams and then headed home. Overall, it was a great weekend with a couple unfortunate events. We definitely learned a few lessons and will never enter the jungle without proper footwear again!