|Date:||Mon, 31 Mar 2003 03:48:00 -0600|
|After an hour flight south of Bangkok and a two hour boat ride further
south, I arrived to monsoon rains on the remote island of Ko Lanta (not too
far north of Malaysia).
My first two days were the loneliest of my journey
thus far. The kind of sad days in paradise where tears fall in rhythm with
the raindrops. Time to reach within myself and slay dragons. Time to admit
who I am, to like myself and to vow a change in that which I don’t. Time to
read about the Dalai Lama and the teachings of Buddha.
Time moves painfully slowly when you are in the rain, alone without a TV, a
phone and often, electricity. Funny, always so caught up in our “western
ways”, I used to long for time to stand still for a while. Here it does.
But day three gave way to brilliant sunshine and I realized it is an island
There are several Thai style (A-frame, thatched roof, bamboo
siding) bungalows along the west coast of the island facing the Andaman Sea
and Phuket. Makes for fantastic sunsets. But there are also signs of
progress and new development. I am not sure that this fragile environment
can handle the continuous onslaught of added tourism.
For now though…Paradise! The surrounding islands have these amazing
limestone outcroppings with coral reefs all around them. The stunning
undersea world of groovy fish and coral is only a couple of meters below the
surface. Perfect for snorkeling or diving.
The eastern part of Ko Lanta is mountainous and has escaped the detriment of
the logging industry. The forests and mangroves are relatively pristine.
There are a number of caves to explore, also. But I had to pass on the
part where you slither on your belly across slime. No way! That is where I
take the “adventure” out of the adventure tour!
I had a one hour Thai oil massage right on the beach under an umbrella for
250 baht (about US $6). My friend Connie, the massage therapist, is
probably cringing at those kind of prices! I plan on having several
massages. I think it is helping my shoulder injury. Remember the Kamikaze
off road bike ride from hell down Mt. Wellington in Tasmania? That injury!
I went elephant trekking earlier today. The Asian elephants here were
mostly brought in from the north where they lived very difficult lives as
logging animals. Since logging is now outlawed (although somewhat ignored
like other environmental sanctions), these elephants have new careers in the
tourist industry. They appear to be very well taken care of.
I went with a guide (name sounded like “Ming”)for a 20 minute walk aboard a
gentle giant deep into the forest. There were crystal clear streams that we
crossed. Each time he was in the water, the elephant would reach down with
his mighty trunk and give us both a bath. It was great fun!
After the elephant ride, Ming took me upstream on foot to a beautiful
waterfall. Ming is a caveman. I kid you not…he showed me the cave in
which he lives. Complete with bats and an occasional tiger or cobra! He
was a Buddhist monk for five years and now he gives elephant trekking tours
to the waterfall. He doesn’t like money or Americans much and just lives
this unusual, peaceful existence in the forest. He struck me as the kind of
guy who never had a warm bath (certainly not with soap), never watched TV,
never drove a car or ate fast food or went to a shopping mall. Yet he
seemed more at peace with himself than anyone I have ever met. I wish I had
a video camera taping the day. It was one of those “out of this world”
I will be leaving Ko Lanta in a couple of days to Ko Phi Phi (pronounced
Pee-Pee). This set is islands was host to a couple of movies, a James Bond
one and Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Beach”. I hear it is a bit more civilized,
and perhaps overcrowded.
I read and hear bits about the war every day…both sides since this area is
95% Muslim. I am not sure who to believe anymore. But I do believe the
Pope is right about it creating a huge hatred between Christians and
Muslims. A hatred powered by death and destruction. I pray for the safety
of all involved and each of you, wherever you are in the world.
Love from paradise,
P.S. Editor’s note…Not sure why did not include this in my e-newsletter. I went to a little Thai cooking school called “Time for Lime” run by a cool Norwegian chef named Junie Kovacs. I enjoyed making many authentic local dishes from scratch with 2 chefs from Sydney and London.