Paradise. Katsjourney Around the World: 31 March, 2003

: Paradise
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).  Islands Ko Lanta port

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

paradise.

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.  Islands pipi landscape

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. Islands tour guide cave 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”

experiences.

I will be leaving Ko Lanta in a couple of days to Ko Phi Phi (proIslands mapnounced

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

Ban war warningsPope 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,

Kathleen

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.

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