Sunday, March 07, 2004

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia--Bangkok, Thailand--Day 37

Today I flew from Malaysia to Thailand and had a pleasant, but early flight. I had arranged for a taxi to the airport (the same one that dropped me off at the hotel when I arrived) but it was a no-show so I had to find another one from the hotel. I had plenty of time before my flight to check in and wait with the other passengers in the terminal for it to board. Luckily it wasn’t a very crowded flight so I was able to move to a window seat and have two seats to myself.

We landed in Bangkok and immigration was a breeze compared to the other countries that I have been to--there was no line! I got to the baggage claim and waited for my bag to come through. I waited. And waited. And waited some more. Fifteen minutes later, it still hadn’t shown and there were a few suitcases left on the conveyor belt but the chances that my bag was going to magically appear were getting slim. But then it actually did (as I was ready to turn my back and find the lost baggage claim desk) and I met my driver to get a ride back to my hotel.

My driver, Sam, was really nice and very talkative. He lived in Los Angeles for ten years so he spoke impeccable English which made things a lot easier. Once I explained to him why I was here in Thailand, he quickly offered to drive me to Chonburi where the Khao Kheow Open Zoo is, which is about 93 miles southeast of Bangkok.

Before heading out to the zoo I first checked into my room at the hotel and put my things away and then met Sam downstairs. We drove out to the zoo which turned out to be in a really beautiful area (I’m in Thailand--what did I expect!) and we stopped at one of the eating places right outside of the zoo. Sam ordered me lunch and it was extremely tasty and it was nice to sit down with the cool breeze blowing instead of being in the stuffy car.

The zoo was interesting because it was a driving zoo, so you could drive to all of the animals in your car instead of walking. They also had signs advertising a Night Safari, but was like the zoo in Taiping instead of Singapore. We got back into the car and drove over to where the hippos were and found SEVEN of them. SEVEN! This is the record yet. Three tiny babies and four grown hippos. The babies were separated from the larger hippos and we caught them at the perfect time, all of them were out of the water and eating. The four larger hippos (Yai, Ying, Sipee and Riem) were very close to the zoo visitors and there was a stall set up next to their gate where you could buy food and then throw it into their mouths. All of the baby hippos have yet to be named.

Sam was extremely helpful in helping me getting the names of the hippos and was really enthusiastic about it all. After getting the pictures and watching the other zoo-goes through food into their mouths we headed back into the car for the drive back to Bangkok. We stopped and picked up some “jack fruit” as they called it which is an interesting and sweet fruit that sort of resembles a bell pepper in appearance, except very yellow. Sam also bought me a fresh, chilled coconut to drink and at that point I don’t think I have ever felt more satisfied and refreshed! It was absolute heaven.

The drive back to Bangkok involved lots of traffic and I kind of dosed off halfway in but was awake for most of the journey. After negotiating all of the traffic we finally made it back to the hotel where I arranged with Sam to go to the beach the day after tomorrow to get in some snorkeling. After getting back to the hotel I walked around just a little bit near my hotel and then finally settled on a Thai restaurant near the hotel to grab some dinner, which turned out to be very, VERY spicy. So I made up for it by drinking a LOT of coconut juice (I think I have a coconut theme going here) and after trying to eat as much as I could I headed back to my hotel after booking a river boat cruise for tomorrow.

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.