Saturday, March 13, 2004

Hanoi, Vietnam--Taipei, Taiwan--Day 43

Today it was off to Taiwan. I woke up this morning and felt better but not all together with it. I god breakfast in the hotel and felt pretty good but as I filled out some post cards and went back to my room to pack, I started feeling not so hot again. I wanted to go around the Old Quarter and take some pictures though so I made myself go out and walk around for a bit, but then went back to the hotel and caught a cyclo (which are really like glorified chairs with bikes attached to them so that your driver cycles around with you being pushed in the front) and he dropped me off in the Old Quarter where I headed over to the pagoda to take pictures, where unfortunately I realized that I had left my data cards in my hotel room, so I couldn’t take any pictures. Dang it. I picked up a few things in a shop nearby and by this time it was time for me to head back to catch my ride over to the airport at 11 o’clock. By the time I checked out it was 11:15 am and I realized that my plane was supposed to leave at 1 o’clock. Hmmm, I hope that we would have enough time and for the life of me I couldn’t remember just how long it took to get to the hotel from the airport when I was picked up, let alone where I was flying and where I was at that point. But we made it to the airport just fine. I checked in and was standing behind a man who definitely had personal space issues. He was practically on top of the man in front of him who was checking in, and obviously didn’t see the WAIT BEHIND THE RED LINE sign smack dab in front of his face. He had his ticket out and was resting his elbows on the ticket counter and it wasn’t even his turn. I almost wanted to say something but didn’t. After Personal Space Man checked in, I checked in with my 4 bags of carryon luggage (much to the dislike of the immigration security man) and waited for my flight to board to Taipei.

The flight was fine and it appeared that the woman next to me had never been on a flight before. She asked me to fasten her seatbelt for her (more gesturing than asking really) and I showed her how to use it. I was at the window and while we were taking off and landing she was practically on me this time looking out the window which I probably would have done too if it was my first time on a flight. I got up to immigration and guess who was behind me! Personal Space Man. He kept inching forward and forward (even though I wasn’t moving) and when I was next up I made sure that I stood very clearly BEHIND the red line, making myself as wide as possible to show him that this is where you are supposed to stand. Either he got the point or just paid attention to the rule this time and stayed behind the red line.

I was picked up at the airport and whisked back to the hotel where I checked in and had a little difficulty with the girl checking me in (she asked me about a zillion times if it was my first time at the hotel then loaded me up on free drink coupons and a free sauna--which could be interesting since women are supposed to go in the mornings and men in the afternoons…hmmm) and then I unloaded my stuff in my room and headed to find the closest bookstore to buy my guidebook and some recordable cds for the photos. I tried to get money out of the cash machine but had no luck, but was given receipts every time along with my card, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that the amount hasn’t been subtracted from my account! I tried three times so who knows. I walked along and found the same store that I was in the Brazil called FMAC and picked up everything that I needed. I headed back to the hotel and had some dinner at the restaurant in the hotel and have feeling much, MUCH better that I was earlier today and yesterday. Now I am getting this ready for the zoo tomorrow!

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Hanoi, Vietnam--Days 41/42

The past two days have been spent aboard a wonderful boat in Vietnam’s Halong Bay, which is about a 4 hour drive from Hanoi (although it is not all that far kilometers wise from Hanoi). Halong Bay is Vietnam’s answer to Milford Sound in New Zealand (if you’ve been- I’m sure it looks similar to other places as well) and is made up of 3,000+ islands in the Golf of Tonkin, which has recently (in 1994) been designated a World Heritage Site (thanks again Lonely Planet). There are lots of tiny islands covered in vegetation and the occasional beach, as well as the occasional fishing community and actual communities that live on the water in houses upon oil tanks.

My booked with a backpackers tour recommended by my guidebook and met up with my group at 8:15am. I wasn’t sure who I was going to end up meeting but much similar to my previous experiences with these sorts of trips, I found myself to be the only American. There were several people from England (hi Jo, June and Craig!) and a couple from Australian, two girls from Ireland (hi Paula and Anne!) and several other couples, one of which were on their honeymoon from Hungary. We set off on our drive and the weather was not the best of weather, just cloudy, and our tour guide Anh (I think that was how it was spelled) started things off with a sort of pop quiz/trivia session that really made everyone at ease I think and allowed us all to introduce ourselves.

The trip out to the Bay was fun but also long and we finally made it to our boat around 12:30. We boarded as the group from the previous day boarded our bus to head back to Hanoi. The boat that we boarded was a smaller boat that was going to take us out to our Traditional Junk boat that we were going to be on for the night. So we headed out into the Bay away from the city. We made it to our Junk boat which was awesome--it had probably 5 or 6 levels to it! Our sleeping cabins were full on hotel rooms, with showers and bathrooms and I even had two beds to myself! It was very posh, and I think that we were all impressed. We joined a family from, I think, Belgium with two cute little boys, one of which kept shouting “Mama, mama” practically the entire boat ride. They were very sweet and were absolutely sure that we were on a pirate ship.

Lunch started around 1:30 and we were all instructed on where to sit (for some reason we had to sit in these seats but it really didn’t seem to make a difference) and sat down to a buffet style meal that was really good. I ordered an orange juice which tasted sort of suspicious. More about that later.

Anyways, after lunch and getting to know the rest of the group, we cruised on for a while. We spent that time taking it easy on the top of the boat where there were lounge chairs and everything. No complaints so far! We headed over to a cave called Hang Sung Sot, which is also known as the “Amazing Cave” and it was, well, pretty amazing! Due to the wind and the water, there are lots of caves with stalactites and stalagmites. There were three parts to the cave and each part got more and more amazing (more ooohing and ahhhing as you went further in) and the third cave had this “amazing” phallic rock that was illuminated by a bright pink light. There was no way of avoiding it, you walked right in and BAM there it was. Of *course* you had to take pictures of it just to say that you did! The caves were interesting and when we headed back down to the boat there were locals trying to sell things to us (and unfortunately children trying to sell shells from the reefs) and we wondered how much money do they actually make just sitting in their boats waiting for tourists to come out? That is when we realized (as we saw a young girl approaching in her boat) that the woman’s’ boat was an actually shop and that she sold goods to people that lived on the waters, not just to tourists.

We headed back out into the bay and saw a neat pagoda on the top of an island (which to our disappointment wasn’t anything of religious nature--just put there for tourists to have something to climb up to and look down) and ended up anchoring for the night. The scenery was spectuacular and due to the weather there was this amazing foggyness around the islands which gave everything much more of a wonderful feeling to it all.

A few of us, being the brave and bold women that we are, decided to go for a swim and headed to the back of the boat (much to the amusement of the people working on the boat) and swam out into the water, which I have to say, wasn’t at its warmest temperature, but wasn’t all that bad. Plus it was super salty so you hardly had to do any work at all to stay afloat. After our swim there was a little while before it was time for dinner, which again was a repeat buffet similar to that of lunch but with different foods. It was nice because unlike a typical buffet where you go up and help yourself, sampler plates were presented at each table so that everyone could take a little bit from each plate and try everything.

I was feeling alright at this point, and even after dinner when we played a couple mean card games of B.S. (otherwise known as bull sh*t…) and another game called Lives (I think) which is a lot like the American version of Uno. Around 11 o’clock it was off to bed, but I found myself not feeling too well. I couldn’t fall asleep for the life of me and had this horrible feeling that something else was going to be keeping me awake, and it was going to involve the bathroom. You get the picture.

What I didn’t expect was the sound coming from my closet around 1:30 am. Scratch scratch scratch. Oh god, what is THAT? It sounded JUST like a mouse. I almost immediately turned on both of my lights and jumped out of my bed (my bed was right next to where the sound was coming from). Then it started sounding like it was scratching around in a bit of plastic. Scratch crumple scratch crumple. Oh god, its in my TRASH CAN! My trash ban was just a paper basket at the end of my bed with a plastic bag in it and a lid on top. It didn’t seem to be moving, but I had to check to see if it was in there so I opened it up and didn’t find it (luckily!) but the scratching continued. I decided that it must be in my closet so I slide the door open and tried my best to shut it and lock it and that’s when it SLAMMED back open, making this huge banging sound that I was sure woke up everyone on the boat. Sure enough, I could hear Paula and Anne talking in the room near mine. Oh man. Well, the mysterious creature lurking in my room stopped scratching for a while, but then started up again and I got my closet door shut and locked and stuffed a towel in the crack that was left between the door since it didn’t shut quite all the way, and I figured if that mouse or whatever it is is going to get out, its going to have to work at it.

I got back into bed but not for too long since this is when all of the fun in the bathroom started. It stopped periodically throughout the rest of the night and I was able to get a little sleep between trips. I awoke around 5:30am and spent the rest of the waking hours commuting and just not feeling well. Around 7:30 I decided that I needed to ask someone to help me because I had forgotten my anti-you-know-what medicine back at the hotel in Hanoi (of course) so I was desperate.

I found Craig, Jo and June up on the top of the boat and June came to my rescue with her supply of intestine-paralyzing medicine and I sat upstairs on the top of the boat for a little bit before making my way back down to my room, where to my horror I had run out of toilet paper (too much detail? You can stop reading you know) and I had to get creative in my bathroom (which was also a wet-room--basically a room that you could shower in and use as a bathroom). You get the picture. Anyways, I skipped breakfast and after a while decided that fresh air was probably a good idea. The problem was that I was feeling horribly nauseas even though all of the other symptoms were disappearing. It wasn’t the rocking of the boat that’s for sure (the water was dead calm, we hardly even rocked anyway) and so we all figured that it must have been the strange looking orange juice that I had ordered for lunch the day before that made me ill, since the rest of the group seemed just fine.

We spent the rest of the morning cruising along back to the shore of Halong City (next to the Bay) where all the boats come and go and saw plenty of touristy boats and fishermen and watched in a amusement as our boat attempted to “park” along with several other boats, which really meant all trying to go up to the dock at once and then backing up when there was a spot available then, as Joan put it, “parting the red seas” to get the boat through, as out boat pushed the others out of the way. We got back onto our bus (which was dropping off the next group from Hanoi to go on the tour) and we headed over to a restaurant for lunch (again with the nice buffet however I didn’t eat too much and stuck mostly with the vegetables) and then a short walk on the beach. Then it was another 4 hour or so bus ride back to Hanoi (by this time it was raining) and I was feeling not so hot but surprisingly wasn’t sick on the way back. I managed to nod in and out most of the way back which was good because I felt much better getting more sleep since I hadn’t had much the night before. We made it back to Hanoi and I said goodbye to my new friends who were off on a train trip to Sapa that night, and planned to meet up with Paula and Anne for a drink before heading to the Vietnamese theater. I wasn’t too sure if I would be up to sitting through the play, but I really wanted to go because I had finally met some really great people on my trip to hang out with! Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling better when they showed up so I opted just to have a drink (Sprite and water mind you) and talk with them for a bit before they headed over to the Hanoi Opera House which was right next door to my hotel to see their play.

It was good thing that I didn’t go because I went straight up to bed and to sleep, which was at about 8:45pm with hopes of feeling better in the morning. Despite the minor set back of feeling ill, these past two days have been a blast and it was so good to meet other people and spend some time away from hotel life under the stars (they were there, we just couldn't see them becuase it was cloudy) and in the Bay.

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Bangkok, Thailand--Hanoi, Vietnam--Day 40

Today was off to an early start-- I met Sam at 5:30 am to get to the airport. Luckily none of my planes at this point have really been delayed (knock on wood!) so I made it with time to spare. I paid Sam and my airport taxi, checked in, went through immigration and found myself in the airport waiting area again (I’ve been here twice before in the past few weeks!)

The flight from Bangkok to Hanoi was great- I even got two seats to myself although I was the last seat on the plane in the very back! I flew Thai Airlines and they give you flowers when you land! Pretty neat! I got through immigration, etc. just fine and met my driver to get a ride back to the hotel.

I set up my stuff at my hotel then was back in action to go get the hippo pictures. I got a cab from the hotel and we set off to the zoo, which wasn’t too far from my hotel. My driver, Hai, spoke a little bit of English but when I asked him about coming in with me to the zoo, and trying to explain why, we hit a major language block. We couldn’t understand each other and so finally, after a lot of pointing and gesturing, I got him to park the car and come in with me.

At the entrance to the zoo was a HUGE group of children, all swarming around the tiny entrance which was being regulated by a man. We had to literally push and pull our way to the front and after a quite animated conversation between Hai and the ticket man, we were finally let in after I paid for the two of us. Once we were in we found a map to the zoo but of course it was written in Vietnamese and didn’t have any pictures of the animals. So I had to get out my little notebook and draw Hai a picture of the hippos. This is when I realized what a smart idea it would be to have a picture of a hippo in my bag, but I didn’t so I tried my best to draw a hippo that didn’t look too much like a bear or an alligator. Considering that my drawing skills are absolutely horrendous, I was pleased to find that Hai recognized what I was drawing and he pointed excitedly in the direction that they were. Hai actually mentioned that his friend worked at the zoo, and I couldn’t tell if he meant with the hippos or not (that would have been too good to be true!). So I kept my fingers crossed that we weren’t really headed towards the bears or something and after walking for a bit we came across the hippos! Yay!

When we got to the hippo enclosure, we found two hippos (a mother and her son) who were sadly in a unhappy situation. There was what appeared to be an electrical wire around the area with a big sign prohibited people from climbing in (although I did see one person try!) and the water was absolutely filthy that they were in. There was no pump or anything so they were just sitting in old, dirty water. I tried to explain to Hai that I needed to know their names and so he brought me over to the sign that said “Ha Ma” (which is hippo in Vietnamese) and for about fifteen minutes I tried and tried and tried to explain that no, I didn’t need to know that (but yes, I understood that) and that I needed their own personal names. He went off and found a zookeeper (I think) and came back saying that a 1 o’clock they will be fed. Or something. I don’t know. Something was going to happen at 1 o’clock. It was 12:45 at this time so I thought perfect! We came just in time!

But that wasn’t the case. The mother, Lala, and her son Dep, were in the water and Dep was swimming around a bit, but not too much. It tuned out that Hai had asked this mystery zookeeper to rouse the hippos (much like in India!) and so around 1 o’clock comes this man with a huge stick that has what looks like a pointed NAIL on the end of it. I was horrified as he stuck the stick into the water after climbing over. I didn’t know what to do--if I should have tried to stop him from poking the hippos with the stick or what. It was too late, and I am sure that my point wouldn’t have been understood (or that I could have gotten my point across---he probably would have done it anyway since there was now a huge crowd standing around) and he put the stick in the water and poked the mother, who snorted loudly and jumped out of the water (as much as hippos can jump). She was obviously startled but did get out of the water. I grudgingly took the pictures and Hai found out their names (at this point the figured it out) and we were able to go on our way back to the hotel.

Not so fast though! This mystery zookeeper wants 50,000 dong (the Vietnamese currency) for EACH hippo! This actually doesn’t end up being too much money with the exchange rate (about 6 US dollars) but I knew that the money wasn’t going to help the hippos in anyway, just to be pocked by this keeper. Oh well, 100,000 dong later we were on our way back to the hotel where Hai laughed at me for having to do what we just did.

I got back to the hotel and then tried to set up something for me to do in the next few days, but found that the hotel wanted me to book private tours which I wasn’t interested in. I want to meet people, not go by myself! So I walked down to the main downtown area and found the central lake and a temple in the middle of the lake, and then on to an area called the Old Quarter, which is a really neat area with crowded streets and shops. I found a great place to book a tour for the next two days (yet another boat cruise however this one is to Halong Bay which is supposed to be spectacular scenery) and felt much more at ease after having something to eat.

After a while I walked back over to the lake and then over to the water puppet theater to catch a show at 5:15 which was really cool (it’s the traditional Vietnamese puppetry art) and then came back to the hotel to finish up transferring the pictures and getting stuff ready for my trip tomorrow.

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Bangkok, Thailand--Day 39

Today I woke up and after getting some business stuff done I caught a cab over to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, but first wanted to stop at the post office to mail some things home. My plan didn’t work though because when I got the post office they would only accept cash and I had a hard time understanding how I was supposed to mail home my package, so I just gave up and headed inside to the Temple.

The Temple is absolutely fascinating. There are several buildings on the grounds of the Temple and consist of this magnificently shining buildings of gold, along with pillars adorned with mosaics and numerous statues, all of which is a shine to the Emerald Buddha, who is located within the larger Temple. This area is joined with the old Grand Palace and so after walking around the Temples and taking many pictures I was able to get in the Palace well which wasn’t as spectacular as the Temples, but still very interesting.

I also ran into a couple from my boat trip yesterday who are actually from England near Bristol, so I spent a while talking with them then the three of us decided to go down to Lumphini Park and take the water bus system and sky train, both of which I had yet to try. We had a wonderful afternoon and despite getting off at the wrong stop on our water bus, we still had plenty of time to find the park and then sit down to have a drink and relax. After this we headed back in the direction of the hotels and then parted ways, as we headed back to our separate hotels. I got back to my hotel and went swimming then got ready to go walk around again much like last night. When I got down to the lobby it turned out that there was this red carpet leading into one of the elevators and security people EVERYWHERE. I asked what was going on and apparently the President of the Ukraine was coming! That was interesting! So I walked out of the hotel but then realized that no really, the President of the Ukraine was coming RIGHT NOW and so I was able to watch from the sky train ramp this HUGE procession of cars pulling up to my hotel and see President Kuchma getting out before I was ushered on my a security guard.

I thought that was pretty neat! Then I got on the sky train and followed the recommendation of my companions today and went to a restaurant called “Cabbages and Condoms” (they promote the use of free contraceptives and community development in Thailand) and had a nice dinner outside underneath a blanket of white Christmas lights. After dinner I walked back most of the way to the hotel then hopped on the sky train the last stop and then walked a little bit more around the shopping areas around my hotel before I headed back to my room. Tomorrow its off to Vietnam!

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Bangkok, Thailand--Day 38

Today I woke up and had to meet my bus for the river cruise at 7 am. I got up and headed outside and realized that this cruise that I was going on wasn’t quite the backpacking type that I am used to. I met the bus which turned out to be this huge touristy bus and climbed aboard to meet my companions for the day. I decided that I should book some sort of tour to see these places, as it makes more sense to do that than to hire a taxi all day long or something since these places are a day’s trip from Bangkok but I have to say that I am not a big fan of tour bus type deals.

Anyways, enough complaining, at least I got to see everything that I wanted to AND had actually company--other people on the tour with me! I met quite a few really nice couples who were traveling from here to there for various reasons, all seeming to be on their way to one destination or from another destination. We had to drive about an hour or so to Ban Pa-In which is the summer palace, which turned out to be interesting although very much so catered to tourists. The architecture of the buildings varied, with some having Chinese or Thai or British influences. Our tour guide sort of dropped us off which left many of us wondering if we were supposed to walk as a group on a tour or by ourselves. Eventually I ran back into my group who had been following the tour guide the whole time but I was happy to wander around on my own.

After Bang Pa-In, we stopped at a few temples before heading to Ayuthaya which was the Siamese royal capital from 1350 to 1767 (thanks again Lonely Planet). Ayuthaya is now ruins which are scattered all around the present day town. We got out and walked around a fair share of the ruins, but didn’t get to some of the really interesting ones that you could see farther down the road. It was absolutely fantastic because you could see what used to be such grand buildings (their ruins were absolutely stunning) and there were countless sitting and standing Buddhas around. Of particular interested is a Buddha head in which a huge tree has grown around it holding it down, but the head is still facing forwards which is pretty amazing.

After Ayuthaya we headed back into our bus and then onto a large reclining Buddha statue and another beautiful temple before hitting the docks where we boarded onto our boat. The boat was great and there was a buffet lunch all set up for us. So I sat down with a couple from Australia and another from Canada and we had a nice time eating and then headed upstairs to the viewing deck (which was disappointingly small) where we could watch us make our way back in to Bangkok via the river (which was surprisingly fun). The river boat ride back was a great way to see the sights and temples along the rivers, and to get an idea of how Bangkok is laid out.

After getting back to Bangkok we were then shuttled off in various directions back to our respective hotels and about an hours’ worth of traffic later I was back at the hotel. I headed out to find something for dinner and ended up eating the BEST pad Thai ever, all for one US dollar. It was fantastic and was made fresh right before my eyes from a woman who was making it on the street. After having a completely wonderful dinner I spent the next few hours just wandering around the main streets of Bangkok where there were about a billion other people walking around through all of the various street shops. I perused though them and picking up a few things before heading into a Thai massage place.

It happened kind of by accident- I was just sort of walking along and then passed the window where people were getting their feet massaged and almost didn’t take a second look but then doubled back. They were offering traditional Thai massages for 200 baht (about 4 US dollars or so) for a whole hour! Could I really resist? After all, I had heard so much about these Thai massages that I thought I would give it a go.

I walked in and before I knew it I was having my feet washed by a guy who didn’t believe that I was 23 (“You look like you are 18!”--Gee, thanks) and he took me into a little doorway that led into a larger room that had several separating curtains which divided the large room into smaller ones, each set up with pillows and cushions for the massage. I was told to change into the outfit laid out on the pillows and my soon-to-be-masseuse pulled the curtains tight.

Hmm, that’s when I realized that this had the slight (very slight) potential to be just a little bit awkward and sketchy (me being alone with this man getting a massage) but chose to ignore those feelings of uneasiness, which turned out to be good because I had a wonderful time. My masseuse A-Lee was amazing and did all sorts of crazy pushing and pulling and kneeing and pounding (and at one point getting behind me, linking my arms and then pulling me backwards OVER him so that I was sort of laying back like you would laying out in the sun, but I was on him and the pillow that was between us--how he actually got me in this position I still can’t quite figure out) and all sorts of parts of me that I didn’t know could be cracked were.

It was great and of course the hour was up before I knew it. After my massage and chatting with A-Lee (whose main concern was asking me about Michael Jackson and whether or not I think he is gay btw) I paid and was set on my way feeling much better! I headed back to my hotel and decided not to go to the beaches tomorrow but to Wat Phra Kaew (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace instead. I can always go to beaches, but can’t always visit temples! So I cancelled with Sam and will be heading to the Temple and Palace on my own in the morning, and perhaps meeting up with one of the people on my boat cruise today at Lumphini Park, which is in central Bangkok and is supposed to be lovely.

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.

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.