I am a tourist

I am a tourist (May 2 -May 17, 2012)

I went to Thailand to photograph the wedding of my friend Martina. I didn’t go alone but with other friends of her’s. The wedding was scheduled on May 19, 2012 but we arrived in Bangkok two weeks earlier. We were five but only four were staying for the wedding.

We didn’t fly to Bangkok together; everybody was coming with different air companies and by different routes and times. Do not ask me why. It just happened this way. I was flying with AeroSvit Ukrainian Airlines (which I would not recommend to anyone), arriving at Bangkok airport at three o’clock in the morning. Peter was arriving the same day but four hours later and I should wait for him. So I was wandering across the airport, I bought couple beers, but time didn’t move. I bought more beers till my eyelids were getting heavier and heavier and eventually they just shut down and I couldn’t open them anymore.

Peter arrived, the future bride came to meet us, they looked for me but I was nowhere to be found – I was sleeping heavily in a far corner with other travelers, homeless and airport workers. Luckily, my angel woke me up and I rushed to look for my friends, worried that they may have left the airport without me. They did not. We found a cheap hotel, one room for all, with one double bed, some will have to sleep on the floor.

The future bride and groom introduced us to their Thai friends and a beer marathon started and it lasted for three days. What else to do in Bangkok, where the temperature and humidity are very high. Jet, the future groom, works at an ice distribution centre. In this heat ice cubes are in high demand, employees work from early morning to late night.

Thailand is a tropical country with sunshine and high temperature all year long, so ice is very necessary for its people

When everybody arrived in Bangkok we jumped on the train and then a bus and finally arrived to Khao Sok – rainforest resort. In the tourist guide it’s written, “more than 48 species of mammals, 184 species of birds and thousands of species of trees and plants have been recorded there.” We went to see waterfalls where on the footpaths leeches were waiting for us. And there were millions of them.

The waterfall was a kind of rapid or maybe we just didn’t get to the right one.  There was frogs’ music during the night and one burglar, who checked some backpacks and took only local money. I guess he was a Buddhist thief.

We went to see waterfalls where on the footpaths leeches were waiting for us. Photo by Petr Bartos

The waterfall was a kind of rapid. Photo by Petr Bartos

From Khao Sok we moved to Koh Lanta. We travel all day, changing one bus after another, then minibus to ferry, exiting at the beach for a swim. Well…when we arrived we find not a sandy beach but a coral one…it was ebb tide.

We find not a sandy beach but a coral one

We stayed one week, went to the sandy beach, traveled around the island on motorbikes, ate well, drank well, but for my taste… I do not like to be a tourist, not staying in one place long enough to know it well, to know people well…

Koh Lanta fisherman

A portrait of a sea gypsy in the village of Sang-ga-u in the south east corner of Koh Lanta. Sea Gypsies or “Chao Ley” (people of the sea) used to live a semi-nomadic lifestyle in the Andaman Sea; these seafarers of Indo-Malay origins were also the first settlers on the island some 500 years ago

A picture of the Rama IX, the current King of Thailand in the old town of Lanta Old Town

I wished I could stay longer in this small Koh Lanta Island and become a friend of the sea gypsies. But we were on move again, this time to a really touristic area – Phi Phi Island. We travelled by boat with all the tourists, meeting another boats full of tourists as well.

A boat full of tourists

Phi Phi village is very, very, touristic. We had bungalows far from the center, though the music was so loud all night – ok, it finished at 3:00 a.m.  – there were some seriously stupid show, the same each night and the same music as well. Ah, Phi Phi Island, I did not like you and I was wasting the little money I had on you.

Some Thai come every morning to work here

We took a boat trip to other islands. The first stop was on the Monkey Island. Monkeys were supposed to be friendly to human tourists. But with our group they were not friendly at all. Well, in the beginning it looked like they might like us.

Monkey Island

But then one jumped on me… and other one grappled Peta’s hair…and it wasn’t funny anymore.

Crazy monkeys ready to jump on me

The next stop was ….boy do not know the name but I felt whole of the world is snorkeling there.

Whole of the world is snorkeling there

Tourists with life vests

I must say I was very happy to go back to Bangkok, from where we were going to Isaan….the wedding.

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