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February 11, 2006

The New Khao Lak

I arrived just after a brief rain, just before the full moon was peeking out from the moving clouds. The cab driver seemed concerned about finding the right address, but I knew where to go and after a lot of pointing and repetition got him to turn into the right place.

I was glad to have read on Lonely Planet's discussion boards about using metered taxis, instead of private ones, from the airport. It's a fair setup that is great to encourage, and was so easy. My hour-and-a-half to two-hour trip cost $25, which is a fortune here, but after a long, stomach-churning descent and two days with little sleep, not to mention two suitcases, it was great to know I didn't have to finagle a bus trip via Phuket Town. (Which likely would have cost only $3.50 total, but could have taken several hours, landing me in KL in the dark.)

Khao Lak has a completely different flavor now. They widened the road to three lanes in each direction, with a tree-filed boulevard. Sidewalks line both sides of town, with shaded benches. There are more restaurants and bars, and lots of actual tourists. The real kind, with collared shirts or "Khao Lak" t-shirts, and pleated trousers. There is a lot of bustle in the town, people walking along the side of the road.

The town is still small, though. I was here less than 45 minutes before running into the one friendly face I know here (Moira arrives in a few days with her mom). Scott still is working as hard as ever at the boatyard; they just celebrated building their 47th boat! You'll remember that when I wrote about the 100 Days celebration, the boat project had just received their first tsunami boat to rehab. I'm going to meet the crew for breakfast in the morning. Unlike many of the other volunteer groups, they don't take Sundays off.

I'm not sure what I'll do about dinner; I've only been in town about an hour. I probably should eat but I feel like I've been doing nothing but eat travel food for two days.

My bungalow at the Phu Khao Lak looks nothing inside like the cute picture, but I was greeted with a warm welcome and given a motorbike ride to the room. The cold shower felt pretty good after I got used to it, and it's a manual flush toilet. Which isn't a big deal here. Basically there is a bucket of water near the toilet with a bowl floating in it. When you are finished, you just dump water into the toilet until it's clean. When the bucket gets low, you refill it from a special spigot above the bucket.

I received my first two mosquito bites within three minutes of arriving.

And there must not be any bad spirits here, because someone just set off a load of firecrackers that went on for about a full minute!

Posted by sedda at February 11, 2006 07:22 PM