Phetchaburi to Kaeng Krachan Park

As I was in Mae Klong and Phetchaburi was so close I thought I would check it out.  As my trip to Mae Klong was just an overnighter I only brought one change of clothes.  Got up, checked out of the hotel, walked down the street.  Found a place that had eggs. No I don’t want fried rice.  Googled omelette and showed it to them.  A few minutes later, I had an omelette.

Ten minute walk to town, found a police officer asked for transport to Phetchaburi (you supposedy can go by train or bus.  He pointed me down the street and said green.  I saw a red bus stopped in front of a stand, pulled out my phone, pointed to Phetchaburi on a map.  Six guys looked at it (it was written in Latin letters not Tha) one guy said “Phetchaburi” and pointed to his motorbike. I inquired about the price, 60 baht.  Five kilometers later he dropped me off on the side of a six lane highway and pointed to a van.

I walked over. “Phetchaburi?”  The man nodded and showed me six fingers. I handed him 60 baht and now I am off on a two hour ride in air conditioned van sitting next to a pretty girl.

That was ridiculously easy.  We arrived in Phetchaburi in short order, I thought the trip was going to take an hour and a half.  I was deposited in front of a mall, went in, enjoyed a mall big hot pretzel, something I haven’t had for years and a large iced coffee.  I wanted to see ??? a famous cave with with a temple inside.  I found a motorbike stand and showed the name of the temple to several people. I finally found one that could read the anglicized version of the name, written in Latin letters.

He agreed to take me there for 60 baht close enough to $2 that it makes no difference.  Yeah, it was a cave,  not impressive and it had Buddhas inside.  I was expecting an actual building inside for some reason, I obviously got it confused with another cave I had seen on the internet. Whatever, we saw an unimpressive former King’s house, hard to call it a castle, the homes in my town in Texas are far more impressive architecturally and far better appointed.  The grounds were interesting, expansive and lush, but the monkeys were the most interesting thing.   They were everywhere and very aggressive. The people who worked at the park carried sticks and slingshots to fend them off.  One more stop, ??? another Wat.  That’s it. I don’t need to see more.  I was dropped back off at the mall.

How to I get to Kaeng Krachen Park? That would require a coffee and some internet research.  An inquiry on the internet stated that Rabieng Rimnum Guesthouse.  I showed the name to a motorbike guy and he quoted 80 baht.  I laughed and showed him 40 and started to walk away.  He accepted and a few minutes later dropped me off.  Nothing like that ever happened in Lao.

The place was situated next to a bridge and ran along a river.  This rustic room had shutters that were open, revealing a fair sized river and allowing a good breeze.  Out of the sun and cooled by the breeze and an iced coffee, ahhh.   I asked the woman who ran the place about tours to the park. She informed me that the head ranger was illegally foresting and that she no longer goes there.

Hmmm.  I ordered lunch and sat by a windowed and watched enormous water monitors on the banks and in the river.  A man drinking beer after beer introduced himself.  He was taking advantage of the four day Buddhist Saint’s Day with a vigorous effort to remain completely wasted.  He asked if he could join me and then prattled on about how missed South Africa and then proceeded to tell me that it was dangerous and that he had no friends there.  More rambling, I ignored him, he cared not.

It started to rain.  He was going to go home but didn’t know where he lived.  Really?  You live in this city and you don’t know where you live?  The operator called him a taxi and then two well worn folks came in, he greeted them warmly and then introduced me “This is my good buddy… what is your name?”  There was one grizzled Norwegian fellow  They sat around and had drunken conversations for hours, repeating what they had said but the audience had already forgotten that which was said five minutes earlier.  The all had beautiful girlfriends in Cha Am, they just couldn’t remember their names. I did get some suggestions for interesting places to go.  Finally I went to my room.  The mattresses were a couple inches thick of foam.  Unidentifiable fluids drained down the wall near the bed starting a few feet above the bed.  Nasty really.   The sink for the shared bathroom rested on and drained into a five gallon.  Quite the dump.  I was tired and slept well.

In the morning I headed out to the pickup spot for the minivans to get to the park.  After being told by numerous people that there was no van I located the spot as I happened to be asking the driver of the van.  A couple of guys from England showed up and we paid our 120 baht.  An hour or so later we were delivered to the information center for the park where admission could be bought for 200 baht.  However, the campgrounds were 36km into the large park, walking was not an option and transportation required a four wheel drive vehicle and there were none for hire.   This couldn’t possibly be true.  More internet research, yup you have to hitch hike.  Too bad there is no vehicular traffic, precluding that option.  I returned to the van that took us to the park and I am writing this as we ride back to Phetchaburi.

As soon as I got to Phetchaburi I decided to check out Ban Laem.  No buses? No vans?  Ok, I’ll take a motorbike.  Haggled, 100 baht and we were off.  He wanted to drop me off at the edge of town, I had him take me to the ocean. It was not the unspoiled beauty DSC_2566promised by the drunken Norwegian last night.   There were no hotels. None.  Not on Agoda, not a Hotels.com, inquiries in the street pantomimed yet obviously understood, nope the nearest was back in Phetchaburi.  I walked around for just a few minutes and inquired about transport to Bangkok.  This time I could talk. “Bangkok?” and the response was a point.  A few turns later and the next time I was told I was at the depot.  I saw a guy sitting at a table and invited myself to sit with him.  He was quite pleased and immediately took out his phone, pointed it at me and said “Facebook?” I gave him the thumbs up and he snapped away.  A couple of other people joined us.  Their expressions said it all, “Look a white guy.”  I had my picture taken three more times order one of whatever the lady was already cooking.  She got on the phone and soon a guy came over to tell me that the meal was free.

I gave one of them my phone number and told them through the guy who spoke english that I would send them the pictures I had taken.  I bought a ticket for the van, took a seat.  The driver showed up and directed me to sit shotgun. Nice people. It started raining and I added this boring shit to today’s blog entry.  See?  I told you I would be more current with my new notebook.

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