We spent Day 10 in Bangkok doing some last sightseeing and souvenir shopping. The highlight: an early morning trip to Lumpini Park to see hordes of Thai people doing Tai Chi, swordfighting exercises, fan dances, and aerobics. (On leaving, the doorman at the hotel said, “Oh, you don’t want to go there. Boring!” He couldn’t have been more wrong.)
After an overnight train ride, complete with drunk British girls, a highly mysterious food service plan, and a three hour delay (“The engine broke down and they have to send a new one from Bangkok,” a kind Thai woman told us), we arrived in Surat Thani, in the southern part of Thailand.
Total confusion ensued, as we tried to figure out who was picking us up, where we were going, who was in charge. Eventually we just decided to believe the guy who said “Here! This is your ride! Go with them!” Since the drunk British girls weren’t in the truck, we were glad to play along.
One long and bumpy songthaew ride later, we arrived at Treetops lodge. Treetops, you see, because we totally stayed in treehouses. High up in the trees.
During our day at Treetops: rope swing, tubing down the river, and MONKEYS.
At Treetops, we were sort of lumped along with another tour group, mostly British dudes, where we met Lindsay, the first American we’d talked to in over a week. She and I played former-high-school-debater geography and then she kicked our asses at Scrabble.
The next day, the whole mess of us were transported to heaven—er, I mean the rafthouses. Set on a pristine lake (man-made by a dam on the Kao Sok river), twenty rafthouses bobbed gently. Along the pathways, innertubes beckoned us to jump right in. We could dive in at our front door and float slowly over to the dining hall, grab lunch, and then float back. If we (read: Sandy) needed a little excitement, there was an insane rope swing.
We did a little exploring, most notably a tough, steep hike to an incredibly beautiful viewpoint. Some of the British dudes from the tour group lit up cigarettes at the top, and were heard to exclaim, “Oh, this is epic, absolutely brilliant!” (They were also heard to exclaim this about sighting some hornbills high up in the trees. They were really into birding. Birding and beer.)
Mostly, though, we just relaxed. Utterly and completely. Played some Scrabble, read some books, and lay happily in the water for hours.