The Royal Treatment
As sad as I was to leave my little Island Paradise, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience to follow. A fair warning, there are a lot of photos in this post as it was hard to narrow it down to even these few! This page may take longer to load because of that – but I promise it’s worth the wait!
Exploring Ranong ~ Fri, Jan 27
Lek, the owner of Rabbit Bungalows, had invited Tim (from Germany) and I to join him when he went to his hometown. Our adventure started before we even left the island. As the tide was so low, we had to climb aboard the ferry, go down the same steep steps as before, walk to the end and then climb through a window, onto the speedboat. As balance and I are not the best of friends, I held my breath until I was safely in my seat. After the glorious 40 minute speedboat ride, I had yet another opportunity to practice balance as I climbed off the boat and leaped onto the stairs.
Elin and Dan (from Sweden) joined us for the day as Lek took us to places most tourists in Ranong would never see. His favourite dessert shop (of course). A gorgeous drive up a windy mountain, with lush green trees and beautiful flowers that ended in a beautiful, private waterfall. How amazing to be the only ones there, how did I get so lucky? Sadly, we couldn’t swim in that one due to the heavy rains earlier that week, so off we went to a second waterfall and then had an hour to explore the hot springs. I’m pretty sure the other Thai locals enjoyed watching our reactions to the hot water.. note to self, even if it says 40 degrees C, if no other people are in the pool, it’s probably too hot! After our down time, Lek took us to his favourite restaurant. Packed with locals, this place had no English menus in sight, which was the start of my adventurous eating with Lek! Sadly we forgot to take pictures of this meal, but here are some from the day.
Back to Bangkok ~ overnight VIP24 Bus
After a sleepless overnight bus to Bangkok, Lek brought Tim and me to a hotel in Old Bangkok that has a great view of Wat Arun. The locals really know the best places. Although we missed the sunrise, it was still great to enjoy a delicious latte with an amazing view.
Ubon Ratchathani ~ Sat, Jan 28 to Tues, Jan 31
As the plane landed in Ubon Ratchathani, I was all smiles. This was a new way to travel for me. I had no idea really what we were doing or where we going. I was putting my trust in Lek, and discovered I actually liked not knowing. Which for this recovering perfectionist, type A over achiever… was very surprising. After a quick stop for a delicious lunch, Lek dropped us off at the hotel he owned just outside of town so we could shower and get a short nap in. Thank goodness for that because that started a whirlwind 60 hours! I will describe it point form and with pictures because I don’t even know how to begin to describe how lucky I felt.
- being part of Lek’s 33 year high school reunion dinner and being welcomed with open arms
- going to Lek’s bar to see a live concert, meeting Robert (from New Zealand), Jeff (one of my favourite Thai guys ever), and Dr. Ton (who saves children’s lives by day and sings BEAUTIFULLY by night)
- being welcomed on stage, by name, by Dr. Ton, so that a bunch of people came over throughout the night to say hello and welcome
- having front row seats at a live concert with a Thai superstar (so many screaming girls…)
- dancing for hours, and having my rum and soda water refilled as soon as any Thai person saw my glass was empty (which is almost always within 1 minute… so many drinks…
- having lunch at Dr. Ton’s gorgeous house, the palace in the jungle, and being invited back anytime
- playing in the Soi Sawan Waterfall, after being coaxed by Lek to join in under the freezing cold water
- going to Sam Phan Bok, at the border between Thailand and Laos, and taking a river boat down the Mekong River
- climbing out of said boat, across another boat and up a very thin ladder (again, holding my breath and being terrified I’d tip the boat) and then doing a full on photoshoot with Tim, Lek and Jeff amongst the lava rocks
- delicious dinner in town where I tried PIG’S FOOT! No lie. I didn’t hate it, but I also don’t desire to ever have it again
- said goodbye to Tim, as he made his way back home to Germany for three days and then off to South America
- yummy brunch, where Jeff taught me how to order at a Thai street food restaurant
- visiting temples with Lek, learning so much about the culture and way of life
- visiting a “Fresh Market” with Lek, where I passed live snakes, fish, turtles and watched a Thai woman gut a fish without even looking at us
- welcomed into Lek’s family home to enjoy a meal with his parents, his sisters and brothers in law
- tried ANT EGGS mixed in an omelette. And I even knew what I was eating. I did however, avoid the fried bugs
- visit to the Grandmother Gardens, a garden created in honour of the former King’s mother
- visited Robert’s school, and spent an hour in his Kindergarten class helping him teach the children about clothes
- said goodbye to Lek (without tears! miracle!) and made him promise that if he ever needed help with social media or proof reading marketing materials that he’d let me help him free of charge
Click below to open the gallery of 30+ pictures from my weekend with Lek and Tim.
Here is a link to a playlist as well, with some of the videos I took over this weekend. See the beautiful road to the Waterfalls in Ranong, driving the roads in Ranong and some great videos from the concert.