. Lots of resorts and people everywhere. It wasn't horrible though and we were able to camp on the beach both nights we stayed. On the full day we stayed there, Mike met an American named Mike from Vermont who asked us if we'd split a boat ride around the island with him and his Thai friends. The island is small and only takes about an hour to boat around, providing the boat doesn't break down everytime we stop to snorkel. It was a fun way to spend the afternoon and we capped it off by drinks under umbrellas watching various Euros in banana hammocks. That night, we enjoyed some buckets of booze and then tented out. In the morning, we decided to move north towards the Issan region which is the northeastern most part of Thailand and abuts Laos (silent "s"), Cambodia and Vietnam. We aimed our sights on Khorat, a town that didn't look very far on the map but ended up taking six and a half hours by bus to get to. We found out that the SEA Games are going on right now in Khorat. SEA stands for South East Asian. It's been fun to sit around watching the games on TV. From Khorat that same night, we took an hour and a half bus ride north to a little town called Phimai. Phimai was very nice and relaxed and had some very old ruins that we toured around. Also, I got a nice shave at the barber with a scary sharp straight razor. We saw an exhibit of real Siamese cats which was funny if you've ever seen a cat in a cage that is angry. They were all meowing and all the signs around warned us not to touch
. Also that day, we walked to the allegedly oldest Banyan tree in Thailand. Banyans are cool trees whose roots grow above ground and stretch down into the soil and then resprout up. It's hard to explain and I'll put some pictures up soon. There was a booth were you could release an animal into the lake there for good luck, long life, money, etc. based on the different animal you released. I let a turtle go which is long life, Katy freed some eels for money and stability, and Mike let a bunch of catfish escape to get help defeating his enemies. It was a weird scam but fun anyway. That night, we went to the night market, a common occurance in Thai towns with tons of food stalls selling every kind of cooked and raw food. We saw a big bucket full of giant bugs! We watched some kind of soccer played on a smallish cement field with five players to a side. The next day, we left Phimai wanting to go to Khon Kaen, which is in the north. Unfortunetly, to get there, we first had to bus back down to Khorat and then up to Khon Kaen. It wasn't too bad however and after almost missing our bus, we were on track. The bus ride was fine, about two and a half hours and now we're in Khon Kaen. The main reason we're here is to get visas for Laos and Vietnam from their consulates in town.
This region of Thailand is really awesome. We've seen hardly any other tourists and the people are very friendly. I really would recommend others to travel this way if you're burnt out on the more crowded areas in the country. Also, being northern, it's a bit cooler which is a big plus. Also, I've decided that Thailand is pretty much heaven for me. You can't walk down a street without tripping over five different food carts that all have delicious food for less than a dollar. Tonight, we'll hit the night market here and sample their wares. The food has changed coming north too, more noodle soups and more places have chopsticks. I'll try to get some photos up here soon so this will be a more interesting read.
Ok, no pictures yet but I think I'll have a chance soon. For now, my poor description will have to suffice. We left Bangkok for the sunny beaches of Ko Samet (on the tenth I think), an island southeast of the city. After an interesting cab driver with our new found friend, Han, we caught a bus. It was a three hour bus ride that was fairly uneventful. We were dropped off at Ban Phe, a little town that just is there to catch a ferry to Ko Samet. Before we got on the boat, we walked the town a bit and looked at giant bags of various dried fishes and mollusks in a market. It was kind of like the Oregon coast with lots of little touristy shops selling shell curtains and pufferfish mobiles and such. Anyway, caught the ferry to the island which is about a half hour trip. Ko Samet is billed in guidebooks as being one of the more chill islands to go to in Thailand. One big draw for it (on paper) is that many Thais go there for vacation so we figured there'd be less touristy stuff. Unfortunately, a beach is a beach is a beach