Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Jungle trekking!

After coming to Thailand last Saturday evening, I've finally had some free time. Time away from lesson plans, Concept Checking Questions and Student Talk Time. Three of us met up to go along to a gibbon project towards the north of the island. We took a tuk-tuk ride up there, which in itself was a bit of an adventure.
The gibbon project itself wasn't quite what we expected, that said I wasn't quite sure what I was expecting. Perhaps I was hoping for something more visitor centered. This place however was all about the gibbons, which is the point I suppose. After we had a nice chat with one of the volunteers we headed off into the jungle to see the waterfall there. Supposedly the biggest on the island. The guidebook said it was 15 meters. It wasn't more than 4 meters. There is a good chance however that the waterfall we saw was another one entirely. Suitably unimpressed, we pressed on further into the jungle. There was a clear trail and signs along the way, naming plants and commenting on famous events that happened in the area.
We took a plunge in a pool where, long ago, a leper took mud from there to ease his lesions. When he returned home he discovered that the mud had turned to gold. None of that happened with us, but we did have a very refreshing dip. The trek through the jungle went very well. We were walking along, and it started to get a little dark. Not long after the heavens opened. So very fortunately, at that moment, we happened across a covered work area. We took shelter there for a while, a little longer than it took us to realize that in Phuket, especially in the rainforest, it can rain for an exceptionally long time. Already the path was turning into a small stream. So we headed out into the downpour. We got thoroughly soaked, but still managed to enjoy the experience.
This weekend is the beginning of Ngan Kin Jeh, the Vegetarian Festival. It marks the beginning of Taoist Lent, a month long period of purification. Practitioners abstain from meat, alcohol and sex for six days whereupon they fall into a trance and, to prove it, perform acts of self-mortification. They skewer themselves and walk over hot coals. Sounds like it could be quite the spectacle.

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