Day 289: 02/01/2020
Location: Samet Nangshe, Thailand
Miles Driven: 59
From Pattaya City, we had driven down the coast of the Gulf of Thailand. With the New Year came a new sea, as we crossed Thailand towards the Andaman coast. Driving inland, we passed by Khao Sok National Park, which unfortunately we had neither the time nor the money to do anything more than a drive by. It was stunning, and will be on our itinerary during future trips to Thailand.
Our camping spot that evening was one that had been recommended to us multiple times – the Samet Nangshe viewpoint. Up an extremely steep track, tourists access this stunning vista via the 4x4s that run up and down throughout the day. For 90 Thai Baht (£2.22) per person, they are driven up, spend an hour or so looking at the view, and go back down. For the same price, we got to camp on a plateau just below the main viewing area, able to soak up the view for as long as we wanted. It was glorious.
Day 292: 05/01/2020
Location: Koh Lanta, Thailand
Miles Driven: 279
Our final destination in Thailand was Koh Lanta (“koh” means island), another beautiful island that is extremely popular with tourists. We drove to what our camping app iOverlander told us was “the best wild camping spot on the island” to find huge concrete barricades blocking vehicle access to the beach. Only a year or two ago this was a beautiful undiscovered camping spot, and now it was a beautiful, very much discovered spot. The beach was full of people and there were no camping options other than the car park set back from the beach that had absolutely no shade. Not quite what we had in mind. We drove further around the island, passing countless hotel resorts, and finally found a section of beach that had not (yet) been built on.
We enjoyed an afternoon of swimming in the sea, walking along the beach and sunbathing, and started to cook dinner about an hour before sun set. The peace was disturbed by some people on the beach shouting; a Macaque monkey was running towards some bags that a couple had left on the beach whilst they paddled in the sea. The couple ran towards their belongings shouting at the monkey, but it was not phased, so the man grabbed his water bottle and squirted water at it. This worked, the monkey jumped out of the way…. straight towards the woman. It caught her hand as she tried to move out of its way, but before we had time to register what we had seen, the monkey ran away. We carried on cooking, grateful that it had not come in our direction, and mindful that we needed to finish cooking as quickly as possible as it could probably smell our dinner.
Looking over at the couple, it soon became apparent that the monkey had scratched the woman’s hand, and that she didn’t have anything (other than the sea) to clean or cover the cut. We took our first aid kit over and gave her antiseptic wipes and plasters. She was grateful, but didn’t appear as concerned about it as we were. If it had been us, we would have been going to a hospital to safeguard against rabies, but once she had a plaster on, she was more concerned about getting back to posing for the photos before the sun set.
We finished cooking just as the sun was setting over the sea. It was a gorgeous sunset, and we sat down to eat our dinner whilst watching the last slither of sun disappear behind the horizon. We’d had about three mouthfuls when we spotted that the monkey was back, once again making its way across the beach and this time slowly walking in our direction. The second we decided that it was too close for comfort, and that we should probably go into the car for safety, it started running towards us, as if it had heard us deciding to eat the rest of our dinner inside the car.
It is in times of crisis that one learns where each other’s priorities lie: would you sacrifice yourself to save a loved one? Much to Chris’ dismay, we both learned that when it came to my priorities, my own safety, and the safety of my food ranked significantly higher than the safety of Chris.
I grabbed the plate of spring rolls, ran to the car, and shut myself in, leaving Chris behind to try and get to the car whilst juggling the remaining two plates and bottles of sweet chilli sauce, mayo, and water. Once I was safe, I did at least open the car door for him as he had no hands left to do it himself. He got in the car just as the monkey reached our chairs. It had a look around, took the empty biscuit wrappers out of the drinks holders, and then climbed onto the bonnet of the car trying to get to the food we were holding on the other side.
We beeped the horn, trying to scare it away, but after an initial jump of surprise, the sound did not have the desired effect. It quickly realised that it couldn’t get the food through the window and climbed onto the roof, over to the back of the car.
Normally when we are cooking and eating, we leave the back door open with everything sat on the side to be cleared away after we have finished. Thankfully, after seeing the monkey earlier, we had made sure to put everything inside the car and close the door whilst we ate just in case. We could not however put the hot stove, or the pan of boiling hot oil (that we’d been using to deep fry spring rolls) inside the car, so we’d left that out.
Without pausing or hesitating, as if it did this every single day, the monkey went straight over to our stove and lifted the lid off of the pan, peering in to see what was inside. Somehow without touching the oil it knew that it wasn’t a good idea to try and eat/drink it, so, with as much care as a human, the monkey placed the lid back onto the pan and walked away – realising that it wouldn’t be eating at restaurant Natalie tonight.
Day 293: 06/01/2020
Location: Sakom, Thailand
Miles Driven: 211
Having slept awfully due to dreams of waking up to find a monkey in the tent, I got up early and sat on lookout duty in front of the car, ready to once again barricade myself in if it came back to see what was on offer for breakfast.
Sure enough, it came back, and once again I ran into the car, locking the doors, and leaving Chris to fend for himself in the tent. It climbed onto the roof of the car, and my dreams were becoming a reality. Chris (who despite my warning had chosen to carry on sleeping rather than get up when I did), was trapped in the tent with only a piece of canvas between him and the monkey. I beeped the horn, and Chris banged on the sides of the tent, causing the monkey to retreat to the nearest tree, but not quite give up yet.
Using the only resource available to him inside the tent, Chris made pellets out of toilet roll and started throwing them at the monkey. Again, the attempt to scare it failed, and the monkey enthusiastically jumped to the ground, looking to see if Chris had thrown food in its direction. Upon realising that the toilet paper was not a tasty snack, the monkey climbed back into the tree and we (Chris in the tent, the monkey in the tree, and me in the car) spent the next five minutes engaged in a three way staring contest until the monkey eventually got bored and disappeared.
Crisis averted, Chris was able to get up out of the tent and we got ready to leave at a much quicker pace than our usual relaxed mornings. After a quick breakfast (eaten whilst sat in the car of course), we drove back to the ferry, for our speedy (under 10 minutes) voyage back to the mainland.