Where are we now? As long as there’s sun …

I’m not really one for planned excursions where the guides make you stop off at certain points and do as you’re told for a set amount of time,  usually dotted with photo opportunities that you’re expected to grab and share and tag and show off with on social media.

Some sightseeing is a must, though, and visiting the Mangroves is one of those.  We’d chosen a half-day visit that involved a leisurely kayak ride and a stop to watch some cheeky monkeys from the boat.

We were collected exactly on time and stopped off at a couple more hotels for other sightseers.

They were all dressed for hiking in sturdy footwear and clothes, as opposed to the two of us in swimming costumes and flip flops.

After again weeing in my own face in a squatty loo whilst Donna had a luxury sit down wee next door, we boarded the longboat and set sail into calm waters.

An hour later we were steered into a still strait to a small rickety jetty. It was at this point we realised we were on the wrong tour.

Whilst the rest of the group took their lives into their own hands, or more accurately feet owing to the slippery, slimy rocks, we decided to sit on the jetty and ponder how we’d found ourselves on a caving excursion.

Three more caves and plenty of pondering later we quizzed the other group members and found that not only were we on the wrong excursion, but that it was a whole day trip; the good news being that there was food included and we would be able to swim and kayak.

The problem with this was that the ladders we had to climb in and out of the sea on were an instrument of torture on both our feet (being thin metal rungs on which it hurt to find purchase) and our upper bodies (being only two rungs so we had to pull ourselves quite a distance out of the water.)

We did manage though and rather enjoyed the dip in gentle warm seas followed by a kayak journey that began with Donna facing the wrong direction without realising and concluded with one of the other ladies in the group telling the guides off for having rubbish boat boarding and alighting facilities. 

We were absolutely shattered by the time the monkeys jumped on our boat and both failed to take a decent photo of the mummy monkey with a tiny baby clinging to her front.

And nobody seemed to notice that we were on the wrong boat, so we didn’t highlight the fact to anyone because we anticipated getting such a complex point over would be far too much trouble.

In the evening we set off for “a proper tea”. Donna is obsessed with proper teas but every time she mentions having one we end up having a snack to tide us over, and that snack ends up being enormous and spoiling Proper Tea plans.  We were determined this would not be the case.

30 seconds into our journey to find pizza and pasta and salad at the French Bakery the sky cracked open and dumped gallons of water on us.  We were desperate for our Proper Tea but the rain was too heavy for us to walk in (the boat food was chicken by the way so we’d only had a bit of plain rice all day) so we sat down at Happy Restaurant for a snack to tide us over until the rain petered out. Happy Restaurant is a roadside shack made of bamboo and old wood with artificial flowers, fairy lights, shell mobiles and all manner of other decorations, making it really pretty. The owner never stops working, talking, or smiling. And they really take care of us. We opted for a mango pancake and some fries. The lovely smiley cook threw in some spring rolls and tried to also feed us some tom yum soup on the house.

Imagine that: low season; we’re the only customers that we’ve seen there; very cheap and delicious food; and the owners wanted to give us free food that would have cost more than what we ordered.

A demonstration of the kindness and generosity we keep finding here.

We still managed to fit in a proper tea despite our snack that became a feast, albeit rather a lot later than planned.

It’s a good job that most of the places that are actually still open never turn down custom regardless of the hour, even when we asked for wine on a “No Alcohol” day. We had to have it disguised as pop and were served with a wink and a smile, which we just found charming and sweet.

I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere where everyone is so accommodating, and would encourage anyone planning a trip to Thailand to visit this special place.  There might be a language barrier but it is easily overcome by just smiling: the truly international language. 

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