roblog - Official Blog of Rob Hurvitz

8 Jun 2008 - 4:21:32 AM
Two Nights in Bangkok

I've been to Bangkok twice before but for various reasons I'd never actually made it to the Royal Palace and the big name Wats. This time I was determined to finally correct that, and I'm happy to say that today I was finally successful. Flew in yesterday afternoon and, after settling in to a nifty little guesthouse called the Shanti Lodge, took a walk which ended up becoming a tuk-tuk adventure. Gotta love those tuk-tuk adventures. This one had a surprise ending, though -- after the obligatory tailor shop stop that I think lasted all of three minutes, the driver took me to a temple, but when I finished my little visit and came back out, he was gone. My tuk-tuk driver ditched me! He just took his free gas from the tailor shop and left -- I guess it wasn't worth his time to ferry me around another hour or so for 20 baht. There were plenty of new tuk-tuk drivers ready and willing to take me on a new adventure, but I decided to just walk back to the guesthouse.

And yes, today I visited the Royal Palace and Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho and Wat Arun. Whew. It's nice to finally check those off the list.

My vacation is rapidly coming to a close. Tomorrow morning a taxi will pick me up at 4:00 a.m. to take me to the airport for my 6:00 a.m. flight. Ugh. That is wrong in so many ways. Ah well.

Buddha in repose
The massive (46m long, 15m high) Relaxing Buddha at Wat Pho - Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Arun critters
A demon and a kitty at Wat Arun - Bangkok, Thailand

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6 Jun 2008 - 7:57:33 PM
Wat Tam Seua

Here are some pictures of Wat Tam Seua for your viewing pleasure: a view of Krabi from the hilltop temple, Buddha's footprint, a monkey, and an odd statue of Buddha cutting his hair.

Krabi from above
1200+ steps is a pain, but at least you get a good view of the surrounding area. This one is looking south over the town of Krabi.

Buddha's footprint
Buddha's Footprint is still there at the top of the karst. I like the reclining Buddha watching over his own footprint.

One of the many monkeys frolicking about the Wat. Why do I keep taking monkey pictures?

cut your hair and get a robe
I've never seen a Buddha cutting his hair statue before. Or maybe he's holding a curling iron. Hard to tell.

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6 Jun 2008 - 7:07:57 AM

I suppose this will be a quick post, especially since I forgot to bring my camera along in order to upload an interesting picture from Wat Tam Seua (Tiger Cave Temple). I was there with my brother in 1994, and it's still there. They're building a big new temple and seem to have added a few little things here and there since that last visit. The 1200+ steps to the hilltop temple seemed the same, though. My work out for the day.

So yeah, I finally left Koh Phi Phi this morning. Amanda and her new friend Ann headed on up to some national park a little ways north, and I bused in to Krabi Town. It was a perfect backpacker goodbye: getting off the ferry and being herded in two different directions, then stopping, turning around, and waving goodbye to each other. Very quick. Her boyfriend flies in to Thailand in about a week, but that should be plenty of time for her to get into all sorts of trouble. Anyway, I'm hanging out in Krabi for today, then flying to Bangkok tomorrow. On Monday I'll be back in Seattle. Where did the time go? I'll have to start thinking about my next trip...

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5 Jun 2008 - 7:00:27 AM
Snorkeling and Climbing

Well, this time, instead of spreading out the snorkeling one day and climbing the next, I slapped them both together. On the same day, that is -- not at the same time. Did a snorkel trip from 10:30ish to 3:00ish, which was okay. There were three snorkel stops around Koh Phi Phi Lay (Little Phi Phi Island). The first was short with not a whole lot to see. The second is supposedly awesome when there's visibility (today there was way too much plankton in the water to see much of anything). The third was quite nice. But it was a little expensive for the brief amount of time and the lack of any food other than bananas on board. Oh well. The climbing was much nicer, at least. It was our last day of climbing in Thailand. Four days at Railay and four days on Koh Phi Phi. Not bad. I would like to return to Railay and do more climbing one of these days, but who knows when that'll be.

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3 Jun 2008 - 9:39:07 PM
Koh Phi Phi

What to say about Phi Phi? It's a beautiful island, but very touristy. Not really the kind of place I'd want to hang out, but hanging out I am. There's a very easy to reach crag, Tonsai Tower, with 30+ routes on it, from 5.8 to 5.11. Got two afternoons of climbing in, and we were planning on a third today, but the rainy season seems to have finally arrived. In the morning we walked up to the island viewpoint, took a few pictures, and then the rain came down. We waited for a bit, but eventually just came back down (at least I had my umbrella) and found refuge in an internet cafe. The rain seems to have mostly stopped now, though -- maybe the rock will dry out in the next few hours. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Looks like rain
Koh Phi Phi, Thailand, minutes before the rainy season started
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1 Jun 2008 - 6:48:40 AM
Climbing and Snorkeling

Okay, I won't talk ad nauseum about climbing in this post. Just a little bit.

Yesterday's snorkeling trip was pretty fun. It was an afternoon/sunset/night affair, and I must say that it didn't disappoint. The snorkeling was decent. I've been spoiled with amazing snorkel areas in Indonesia, the Red Sea, and the Great Barrier Reef, so I have to say that the spots we went to weren't amazing. The reefs were a bit small, and there were a couple spots with lots of dead coral. But I saw a reef shark, which also saw me -- it literally turned tail and shot away -- and a moray eel, and our guide pointed out to me a blue sea cucumber (vicious, those sea cucumbers), as well as lots and lots of tropical fish whose names I don't have a clue what they are. A definite highlight was the night swim in the bio-luminescent microorgamism area. We jumped in, and were surrounded by a thousand points of light, to borrow a phrase. You moved your hands, kicked your legs, and these blue pinpoints would spiral around your limbs momentarily. Seemed like something out of The Lord of the Rings.

And now for the climbing! Spent the afternoon at Fire Wall off Tonsai Beach. Only did four climbs (one of them twice, though), but it tired me out. The first was an easy 10a called The Groove Tube that is a local classic -- sometimes there is a line of climbers waiting to climb it. We lucked out on our timing -- this is the route we did twice. A couple meters to the left was another 10a, For Haiga, which wasn't as easy, but still fun and interesting. Then I tried the 10c between those two, and that was definitely harder. I ended up hanging on one of the bolts, so I missed the flash. Ah well. On our way to a 5.9 on the left side of Melting Wall we passed by two guys from Utah who didn't quite make it up a 10d called White Hot Hernias just around the corner from For Haiga. The leader had been stuck on the third from last bolt for a while and had tired himself out. They offered to let me give it a go so that they wouldn't have to leave any gear behind, and after a bit of hanging and figuring out the moves, made it to the top. Pretty cool route, I thought, and luckily I did not develop the titular condition while climbing it. Then we headed to the 5.9, but it didn't look particularly appetizing: the final moves went through some vegetation to reach the anchor tree. So we called it a day. And yeah, it was a good day. Here are some pictures to prove it.

On our way to snorkel
The long-tail boat passed underneath that bit of rock jutting out.

Groovy, Baby!
Entering the Groove Tube, 6a (5.10a)

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