Monday, 29 February 2016

Exploring Krabi Province - 3. Hot Stream Waterfalls

The last stop on our exploring Krabi Province day trip was at the hot stream waterfalls.

That was a short stop. The shortest of the three. At first, I thought that would be too little time. After all, we were to walk to the waterfall, take a bath, rest for a bit, look around (as always a must!) and only then head back to the minivan.

As it turned out, that was more than enough.

After about five minute walk from the minivan through the jungle, we got something that looked like a construction site. Or maybe a place long forgotten? No, I'd go with a construstion site. Anyway, there were some buidlings, not yet fully organised little flower/plant areas, etc. We started looking around and got lost, whether this is it. Whether that was the place we were looking for. I saw some pictureson the Internet before the trip, but that was long time before and I wasn't sure. No one from our group was sure, so we decided to keep going. And that was the right choice.

A few metres further we saw it. Then we were sure it was it.

With just my bathing suit on, I couldn't wait to get into that hot water. Cause it was hot. Really hot. At first, I wasn't even sure if I'd make it. I put my foot in the water and started having second thoughts. It's so hot outside, why should I make myself suffer in the hot water? My husband alread said "pass" and decided to take pictures instead of sitting in the hot water for nothing. But being a woman made me prone to all the "it's good for your skin" stuff. So I convinced myself to keep going.

It wasn't easy. It's all in natural surrounding, so you have to walk on and between huge stones and rocks. You never know if your foot, that you're trying to put somewhere to get a little more balance and move on, would end up in water knee high or hip high. Yes, that mush difference in water level. There are places where you can easily lie down or even swim in, but in other places, right next by, you might hit a rock with your knee (very painful) when trying to swim. So you have to be cautious all the time.

There are signs stating how much time you can safely spend in the water (that given time is more than enough. Or was for most of us). And signs informing what minerals are in the water.

That was our last stop on that day trip. On our way back to the minivan (through the jungle, different path than on the way in), we spotted a lizard on the leaves of a plant, right by the path. Most people went by never noticing it. And it was so pretty, posing patiently for the pictures.

The next day we were exploring a different part of Krabi Province, on a half day trip. Yet again, we're going to see some monkeys!

Monday, 22 February 2016

Exploring Krabi Province - 2. The Ponds and Pools

We got back to our minivan. Everyone else got back. Even the guys that made it to the top of the mountain. We could move on to our next stop.

The stop I couldn't wait for.

The stop that was the pure reason for us taking the trip in the first place.

We were about to see the ponds/pools.

We got to our destination. The driver parked the car just next to a huge dining place. And told us to meet him there in about 90 minutes, if I remember correctly. Then took us to the entrance gate to tell the guards that he brought us (so that we wouldn't have to pay the entrance fees again) and off we were exploring the area.

Before we got there, I was aware that there were two pools to see. The Crystal Pool and the Emerald Pond. Ever since I saw the pictures of the Emerald Pond (like two weeks before the trip ;)), I knew I wanted to see it. But when I checked the maps, I never thought it would be possible to get there. Yet there I was, in the middle of a jungle, destined to see it in just a few minutes.

In order to get to the pool, you have to hike through the forest for a few minutes. 10-15 minutes, more or less. It depends, obviously, on how many stops you make on the way. And there are so many great things to see on the way. No, no things man made (that deserve the stop). Nature is the real constructor in that place.

When I look at the pictures I took there, I still can't believe that I saw it with my own eyes. They look like somebody else's photos, of places that are so impossible to reach for a regular person, that I couldn't have really been there. Yet I was. The forest, almost like from a horror movie (and a really scary one), was just too good to be true.

But where is that Emerald Pond? Can it get even better than this? Won't I be disappointed with the pond I really longed to see? Didn't I raise my hopes too high? And where is that Crystal Pool? Is the thing that I see, that water that I see, already the Crystal Pool or should I keep walking? I was lost, excited, scared of disappointment, happy and many other contradictory feelings all at the same time.

Finally, we got to the Crystal Pool. I wasn't that much interested in it, but I knew it was there. Frankly speaking, nothing special. I mean, it looked much better in reality than it does in the pictures. At least, in my pictures. But I've seen places with crystal clear (more or less) water before, so it wasn't that much of a surprise. We stopped, we looked, we took pictures, and... we went on... Emerald Pond, where are you?

After next 2-3 minute walk we saw a stream of water running right next to us. It started getting noisy, loud, with lots of cheers and laughter. I already knew we got to the Emerald Pond. It was full of people, cause that's the only pond you can swim in. And hot weather plus a bit of water means it must be crowded, right? No. There were people swimming in the pool, but much more were around it. We stopped, looked around, took a few pictures. And once we were almost ready to drop our shorts and shirts and get into the water, I spotted a sign.

Blue Pool? What is that Blue Pool? When I read about the area before the trip, I never saw a single word about the Blue Pool. The Emerald Pond - lots of information. The Crystal Pool - some as well. But the Blue Pool? Nobody was interested in going any further. As we could see, the Emerald Pond was the destination for majority of people there. So, of course, I had to keep going to see the Blue Pool. Better regret wasting time for seeing something (but then I'm able to say it based on my own experience) than regretting not seeing something (cause that's missing on an experience!). We checked the time and figured out that if we speed up, we might be able to both see the Blue Pool and take a bath in the Emerald Pond. And that suited us best.

So we kept going. The Emerald Pond ends with sort of a terrain rising a bit. It's not a hill or anything, but you can't really see what's behind it. You can't exactly see that the terrain is rising either. It's hard to explain, so you don't have to bother trying to get what I mean. But not until we left the Emerald Pond behind us, were we able to see what's ahead of us.

The area looked devastated. Broken trees. Tiny bushes. Sponge-like yellow surface. And a man-made path right through it. That was definitely... interesting. Something I already liked and I knew I wanted to keep going. No regrets, even if we don't make it in time to take a bath in the Emerald Pond.

We got to the jungle. Where are we going? Is there an end to this path? Oh, sorry, there's no path there anymore. At least not a man-made one. But lots of roots sticking out of the ground that you can easily trip over. There are high, green trees and bushes around. Some teeny tiny brooks.

And finally the path ended. We got to the Blue Pool.

Wow - was the first sound that left my mouth. And the second. And the third. Then I wanted to get closer. As close as we could. Wow.

A pond all black. With a perfectly blue middle. I mean, sky blue. So pretty. And, apart from us, there were just three other people there. Finally, we were left alone. In the middle of a jungle. Right by that miraculous place. That was so worth the additional hike. We considered staying there instead of going back to the Emerald Pond. A gem I never thought I'd descover. A place that stole my heart that day. And not the place I was longing to see.

I love such surprises. And I was so thankful to myself that I wanted to keep going and to my husband who was eager to keep going with me. Cause missing that would be a great loss (that I'd have probably never known of).

We made it back to the Emerald Pond in time for a quick swim. The swim itself was quick. Cause both getting into the pond and getting out of it, seemed impossible to do. The rocks around the pool were so slippery, that I was afraid I might slip into the pond instead of walking into it (and it was rocky, so not the best choise). And once I was in, I thought I'd never get out. It called for a lot of motivation and desperation both ways. But it was worth it. And, once again, in reality the water had much greater colour than it looks in my pictures.

Once we got to our meeting point, lunch was waiting for us. One of the best lunches we had in Thailand - foodwise. Cause we had lunches with better views ;) But more on that later. For both of us, we got three different courses, two bowls of rice, a plate of fruit and two bottles of water. More than plenty for two people. And delicious! What better might you want?

The Crystal Pool aka Sra Kaew
On the way to the Emerald Pond...
... and the Emerald Pond itself
On the way to the Blue Pool
Yes, it was definitely sponge-like. Soft, watery.
In the jungle
And, finally, we get to Sra Nam Phut. The Blue Pool.
Bubbles are released when you clap your hands
On our way back to the Emerald Pond
Aaaaand a quick swim ;)

What was your most precious hidden gem discovered, (un)expectedly, during your travels?
Travel Tuesday