We WWOOFers are early morning risers, even on our days off.
Friday morning we woke early and walked to the mountain near the Daruma Eco-Farm volunteer house. Four of us WWOOFers: JB (France) Catherine (Australia), and Gera (Israel). We climbed over the train tracks and cut through the neighbor’s property. Then we made our way in a zig-zag toward the mountain. Oh, and Maxi, Daruma’s mascot farm dog, came too. We had to walk through some tall grass and a sugar cane field – which made me really nervous about snakes – and then we finally reached a road. We crossed and there was another road leading up the mountain to a Buddhist temple. We walked some distance toward the temple, seeing many some Rhesus monkeys and Gibbons. They casually crossed the road in front of us. They could also be seen swinging through the trees, and lounging on the roofs of houses. Maxi chased a lot of the monkeys (no! come back! leave the monkeys alone!) so we didn’t get a great look. Then this crazy hoard of dogs came up at us – at least 20 – all barking and following us at a distance. Maxi got a little spooked. She wouldn’t continue walking with us, so we had to turn around and encourage her out of a hideout in the bushes. Our theory was that the monks got the dogs to ward off a monkey invasion. But in the end, the dog pack warded off us explorers, too.
We ended up walking over to a neighboring mountain – a much smaller one – and climbing that one instead. At the top was a golden statue of the Buddha. It looked like a burn site; charred and bent trees littered the landscape and ashes and debris were everywhere. It did, however, offer an amazing panorama of the city below.
We journeyed home after that and made some fruit porridge for breakfast. We all are loving the brown sugar lately. We seista’d, doing our laundry and chatting with two WWOOFers, Pam and Paulo, who were leaving for Laos. In the afternoon we all made crepes over the fire. I went up stairs to get something, and Pam and Paulo went to have a last look around the property.
Suddenly I heard JB yell, “Come quick! Guys! Snake!”
I rushed down but by the time I got there it was gone. The same snake was sighted earlier in the day, and it’s been identified as a cobra (grayish green). We believe it thinks the tall grass right by the kitchen is its territory. While JB was cooking in the kitchen, it literally slithered up between his legs and out again. Scary stuff. But now he gets to say a cobra slithered through his legs. Neil will burn that grass this week. Hopefully the cobra will find new territory, or perish in the flame.
When I think of snakes, and being scared of snakes, I always think of that line from Raiders of the Lost Ark as Indiana Jones stars down into the tomb: “Snakes? I hate snakes…”
I’ve never heard so many snake bite stories as I have since leaving home. In Wisconsin you can walk anywhere; step anywhere, without worrying that you’re stepping on something poisonous. Here, you must always, “take care,” as JB says.
Saturday morning we rose early again and headed to the mangrove conservation area in Chon Buri. Neil drove Troy, JB, Cat and I. He also acted as our tour guide, a role he’s well-suited for with his vast knowledge of planting and trees. He bought some mangrove trees for the farm last week, so soon Daruma Eco-Farm will have mangroves for WWOOFers and visitors to ogle and help care for.
The mangroves have footbridges built into them, and it was high tide as we strolled through the trees, watching the mudskippers. What an amazing little fish! They can breath oxygen out of their mouth, take it in through their skin, and their gills. They launch themselves up on these logs and sit out of water. We talked about the two different types of mangroves: those with wide root systems that span out and lift the tree a little above water for oxygen, and those that use a sort of snorkel system.
Then Neil drove us south to Si Racha, where we caught the ferry to Ko Si Chang. The ferry costs 40 baht, and it took about 45 minutes to get over there. Once there, we picked up a map at the tourist information office located very near the ferry dock.
There are many tuk tuks you can take across the island to the local beach, and it will cost you around 30 baht per person to go.
We decided to walk over there and get a ride on the way back. The walk was wonderful. The sky was blue, sun was shining, and there were many little villages along the way to buy fruit, snakes and water. We took our time getting to the beach and the walk was around an hour and a half.
The beach itself is small and relatively secluded. On the weekend, they’ll charge you 20 baht a person for beach chairs. We stayed all day, swimming and eating Sum Tum (spicy green papaya salad with lime, garlic, chili peppers, peanuts, dried shrimp, tomatoes, and fish sauce) with a liter of ice cold Chang beer (42 baht) and lots of good chat.
After the ferry back, we walked over to the Si Racha evening market. Si Racha is a cute little town with an exercise park right on the water. There was an evening step arobics/hip hop dance class in action as we strolled past. The night was breezy and a perfect temperature as we cruised over to the market and then through stall after stall of hip t-shirts, sunglasses, shoes, electronics and food. We decided to do a vegetable bar for dinner and then we found a taxi home again home again. It was really a wonderful day in all ways; after a shower and some aloe application back at the farm we all sat around over a glass of crisp cold water. JB strummed the guitar and we chatted and told stories on our last evening all together.