Day 31, laem sai beach to cheow larn lake

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Time to go! We met up outside our hotel for our usual 8:00 lift off. We were all excited for the day ahead that promised boats, Buddhas, and more.

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Our ride was along the coast early on, and we admired the kid’s bikes at this rental station.There were thousands to choose from! Even a pink bicycle with a side car!

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Ahhh…we breathed in the sea air for our last day on the Gulf.

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A tribute to the crab and its impact on the local economy.

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Kites for sale!

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The prawn business continues to prosper for many!

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Many areas had been planted to rubber tree plantations. With prices so low and China now producing its own, Thai farmers are converting their plantations to other crops.

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New crop going in. But what is it?!

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After a scenic, brisk 43 mile ride, it was time for Buddha! We piled into the vans and drove to a cave and sinkhole system that has been a temple for hundreds of years. Wat Thamsingkorn is known for its statues, paintings, and for a footprint attributed to Lord Buddha.

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We are trying to learn the significance of the various hand positions!

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This creature welcomed visitors to the entrance of the cave. Come on in!

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Cave entrance. There were very old paintings on the ceiling above us.

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Most of these Buddhas had little jars of something on their laps.

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Going up the stairways inside the cave, hoping the power didn’t go out….

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Dramatic sinkhole! And we were in it!

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Getting out was as much an adventure as getting in to the cave. We walked on over 1,000 little steps and stairways, up and down, and over a log like you see here!

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As we left the cave grounds we noticed this shrine to… roosters? puppies? piglets? A mix of the animal kingdom anyway!

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This must have been a very important tree!

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Spice Roads staff guided us into this tidy, neat airconditioned restaurant…

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Where we made a mess of things in short order! Another yummy lunch that made us crave dairy products to cool the heat in our mouths!

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On to our next adventure. We vanned for another hour which took us to the southwest, to the center of the peninsula. A rugged forested area was dammed about 30 years ago. According to Woody, Thailand has limited freshwater resources. This reservoir provides was for a variety of uses, and also produces hydropower. A growing use of the area is for tourism. Here we wait for our boat to go across the lake to our lodging for the night.

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Thai longboats waiting for passengers!

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We all boarded this one,carrying our overnight backpacks. Like we are going to summer camp for adults!

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This map depicts the reservoir and all the lodging that has been built here. We entered our boat near the Ratchaprapha Dam in the lower right. We had a long scenic ride to the location noted by arrow on the left. Lodging is typically the floating type, on little houseboats. We heard a story of a previous group that stayed at an older, government built floating lodge…and one of the lodges sank! In the past they were on bamboo floats, and now they are sturdier aluminum.

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It was an interesting boat ride…

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…but it was LOUD! Greg used an app to show us the decibel level. Happily we had been instructed to bring hearing protection!

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About 30 minutes into our ride, our friendly captain pulled up to another boat …

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… and we got a new captain!

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This is a limestone area, and the jagged hilltops are now dramatic islands.

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We boated through some scenic areas on the way. Like the Wisconsin Dells!

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And here we are, pulling up to Phupha Waree Floating House village!

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We all had our own little house boat moored solidly to the walkway.

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Sweet!

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Dreamy!

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View from our houseboat, no kidding!

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We jumped off our little docks and into the comfortable water for swimming and paddlesports.

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Then it was happy hour which we hold daily at 6:00 p.m. We relaxed on the astroturf of the boat landing zone!

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Like young people everywhere, the staff working here were super connected through their mobile devices.

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Happy hour and internet connectivity discussions.

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A lovely waxing moon came out…followed by a multitude of stars..

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We consumed a lot of beer! Greg gave a short lecture on acoustics and sound abatement, related to our noisy boat ride. Great to have knowledgeable engineers in the group! Of course that might be why we needed so much beer!

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Dinner was another treasure trove of local delights, including fresh sauteed greens, and delicious local fish. They got the memo about spiciness and no mouths burned tonight.

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After a great happy hour and full dinner, we returned to our little floating bungalows to sleep the night gently rocked by the lake waves.

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