Monday 27th Feb
Rainforest hike: we set off from the hotel. An underpass avoiding the busy 'logging' road led us to the track but there were a few tracks to choose from and no indication of how long any of them were. We chose the lakeside walk & headed off to the left down a very steep and rugged track, hanging on to a rope tied to the trees, for balance. After about ten minutes, the rope support ended and the track became impossible. We turned and retraced our steps to the main track and continued on that route not sure where we would end up.
A two hour, pleasant but hilly walk, punctuated by a sudden downpour half way along the route, led us to a rather ramshackled cafe where no one seemed to be in any hurry to serve us. When we asked for a drink, the woman just pointed in the direction of a table piled high with cans and cartons of drink.
Then there was a choice; go back the way we had come or take the road which was quicker but we would have to dodge the logging lorries. We chose the former but without all the stopping and detours, it only took an hour on the way back. 10km today.
Had the food from the Menu this evening; much better!
Tuesday 28th Feb
Left the hotel at 9.30am for the two & a half hour's drive back to Penang. Rang the car hire co. 10 mins before arriving at the airport as requested & a young employee was waiting to inspect the car - discovered that the trim around the from headlight was missing and wouldn't give us back our deposit! Much arguing ensued plus calls to head office. Eventually, they relented and paid up. Threatening a review on trip adviser really helps!!!!
Flight to Phuket via KL with an hour and a half wait in between. Both flights served chicken 'pocket pies', (not a culinary delight.)
At Phuket airport: taxi driver (no Ubers) chatted aimiably to a fellow taxi driver as we followed him to the car when Doug noticed that the one ahead dropped some money from his pocket & pointed it out to our taxi driver. He picked it out & pocketed the money! Doug remonstrated with him and the driver said 'do you want it? Doug said no but you should give it to your friend. At which point our driver shrugged at put it back in his pocket! So our first impression of Thailand: They have become very mercenary since we were last here 20 years ago!
Taxi to Tim's place and some confusion about his address - guard at the gate was adamant we were not at Surin Springs Condos yet the sign said Surin Spring! Eventually, when we mentioned our friend was a teacher at the International School, all was well.
As we hadn't seen Tim for twenty years, we had a lot of catching up to do! Late night chat and Cuba Libres!
Wednesday 1st March
Tim left for work early (6.30 am). We had a lazy day; a bit of washing, sorting, reading and a gentle walk around the area to pick up groceries for our breakfast. Tim returns at around 4.30 and after much chat we drive to a local restaurant and discuss what we'll do for Doug's Birthday tomorrow.
Thursday 2nd March
Another extremely lazy day. Amble to the shops for breakfast basics. Reading and catching up on the diary. Tim is home a little earlier and we celebrate Doug's 66th birthday with a Cuba Libre before driving to the 360 degree bar at the Pavilions, Laguna. Tim turned left and approached tall wooden gates. A guard checked his pass and the gates slid apart and we drove up a steep gradient first through a fairy light fantasy, then through an archway of bamboos to a car park halfway up.