Ok. So things got a little bit better here. The weather still isn't great, but I really had no choice, and I've just had to deal with it. It's kind of a waste to go to the beach and not go swimming, so when the rain slowed down around 4:30 I figured I might as well get a bit of swimming in. I played around in the waves for around half an hour, and then the rain started back up again. It was still warm, and the rain didn't really pose too much of a problem, as I was already wet, but it was still a bit disappointing as I was looking forward to having a slightly drier night than the last. Every once in a while you step back and take note of where you are and what you're doing. I suddenly realized that I was body surfing in the waves of Thailand looking back on a near empty beach backed by amazing jungle in the middle of a rainstorm. I was struck by how lucky I was to be doing this whole thing. I'm sorry for those of you who weren't able to join me, you really missed out.
I just had a talk with an older English guy who was looking to buy property on the island about how fast these places are being developed. The beachfront property on this island has gone from almost completely undeveloped to solid hotels and restaurants in a matter of years. The forests aren't lasting too long either, due to both legal and illegal logging. I guess the point is that if you have the opportunity to go visit places like these, by all means take it. Don't think about it, just go. Ok...enough of that.
The next day, I rented a bike and went around the island looking to do some hiking. I had a list of several waterfalls that had decent trails leading to them. I visited two of them, and at the third, I ran into a little setback. I had only been walking for a few minutes when I heard a rustling in the bushes to my right. I stopped, and watched as a huge black snake slithered across the path not four feet in front of me. It must have been around ten feet long and almost two inches thick. It made me think twice about going too far on my own, and I figured that maybe I'd scrap hiking for the rest of the day. When I got back to the internet cafe, I checked it out, and confirmed my suspicions that what I'd seen was a king cobra. The island has plenty of snakes, including king cobras and pythons. It was cool to say that I'd seen one, but scared me enough to make me a bit nervous about hiking through the jungle.
For that hike, I even had a guide, so I didn't really expect to have to deal with any scares like that, although I have to admit, my guide was less than ideal. When I pulled into the parking lot at the head of the trail, there was a dog waiting for me. He sat down next to me and waited while I got my backpack organized, and then when I was ready to start walking, he ran head about 30 feet and then stopped and looked back, as if waiting for me to follow. He continued to act as my guide until I saw the snake, at which point I turned around. I figured that he'd scare off any snakes or other nasty creatures, but I suppose a lonely dog isn't the best protection from stuff like that.
After returning from the trip around the island, I went back to my 'room' and waited for the electricity to come on. Of course, the winds and rain kicked back up, so I had to shut the door and use my headlamp. It doesn't really sound all that glamorous, but it's one of those things that you won't forget. How often are you forced to wait out a storm in a poorly constructed, leaky shelter doing crossword puzzles in the dark? It sounds less than ideal, but trust me, it's really not so bad as long as you can look back and laugh at how terrible it was the next day.