After an interesting two nights and one day spent in Pattaya, we were ready to go somewhere else and explore. We woke up Sunday morning itching for an adventure. Among the considered activities were bungee jumping (sorry mom and dad), visiting an elephant garden, island trip round two, and this awesome idea of an “open” zoo. Originally we ruled the zoo out because it was far away and seemed difficult to get to. The zoo has a car service to come pick people up at their hotels but that was far too expensive for our college student budgets. After a heated debate (not really), we decided that what we all wanted to do the most was go to the zoo and roam around with animals. But there was the challenge of actually getting there. It was over an hour away from Pattaya making it too far to take a taxi and there are no buses that go to it.
So we checked out of the hotel, hoping for the best, but the planner in me doubted we would ever actually make it. But this is when the awesome transportation luck that I mentioned before really kicked in. We first had to get back to the bus terminal we came in on (so we thought). But upon arrival to the bus station we found out that none of those busses were going to the Chonburi station where we thought we had to go. We were told “walk three minutes to the street and wave down a bus”, which just furthered by doubts. But the universe wanted us to go on this adventure.
Literally the second we got to the corner of the main street a bus driver of a bus with Chonburi on the side of it waved at us and when we waved back he quickly pulled over. After paying 80 baht (around $2.60) we were on a bus headed to Chonburi. Immediately 3 out of 4 of my travel partners (including myself) feel asleep. When we woke up we realized that we were never really sure that Chonburi was the place we should go to try to get to the zoo. Luckily, the only non-napping member of the group had talked to the bus driver and now knew where we should actually get off. After another 20 minutes we arrived in a city that turned out to be about 25 minutes from the zoo. At the time we had no idea really where we were or how close the zoo was. After a quick snack stop at 7-eleven (a staple of every street in Thailand it seems), we began to try to find transportation to the zoo.
We first tried asking a driver of one of those trucks I mentioned in the last post but his offer of 500 baht seemed way too high and we had no idea how far away this place was. A motorcycle-taxi driver overheard us and pointed to his friend the tuk-tuk driver. His offer of 300 baht ($10) seemed better but we were still unsure. It was especially confusing because he had someone translating for him and was saying something about 4 hours and round trip. So naturally we thought that this meant we were about to embark on a 2 hour tuk-tuk ride to the zoo (they aren’t exactly the most comfortable mode of transportation). After bartering the fare down to 200 baht, and determining since it was so cheap there was no way it could be a 2 hour ride, we headed to the zoo. It was a pleasant 25 minute ride out to the zoo and we passed an awesome golf course.
Once we got to the zoo the English-speaking ticket seller asked us if we had arranged transportation back from wherever we came from. Well, we hadn’t because we (foolishly) assumed that there would be taxis or a tuk-tuk available for us to take back to where the bus had dropped us off. So the ticket seller told us to arrange a deal with the tuk-tuk driver that had brought us there. So after a little bartering it was arranged that the tuk-tuk driver would wait there for 3 hours while we went to the zoo and then take us the 25 minutes back to the town (this costs us 300 baht or $10 and this included him sitting just there)!
Now that I pretty much wrote an essay on how we got to the zoo I can finally tell you what we actually did at the zoo. The Khao Kheow Open Zoo was not much like the Dusit Zoo in Bangkok that I mentioned in one of my first posts (even though that was awesome too). It is a huge zoo that has many free-range (so to speak) animals. The zoo was so large in fact that we rented a golf cart for the four of us to drive around for two hours, which would have been fun even if the zoo wasn’t that cool. We did so many fun things I will just have to highlight my favorite parts. I got to feed a giraffe, touch a rhino, get my picture taken with an orangutan that put his arm around me, watch monkeys just doing funny monkey things, I saw lions, cheetahs, and tigers, and basically did any cool thing you could possibly do at a zoo. It was so awesome.
Here are some of my favorite pictures but the whole album can be seen here.
After we left the zoo we took a beautiful sunset tuk-tuk ride back into the town and asked the bus driver to take us to the bus station (that we were just hoping actually existed). Continuing on our lucky streak, a bus was leaving for Bangkok in 10 minutes. However, our transportation luck ran out there and the bus broke down an hour into the trip. We then had to wait for another bus to come pick us up and an hour and a half trip turned into a 3 hour one. We just had to laugh though and say the Thai saying “mai bpen rai” (meaning it doesn’t matter), because we had been so lucky that whole weekend. After that we were just a few short skytrain rides away from our hotel in Bangkok then we were up early Monday (my birthday) back at work from 9-5.
So to say the least I had an awesome, unique, fun, and funny birthday weekend. I made so many memories and couldn’t have asked for a more hilarious and fun group to explore with. It makes me excited to know that was really just the first weekend here and the second one is starting right now J
I’ll let you know what exciting adventures this weekend has in store early next week!