Thai tale on the road…Part Two
This is written from a diary entry I made in 2012. I was on a 4 week holiday from UK to visit my daughter and in all I covered around 3000 miles. This particular 7 day trip is my most memorable from that holiday, and included travelling with my daughter and three of her best friends.
Returning from my first visit to Chiang Mai by train, we were to go south and then travel back up the west coast via one or two of islands. Never daunted by a little adventure, and enthused by the prospect of a sleeper train from Bangkok to Surat Thani and onto Trang, we all met and had dinner at Hua Lamphong station. What a magnificent place, over 100 years old and boasting architecture including a half dome façade and clock face embedded to remind us all when to go! I remember being struck by the chaos which seemed to work, and the simplicity of getting things done.
With my group of travelling revellers for company, and a few beers and ‘in-flight’ food, the journey was memorable. I think I slept ok, and made good use of the facilities in the early morning. Then it was a case of watching my new world go by. Thailand lends itself to dreaming, wondering who the people are, and why are they so peaceful by comparison. By train you see much, but you will want to see more.
Trang arrived, chaos surrounded us and many other travelling types, but buses and vans were about to transfer us to a ‘boat’. These days the choices are varied, but you can take the local ferry or hire a private long tail boat from Kuan Thung Ku pier. We five hired the latter, after a bit of lunch and hard negotiation, our first destination was Koh Muk. The long tail was pretty impressive, the sea was fairly calm, and we passed one or two other unknown places on our way to our land. We swung round into what was to become known as Long Beach, on Koh Muk’s south-west coast. I was taken aback. There was absolutely no sign of humans, a few small buildings hidden in the trees, and a beach and scenic backdrop from any artist’s impression. It was perfect…
We stayed here for two nights, in a hut with a fan, and just wandered around the island and enjoyed the isolation and little bit of paradise offered. I wonder if it’s still the same?
Onwards up the coast by long tail, passing the islands and many other boats, we approached the mango strewn estuary, Lat Bo Nae, dividing Koh Lanta. Our pilot fancied taking a shortcut part way through…error! There is only one navigable channel. But we made land at Saladan Pier and found a small hotel on the beach, it was bliss for a night. The next day we were to take a ferry to Ao Tonsai Pier, Phi Phi.
Everybody in the world seems to visit Phi Phi at the same time! I don’t blame them, it’s got everything, including fame in the movies, and the memory of that dreadful event of 2004. I’ve been since, and still people flock there. In 2012 it was already bustling with food bars, street hawkers, etc. We were booked to stay on another ‘Long Beach’, 10 minutes up the coast. A little bit isolated, though it isn’t now, a scrambled walk back into town and really a good place to explore and enjoy a famous bit of a Thailand. Yes, we did ‘The Beach’ trip to Phi Phi Lee, though restricted earlier this year, it still fascinates people. It is beautiful, though human erosion is taking an effect.
From Phi Phi we ferried to Krabi, and then round the corner to Railay Beach. I remember the sunrise and sunsets being special. The ubiquitous bars and restaurants serve you well, and the limestone geology is staggering. Do you like monkeys?
The trip back to Bangkok was long. Krabi to Surat Thani, delayed train to Hua Laphong…tired but complete, the seed to revisit was planted.