This is part two of my trip report to Somewhere in Thailand. If you missed part one, please click here.
After leaving the Ekmans, I drove north a few kilometers to the town of Sichon. From Google Earth’s satellite images, it looked like a place with nice beaches and interesting scenery, but I found neither. Probably in the wrong place.
No matter. I had a longish drive ahead of me up to Khanom, so I decided to stop sightseeing and just get to my next hotel. I’d pictured myself arriving in time for lunch, and then just relaxing on my balcony, enjoying spectacular sea views. The first of those worked out okay, but I was quite shocked to find the accommodation consisted of concrete block chalets, none with a sea view, and with just enough room for a bed and a shower. I stared in disbelief, and if I hadn’t paid in advance, I would have left immediately to find somewhere nicer. But, without wasting a lot of money, I was stuck.
I really couldn’t figure how I could have made such a mistake. But now that I look back at the website, I realize they cleverly only show the interior of the rooms, plus the restaurant, pool and beach area, which I have to admit, even in my photos, look quite nice. My mind had invented the hotel image and my private balcony, but it simply never occurred to me the hotel would be anything other than a proper structure. Anyways, lunch was good, and the beach was long and deserted, so all was not lost. But then came shock number two.
Even while I was eating, tables and chairs were being moved. The waitress was friendly and spoke good english, so I asked her what was happening. “Oh, we have a party coming in this evening for karaoke” she said. Not the dreaded “K” word! Listening to people with no musical talent whatsoever is bad enough, but having them screech in a language I don’t understand, is ten times worse. But, as I later discovered, this is how the hotel survives. Large parties stay the night, and screech the evening away in apparent drunken bliss.
Even my afternoon nap was disturbed as the workers eagerly setup their equipment for the evening, and I was serenaded with people shouting “Tessssssss, Tessssssss” and counting backwards in Thai. Just as I was about to give up on my zzzzz, everything went quiet. Really quite. Then I realized the power had gone off, which meant no karaoke … and no air con. Time to get up and head out. Clearly I was going to be spending very little time in my private concrete bunker.
If I’m honest, this turned out be a good thing, because I was forced to stay away from the hotel, to find all the secluded beaches, nicer hotels, and pleasant restaurants. And next time, I’ll know not to stay at the Alongkot Beach Resort!
For the rest of the afternoon, I didn’t venture too far. Just checked out the nearby town of Khanom, found a reasonable-looking restaurant, visited a few beaches, bought some Chang beers at 7-11 to help drown out the karaoke, and then had a long walk on the beach at the hotel.
One thing I was hoping to see was pink dolphins. Apparently the Khanom beach area is famous for them, and yes, they really are pink. There’s a jetty at the end of the beach from where, I had read, you could see them. But the jetty is now a very commercial area with rocks and gravel being trucked-in and loaded onto large freighters. That would scare anyone away, especially dolphins.
Anyways before the noise started at the hotel, I headed back to Khun Lee’s Restaurant for a very pleasant local meal. Unfortunately they closed at 8pm, although I managed to stretch this to 8:20 without getting thrown out.
Okay, so what did I find in this area?
In a nutshell … beaches. Bays, coves, long stretches of sand, some pebbled areas … every kind of beach imaginable, all deserted, and all within a 30-40 minute drive of Khanom. Here’s a selection…
But, to find them you have to be a little bit adventurous. I don’t think any GPS software, Google Earth or Google Maps can tell you if a narrow strip of gravel really leads to a beach. You have to try them. Most do, but some don’t. For sure, a large car would be a handicap, but my minute Honda Brio seemed to be able to do a three point turn on a postage stamp, so I never really found myself doing much reversing. One road led to a surprise…
I was on a narrow strip of concrete which was descending towards something I assumed would be a beach, but eventually I found myself in a tiny village of wooden shacks. I’d just passed a junction and figured the other road must lead to the beach, and was about to go back, when I spotted, at the end of the road, a blue and white “P” sign. That seemed odd. If there was a marked parking area, there must be something to see, so I headed on.
I parked, grabbed the camera, jumped out, and was greeted by a German man. And behind him was his A-frame cottage, which should have been nestling somewhere in the Alps. A very odd sight.
So, we chatted. I was introduced to his Thai wife and his dog. Their cottage is right at the water’s edge, and they have lived there since before there was even a road, or electricity! Now though, they are quite easy to find, which is a good thing, because they operate a German restaurant, and have a spare room facing the sea for bed & breakfast guests.
You can find them on the web at http://www.primethai.com/gruenerbaum/index_en.html
If you feel like spending a few nights there, drop them a line. Rates are very cheap and the food is great. And Dieter has lots of stories to keep you entertained.
Apparently this is the place to go if you want to see the pink dolphins. They will arrange a boat, and the local boatmen can be at least 80% sure of locating a pod.
So, I stayed for lunch, chatted some more, and then went off to find more beaches.
My evening was spent back at Khun Lee’s restaurant, followed by beer, packing and an early night. My final day was just an easy drive back to the airport and the short flight home.
To summarize: If you are looking for somewhere peaceful and tranquil, with friendly family-run hotels and restaurants, head to either Surat Thani or Nakhom Si Tammarat airports. You won’t regret it.