We had one goal in mind. To see Catching Fire in English. Our options were to head from Kanchanaburi to Bangkok or Hua Hin. With a political coup brewing in the former, we chose the latter and went by minibus. A moment of politeness on our part resulted in seats at the back of the bus with Kyle sharing 1/2 of a seat with a pink suitcase. Fun.
We picked a seriously cheap hotel right next to the movie theater. Clearly we were on a mission. And it was perfection. I don’t think I’ve ever been so giddy about seeing a movie but a dose of Hollywood blockbuster is just what we needed.
Hua Hin, however, was not for us (well, Sean feels differently…see his post) – a dusty strip of chaos: knick knack shops, construction and tourists abound. We packed the next day and moved onto Prechuap Khiri Khan, 1-1/2 hours south.
Prechuap Khiri Khan
Here we hit gold. The quintessential mellow seaside town, replete with seafood, smiles and sun. Thanks to a prior rtw traveling family, we knew to look up O Design Bay Hotel, an inexpensive oasis in the middle of town…spacious, modern co joining rooms with desks for homeschooling and good coffee to boot. Prechuap has a long, clean promenade perfect for a morning run along the shore….you learn to appreciate a good sidewalk in SE Asia!
Plenty of mellow activities for families in Prechuap. Amy of the Worldschool Adventures blog captures them well here: http://worldschooladventures.com/2013/02/09/things-to-do-in-prachuap-khiri-khan/
Our last day in Prechuap was the King’s birthday, who is quite revered in Thailand. We watched the parade in his honor and then took our celebration to the beach with inner tubes, endless waves, seafood fried rice and Chang beer.
An hour south of Prechuap, we landed on the near deserted gulf beaches of Ban Krut. Most tourists go to the Andaman coast in winter and leave the gulf until summer. Wind, waves and solitude.
The first plunge brought jellyfish stings and thereafter we enjoyed the view from the hammock but not the sea itself.
The town was quiet…relaxation is the only item on the menu in the low season. We stayed at Rachavadee Beach Resort, simple beach bungalows with outdoor stone and rock bathrooms. A couple of the bungalows have a loft for kids (steep ladder…not safe for small kids). The property itself is beautiful, albeit overpriced, with a gorgeous slice of beach. Kyle said it was the first place in Thailand we’d been to that he’d return. Got to get that man a hammock when we return home.
Heading southwest, we made our way to the island of Ko Lanta. When deciding which Thailand beach to visit from afar, the choices seem endless. We picked Ko Lanta because it was described as laid back, party free, family friendly. In reality, its one of the many spots in Thailand that is no longer as precious as it once was…tourist development abound, dead coral washing up on the shore (due to climate change). Had we come straight from a Seattle winter, I’m sure we would have found it paradise. But we were just plain tired…it was the end of our SE Asia leg and we were ready to move on.
Not to say we didn’t have fun! Staying at Castaway on South Long Beach, we explored every nook and cranny of the beach…even stumbling upon the nude beach at the north end (Kyle & I stayed nonchalant thinking the kids hadn’t even noticed and as we walked away, Sean asked “Why were those people naked?”). We swam, snorkeled, read, napped and started again.
Our best day was our last day in Ko Lanta…we took a long tail boat to Ko Rok and snorkeled in the most gorgeous emerald green sea followed by dips in the clearest Tiffany blue water. We saw live coral and the bright, beautiful fishes that come with it. It was a perfect way to end our time in Thailand.
I’m still processing Thailand. Perhaps its because the paths there are so well trodden by tourists…or that the sex industry is so openly on display…or that we personally failed at making local connections. But we didn’t love it in the way I anticipated and I’m still working through why.
I find a look in the rear view mirror helps. So as we soak in our next destination, I’ll be pondering Thailand. Munich, here we come!