It was a shock to the system getting on the bus from Ton Kloi to Khao Lak. There were WHITE FACES! We hadn’t really seen any other farang for almost two weeks.
Khao Lak is definitely a tourist area. It’s on the Andaman Coast, and was one of the parts worst affected by the tsunami, probably because there aren’t many islands directly offshore. It is in Khao Lak that there is a Navy boat one kilometre inland, washed there by the tsunami.
On Mass’ recommendation, we stayed at Bang Niang Beach. It’s not as developed as the other beaches in the Khao Lak area. That said, there is not one square inch of beach that doesn’t have deck chairs, restaurants or resorts. Some of the resorts are hundreds of dollars a night!
We went to Khao Lak because Mass has always said that his vision is to make Ton Kloi into something like Khao Lak. We were expecting Khao Lak to be a village, the base for tourists to head into the Khao Sok National Park or out to the Similan Islands. Instead, we discovered that it is a 30km stretch of the coastline! (That’s like Dee Why to Palm Beach, Sydneysiders.)
Clearly, Mass has a highly ambitious vision … read more.
This is an auspicious time of year for the Nott clan. Jenny Nott, Emma Nott and Tom Hale (formerly Nott) all have birthdays within a few days of one another. When we heard that a family gathering was planned on Koh Samui to celebrate Jenny and Emma’s birthdays, it seemed like a good idea to arange our itinerary so that we could join them for a few days.
We arrived by ferry on the 26th, a couple of days after Emma’s birthday (which she celebrated at the full moon party on Koh Phangan). We waited for the crowd at the door to clear before hoisting our backpacks and heading ashore – something which could have been considered a mistake.
In typical Thai style, the minibuses which transport people to the other side of the island had either left already, or were not going anywhere until the next ferry arrived (in an hour) and they could fill the van … read more.
Koh Samui is BIG. It takes 45 minutes in a minibus to cross the island from the ferry terminal to Chaweng Beach, where the Briza Resort is located. And that’s not the longest axis of the island, either! We didn’t try to see the rest of the island – the views of Chaweng Beach from the Briza Resort were enjoyable enough for us.
Various members of the extended clan did take tours, visiting the Big Buddha (how unimaginative, Koh Samui – so many places have a Big Buddha. Why not be creative, like small Australian country towns, and have a Big Something Unique? Something that exemplifies Thai life. A Big Gecko, for example. Or a Big Chilli. Or maybe a Big Condensed Milk Tin …) and the grandfather rock (phallic) and grandmother cave (let your imagination run riot), among other tourist attractions … read more.
The first order of business when we arrived on Koh Phangan was to get from the wharf at Tong Sala to the bungalow we had booked for our first night.
Even with our best haggling, we couldn’t get anyone to budge from charging 200 baht per person for the journey. It’s an outrageous price, but if the alternative is walking, you just have to smile and pay it.
The bungalow was up the hill from the road, which meant it had a great view, and also meant that we had to carry our backpacks up dozens of stairs in the blazing sun … read more.