Khanom fun

Okay, I may be living on the other side of the world, in a tropical paradise where the sun always shines and the food is amazing and cheap, but I’m still working. All work and no play makes Paul a dull boy so every now and again it’s good to take a little break to recharge the batteries, away from other people altogether. A weekend in Khanom fits the bill just perfectly and makes me realise how much I take my new lifestyle for granted after being here for just a few months. Em and I headed up there last weekend, shunning the fellow farang teachers with similar ideas and blazing our own trail…

Khanom is a small area on the coast just an hour’s drive to the east of Surat Thani, basically one long beach area with a few resorts mostly populated by Thais and, for some bizarre reason, Scandinavians. Seriously, there’s a Thai-Finnish fusion restaurant called Thai-Fi here. Bizarre. It’s something of a hidden gem at the moment – as yet undiscovered by the island-hopping traveller crowd (you can see Koh Samui from the beach) but the beaches are pristine and the accommodation affordable and relatively luxurious.

We decided to avoid the usual farang haunt of Rabiangsai and head further north to a secluded cove and a bungalow resort called Baan Tong Ching. It was a good choice, the cove being accessible only by a rocky hill track and the only other residents being a few Thais, no farang in sight. Fair enough it was pricier than we’d normally pay but I’m not going to balk at twenty-odd quid for a night in a double bungalow with en-suite and a huge patio looking onto a deserted beach. Plus our cabin had round portholes instead of windows which were covered in mozzie screens, resulting in some cracking photos when you apply the normally-crappy sepia filter…

Late 19th Century photography ftw...

Instead of the usual non-stop sunshine we were treated to some honest-to-goodness weather. There must have been a hell of a storm out in the gulf as the waves were bigger than I’d seen them before, there was a wonderful warm wind blowing in from the ocean and the sky periodically darkened to some truly apocalyptic shades. I know I shouldn’t complain about the weather, what with people back home being turned into icicles, but it can start to wear you down after a while. To sit in a gazebo playing cards in that wind and then lie at night in the bungalow listening to rain battering down on the roof was such a pleasure.

Oh, and another thing – constant wind is the absolute, hands-down best way to ensure a day free from my nemesis, the mosquito šŸ™‚

Insert obligatory Green Day "Welcome To Paradise" reference...

Next day the sun decided to poke it’s head out so we went exploring. After a spot of lunch at Rabiangsai, a frolic about in the waves and a beer with a few friends we bumped into at CC’s beach bar we headed further south. We were initially looking for a couple of waterfalls but spied some teachers ahead of us with similar intentions so decided to find another beach instead. Good job we did since a few km south, along some beautiful, winding, hilly coastal roads (which would have been amazing to open the bikes up on if we could have guaranteed no other traffic) we arrived at the end of the line, a tiny beach populated only by a small cafe/restaurant and a couple of shacks.

The waves down here were even bigger than further north, smashing the beach to pieces and carving out some wonderful formations in the sand. There were several rocky outcroppings against which the waves crashed, treating us to one of those humbling realisations of the relentless power of the tides and all that hippy crap. More importantly we were the only two on the beach so we could bumble about and take photos to our hearts’ content.

Don't want to court controversy but this may be even better than Porty beach...

Unfortunately this was on Sunday, meaning the next day it’s back to school. We had our bikes, meaning we had to set off in plenty time before it got dark – drivers here are bad enough at the best of times, interstates are pretty hair-raising once the sun goes down. Still, it reminded us just how close we are to such a beautiful, unspoiled part of the country. Makes me happy…

(PS – upcoming itinerary includes Khao Sok national park, a return to Koh Samui and Khanom with my old man, a birthday trip to microbreweries in Bangkok, a three-week trip to Vietnam – where I watched my buddies die face-down in the dirt – and a few days on Koh Muk or Koh Tao with Em. It’s a hard life…)

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