Khao Sam Roi Yot, Thailnad
Well, it’s been an interesting period since I posted something last. We have been walking slowly up the coast and the scenery has been varied. A lot of the time we have been able to walk along roads that follow the ocean and at times we have even been walking along the beach itself. One of the few benefits of not having the Mule along! 🙂 But we have also been forced to walk along some major roads as well and that is not always as enlightening..
The plantations have slowly changed character as well. Further south it was mostly rubber and palm oil plantations but as we have moved further and further north, they are being replaced by coconut palms, banana trees and pineapple plantations. Most coconut plantations are just that but we have seen a few that use the ground beneath the palm trees to grow other crops. In fact we have seen some that have both coconut palms and pineapples, making them essentially Pina-Colada plantations!
We have been lucky to find reasonable accommodation without too many problems and the one night we did have some troubles it all worked out well anyway. We were heading north from Prachuap Khiri Khan and had our sights set on a hotel that Google Maps claimed was about 25 km out of town but when we arrived there it did not exist. There was a much more expensive resort nearby and we were forced to try our luck there, but they were fully booked. Instead we headed towards the small, very small, train station and sat down to try to figure out what we should do. Head towards the highway and hope that there was a hotel there? Or maybe even just take it easy and sleep at the train station? By this stage we had walked a bit more than 30 km and A-M was starting to get sore feet.
As we sat in our thoughts, a friendly Thai gentleman that spoke good English came up and wondered if we were waiting for the train. Turns out that there was a train back to Prachuap Khiri Khan in just 90 minutes! And there were plenty of cheap hotels to choose from there. Even better, there was a train back to Thung Mamao, where we were, from Prachuap Khiri Khan at 5 am. Ok, I was not to keen on taking that train but A-M was persistent….
That all meant that we could relax and wait for the train. It proved to be an expensive trip, costing all of 4 Bath, that’s less than 1 Skr!
Once we arrived back in Prachuap Khiri Khan we easily found a cheap and clean hotel not at all far from the station. We dumped our stuff and headed out to the Saturday night-market to get some food and then stocked up on stuff for our early start the next day.
The alarm went of at 4 am and we got our gear together and tried to leave the hotel. We were not very successful… Turns out that we were locked in. Every door to the hotel was shut and locked. There was no way out! We tried calling the hotel on the phone but got no answer. Even the fire escape was locked with a large padlock.. No wonder a lot of people tend to die if there is ever a fire in a hotel in Asia.
I was extremely pissed off but there was nothing we could do, we had already missed the train. Back to bed to try to get some sleep and get back up in order to catch the next train which we hoped would leave at 10 am.
That train did eventually leave, only 1 hour late, with us on it and we were able to start walking again from where we had left off.
, When we had walked through Prachuap Khiri Khan, the day before, we walked past the fountain near the Temple and it was packed with monkeys. We stopped for a while to watch them at play, jumping and swimming in the fountain. It was the first time I have ever seen a monkey swim underwater. It was obvious that they were enjoying themselves. Not all of them were super friendly though. One started snarling at me when I went to photograph him but the local guy selling food for the monkeys just indicated to me that I should just kick him if he persisted!
All in all it’s been a great week with lots of helpful people stopping to ask if we need help. Not only the Thais, but even a fair few expats have been extra helpful. There was the Norwegian who was out on a “short” 90 km bike ride who gave us some tips about which road to choose and then even turned up later in the day to make sure we were ok and walking on the right side of the road.
At one stage we were walking along a smaller road and a gentleman came out and asked where we were headed. It turned out that the road dead-ended up ahead and we would be better off turning around and trying to get back to the main road. He also turned out to be Norwegian and said that he had lived on this road for 7 years and never seen any “farangs” walking along it.
There are a lot of Scandinavians along this part of the coast, in Huai Yang all the Real Estate Agents advertised the price of their properties in Swedish kroner!
As usual, all the Thai people we have come into contact with have been extremely friendly and helpful. It is not always easy to communicate but their good intent always shines through in any encounter.
The only negative thing I can say is that it is very depressing to notice how most Thais just throw away their rubbish where ever they can. You can see heaps of rubbish almost everywhere, the places that are the cleanest are the tourist areas. When we were walking along the coast it was always easy to spot the beaches where there are many tourist resorts, they had been cleaned up. We actually started referring to the beaches where there was a lot of rubbish as “Thai beaches”…
One other fun thing that has happened is that I have once again met some long distance cyclist for the second time during the-walk. Just the other day we were walking along a main road when a couple on bikes passed us by. They were obviously long distance travellers and we said “Hi” as they passed. I sort of got the feeling that I had met them before, but was unsure of when and where. I kept looking over my shoulder at them and noticed that the guy was doing the same. All of a sudden it came to me. They were the couple I had met in Mount Saint-Michel, France, more than a 16 months ago! I waved at them to stop and come back.
Sure enough, it was Dino and Suzy, on their way from the UK to New Zealand. Since meeting them last, they had continued their journey east, while I went west. Now, 16 months later we arrived at the same place having gone in different directions around the world. Sort of proves that the earth is round!
For the first time in Asia we also ran (walked) into another hiker. As we were walking along the road in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park we were suddenly surprised by another walker that caught up to us. It turned out to be Mario, who was spending some time trying to find some places to do some hiking in Thailand. When we asked him how long he had been traveling he said it was a bit hard to say, depends how you want to define travelling. Turns out that he has been away from Germany for 4 years but has spent longer periods of time at different places (Asia, South America amongst others), and was not sure that qualified him as “traveling”!
Not many walking days to go now before I have managed to complete stage one of my Asian journey, Bangkok to Singapore. It’s been a bit of a puzzle making everything work in order to be able to celebrate Christmas with friends and meet up with A-M and have her walk with me for a month but has all worked out well. I think A-M is pleased to have regained the crown as being the person who has walked both longest time and distance with me on the-walk.
It will soon be time to head to Stockholm for 2 months of work, something that I am very ambivalent about. On one hand, it is always very inspiring to work with the students at Fotoskolan Stockholm and it will be great to catch up with friends, family and collegues, but..
I don’t like having to take such a long break in my walking! Never the less, it needs to be done, I need the money to continue. It will be a perfect time to organise the visas for Indonesia and Australia as well and I intend to try to improve some of my equipment as well.
I have been thinking a lot about photography, specifically my photography, lately and how it fits in with my take on minimalism. Not sure where it will all lead but I am sure that there will be some major changes made while I am in Sweden, but more about that later.
For now I am just content that there is at least a little bit of more walking to be done!