22 – 27.2.17 Koh Muk – Zen Paradise

The problem with paradise is the difference between the fantasy in your imagination and the reality you are faced with. The bigger the difference, the greater the upset. Of course, there may be no difference, in which case you are in a happy place.

Koh Muk is a beautiful island in the Anderman sea on the south west coast of Thailand. On the west side is the small but perfectly formed Had Farang beach, a small crescent of white sand which slips gently into clear, warm turquoise waters. Its surrounded by karst cliffs, covered in tropical vegetation of spiky palms and classic coconut palm trees. A feast for the eyes.

Our sunset facing bungalow had a view between some shady trees across the sea to Koh Kradan. It was the last one free when we arrived and although it was more than we wanted to pay, it was large with an ensuite and our new hammock fitted perfectly on the wooden balcony. Unfortunately it was also home to rats which would scratch around in the ceiling after dark. We were used to this after our time in China and a bang on the wall would quiet them down. However, we weren’t used to small presents of rat waste falling through a loose roof board into the room. The dad of the family who ran the accommodation came round and nailed up the loose board to solve that issue but the environment further tested our Dr Doolittle credentials. 

Monkeys would hang around on the roof and go through the bin after dark. I fed giant mosquitoes and in return they left me huge, itchy lumps. Al was greeted by cockroaches in the bathroom. After sunset each day, swarms of small flies would descend and cover you. One evening a giant cicada decided to spend the night with us, flapping and buzzing around the room. In the shallows of the sea, shoals of translucent green fish would hang around your legs. Hermit crabs were constantly shuffling around the beach, hiding in their mobile homes as you approached. Of course, you have to expect to interact with nature on a tropical island.

The resort was also home to a more familiar type of small creature – children. Either side of our bungalow were families enjoying the beauty of the Thai islands, something we hadn’t experienced before and a change from the backpacker trail.

Our days would be spent topping up the tan. I watched Al go brown as some bits of me went from white to off-white and some bits went from white to red. I would easily win ‘Mr Blotchy Tan 2017’ We’d swim in the warm sea, so clear that at chin depth I could see my toes. We’d watch the sun disappear each day with a cold beer or a cocktail and after savoury, rich, spicy, coconut, Thai curries, would watch electrical storms out to sea bring atmosphere to the night sky. A tropical paradise.

21-22.2.2017 Bangkok to Koh Mook, Koh Muk, Ko Mok…… whatever…

As usual we are leaving Bangkok early evening so have a whole day of wandering, killing time, until the overnight bus takes us to our Thai island paradise.

Rucksacks packed, amazingly there seems to be some space in it again…. damm….. I could have bought one more sarong or maybe some flip-flops, or just one more hair product from Boots…..😁

We find the curry rice stall we looked for yesterday. There are many curries on offer, we are a little flummoxed as to which to choose until a friendly Thai guy from Chang Rai explains the dishes to us and also confirms this is one of the best curry rice restaurants to eat in.

We order the sukothai noodles, green curry with rubbery fish balls and a mango and shredded pork salad. The sukothai noodles are really good, sweeter then we would usually go for, but great, but the pork and mango salad is ace, salty, chilli, and sour. Our Chang Rai friend explains he studied hotel management in Hastings 1969-1973, hence his excellent English.

We wander round the back streets, through a new backpacker area, full of street stalls, laundry shops, suit shops, hostels, and the usual backpacker support systems. It is less full on than our area, so has been ear marked for our next (!) visit.

More wanderings occur, and we find ourselves in a coffee and cake shop down Pra Athit road, how does this happen?  I go overboard on chocolate ordering iced chocolate shake and triple chocolate mouse, Guy has cup of tea, and white chocolate cheesecake. It is sugar heaven…..really good…..we enjoy this luxury and the air con.

Still with time to kill we go back to ours for wi-fi and blogging.

At 6pm we once again find ourselves in the Pied Piper routine, although the guides seem genuinely confused at our destination of Trang. Most people are off to Ko Samui or Krabi. Neither of which are near Trang, or actually near each other. 

A reggae coloured bus pulls up, we all pile on, luggage is stored according to where you are going, seats on the bus are allocated the same way. The bus is old, tired, no air con, no comfy seats. We are getting too old for bus travel.

Guy looses a number of chess games against his phone. I drift in and out of uncomfortable sleep.

We arrive at Surat Thani at 6.30am. We now have to pay more to get a minivan to get to Trang in time for the 1.30 ferry. Other people have done a 4 hour dog leg of a journey to get to Rangong. Thailand used to be well organised in tourist travel, but now the numbers of tourists are so many and the destinations so varied that I feel it doesn’t work to do your trip via a travel agent on Khao San if it isn’t the normal routes, or sometimes even if it it!!

We get this minivan to the next minivan station which will take us to Trang. The lady driving is holding her second child herself, he fidgets and plays with the driving controls. I look away. She leaves us in charge of the kid, he cries, I have to be maternal……..I am not sure who looks most scared……

We get another mini van to the ferry port. It is showing a Hollywood Eric Banna film on catching the Taliban. We are over tired, especially me, and having that in your face at close quarters is quite disturbing. We miss the public ferry by 10mins. We pay 600 THB (£15) for a personal boat to Koh Mok, it actually isn’t completely overpriced, and we arrive about 5 mins after the public ferry. The scenery is stunning and we start to relax, it is 1.30, we have loads of time to look for accommodation.

Clambering onto the pier, we sweat our way down the long pier. I get a Sprite and wait for Guy as he goes to check out guesthouses for us. Sometimes feminism needs to be put to one side and I embrace the role of a kept woman.

Despite finding accommodation near the port we decide to go to the other side of the island. The port area has no real beach and what there is is covered in rubbish. It is not the paradise we were looking for. 

We get a ‘taxi’ (motorbike with side cart) to the other side of the island to Had Farang (literally Foreigner Beach) where the big resort has beach bungalows for £40…. Luckily we find cheaper bungalows for £20, which considering their state is expensive, but it is the view we are paying for. 

We dump bags, locate swimmers, throw them on and skip into the warm bathtub temperature, clear Anderman sea. It is beautiful beach and we forget our gripes and tiredness and drift around.

I have a Daniel Craig moment…….😂

 Guy takes many, many sunset photos.

We eat at Mayhow, a small family restaurant off the beach. The massaman and Penang curries are tasty, the Chang is cold.

 

Happy Holidays 😋