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Published: July 14th 2014
Today was our first day of true freedom ... in the form of our own wheels!!! We had a 7 seater 4 wheel drive Toyota delivered to our resort this morning which we had hired. We packed in some things and set off all very excited at what we might find.
We headed north from The Sands Resort and attempted to follow some basic instructions that I had printed out at home before we left. You would think that the car came with a map or two ... but no! If we were in Phuket we had maps for that area ... but nothing at all for Khao Lak! Oh well ... we were feeling confident enough and generally speaking the roads are fairly well sign posted in both Thai and also English.
Despite our directions and confidence ... the first road we turned into was a dead end! It was about 10 km north of our starting point and we ended up at a fairly well know Beach Bar called Memories. Sadly ... it was closed. This is what we are finding with many beach bars around Khao Lak at this time of year 😞 I'm sure in
the peak season it would be a fantastic spot to grab a feed and a cold Singa or two!
Our dead end road did have some excitement as we passed some elephants and monkeys ... of course the boys loved seeing them. Sadly they were all chained up as they are obviously used to entertain the tourists ... even the boys commented that they were being treated terribly because they were chained up. I'm glad they also realised this ... our trip to Chiang Mai last year obviously did make a difference to their thinking as the Elephants we spent the day with there were in a conversation program and were treated the way elephants should be treated and were free to roam as they pleased.
Anyway, back on the road we found the right turn and headed toward an area called Cape Pakarang. I'd read it was a lovely drive and a really beautiful viewpoint at the Cape. Apparently before the Tsunami in 2004 this area was rich in sea life and the beach was stunning. Sadly much of that beauty was destroyed in the Tsunami when tones of coral got dumped on the shore and huge
Baltic rocks were dredged up. When we arrived it was deserted ... there were a few unattended beach shacks which I assume set up in peak season as restaurants and bars. But not at this time. We parked and walked a short way to the headland area but it was a cloudy time of the day so unfortunately we didn't get the appreciate the view that would be seen on an otherwise clear sunny day. We did, however find lots of lots of thongs and shoes washed up in this area. It must have something to do with the tides and currents as they all seem to get washed up in this same area. We could have opened a shoe shop with the number of thongs we found in a small space of time and over a small area. Some were even matching pairs!!!!! Funny 😊 The boys also had fun collecting hermit crabs in this area ... there were lots of them running around through lots of coral which was scattered all over the headland sand.
We drove back a short way towards the main road through Khao Lak, then turned to another two beach areas for a
look. The first area was beautiful ... it was called White Sands Beach. Again it was dotted with beach bars and restaurants along a beautiful beach (yes the sand here was very white!) but all of them were closed!!! In high season this would be a fantastic little area as it was very well maintained and it looked like a very well kept tourist area. We looked around the area and the boys played for a while, then we jumped back in the car. As we were leaving this area we drove past some buffalos which were grazing in the grassy areas nearby. The boys liked seeing them up fairly close!
The second beach was called Coconut Beach ... again deserted ... but dotted with coconut palms. It looked like another nice area but we didn't get out of the car here as everything was closed yet again.
We decided to head a little further north to the Ban Nam Khem Tsunami Memorial Park. The area of Ban Nam Khem had a large Thai Fishing population of over 5000 people and it also used to have a white sand beach stretching 1.5km into the sea. Sadly this area
was the one where the greatest number of Thai people lost their lives in the Tsunami and it also completely destroyed the once beautiful beach front. Apparently most people in this area who still live here lost someone in the Tsunami so the local stores at the site provide an avenue for survivors to sell their handmade products as a way of making a living. I wish I knew this when we visited ... we only commented that there was no information in English at the site so I've since looked this information up online. The memorial park is well maintained and has two long walls as a monument - the larger black wall represents the tsunami wave and the smaller wall represents the victims with names and photos as a part of the memorial. It was a tranquil place and we were all very moved by the number of names and the ages of some of the people - even complete families. Very sad. And as for the long 1.5 sandy beach into the sea ... Nothing left. The ocean was right up to the land area with no sandy beach left at all.
We then drove south again back to the area just north of our resort called Bang Niang. On the way Dylan asked if I could keep my eye out for a hermit crab. I laughed and said I'd watch to see if any were running over the road ... but no he meant in the car!!! Apparently at Cape Pakarange he and Blake had collected a Hermit Crab each for a "pet" but they had both escaped during our visit at the Tsunami Memorial. So I was starting to freak out thinking that I'd have a hermit crab pinching me somewhere on the drive back south! Thankfully, Mum found one straight away near her feet so it was only one crawling around somewhere in the car. We found a groovy place in Bang Niang for lunch and relaxed whilst the boys played some darts and were entertained with some sheets of butcher paper and crayons! Thankfully, as this stop we also found hermit crab number two. No more need for me to worry!
After lunch we decided to return to the Bang Niang Market for some shopping. We had promised the boys a few goodies so it was time to deliver. I've since learned that during the Tsunami, more tourists died in Bang Niang than anywhere else around Khao Lak. Apparently the site where the markets are held 3 times a week was the area where all of the wrapped dead bodies were taken and they stayed here until they were again moved to forensic sites and for disposal. What a horrible thought ... but at least now the area is full of life and one of the tragic sites after the tsunami has transformed into a vibrant and happy place to be.
The market visit was successful and we haggled with a few traders to get some bargains. The boys are getting very good with their haggling ... and sometimes I think they might just get a better deal than we adults because the Thai people love them!
After a couple of hours of looking, buying and walking, we grabbed some Mojitos and ordered some cheap food at the market for an early dinner. Actually, I spent a total of 185 Baht on dinner for 5 people ... that converts to about $6.40. Isn't that unbelievable!!!!! OK that was food only ... the drinks (mojitos x 2 and strawberry frappes x 3) were an additional 210 Baht (approx. $7.30). Good times 😊
We have the car again tomorrow so watch this space for the adventures we will have then! Night night all xx
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