It is four weeks since our last excursion out of Bangkok, so we decided to take a long w/e and go off exploring again this last few days; this time down the west coast of the gulf of Thailand to the Rayong Resort, just opposite the island of Samet (Koh Samet). We left on Friday morning, getting there in about 3 hours (with only ½ an hour stuck in a jam coming out of Bangkok) arriving to golden sands, lovely blue sea, sunny skies and a cool 78 f with a light, refreshing sea breeze.
Friday there was a big festival in Bangkok, and as a result this place was nearly deserted. The hotel is a resort, right on the beach, with all the usual facilities, but there must have been no more than 15 guests that night because of “Loy Kratong” in BKK. Samet is the closest island to Bangkok, so it usually gets very crowded at w/e’s. Our hotel was on the mainland, right opposite the island of Samet, but quite deserted as it is about 2 miles from the town where the ferries go to the island. So, having found this deserted resort complete with beautiful beaches and blue sea, as well as having 3 huge pools to ourselves, and a choice of places to eat and drink uninterrupted, we were totally enthralled by the latter part of Friday.
Even more perfect.
Friday evening saw the celebration of Loy Kratong at the resort. Loy Kratong is a festival celebrating the water spirit in the 12th lunar month of the year at the full moon. Everyone builds a Kratong, a floating garland that has candle(s) and joss sticks on it, which are floated on any available water to say sorry to the water spirit for bad things done to the water, and to praise the spirit and to float away your troubles. One also makes a wish as the Kratong is launched. The hotel gave us a Kratong, the bed of which was (bio-degradable) coconut husk, which we launched along with the smattering of other guests. After that the hotel also brought out some life size hot air lanterns that they let the guests launch into the night sky as part of the festivities. These cylinders were about 5 ft tall by about 2 ft round with a petroleum based fire lighter type thingy in the centre of a wire ring at the bottom of the lantern that when lit carried this “balloon” aloft once it has filled with hot air.
The next day we went into the local town and got the ferry across to Koh Samet, to explore the place. Getting on and off the ferry was an experience in itself. The ferry was not tightly tied to the dock, bucking around on the waves (thankfully not large ones) and the entry / exit was part leap of faith, and part walking the plank (moving, not particularly wide, and no rails of any description, not even a rope!). Any way we made it, and Samet is certainly a place that we have to go back to spend a w/e. The Island is full of back-packers of course, but also lots of Thai people go there. The sand is white white and squeaky – apparently very high in silicone content – and the sea is a little more blue than it is at Rayong. The island is VERY basic though. All water is shipped in (so flush toilets are rare) and electricity is rationed to several hours per night. Lots of bungalow rental set-ups, some even with air conditioning and their own toilets, and everything is built in among the trees as the island is also a national park. Lots of open air bars, many of which show movies in the evenings as there are very few TV’s on the island. Transport from the ferry to the various beaches and bungalows is on the back of a flatbed truck that has seats along the edges, costing anything from 15p/40c to 65p/$1.50, depending whether you are going to the 1st beach or the last one – again, an experience. Though we only had 3 ½ ours on the island it was enough to convince us that it’s worth a trip back to spend a w/e there, just as another escape from BKK.
Saturday night the resort had filled up a fair bit, but still nowhere like crowded. We did meet some nice people in the evening though, a Spanish guy with a Korean girlfriend (a couple) and a French guy with them. The 2 guys work together. The couple live in BKK, and are another addition to our growing list of acquaintances that we can share our time here with.
Leaving the resort on Sunday was very difficult. We spent the morning on the beach, then an hour or so with our new friends by the pool, then Mr Somchai, our driver, showed up to take us home.
All good things come to an end eh?