Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Koh Larn on a Weekend

Heading for a short beach trip on a weekend gateway, not so far, just an hour or more away. Where? Pattaya for the farangs, or Bang Sean for the local folks? Neither. Its an island I will blog here. Well in Singapore we go across to the over developed Sentosa, here we have bustling and crowded Koh Larn opposite of Pattaya.

The Beach @ GPS: 12°55'30.45"N, 100°46'41.68"E

Getting there means joining the sardine crowd on a 20 Baht ride on the common ferry, standing on the roof just like trains in India. Or, you could negotiate with the scary scattered speed boat operators that harass you on your way to the pier for as low as 2000 Baht for a personal speedboat over to a designated beach on the island. We opted for the scary speed boat operators. Depending on the time of the year and the season, the operators will drop you off a beach where the waters are calm. There are a few beaches on Koh Larn for your info.

It was hot and the beach was wide. Popular destination for tourist as well and the number of boats anchored on the shallow waters numbered in hundreds. Para-sail, banana boats and jet skiing are some of the activities there.

That’s also where we learnt that 30 minutes of 600 Baht jet skiing fun could turn out to be 6000 Baht after our friends rammed into a boat. At first I thought it was the Jet-Ski con scheme so common around Pattaya where tourist get ripped off for damages they did not caused. But I learnt that the damage was genuine. I also learnt that jumping into conclusion that all the Jet Ski operators were con artist and cursing them with the word “monitor lizards” in Thai was not a good idea (I wanted to engage them in a fight because I thought they were attempting to con us, also for some reasons or other, monitor lizard in Thai is a very bad word).

With so many boats anchored, an accident is always waiting to happen. The other Indian tourist causing a commotion with the thugs on the beach had 3 Jet Skis slammed into each other, damages claimed to be 50,000 Baht or more and he could not pay. Lesson learnt, don’t Jet Ski there, it just ain’t worth it.

Fresh seafood on Mainland @ GPS: 12°55'29.58"N, 100°52'1.72"E

Food and shop houses are an abundant on this spot of an island. But if you are wise like we did, we bought the yummies from mainland over to the island at a fraction of what you will have to pay on Koh Larn. Along the streets near the pier on mainland, you will find shop houses selling life seafood. We got a kilogram of crayfish for THB350, had them steamed and packed for the trip. On Koh Larn, the same crayfish sold for THB1,200 per kilogram. Same goes for beer and all that alcohol. Local culture, we spent the entire day on Koh Larn in economy mode, brought all the stuffs from mainland and stayed tipsy chatting away into the evening to join the force of boats on the return leg at 5pm.

Good Dinner @ GPS: 12°51'39.90"N, 100°53'43.73"E

Evening time, the sea breeze a blowing. How else to enjoy the transition from dusk colors till deep blue night under the moonlit shores? Driving along the Pattaya shoreline, we found restaurants aplenty. Simple tables and plastic stools lined the pavement separating the road and the shoreline. Anglers catching them Whiting by the buckets stood where the pavement were free. We choose one spot at random and feasted, washing down scrumptious seafood with the last remaining whisky brought over from Koh Larn. A weekend on Koh Larn, cheap, simple and not so far. Just too much crowd as with every other sunny spots nearby Bangkok.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I, ATV Koh Tao

Moving in and around Koh Tao resulted in sore thumb. Since I am born with an inherited genetic incapability to balance myself on motorcycles, I had to go for ATV on the island. I had to grip on hard as the rocky roads attempted at every bump to dislodge my press on the tiny thumb throttle. Try that for an hour and see how your thumb feels.

You can get the smallest ATV at 600 to 700 Baht for a full day, that’s pretty inexpensive considering the fun you can have. See, Koh Tao is not just a place where you melt and become one with the sofa in your resort, but also a place for an explorer. Riding the ATV over windy roads, challenging the small engine to steep hills, testing the brakes around corners at the bottom of the slopes, exciting I say. And getting lost was part of the fun too.

Travel deep and you can find yourself sipping cold beer on scenic spots overlooking the ocean from some obscure small pubs. Travel high into the hills and you find some of the best food. Travel all over into interesting resorts and survey for your next stay. Challenge the dog to a race. I had fun on the ATV, from Mae Haad to Sairee.

Full photo sets here under Koh Tao Feb 2010 & Koh Tao Apr 2011.