Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What to see in Chumphon?

Chumphon is a southern province of Thailand on the Gulf of Thailand. I have to mention it is not a typical tourist choice, because the range of hotels is not as big, instead- the beach is mostly wild. The region is under-explored yet for tourist development, but tourists do go there in search of wild beaches and peace. You can easily connect this region from Bangkok, which is approximately. 500 km distance. Planes and buses circulate everyday. Generally speaking, Thailand has a very good infrastructure, one of the best in South-Eastern Asia, sometimes even more developed than in some parts of Europe. 
It is a good region to explore the tropical jungle and meet locals, see how they live and what are their daily activities. During weekends locals come with their families in the trucks and stay all day long under the shades, breathe the air and play with their children in the water. The view is truly familiar. 
In addition to the beautiful islands and beaches, there are also a number of waterfalls, caves, parks, temples and markets which are worth a visit. During the 10 days we explored and saw some places around, as follows.

1. The number one rated place was to discover a fantastic wild beach. "The bounty beach" is a combination of words that firstly came to my mind when I saw the impressive view: white sand and blue water. Besides the public beach in Chumphon (Thung Wua Laen Beach) we went by motorcycle to a private property beach in Chumphon, where there is not a single person, no human influence around and everything is as the nature created it. I did not think these beaches still exist. The truth: go and explore for beautiful beaches in Thailand, they still exists and you can be more lucky and explore even more beautiful places!

2. The Chumphon View point. As I was said, from there you can see 3 islands at once in different directions.
Please notice, while we were celebrating the 2015 New Year, they are already in the 2558 year, more than 500 years ahead of us.

3. Wat Pa Yang. This is probably the most beautiful temple after the Grand Palace in Bangkok. It is unusual because it has a line of bells around the statute of Buddha and you have to ring every bell for 2 times and finally, after you finish, you should think of a wish and pray for it. At the top, there is another golden temple, also with many bells surrounding, impressing as well, with the view to the jungle.

4. Wat Pradoem. This temple is the archeological site in old Chumphon, at Tambon Tak Daet. It is located at the foot of Rap Ro Hill- used to be the port area in the ancient time. The view to the hill is absolutely amazing. There are beautiful stalactites and stalagmites inside Tham Sai. Buy some bananas and feed the monkeys around the temple, they are many and very friendly.

5. To be honest sometimes I got confused between all those strange names and I do not remeber how this place is named. All I know there is a cave and monks permanently live in the area. It has a beautiful view and inside the cave there is a big statute of Buddha (as in general the Buddhas statues are everywhere).

On the way, we stopped to add gasoline to the motorcycles and found a big family of locals. While waiting, they served us with fresh coconut, dirrectly from the coconut tree. They are very hospitable and curious about europeans. 

And finally choose a good place for rest. Although many tourists I met on the beach, at the market said they were renting a room with just 100 $/per month, if you go for only 10 days, it is not worth it. We went for the option  to rent a villa at the Armonia Village Resort and Spa.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Damnoen Saduak Floating market and the ride with elephants

The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and the Elephant Village are located outside Bangkok. We rented a car to get there, though I think there might be tourist excursions and transportation organized. We also visited a Coconut farm, a carving workshop and store on our way. 
I was reading about the Damnoen Saduak on TripAdvisor before visiting and the tourists’ feedbacks were not very encouraging. However, I think the Floating Market is worth visiting. Yes, you have to see that market, even if prices are excessively high, you can always bargain, or simply enjoy the ride on the narrow boat, without even buying anything… even if the appearance of the water is not inviting. They sell everything there: national clothes, paintings, souvenirs, fruits, hats, useful and unnecessary things. I found the ride an interesting experience, it is colorful, beautiful, loud, exotic and my personal attitude is that you can't miss the only floating markets in the world. Of course, there are local markets where more locals and less tourists go, but time schedule is different for them (they are open mostly in early mornings and only on weekends) which does not always happen to coincide with a tourist's charged program. Other markets are: Taling Chan Market, Bang Ku Wiang Market, Tha Kha. 
You can find cons and pros but places are designed to be seen, consequently it’s a pity to fly 8 hours from Europe and don’t get to see the unique floating markets and have a ride with an elephant and see the jungle.  

Recommended: be informed that the market does not operate as it used in the past and be ready to bargain the prices for boats.