Escaping the tourism in Phuket.
Phuket Travel Blog› entry 54 of 251 › view all entries
May 6th, 2008 – by: cmgervais
Our first destination was Khao Pra Taew National Park to visit two waterfalls found there. The route was fairly well marked and we found our first stop, Bang Pae, without drama. It was shaping up to be a nice sunny day, and the road in was lined with picturesque trees and bright green foliage. So far so good!
We paid our entrance fee (we did not get a ticket until we asked for it on the way out … if you want to go to both waterfall make sure you get a receipt, as payment at one gives you entrance to both!), parked the car, and were greeted by the most otherworldly noises … a series of screaming, moaning sounds.
From there we undertook the hike to the “waterfall.” The most challenging part of the walk was the humidity -- 5 minutes into it we were drenched! It was a nice setting, and worth the trip, but really the waterfall itself was more of a water trickle. At the end of our trek we had fried rice at a restaurant of dubious cleanliness that was situated near the entrance. Steve reported the chicken in his was bad and maybe not so fresh. Mine (rice with vegetables) was tasty and fresh though. It was so hot, by this time we couldn’t wait to get back into the car for some AC. I got a mango to go (they cut it all up for you and serve it with a stick-utensil). The mango here is the best I have ever had and this one did not disappoint me.
Next we drove to the other side of the park to visit Tonsai Waterfall. The area was paved and landscaped, and it was a very easy walk to the waterfall. This one was more impressive, like a real, albeit smallish, waterfall. There were several groups (of Thai people) swimming and picnicking, and the area was more open and breezy. A very nice stop.
Next on the list was a visit to Mai Khao Beach, on the very northern end of the island. This is where leatherback turtles come to lay their eggs, and a National Park has been established there to protect them. I knew we wouldn’t actually see turtles there (past the season), but I thought it would be interesting to see nonetheless. Was it ever!
We entered just south of Mai Khao Beach, driving along Nai Yang Beach.
We drove to the very end where there was a forested picnic area right on the beach. There were only a couple people there and it seemed desolate and wonderful. It was gorgeous! The tide was out, creating an enormous flat, hard beach, perfect for walking. Steve parked himself on a bench (it even had an “ottoman”) and I took a nice long walk. The beach was populated with little other than small crabs and other interesting creatures. No tourists! The shacks I mentioned had some chairs and tables set up for service far up on the beach, but they were all pretty much empty.
At the very end of the beach, situated in the most stunning location imaginable, was a huge hotel -- completely gutted and abandoned. This beach was decimated in the 2004 tsunami, and the hotel shell is but one grim artifact of this disaster. I wonder if there are plans to take it down and rebuild? I looked online and couldn’t find any reference to it. I did find out that this area was completely flattened by the tsunami. I guess that explains the semi-permanent looking structures... but why are they slower to rebuild here than elsewhere on Phuket, I wonder?
I didn’t want to leave the area quite yet, so Steve and I sat at one of the beach restaurants for a fruit plate.
It was then time to go back home, and of course we took a wrong turn again and nearly ended up in Phuket Town. Luckily I have gotten used to driving on the left, plus I really like driving here. Things seem crazy, with cars and scooters all the passing each other, and three-cars-wide on a two-lane-road. But once you get used to it you appreciate how well things flow.
We did finally make it home, and for dinner we found ourselves in a… Swiss restaurant? Eating Scandinavian-influenced Thai food? It was bizarre but tasty. Oh, and they made a mean (Mexican-style) margarita, too!
Today Phuket surprised me. I didn’t think we’d be able to escape the tourism, but we did, and I loved it! Tomorrow we had planned to go diving again, but the dive-shop operator kind of talked me out of it in favor of an overnight dive trip on Friday.
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