Escaping the tourism in Phuket.

Phuket Travel Blog

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The road to Khao Pra Taew National Park.
Today we planned a mini-road trip here on Phuket to see if we can escape the rampant tourism. What a nice surprise we had … who would have believed we’d find a nearly secluded beach on Phuket? And we also paid a visit to some nice little apes called gibbons. Not a bad day at all!

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.
He was my favorite gibbon.
These were the gibbons (a type of small ape) in the nearby Gibbon Rehabilitation Center. They have been rescued from various dire circumstances, and are being rehabilitated so they can be re-released into the wild. It is quite a long process that involves a number of stages and a lot of work by the center’s volunteers. Some of the bad cases can’t be helped (ie there was one female missing an arm and a foot…she can’t be around other gibbons because they attack her!). These are the permanent residents, who spend their days at the center, swinging and screaming. It’s all so sad, but also good: here are people dedicated to helping these amazing creatures. It was a very nice visit, and Steve and I picked up some “save the gibbons” t-shirts in the little shop.
Fried rice with vegetables for lunch.
(For more info: www.gibbonproject.org).

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.
Tonsai Waterfall.


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.
The shacks along Mai Khoa / Nai Yang beach.
There are very old trees along the beach, and a road has been built around them. Along this road some restaurants and shops have been put up in a rather haphazard manner. Many of the buildings appeared to be tents or semi-permanent structures. We wondered if these people were squatting on National Park land?

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.
Steve is happy on Mai Khao beach.
A couple guys were giving kite surfing lessons (I want to try that!). Far, far out, some fishermen were standing at the end of the shallows casting lines. I bet they were catching a lot of fish. It was all too picturesque. I loved it.

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.
Boats on Mai Khao Beach.
There were some odd looking things on the plate! My favorite was the mangosteen -- wonderful!     

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.
Our fruit plate snack. Yum!
So tomorrow’s agenda is up in the air. Will we be able to escape Phuket’s tourism two whole days in a row??!  Is Phuket redeeming herself to us at last? Time will tell. My mind is open.

oldschoolbill says:
Glad you were able to Escape & wish you much future success in the art of Escapism!
Posted on: May 07, 2008
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The road to Khao Pra Taew National…
The road to Khao Pra Taew Nationa…
He was my favorite gibbon.
He was my favorite gibbon.
Fried rice with vegetables for lun…
Fried rice with vegetables for lu…
Tonsai Waterfall.
Tonsai Waterfall.
The shacks along Mai Khoa / Nai Ya…
The shacks along Mai Khoa / Nai Y…
Steve is happy on Mai Khao beach.
Steve is happy on Mai Khao beach.
Boats on Mai Khao Beach.
Boats on Mai Khao Beach.
Our fruit plate snack. Yum!
Our fruit plate snack. Yum!
Our road trip brought us by Patong…
Our road trip brought us by Paton…
Patong Beach.
Patong Beach.
Me on Patong Beach.
Me on Patong Beach.
Entrance to the Gibbon Rehabilitat…
Entrance to the Gibbon Rehabilita…
Self portrait at the Gibbon Rehabi…
Self portrait at the Gibbon Rehab…
Steve checks out the adoption lis…
Steve checks out the "adoption li…
Other visitors to the Gibbon Rehab…
Other visitors to the Gibbon Reha…
Howling gibbons at the Gibbon Reh…
Howling gibbon. I have posted a vi…
Howling gibbon. I have posted a v…
At the Gibbon Rehabilitation Cente…
At the Gibbon Rehabilitation Cent…
I think he is saying, Let me out! …
I think he is saying, Let me out!…
Gibbon Rehabilitation Center.
Gibbon Rehabilitation Center.
He was the loudest resident of the…
He was the loudest resident of th…
Gibbon Rehabilitation Center.
Gibbon Rehabilitation Center.
Resident of the Gibbon Rehabilitat…
Resident of the Gibbon Rehabilita…
Resident of the Gibbon Rehabilitat…
Resident of the Gibbon Rehabilita…
The path to Bang Pae waterfall.
The path to Bang Pae waterfall.
Trekking to Bang Pae Waterfall.
Trekking to Bang Pae Waterfall.
Bang Pae Waterfall.
Bang Pae Waterfall.
Boy swimming at Bang Pae waterfall.
Boy swimming at Bang Pae waterfall.
Boys playing at Bang Pae waterfall.
Boys playing at Bang Pae waterfall.
Mini fall at Bang Pai.
Mini fall at Bang Pai.
On the hike to Bang Pae waterfall.
On the hike to Bang Pae waterfall.
Steve near Bang Pae waterfall.
Steve near Bang Pae waterfall.
Steve decided to take a dip, then …
Steve decided to take a dip, then…
Tiny mushrooms.
Tiny mushrooms.
Red crab near Bang Pai waterfall.
Red crab near Bang Pai waterfall.
A peek into the kichen.
A peek into the kichen.
Me and Coke.
Me and Coke.
Soda for sale.
Soda for sale.
Steve enjoys a cold one for lunch.
Steve enjoys a cold one for lunch.
Just noticed our bumper sticker...
Just noticed our bumper sticker...
The path to Tonsai Waterfall.
The path to Tonsai Waterfall.
Near Tonsai Waterfall.
Near Tonsai Waterfall.
Me and Steve at Tonsai Waterfall.
Me and Steve at Tonsai Waterfall.
We went wading at Tonsai Waterfall…
We went wading at Tonsai Waterfal…
Parking at Khao Pra Taew National …
Parking at Khao Pra Taew National…
A little crabs makes art on the be…
A little crabs makes art on the b…
Another crab design. See him peeki…
Another crab design. See him peek…
Abandoned fish trap now makes a go…
Abandoned fish trap now makes a g…
Little crab peeking out of his hol…
Little crab peeking out of his ho…
Crustaceans on bamboo, washed up o…
Crustaceans on bamboo, washed up …
Talk about sea-side dining...
Talk about sea-side dining...
Bar sign.
Bar sign.
Marketing gone amok.
Marketing gone amok.
Beach restaurant marketing.
Beach restaurant marketing.
Mangosteen close up.
Mangosteen close up.
Beached boat.
Beached boat.
Restaurant on Mai Khao Beach.
Restaurant on Mai Khao Beach.
Kite surfing.
Kite surfing.
Going out to fish.
Going out to fish.
Little crab making designs in the …
Little crab making designs in the…
Mai Khao Beach.
Mai Khao Beach.
Low tide at Mai Khao Beach.
Low tide at Mai Khao Beach.
Abandoned hotel,a remnant of 2004 …
Abandoned hotel,a remnant of 2004…
Riding on Mai Khao Beach.
Riding on Mai Khao Beach.
Our table on the beach.
Our table on the beach.
Stray dog patiently waits for hand…
Stray dog patiently waits for han…
Phuket
photo by: Aclay01