Well, this post is coming with another exciting one right on its heels, I promise. Wayne and I have just accompanied a Thai friend to his countryside home just outside Hat Yai to attend what we thought was a Thai reggae show and what ended up being an all-night benefit concert (literally… 7 pm to 6 am) and, as you can imagine, it was a rip-roaring time. However I still have the shenanigans from two weekends ago to catch you up on so our more recent good times will just have to wait.
Three weekends ago Wayne and Eugene plotted a course to Pak Meng, what we’d determined to be one of the nearest beaches to us after Wayne headed up a summer camp there about a year ago with our former agency. And indeed, the two fearless guys found it took an easy hour-and-a-half to make it to this lovely locale.
Of course, Wayne and I had slightly different plans than when he went solo with Eugene. First, we were going to stay a night, and we were going to make good on something we’ve been talking about for ages and actually camp. And secondly… we’d be bringing a third passenger.
That’s right… somehow we drove the 101 kilometers from Thung Song to Pak Meng with two passengers, a backpack-o’-clothes-and-stuff, Wayne’s waterproof bag, a tent, a sleeping bag, and a puppy. On our old Honda Dream that can only hit 90 km on a good day. Despite the sedatives I’d bought for Ollie (from our very incredulous vet. You want to do what? On what? With whom?) he was a little wiggle-worm (who’s really not that little anymore…), making the journey a bit nerve-wracking for Wayne, who had to control the bike; and uncomfortable for me, who had to control Ollie and was covered in dog hair and scratch marks by the end of the journey. We got bewildered stares from every car and bike that passed, and the trip took an hour longer than it had on the previous attempt, but in the end we made it. Victory!
I had the honor of being the first to play with Ollie amongst the waves as Wayne took it upon himself to get our tire fixed (yeah, stopping for air twice along the way didn’t help our time any). By this point we were hungry so we sat at a little beachside cafe for some grilled prawns, Leo, and people watching. And Wayne took the opportunity to throw around the ball with Mr. Ollie Pup.
Pak Meng’s a bit different to many of the other beaches we’ve visited in that it’s predominantly frequented by Thais. We saw maybe only one or two other farang while we were there and it just felt like a more authentic experience. Also, as Thais generally prefer to stay out of the sun to avoid becoming “black-skinned” (as they love to say, no matter how many times we tell them that a] they’re not black and ] should they ever travel outside Thailand they might want to avoid using it as a negative remark) we had the beach to ourselves by the time we decided to hunker down and find a campsite. Of course… we didn’t get right down to camping, but instead decided to enjoy the daylight hours teaching Ollie to swim and doing yoga.
So despite his apprehension in the rivers around our house (I had a cute video going until I brilliantly decided to drop my computer a few weeks ago and am still in the process of organizing data recovery… You can imagine what a process that is in Thailand.) it turns out Ollie *loves* the water and thinks swimming is the best thing ever. Yay! We also found a lot of sea creatures in Pak Meng, beginning with a star fish.
Post-playing made for relaxing and watching yet another gorgeous Thai sunset. They never fail to please. It also gave Ollie time to make a friend (a friend! Not a dog he viciously barked at, or vice versa, but instead gallivanted so far down the beach Wayne had to track him down on the motorbike.)
Before it got too dark it was time to set up the tent we’d borrowed from a coworker. We chose the location we did because it was in front of a big, open space of beach and a bit beyond where the shops and restaurants were on the main stretch of beach; we assumed it would be a nice, peaceful place to rest our weary heads…
Wrong. Between the mosquitos that made it in on account of the broken zipper it took us 20 minutes to close before going to dinner (a delicious Tom Yum Kung and steamed fish combo), Ollie’s barking at every Thai person and cat that passed (so racist), and the way-more-frequent-than-expected passing of a car or motorbike, it wasn’t exactly the best night’s sleep either of us had ever had.
The upside was that our lousy sleeping conditions had us up in time to watch an equally mesmerizing sunrise, enhanced by a just-past-full-moon still gorgeously hanging in the sky.
Of course, rising at 6:30 can often mean your breakfast options are a bit limited. We did finally find a place down by the pier, and were surprised to find that our eggs and toast were accompanied by french fries. Still deciding whether that was a good or bad addition.
After breakfast we closed up camp and decided to head to two of Trang’s other nearby beaches; Had Ying Long and Had Yao. The first is a national park and generally requires a 200 baht admission fee for farang and Thais alike. We approached to find the ticket booth empty and thought we’d lucked out– only to be stopped upon exit and asked for our money. We… doctored the truth a bit and claimed to only have 100 baht between the two of us, which the lady was reluctantly about to accept, until Wayne tried the trump card: “Rao bpen ajarn ti Thung Song, krup!” (“We’re teachers in Thung Song!”) “Ohhh ajarn?! Okay, okay. Mai bpen rai.” (“Ohhh, teachers?! Okay, okay, no problem.”) And we got in for free anyway. Guess there are some perks to this job…
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Had Ying Long was a nice enough place, though we’re not exactly sure what the 200 baht/person was going towards as far as cleanup goes. Though it was quite deserted when we got there, we noticed an even more deserted beach off in the distance. The tide was low enough that the water only came up to our chests at its highest point on our way over, and we spent an hour-or-so on our own private beach. Snazzy!
Then we went to Had Yao, a smaller, even quieter beach just down the road where we think could be a great camping locale in the future. Ate some delicious sweet and sour fish and then headed home!