Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Koh Phra Thong.... chill out !

With the birding difficult much of my time was spent simply chilling out. Around the grounds of our resort there were countless Lizzards which in turn hunted countless crabs.
Occasionally something else took my attention, like this huge Grasshopper we found in our room one day.
or the Geckos lying in wait inside the lampshades
Geckobut most of the time I was now actually spending reading, including a book called "Out of the Blue" a personal account by someone caught up in the 2004 Tsunami when it struck Kho Phra Thong. It made for very interesting reading as the places mentioned were so very real having seen the spots mentioned for myself. Over 100 islanders and a dozen or so visitors were killed, the majority of the population later moved off the island with numbers dropping from 1400 down to around 400. It has taken until now for developers to show much interest in building for tourism again,probably the only benefit in an otherwise terrible tragedy.
One of the places we did visit though was the deserted village.
Unwanted rebuild Koh Phra Thong
This brand new village was constructed with funds raised by the international appeal made by the Lions Club. It was intended to replace homes flattened by the giant wave but now, several years since completion, it remains virtually empty. Of 115 homes built around 10 are occupied,and then only the ones around the village edge where owners can let their chickens,ducks and geese forage in the surrounding bushland.The new school that was built closed as it only had 4 pupils.
I am afraid it's another example of well intentioned but ill spent money, they didn't think to ask the locals what was needed but presumed to think they knew.What a shocking waste but it's not the first time it's happened and it won't be the last.It makes you think before donating sometimes which is a shame.
Ah well, back to my trip. 
And the now almost ceased birding!
It wasn't that there were no birds, here's a copy of the previously mentioned list and there are some cracking birds on it.
Kho Phra Thong  bird list
Kho Phra Thong  bird list
Kho Phra Thong  bird list
The biggest problem is getting transport around the island and possibly, snakes ! One of our resorts staff was travelling as a passenger sat on top of a heap of bamboo which had been loaded in the usual precarious manner on the motorbike sidecar when suddenly it came across a King Cobra sunning itself in the middle of the track. Taken by surprise it attacked the bike but fortunately they managed to steer around it with no harm done to either snake or passenger. I myself saw three snakes around the resort, I wasn't able to get a photograph, they were too quick to disappear, so whether they are poisonous or not I wouldn't know but it shows, caution is required before walking in to long grass etc !
The one thing the island does benefit from is the fabulous deserted beach where some of the best sunsets I have ever witnessed happened night after night.
What a glorious way to end the day, an ice cold Chang beer in the best beach bar I have ever been to, purely for it's isolation and simplicity.

Tawan Bar  Kho Phra Thong

This is an island Paradise
Sunset from Kho Phra Thong
Simply beautiful
Sunset from Kho Phra Thong
The only decisions you have to make each day are stay awake or go back to sleep.
Sunset from Kho Phra Thong
Take a walk or lay on a beach mat.
Sunset from Kho Phra Thong
and wonder what you'll have for dinner !
Sunset from Kho Phra Thong
We all have a different interpretation of Paradise, for some it might be a 5 star hotel but for me it's being at one with your natural surrounds which doesn't include too many people!
However, people are what made this holiday. The communal spirit , the warm welcome, the superb staff, the laughing and joking. Fantastic.
Trying to run a place here is a bit of a logistical nightmare. No electricity, everything has to be carefully thought out,planning food and drinks needed etc but Karen Spackman who runs the resort does a great job.
Most people stay only a few nights, I would recommend a minimum 7 as the cost of getting on to the island is not inconsiderable if you travel privately and without sharing. You have to accept that the accommodation is, different !
A typical bedroom inside the hut.
Phrathong Nature Resort
and the bathroom, complete with hand held shower and manual flush loo!
Phrathong Nature Resort
Towards the end of our stay we both longed for a fresh water shower, the rest we could put up with although flushing the loo by emptying a bowl of water from a great hight was a bit hit and miss too.
After 14 nights we were ready to move on, the bit of luxury that I had promised Claire beckoned.
Blue Lagoon Khao Lak
It does you good to re-evaluate the things we take for granted !
Blue Lagoon Khao Lak
We moved on to Khao Lak, somewhere considered one of the nicer tourist resorts in Southern Thailand but boy did we miss our island paradise for the rest of the holiday.

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