Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Koh Phra Thong.. a little known paradise.

For our third and longest stop over I had chosen, with Claire's agreement of course, a bit of an adventure. Nothing too serious for this aged traveller but enough of an adventure to make it a bit different from the norm ! We were due to stay 12 days then travel out for 2 nights staying on the Surin Islands, some 60 miles off shore.
Picked up by a very smart 4x4 from Kuraburi Greenview Resort we were taken to the point of departure for our boat. I say point of departure because there wasn't a pier of any description but as well as private boats, the ferry service also used this little beach in the middle of the mangroves as a pick up point too.
Boat transfer
The ferry is the large boat in the middle and it was just setting off as we arrived. No worries, we had a private transfer arranged albeit at considerably more cost than the ferry !
Which boat was ours ? The one on the extreme left or the one on the extreme right ?
Nope, we had the little one in the middle !!!
By the time we had loaded the luggage there wasn't a lot of room left for two passengers and the boatman.
Overloaded !
Fine for a short while in the calm waters of the mangroves but this trip took us on a 30 minute crossing across the sea to the offshore island of Kho Phra Thong.
Fortunately we had a flat calm day as otherwise our luggage would have got soaked.
Safely deposited on dry land we waited for the next part of the journey at the pick up point.
Waiting for motorbike transfer
In due course a motor bike with box side car turned up and loaded up once more off we went across the remarkable concrete road which went the length of the island, a 30 minute journey to our destination, Phrathong Nature Resort.
Motorbike transfer
Leaving behind the arrival village we went across the whole of the island and only came across one tiny settlement, a place called the Hippy Bar. Who frequents it is anyone's guess.
The island is very untypical of Thailand. It's totally flat, the interior is typical savannah, the coast is a mixture of mangroves swamp and stunning sandy beaches.
We were heading to the very small tourist developed area on the far side of the island.
Our home for the duration a more basic hotel accommodation, a collection of huts and a communal dining/bar area !
Phrathong Nature Resort
No need for much, it's a shorts,sandals and t-shirt sort of place. We had brought loads of luggage compared to most, mind you two bags are my camera gear ! Although this was not intended to be a birding holiday I had my hopes as usual. Amongst others, the island has a colony of breeding Lesser Adjutant Storks, a bird I have yet to see.
The one thing we had brought with us that was a bit different from the norm was snorkelling equipment purchased especially for the trip. I had also been "in training" at our local swimming pool to make sure I was up for it. There was decent snorkelling off the nearby beach, a short walk from our resort.
Beach access from Phrathong Nature Resort
The weather was now stunning. Constant sunshine all day.
We weren't at quite the desert island I had envisaged but it appears things have started to develop rapidly. Our resort now has 10 huts but the adjoining one had increased from 12 to 30 and a totally new one of another 30 had sprung up too in the last 12 months. Through the woods chainsaws and heavy equipment could be heard making roads and buildings. This island paradise is in imminent danger of being over run!
However, for the time being there is huge over capacity of accommodation and until the logistics of transferring people is sorted out, there is still hope of a bit of peace and tranquility.

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