Thai Road tripI have taken 3 Road trips in Thailand in 2016 December. Bangkok to Phuket, Phuket to Pha Phanang and Phuket to Pha Panang. All the trips were done with my Thai family and were such an adventure of cultural differences that I thought they had to be documented.
Travelling down to the south of Thailand was done in Kassem's mini van. Kassem does transfers to and from Krabi Airport from the Beaches and the Phi Phi Piers. Kassem is a quiet man who takes his driving seriously and we progressed south in great cheer. The women talked endlessly about the next stop, the previous day's diner and the next breakfast stop.
We had started the day at the Centre Point Grand Hotel at Ploenchit in the center of Bangkok and were driven out to Coke's house. This took about 45 minutes. This was done as Kassem was not sure of the roads in the center of Bangkok and rather than get lost and loose hours, one of the nephews picked us up and took us north away from our destination. So having started the day with a detour we were on the road at about 6am, just before the Monday morning traffic.
|Centre Point Grand Hotel at Ploenchit with family|
After about an hour and a half we stopped at a petrol station to stretch our legs, have a toilet break and hunt down bit to eat. There seems nothing more appealing to Thai people from the south than to go looking for food. The anticipation and the talk about the potential food is an all engrossing subject that provides the prelim for what is eaten.
The family split out and Kassem headed for the MC Donald's for a coffee. Suree, her brother Baan Ali and I found a smart looking cafe serving morning foods. I had Khaow Tom, (rice soup), and Baan Ali had Bai krapow, minced chicken on rice with a fried egg.
We travelled south with the men including myself quiet as the women talked on about the food they had and how much better or worse it was than in the south. The conversation turned to family and the pros and cons of this girlfriend, husband was bandied around for a while before returning to the key subject one hunt for the next food experience. As we passed various areas along the road, the local people would sell what ever was considered their speciality. Grape fruits were in season and their were countless shack stalls with shade for the seller and piles of the fruit. Next it would be Long Kong fruit or grass brushes, or honey or eggs, a whole kaleidoscope of differing produce made, or procured from the land.
This is the mama and papa business ethic of huge numbers of Thai merchants. This way of life prioritises Independence, small scale, flexible and intimate business. The government only Taxes these type of traders in a very small way as it is such a large group of voting people.
|Local grass products and bags of rice|
|Random guy promoting his business|
|Typical back streets in some of the towns we visited for a bite to eat|
|Minibus view of the road to Chumpon|
|Sunset near Surat Thani|
Phuket to Pak Panang3 days later we set off on our Road Trip to Pak Phanang in Nakhorn SI Thammarat Province. This was different in that I was driving my old Honda CRV which must be 12 years old. The roads covered must take you through some of the most beautiful scenery in southern Thailand. As soon as you get off Phuket island you are confronted with a very green untouched landscape with views of mountains to the north and Limestone Karst scenery around the northern end of Phangna Bay.
|Phang Nga layby-stunning scenery|
This road is always one of the highlights of any drive I do in Southern Thailand. We used to live in Krabi but go to the hospital in Phuket for my son, Thomas and had to make this road trip quiet regularly. I would stop as often as I could to learn something new about the road and attractions near by. It certainly is worth doing with a good map and having an explore. Reminder: Road between Phuket and Krabi.
|Quieter roads along the jungle path|
|View on the dual carriage way heading south|
|Side streets in to the country around Krabi|
As you near Nakhorn SI Thamarat Province you are confronted with one of Southern Thailands biggest mountains. To get through and around this takes a lot longer that it might suggest as the massif is so large. If the scenery was remote when we crossed the Kra Isthmus the and scale became more dramatic with the signs of huge waterfalls appearing high up along the foothills. The east coast experiences a totally different weather pattern in December to the West coast so the land was verdant, the rivers full and many fields flooded.
We skirted the main town of Nakhorn SI Thamarrat and headed over the last 28 km flat lands to Pak Phanang. Many houses on stilts were flooded and had small canoe s tied up to the steps at the entrances. Men could be seen wading through swamps with nets trying to catch the river fish that appear everywhere in these conditions.
Arriving at Pak Phanang after 6.5 hours we settled in to some fine hospitality at Baan Ali's house and ate river prawn and a whole range of delicacies.
|Just before Nakhorn Si Thammarat|
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