We think that what makes a place special it isn’t only the food we eat regardless how delicious it could be, or the sights we see no matter how stunning they are, but also the experiences we live and especially the people we meet.
So far we’ve visited very astounding cities but sometimes we’ve been left with a bitter taste simply because we had no luck in mixing with the locals or had not very interesting encounters rather than the ones to be remembered and shared for a reason or another.
If you’ve been to Chumphon already (a city at the Central Gulf Coast of Southern Thailand), surely you know that it is famous for being a quick stop over between Bangkok, the South and/or the Islands inside the Gulf. People just stay in Chumphon for a night or two to break the journey like we did coming from Phuket on our way to the Thai Capital.
We arrived just in time for dinner, we left our backpacks and went to the night market just outside our hostel on Krom Luang Rd to stuff our faces. It was full of locals collecting their takeaways – always a good sign – and had a wide selection of food – considering it was in a quite compact area, we definitely recommend it!
Anyway, I just said that food isn’t everything that matters while traveling so let’s get to the point and tell you why Chumphon was one of our best stop in Thailand.
We had one day only to our disposal, we didn’t want to spend it in the hostel, we knew that there wasn’t a lot in town to keep ourselves amused apart from the surrounding beaches.
Decisions, decisions, we agreed to walk to Koh Son Beach which is off the beaten track and also the closest from where we were (about 8 km, 5 miles).
We thought that by walking we could see more of the area surrounding Chumphon and without really knowing how long it would have taken us, we just adventured.
Unfortunately we didn’t have a good enough map that showed all the out of town streets. That made a bad start, it didn’t help the fact that we kept taking roads with dead ends too, in fact, even considering the wonderful sense of direction that Dale has, we weren’t entirely sure if we were even on the right street.
We must have had a very puzzled expression when a Thai man on his bicycle stopped to ask ‘Where you go?’, we showed our destination on the map and he shook his head to confirm that our doubts were valid, we’d got the wrong way. The man simply asked us to follow him with a gesture of his hand, so we did thinking he wanted to show us the correct direction.
He took us to his house.
He left the bike jumped on the car and asked us to get in too making us understand he wanted to drive us to Koh Son Beach.
‘Really? Are you sure?’ we asked, he kept inviting us to get in the car with his body language so, without really understand entirely what was going on, we jumped in too.
He drove us through tiny villages in the countryside and told us their names each time, we tried to make a conversation and we’d like to think we kind of understood each other.
The view outside the car windows was amazing, the natural beauty of the landscape was completely untouched by any form of mass accommodation, shops, restaurants or any of the usual signs of high tourism.
Our ‘driver’ gave us a little tour, took us to the coast showed us a few nice spots and then took us back to Koh Son Beach as we showed him on the map to start with.
Admittedly, after having read a lot on the Internet about the scams you could fall into, we both had the smallest thought in the back of our mind that he was going to ask for some money at the end of the short trip, but surprise surprise he didn’t! How incredible is that? He simply bowed at us, shook our hands and after our endless thanks he left probably to get back to his bike journey.
That was the first time we experienced something like that. Don’t get me wrong, we did meet very generous people before, but nobody until that day offered his time, his car and his patience to give us a lift from the middle of nowhere without us even asking for it. Awesome! We were very impressed!
So there we were, on this deserted beach all for ourselves and with a smile on our faces.
We walked by the sea and decided that, considering we didn’t do any walking at all, we could have made it to the Pha Nang Tak Bay which was about 10 km/over 6 miles away from where we were.
Off we go again, hoping to have a better luck with the directions this time! 🙂
All we could see was the unspoiled natural beauty of the area around us: only few houses any now and then, a lot of trees some with growing fruits on it, wild and not animals wandering freely and occasionally somebody walking on the street as we were.
After who knows how long we had been walking for, we reached the point we thought we could simply walk through to get to this other beach we chose to go to, unfortunately there was no path that we could take unless we decided to swim. We needed to get back on the main street which would have made the walk much longer, probably doubling the initial distance.
The few people that passed by kept stopping asking ‘Where you go?’ probably really surprised to see two farangs (Thai for Westerner) walking in such and less inhabited area where there weren’t either bars, fancy resorts or even shops. They directed us to the right way and left smiling probably thinking we were completely out of our minds.
It was getting very hot when suddenly it rained very hard. We stood underneath somebody’s vacant porch, watching the rain and waiting for it to clear out. It didn’t last long and after 10 minutes we were back on the road.
The level of humidity was incredible high especially after the rain, we could see the steam rising from the tarmacked road and walking through those damp pockets of air wasn’t the most pleasant thing either, it was like having a sauna in an open space and completely dressed, nice!
About this time we started to get tired yet despite now knowing how long we had left before reaching Pha Nang Tak Bay, we simply kept walking, there was no point in turning back at that stage.
The best still has to come
A few scooters passed by, until one woman stopped to ask the usual question ‘Where you go?’. She made signs to us to jump on the scooter – hang on a minute – three people on a scooter? We did see entire families on motorbikes, but we’d always thought it wasn’t really a safe option.
A quick glance between us is enough to accept the challenge, bags in the front basket and off we go all three of us. For a moment I couldn’t believe it was real, it happened again the very same day. Without asking for a it, someone offers us a lift but this time it’s on a scooter.
As you reading you might even begin to think I’m making this up, but you must believe my words. It’s a shame we didn’t take any pictures of the very kind lady 🙁
We couldn’t be any more grateful for that ride; in fact, only when she dropped us off exactly by the Pha Nang Tak Bay, we realized that there’d probably been another hour or two walking still ahead of us from where she’d kindly picked us up.
At that point we started to perceive how immensely kind the locals were without asking for anything in exchange and receiving only our enormous thanks and gratitude.
Glad to be there, we loved the endless beach, dipped our feet in the warm water, relaxed a bit enjoying the view and then started to think about how make it back the full 20km to Chumphon.
This was definitely an area with facilities, however, most of them were closed or deserted, wrong time of the year maybe? No idea. It didn’t really bothered us, it actually made it more special.
We were very far from Chumphon and with no bahts in our pockets, so once more time we start walking.
After probably 30 minutes a songthaew stopped, asked the usual question and, when we said we had no money, he insisted we got on regardless that we couldn’t pay for the journey. I guess he was going to Chumphon anyway, but he could have just left us there without caring.
During the ride we were simply speechless both thinking it had been such a lucky day, most probably the luckiest so far!
It doesn’t happen every day to get a lift 3 times from 3 different people, each time without asking for it and by people that have been genuinely very nice, kindhearted and probably felt quite sorry for us when they heard the amount of walking we were going to do each time.
What an amazing day we had!