Ranong (hot springs) – Pran Buri (climbing) – Hua Hin (expats)

Hi everyone at home, sorry it’s been a while 🙂 Jemma here…

When we left Ao Nang to visit Ranong around a week or more ago. We arrived at Krabi bus station by taxi (the usual coverted old pick up trucks with a roof welded on the back and benches screwed in). Once at the bus station the people that work there rush out, ask where you’re going and usher you to a ticket desk. This time we were going by local bus to Ranong and the ticket cost us I think 220 baht each, a fraction of the tourist bus and the lady said “5 hour” and it was 10.30 so we expected to be in Ranong by 3.30pm. The bus left right away, there was a strange lounging type area at the back of the bus to we set up on that with mp3’s to drown out the blaring thai music video’s being played at the front of the bus. The bus driver came to check our ticket and advised us we’d be in Ranong by 5pm. Hmmm. So there was no air-con on this bus. The technique to pass time when it’s hot and there’s nowt you can do about it is to sleep. The chairs were leather so when you lay sprawled out you wake up with your face stuck on the chair. But that’s travelling for you 🙂 We arrived in Ranong at around 5.30-6pm so it was a long journey, longer than expected. The bus stop we were dropped at was a 10-15 minute walk to the hotel area. We stopped for Thai food part way through. It was nice to walk with the bags on believe it or not, it was cool, and we felt pretty rank already so there was no harm in a little exercise!

Walking from the bus into Ranong

Walking from the bus into Ranong

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We checked in to the same hotel as last time for 2 nights. I think we forgot about the noise you hear in that hotel. There aren’t doors separating the rooms from the road noise, other than 1 thin door on your room so you hear everything. Day and night. But the room was cheap, 400 baht for a room with air con and a hot shower. We rented a 125 motorbike from Pon’s Place 2 minutes walk away for 150 baht a day and went off to explore.

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There was some rain and overcast type weather here which made it cool and the best weather for lounging in the hot springs. There’s a spring in a bit of a National Park type area and for 40 baht each you get a towel and a locker and there are showers and changing rooms available and a water fountain for drinking. There were 2 large hot pools and 2 small cooler pools with umbrellas over to splash about in and relax, and sun loungers beside if you wanted them. They’ve done a really nice job, last time we were here in 2009 there were only small deep pools in this location, that were so hot you could look at them and dip a finger in but they were not cooled in anyway so far too hot to sit in etc!

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There was a local man set up nearby who had chicken and quail eggs in nets for sale, 20 baht for 3 chicken eggs. He used a separate boiling spring outlet to dip the nets into and cook the eggs. We bought loads to eat whilst we were in the spring. We came to this one quite as few times and always bought eggs of this guy. We visited a few other springs too. We met a family from Phuket that had a hotel down there, they were there on holiday in Ranong. Their son who looked around 21 was with them but they said he was usually in Australia, Melbourne, at a University studying to be an aeroplane engineer! They were great company and wrote down on a piece of paper their favourite Thai dishes, in Thai, so that we could take the list to the night market and try some new food.

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We moved to a place just up the road called Dahla’s Guesthouse I think, this place was 450 a night and was a spacious bungalow. Apart from 1 night where there was a fight between Thai men on their way home from a bar, we had much better sleep here.

Our Bungalow at Dahla's in Ranong

Our Bungalow at Dahla’s in Ranong

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There was plenty of good food in Ranong, the best tasting food is always the very small local stalls that don’t have many tourists in, they’re also the cheapest so it’s a win, win situation. They make some really hot food too, we had some minced pork a few times with herbs and spices in it and it just burns but it’s so good. You eat it with plain rice, or whatever you fancy. Food with water/tea/coffee at these places was always around the 100 baht mark or less for the 2 of us. You can’t complain. Touristy restaurants sell similar stuff, not as tasty and 2/3 times the price. Their downfall is that they try to sell “everything!” where as the locals make what they’re good at and don’t try to offer 100 items on the menu.

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Food stalls at Ranong, there were hundreds of them all selling different things :-)

Food stalls at Ranong, there were hundreds of them all selling different things 🙂

The night-life in Ranong is thriving but strangely primarily Thai. It’s unusual to find somewhere that’s really busy with Thai people having a good time and letting their hair down and tourists can join in the fun but it’s not all about the “falang”. We went into the 1 air-conditioned bar in the area and there was a Thai boy band on 1 night and lots of Thai girls watching! There was a small roadside bar where the cocktails were 60 baht and good (and strong) so we had a few nights sipping in there.

We left Ranong after 6 nights in total. We dropped our motorbike back off at Pon’s place and caught the “taxi pickup truck” to the bus station. The bus to Pran Buri was due to leave at 10.30am and we’d arrived at 10am, bought our tickets for 230 baht each and sat down for a nice dish of pork noodle soup beside the station and was ready on the bus at 10.30 to leave.

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Just after 10.30 a Thai woman hops on the bus and visits each individual Thai person, speaks to them and they get off the bus. Then she gets to us and tells us the bus’s air-con isn’t working (feels fine to us) and we have to get off, the bus will leave in 3 hours. So we get off the bus and the bus drives off. The bus comes back 10 minutes later and parks up. There’s no way there was anything wrong with the air-con. They think you’re daft sometimes. It’s well known among travellers that if the local bus isn’t busy they won’t leave for the journey, they cancel it and you wait for the next scheduled departure because it will be hopefully fuller. So we wait at the bus station for 3 hours. 2 German friends travelling together are booked onto the same bus, travelling back to Hua Hin together for 1 night before heading to Bangkok for their flight home to Germany the next night. They planned to visit the night market in Hua Hin that night for souvenirs. So with a 6 hour journey delayed by 3 hours this was cutting their shopping time up considerably! They also have to leave the bus at Pran Buri where we were heading to and do an extra 30km somehow into Hua Hin…

The bus left at 1.30pm and we slowly crept our way along to the East coast of Thailand, stopping at all the little towns and villages along the way. We hopped off at Chumphon for half an hour to buy some more food and continued up the East coast at snails pace. The driver told us 6 hours originally. The journey took 8 hours. Bus it was cool at least! So we arrived at a bus stop in Pran Buri in the dark at about half 9 that night. The German’s got straight onto another bus coincidentally heading to Hua Hin the minute they got off this bus. We asked locals where the beach was, thinking it couldn’t be far away. It was infact about 10 miles away from where we’d been dropped. Nothing in Thailand is every straight forward 😉  After attempting to shop around for taxi prices and getting a beer from the 7/11 we settled for another pick up truck taxi to the beach for 200 baht between us and they dropped us outside a hotel. We asked which way “everything was” because we didn’t see many lights or signs of life! Instead of wandering about at this time of night the first hotel we went into asked for 800 baht for the night in an air-con room so we settled for that. After we paid the man came back to our room with 100 baht, apparently we could have the room for 700 baht 🙂 Strange.

Hotel Grounds

Hotel Grounds

The beach where Pran Buri climbing is

The beach where Pran Buri climbing is

The restaurant next door was just about still open so I got a plate of muscles, Taz got some soup. It was good food. We went to sleep, with banging heads. There’s something about long journeys that mashes my head.

The next day we walked along Pran Buri beach in the baking heat and had some eggs on toast for breakfast.

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This place is quiter than we thought, Originally I was thinking we should go to Hua Hin but it’s a large expat place, I thought Pran Buri would be nicer and cheaper and had some climbing. It was nice but I’m glad we got dropped where we did because every hotel we asked at was well over the 2000 baht mark per night, most around 3500 baht or more! I think our hotel was called something like the Baan Hat Pran Hotel, and the only one within backpacker price range that we found. Pran Buri is a strip of much quiter, very expensive resorts. The beach is a thin strip of sand because the tide is always high? Day and night? It was when we were there anyway. There’s a beautiful, wider beach at the Northern end of the beach, we were at the south.

So we rented bicycles for 75 baht each per day and rode up and down this quiet place daily, it took about 20 minutes I think. It was nice to get about on bikes, very relaxing!

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The beautiful beach was surrounded by rock, some had been bolted and was in our Guide book. It was impossible to tell which route was which without a drawing so we just climbed and enjoyed. The rock was sharper than anything else I’ve felt before and after a couple of routes your hands felt a bit ruined. There were also a lot of plants growing all over the rock making everything a bit weirder to navigate, and ants coming out of holes you were trying to hang onto. Ew. We had a dip in the sea and relaxed some more…

Bouldering at PranBuri on sharp rock!

DSC05879 DSC05886You could order food to the beach for after a nice climb.

Food on the beach in Pran Buri

Anyway on our last day in Pran Buri we decided to have a massage. The Thai or Oil massages here are 300 baht for 90 minutes, a true bargain. So we opted for an oil each. I don’t rate Thai massages. I have only had 1, 3 years ago in Ranong but it kinda put me off for life. Too much uncomfortable stretching as far as I’m concerned. I prefer to be rubbed! It was nice and relaxing and I’m sure beneficial.

We stayed in Pran Buri for 3 nights and then sorted a taxi for 400 baht to Hua Hin. That’s where we are now, typing while it’s bucketing down with rain outside, ha ha.

Taz has a bit of an opinion to share with everyone about our last night in Pran Buri and how everything went a bit wrong… I’ll post this at the end, he’s been typing for as long as me, so I think he has a lot to say!

When we got to Hua Hin yesterday after the 40 minute taxi journey. I had booked a night in Hua Hin at a hotel called Baan Hua Hin Resort so that we could go door to door without the opportunity for much hassle. The rooms are ok and it does have a pool which we haven’t used yet, looks clean and good for lengths. The rooms are advertised openly at 590 baht a night which is ok value for money. The air-con’s good and the rooms massive with a balcony (bad view) and the TV has some english channels. We went over the road from the hotel and rented a motorbike for 200 baht a day.

Hotel at Hua Hin

We drove around and saw the huge shopping mall with all sorts of international food’s and shops going on. We got some bits and bobs from Boots, I bought a little hair dryer (hair doesn’t dry in air-con rooms and I wanted to use my straighteners ) and Taz got some jeans that were in a posh shop but they had a buy 1 get 2 free deal so he got a polo neck top and a smart shirt for free with the jeans. It’s part of the insurance claim for the stuff we’ve had nicked, and they’ll be great in Macau and Hong Kong where shorts at night where it’s cool and I presume “fancier” aren’t ideal. We went to an all you can each sushi place in the mall. The cost is 300 baht a person and there’s a massive selection of sushi to choose from, as well as lots of things you can pick of the converyer belt to go in the boiling pot which everyone has infront of them to make their own soup. There’s also unlimited drinks, icecream and some fruit. You get 1 hour and 15 minutes! I was completely done after about 45 minutes, stuffed to the brim!! The place was heaving, and I’m guessing it is all day and night! Good service, excellent food.

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Last night I did my hair and make-up as it seemed this place had night out potential. It was just about cool enough to wear jeans comfortably, so Taz put them on. I brought a few nice dresses to wear on this trip and they’ve had a few outings so far so I’m glad I brought them. Sometime’s it’s nice to get that holiday feeling and not just be walking about in shorts all day and night. We got some tea, raw prawns for Taz.

Taz's strange addiction to raw prawns...

I had an inkling this might happen and it did, I don’t look Thai in the slightest but with dark skin and long dark straight hair in a place where most white men have a Thai women behind them I mistaken for one, and was spoken to in Thai a number of times, after they spoke to Taz in English. Funny really. This rarely happens when I have my hair up or curly and my shorts on. I did find I received a strange atmosphere from tourists on holiday here though, probably sharing the same opinion as me about Thai women with white men. Cheap. I felt a little bit alienated in a weird way, like I was being frowned upon by tourists and gawped at by fat horrible white men in groups that may have looked on as though I was another foreign purchased piece of meat that they could oggle at because they think they can afford to. Pissed me off a bit. Taz also found this a bit strange, like receiving approving looks from the fat horrible white men as though they have a little “community” and they all give each other a knowing nod or something which made him feel a bit embarrassed  Sick. So anyway things snap back to normal a bit when I open my mouth and I don’t have a squeaky high pitched Thai voice. We stayed for 1 beer at a small bar and went to the 7/11 for some choccies and went back to the room to chill and nibble whilst making the most of a couple of English channels 🙂

Today we’ve dropped our laundry off, we were lugging laods of it. Pran Buri had no cheap services and this place isn’t much better. Here we got 80 baht a kilo though, where in Pran Buri and a couple of places here too they only offer per item – like 20p for a pair of socks, a quid for shorts etc, we’d have ended up paying about 20 quid for a bag of washing where we’d not have paid more than 3 or 4 pounds anywhere else for a huge load because it’s usually per kilo prices. I think this load here has cost 280 baht in the end, nearly 6 quid.

A overloaded bike?! Ha ha

Anyway, sure you’ve better things to do than listen to me rant about laundry…

Taz has his something to add… his blog is the next entry…

 

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