Thursday, January 05, 2017


The south of Thailand usually rains and floods during this time of the year, but this year is particularly bad as the monsoon storms fell way heavier. Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani, and Ko Samui are completely overwhelmed as its airports canceled flights, leaving hundreds of travelers stranded, and their residents washed out of homes and businesses. Even Phuket, Ko Phi Phi, Ko Phang Nga and Krabi aren't spared.

I'm relieved that we took this trip in this direction. Thankful for OCD-ness and homework done on plausible weather patterns, and grateful for weather mercies. We drove three hours out of Bangkok southeast to Rayong where it remains sunny. The occasional drizzle in the nights is unusual but with such heavy rains sweeping in across the Gulf of Thailand, it's expected. Popped by Rayong's city center to stock up on some items and headed out towards Klaeng to the beachfront. This is where we'll stay put for the week.

Unlike Hua Hin, Rayong is not as bustling, and certainly less of a tourist trap. The city center is fairly residential and isn't exactly temming with tourists. Its beaches are not as charming as Pranburi, but local crowds still come here in droves. There're only the two short 200m-strips at Laem Mae Phim and Ban Phe (ferry terminal for ferries across to Ko Samet) that's more brightly lit and bustling, catering to local and foreign tourists. We went to a quieter area where local crowds have dissipated after the New Year holidays.

First thing we did was to confirm a small speedboat for our private use for the next five days. We've got no interest in doing group tours. Neither do we want to be squeezed onto a boat with too many tourists. Everytime I hear "don't worry, eight people only", I get 12 people on a boat that is meant for 8-10 passengers. There're too many horror stories of speedboats colliding or capsizing because maximum load has been exceeded.

Extra thrilled that the speedboat could come right up to the beach at Rayong Marriott to pick us up and drop us off. Each trip out, the hotel makes us lunch bentos and provides a cooler box full of water, soda and fruits. This tiny baby is exactly what I want— fits four passengers and the driver comfortably. It's small and familiar enough so that in case of an emergency, there're two other people in this party who could drive the boat. We could all communicate fine with the driver in mainly Thai and a smattering of English. Perfect.

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