On the Gulf coast of Thailand, halfway between Prachuap Khiri Khan and Chumphon (where transfer to Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand can be found) is the beautifully picturesque and quiet town of Bang Saphan. I had heard of this place as a recommendation from Sai and Charlie in Sangkhlaburi and am so grateful for it!
I will admit right off the bat that I barely spent any real amount of time in the town itself, and well basically the reason for that was because once I had arrived at the bungalows I’d chosen, I simply didn’t want to leave! That and I was about 4 km south of the actual town, and since I didn’t have a motorbike, there was no real big draw for me to go into town. But I’m getting ahead.
I took the mini-bus from Prachuap, which was only about 80 baht and an hour and a half or so later was dropped off on the side of the road for Bang Saphan. The drop off location for the mini-bus was about 4 km west of the town, so I had to get a ride in. There was a motorbike taxi standing by, so I hopped on and asked to go to Lola’s Bungalows. I had read up on this guesthouse from a posting on Travelfish and since it said it was their top pick and cheaply priced, I thought why not? But as the bungalows were 4 km south of town, it ended up being quite an expensive trip there via motorbike! Frankly there could have been a cheaper way to go, but being in the heat of the day and not very many other options just hanging about, I went ahead with the motorbike.
Once I arrived, I was already in love! The property didn’t even have a sign up but it was evident how popular it was. About 20 or so individual bungalows were on the property that were situated only several dozens of feet from a stunning beach! I was shown to a bungalow and for 300 baht a night, set my things down and got ready for the beach! What I thought was cute about this place (other than the amazing location) was how when I tried to pay for the bungalow, they simply waved me off and said to do so whenever I decided to leave. I like that kind of trust in people!
In any event, I had only planned on being there max 5 days, but ended up staying 2 full weeks! Most of the bungalows were occupied by couples or families that had been staying there already for weeks themselves and or were planning to be there for a month at least. I guess that’s why the property owners didn’t want money up-front as they were probably used to people coming in and then wanting to stay on!
Along the beach were several eateries, including my personal favorite called Roy Tawan all of a 3 minute walk along the beach south from the bungalows, that had THE BEST chicken club sandwich I’d tasted in a very long time!! I was seriously addicted to it!! And for every meal they would start you off with fresh bananas and give sliced mango for dessert! So for about $1.50 I was very fully and quite healthily satiated! Another favorite spot I had was the Why Not Bar just a bit further south along the beach where about the only nightlife could be found. The people there were so friendly and welcoming, I just adored it!
I spent my two weeks at Lola’s getting myself back into an exercise regime, lounging on the many hammocks along the beach reading books, walking daily anywhere from 2-6km through the lush and beautiful land filled with a variety of life to various stores for my food needs (they had a fridge in the room) or to the Thursday and Saturday evening market at the nearby Wat, hanging out at the Why Not Bar, eating a ridiculous amount of Club sandwiches from Roy Tawan, taking brief dips in the ocean (only brief and I will explain why later), gazing at the night sky, eating yet another ridiculous amount of ridiculously fresh and juicy mangos on my front porch, exploring new ways to walk to the neighborhood stores (one dirt path included cutting through a cow pasture), chatting with neighbors and making local friends, enjoying the sights and sounds of approaching storms, listening to some guided meditations on YouTube before falling asleep nightly and generally otherwise relaxing and unwinding.
I saw my first flying squirrels there and though they were impossible to take images of, since they only came out at night and moved too quickly to capture, they were still a delight to watch! Another thing I’d heard about but had never witnessed before Bang Saphan was coconut collectors using monkeys to cut off and throw down the coconuts! Some workers also had long bamboo sticks with a knife at the end that they would use to cut off coconuts, but far more had several macaques with them that would easily climb to the top and chuck down several coconuts. I hope and could only assume the animals were treated well!
I mentioned above that I only spent brief time swimming in the ocean, and the reason for that was first because there were several jellyfish in the area. Every time I walked out into the ocean I could spot several bobbing along looking harmless enough, yet I wasn’t going to test how much their sting might hurt! Of course I could have simply walked past the area they were bobbing in as the deeper you got the fewer jellyfish there were, however once getting past the gauntlet of jellyfish, another gauntlet of sorts had to be passed. See, this particular beach had hundreds upon hundreds of sand dollars in the sand. You could feel them under your feet as you walked, their little bodies crunching under the weight of my feet and I just couldn’t stomach damaging them just so I could get out deep enough to where I could start to actually swim or float. So, between the jellyfish and not wanting to potentially kill dozens of sand dollars with each trip in and out of the ocean, I simply opted to hang beside the ocean instead:)
Another first that I witnessed one Saturday when I went for an early lunch at Roy Tawan was a bird singing competition… A bird singing competition… Yes… Let me set the scene: I arrived at Roy Tawan and sat at a little table awaiting my food when I spotted in the grass section nearby a metal structure with about 12 cages hanging. Each cage had a bird in it and there was even another bird cage (with a bird inside) hanging in the shade about 20 feet from the other 12 on the metal structure. One man was sitting under the shade with the bird and he had a cylinder vase filled with water that he would drop the shell of what looked like half of a coconut that had a small hole in the bottom. Once the coconut shell filled with water and sunk to the bottom, he would blow a whistle and retrieve the coconut. At this point, two men whom had been standing on opposite sides of the 12 hanging bird cages would approach a cage and make a mark on a piece of paper hanging from the bottom of each cage. Then they would step back and seemingly watch the next cage. The whistle was blown again, the coconut shell was dropped (their way of timing!) and the whistle blew again to signal time, the men would make their mark on the next bird cage and move on.
Now, mind you during this entire time all the birds were singing away. The air was filled with birds singing as well as with some people on the side lines making sounds that sounded like encouragement to one bird or another. I asked the local woman at Roy Tawan what on earth was going on and she simply said it was a bird singing competition! The birds in the 12 cages were trying to mimic the song of the single bird in the shade. The two men making marks were judges and they were scoring which birds sang the best in comparison to the one bird! Just as I was wondering how in the world these judges could hear only the sound of the one bird they were supposed to be watching for judging and drown out the other 11 birds singing their hearts out, she added “I don’t understand this competition, it seems very silly to me”! LOL!!
I honestly could have stayed another 2 weeks at Lola’s but alas, it was time to move on! I think I had gotten my fill of relaxation and was ready to try a new spot. My next destination was for the island of Koh Tao:)