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Prachuap Khiri Khan

Sunday December 26th, 1999 to Tuesday December 28th, 1999
Monkeys in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

For the Christmas break we planned a week long excursion to the south of Thailand to explore some beaches and finish our PADI (scuba diving) certification. I had managed to buy train tickets in advance, but alas travels are never simple (our travels aren't, anyway); on our 1st attempt to leave for Prachuap Khiri Khan on December 26th we missed our train; bad traffic and bad directions contributed (there are 2 train stations in Bangkok, and we ended up at the wrong one). Fortunately there was a train leaving from the station we ended up at 20min after we arrived. Train tickets are very cheap, so we didn't feel too badly about having to buy another pair, and we loaded ourselves onto the train.

The train itself was a classic. It had yet been remodelled with sticky-green, Bangkok-grime-covered vinyl. Instead, the seats were wooden like old park benches; between the Passage to India feel of the train and the un-Bangkok temperatures (anything below 30 is un-Bangkok) we had an extremely pleasant 6hr ride.

Prachuap Khiri Khan is a small, non-touristy village down the eastern coast of Thailand. It's right on the Gulf of Thailand, so excellent, cheap seafood is a big draw. While there we visited 3 separate areas, 2 of which are an hour's walk up the beach.

A traditional Thai fishing boat, Ao Bang Nang Lom, Thailand

The 1st attraction was Khao Chong Krajok, a small rock hill just on the edge of town, with some 300 odd steps leading up to Wat(?) Thammikaram on the top. The hill is also home to literally 100s of wild monkeys (it was a little bizarre to see monkeys roaming around the nearby town streets). We climbed the steps to the wat and enjoyed the great view of the sea and the surrounding countryside. Thailand is very narrow at that point, and we could see mountains across the border in Burma, which is only about 12km to the west.

Khao Chong Krajok also has a large hole through it that creates the illusion of reflecting the sky: apparently the name Khao Chong Krajok actually translates as something along the lines of "Mirror Mountain." We didn't spot the "mirror" until we had climbed back down and were headed to the small fishing village up the beach.

The fishing village, called Ao Bang Nang Lom, is famous for the fact that the residents continue to build traditional 12m wooden fishing boats by hand. Boats take about 2 months build, and sell for a hefty price when finished (in the neighbourhood of $1200-$1500 Canadian, an enormous sum by Thai fisher-people standards).

By the time we got to Ao Bang Nang Lom it was heading towards evening; Noah, however, wanted to see Wat Khao Tham Khan Kradai, a cave wat with large reclining Buddhas in it, which was a few kilometres beyond the village. We walked on towards the wat and reached it just as the sun was beginning to set.

Buddhas in a cave, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

The caves that make up the wat are in a mountain, so some climbing was required to get to them. The 1st cave that we found contained a row of seated golden Buddhas. The sun's last rays were just low enough slip though the mouth of the cave, causing the golden statues to glow. The effect was really rather incredible. From our spot up on the hill, we watched the sun set behind the mountains in the distance. Ready to head back, I thought, but no; Noah found a set of steps leading further up the mountain.

Wats traditionally close at sundown, and I figured that, seeing as we were essentially in the middle of nowhere, we should head down and make our way back to Prachuap Khiri Khan. Noah, however, ever the adventurer, wanted to go on, and so on we went.

We soon found a large cave with a huge reclining Buddha in it, not to mention a large number of bats. We moved past the 1st Buddha and deeper into the next cavern, which contained an even larger reclining Buddha with a sentinel of seated Buddhas beside it. We were now fairly deep inside the 2nd cavern of a cave, after sundown, in the middle of nowhere. I had seen the Buddhas and I was ready to leave, but Noah decided to take one last close look.

Traditional Thai fishing boats, Ao Bang Nang Lom, Thailand

Then the lights went out. Now we were inside the 2nd cavern of a pitch dark cave, after sundown, in middle of nowhere, with no lights, with some animal moving around in the back of the third cavern, and Noah couldn't find his shoes because he had taken them off to go check out the Buddha. After a few minutes of Noah rolling around on the ground in order to cover as much area as possible in an attempt to find his shoes, I located them and we gingerly made our way out of there (ed's note: I was just looking where she told me to look: I think she intentionally deceived me in order to have me roll around on the ground for a while before she went and got the shoes from where she knew they had been all along).

Needless to say, I took full advantage of the opportunity to point out Noah's stupidity numerous times and remind him that he should have listened to me when I suggested that we leave. We made our way back to the town via motorcycle taxi, had some tasty seafood, and made ready to head further south the next day.

More information about Thailand is available on the About Thailand page; you might want to have a look at it if you haven't already.

You might wish to look at the Prachuap Khiri Khan photos in the photo album.

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