Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mom Comes to Thailand Part 1: Ko Phayam

Eric and I said our goodbyes to Suphanburi, to our favorite Thai teachers, to Wattana, to Nay, and to our smoothie lady and left for Bangkok on a Friday after finishing our week of tutoring the math and science teachers. My mom’s flight got in at 10 am on March 23rd and we surprisingly didn’t have any problems finding her at the airport! She was alert (impressive after such a long flight), excited to be in Thailand, and came bearing cookies and brownies. We took her to Chatuchak Market so she could be sufficiently overwhelmed with a huge Thai market and do some shopping.

Aow Yai--Our beach in Ko Phayam
We then made our way to the Southern bus terminal, which was much easier to get to than expected so we spent a few hours hanging out at the bus station before boarding our 8:30 pm overnight bus to Ranong. We got to Ranong and took a taxi to the pier at around 5 am and had another 4 or so hours to wait until the ferry left for our destination-Ko Phayam. It was then a 2 hour ferry ride to the island, a 20 minute motor taxi ride to the beach we would stay at (Aow Yai) and some walking from bungalow to bungalow trying to find a good deal. We were hot and exhausted after all the traveling and couldn’t wait to put our backpacks down and jump in the ocean. (By the way, my mom’s modes of transportation count in two days was 9)

Our Bungalow
We went for the cheapest bungalow option, which was a very basic bungalow at Ko Phayam Coconut Resort. We easily slipped into the island lifestyle of waking up and going on a run, walk, or swim, more swimming, breakfast, reading, more swimming, etc. One day we rented a motorbike so we could see the other part main area that people stayed on the island and Eric played taxi driver shuttling my mom and I to the different beaches. The other beach was in a bay as opposed to our long, wide beach (great for running) and was very beautiful. The water was very shallow and Eric and I were able to walk almost all the way to where the bay met the open ocean!

Buffalo Bay before the tide went out
Ko Phayam is way less developed than most islands in Thailand. There is only electricity in the evening and they turn off running water at night (and sometimes at random times during the day). These two aspects of the underdevelopment were a bit inconvenient at times, but it was so nice to be on an island with a huge open beach and very few tourists relative to the rest of Thai islands. The food was still expensive as on all islands, but it was actually really good which isn’t always the case in areas where there are a lot of tourists. Our favorite dish was Burmese pickled tea salad, which I will definitely try to recreate at home. We ate a lot of great seafood every single day, which is always a treat.

Beautiful sunsets every night
Mom shell hunting 

My mom did a great job fitting in with the many 20 somethings traveling in Southeast Asia with her backpack and ability to handle far from glamorous living conditions. She probably could have stayed on Ko Phayam for months spending a few hours each day collecting shells (which ended up being a large tuppleware full for her to carry around the rest of her trip) among the other relaxing beach activities. We were a bit sad to leave Ko Phayam, but after 6 nights it was time to move on to the next leg of our trip.  
The street we called town nearest to our beach where we walked to get good coffee for mom, shop a little, and rent the motor bike.

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