After the last couple weeks in the north of Thailand and Laos, we made one last-ditch attempt to experience beach life before our time in the Middle East. We were thinking Phuket, but it was high season and accommodation was expensive. Instead, we booked ourselves into a nice hotel on a strip of sand about an hour north of Phuket. We hadn’t heard of Khao Lak but the hotel we looked at was attractively priced and had very positive reviews. After booking, we researched the area and then realized that the area has a sad history. It appeared to be the area in Thailand most severely affected by the tsunami.
As mentioned in the previous post, our journey to get here was an adventure. Upon arrival, we realized there was little adventure on the agenda for the next couple days. The hotel had a superb beachfront but felt remote. The sand went on for a couple kilometres and I would spend many mornings walking up and down the shoreline. The kids would join me and chase crabs. Julie was great at spotting them, but Isabella was the designated “catcher”. She would stealthily sneak up behind and intercept them before they could retreat into their burrows. After catching them, they would debate what type of crab they had captured. Was it a hermit crab, a fiddler crab? No joke, they identified four types of crabs on one of our walks. Thanks Octonauts (those with kids under 6 will understand that reference)!
The temperature reminded us of our days in Koh Tao. Every day was north of 30 degrees and the sun was in full force. It was the first time we wore our sunglasses consistently and our tans returned on day two. Outside of our beach walks, we had a pretty good routine to capitalize on the weather. We would wake up before 7am and get the schoolwork out of the way. That would be followed by two hours of pool, 30 minutes of ocean swimming, then a 15-minute refresh in the pool. Follow this by 2 hours of relaxation in the air-conditioned room and then another hour in the pool (we would alternate between the beachfront one and the lobby one).
Because we lacked a kitchen and were at a resort, eating proved a challenge. For the most part, we just skipped lunch. The only breakfast option was the hotel buffet which didn’t make sense after day one. It cost $100 for the four of us. In a bizzarro world, the dinner buffet was $70 for the four of us. In Thailand, that amount should have fed us for two days. So, with the exception of Italian buffet night (we couldn’t deprive the kids of that one), we tried to eat at random restaurants nearby as much as possible. We longed for our Koh Tao beachfront restaurant options (Khao Soi we miss you so much).
As for Khao Lak itself, its association with the tsunami seems to always be just below the surface. We tried to avoid bringing it up in conversation but a few of our taxi drivers would talk quite freely about it. There is a museum which we didn’t enter as the kids were with us and the photos are graphic. But beyond the museum, you pick up on things that speak to the history. Tsunami evacuation routes are marked on the roads (actually delineating the distance to go). The coastline has derelict-looking buildings that are actually Tsunami Towers (buildings you can “escape to” in case a tsunami hits). And if you walk off the main road, you will come across foundations that no longer have structures atop. Fellow tourists would often tell us that the area has changed a lot in the last decade as newly built resorts have reclaimed the beachfront.
Up next is our craziest adventure yet. Bring on the Similan and Surin Islands
Where we stayed:
- Grand Mercure Khao Lak Bangsak: Pristine isolated beach – Italian Buffet
By the numbers:
- French Words Learned: 24 – the kids were taught numbers and basic food vocabulary
- Length of time Julie held her breath while swimming underwater: 31 seconds – I timed it and couldn’t believe it
- Glass Water bottles drank each day by the family: 8 – 500mL bottles – It was hot and we were so happy the hotel recycled them
- Number of times the crabs pinched Julie: 1 – a land hermit crab got her
- Size of the spider we saw (see picture above): 8 inches across – the biggest spider I had seen on the trip
Ciao for now,