Monday, 2 July 2007

29th June – Ranong

We left early this morning as we knew that it would be a long journey up to Ranong. The trip took us up the Andaman coast and though some national parks. It was one of the most beautiful journeys we have had in Thailand as the road was often canopied by lush trees and the scenery was very tropical and mountainous. This is one of the wettest areas of Thailand which could be seen by the dense vegetation either side of the road.
We arrived in Ranong at lunch time so our first stop was a little restaurant recommended in the Rough guide. What they failed to say was that it was necessary to be covered in mosquito repellent so as to enjoy your meal! So I popped off to the local 7/11 to get some while Nick ordered.
Next stop was to find the immigration office and the pier from which to get the boat across to Burma. Again we followed the guide book, but managed to take a wrong turning that took us miles down a track to a dead end where we happened upon about six children breaking up large lumps of coke for charcoal. A sad sight and a reminder that on the surface this may seem to be a rather stable country but really is still extremely third world in many hidden and not so hidden places. Eventually after backtracking a bit we found it but decided to leave it until tomorrow so as to have more time to enjoy it instead of rushing back as the immigration closed at 5 pm.
Back in the car again, this time to find a place to stay. As it is low season we thought we would check out the poshest place – The Royal Princess, to see if we could get a deal. It was lovely but still rather expensive so we went to look at another place, which turned out to have closed down since the guide book was published six months ago! Finally we spotted a place that looked in between expensive and cheap, which also said it was a spa hotel. It turned out to be a wonderful find with a lovely pool and hot spa drawn directly from the mineral springs nearby.
We decided on a quick trip to the local ‘department’ store for a bottle of wine and drinks for the girls. They went off to choose some goodies while we pondered over the meagre selection of wine. All was great until Nick spotted a sign which said that they couldn’t sell alcohol between 2pm and 5 pm as it was the law. As it was only 4.30pm we didn’t feel like hanging around until 5pm just for a bottle of wine. Being Thailand however and remembering that most Thais take no notice of laws, I thought it was worth asking if I could buy it now. So I went up to a lady, smiled nicely and asked. She had a quick conflab with her supervisor and said that it was ok they would sell it to me if we paid cash and they would just put it through the till after 5pm. Can you imagine doing that in Sainsburys?!!! It got even better before we left the shop as there was a stall with a big pile of T shirts that we started looking through mainly because they were all 39 baht (about 50p), only to find that they were genuine diesel, von dutch, ck and other makes. All together we bought 11 t-shirts for just £6!
Back to the hotel and while Nick relaxed for a bit (he had just driven over 300km!) I answered some emails. Then we swopped and Lara and I decided to check out the pool and spa. I don’t think I have ever felt more relaxed in my life after going in the spa. The water was 40 degrees and at first seemed way too hot but after getting used to it – wonderful. We both felt like crashing out in bed afterwards.
We ended the day with a VERY spicy meal (delicious too!) in the hotel restaurant and crashed out and read our books for a couple of hours before getting an early night ready for our trip to Burma / Myanmar in the morning.

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