Koh Payam, Thailand
16/01/13 – 23/01/13
On Marc’s suggestion I headed from Bangkok on a night bus to the island of Koh Payam in the east, right next to the Burmese border.
- The original plan was to visit Burma but Marc had recently been there leading a tour. It was peak season – full of tourists and many travellers could not find accommodation. So I decided to stay in Thailand instead.
- Arrived in border town of Ranong in the middle of the night, got a rip-off tuc-tuc and waited until dawn in a deserted port for the morning ferry.
- The mudflats there were full of salamanders and crabs with one giant claw, fighting for territory. They were a first for me!
- Tourists trickled in. A little German boy with one arm ran around excitedly, it was good to see his injury hadn’t affected his enthusiasm.
- Drove past trucks full of ice blocks on the way to the ferry, ice seems to be in big demand for the seafood industry and to ship to the islands.
- Journey to Koh Payam was in a basic wooden ferry, loaded with ice and supplies in the hold. It took a few hours. I slept!
- Koh Payam is maybe 5 miles from end to end. There are few big vehicles, most people travel by motorbike or scooter. A few narrow roads pass between the main resorts through the lightly forested interior.
- I caught a motorbike taxi with an Italian girl I met at the ferry to a bay on the other side of the island – Ao Yai – and I took a basic beach bungalow on a big, brown beach.
- The restaurants at the many bungalow resorts here served a selection of Burmese food due to the proximity to the border. Soups and curries. Tasty!
- On day two I went exploring on foot in the sweltering heat into the island.
- I spent the next 4 or 5 days relaxing at my bay. I was tired and wanted to recoup. I moved up to Smile bungalows up the beach where the sand was nicer.
- I tried my hand at bodyboarding in the breakers there. It was fun but I got too enthusiastic and badly sunburned myself! I spent the rest of my days here hiding in the shade reading, eating tasty cheap food and beers at sunset.
- Met a young British couple who I went drinking with at a Rasta bar, owned by a German guy and his Chinese girlfriend. They told me a crazy story about the Chinese girl after we left:
- She’d been travelling to India with her best friend before coming to Thailand, and her friend had… been shot dead! No joke! Her friend was very promiscuous and had been openly carousing in public with an Indian guy, which is a big no-no in their society. One day the couple were outside her hotel and a motorbike had driven up next to them – then a man on the back opened fire with a pistol and shot them both dead! The Indian guy must have been mixed up with the wrong crowd and it was assumed by the authorities that the couple’s lewd behaviour had angered a local gang. The Chinese girl, of course immensely distressed at losing her friend, was kept under armed guard for over two months whilst an investigation took place, but no culprit was found – the corruption in the police there meant that they probably had gang ties anyway and were just going through the motions. Eventually she was allowed to leave the country. Madness.