Tag Archives: sunset

Prachuap Khiri Khan day 1

It's a breezy morning, I find the seafront quickly. Waves are blowing up against the beach wall and splashing the occasional dog walker and cyclist.

I'm really lucky with finding a room at om's house. Right on the seafront, second floor, balcony overlooking the curved bay, bookended on each side with steep pointed karst mountains. After a sleep I set off on a languid bike ride South of the town heading for ao manao beach. It's a strange landscape as the road passes through a military airbase called wing 5, and I actually have to cycle across the runway to get to the next little bay. Ao manao isn't much to shout about. A scraggly beach next to the road shaded by palms and taken up mostly by empty deck chairs. On the other side of the road are various activities, such as horse riding in a coral, archery ( this is the only one open). It's all very low key and local. Further on is a fishing port, klongwan. Trawlers are out in the bay, it's not exactly an idyllic fisher village, so I turn around and go back past the marine science centre, which has an amazing array of topiary creations in its garden. This must be a fashion here, as the splendi temple opposite also has some well maintained sculpted bushes.

 

 

Back though ao manao, there is a road that veers right, and goes around a golf course and through the military camp. Historically this is an important piece of land, as there was a battle then armistice signed between the Thais and japs in 1941. Amid the barracks, between the beaches, and next to the moored fishing boats is a little memorial to the armistice.

 

At the end of this strip of land is a very steep and pretty high limestone peak, khao lommuak. At the base are black faced monkeys, very unafraid, and non-aggressive. One of them leaps onto my back as I'm crouching to take photos.

Not really knowing what it would entail I set up the steps to climb this mountain. Wearing my less suitable shoes. The first third of the climb is steep tiring steps, but the rest is much tougher. No steps, just sharp, jagged walls of rock and helpfully laid ropes connected to strategic trees of metal posts driven into the ground. The sear needed in order to pull yourself up. It's hard work and quite far. Some Thais are coming down, some in flip flops. Everyone suffering. The view from. The top is amazing, stretching in all directions, high above the town. I wonder how on earth the materials were transported to the top to build the little shrine there. And why…!

 
 
 

 

The evening is low key. I met several people who are repeat visitors, not only to Prachuap, but also to om's. I'm glad I wasn't staying next door. The owner there is a gruff Austrian who was steaming drunk at 10 in the morning.apparently he is bad news, and JJ, the lady running om's has had some disagreements with him. JJ is a strong hard- working single mum, with a cute 5 year old sun, who looks rather likea vampire with his missing front teeth, and pointed canines, devilish grin and red waistcoat. JJ dotes on him and they are very close. She shows me lots of photos of him, and extols his prowess in swimming, independence, and helpfulness. He appears to bear wally smart kid. She tells me to treat om's as my home, and she really does mean this. I can see why people often come back here.

 

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Ayutthya

So glad I didn't get sunburned today, and I'm surprised!

Today I cycled most of the day, well from when I felt together enough to go out, which was 11. I rented from a girl, who also had a masculine element to her! She wore a skirt made from Hmong fabrics, which I recognised from a bagi bought in chiang mai. We have a discussion about my necklace, and have our doubts about it being real jade. She likes my British accent! The bike rent is 40 per day, I get it for 2 days for 60. Cycling around the place reminds me of Anuradhapura, in that the town is build among the ruins, mostly well restored, of some magnificent wat and palaces, on an island, which contains a number of ditches and tanks. It also reminds me of jogykarta, sukhothai…elements of others. I've done this before: losing myself on archaeological parks, spending long pauses sitting on temple steps watching the world and emptying my mind. There are fallen cherries on the ground, small children selling some kind of bird made from bamboo leaves. There is a souvenir/snack market, where women are smearing green batter onto hot plates to make pandan pancakes. Others in rubber gloves are dropping batter into huge woks of bubbling oil to make donuts. The stalls have bags of twisted dark crispy snacks. On close inspection they seem to be reptilian in origin. Lizard heads?, snake skin?

Lunch is at the small pure vegetarian food place I had read about but thought I had no chance of finding. I just stumbled upon it. Tasty and cheap!

I cross the bridge to the east and off the island, and follow a smal windy road to a place called th elephant krall. This is like a stockade fenced with red tree trunk like piles. I get excited when I spy a pale grey bull elephant with long tusks swaying his body outside this empty arena opposite a school yard. On encircling this massive space I come across a dark skinned man marshalling 2 smaller darker elephants across the road and down a smaller one to a cluster of buildings and wooden structures. Elephants! Maybe 30 of them. This is some kind of elephant sanctuary. It's fantastic. I spend a happy hour or so watching a 3 day old baby elephant stumble at his mother's feel looking for her teets. The mother shows amazing grace and awareness not to step on the tiny creature. Further along the road I come across the river once more. Here, in twos or threes the elephants are being ridden..and then ridden into the water where almost submerged they are washed, their riders standing on their backs like listing living rocks. On the banks of the river some small children are fishing. All these goings on are every day occurrences and unremarkable to them.

 

I cross the island and over to the other side of the river to experience the end of the sunset at the serene wat chaiwatthanaram, nearly get lost cycling back, and am overtaken by a man with a puppy in the front basket of his motorbike.

Dinner is at gubar. I ask for my curry to be spicy. Big mistake….too hot even for me!

 

Final day negombo

Today is scorching. The sand too hot to walk on at midday, my neck feeling burnt. I have a long day to fill till my 3am flight. So far it’s languid. An early morning stroll along the shore from my guesthouse past beached catamarans and men under thatched shelters mending fishing nets. Nice not needing to wear anything on my feet as I step out, but I’m wary of walking in the water as I seem to have got an infected cit on my ankle. My breakfast is my second visit to grace’s juice bar where I’m am introduced to more fruits ive ever come across before. She prides herself on providing fruits nowhere eels does. I have an ambrrella and soursop mix.

I spend the rest of the morning in a patch of shade next to some fancy resort where westerners lie on clean sun loungers batting away the hawkers or lording over them from their reclined position like Egyptian queens yeah ing or nayimg a succession of bright dresses and saris the local women produce from bags a nd spread out on the sand. It feels a bit alien to me, but there is no. Shade anywhere else. A helicopter comes in to land further along the beach, depositing guests at an even fancier place.
Last night I spend an hour or so after dark with Dave and Donna on the beach with beer, sitting on a parked boat. Behind us was a party at a hotel. A stage, a do, dancing, bright lights., Sri Lankan techno, sounding both Africana and West Indian, rockets fired into the air, flashes of smoke and light from fireworks illuminating the distant dancing figures and their cars. Ex decide to approach, aware already grooving, but the party is small and it’s all men, so Donna going gangnam style is likely to get a lot of unwanted attention. So, we keep our distance as the party unwinds
Today is a good indulgence day, and getting rid of my cash. Lunch again at Edwin’s, this time a green leaf curry, a bitter cucumber one. Now at ice bear cafe, a colonial mansion light and airy Strauss or Mozart plays. waiting for my ice cream: brandy, cinnamon, cashew, honey flavours. I’ve just been scooting around the harbour, two guys chopping up tuna on wood blocks amid a sea of drying silver fish and a wasteland of fish heads being picked over by crows and cormorants. I cycle around the fishermens house and suddenly hear a hello in my ear as a young boy has jumped on the back of my bike for a quick ride. The harbour is sleepy, the boats are in. Men doze in the boats or fix nets.
The beach is collier, windier, fine sand stings as it sidling on my back. A fisherman tries to sell me the jaw bone complete with razor sharp teeth of a 20 kg shark. So how would that fit in my luggage? A guy from kandy chats with me and has my pic taken with him. I have to sort out his phone for him to send me the photo. The sun slips down, never quite making the horizon once more. The end of my daylight in Sri Lanka. Back at graces juice bar I have bello and pineapple mix and spend some time talking with. Bulgarian couple about football. Just before I leave grave makes me a present of 3 wood apples.

Finding Dave and Donna is as easy as cycling done the street. I arrange to meet them in Edwin’s again, as I return the bike. The old woman at the guest hous asks me each time is see her where I’m from. After paying for the bike she even asks for money for herself. A guesthouse owner begging for goodness sake. I have a dosa which really isn’t too good, thick and gooey rather than paper thin and crisp.weshare some more beers,catch the end of some performance outside the church, then see Liverpool lose to Chelsea in a bar.
I’m now at the airport. 2.41 and pretty damn tired.
A splendid post script. After a tiring groggy 18 hours getting to gatwick I’m informed my bag wasn’t loaded. I’m without warm shows, socks, rain coat and worst of all, no door keys. My phone is out of juice and when I do get some small charge I can’t get hold of Fran who has my keys.useless. I phone my letting agency bit they are closing early so I can’t get keys from them. I’m cold, hungry, jetlagged, want to go to bed.but even getting to Brighton is a nightmare. No trains from gatwick, and I queue in the cold outside the airport with a growing mass of very disgruntled newly landed holiday makers.there is no system and a weedy Marshall thanking us for waiting. 30 mins there then another wait at 3 bridges for a slow train. I still have no idea how I will get into my flat. Oh and the conversations on the bus. A one legged squaddie prattling om to the driver about traffic and bills and getting pissed with his mates. I don’t care. Shut the hell up. Give me a crowded srilankan bus instead. How dare they make me pay the normal rail fare for this debacle. It is not good to be back.