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soc.culture.thai Travel FAQ
Section - T.9) East/Southeast

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Date: Fri, 28 Jan 1994 09:03:13 -0800 (PST)
From: Putnam Barber <pbarber@eskimo.com>

Southeast Thailand

The main route to everywhere south of Pattya -- route 3 -- is
under construction for much of the way to Chantaburi.  It's a
strong argument for taking the air-con bus if any part of the
journey will be on that road.

Offshore from Sri Rachaa is the fascinating island Koh Si Chang. 
The town on the island, where the ferry docks, has accomodations
of all sorts, including a new luxury hotel.  We stayed in Benz
Bungalows, closest accomodations to the site of the former palace
at the south end of town, and particularly enjoyed the food at
Wichaira Seafood, just a short walk up the main road.  (Dispite
what the Lonely Planet Guide says, there is no "ring road" on the
island -- many town streets, a single route north and south on
the east side, through town, and an unpaved road across to the
beaches on the west.)  

The tuk tuk drivers will offer a tour of the island, with time to
visit all the attractions, for 150 baht.  We didn't take it,
preferring to walk.  But there are definitely a lot of
interesting places to go, and the swimming from Hat Sai on the
west side is wonderful -- take the dirt road to the right heading
south from town just after an auto repair business and before the
entrance to the research station at the palace site, go up the
steep hill to the second right turn, and across the island
through the mango plantation.  When the road turns to the north
(after passing a sharp turn to the left) watch for paths to the
left that lead down to the beach.  Exploring the fields and rock
formations at the end of the road is also fun -- especially
before a swim.  

Still on Koh Si Chang, there are monkeys that live in the
pavillion housing the Buddha footprint at the top of the Chinese-
style temple at the north end of town -- another reason, in
addition to the spectacular view, for climbing the long flights
of concrete steps leading to it.  And be sure to save energy for
exploring the many shrines in caves throughout the temple
grounds.  Lastly, the newly created gardens in honor of Princess
Sirikit's birthday (just a little way west of this temple, at the
top of a saddle through which a path leads to the sea on the
west, but not beach) are peaceful and very beautiful.

Both Rayong and Chantaburi have streets of wonderful older urban
buildings, lively markets, and lots of good food from street
vendors and noodle shops.  Chantaburi also offers the "largest
Christian church in Thailand" -- an imposing building at the end
of a footbridge across from the heart of town -- and the glamour
of being surrounded by an active trade in sapphires and rubies. 
If you know what you're doing, you can probably do some wonderful
trading yourself -- everyone in town is ready to deal!  

There's a little antique store, with a great collection of
Victorian clocks from all around the world, on Tessaban 3 Road
near the intersection with Sroisuwan[sp?] Road (three blocks from the
market).  I mention it because it's the only antique store I saw
anywhere in Thailand outside of Bangkok.  

Downhill from the antique store on Tessaban 3 Road a couple of
blocks are two or three airconditioned restaurants that aren't
mentioned in the Lonely Planet Guide.  They obviously have
broader menus than the streetside vendors can provide.

Further south, offshore from Trat in the Gulf of Thailand is Koh
Chang which is well worth the difficulty of getting to it.  There
is direct mini-bus service from Bangkok, which we didn't use (and
which is described in guidebooks).  Otherwise, the route is bus
to Trat, song thaew to Laem Ngop, and ferry to your beach of
choice from the pier.  We stayed at Hat Sai Khao (White Sand
Beach) in the Sun-Sai Bungalows -- very well kept and friendly. 
They have bungalows on the beach and across the road on a
hilside.  We paid 200 baht for one with a hong nam but away from
the beach.  There are many other accomodations at widely varying
prices on that beach and others.  People who had been there
before complimented the resorts along Hat Sai Khao for their
daily diligence in clearing away any trash and it certainly
showed.  Less developed beaches, ironically, had more plastic
bags and pop cans drifting around because there's no-one to take
responsibility for policing the area.  

Phlu waterfall, down the road a piece and up the river by a track
and jungle trail, is a wonderful excursion and a great place to
swim in fresh water.  Just outside the gates to the national park
there is the Waterfall Resort, an unlikely place with bungalows
far from any other attraction, and the Waterfall Restaurant,
where I had a very nice meal in short order when I was the only
customer in sight.  No need to carry a picnic.  

The island itself is so beautiful and exotic that's it's hard not
to see it as the set for a movie, instead of what it really is --
the place the set designers study in the faint hope of catching
its special quality.  But a really, really long trip from
Bangkok!

From: chomchal@baboon.ecn.purdue.edu (Jaray Chomchalao)
Date: Sun, 30 Jan 1994 21:59:13 GMT

The transportation to the East Coast is provided by "BOO- KhOO+
SOO+ at Ekamai. The fare six yrs ago from BKK to Chantaburi 
(about 300 kilometers (200 mi) was B40. You can also take an
airconded-bus costing B150 six yrs agao. There are at least four
air-conded bus lines to choose from. Pick the one with the best
looking hostess and you won't regret it:=) K. Putnam said Chantaburi
and Trat are too far from BKK. Well, 4 hrs to Chantaburi, 6 hrs to Trat,
provided that you take the air conded bus which travels by the "Saai+
mai' road (the new route), or the BKS buses that use the new route.
Make sure that you get on the BKS bus that use "Saai+ mai'" road if
you don't want to spend another two hours detouring to Sattahip. 

Chantaburi and Trat:

Watch out when dealing jewelry in Chantaburi. Take my words for
it (I'm from Chantaburi and Trat and Chonburi, my three homes),
even professionals who deal with ruby every day sometimes fail
to distinghish natural from man-made ruby! Ruby is very expensive.
If you buy a cheap ruby, you are "tuun+"ed definitely. Buying
them at the jewelry stores in Chantaburi is safer. Don't ever
buy from a jewelry market!

Chantaburi is best visited around April-July. In April, mangoes
are very abundant and in variety. Ripe mangoes and cooked
sticky rice with coconut milk is what a taster must not miss.
After April, mangoes are gone. Then in Mid June a variety of 
NgO' (rambutans) and Durians are ripe and appear in the markets
everywhere. Those who can stand the strong smell of durians will
enjoy the fruit, eaten with or without sweet-coconuted milked
sticky rice. Chantaburi is famous for its rambutans and durians.
Especially, during that time, many orchads will offer a "all
you can eat" walk thru event, where you pay a small sum and are
allowed to walk thru the orchads, picking the best rambutans
from the tree and eat all you like, provided that you take none
with you when you leave. The roadside view during that time is
also very pleasant since the trees are full of colorful fruits,
and the fruit trades are everywhere on the roadsides.

The Phlu waterfall is in Chantaburi, about 30 kilometers from the
City along the way to Trat. The description above could very well
fit the attribues of Chantaburi's Phlu waterfall, but I think Put
nam meant to say Thanmayom waterfall on Ko Chang since he's
talking about the island.

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