It was with a sense of relief that we left Karon and Phuket. Between the awful beaches and the timeshare touts it really had become unpleasant. That the local authorities allow the tourists to be badgered by the timeshare touts is unacceptable. It was impossible to simply cross the road from the hotel to the beach without being harassed by at least two of them. Towards the end of the week tempers were starting to flare.
We think it was on Jamie’s Phuket Blog that we came across Nangthong Bay Resort. It is one of those hotels that does not promote itself on the hotel search websites like Trivago or Agoda, they seem to rely on word of mouth advertising. The reviews on Tripadvisor were good and so we took a chance and booked in for two weeks. Nangthong Bay Resort is in Khao Lak which is in the Province of Phang Nga about 120km north of Karon. We had arranged for a car to collect us from our hotel in Karon for which they quoted us THB2 000. For their driver it would be a 240km round trip taking about 4 hours – all for only THB2 000 (A$79). We have paid a taxi fee of A$40 for the 10 minute (and probably only about 10km) ride from Morrisset train station to our caravan in Wyee in Australia.
It doesn’t take long after crossing the Thepkasattri Bridge linking Phuket Island to the mainland to see the change. Gone are the touristy type stalls selling everything and anything and the crowded beaches to be replaced by smaller villages catering mainly to the locals and much quieter beaches. It somehow felt more like the real Thailand and not the Thailand the tourist industry is trying to portray to lure tourists.
Khao Lak (meaning Lak Mountain) is an interesting area with a sad recent history. It was one of the hardest-hit areas when the tsunami struck on 26 December 2004. At the dawn of the new millennium Khao Lak was in the midst of a tourist boom, each year saw an ever increasing number of tourists flocking to the area. All that changed on 26 December 2004 when the tsunami flattened nearly all of Khao Lak. Approximately 90% of the homes, resorts and buildings were destroyed and over 4 000 lives were lost. It has taken a long time for the area to recover but it has and is now regaining the status it once had.
Nangthon Bay was like a breath of fresh air after Karon. No hordes of loud and often badly behaved Russian tourists, no timeshare touts and no crowded dirty beaches. The tourists in this part of Thailand were all well behaved Europeans.
No sooner had we arrived, got our toes in the sand and been for a swim and the monsoon rains arrived.