Tomorrow we cross into Myanmar to start the sailing portion of the trip but I had a good day today as I had a chance to meet the rest of the group and to see the real Thailand compared to the tourist hell of Phuket.
After checking out of my room this morning I met up with my group in the breakfast room over coffee and got to know them while waiting for our leader. They all seem nice people so far – I’m the only Brit but there are some Aussies, a Canadian and an Irish person and although they’re all older than me we’re all like minded when it comes to travel. One interesting point is that there are two people with the last name Green on the trip who had been assigned to the same room. We assumed they would be sisters but turns out they don’t know each other even though by coincidence they come from the same city!
After a brief introductory meeting with our representative of Intrepid we jumped in the minibus and headed north out of Karon. On the way we dropped a spare bag off at a hotel near the airport for one of the group and picked up another member of the group from her flight at the airport before leaving Phuket and heading north along the mainland.
We all napped and chatted on and off during the journey until 2 1/2 hours later when we arrived at our lunch stop at a lodge overlooking a lake. The prices here were really cheap as well – £5 for a full meal and a couple of drinks – and it was good quality food. We relaxed, took photos stretched our legs for a bit and made use of the facilities for a bit before making our way back to the minibus for the remainder of our journey to Ranong.
The journey to Ranong took another 2 hours or so and when we arrived it was already late in the afternoon but luckily the sun had not set yet so we were able to see a bit of the town as we drove through. It looks like a grimy border town but there are a few temples and things to do so it was a shame we didn’t have much chance to explore.
The hotel we stayed at, the Tinidee Ranong, is a nice hotel with restaurant, shops, pool, exercise room, free-wifi and bar. Overall it’s way better than most places I’ve stayed at with Intrepid – that’s not to say that Intrepid stay at bad places but on the contrary this was just a really nice hotel. Most of the group decided to take advantage of a free trip to the hot springs nearby but I wanted to see more of the town so after half an hour of relaxing in the pool with the others I decided to excuse myself and head into town.
I spent maybe an hour wandering around Ranong taking photos, calling home, stocking up on supplies and just generally soaking up the atmosphere. There are quite a few restaurants that I passed which were very busy with locals which looked really nice as well as lots of shops. I didn’t see anything else to do but I’m sure there would have been more somewhere. One thing I’m glad I found, however, is a 7-Eleven as I needed a spare memory card for my camera to use in my underwater camera pouch in case it leaked. 7-Eleven had one for about £5 which was great.
I returned to the hotel in advance of the group so that I could catch up on my blog notes and relax before dinner. When they returned they informed me that they had decided to eat out in town instead of in the restaurant as it would be nicer and cheaper plus mean we wouldn’t have to eat in the same place twice when breakfast tomorrow is taken into consideration. I agreed that this would be a great idea so waited downstairs while the others changed before heading out into town.
While walking into town the others told me about the hot springs. Apparently they were very nice and soothing – there were several levels of pools of varying temperatures including one which is reserved solely for guests of the Tinidee Hotel. It sounded like they had a great time but I’m glad I didn’t go with them as I had a chance to see the town and to get my memory stick.
The restaurant we ended up visiting was one of the ones I had passed earlier, called Dibuk, that was very busy. Luckily a couple of tables were available when we arrived so we made our way inside. The food there was the cheapest I have seen since arriving in Thailand. I had a minced pork dish with vegetables, rice and a fanta for 100 baht which is less than $3. It was slow to arrive but was incredibly fresh and tasty so I’m glad we ate there! After chatting and exchanging travel stories we made our way back to the hotel, after Boom made me ask for the bill in Thai. I managed it somehow but it brought smiles to the faces of the waitresses.
Tomorrow the sailing trip starts so I’ll soon be off to bed. I’m excited!