June 19-22, 2108
Koh Payam, Thailand
We had been cooped up inside for four days, the rain was constant with no break. Today, Franck would return to check on the progress of his boat and we would venture to Koh Payam, a neighboring island. The clouds had parted and the sky was blue, the sun was shining as we prepare to leave to catch a songthaew to Koh Payam pier. At about 15฿ per person, depending on the drive the charge may vary 5฿, the songthaew is the cheapest way to travel in southern Thailand although not always direct; the driver winds around the city dropping off and picking up patrons.
Once we arrive to the pier entrance we disembark and pay our fare then make our way to the dock. Daniel and Francesca had hoped that the food cart selling fried chicken was at the port but when we arrived it was not there, the shear disappointment could be seen on their faces. I said maybe she will show up before we leave since the rain had stopped. We purchased our tickets for the speed boat to Koh Payam for 350฿ per person, Francesca would ride for free. The speed boat runs every two hours and the journey is about 35 minutes. Well worth the extra cost considering the longboat runs twice a day, at 9:30am and 2:00pm for 200฿ but takes two hours to cross the sea. We waited about 40 minutes for the boat to arrive. With luck on our side the cart selling the delicious fried chicken made an appearance, Daniel and Francesca rejoiced.
Once the boat had docked we were called to board. The speed boat was far more luxurious than the longboat we had rode on the Koh Chang weeks before. The vessel was about 28ft long with seating in the aft and bow. With the weather still in our favor I choose to sit up front, not like there was room in the back since we were among the last to board. As we pulled away life jackets we handed out for the safety of the passengers. Once out of the canal the boat reached full throttle and we were speeding toward the island bouncing on top of the water. At first it seemed as if there was nothing to worry about but then the sea got rough. The locals began to hold on fearing to be thrown from the boat as we jumped over the waves. Francesca sunk down in her vest trying to shield herself from the wind and a bit frightened by the bumpy ride. One man headed toward the back and then returned letting us know there was one seat in the aft that we could take. He grabbed Francesca and headed back, I followed.
The boat held 6 each on the starboard and port side and 5 along the aft, there were 4 people standing near the controls and 4 that remained in the bow; we were at max capacity. Most everyone looked as if the were meditating or perhaps they were praying that we would be granted a safe arrival. Most everyone on the boat were Thai or Burmese, we were the only caucasians and there was a couple that looked of Persian decent. We all swayed as one organism with the motion of the boat, at times levitating above our seats for a split second. About half way to the island the weather began to turn and rain was released from the heavens. The people in the bow made their way towards the back scrunched up together trying to hold on for dear life. I began to laugh about the whole situation, Daniel had made a comment about sitting in the bow being the worst place to sit as we took off and now he was crouched in the walkway with his tail end stuck in the rain. I was sure I was going to hear about it later.
As we neared the dock the boat slowed, we removed our vest and gathered our belongs to file off on to the pier. The sun was shining again and Francesca was groggy from the 10 minute nap she just woken up from. We made our way to the small port town to find a ride to our accommodations we had arranged on booking.com. A moto-taxi driver approached us to offer his services, we pointed to where we were headed on the map of the island. “60฿ for one.” We needed two bikes so he grabbed his buddy and we loaded up. Daniel on the back of one moto and Francesca sandwiched between the driver and I, on the other.
The roads on Koh Payam are similar to Koh Chang Noi’s, they resemble a long paved driveway; to narrow for cars but wide enough for two motos to pass one another. We had booked three nights at Flower Power located on the north end of the island about a mile and half from the pier. When we arrived we were greeted by a lovely Italian women named Simona and Jalapeño, one of the dogs on property. We were directed upstairs to check in, we walked into a beautiful restaurant and hangout space. There was a pool table for customers to use at their leisure, an upper deck with hammocks to lounge on, an array of tables and chairs, sunken benches and table for larger groups along the street facing side of the building, and a area for making pizzas.
Once our accommodation was paid for Simona showed us to our bungalow, a round structure that imitated a Smurf’s home with thatch roof. Inside was a large king bed with two built in night stands, two bar stools with a table top next to one of the windows, an adequate sized Thai style bathroom with custom cement sink basin. The shower’s hot water came from a small boiler mounted on the bathroom wall. The room had a ceiling fan and a option to use an AC unit for an extra fee, which we did not need. The bungalows were different color in theme, ours was red; the curtains were red rusty color, batik fabric with geckos on them, the bed cover had coral red roses and accented with hand stitched embroidery, the wall above the bed was decorated with a black and red applicate of flowers and leaves, the bathroom had black and white art of palm fronds on the wall. Everything was super cute and very clean.
After settling we grabbed a bite to eat and made our way to beach. We played and danced around in the sand. Francesca found a stick and drew mommy, daddy and Francesca dragons in the sand. We swung on a swing made of drift wood and enjoyed the serenity of the sea waves crashing on the shore. Francesca wanted to go swimming but the sea was to rough and the rain was rolling in so we made our way back to the bungalows. When we returned to Flower Power Simona’s husband Marco was there. We chatted with him for a bit then hunkered down before the pouring rain was upon us. We showered then snuggled in bed, I ended up falling asleep and was out for the remainder of the evening while Francesca enjoyed some daddy time. Daniel took her on a little date where she was treated to homemade tiramisu and introduce to coffee-shakes. They had a splendid time together.
In the morning the sky was still cloudy and looked as if it would rain. We had coffee and Francesca had a mango shake for breakfast. Afterwards, I took some me time to read a book while Daniel and Francesca took a walk to the beach. Once they returned we started on a walk toward town, we got about 10 minutes down the road and the rain started coming down. We sought out shelter at Mr. Gao’s a little house/ store on the corner near where we were and wait for the down pour to subside. Once we saw an opportunity we retraced our steps back to the bungalows. Unfortunately, the rain hung around for the day.
Instead of discovering the island we made friends with our host and learned about the adventures that brought them to Payam. Marco and Simona had been together for 18 years, Marco was a bit older then I and the couple had the same age gap as Daniel and me. We joked about the boys with their older women. We watched Marco give a lesson on pizza making to his staff and Simona whipped up some fresh pasta for dinner. They try to get as close as the can to the taste of true Italian pizza and pasta with the ingredients they have in Thailand. Some things just aren’t the same or can’t be found. For example we had a pesto pasta, there is basil in Thailand however it is not that same as the basil typically used for making this dish. Thai basil has a more minty sweet liquorish flavor so it was like the pesto pasta met the greens from last nights Pho, I rather enjoyed the unique flavor.
The next day we woke up to beautiful sun shinning weather and after our morning coffee we were off to explore. We walked to town near the pier to have a look around. Visited the beautiful beach just south of the pier, walking through a rather swanky resort called Blue Sky to get there. Spent some time swimming in the sea. Then went for a walkabout the island, not knowing where we were going but knew we would reach another beach. After walking for quite some time we saw signs for a Hippie Bar, awesome lets go there! Well the signs turned out to be a cruel joke, there was no bar when we reached the end of the road. The beach was disgusting covered in heaps of trash, there was no resort or restaurant opened everyone was boarded up for the season. We walked down the deserted rubbish filled beach to get to a road that would take us close to our bungalow. By this time we were hot, hungry, sunburnt and our feet hurt. We had about four miles to walk to make it back, no taxi anywhere. Daniel carried Francesca on his shoulders most of the way, I would take her for short spells and make her walk for a while but that just added so much time to the journey. We saw power lines being hung, cashews being cracked, and a few snobby foreigners to good to say hello as we tried to engage in cordial greetings.
When we made it back we headed straight to the showers to clean up and then made our way to the restaurant. Yummy Som Tom (papaya salad) for starters, Pad Thai for Daniel, delicious Eggplant Curry and rice for me, Francesca shared. After dinner we headed to the beach to see an amazing sunset on the Andaman Sea. Our journey back to our room was a bit painful, our feet had blisters, our bodies ached, and OMG the chaffing on our thighs was horrendous. We showered once again, applied some aloe vera and passed out. A bit sad that we would miss the gathering at the beach that evening but to sore to even try to move. We had quite literally walked the distance of the entire island and back that day and we were feeling it.
We were scheduled to leave in the morning, we woke to another beautiful sunny day. We took our time gathering our belongs and enjoyed coffee and conversation before heading out. A little disappointed we couldn’t stay longer but we had responsibilities. Around 11 we started making our way to town in hopes to get on the 12:30 boat to Ranong, we arrived in time but the boat was already filled with a group of Asian tourist that rode up on golf carts. We had to wait 2 hours for the next boat to depart so we made our way to the beach to enjoy the sea one last time before heading back to town. Our speed boat ride was less terrifying then the ride over, the calm sea and sunny weather made for a smooth ride. Francesca of course won the hearts of some of the passengers and was given cookies for her cuteness. Once we were on land again we made our way to the road and hopped on a songthaew back to the house.