Kawthaung, Myanmar; Chumphon, Thailand August, 2018
Myanmar to Ranong
In the morning we packed our things and waited for the rain to slow before heading to the pier to make our way back to Ranong. We stop in the convenient store to spend the Kayts, Myanmar currency, that we had received as change from the day before. Passed through immigration and stopped in to pick up our passports. We gracefully dance across the bow of several long boats to board our vessel and then made our way to the local dock to pick up some Myanmar passengers making their way to Ranong. The sea was calm as we made our journey across stopping at three check points along the way, and were boarded by an officer that scanned the boat for illegal goods. It was the first time we had witnessed the search and we believe it was due to the locals that were on board, typically the immigration officers will wave through the foreigner.
Thai immigration was a breeze, two more months permitted on our visa; just enough time for our house sit and to travel south to Malaysia. We made our way back into town grabbed a bite to eat and headed to The Smiling Seahorse to pick up our belongings. Camille and Franck were not there when we arrived, unfortunately, they were at the hospital. Their eldest Clea, who is about 8 months younger than Francesca, had been hospitalized the night before, the doctors believe she may have pneumonia. Poor little Clea would have to spend the next week in the hospital and they would have to monitor their newborn Luca, praying that he did not contract the virus. As we were shuffling through our belongings, dispersing the weight move evenly, Camille and Luca came home. We turned in our key, thanked her for allowing us to enjoy their home, and offered our blessing for Clea to have a speedy recover and Luca to stay healthy in the days to come.
Ranong to Chumphon
We loaded up in songthaew and headed to the bus station. From Ranong to Chumphon there are only two options of travel: a private taxi that cost about $150 or a bus which is actually a van that cost 150฿ per person and the time difference in travel is about 20 minutes so the bus is this the way to go. The bus leaves every hour on the hour from about 7am to 6pm and takes about 2.5 hours. We bought our tickets and waited about 30 minutes until we loaded up for our journey northeast. We were the only foreigners aboard the 11 seater van and our baggages took up the majority of the storage space in the boot. There was one empty seat that the driver tried to fill as we passed a few bus stops along the road to Chumphon.
The rain was none stop all the way to the city, we witnessed a couple large mudslides that had covered one lane of the roadway. We dropped of some of our fellow passengers and picked up a few new ones along the way. Francesca was entertained the whole way with a movie on the i-pad. The end of the line was the Chumphon train station where will pile out of the van, grabbed our belongs quickly and headed for cover to avoid getting to wet. We had not officially booked a room for the evening and had it not been continuously raining we may have stayed in the city center. However, we thought it be best to stay closer to the pier since we were planning on taking the ferry to Koh Phangan and we wanted to visit Mu Ko Chumphon National Park which was a couple miles from the pier. From Chumphon Train Station to Lomprayah Pier was about a 35 minute drive, we hired a songthaew for 500฿ to drive us to the BaaniTalay.
BaaniTalay is a small 7 room hotel, one block over from the pier, modern in decor, very comfortable, and extremely clean. We had originally looked at the hotel on bookings.com but found that the booking site said there was no vacancy. We decided to call and find out if this was truly the case since we had discovered with our Koh Chang and Koh Phayam trips that what the booking site say are not alway true. Lucky for us we were told there were available rooms, actually only one other one was rented besides ours. We had to call when we arrived so that the receptionist could come down and check us in. Our room was 900฿ a night, that’s what Daniel was quoted over the phone, we paid our two night fare and made our way across the street to the only restaurant available at the Magic House Resort. Prices were about four times more expensive then what we had come accustomed to paying for the same dishes in Ranong but it was the only option. Dinner ended up being about 660฿ for fried rice, som tom, sautéed vegetables and some french fries.
Early in the morning we could hear the ferry terminal come alive, chimes rang indicating the boarding of the vessels. and the intercom called out for the passengers to make way to the ship. This all started about 5:30am, our hostess arrived shortly after to have coffee, tea, coco, and breakfast available for the guest. This morning she had made sticky rice and pork wrapped in banana leaves, and toast with butter, jelly and honey. We had a bite to eat and our favorite morning drink before getting ready to go to Mu Ko Chumphon National Park. A taxi was called to take us to the park, we probably could have walk but the forecast called for afternoon rain and we didn’t want to waste valuable time in transit that we could spending explore. The taxi was arranged by the Magic House Resort next door we were told 300฿, then Daniel checked again and it was 300฿ each way.
Mu Ko Chumphon National Park
We were picked up by a Thai man, in a nice truck, that couldn’t speak english. When he dropped us off at the entrance to the park he gave his contact information to the clerk so that someone could call he to come get us when we were ready to leave. Entry to park was 200฿ each for foreigners, Francesca was free. We were instructed to be cautious of the monkeys; they will steal food, grab your camera, and be careful with the baby. We walked through the mangrove forest that engulf the coast line scooping the surroundings for primates. As we were crossing a suspended bridge, high above the canal, we spotted one lone monkey perched atop the cement pillars of the bridge. We were surprised not to see any more swing from the trees deep in the mangroves. However, as we were exiting a family of primates came swinging through the trees, at first I thought there were only a few but then the started to crawl out from under the bridge and the low bush coverage. They were everywhere bouncing off the signs, bridge, trees, pavilion; Curious to see what we were doing but scared to get to close.
After we had spent a few hour explore the park, visiting with the locals, climbing the look out towers, we had the clerk call our taxi. While we waited Francesca played with one of the local boys, who was about 6months younger than her. She would say, “Come on kid!” which is what she says to every child she sees. She stood up on the log and walked across it balancing all the way, the little boy tried to do the same. They chased each other around, pet the pregnant cat that laid on a bench resting, and shared bananas until our ride arrived. Our driver took us to a look out point that overlooked the National Park and a beautiful cove before dropping us off back at the hotel. Once back at our accommodations we ventured to the ferry terminal to purchase tickets and grab a bite to eat. Shortly after we made it back to our room the rain came down, we had timed it all quite perfectly to avoid the storm.