Long Beach has a different feel from Klong Khong beach. It feels a lot more mainstream. Most of the visitors seem to be sun-starved tourists from northern Europe, Sweden in particular, but also the Netherlands, France, and Germany. Of course there are some Americans. I couldn’t help smiling last night as a couple of young ones nearby were commenting on the fact that “they liked Canadians”.
Instead of palm trees, Long Beach is lined by huge trees with spindly “leaves”. They make me think of some kind of pines. I’m not a big fan as their needles litter the sand and get caught in the fabric of my sarong (so that I’m usually wearing a few dozens of them).
Unlike Klong Khong, some sections of the beach do not have any restaurants, and are pretty dark at night. The first evening, I went walking along the beach without my flashlight and stepped into a hole. Somebody had dug a big hole in the sand. I fell on my knees, taken by surprise, but it was all soft sand so no harm done. It was just one of those WTF? moments.
The hippy restaurant shacks and bars have been replaced mostly by proper restaurants with tables, chairs, and table clothes. Prices are higher. Happy shakes are nowhere to be found. Cheap cocktails are non-existent, so I drink Chang beer (the cheapest brand) while watching the sunset. On the plus side, there is a variety of cuisines to choose from. So far I’ve had pizza and Indian food, both quite good. The Thai food I’ve experienced here varies from mediocre to average. I will ask for a recommendation tonight.
I’ve also discovered a place that makes proper cappuccinos: Suza Café. When I had an ice latte there on a hot afternoon two days ago, I closed my eyes and sighed with delight. They have another thing I’ve been longing for: cakes. I had a piece of carrot cake with pretty icing and a few dots of gold leaf as decoration. Many places advertise cappuccinos or “fresh coffee” on this beach, but even thought the milk is frothed, the coffee itself is virtually tasteless.
After three weeks, I’ve come to realize that Thai food is not all that healthy. All this white rice, noodles, meat and very little vegetables is doing a number on my digestive system. At home I eat a lot of fibres: whole grain cereal in the morning, brown rice, plenty of vegetables. Here not so much.
This is more than fortuitous; it’s downright eerie. I’ve already mentioned a couple of times losing my camera lens cap in the sand of Klong Khong beach last week. Five days later (on Thursday), I was walking on Long Beach (six kilometres away) at sunset, deliberately taking a path away from the water and close to the restaurants to avoid a bunch of dogs, when I came to a swing hanging from a tree. As I was staring at the swing (thinking to myself “Hum, look, a swing”), a man put down a small object on the seat of the swing and returned to his volleyball game. The small object was a Canon lens cap, identical to the one I had lost!
I sat down on the swing, took my camera out of my bag and tried it on. It fit perfectly. I wanted to ask the man if that was his lens cap, but he was engaged in the volleyball game and not looking my way. Why would somebody put his lens cap on a swing and then ignore it. He wasn’t even carrying a camera. I figured that he probably had just found it in the sand. Somebody else had lost their lens cap. It couldn’t possibly be mine, since as far as I know, ocean currents do not move parallel to beaches for several kilometres… or do they? I think rip-tides do since you’re supposed to swim parallel to the beach with the current if you’re caught in one and then angle in toward the shore. I don’t know. All I know is that I made up my mind, quickly pocketed the lens cap, and walked away! How weird is that?
Massage and yoga
I had another massage on Friday, this time with coconut oil. It wasn’t really a Thai massage, but not quite a Swedish massage either. (The masseuse doesn’t climb on top of you in a Swedish massage!) It was sort of a combination of both. This one was a full body massage, and she didn’t spend nearly enough time on my neck and shoulders. From now on I think I will only go for back/head/shoulder massages to concentrate on my problem spots. The coconut oil smelled good though, and the masseuse was working very hard. She had to get up at some point and go wipe the beads of sweat from her face!
Saturday morning I tried something different: yoga on the beach. Well, it was actually on the terrace of a restaurant, next to the beach. The teacher was a Chilean woman, and we were six students. At 300 Bahts a head ($10), she made $60 in a little over an hour. Probably enough to cover her daily living costs here. Not a bad lifestyle. So there you go. If you can teach something for an hour every day that tourists will pay $10 for, you can have it made in Southern Thailand!
The class itself was a little tough for me since all I’ve done so far is gentle Hatha yoga. I think she was trying to teach at an intermediate level to cater to a mixed group. About half way through the class, we attracted the attention of a group of young Thai kids. They stared transfixed at this group of farangs (foreigners) twisting themselves into funny poses. Then they got closer and closer until they were right at the edge of the platform. They seemed to find our antics very interesting. We were also getting looks from people passing by on the beach. It was hard to concentrate, especially because I was wearing the wrong clothes and using a borrowed mat (yuck).
My favourite part of the day is still the sunset. I haven’t missed one since December 8! I hope you won’t mind a few more sunset pictures. At home my apartment faces west, but because I’m downtown, the sun sets behind a 60-storey bank tower. I love watching the sun drop into the sea.
The weather is mostly sunny every day, with the occasional cloudy period, wind gust, or a few raindrops in the evening. The mornings are comfortable, but the afternoons are very hot (I’d guess 35C or so in the shade). I spend that time in my air-conditioned bungalow, writing or reading.
The ghost bar at the end of the beach
Last night I finally made it to the northern end of the beach. So far I’ve found my favourite bars (with the cheapest drinks and friendliest staff) at the northern end of beaches. No such luck this time. The last bar belongs to a luxury hotel. However, right next to the rocks and almost hidden from view I discovered… the ghost bar. There was a lone tourist there, drinking his beer (bought from a mini-mart). The bar had obviously been abandoned a while ago, hard to tell how long. It looked made from chunks of rocks and would be perfectly at home in an episode of the Flintstones! I suspect it’s cement sculpted to look like natural stone though. It would be pretty stunning if it was actually operating. It comes complete with a washroom hut, sink, and a back room.
This morning I went back to that end of the beach for a last swim. The setting is beautiful with the blue-green water washing over the dark rocks. The sand is also smoother and cleaner here; I didn’t find any cigarette butts.
The number of tourists seems to have increased over the last few days, probably due to the Christmas holidays. Mid-mornings are the quietest times.
Today is my last day on Koh Lanta. Early tomorrow morning I will be heading by boat to the town of Krabi on the coast.