Khao Lak (‘Lak mountain’) is a little area on the west coast of Thailand just north of Phuket (60km), or as I like to call it, ‘a little piece of heaven’. I am not even joking, it is GORGEOUS and it has been our favourite destination so far.
Despite being a popular tourist destination Khao Lak is nothing like the other ‘Thai popular destinations’. It has a more chilled, family-vibe, and the beaches are not crowded (at all). There are loads of restaurants and some bars, but again all really chilled, really family-friendly; not a party destination at all. No wonder we loved it!
We stayed in the village of Bang La On at a family owned bed and breakfast. It was the only place we could afford and still have a private bathroom (we’re old and it’s very important to us). We booked a little bungalow and it turned out to be perfect. The family, Goy, Eak and little baby Ade (the cutest baby), were the nicest people ever!
The hotel was just off the main street, which is basically a very long road with restaurants and shops, and a 20min walk to the beach.
Now, I have to be honest we weren’t immediately ‘wowed’ (but then again we never are). It always takes sometime to get use to the new room, the fact that there’s no hot showers (the struggle is real), and after our first recce we thought everything was kind of expensive. But after a good night’s sleep, checking out the beach and exploring a bit further, we loved it.
The closest beach, Nang Thong Beach, wasn’t one of those ‘tropical island postcard beaches’, but it was lovely. It is similar to the Portuguese ones, except for the sea that is really warm. The sea is soup. It’s GREAT!
And what’s even better, it was never crowded. Like, ever! There were people walking around, and some people laying on the beach, just chilling, but it wasn’t crowded at all. It is a really long beach, so it’s easy to find a peaceful spot.
We basically had the most amazing 11 days there: everyday we’d go for a little walk in the morning, usually followed by a dip in the water, and then return in the afternoon (after the dangerous sun hours, watch out for your skin people!) and would watch the sunset. It was freakin’ BEAUTIFUL every single time! We worked, we read nice books, or listened to amazing podcasts (Super Soul Sunday) and it’s just amazing. Oh and we ate! LOADS!
Oh-My-Unicorn the food! At first we were kind of worried because, with it being a touristy area and all that, most restaurants are slightly more expensive and we were like ‘oh no, we’ll have to eat boring sandwiches all the time’. But after digging a bit more we found two perfect restaurants: Ddee (that we call ‘dede’ because we’re not really sure how to pronounce it) and Number 9. Now why am I telling you this if this is not a guide? Listen, you need to know this, Number 9 is amazing and makes the best Tom Kha I’ve eaten in Thailand. (Tom Kha is a Thai soup made with coconut milk and ginger and lime and there’s shrimp and stuff and it’s just amazing. Here’s how the waitress described it: “it’s like Tom Yum but different”).
But Dede? Dede is a goddess! (Oh yeah we also decided to name the chef/cook there ‘Dede’, this older lady who is basically a cooking goddess and should have a statue and loads of medals and all that). Dede makes the BEST (I mean it) Pad Thai we’ve ever eaten like EVER! The best! And I thought ‘maybe this is just how it’s done in Thailand’, and I was getting really excited but no. ‘This is how’s it’s done at Dede’s.’ And it’s the best. The fried rice was also so good that I wanted to cry when we left. Oh and it takes this old lady like 5 seconds to cook the most brilliant meal I’ve eaten in Thailand. OK OK, maybe 10 seconds. I want to cry now because I know for sure that no Pad Thai will ever compare. Dede’s Pad Thai will be my Mr. Big – forever the one I compare all the other ones to.
The Similan Islands
As we were in Khao Lak for my birthday and we thought it would be great to take this trip to the Similian islands cause it looked pretty cool.
And it was, the Similan islands are beautiful. Too bad they get a bit crowded – they should really do daily quotas of ‘allowed humans’ or something. Still, we left early so by the time we got to the first island there was hardly anybody there. And it was postcard paradise.
We then went snorkelling and I saw a giant turtle! A giant turtle! Absolutely made my day (especially when I am a bit terrified of snorkelling, not sure why, but I get all panicky, but anyway, yeah the turtle saved me).
By the time we got to island number four (that’s the name of the island) the mobs of tourists had arrived and that was not so great. There we were at this stunning beach and we could hardly see it at all because it was covered in humans and selfie sticks. When I say crowded, I am not joking! You could barely see the sand, which was such a pity, because the place
is could be paradise.
All in all it was great and I loved celebrating my 32 years in this planet with my new friend, the giant turtle. (And my husband of course).
The perks of being kind
We also spent Christmas in Khao Lak, just the two of us, which was a bit weird and sad, because Christmas for us is all about family.
But we did get a lovely present from our ‘foster family’. On the 22nd we heard a knock on our door, it was the B&B ‘s owner, Goy (Ades’s mum) asking whether we had plans for the following day. We actually did, I said, ‘we’re going to Similan’. ‘Ah’, she said, ‘we wanted to take you to a nearby beach, very beautiful beach. For free. Maybe we can go another day?’
As any good Portugal-raised-individual would, I raised my eyebrows and asked ‘why?…’
‘Because you’re really nice people. Very good guests’
Boom. That shut my stupid ‘no such thing as a free lunch attitude’ up didn’t it?
So on Christmas eve, Goy, Eak and Ade drove us to Coconut beach – an absolute paradise – and went to pick us up later! Just because they thought we were nice and wanted to be nice back. To be honest all we did was say ‘good morning’ and ‘good evening’ chat a bit sometimes, but overall be respectful, you know? But that for us is just ‘being normal’…
In a way it was all super Christmassy… we made someone feel good, they made us feel even better. And isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
Saying goodbye to paradise
I was absolutely gutted to leave Khao Lak. I could easily have stayed a whole month. (We’d probably need to find a house with a kitchen otherwise Dede would definitely make us really fat).
We had such a great time there, such lovely afternoons, so much time to think, put our ideas in place, reflect on the year that passed and on the new year to come… it was an absolute gift.
We also loved the people there, they are genuinely some of the nicest people – up there with Jogja’s people – and it just makes you feel really welcomed. But it was time to move on.
Who knows, maybe we’ll come back some day?
If we don’t plant the right things, we will reap the wrong things. It goes without saying. And you don’t have to be, you know, a brilliant biochemist and you don’t have to have an IQ of 150. Just common sense tells you to be kind, ninny, fool. Be kind. – Maya Angelou
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