Rayong, and its hide-away Ko Samet
"The province of Rayong"
Rayong is situated on the southeast coast of Thailand, two hundred kilometres from Bangkok heading towards the coast of Cambodia. Anyone looking for a place rich in history or culture would be in the wrong place here, as Rayong was forested by deep jungle until the twentieth century. Mouhot, on the search of the ruins of Angkor Wat in the 19th century, was passing here by boat, describing the jungle, full of ghibbons and crocodiles. There were no roads available at the time.
In the course of the twentieth century Chinese immigrants, and coastal Thais cut down the jungle in many parts of the province, a positive example of human encroachment on nature. Just sometimes an old huge jungle tree is left, towering over the plantations and gardens of the new inhabitants. Ricefields, interrupted by rubber, ananas, tapioca, and all sorts of South-East-Asian fruit trees, that give shadow to the houses ducked and hidden in the greenery.
On this pic you see a ricefield in front, which is now left to the grass, till it will be ploughed and planted and irrigated again. Rayong has enough water to irrigate throughout the year.
Some jungle trees that were left surround the human plantation: one sugar-palm stands in the center, in the middle of the slender Areca palms that carry large bunches of fruits that used to be the pastime of women on the Indochinese peninsula: they chewed it, spit out the red juice, that hardened their teeth and made them black, which was considered more beautiful than teeth which reminded of a predator. Only recently the women changed there idea of beauty: now they smoke cigarettes instead of betelnut, giving them black lungs and brown teeth, just a slight difference to former times.
As a consequence, the farmers deliver the fruit of the Areca-palm to factories which make dye out of it.
A fligth from Bangkok to Phnom Penh would lead you over this province, whose abundance would leave most oberservers in surprise and awe and veneration of the goods of nature.
The morning sun is accompanied by the chirping and singing of birds, and the rain would provoke the toads to croak happiliy in choir. And if the two are silent, you would hear the humming of insects, the hissing or wriggling of snakes, when walking through the high grass, or the chirping of the geckoes living on the walls and ceilings of the houses.
The many travellers heading straight towards the sea are unaware of that. But he few ones who leave the highway enter a place whose nature is certainly as beautiful as Gauguins paintings of the Tahitian islands in the 19th century and whch always reminds me of that painters vision.