A very fine market.
As I have mentioned elsewhere, I absolutely adore Asian markets and this one is an absolute beauty. It is situated in the village of Ban Singkohn, ordinarlily a sleepy place on the border with Burma. However, on a Saturday, it is completely tranformed from the place I had been the day before.
What a difference a day makes, as they say. The place was absolutely humming in contrast to the day before. What happens is that Burmese people come across the border and set up stalls selling virtually everything at prices which are ludicrously cheap, even by Thai standards. There were a few travellers there but the vast majority of the visitors were locals looking for a bargain, and there were certainly plenty to be had. The most ridiculous price I saw was one stall selling mens underwear at five baht each, which is about 11 pence. How they can physically produce goods at these prices is beyond me, although there must be a profit in it somewhere. A pair of cargo pants could be had for about £3, and when I checked the label on a denim shirt that caught my eye, I was amazed to find it had been made in Egypt of all places. In the end, I settled for a pair of RayBan sunglasses, obviously the genuine article, for the princely sum of just under £2.
If you do not have your own transport, a motorcycle taxi here from PKK should cost about 250 - 300 baht. If you are driving, head South on Highway 4 and it is well signposted. It really is worth seeing.
- Budget Travel
As fresh as it gets.
The area between Ban Singkhon (see seperate tip) and the Phetkasem Highway leading back to PKK is a large pineapple producing area, indeed it seems to produce many things. On the way back from Ban Singkhon, my Thai friend and I stopped at a roadside stall in the middle of a pineapple plantation, and had the freshest, sweetest pineapple I have ever eaten. Well, it should have been fresh as it came from the field across the road. No fear of food miles here, food yards more like. Basically, the days crop was awaiting transport to market although the young lady pictured was quite happy to pick one out and cut it up for us. This is fruit as it should be.
I saw a number of similar places all over the area, so just pick one and ask, it will cost you literally pennies and is a great experience.
- Budget Travel
- Food and Dining
Where the water falls.
I did not see this place mentioned in my guidebook, but my Thai friend suggested a trip to the Huai Yang National Park and waterfalls, and a ver pleasant trip it was too. It lies about 30 km. South of PKK and is well signposted from the main Phetkasem Highway.
There are seven falls over a fairly steep ascent, although the walk up to them runs through very beautiful countryside. My friend and I started the walk up which was nice and gentle, but choked with absolute hordes of schoolkids. If I was stopped once to have my photograph taken with giggling 12 year olds, I was stopped twenty times, always very politely. It appears that having your photo taken with a very tall white man is part of a good school trip. It was quite fun.
By waterfall three, my friend had declared himself exhausted and said he would wait there if I wanted to go on. Well, I had the climbing head on now, so off I went. All was fine until waterfall five, when the path appeared to peter out. I picked what looked like it might be a path and started scrambling up through fairly thick forest, perspiring profusely all the while. The "path" came to an abrupt end at a cliff which did provide a decent view but was clearly as far as I was going.
Whilst slogging along in the heat I could not help but spare a thought for the troops who had to fight through conditions like this in the last war including a couple of my uncles, one of whom did not survive his POW captivity at the hands of the Japanese. As a little sidebar, it was at PKK that the Japanese invaded, on the same day as Pearl Harbour, thereby violating Thai neutrality. Slightly miffed at not making it to the top, I retraced my steps, collected my guide, and we returned to the bottom.
The signage is pretty good for the first few falls but if you want to make it to the top I suspect you ould need to ask directions at the office.
Admission is 100B for foreigners (20B for Thais) and a further 20B to park your scooter. If you are aiming for fall seven allow yourself a couple of hours and take plenty of water as there are no facilities away from the entrance and I wouldn't trust the water in the falls as being safe to drink. By it's very nature this attraction is not suitable for mobility impaired visitors.
- Hiking and Walking
- National/State Park
Visit the fish.
About 15km. South of PKK is the King Mongkut Memorial Park of Science and Technology which was set up in memory of the eponymous monarch visiting with his son, Prince Chulalongkorn to see a solar eclipse in 1868. Unfortunately, he got more than he bargained for, contracted malaria and died. There is not much in the park itself but the Waghor Aquarium in the park is very good with a huge selection of fish and marine life. It also has a huge selection of the noisiest schoolchildren I have ever heard, but that's life, I suppose.
Admission to the park is free but there is an admission charge for the Aquarium itself. It is open from 0830 until 1630 daily. For disabled visitors, I would make enquiries before visiting as I did not see any provision for wheelchairs to go down to the lower level where the aquarium is although access from the rear may well be possible. Allow yourself no more than an hour for a really good look round.
Climb every mountain.
If you are travelling in the region round PKK, you may well find yourself at Ao Khan Kradai, a sweeping bay. Despite having absolutely exhausted myself the previous day ascending Khao Chong Krachok, I decided to visit Wat Khao Tham Khan Kradai, which is a cave temple containing Buddha images. The only problem is that it is at the top of a very steep cliff. Cue another exhausting and somewhat vertiginous climb in the heat, althought the views were outstanding.
In the cave itself, I was expecting a few small Buddha images, but not a bit of it. There were two absolutely huge reclining Buddha images, probably each 30 feet long, and 27 almost life size sitting Buddhas in ranks like soldiers. It was very impressive. Again, I had removed my shoes which made the going a little tricky although it appears from the tracks left in the sandy floor that not everyone was as respectful.
Worth a visit for the views alone but be sure to bring water as it can be tiring and there are no facilities anywhere nearby.
Go past Ao Noi and in the village the road forks. Take the right hand fork and continue until you reach the sea again. The entrance is imediately on your right. There is no admission fee but donations are encouraged. Due to it's very nature, this site is not suitable for mobility impaired visitors.
- Budget Travel
- Religious Travel
A lovely little fishing village.
Ao Bang Nang Lom.
If you have your own transport there are a few pleasant places to visit around PKK, although you can hire a tuk tuk or motorcycle taxi to take you to them. Indeed, it would be possible to walk to this place. It is a small fishing vilage 4km North of the city. There is very little to do here but it is relaxing just to sit for a while and watch the fishermen at work on the beach. I came here by bicycle and it made a nice rest stop on the way to the Wat at Ao Khan Kradai (see seperate tip).
- Budget Travel
Offshore small islands
There are a few small islands offshore from Prachuap Khiri Khan and Ao Manao.
They are quite close by and they can be easily reached chartering a small boat. You could even try to swim to some of them (I did not try). I think they are uninhabited.