The Proliferation of Dive Shops
Favorite thing: Because of Khaolak's proximity to the Similan Islands, one of the world's best diving locations, it is not surprising that more and more dive shops are springing up. At one time Sea Dragon were the only dive shop in town. On my last trip I noticed that the huge place in the picture had suddenly sprung up.
It won't be long until it is like Patong with hundreds of places offering diving. My divemaster friends tell me that the Similans are getting more and more crowded. No surprise really as they are so beautiful. The same will happen there as happened at Phi Phi. I'm glad I got the chance to go when the islands were relatively quiet.
- National/State Park
- Diving and Snorkeling
Fondest memory: Once the raw rubber sheets are the correct approximate size and thickness they are hung up to dry. Seeing pickup trucks loaded with sheets of rubber like the ones in the picture is a common sight in this part of Thailand as they are taken to wholesalers to be sold.
One rubber sheet is sufficient to make 500 Thai condoms, 300 French or Spanish condoms, 100 American condoms, or 2 English ones.
(I made up some of the above).
Making friends with local people
Fondest memory: I am not the usual tourist who spends entire days on the beach. I prefer to spend time with local people and try to find out about their lives and understand what makes them tick.
On my first visit to Khao Lak I stayed close to this restaurant and would just sit down there to talk to the owners and staff. Thais are very relaxed this way and don't mind at all. In fact, they seem to really enjoy it.
When I returned to Khao Lak I wasn't staying close but made a point of going back and I feel that I have made some real friends.
The young looking girls on the left are Burmese. They work very long hours every day and do not get a day off. Although they get food at the restaurant they do not earn very much at all and most of what they do earn is sent back to their families in Burma. Despite this they always seems very happy and made me feel very welcome. They are also not quite as young as they look! Bo, on the left, is about 22 and her younger sister, Kimo (3rd from left), is 18 despite looking about 13!
Besides meeting my friends from the restaurant again this was also a chance to reunite with my friends from Germany. I am at the back with Claudia.
Lizard at Khao Sok National Park
Fondest memory: It is always a treat for me to see wildlife. A visit to Khao Sok National Park proved to be disappointing. There are many animals there apparently but I didn't see one. When I left to get the bus back to Khao Lak this little fella was waiting by the bus stop. I saw more wildlife at the bus stop than I had done in the park!
- National/State Park
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Fondest memory: Rubber is still an important product in the south of Thailand. You will see rubber trees everywhere which are quite easy to spot as they are planted in straight lines and normally have small cups attached to the trunks.
The natural rubber which is a white milky fluid is harvested at night for some reason.
Fondest memory: After another great dinner in Khaolak there is nothing better than a quiet cocktail in the Dragon Bar with some friends.
This bar is just a few meters from the ocean and all that can be heard is the gentle crashing of waves on the beach.
Fondest memory: The raw rubber is made into a rectangular shape and put through a mangle to get it to the required thickness.
Hit the beach
Fondest memory: Relax on the beach at Khao Lak or take a swim in the Andaman Sea. The water temperature is around 28 deg C. It was nice, I can promise you that! =)
Fondest memory: My Thai, Burmese and German friends at the Lotus restaurant. The people I've met in Thailand over the years have been wonderful.
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