Mitch and I left Bangkok for the last time after returning from Burma and headed toward white, sandy beaches for the first time in our trip after three months in Southeast Asia! I’m not sure how we avoided beaches for so long, but by the time we arrived to our island getaway in the Andaman Sea, we were more than ready for it.
Mr. Chuoi’s, where we stayed on Koh Phra Thong, is still my favorite spot we have visited during our trip through SE Asia so far. Of course I love and appreciate all the amazing places we’ve been, the jaw-dropping ruins, the mouth-watering food, the culture, the people… but I found our days on Koh Phra Thong to be so relaxing and rejuvenating, I just wish we stayed longer.
Anyway, here’s our Koh Phra Thong story:
After another long night on a bus, we arrived at a small-town bus station where we caught a truck ride to the town’s ferry landing and waited for our longboat to arrive. Sharing the longboat with two girls from Germany, Rebecca and Irina, we headed to our island getaway and arrived after a one hour, beautifully calm boat ride. We hopped off the longboat with our packs directly into knee-deep, warm water and were met by Mr. Chuoi, who I can only describe as a Thai island version of Captain Jack Sparrow. We jumped onto Mr. Chuoi’s truck for a fifteen minute drive to his collection of huts and finally made it to our home for the next four days.
To summarize, we took a 10-hour night bus, a ten minute truck ride to the ferry, a one hour longboat ride to the island, and a fifteen minute truck ride to arrive at our beach hut. But it was more than worth it.
Mr. Chuoi’s beach huts are traditional thatched huts housing one queen sized bed protected by mosquito netting and a small bathroom with an unheated shower (this didn’t matter because the water tanks sat in the sun all day, and water was just fine, especially on a hot island), western toilet, and faucet (no sink). They are very similar to the hut we stayed in on the Mekong River many months ago, except they are newer and much larger (at least twice as large). Speaking of being newer, these huts are actually just ten years old, which is the amount of time that has passed since the devastating tsunami in Thailand. In the tsunami, Mr. Chuoi’s old huts were demolished, and he survived by climbing up a coconut tree and hanging on for thirty minutes!
Anyway, the huts were perfect, no sink and all. Seriously. They were actually my favorite accommodations the entire trip! Sometimes you need to stay in a thatched hut to re-evaluate what you really need in life. Apparently, heated water or 24 hour electricity isn’t one of them (the huts only had electricity from a generator from 5 pm to 11 pm)!
On Koh Phra Thong, we spent our days on the beach reading for hours, kayaking to the islands across the small channel, looking for seashells, observing the huge hermit crab population, watching ghost crabs chase each other across the sand, walking along the beach without seeing a soul for hours, practicing yoga, swimming in the salty, warm water, searching for turtles, and generally doing nothing but relaxing.
In the evenings, we found ourselves at Mr. Chuoi’s sandy restaurant, enjoying the day’s catch (barracuda one evening and red snapper another — talk about eating local food!) and other delicious fare, avoiding coconut beetles as they crashed into lights and fell onto our heads, and chatting with other hut residents and Mr. Chuoi, who had a penchant for teasing all guests.
In the evenings, I also loved watching an interesting ritual: when the lights came on in the restaurant, giant coconut beetles would haphazardly fly in, crashing into everything possible, including our heads. After a particularly bad crash, they’d fall, land on their backs, and were unable to turn over. At around the same time, Mr. Chuoi’s fat, fat ducks that resided in an area next door to the restaurant would come waddling in, heads low to the ground, methodically looking from side to side. They were in search for a dinner feast they knew came at around the same time each night… coconut beetle. The ducks would just gobble up those beetles and march out of the dining area as if on a schedule! Someone told us that in the warmer season, the island would be crawling with even more coconut beetles, which is when locals love to catch them as a tasty fried snack.
The island gave me such a sense of peace and serenity. I felt so happy in our sink-less hut, washing my single beach cover-up each night under a faucet with Dr. Bronner’s soap and setting it out to dry for use the next day. Life truly slowed down and simplified, and we happily did so as well.
Koh Phra Thong, we will be back again some day.