Have you ever heard of Natai beach? Imagine a stretch of white sands ten kilometres long that’s completely free of vendors and beach umbrellas. There are no big hotels, tailor shops or sleazy bars in the area, and absolutely no buzzing jet skis or speedboats.
Where is this magical place? Natai Beach in Phang Nga province just over the bridge from Phuket. With its sands blissfully free of vendors and sunbed rentals, to spend a day at the beach is to be immersed in a Natai nature nirvana soothed by the sound of the waves.
The balmy turquoise waters are ideal for swimming, surfing, stand-up paddling or kayaking. A bit like the Hamptons of Southeast Asia, with strict local building laws have shielded Natai Beach from all mass development. Instead of mega resorts and shopping malls, the beach is lined with a handful of boutique resorts, private villas and high-end restaurants.
Except one, Raipiang seafood restaurant, which does cater to more normal budgets and offered delicious seafood. Sitting here watching for a sunset dinner, not as spectacular as it could have been, but oh so lovely all the same.
During my recent visit to Bangkok, just after Songkran, I made sure not to miss this colourful canal walk between Chinatown and Rattanakosin
If you know me, you must be aware of my fascination for colorful and fascinating street art. I love to visit places that are noted for their vibrant graffiti and murals. And I am always up for arty experiences. Trust me, it is a lot of fun when you turn around the corner and find a beautiful piece of art.
Every artwork has a different story to tell, which is what makes this street unique. If you too enjoy stumbling on random art in nooks and crannies of different cities, this street will leave you mesmerized for sure. I had a great time clicking pictures of the countless murals, made by some of Thailand’s best street artists. And if you are looking for photo-ops, this is the place to find some!
Huahin Railway Station
Some photos from my recent visit to Huahin Railway Station, felt like I was back home in the UK, in Leatherhead where I used to live and where there is a very similar railway station to this, or is it the other way round? without the grand royal pavilion of course!
A remnant of bygone times, the picturesque Hua Hin train station is one of the stops on the route from Bangkok to the South. The station is located in the center of town, in walking distance from attractions as the night market and the main beach.
Its main attraction is the Royal Waiting Room which was used by Thai Royals when they visited the seaside summer Palace. Pictured on postcards and t-shirts, the building is one of Hua Hin’s most recognizable landmarks.
A visit to Hua Hin railway station feels like a step back in time. The station is one of the oldest in Thailand and one of the few still in its original state.
The main building in Victorian style dates back to the mid 1920’s.
Old style light bulbs between the tracks are carried by mythological birds.
On the other side of the tracks stands an antique steam locomotive.
A little away from the main building stands the Royal Waiting Room, a beautiful teak wood building in bright yellowish and red colors.
Originally part of Sanam Chandra Palace in Nakhon Pathom province, the building was moved to Hua Hin to be used as the Royal Waiting Room.
The very well preserved building was once used by members of the Thai Royal Family when they visited the seaside Maruekhathaiyawan Palace. King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) built the teak wooden palace as a seaside summer retreat in 1923.
Music free under creative commons licence from you tube music library
Title:Orient by SefChol
Founded in 1982 under the majesty of Queen Sirikit, Pranburi Forest Park is located 25 km. south of Hua Hin and encompasses over 3.17 sq. km. of protected land.
The park is known for its vast and dense forests of mangroves and twisty trails that lead visitors to all corners of the park. With its pristine views and natural beauty, Pranburi Park is the perfect escape from some of the urban centres in southern Thailand.
The nature reserve is an excellent day excursion from the Hua Hin area (and best of all, it’s practically free). Not only will you be surrounded by the tranquil and majestic scenery, but you’ll also get to see an abundant array of flora and wildlife, many of which are exclusive to Thailand.
The forest floor in the mangroves is covered by muddy sediments formed by the tides, densely covered by horizontally grown tree roots above and below the ground. This muddy habitat is an ideal place for crabs, mudskippers and shrimps. During the low tides, many crabs and mudskippers can be seen from the boardwalk.
In this video you will see some of the mangroves but mostly the local colourful Crab population that has been allowed to thrive here. Some were easy to see and some not so easy……..
During my December break in 2021, I was in Phang Nga on my road trip around the province.
I had seen there was this huge beautiful Limestone park and wanted to visit it. About mid morning was actually a good time to go and visit, still cool enough , but also busy enough. I say busy, but actually most of the visitors were locals doing their morning exercise and jogging.
As we walked around the main pathway through the park, it became apparent why the locals stayed within the main pathway. There, are we found out for ourselves, in due course, two very large troupes of Macaque monkeys. With the lack of tourists and people they have made larger areas of the park their home.
We did narrowly avoid a major skirmish between the two alpha males and their harems. Along with about 20 offspring. Nearly finding ourselves with our backs up against the locked railings at the other end of the park we stayed absolutely still and made no sudden movements or noise that might attract their attention.
Thankfully they all ran like a river of water towards the limestone cliffs and disappeared into the trees. We carefully made our way back , keeping to the main paths.
I did manage before that to get some interesting views of the cliffs, and the surrounding area, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Music free under creative commons licence from Youtube music library
Title: Anomalous Hedges by The Mini Vandals
A collection of images from my visit to this strange and surreal Wat, very similar to the one in Korat I visited, Wat Pa Lak Roi, which was my first introduction to Buddhist Hell Gardens.
The images leave nothing to the imagination.
Wat Tham Ta Pan in Phang Nga Town is one of the weirdest original temples in southern Thailand. Located around 100 km northeast of Phuket, the site offers a journey through Buddhist Heaven and Hell.
At first sight, the temple looks a bit abandoned and decrepit, which simply adds to the eeriness of the place. You’ll see a fountain at the entrance, where there are 5 sculptures of monks. Each holds a bowl that represents wealth, beauty, happiness, cleverness, and health. Try throwing a coin in the bowl of your choice. If you succeed in landing one in, your wish will come true.
Right next to a small shop, there’s a huge Chinese dragon with a wide-open mouth waiting for you to enter. This is the beginning of your ‘journey’ through representations of Buddhist Heaven and Hell. The inside of the dragon has a long and dark tunnel, with just a few tiny windows lighting your path.
At the end of the tunnel, you’ll find the entrance to a deep cave. Pray at the small shrine on your left before heading towards the Nirvana section, right at the end of the cave. It takes about a 10-minute walk along a dark track with bridges crossing a river to reach the end, which has 2 Buddha statues symbolising Heaven.
Buddhist Hell (‘Naraka’ in Sanskrit and ‘Na Rok’ in Thai) awaits you if you do not follow the 5 precepts of Buddhism during your life:
Abstain from taking life (thou shall not kill).
Abstain from taking what is not given (thou shall not steal).
Abstain from sexual misconduct (thou shall not commit adultery).
Abstain from false speech (thou shall not lie).
Abstain from fermented drink that causes heedlessness (eschew drunkenness).
A visit to Wat Tham Ta Pan can be a really scary experience, so it isn’t recommended for young children. Scenes showing torture applied to sinners are vivid and straightforward, leaving no space to the imagination.
An area behind these buildings offers a walk up a cliff through a garden dotted with statues of animals. The cliff displays sculptures and representations of Indian deities, such as Ganesh and Akhilandeshvari.
Wat Tham Ta Pan is a one-of-a-kind temple that’s well worth a visit, simply due to its weird originality.
Music free under creative commons licence from YouTube Music Library
Title: Mist- by Odonis Odonis
On my way through Chumpon on my most recent short road trip we stopped by the very auspicious Prince of Chumpon Shrine. Or , Admiral Prince Abhakara Kiartivongse the man who is credited with establishing the Modern Thai Navy.
A huge site set on Sai Ri Beach in Chumpon comprising of the shrine itself. If you walk down the ramp and look up, you will see that the entire shrine base is designed to be a duplicate of the HTMS Chakri Naruebet facing towards Sai Ri Beach. But this video focusses on the second attraction to the site; the Royal Chumphon Ship which has been put out of commission is exhibited with its bottom half embedded in the cement ground. The Royal Chumphon Ship was assigned on a mission to escort the landing crafts and patrol the coast.
You can enter the basin it is set in via either of two sets of stairs on both sides of the ship, and board it via a stairway on the port side. I had great fun walking around and seeing how constrained space there was and how its engine and kitchen space were so compact for such a decent sized vessel.
I will post a video of the shrine n due course, until then enjoy!
Music free under creative commons licence from you tube music library Title; Early Avril by Unicorn Heads
Promthep Cape is the most South point of Phuket. The point is one of the most popular areas of Phuket and for this matter has an iconic status. Due to its location and southern facing views, it offers a picturesque view of the Andaman Sea.
Promthep Cape is also known as the ‘God’s Cape’ and ‘Laem Promthep’.
It is a rocky piece of land that sticks out into the Andaman sea. It has tall cliffs that shape the point of the most southern part of Phuket Island.
Tourist flock here year in and year out to capture some of the finest pictures of sunsets seen in Phuket. Not only do happy snappers come to Promthep Cape for the views, but you will find artists and nature lovers. All of them head to this spot just to soak in the presence of being at the end point of Phuket – the Pearl of the Andaman Sea. Many people believe that Promthep Cape is the best spot in the whole of Thailand for spectacular sunsets.
When the stars are out on a clear evening, Promthep Cape can be the perfect spot to star gaze and catch shooting stars.
During the monsoon season, the Cape and surround sea can be very rough. It is great to head out to watch the large waves crashing into the side cliff walls of the Cape. The ocean can be very powerful here. The waves will give you an idea of how the Cape itself came to its shape after so many years.
Promthep Shrine and Lighthouse
From the car park, you will walk up a set of stairs to the actual viewpoint. Here you will find the main attraction, the Buddhist shrine and a lighthouse. The shrine, which is the Buddhists Altar, is surrounded by brass elephant statues and carvings which give the area a somewhat traditional atmosphere. Occasionally groups of monks can be spotted around the area although this isn’t too often.
There is a small concrete wall that separates the pathway to the actual dirt path leading down to the Cape itself. If you are daring enough to venture to the end of the Cape, it is a rocky, somewhat slippy downhill walk and can be quite dangerous in certain weather conditions so just concentrate on your footing. It is not a very hard walk, only a few hundred metres to the very edge of the Cape. The walk is simply a declined dirt path, that can get slippery in the wet. Caution is always advised, especially on the cliff edges. At the lower part of the Cape, you can look back on the Island, or turn around and have the mass ocean beneath your feet. The walk back from the Cape to the concrete footpath can be fairly exhausting due to the nature of how the dirt path inclines and gradients. It’s downhill on the way to the end, and uphill on the way back. Guess it depends on your fitness level, but it is not too demanding for an average person, just not me!
You know sometimes Street Art appears in places you least expect it! Like this building on Friendship Beach near Rawai, in Phuket. Or maybe not, maybe its the perfect location for artists to express their feelings of being there.
Either way I have here a collection of very talented artists, and where at all possible i have credited their work. I do a lot of research but as with all of this kind of visual art it is not always possible to find out everything about the piece or the artists. A large part of this collection is from the local Artist Amann based here in Phuket. I find a fair few pieces of his work spread around the Phuket Area.
One of my peaceful moments short videos that I have finally had time to get to making.
Interestingly this was photographed this last Sunday after an unexpected visit to Rawai Beach . I spent quite a bit of time there on Sunday afternoon, and took , as I do, images to remind myself to remember a calm and enjoyable moment of life. enhanced even more by the tide going out leaving the local fishing boats stranded in the sand.
Watching people picking their way through the rocks to find small crabs and shellfish. So for anyone who might feel like a breath of fresh air, have a watch, and lose yourself somewhere beautiful in your mind!
So my Journey in 2013 took me to Thailand, and Kanchanburi, one of the stops for the Death Valley railway. In this slideshow you will see;
Wampo Viaduct (Wang Po) and Buddha Cave
Tham Kra Sae Sation
Bridge over the River Kwai
Just a point to note the river Kwai wasn’t/isn’t the river Kwai, its the river Mae Khlung. Because of the book that was written, people really wanted to see the Bridge over the river Kwai, so i 1960 it was renamed the Kwae Yai.
I know the music to this slideshow is a little upbeat, and to be fair I didn’t want something mournful (not that I am in any way irreverent) but I think i wanted to give a feel of a better place now, after all it does attract some 5 million tourists every year. Kanchan is a thriving and busy town.
I hope you enjoy having a look around
Music credit to : Arp Bounce by Geographer Free under creative commons licence from You tube music Library