Wednesday, November 6, 2013

8. Ranong and vicinity

165 km

I like this town. There are literally "almost" no tourists, except me, of course; I also saw one young backpacker downtown today. There are Thai tourists who visit the few sites, mainly the numerous hot springs in the area, and the water falls. The city is unspoiled, there are no package-tourists, none of the all-inclusive crowd of Phuket and Patong, which is the curse of our time what tourism is concerned. Ranong is a border town to Myanmar and you can see the many exile Burmese working in the fish processing factories near the piers. This is an area of the city which holds no romantic value whatsoever, it smells intensely after fish, and whoever is looking for a scenic view of the fishermen pulling their laden vessel ashore while singing a typical Thai seafarer song, is very wrong. Here on the crowded streets which are slippery from the smelly fish/water runoff everyone wears rubber boots, trucks are coming and going, it is in essence an industrial area. 

Downtown Ranong, however, is nice and quaintly Thai, yet has also a busy main drag where the open platform taxis, the songtaew, stand and wait for customers. Songtaews actually function more like a bus than a taxi. 

There are numerous doctor's offices, or walk-in clinics here, where people sit on plastic chairs and wait to be called in, even late in the evening, after dark. I noticed many more such clinics than restaurants for example.

It is the beauty of the surrounding area which makes the city a worthwhile stop. There are beautiful waterfalls, rivers, remote canyons, several hot springs, and of course the empty, unspoiled beaches. 

There is even a mangrove research institute where one -supposedly- can walk in a dense mangrove forest, meeting monkeys, surrounded by huge butterflies. Alas, I didn't find it. Finding locations isn't easy here, since only the most important traffic signs are in Thai and English, most other annunciations are in Thai script only. I wasn't lucky. My GPS database showed the center, however not the correct way to get to it.

But I had a very nice, entirely relaxed day, even without bathing in the various water temperature pools of the many hot springs here. The water was simply too hot, in fact, in one of the basins local people were boiling eggs! Hot springs in a 95 degree rain forest were not my thing today.

Near Petchkasem highway, Punjaban waterfall, north of Ranong.

Cat helps select genuine pearl at the pearl store.

Highway Number 3, Petchkasem, approximately 16 km north of Ranong.

Very hot, maybe above 65 degrees Celsius.

Forest shrine with golden Buddha


Trouble at the Chinese gold store, downtown Ranong.

Swastika symbol on facade. Swastikas can be seen often, they are Buddhist and Hindu in origin and a symbol of auspiciousness.

Nice greeting when coming back to the room in the afternoon.

Tomorrow I will be leaving rather early. It will be a longer trip to Hua Hin.

And the latest news, which will not affect me:

The two main nighttime attractions in this provincial town without tourists are 1. A political speech by the local major in regards to the upcoming debate concerning amnesty for the former prime minister Taksin Sinavatra and his corrupt cohorts (his younger sister is the current prime minister, he lives in exile in Dubai to avoid prosecution), and 2. a night market and fair with some modest attractions for the kids.


In the West the selling, and eating, of maggots, worms, cockroaches, scorpions and other bugs as deep-fried snacks is often misunderstood as an attraction to churn the stomachs of tourists. Far from reality! These vendors do a pretty good business with locals, especially the younger females. They couldn't care less what tourists are thinking, for them it is a business like any other. The eating of insects by humans is relatively common in many parts of the world, also in Latin America. However, since insects are her herbivorous (eat plants and leaves) many toxic insecticides can reach the human body.

I never liked them that much, but they are somewhat cheap and a rich source of protein.

Night-time workers cutting rebars on a construction site.

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