Jenny\'s Southeast Asia/China Adventure

Travel time: February - June 2004  |  by Jenny Chu

Thailand: Ban Krut

Sunday, 2/8/04
Day 5, Goodbye Bangkok, Hello Ban Krut

Steffen had previously mentioned that he was heading down south to a small beach town five hours south of Bangkok where his friend ran a diving school. He was also renting a house with two rooms and a pool in some resort, which sounded ever so lovely. And since I was having so much fun with him and Amy, I figure it would be fun to go down there together, so I convinced Amy to switch her schedule to come with me. I also wanted to get off the beaten track and from what Steffen was telling us, Ban Krut, would be a good place to do so.

Ban Krut, a small beach town five hours south of Bangkok.

Ban Krut, a small beach town five hours south of Bangkok.

At 11, we confirmed with Steffen our plans and we decided to meet back at 2 to head out to the bus station. Meanwhile, Amy and I ate lunch at a food vendor (pad-see-ew) and I also ordered a papaya salad, which was so spicy, I only took a few bites and gave the rest to Johnny aka as Johnny Patpong from Suk 11. Apparently, my spice tolerance after five days was still not at the level I had wished it to be. I grabbed some green tea ice cream from 7 eleven to compensate.

At 2pm, we strapped on our backpacks and jumped into a cab to the Bus station, paying 120B (~3$) for the taxi fare. At the busy bus station, there was very few foreigners since most travellers tend to book the VIP buses from Khao San Road that take them down South and on to the islands. Consequently, we were getting a few curious stares from people probably wondering what I was doing with a 6ft 3 Farang with dreadlocks and Amy (so far, I have been mistaken for being Thai quite a few times).

Just as we stepped up to the ticket window, the woman put out a sold out sign for the 3 o'clock bus, which Steffen says has never happened to him before. So, we killed two hours in a sidewalk restaurant until boarding our bus. The government bus, I thought was quite nice and comfy. It even came with our own attendant who offered us free cups of Coke and newly washed blankets. Not bad for 215 Baht (4.5$), I say. The bus took us through some nice country side and we pulled over once to eat dinner at a simple reststop serving Thai food (rice plus one dish = 20 Baht). A Thai guy tried asking me what our story was, but I only could smile and say back: "No Thai". I was starting to realize that I really need to learn how to say "Sorry, I can't speak Thai."

The funny bit at the rest stop was that neither Amy nor I could figure out how to flush the squat toilet.
So, boys and Girls, if I may, let me now take the initiative to give those who don't know, a bit of toilet 101: In Thailand, toilets, I would soon learn, have a bucket of water with a plastic pot next to it for you to flush your business away. And you will be lucky to find any toilets with paper towels, so always bring a handy stash of tissue where ever you go. And, never never put your toilet paper in the toilet. Also, if you are lucky, some toilets even come with its own nozzle spray for you to wash your bum! Now, this is one thing that I say the States should adopt, for it's been nice to leave the toilet feeling sparkly clean. =P

Five hours since we departed Bangkok, we finally arrived in Ban Krut. Steffen called his friend Allan to come pick us up and soon Amy and I were grinning ear to ear as we could hardly contain our excitement as we stood standing in Steffen's "beach house". The small beach house, was really nice and had two rooms, each with their own bathrooms, and a living room, and another bathroom. It also had its own patio with tables and chairs and more importantly, it was less than a minutes walk to the beach.

Allan (Danish)and Emma (English/Chinese), who were Steffen's friends from Ko Tao, have been living in Ban Krut, also on the same resort of Steffen's house for a few years now, while running their own dive school. They decided to set up shop in this sleepy town (which btw, does not even appear on Lonely Planet's map and has only a little paragraph in LP's Thailand edition), since it was more tranquil than many other over-touristed beach resorts in Thailand. They did however, tell me that Ban Krut was slowly building more resorts as well, although at a slower, more contained rate.

Anyway, Allan and Emma came by after we settled in and the five of us chatted the night away over some Chang Beers. They were a really nice couple and I already felt at home in my new environment.

The "Beach House" I stayed at in Ban Krut.

The "Beach House" I stayed at in Ban Krut.

Monday, 2/9/04
Day 6, A Whole Lot of Lounging

I didn't manage to get myself out of bed until 2pm. But, with no sightseeing/shopping agenda, I hardly cared that half the day was already gone. After taking a nice long shower, Amy and I walked along the road next to the beach to resort next door to grab some lunch (Steffen meanwhile continued sleeping - this guy can sleep forever - and didn't get up until 5). Unfortunately, the day was overcast, so we didn't get the chance to lay out as we had hoped. Instead, we had a two hour lunch at the really gorgeous open air beachfront restaurant. We were the only ones there, giving us the impression that Ban Krut was hardly a tourist destination.

After lunch, I walked back to the house to lounge around, while Amy left to go into town. Later, the gang reunited and we went out to a lovely local eatery next to the sea. It was such a nice setting - tables and lights right on the beach. Since Emma can speak Thai, she was able to order me a veggie curry and a delicious fried egg salad. Top that off with some Chang Beer(which by now, was my beer of choice) and the sound of the waves splashing as we feasted, I was experiencing pure bliss. ahhhhh. And all for the mere cost of 150 Baht (4 bucks) - the good company came free of course .

Back at the house, Allan and Steffen both turned out to be great storytellers and for the rest of the night, Amy and I were treated to tales about the good ol days when they were both living and working out on Ko Tao. I could hardly stop laughing as I listened to their crazy antics, like crashing their motorbike into a bar, when they decided to order their beers in a drive-through attempt. I don't remember who suggested it, but later we all headed to the hotel pool for a splash before heading to bed.

Ban Krut's countryside

Ban Krut's countryside

Tuesday, 2/10/04
Day 7, Exploring Ban Krut on Bike

Today, Amy and I set off to explore the town by bike. Steffen continued to sleep, surprise, surprise. Emma had told us that the resort next door has bikes for their guests, so we went by and thinking we would ask to rent the bikes, but the staff instead just pointed us to the bikes, and off we went. Within a few minutes, we were coasting along side the beach and stopped to grab lunch at a local rest (I really could get used to eating all my meals with ocean views!). The owner was extremely nice and was able to understand English so I got a nice veggie entree with rice (60B, ~1.5$).

With our tummies full, we got back on our bikes and rode to town, which consisted really of one main road with one pharmacy, some stores,and a few sidewalk restaurants, all just occupying only a few blocks of space. We were right in thinking that Ban Krut was a sleepy fishing village. The whole day we probably only saw two or three other Westerners as we rode through the beautiful countryside filled with big coconut palm trees. Otherwise, we saw only local Thais, conducting their daily business. It really felt like we were taking a step back in time.

We discovered however, that Ban Krut did not escape modernity altogether - and while I was unable to find "Ban Krut" doing a Google search, it did have its very own internet café with six computers hooking up the locals to the information superhighway.

After emailing our family and friends about our good times in Ban Krut, Amy and I decided to forgo biking up the steep mountain to the temple, and to head back to the house to find out about the train schedule. Amy wanted to try to catch better weather down in Ko Tao and was going to take off that night. I, on the otherhand, decided that it would be fun to do my open water scuba diving ceritficaion with Allan in Ban Krut (plus it would be cheaper than getting it on Ko Tao) and was going to stay a few extra days. Plus, I wasn't ready to leave town yet, as Ban Krut was growing on me more by the minute.

For dinner that night, Emma whipped up a delicious meal consisting of cous cous, cucumber w/yogurt, & wine drenched-seitan with cheese-dishes she knew I could eat. Bless her. We hung around, and Amy left at ten. It was sad to see her go, but we promised to keep in touch with emails. The rest of us watched Autofocus then Stefen and I went back to the house to catch some zzzzzzzzzs.

Ban Krut's lovely beach

Ban Krut's lovely beach

A Ban Krut boy getting his nightly bath in a bucket. He wasn't too happy about his mom letting me take his picture!

A Ban Krut boy getting his nightly bath in a bucket. He wasn't too happy about his mom letting me take his picture!

Wednesday, 2/11/04
Day 8, Enjoying Ban Krut's Beach

Ahhh... Today the sun finally broke through after two days of having overcast weather here. I heard that it was raining over on Ko Tao, so I was glad that I didn't head straight there from Bangkok as originally planned. After enjoying some nice cheese sandwiches complimentary of Steffen who somehow managed to bring loads of German cheese/chocolates (Ritter Sport - my fav!) to Bangkok in edible condition, I headed over to the beach to catch some rays. Meanwhile, Allan and Steffen went to the local market to buy some Thai goodies.

I thought I would be alone on the beach, but a busload of Thais - mostly 20 somethings - had also arrived. They were playing football and even had their own DJ playing tunes, and doubling as MC. My plan to lay out and tan was scratched as I felt a little too bare - esp since the footballers and resort construction workers were already giving me some curious stares. However, I was enjoying myself and when Steffen/Allan arrived back from the market with some roasted cocunut/sticky rice concoction and banana chips, it was all good. For dinner we biked down the beach to restaurant, and I had some Tom Yom Soup-Veggie plus some garlic/pepper vegetable stir fry. ****Okay okay, I realize that not everyone cares to read what I eat for each meal, so instead of listing out my meals from now on, I will only write about especially good food items and new things that I have tried. =)**** We also passed by the party-Thai-people who invited us to join them. Their beach party was already in full swing, with the DJ now playing techno complete with strobe lights!

Allan, Steffen and I went back to our place to down a few beers before going there. Unfortunately, I got really sleepy and never made it to the party. The next morning, Steffen reported back that the Thais' night of debauchery lasted until the sun went up! I definitely felt like I missed out on a memorable night. Oh well.

Thursday, 2/12/04
Day Nine, PADI & Pad Thai

I began my day with a nice bike ride to the town market in hopes of trying to find some mango sticky rice. However, by the time I got there at 9ish, the market was pretty much over. I did manage to score some baked goodies and then headed back to meet Allan (at Absolut Wreck Diving) to begin my first lesson for my "PADI open water certification". After working on ocean conservation issues for the past two years, I figured it was about time to explore the underwater world and see for myself why diving had so many enthusiasts. Diving was also one of the things I told myself I would do during my travels to challenge myself physically and mentally.

That afternoon complete with my scuba gear on, I practiced various skills in the resort's swimming pool under Allan's guidance. It was not bad at all, and I was definitely looking forward to going on my dives in the ocean.

I went back to town again with Steffen do some emails, but before then I managed to score my best Pad Thai so far on my trip for only 20 baht (= 50 cents). I told Steffen that I was in one word H-A-P-P-Y. Happy to be eating good food, happy to be enjoying my time in Ban Krut. It sure was one of those simple moments that make me realize how fortunate I am to be able to experience the joys of traveling.

Friday, 2/13/04
Day Ten, Bang Sapan & A Bit of Footie

After my final PADI lessons with Allan, the three of us headed into Bang Sapan the bigger town next to Ban Krut. We drove through some amazing country side and arrived at Bang Sapan's market twenty-five minutes later. We ate some lunch (finally scoring some Mango sticky rice!) and did a bit of shopping. Steffen bought a Mouth Face backpack, a hilarious bite-off the North Face brand. Thailand, the land of knock-offs sometimes does quite good imitations of things, but the Mouth Face one was so funny that Steffen had to sport it.

A few hours later, we headed back to Ban Krut this time passing a water buffalo wallowing in the muddy waters. A half-hour before 5pm, we started gearing up for our football match. Everyday, weather-permitting all the Thai guys gather on the football field for a pick-up game. I was excited to play, even though I don't think I have played a proper game since God knows when.

When we got to the football field there was quite a few players there. They seemed to be excited that two Farangs, and a girl was joining them. Allan says that he has never seen a girl play before, so maybe I'm the first one ever to do so! The game ensued with about 16 players on each team, ages ranging from 10 to 30. It was chaos, I could not tell who was on what team and was relieved after our team scored the first goal making the other side take off their shirts.

With so many people on the field, the ball was just being kicked without much strategy. I also realized that I was basically just standing there. In fact, I managed to only touch the ball a few times while playing in my fullback position. Plus, the Thais were hardly passing the ball to Allan and Steffen, so they surely were not kicking any my way either. So, after 40 minutes of humouring myself, I sat on the sidelines watching the game until it finished when the sun went down at 7pm.

That night tired from our day, we watched "Rabbit Proof Fence" (another one of Steffen's Bangkok DVD purchases) amazed at the resolve of those Austrailian aborigine girls walking thousands of miles in the death-defying outback.
I think they top Lewis and Clark in my book for sure.

Good ol' footie match.

Good ol' footie match.

Saturday, 2/14
Day Eleven, Another lovely day in Ban Krut

The weather while sunny, has not been favorable for diving. It looks like I won't be doing my dives in Ban Krut. I will have to wait until I get to Ko Tao, which I was sorta disappointed since I was going to get a private lesson with Allan and who knows how many people will be in my class there. Anyway, I was going to enjoy my remaining few days in Ban Krut and leave Sunday night.

So, with no diving, I lounged around in the morning, excited that I was going to get some fresh clothes since Allan let Steffen and I use his laundry machine. I think getting newly washed clothes is something every traveler looks forward to with great anticipation of not having to smell one day longer. Steffen and I also hit the beach to enjoy another sunny day in Ban Krut. I did a bit of journal writing, while the two guys left to play another game of footie.

After they returned around 8pm, they brought with them a whole spread of Thai food from the Saturday evening market, Ban Krut's biggest one. I happily tried out a few new things like, sticky rice in bamboo stick, thai doughnuts, and sticky black rice pudding. mmmmmmmmm. mmmmmmmmm.
Later, the three of us did quite a good job of entertaining ourselves with drunken conversations until 4 in the morning. I definitely will miss their company.

Oh yeah, today was Valentine's day, and I was definitely surprised at how much the Thais are into this holiday. In the Bangkok Post, there was a special pull-out section dedicated to cupid, and Steffen told me that Bangkok experiences one of its busiest nights with loads of couples enjoying their couple-dom all over the city.

Sunday, 2/15/04
Day 12, My Last Day in Ban Krut

I was sad that my Ban Krut time was coming to an end, but I was looking forward to going to Ko Tao. The time passed by quicky today, and all I did was manage to go to the beach for an hour while studying for my final PADI exam and talking politics with Steffen. He was reading Michael Moore's "Downsize This", so I couldn't help but put in my two cents at the sad state of affairs my country has been in since Bush Jr. took over.

I barely passed my PADI exam, but I was halfway there to becoming a special person (the PADI course is quite cheesy at times, and proclaims anyone who gets certified in diving becomes a "special person").

The three of us ate one last dinner at another beachside restaurant and afterwards they drove me to the train station to catch my ride to Chumpon, a city two hours south of Ban Krut. It was my first train ride in Thailand, and I rode third class which was perfectly fine - just a little crowded. I arrived in Chumpon a little past midnight, and hopped on a motortaxi to get to my hotel. Luckily, Emma had given me the 411 on where to stay and what time to catch the ferry. Otherwise, I would have been clueless since Lonely Planet doesn't really tell you much on how to get to Ko Tao from Chumpon.

Anyway, I stayed at the "Thanyarn Hotel" for 300 baht for a single room with bathroom. It's right across the ferry dock, which is good since I have to wake up at the crack of dawn to catch my ride over to Ko Tao at seven.

© Jenny Chu, 2004
You are here : Overview Asia Thailand Ban Krut
The trip
Follow my travels through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and China..........
Start of journey: Feb 02, 2004
Duration: 4 months
End of journey: Jun 02, 2004
Travelled countries: Asia
The Author
Jenny Chu is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 20 years.
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