The Return of Leatherback Turtles in Phuket

Even though the pandemic has brought the stop the world, it has also allowed the nature to revive and heal itself.  In Phuket, we had witnessed many leatherback turtles have returned to lay their eggs after a long time of absence since 2017. These ancient leatherback turtles are the largest turtle in the world both for fresh water and sea water. What make them so unique is their leather shells and the pattern that look like starfruit. Since they rely fully on nature for their well-being, fertile nature become most impact factor of their distinction. Phuket and Phang Nga are the ideal places for them to lay eggs especially when the tourists were away.   On the morning of new year 2021, one of the leatherback mothers came ashore to lay her eggs on Kata Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Phuket. The number of nests continue to grow from 13 nests last year to 18 nests altogether this year. This phenomenon is one of the evident that nature have return to fertility.  

After the world return to its normal stage, Thailand will continue to work on green tourism and welcome all the travelers close to the nature and the beauty that Thailand has to offer.

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South of the Tourists
Text & Photo : Stefan Christensen Have you ever been to Phuket, Krabi or even Koh Lanta and felt like there is too much of everything? Too many people, too many restaurants, too many bars and way too much traffic? The answer is to go further south – south of the tourists. Along the Andaman Coast is a stretch of land extending from just south of Koh Lanta all the way to the Thailand / Malaysia boarder. This territory is largely devoid of tourists and, therefore, offers peace and tranquility for those seeking a less hectic, more serene experience. The southern town of Trang is the first stop on a trek south. It is connected to Bangkok by both daily flights and train. This writer personally recommends the night train from Bangkok. Trang has been a trading center for hundreds of years. The city itself is located a bit inland so the next step of the journey entails getting to the beach or a pier for further exploration. Pak Meng Beach Pak Meng Beach, a good starting point, is a long stretch of beach located in the Hat Chao Mai Marine National Park. The stretch of road that leads up to the pier of Pak Meng is lined with small hotels, guesthouses and restaurants that are inexpensive and modest. This is an area where mass tourism has not yet to arrive. If you find it difficult to survive without coffee ground from Peruvian beans and brewed with water from a Norwegian fjord (or any other pretentious food) or food and drink from chain style outlets, this is not the place for you. But if you want to share the beach with local fishermen who are mending their nets while you take a leisurely swim, this is paradise. Delicious local Thai dishes are served along the beach in addition to the special Trang style coffee ideal for breakfast. There are no big chain hotels here and it is best to book in advance, primarily because the hotel can provide transfers to and from the airport or the train station. Koh Ngai Island Koh Ngai is a small island reached by boat from Pak Meng Pier. It is home to about a dozen accommodations ranging from nice hotels with a pool to budget hostels with a fan. While the various accommodations are not in a centralized “tourist” cluster, this is a small island easily and thoroughly explorable on foot. This is a place to relax, read a book, take a swim and do nothing except relax. Koh Muk Island Koh Muk is a larger island south of Koh Ngai and home to around fifty different accommodation options. Close to the pier, where the boats from Pak Meng Pier arrive, is a cluster of houses, shops and accommodations that approximates a village. Most available accommodations, restaurants and bars are concentrated in this “village”, but there are a few others spread across the island that offer the same tranquillity as found on Koh Ngai. The Emerald Cave on Koh Muk draws a number of day-trip tourists to the island. Fortunately, these tourists tend to only visit the cave on the western side of the island and perhaps have lunch in the “village”. Then they are off and the tranquillity is restored. Koh Tarutao Island Koh Tarutao is one of the biggest islands in the south and part of Koh Tarutao National Marine Park. The marine park consists of 51 islands with Tarutao being by far the largest; it is also said to be haunted. The haunting is attributed to two events. A Malaysian princess, executed for a love affair she had on the island, promised that upon her death, peace and prosperity would leave the island forever. From 1939 till 1949, Koh Tarutao was a used as an isolated prison for first the Japanese and then the Thai government. Both events provide ample imagination for ghost stories. If confrontations with ghosts are not a personal concern, rumours of hauntings can be good news as one result is this big island is virtually deserted and feels uninhabited. If living a Robinson Crusoe lifestyle is an attraction, this is the place for that experience. There are long deserted beaches, steaming rainforests and relatively high mountain peaks. One can also take a boat trip through the island’s mangrove swamp and see how many crocodiles can be spotted. Ah! A reason to reconsider the idea of camping in a tent on the island! There are only a few accommodations here, all quite simple and rustic, but one can really get away from it all. To get to Koh Tarutao Island, take a boat from Pak Bara Pier in the Satun Province. Koh Lipe Island This island used to be exclusively a backpackers’ destination. Located farther out than the other islands in the marine park, Koh Lipe has changed somewhat in character and offers an interesting experience even if one is not sporting a henna tattoo and dreadlocks. Take the boat from Pak Bara, a 90-minute bumpy ride on a speedboat that eventually drops passengers off at Pattaya. No, not “The” Pattaya but Pattaya Beach on Koh Lipe, a beach with more than one kilometer of smooth, pristine sand. The island also is home to Sunset Beach in the west and Sunrise Beach located on the eastern part of the island. Of the places visited on this trip, Koh Lipe is by far the most developed for tourism with accommodations ranging from inexpensive fan rooms to exclusive 4-star resorts. All still provide a cozy vibe. What to do here? These islands and beaches in the south are ideal for travellers who want to get away from the major, crowded tourist destinations and yet still experience more than afforded by just parking a bum on a beach chair for two weeks. This is adventure combined with vacation. There are more challenges on a trip in the less visited south. ATM´s are not available around every corner, power blackouts may...
Samut Songkram – a true sense of the charming local Thai
November, 2020  Samut Songkhram is tucked into a picturesque patch of coastline on the Gulf of Thailand. Located about an hour drive southwest of Bangkok, the uniqueness of this province is its location that combines 3 kinds of water; fresh water, brackish water and salt water. Despite its small size, Samut Songkhram offers numerous unique attractions. Here we give some tips that enhance your local travel experience.  Maeklong Railway Market – Thailand’s folding umbrella market  At glance, many markets in Thailand look the same, but one that definitely stands out is Maeklong Railway Market or in Thai “Talad Rom Hup”. Why? Because it sits atop train tracks. As the train comes charging down, the market is transformed and allow it to pass.You will hear the train long before you actually see it. Vendors and merchants collectively begin to cooly move their belongings and umbrellas away from the tracks. Baskets and goods are dragged away, the overhead tents are drawn back. The tracks are cleared, making way for the train to pass. This is why the market is known as “umbrella pulldown” market or in Thai Talad Rom Hup. Here you will find mainly food, Thai sweets, fresh produce, seafood, vegetables, fruits and drinks.   Tha Kha Floating Market – local relaxing market  Unlike other floating markets, Tha Kha Floating Market is kept the way it has been for decades. It has a local feel. You will see villagers rowing their boats along to sell fresh fruits and vegetables to one another. There are a wide range of fresh produce and local food. What is unique here is that it primarily serves the local community and focuses on self-sufficiency economy and sustainability. Still to this day, the canal and market are used as a hub for people in the area to trade and sell local, mainly food products. Yet the market welcomes all the travelers to come and experience a genuine local way of life.     The Amphawa– Chaipattananurak Conservation Project – The local wisdom  Serving as the reminiscence of the past, the Ampawa-Chaipattananurak Conservation Project today has become a center of collaboration to conserve and develop Thai traditions on which the Ampawa residents have had pride themselves. The project is founded on Thailand’s previous king’s philosophical concept of sufficiency economy. It is divided into 3 areas. Agricultural demonstration farms have been developed to demonstrate integrated fruit farming as an integral part of the livelihoods in Amphawa. Community shops are a place for local traders to sell local Thai crafts and antiques as well as souvenirs. The Amphawa Community exhibition displays items and information to promote local culture and traditions.  Ban Phaya So  Ban Phaya So is a house of a Thai music instrument maker. The instrument is called in Thai “So”, a string musical instrument. Here it combines the art of traditional Thai music with carving in different designs and transforms a plain looking coconut shell into a carved sound box called “So”. Here you can learn the art of carving and how to play the music. If you play violin or any string instruments, this place is highly recommended.    Wat Bang Kung –  Temple hidden within the roots of large trees  Going to a temple is a part of life for Thai people. Wat Bang Kung is a very unique one near Amphawa and a must stop. The small Buddhist temple appears to be emerging from within large trees. Despite its simple architecture, the most iconic is the roots and branches and of large trees that surround and dominate the temple making it remarkable.   Klongkon Community – Thailand’s largest mangrove forest  It is recognized by their dense tangle of prop roots which appear to be standing on stilts above the water. Here you can plant mangrove and shrubs to restore the forest and its ecosystem. It stabilizes the coastline, reducing erosion from storm surges, currents, waves and tides. The root system makes it attractive for fish and other organisms seeking food and shelter.  Baanrimklong Homestay – Learn how to make coconut products  Baanrimklong Homestay is a Thai Style homestay close to Amphawa district in Samut Songkhram. Here you can learn the simple lifestyle of the villagers and engage in various activities such as making coconut sugar, learn the art of making hats or baskets from coconut leaves or making food and dessert from the coconut.   Youtube link:  https://youtu.be/u5cah0WHXWM