We leave our heavenly beach at Khao Lak by 9am, before it gets too hot and sticky, and make our way for Trang from which, we have been told, we can get to more deserted beaches and lovely coast, bypassing Phuket and Krabi. The journey takes us through stunning scenery, we take little detours to see more of those karst formations the Thai coast is so famous for.
We get to Pak Meng beach and feel like it would be a lovely place to spend the night. It is very low key, lots of tiny restaurants along what looks like a shaded, abandonned, promenade. It is only after we find a place, the Yatale, check in, shower, change and go for a walk, do we find out that this promenade is in fact a tsunami protection wall. It feels eerie. We are the only ones out walking. The council went to the trouble of installing funny arm chair looking benches and sculptures every hundred metres, but for who?…
We decide to have dinner at our hotel restaurant, our last Thai meal, with a view of the most amazing sunset. The perfect setting for a drink. The choice is not great for a single malt enthusiast, but, with such a setting, it will be perfect with a little ice. Not sure where they thought I was putting the ice!!…
The next morning, after a last short stroll to admire the stunning rock formations in the sea in the gentle morning light one last time, we leave our hotel, on Pak Meng Beach – thank you Thailand for a wonderful stay – head south towards the Malaysian border. We always love the light in the morning and that feeling of discovering a new place. No, we haven’t tired of this. In fact, it surprises us that, after five and a half months on the road, we still get this feeling of excitement, that sensation of feeling alive as we set off on Streak and Storm.
After some beautiful lighting moments along the way, and stopping to see the rubber trees and palm oil trees, it is not long before the rain clouds drop their load – maybe it’s just a passing shower? We can’t be bothered to stop and put our waterproof trousers on. We’ll soon dry out. We’ll soon be out of it. Confidence is … (not so) high but neither wants to admit it!!… Not this time!!! Today turns out to be our 5th day of rain – not bad but it doesn’t make it any nicer. We end up riding at 50kms an hour for a while the rain is so heavy. And it is not long before our boots are sloshing with water.
As usual, we choose a tiny border crossing, in the middle of the Thale Ban National Park (!?), which means taking smaller roads. The route is not obvious, and after a few left, right, left, oops, turn back, left, straight through, we get to the border. The sun is shining for us which is lovely. The border crossing is so fast, under an hour for both countries, which is a record. While we wait for the Malaysian customs officer to complete our carnets for us, we chat and wave to so many people passing through. There is a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. It is interesting to see what people are buying in Thailand to take to Malaysia: food, toys and cleaning brushes. There is a scooter taxi service that takes people back and forth across the border. They have simplified the process between the 2 nations which is refreshing to see: no customs check for those nationals.
The heavens were very kind to us again holding out until we had finished going through some twisties before opening up again. Out of the mountain range and we head for Alor Setar. The road takes us past the largest fields of rice we’ve seen. It feels great to be able to see in the distance again (we have always enjoyed open expanses) and not be surrounded by steep, albeit stunning, jungle clad sheer rocks. The lighting is glorious, a massive storm forming just ahead of us.
We haven’t booked anywhere and everywhere we try is fully booked. We eventually find a large, impersonal hotel but it’s clean and not ridiculously expensive so it’s perfect for tonight. After a hot, warming shower, wet clothes hanging all around the room, dinner is down the street at a small streetside restaurant.
Tomorrow, George Town, Penang!!