Saturday was our transit day. We had to leave Chiang Mai and Baan Boo LOo to fly down to our resort in Khao Lak for the final 8 nights of Thailand stay. I have to admit, I was extremely sad to leave. Baan Boo LOo had become such a comfortable home away from home, and we’d had contact with the local Thai that I doubt we would have had if we’d stayed in a hotel rather than in a guesthouse. That said, Stella was absolutely looking forward to a swimming pool and, as she says, a “modern” building.
We didn’t need to leave for the airport until 11.30am. This gave plenty of time to just enjoy our surroundings, checking out the guesthouse garden, meandering over breakfast and coffee, and saying our last goodbyes to fellow guests and especially to Orn and the rest of the staff at Baan Boo LOo. I attempted to visit Studio Laenna, a very well known textiles studio, but it was closed! Oh well, I’ll have to save that for our next visit. Because I loved Baan Boo LOo so much, and all the little details it contained, here are some more photos to give you a feel for it.
There were plenty of things that we could have done around Chiang Mai if we’d had a longer stay. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a holiday where you want to find out about local culture and food, while enjoying the ease of low fixed prices and straightforward transport. I am now dreaming of a trip to Chiang Mai and Laos and Cambodia in 2016 if the planets all align……
Once we got to the Air Asia counter for our flight to Phuket, we eagerly awaiting the final weigh in of our bags. I had pre-booked 15kg per person, and had packed a fair bit into my carry on backpack. Would we be under the weight limit?
Too right we were! I could have done much more shopping! Ah well, we live and learn. Travelling to a hot and humid country means that you don’t have to pack a great deal of clothing, and you only need a couple of pairs of sandals. That left plenty of room in our bags. We have had laundry done a couple of times so far – we send it out and pay by the kilo. Our flight was straightforward, as was the transfer pickup at the airport in Phuket. The drive to Khao Lak, which is on the Andaman coast, took just over an hour.
The resort – The Sands Khao Lak by Katatani – is HUGE. Three stories high, but covers a massive amount of land and extends right down to the sea. It’s only a few years old, having been built after the 2004 tsunami wiped out this entire area of coastline, taking thousands of lives with it as well. We chose the resort because there was a special deal for it in the newspaper one day – and clearly, much of the rest of Australia took advantage of the same deal, because almost everyone who is staying here is Australian.
I found the switch from Baan Boo LOo to the resort a major culture shock. That said, the resort is certainly spectacular. It has everything that you could want or would expect in a resort – pools, one for families and one that is adults only, lounge chairs everywhere under the palm trees, a lagoon, two restaurants, three bars, a kids club, gymnasium, organised activities, and the rest. Just perfect for families or for older couples – it’s not a place for late teenagers or those in their early twenties, who probably would stay in Phuket for the nightlife there anyway.
While out buying some tawdry tourist t-shirts, we spotted this massive gecko on the wall of the shop, hiding behind the t-shirts! It was about 20cm long. Most of the geckos here are rather small – although they give off loud barking noises – so this was quite a change. Our dinner was at a local Italian restaurant, and it was some of the best Italian food that I’ve eaten for a long time, including in Melbourne! The chef is Italian, uses a wood fired oven, and the food was great. However, the meals here in Khao Lak cost about double the cost of meals in Chiang Mai, so that is a bit of a shock to our systems. We have become used to paying less than A$25 for food and drinks for the four of us. Here in Khao Lak it is more like $40 for the same type of meal. Obviously this is still much less than we would pay in Australia, but the contrast is rather dramatic!
It was late by the time we got back to the hotel after quickly scoping out the main street of town and the general lie of the land. Stella and Clare were pleased to discover English speaking television in our room, and it took ages to settle them to sleep. The room is rather nice, although according to Dan it looks a little “Ikea” in style rather than being definitively Thai in any way. The kids enjoyed the folded toilet paper and towel origami. I’m just looking forward to a soak in that bath at some stage!
So here we are, in the winding down and relaxing part of the holiday. I am grieving (more than) a little for Chiang Mai and Baan Boo LOo. Here I feel as though we could be almost anywhere in the world, and it is large and at this stage impersonal which is a complete contrast to our beautiful guest house and the people we met there. That said, there is a lot here that I know we will enjoy, especially as far as the kids are concerned. Fingers crossed that this part of the holiday is as satisfying as the first.