Chao Lao Beach: the hidden spot surrounded by pink rocks

Dear readers,

back to December 2021, I had the opportunity to come back to Thailand to visit some new secluded areas. My focus was on the eastern coast toward Cambodia, after having visited Pattaya and Rayong, I decided (as always) to get out of the ‘comfort zone’ and I headed to Chao Lao beach which is situated in the province of Chanthaburi, you can see the snapshot of the map below:

Overview map above

Unlike the very popular Pattaya city, this is a village where there are lot’s of affordable SPA resorts and now being the post-pandemic time there are very few foreigners (Thai people call them ‘farangs’) getting to this area. I stayed over three days and I did a deep exploration of the surrounding nature. The beach itself is really quiet, cleaned and like the old days, you can have a coconut juice or a lemonade while enjoying the beach, the surrounding sea is shallow which is ideal for families with kids. It is approximately four hours of driving or riding from Bangkok.

The second day that I was there, I decided to rent a motorbike for a further exploration to the very south of peninsula, I entered a national park by paying 200Baths, I parked the bike and I continued hiking to the Pink Stone spot. (See the map below)

The hiking itself is not so difficult and it takes max. half an hour, just you need to have proper shoes or hiking sandals to be safe, and obviously December falls on the dry season so just be prepared to sweat 🙂

Here below there few pictures of the Pink Stone spot:

The most surprising thing of this attraction is a shelter which is built by green glass bottles, I ventured to visited it inside and it looks weird and perhaps a bit scary if you get there at night! If you wish to learn more about the mysterious shelter, I have made a video-reportage by my action camera in which I lively visited it inside 🙂 Here below I have embedded the YouTube video:

Other than this intriguing shelter, I show you few pictures about the sandy beach of Chao Lao:

Usually, during the morning the sea water laps against part of the beach, however in the afternoon the sea water deflects further out to sea and the beach widens out: the last two pictures were taken in the morning time whereas all the others were taken in the afternoon, the difference is clearly visible 🙂

All in all, Chao Lao is a great compromise between having a rest away from the ‘city-life’ and a good opportunity for a soft-hiking, my guess it is ideal for family with kids and for couples on a romantic gateway. The only cons you may experience is that (if you are picky with the food) here you can’t get more than seafood, and last but not least be careful where you go to eat seafood and what you eat, some BBQ seafood may look tasty but then it might be painy to digest it, that was my case one evening: I got intoxicated by some sea snails which I guess were not properly washed out.

That being said, enjoy your experience in Chao Lao beach!

PLAYA ESCONDIDA: a secluded and almost inaccessible beach of Dominican Republic

Dear readers,

I am just back from having discovered Dominican Republic with its pros and cons: the first approach was very tough especially when it comes to dealing with the public safety and cleanliness. Before starting my tour I decided to rent a vehicle instead (I usually rent a motorbike), however this time nobody in the capital city Santo Domingo rented one due to the high volume of daily road accidents so I gave it up. One of the stops in my itinerary was Playa Escondida which means Hidden beach. This beach is situated approximately 3.4km away from the municipality of Las Terrenas.

There are theoretically three ways to get to Playa Escondida:

  1. By trekking through a wooded jungle trail with a muddy swamp in-between (the hardest and dangerous one)
  2. By trekking around the hilly landscape from a gate (if it’s open)
  3. By a boat from Las Terrenas beach on the other side (the safe way)

On top of that, my recommendation is to get as close as the Sailing Club which I highlighted in the snapshot of the map below. Here you can park your car or motorbike since by the area with limited access is not allowed to park.

Because I am a stubborn I went for the hardest choice and while I was starting to figure out how to get through, I met a Czech guy on the way (Martin) with a female friend, they were trying to figuring out and achieve the same goal as I was, after a short introduction we spontaneously took the challenge together, and here we run in to the first incognita:

After walking up to calle Loma Bonita we end up at VILLA CACIQUE OCEAN VIEW with a closed gate and we asked ourselves: what now?

We thought that the beach was only privately accessible from the villa and therefore we tried to talk to some rangers working at the Villa, they said that there was no access and the only way to get there is to override a boundary wall, hike down through the bushes and get through a muddy swamp. The Czech guy and I were eager to start off whereas the female fiend of his NOT. That said one of the rangers offered to us his help by cutting off some bushes on the way, I started hiking down until we get at the edge of the swamp and here the big fun came: the swamp was like a 10-metres gap between the wonderful beach and the jungle, however we couldn’t hike by any means straight through because we would have dived down at the first badass muddy watered spot.

I happened to put my left foot in such a invisible muddy spot and it was very scary since I had to try hard to release it, fortunately the ranger was nearby and rescued me immediately with his hand.

Here below there is a picture of the high bushes very close to the swamps

Meanwhile the Czech guy came down to the edge of the swamp with my backpack 🙂 We gave him the full awareness of the big danger to overcome in-between, to make it short we managed to find out a convoluted zig-zag path to minimize the big risk of diving down with the legs, it took us nearly one hour but it was truly rewarding! The rangers were with us and let us enjoy the most of it by cutting two coconuts from the palm tree so that we could have more liquids in our roaring stomachs 😀

Here below a stunning scenery of Playa Escondida and myself captured drinking the coconut:

While being on the beach I took the advantage of having some squat exercise to support the leg muscles, this is an exercise which I recommend it to everybody adult like me to do it on daily basis.

To sum it up, when you lie the beach you may be feeling in a small paradise which is the ideal to be there for a romantic and exotic day with a girlfriend 🙂 I strongly recommend of getting there by boat, or if you really have to hike, never go alone, always keep in mind that you can not be the best expert of the local nature :O Hike through the swamps is an hellish experience, let’s be wise with our life, so just have ranger with you who knows how it is the situation. Last but not least, I did it during the beginning of the dry season, during the wet season it would be a sort of mission IMPOSSIBLE to get across. For your reference the dry season in Dominican Republic is usually from November through March.

Having said that, enjoy the trip with precautions!

Giuseppe

YOGYAKARTA: gorgeous landscapes by the sea.

I have had the chance to dedicate two and half intensive days in this city of central Java to check quite some Buddhist and Hindu temples as well as exploring some breathtaking landscapes inside the land and by the seaside.

As I approached Yogyakarta commonly known as ‘Jogja’, my first concern was to rent a motorbike instead booking rides by GO-JEK over and over again, however I state that it is not such an easy challenge to juggle by scooter then especially when stumbling into several traffic jams in the city of Yogyakarta, it is pretty tiring instead and my impression so far about Indonesian cities is that they might be ones of the most polluted in the entire globe, as a result not a few riders wear a mask for the mouth, most probably you would not see anywhere else outside the SE Asia such a huge number of bikers which are more than cars.

Having said that, keep calm and carefully plan your itinerary: when it comes to the temples just avoid over-planning because the more you plan the fewer will be the chances for you to achieve your target. I personally dedicate one day for visiting the temples and the last day top explore the landscapes on the way to the sea and of course by the seaside too 🙂 If you plan to go for a similar challenge by riding your motorbike, be aware of the fact that the roads in Indonesia (like everywhere in SE Asia) are very convoluted and often seem like labyrinths.

Yogyakarta route

So, if for example you plan to explore four beaches, often there will not be any straightforward connecting road along the sea but instead you will have to ride through hills inside the land to reach the next beach.

Here below a small photographic overview of some landscapes by the sea:

Here a summary of beaches I have explored:

  1. Pantai parangtritis
  2. Pantai baron
  3. Pantai kukup
  4. Pantai krakal

Naturally, the list of the beaches is much longer, however not all of them are worthy to be checked on the purpose of a great photo-shooting.

What I feel to recommend as first is to start riding between am 8and 9am from Jogja so that you will ensure yourselves that you will have enough buffer of time to explore four beaches at least and then be back by the sunset time which is around 5:30pm, during that day I count that I had ridden for about 150km through altogether and on the way back to Jogja I took a different route since I first rode to the closest beach which is pantai parangtritis and from that point I kept riding much further so that it made sense to return over a different road.

Second thing, if you are not knowledgeable of the routes and you don’t want to fully rely on mapping application then hire a local guy, for 100k Rupiah he will be very willing to drive you without any map navigation which could mislead you from time to time, besides that he will show you what are the key-spots 😉

Last but not the least, be mentally relaxed with the fact that for every parking at the beaches you will always be asked for the parking fee which is between 2.000 and rupiahs (not a big deal), be aware that if you park your motorbike out of the dedicated areas it might be removed: a local guy warned me that to have it back then you may end up paying a huge fine like 15 millions of rupiahs.

Having said that, now its up to you what and how you want to plan it, meanwhile I am keeping to exploring further the Java region, new posts will follow soon, just stay tuned!

Everybody is welcomed to comment!

Giuseppe