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!

Easter time over the COVID-19 outbreak: a great opportunity to research and plan something new

Dear readers,

this Easter (fow who celebrates it) is by no doubt different than any other previous Easter we ever experienced so far in our life, the keen travelers like me are now on stand-by and forced to deal with some other activities, let’s say we are just out of the conventional every-day lifestyle we have enjoyed so far, for instance, our social activities are narrowed as well as the sport activities, however the world is not over, we just need to be more flexible than ever in adapting to a pattern of a new life.

One day, after spending few days at a friend’s place by meditating about ‘what next’, we found interesting the aspects of human spirituality by watching the following YoutuBe video that I share here below for you:

No worries! Just the cover is written in Italian and it means: ‘Arise the level of energy by staying sat down at home‘ , the speech of the video is delivered in english, the guy himself is an Indian yogi and author who raised a foundation focused on various fields of spirituality.

Regardless the religious belief that each of us belongs to, the content of the video is instructive, just don’t get discouraged with the beginning of the video which opens up with spiritual meditation of the body, after that he delivers his speech, during that he points out that the spiritual exercise can be very effective and can help us to re-discover our blissful of joy.

I believe that nowadays most us humans struggle in finding the (real) joy and as a result we let our brain to reason what makes us happy, what we believe that makes us joyful in fact is fake (just appearance) however most of us dislike facing the truth and this is how our ordinary life-style works.

Having traveled to India and few more asian countries where Hinduism and Buddhism are the dominant religions, I venture to say that they emphasize the meditation and spirituality a lot as a part of the ordinary the life-style, by this I do not mean that everybody in India, Thailand, Cambodia, etc. strictly follows this as a rule, the frenetic consumerist life-style contaminated everybody who works for a corporation business, and this is a sort of enemy for our spirituality.

Amongst other things, nobody knows whether we will be able to resume our ordinary ‘life-as-usual’ as it used to be until few months ago, therefore if some of us was entirely focused on making profitable business on the individual basis then we should resize our vision of the world, I believe that we all know that money at the end is just an illusion of happiness, for example people regardless their pockets are naturally supposed to actively contribute for a better collective life environment and we can not expect that someone will do it for us, otherwise the principle of human equality will never be applied 😦

To sum it up, I consider myself lucky enough to have explored thirty Countries of the globe, of which 23 in Europe and 7 in Asia, however these numbers would be meaningless if one doesn’t commit oneself to learn something from someone’s else culture, perhaps now for a while we won’t have chance to explore other cultures, so my recommendation is: let’s try use the best of what we learned out of having visited different cultures and see how it works, I believe that everybody is able to do so 🙂

Having said that, enjoy watching the video and feel free to share your thoughts!

Giuseppe

BEING A WORLD EXPLORER DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC TIME

Dear fellow readers,

most of us are aware of the fact that the pandemic spreading of the coronavirus prevented us from travelling around the globe indefinitely 😦

However, few of us who were lucky enough to afford to travel and stay safely until a certain point, this was my case and I am glad to share with you some relevant facts about what went on while exploring another part of the world: I traveled for a period of twenty days from 26th of February through 17th of March to South-East Asia, I explored Cambodia and Thailand, being an Italian living abroad but still holding an Italian passport it was not an easy challenge:

I was originally supposed to travel to Cambodia and then to Vietnam, by the time I started travelling all the way from Europe to Cambodia as 1st final destination everything was smooth with no hassles, despite the media already on February started getting us warned and scared about the growing cases globally, for instance at Vienna airport nobody checked the temperature of the boarding passenger, only when I approached Bangkok airport they checked my temperature before transferring to another gate to fly to my final destination, in addition, I noticed that at Bangkok apt they provided everywhere spare hand-sanitizer gel.

Generally speaking, after entering Cambodia most of people appeared to be very-relaxed like they did not want to care much about precautions for coronavirus, the clerk of the villa resort where I stayed in Siem Reap told me that there were no (recorded) cases in the region, however if you went to some pharmacies you could buy all the precautions you needed e.g. antibacterial hand gel and masks with filter.

This situation gave me lot’s of motivation to quietly continue on my trip, however this does not mean that we do not have to care about hygiene and so on, we MUST: Roads are usually dusty with red sands aside and badly-surfaced, so when you trip around either by a tour agent or on your own by (motor-)bike you will inevitably get dirty skin, I recall that I treated my hands with the antibacterial six times a day, dry hot weather and dust are terrible, look at the pictures below:

The most extreme scenarios I ever experienced were in Sihanoukville region: the city is completely being rebuilt with constructions, water pipes, road infrastructure and so on all at the same time with no safety rules, here the hygiene was an extreme challenge, I count that I disinfected my hands ten times per day for not talking about that I got to wash urgently my nose masks and even my backpack which became from blue to black colour!! This is just a not-to-go place for the time being.

Other than that, Cambodia has reported only 103 cases so far, it is difficult to argue on it, perhaps many factors like weather might leverage the spreading of the viruses, who knows? In any case you can keep following up the cases on this link: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

After seven days spent in Cambodia, I got ready and keen to fly to Vietnam, I had a scheduled flight early in the morning from Phnom Penh airport, but here a rocking surprise came out:

Being an italian traveler with italian passport I was denied at the check-in counter to fly to Vietnam, the reason for that? Vietnamese government enforced new restrictions for the italians just two days before my flight (3rd of March), no reason was worth to persuade them that I am an italian resident in another European country, so I had to re-think my travel plans for the other 13 days. I would suggest you the following basic approach

  1. What do we want to do next?
  2. Where do we want to go next?
  3. How to manage it with some improvisation? 🙂

Even a badass happening is a valuable experience to take it with energy to move on! Despite the clerk at the check-in was not so kind they still gave me a hint by suggesting me to stay and enjoy Cambodia longer, so I sat on a bench and picked-up my laptop, I started doing my own research and I gave myself an answer about What and Where, the outcome was Thailand, indeed it turned out to be a wise choice since any other Country few days later started to close the borders for the Italians (Thailand included), at least I could catch the final vector of the returning flight back to Europe, also the travelling life got simplified!

Now you may be asking how I managed it:

Being provided with a laptop and a smartphone with local SIM mobile data, I checked forthcoming departures to Bangkok and I caught an Air Asia flight to Bangkok which was just three hours upfront the current time, I just booked and paid for it, since I had time I could afford to make a research about where to go and what to visit since Thailand was not a new Country for me, this made me to decide to explore the North Thailand which is just a way less touristy than in the south and characterized by some national parks with some jungle trails to go for. Look at the pictures below:

Thailand itself is nowadays a well-developed country, in every public place they always provide you with hand-wash gel, they seemed to me to be more picky than any European country at least in the urbanized areas, when it comes to the life of people in the rural village they feel safe by doing their own life and as opposite they felt scared as they saw some exploring foreigner hiking through, one tour guide said that they think we could spread them COVID-19 , so all we did with some of them not friendly was just keeping some distance as a sign of respect, however nobody of us was not allowed to say them ‘hi‘ or better ‘S̄wạs̄dī‘ in Thai!

All in all, this is a life experience that I strongly suggest go for it, cancel your time off and go back to your ordinary country is the very last thing you should do, in these circumstances would have been a huge mistake which only could get you a way more frustrated, so never give up as long as you have a leeway to adjust your plans but let’s be responsible with the hygiene in this time! Finally, try to improvise some situations when ‘shit happens’ 🙂

Feel free to share your own experience!

Giuseppe

Koh Lipe: explorers, local residents and Thai gypsies community.

Once again I am here to talk about a South-East Asian society which is the Thai one, just this time it isn’t related to a volunteering action: after three years since last time, I decided to visit a new Thai island which is close to the border line with Malaysia. The island is Koh Lipe which is part of the Tarutato National Park:

Koh Lipe

The aim was to explore new breathtaking landscapes by hiking and snorkeling dive; for such a challenge I planned to stay on Koh Lipe for just two days and after that I would have kept travelling to Malaysia which is by far less touristy than Thailand is.

My approach to Koh Lipe was nothing like surprising as I previously traveled to other gorgeous Thai islands, however as I arrived on Koh Lipe, I was keen to start exploring around the walking streets, as first and usual thing I needed to withdraw some Thai-Bath money by catching a cash dispenser, I asked one Thai guy what the way to the “centre” was, then he offered me to give me a ride there by motorbike as a warm welcome, as first I thought that he’d have expected a tip from me, in fact he didn’t but still I found nice to provide him with a 50-฿ tip.

As a second thing, I needed to find an accommodation with modest claims since I don’t like to have everything super-planned: in the worst case scenario I’d have slept one night on the sand by sleeping bag which wouldn’t have been the end of the world 😉 However I succeeded in finding one, that took me less than an hour 🙂 It was SHANTI hostel with air-conditioned for 400฿ per night which was reasonable.

 

The walking streets on Koh Lipe are full  of restaurants, cafe, shops and some diving schools like in any other well-developed Thai island with the only difference that this island is much smaller and quiet if compared it to Koh Tao and Koh Phi Phi.

In addition to that, if you walk further to the sunrise beach you you’ll discover an area which is populated by local Thai nomads, these people typically live in rustily-furnished shelters and conducts a simple and cheerful life-style, obviously as a curios photographer I didn’t renounce in stumbling into their village, I know they wouldn’t have ripped me off  by any means 😀 but instead they appeared to be pleased by my photo-visit, moreover they started to play some random folklore music which made everyone in a cheerful mood as shown in the short movie below:

As I kept walking through their village I noticed they were even provided with a small bazar for food and beverages which was owned by themselves, and not far from their village there were the shelter of most of Thai and non-Thai residents of the island, not only do the gypsies live in such a simple conditions but also all the rest of residents do, including the Italian owner of SHANTI hostel, since the island life doesn’t involve them to live with any formal clothes.

 

Further to that, on Koh Lipe unlike other Thai islands, only residents are provided with motorbikes, I mean that nobody rents motorbike to the visitors since the roads are narrow and with no asfalt which makes pretty much sense because it is part of the Tarutato National Marine park; basically they want to protect the natural park from the any source of pollution.

To sum it up, although I expected Koh Lipe to be busy like Koh Phi Phi is, in fact it wasn’t like that, at least on November, besides that, here there no disco-clubs attracting bunches of youngsters who are willing to get drunk and that’s all 😀 Here the environment is chilling and relaxing which conveys the right harmony in the evening, then especially when you you want to enjoy a tasty sea-food dinner and a chill-out just after that, perhaps with a healthy hot herbal tea with butterfly pea as shown below 😉

20171120_215045

One questionable point is: having considered how the Thai gypsies and all the local residents live, are we Europeans really sure that our happiness and fulfillment depends on how many gadgets and belongings we have on our hands?

Or are there any other key-factors which determine our fulfillment and joy of life?

Having said that, I will leave it up to you to figure out what make you feel happy, and base on that we can identify our room for improvement for our life-style.

I wish you all a Happy and Joyful Christmas day! 🙂

Everybody is warmly welcomed to comment and make suggestions on it!

Giuseppe