On arrival in Surat Thani, we went to the first restaurant right next to where the minivan dropped us.
There was no English menu, but the owner managed to ask chicken or pork, we ordered one of each. We got chicken rice and pork rice, almost the best yet and at only a fraction of what we’ve been paying for food the past two weeks.
While sitting at the restaurant we booked a room in the CBD Business Hotel 1.2 km away. We got there after 15 minutes of walking. At the hotel the reception staff had our booking printed out already. We got a room on the fifth floor at the end of the corridor, but it was one of the best rooms we’ve stayed in yet.
That evening we went to a large night market, sampling a wide variety of local food and snacks.
The next morning we took a Grab taxi (South East Asia’s answer to Uber) to the train station. We got two expensive tickets on the number 40 Sprinter Special Express train, that goes to Bangkok in 9 hours. The bulk of the price of the ticket is for the fact that it is a 2nd class air-con train that makes fewer stops, so even though we just wanted to go to Ban Krut, the ticket basically cost the same price as going all the way to Bangkok.
We didn’t complain as it was one of the most comfortable trains we’ve been on. There was more than enough legroom and the seats could recline. They even served lunch and drinks airplane style. Three hours and 40 minutes later we arrived on time at Ban Krut. Out of the 200+ passengers, we were the only people to get off the train – the first sign that we were finally in the right place.
Ban Krut is a small fishing village with a few resorts that only get guests in the high season or over long weekends. It wasn’t either of the two, so we were almost the only foreign tourists.
We took a motorcycle taxi (one with a sidecar) to the beach and booked our first ‘walk-in’ guesthouse. The reason we pre-booked (even if just 10 minutes in advanced) all the other places, is that websites like Agoda have specials and last-minute deals priced far below the ‘walk-in’ rate. Siripong Guesthouse, on the other hand, isn’t even listed on any booking site.
It’s a small family-run guesthouse with only a few rooms. We got one on the third floor with aircon, but only cold-water shower and bucket flush toilet.
Right in front of the guesthouse is the 12km long beach without big waves. We read that the ocean is not really for swimming due to the water level being so low, but we found it perfect for just floating in the water to cool down. The water level stays around waist level for up to 20m from the shore (probably even further in, but we didn’t venture that far).
We ended up staying for four nights following the same routine. We would go for a morning swim, get toasted sandwiches at the 7-eleven, do some work, have lunch at the outdoor restaurant, work some more, get dinner at a street cart.
We could easily see ourselves living in a town like Ban Krut, clearly, we aren’t the only ones. We saw plenty of older Westerners riding their scooters without helmets, who has presumably been living here for a while.
On the second last day, we went to visit the local temple with magnificent views over the bay.
We took the same number 40 train to Phetchaburi, but this time it was delayed by more than an hour. We got to Phetchaburi at around seven in the evening and decided to walk almost two kilometers to 2N Guesthouse, which we booked on the train. Halfway to the guest house, I started wondering why we are so stingy. We were such an uncommon sight that a young lady even stopped next to us, with her scooter, to ask if we are lost, because “There is nothing on this road”.
In the end, we made it to the guesthouse just before dark. The guesthouse comes recommended by Lonely Planet and has free bicycles, breakfast, comfortable rooms and a friendly owner. We again stayed for four nights.
Phetchaburi is a large and ancient town full of temples from as early as the 12th century. We thus spend much more time sightseeing than previously. The bicycles came in handy and we cycled everywhere often kilometers away from the guesthouse.
We visited caves, palaces, temples, street art, and more temples. Every evening we went to the big food market and snacked on different dishes until we were so full we could barely cycle back to the guesthouse.