Memorable Journey – Khao Lak, Thailand
17th February to 3rd April, hubby and I spent time in Bangalore. Everyone who visits Bangalore complains about the traffic and water issues. Whatever the case, the minute I enter the gates of the complex where we own an apartment, I’m home. I love Bangalore. If you ask me why? I simply cannot answer that in one word or a simple sentence. I love the weather, I love the home, I love HSR layout, I love how it makes life both complicated and easy at the same time, the convenience, the multi cultural factor, the choice of restaurants, the malls.
The complex where we own an apartment, Purva Skywood has such huge areas of gardens in between the blocks of apartments. A brisk walk around the whole complex thrice is about 45-50 minute walk. That’s good exercise. The pool is finally functional. They have a well equipped gym and a sports complex. What I like about this place is that one can move about freely in the complex without any security issue, the fact that there are people from all different parts of India we get to enjoy all the festivals and the management committee is a very proactive one.
We spent six weeks getting small repair work and general maintenance of the apartment. We also took care of personal medical issues where the care at Apollo Hospital on Sarjapur Road was excellent.
3rd April is when we left home to take a flight to Thailand. We stay in the SE part of Bangalore so during peak traffic hours its best to allow 2-2½ hours to reach the airport. When there is no traffic we reach home within an hour.
Our main reason for flying to Thailand was my niece’s wedding. We flew to Bangkok and took a connecting flight to Phuket. What a contrast to both India and Kenya. Wider, cleaner roads and so much greenery around. The hotel sent a taxi to pick us up from the airport but you can easily find taxis at the airport. What we noticed on the way to Khao Lak, (which means mountain) was that many areas by the roadside had rows and rows of indigenous trees replanted. The Billion Tree Campaign began in 2009 in Thailand where companies, communities, hotels help out to attain that goal. Back in 1961 53% of the territory was covered by forest which got reduced to 26.6% in 1991 and its down to less than 20%. The joint effort by the government of Thailand and its people is remarkable. I’ve been made to understand that the Government of Thailand along with the Royal Family is taking preservation of flora and fauna very seriously.
The drive from Phuket International Airport to Manathai Khao Lak takes about an hour and a half. Khao Lak is a land of mangroves, green hills and evergreen trees. Its probably one of the most beautiful parts of South Thailand. Our first stop was at Manathai Khao Lak. As soon as we entered the lobby of the hotel, the big green lawn with plenty of trees was a welcoming sight…paradise. We had to wait a while as we arrived a bit earlier than our check in time. However, the staff made our brief stay in the lobby pleasant with an ice cold wet towel and cool refreshing watermelon juice.
view of Manathai Khao Lak from the lobby
Hubby and his mobile!
A view of the Khao Lak hills from Manathai
The hotel has open green lawn lined with trees all the way till you reach the pool area.The rooms are all tucked away on both sides. Once you’re at the pool area near the beach you’ll find plenty of coconut and casuarina trees where one can relax under the shade of the numerous trees. Manathai is located on a beautiful stretch of unspoiled Bangsak Beach. Its one of the quietest and least developed beaches in the area. Daily walks on the beach was a pleasant activity.
Evening time scenery from Pad Thai Restaurant
Bangsak Beach – right side from Manathai
Bangsak Beach – left side from Manathai
Bangsak Beach Stretch is lined with coconut and casuarina trees
Notice the interesting patterns on the beach? Hubby and I couldn’t stop admiring the artistic work of nature. Can you believe that these starlike, flowerlike patterns are created by crabs. These little 1 cm long crabs called Sand Bubbler Crabs blend so well with the surroundings and hardly re noticeable. These crabs are found in the Indo Pacific Region. During low tide they come out of their dens to forage for microscopic food from the sand. They filter the sand through their mouthparts. They rotate and form small pellets of residue sand and kick it to the side using their legs unknowingly creating these unique patterns.
The pristine clean beach reminded me what the beaches in Kenya were when I was growing up.Unfortunately, they are not the same. I hope that Thailand will not bend towards development and will makes efforts to preserve this fantastic pristine beach. We stayed 4 days at Manathai and loved our relaxing time. The hotel does offer trips to Khao Lak National Park and other sights nearby which we decided to skip as we just wanted to enjoy the beach and pool.
Sunsets from the beaches of Khao Lak are absolutely beautiful. Most of the tourists would gather up at the beach front to witness nature’s splendor.
Have you seen so many shells on any beach??
By the time hubby and I settled down in our room, took a shower, checked out the hotel surroundings it was evening. We decided to have an early dinner (last meal was on the flight). We wanted to watch the sunset so decided to dine at the Pad Thai Restaurant.
A sunset without a sundowner? Not at all, well at least for me. While hubby opted for fresh pineapple and coconut juice I had a delicious and unique Thaipirinha which is a combination of Thai Rum, fresh lime, lychee and kaffir lime leaf.
My meal was a plateful of vegetable spring rolls while hubby had prawns with steamed rice. Check out the picture how they served the steamed rice nicely packed in a banana leaf cone.
My best meals were the desserts… loved them and I think we deserved them after taking long walks on the beach.
Creme Brûlée served with vanilla ice cream, some fruit preserve, fresh cream and dark chocolate.
Second Day dessert was a huge slice of apple pie with some ice cream, a generous helping of roasted almonds, fresh cream and dark chocolate.
We just couldn’t get enough of the beach. Hubby and I both love walking so our daily routine was to walk for 60-80 minutes just before sunset. Spectacular view, cool breeze and the soothing sound of sea waves.
Manathai Khao Lak has 7 different room options, A deluxe garden room, a deluxe balcony room, family room, junior suite room, deluxe room, garden villa and pool villa. we opted for the deluxe garden room. Clean rooms, spacious and the staff went out of his way to provide us another folding table to place our suitcase on. Adequate wardrobe space and a rain shower that we thoroughly enjoyed. What I loved was the aromatic chili and basil toiletries that they provided. Best part of the room was not only the access to the garden but the lounge bed by the window. Hubby and I had a tussle as to who should use it. An ideal place to relax with a good story book.
The hotel offers massage at the beach front or in their spa. On the first day I had an ultra relaxing foot massage.
When you walk onto the beach, on either side you will find a few family run same eateries, they have massage places and some even have a small playground for children. While breakfast at Manathai was excellent, as a vegetarian I didn’t have much choice where dinner or lunch was concerned. We would eat out at the family eateries as they offered sandwiches, French fries, salads and pizza which was more my kind of food while hubby would enjoy the authentic Thai fare. We loved eating at the Be Friend restaurant. The food presentation for a small restaurant was excellent and freshly made. An orchid flower with my freshly squeezed orange juice was mighty impressive.
A very common sight along the beaches of Phuket Province are these massage huts or shacks. Thai massage is different from the other massages. Its actually an ancient form of massage believed to be developed about 2,500 years ago by the Buddhist Monks in Thailand. Its all about passive stretching and gentle pressure along the body’s energy lines to increase flexibility, relieve muscle and joint pains and balances the body’s energy. The charm about this massage is that its carried out when you’re fully clothed. You lie on a mattress and the therapist will move your body into various postures and stretches… its called a lazy man’s yoga. When we had the massage, I thought I’d probably have bruises on my body and will be in more pain than before the massage. Surprisingly, I felt exactly the opposite. More relaxed, joint pains gone, muscles all relaxed and just wanted to curl up and fall asleep.
Some Thai dances and music along with Thai food at the Colours restaurant.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for a quiet relaxing place then Manathai Khao Lak is ideal. If you’re a diehard vegetarian, take some snacks with you. You can also opt to buy the cakes, muffins and breads for later use when you go for breakfast.
Since the hotel is surrounded by a water body and lots of greenery, mosquitoes can be a problem in the evenings. Unlike in Kenya, they do not spray your rooms in the evening. They do have a machine which you can switch on with a vapo mat in it. Be sure to carry some insect repellent. If you do forget it, the reception sells some and if you’re dining at the Pad Thai restaurant which is open, then you’ll find insect repellent spray on all the tables.