Rayong Beaches, Feb. 2021

Stopped for coconut water the day I rode down Mae Ram Phueng Beach

Pre-Ramble

Though in southern France a year and a half ago, I haven’t been to the US since 2016, so had planned to go in the spring of last year. Then COVID hit and made that impossible. Specifically, I could leave Thailand, but then it would be much harder to return (I’d have to do a 14-day quarantine at my own expense).

Truckin’

My new toy: 2016 Toyota Hilux Revo on Mae Rom Phung beach

 

Since I couldn’t leave the country, I decided to buy a vehicle and travel to some places in Thailand that are off the well-worn path. I wanted a pickup truck, in case I decided to also get a motorbike. Then I could have it in the back for exploring the hills in the northeast, for example.

In November I learned about a British guy named Tim who has been helping expats like me find vehicles to buy. I set him looking, and within a couple weeks he’d found just what I wanted: a late model Toyota pickup. It took me a few weeks to get everything together for a jaunt around the country, but on Christmas day of 2020 I finally hit the road toward the beaches east of Rayong; about half way to Cambodia from Bangkok. Just before leaving there was news of a new outbreak of COVID among the seafood workers in Mahachai, an hour south of Bangkok. But I felt fairly sure it would be contained to that area, so I head off anyway.

Ghost Town

Out of curiosity, I stopped off at Pattaya. A couple friends had been there and remarked how it had become a virtual ghost town. Sure enough, the sleazy tourist city by the sea was about 80% shuttered. But there were still a few places open to eat and sleep at.

Bar next to Shagwell Hotel (named by original Aussie owner) in Pattaya, where I usually stay. An example of how much of the town looks under COVID.

 

Adjacent pool…

 

The day after Christmas I decided to stay on the hill between Pattaya and Jomtien at a place a friend had recommended. The following morning, the Bangkok Post online reported that COVID had now been found in Rayong, which was where I was heading. So, with a measure of disappointment I tucked my tail between my legs and drove back home to better keep track of developments there.

Checking the status of the new outbreak every day, I eventually became encouraged that things again would be brought under control. I guess I have to hand it to both the Thai authorities and the Thais themselves, since by the first day of February, 2021 travel restrictions were lifted. And so, on that day I once again hit the road in my new (to me), truck. But this time I bypassed Pattaya and headed directly for the beaches east of Rayong.

Finding A Hotel…And A Friend

A couple friends had said Mae Ram Phueng beach was great, so first I inquired at Nice Beach Hotel there. There were no cars in the parking lot, but a skinny Chinese-Thai man eventually came to the counter. I told him my most important criterion was that it was quiet, with no barking dogs around. But he admitted there was usually a chorus of them every night around 1:00am. So on to the next place.

A woman in the Rayong Facebook group I’d joined said Arcadia Serviced Apartments on the next beach eastward was very quiet, so despite it being already dusk, I made the half-hour trip there. They assured me it was very quiet there, so after checking in I walked the short block to the row of seafood restaurants on the beach.

Nice ‘de poem’ coffee shop and (mostly) seafood restaurants beach side

 

“How’s the food here?,” I inquired of an aging westerner with a bushy mustache at the first place I came to. He said it was very good, so I sat at a table by the sea and ordered the chicken cashew stir fry and a beer, and then invited him to join me, which he did.

He said he was from Sweden and had built a house nearby with his wife (also from Sweden), about 12 years ago. “Only about ten westerners here then,” he said, “Around two thousand now.”

Dogs, Sans Testicles

I brought up how much I hated the barking dogs that plagued so much of Thailand and, in particular, ruined most of the beaches. Then he told me something that almost made me want to kiss him (though I restrained myself). He had had a company in Sweden and had obviously done quite well for himself. And because he felt similarly to me when it came to the street dog situation, he’d found a local person to castrate all the male dogs in the area. The result was that it was dead quiet there.

Admittedly, one of the sadder specimens on Mae Ram Phueng Beach

 

A few nights later I caught him eating alone again at the same restaurant (he said his wife was still too afraid of the virus to join him), and I realized I’d wanted to hear more about who he had found to deal with the dogs.

Well, instead of going into the details of how the dogs were captured and neutered, he got into a rant about how the person he’d paid to do the job kept asking for additional funds, and how he thought they were overcharging and exploiting him, and how he wasn’t going to pay them any more. But he did say it was a Chinese-Swedish woman who ran the local animal shelter (or something like that), and that she lived in a rather nice house, and that she kept about 250 dogs in the shelter and refused to euthanize even the saddest cases.

This is a whole subject unto itself, but I should get on with my little vacation at the beach.

And the easiest way to do that it just to add a bunch of photos, with captions. 🙂

Drive from Bangkok to beach

 

Ride Down Mae Ram Phueng Beach

Drove 30 min to Mae Ram Phueng Beach then got on my Brompton, 5 miles down and back.

Boat made into resort hotel room on Mae Ram Phueng beach

 

Mae Ram Phueng Beach

 

Mae Ram Phueng Beach

 

At La Capanna Italian restaurant one evening on Mae Phim beach

 

Ride Around Rayong, Fishing Pier

Rayong town is a 45-minute drive from Mae Phim beach. On the way I went by a funny ‘Classic Car’ shop. Rayong itself seems rather boring, but the fishing area is interesting.

Fishing trawlers, Rayong port

 

Squid drying in the sun

 

Boat in for repair, Rayong

 

Old house in sort of gentrified area of Rayong

 

Shop selling “classic cars” on Route 3 between Mae Phim beach and Rayong

 

My ride around Rayong and pier area (Strava app)

 

Phlong Sawai Temple…

Lower part of Phlong Sawai temple grounds

 

Near top of the 183 steps at Phlong Sawai temple

 

About two thirds of the way up the stairs at Phlong Sawai temple

 

At top of the hill at Phlong Sawai temple

 

Friendly cat at the temple

 

There was a litter of four kittens on the temple grounds. This one was especially bashful.

 

Small market on the temple grounds

 

Light beaming miraculously from my LEO bottle
The "Dave" in the Rave

3 Comments

  1. Nice update Dave, plenty of good pics too.
    So will you start looking for someone similar who can neuter street dogs in your area?!
    The fishing boats area looks cool, but are they still in use? When I was in Songkhla 2 years ago or so, most of the fishing fleet seemed to be rusting away the harbor…

    1. Happily, there are no barking dogs around my apartment building in Bangkok (that’s a main reason I moved in). I think some expats here have organizations that try to help the street dogs. It was interesting to hear him say that by donating money to a woman who runs an animal shelter, that she agreed to neuter the dogs near his house by the beach. Developed countries (US, western Europe, etc.), have money for ‘dog catchers,’ who bring strays to a shelter. People can then adopt them if they want. Otherwise they are put down. I’m interested in seeing Thailand become more like developed countries in this regard and might even be willing to donate money toward this end.
      The port area looked full of boats. It didn’t look like many were currently active. Wouldn’t be surprised if COVID has caused their business to slow, as well?

  2. Very nice photos!
    Glad you are still able to travel around and see the sights (as ‘sad’ as they are). This too shall pass . . .
    We are slowly getting vaccines into the arms of Floridians here and I am finally hearing from friends about their experiences. My girlfriend’s 89 year old husband just got his first shot with little side effects (sore arm and fatigue). Getting registered is easy, then the wait for your turn.
    Enjoy your B-day!! Love ya – Shar

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