Chumphon (Floods)

Trip Start Jan 12, 2010
Trip End Dec 02, 2010

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Where I stayed
Fame Guesthouse (150B)

Flag of Thailand  ,
Saturday, October 30, 2010

After Hua Hin, i headed south to Chumphon. By train is the best way to arrive in Chumphon as the bus station is located about 12km/8miles outside of the town, where as the train station is right in the centre and is within walking distance of all the hotels, guesthouses, markets and the main activity of the town.

Chumphon town is nice enough and has everything you need from an Ocean shopping mall to night markets and plenty of buzz etc. However, actual attractions within the town are few and far between, so either a hired vehicle, public transport or other means of traveling the province as a whole, are needed in order to see the main attractions Chumphon has to offer, wether it be it's beaches, the islands or national parks.

I arrived in Chumphon fairly late, so once i found a guesthouse, i had a quick explore of the immediate area. I found the night market which is on the same road as Ocean shopping mall, of which i also had a wonder around where i somehow met and befriended a group of workers in the form of 3 ladies and a ladyboy who worked at Ocean selling make-up and perfume. After we chatted for a while i had a final look around the markets before getting an early night. The following day was lovely and hot and i spent it exploring the town, gathering information from the local T.A.T office as well as inquiring about motorbike hire and just got my bearings and settled in while planning the following days with what attractions i was going to visit.

The first day with the bike i headed to Hat (beach) Sai Ri. At the northern end of the beach is the Prince of Chumphon shrine which was built to commemorate the late Admiral Phra Borommawong Thoe Kromluang Chumphon Khet Udomsak. There's also a small museum with the admiral's biography and belongings. The shrine is set upon a small hill which offers great views of Hat Sai Ri. At the base of the same hill is an old torpedo war ship called 'Royal Chumphon' belonging to the royal thai navy. Once it was decommissioned in 1979 it was placed near the Prince of Chumphon shrine in memory of the admiral. At the northern end of Hat Sai Ri is Khao Chao Mueang which is a high mountain that offers panoramic views of the sea and the distant archipelago islands. It's also home to a small nature trail and has steps leading to a rocky beach at it's base.

Following on from Hat Sai Ri, i headed south along the coast to Ao Thung Makham noi and yai. These bays look like 2 semi circles. In the middle is a peninsula of rocks dividing them. Noi and yai means small and big and refers to the sized proportions of the two bays. Ao yai was a very nice stretch of coast to walk along. Ao noi was less pleasent but still nice. Ao noi is also home to a main pier which boats dock/depart to/from Chumphon's most famous island, Koh Tao. Nearby is Mu Ko Chumphon National park. There is a view point here which offers spectacular views of the coast and especially of Ao Thung Makham noi and yai as well as distant islands. The main attraction here is a nature boardwalk similar to the ones i saw in both Chanthaburi and Hua Hin. Due to this, and the fact it began raining hard, i didn't see the boardwalk but had a good chat with the workers in the entrance office of the national park. As you can see from the pictures, the day was overcast, windy and the sea's were rough. Little did i know at the time, this was just a small part of things to come...

Recently heavy rain has caused flooding in certain areas of Thailand. This was mainly specific to the north/eastern region (if you remember back to my Hua Hin update, i mentioned how food, water and medical supplies given to monks on Chulalongkorn day, were been sent to affected areas as relief supplies in the north/east). However, due to a tropical depression, the rains have caused havoc in the south of Thailand too. Places like Hat Yai and Songkhla are flooded and the cities have no running water or electricity and have been upto 2 metres under water with vehicles submerged and roads washed away. Some other Provinces in the south, while not hit as bad as Hat Yai, have also been affected. No commercial boats were going to/from Koh Tao island in Chumphon where i was staying and it was a similar story regarding the other islands of nearby provinces. Also some national parks or areas of interest have been advised against going to if they are near a river or mountain where flash floods and land-slides could occur. At the time of writting, well over 100 deaths have been caused and the country and government are working hard with relief efforts and disaster prevention methods.

There was a lot i'd planned to do in Chumphon, from going to beaches, nearby islands, waterfalls and even biking to Watershed Forest mountain range which has 3 summits. Pho Ta Mangkre, Pho Ta Chong Dong and Khao Tung. The tallest summit is 1,000 metres above sea level and provides views of both the Andaman sea and the gulf of Thailand (on a clear day). However, besides not wanting to ride a few hundred miles in wind and rain, the mountain is the main waterway of the Lang Suan river. So not a wise choice to go there with current events as they were. Luckily the motorbike rent shop let me return the bike a day early and refunded me. Over the next few days i started meeting up with the 4some i'd met in Ocean shopping mall in the evenings after they'd finished work. They showed me a local restaurant where everything was 10B... a bowl of rice, a bowl of soup, a bowl of chicken or pok etc, so we ate very well and very cheap. It was also nice to have people to talk to and hang out with during the rainy days that lay ahead. They also showed me a shortcut back to Chumphon town from the main highway. The road is called "Dead end Road" and you can only use it as a short cut if you're on a bike as cars can't fit between the bollards. There was also a small fair on between Lotus and carrefour stores which had a DJ with music playing, surrounded by pimped out cars and sexy ladies dancing  the night away, so that was fun also. One day between showers, i went to Chumphon public park. This is a small, but very nice park with the Chumphon stadium nearby.

I actually got stuck in Chumphon for 2 days with no public transport running due to flooding. In the end i managed to get a mini van (Toyota commuter) to Nakhon Si Thammarat. I had as nice a time as possible in Chumphon under the circumstances, met some really nice locals and still managed to see a few attractions. It's always nice to have an excuse to go back to an area, and i'll be back to Chumphon for sure to see what i missed.
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