Two beaches, two universes
306km Paknam Lang Suan to Aonang Beach
Two beaches. Two strips of sand with waves coming up on shore. At first glance they’re the same but these are no equals. Paknam Lang Suan, the little fishing village we so enjoyed on Thailand’s Gulf coast is a humble place. Just a few simple bungalows offer accommodation by the water and it’s more families than surfers in the parks. By contrast, the flashing lights nearly blinded us when we arrived on the West coast of Thailand, in the resort town of Aonang.
“Hey, where you go? Have a look! New suit? My friend, my friend.”
Suddenly we had dozens of new friends, amassing quicker than fruit flies on a banana as we walked up the main street and each one of them ready to sell us a t-shirt, a tour, a hotel.
“Just one minute. What, you in a hurry?”
Well, yes actually. We are two cyclists, we’ve just come 130km and we’re starving. Of course we’re in a hurry! Finding food tonight wasn’t going to be easy either. In almost any other town in Thailand it would take us no more than 30 seconds to locate the nearest woman serving up noodle soup or fried rice, never costing more than a dollar a serving. Add on an iced coffee each for another handful of pocket change and we’d have full bellies. Our first glance at a menu in Aonang though confirmed our fears: prices were anything up to six times the going rate in the rest of Thailand.
Three bucks for fried rice? Plus service charge? We’d get a whole fish for that on the other coast. Still, there was no point in complaining too much because this has to be expected when you turn up in tourist central. Ten minutes later, we came across a lady with a few tables set up at a night market. Prices were still high, but now only double the normal rate. Now we were getting somewhere. “I give you 20 percent discount. Low season,” she said. Sold! We were in the chairs and being fed. Happiness.
But wait a minute… did she say ‘low season’? We heard correctly but it was hard to imagine. The streets were already packed and there was no room to watch the sunset on the beach. What would this place be like at Christmas? We couldn’t imagine. Obviously it’s many people’s idea of a dream holiday – and we can’t deny the beauty of the beach and surrounding landscape – but we prefer the quieter places.