Tezza's Thai Islands and Beaches Travel Bits
April 29, 2006
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I’ve passed by Ko Jum on the Lanta-Krabi ferry three times in the past and haven’t had time visit, so this March trip I made a point of jumping into one of the long tails and checking things out. Glad I did, this is one nice uncrowded laid back island, the perfect place to sit back and relax or wander around and check the scene at a leisurely pace.
LP gives the impression there are only two or three bungalow resorts, but in fact there are well over a dozen, spread out over 4 main beaches along the western coast. However the places are nicely spaced so there is never a feeling of overcrowding here. There is a good map along with lots of other good info on http://www.kohjumonline.com/.
A tout on the ferry showed me some photos of SEASON BUNGALOW and said they had some 300-baht bungalows, so I piled into their long tail when the ferry arrived off Golden Pearl Beach. Golden Pearl is the northern part of the 4km+ long southern beach, the rest being called Andaman Beach . Okay, Season’s 300 bungalows with attached bathroom were neat enough, although up the back next to the (not very busy) road and a fair walk to the restaurant. But they showed me one of the pastel painted concrete and tile 400 baht jobs, much bigger, much nicer, so I went for that. Wow, what a nice place! - tinted sliding doors, towels and comp water supplied, linen changed daily, window and door insect screens. No mirror in the bathroom though - a big one in a vanity in bungalow itself. I noticed this bungalow was 700 on the web-page. It really looked like 700 worth.
The big open plan restaurant up near the beach was breezy and had a great outlook towards Phi Phi. I thought the food pretty nice, prices towards the lower end of my bungalow stays, and the staff were super polite, friendly and efficient. The grounds are a sort of cleared coconut plantation but looked like a work in progress - I was not aware this place was really knocked around by the tsunami. Click on “tsunami” on Season’s web page to see how damaging this was. Hey, those bungalows are really solid construction.
The beach is pretty nice here, except at lowest tide where a lot of rocks on the sandy bottom were exposed, making swimming any distance difficult. There were some sitting platforms, lie-lows and hammocks back of the beach, perfect for checking the sun sinking into the sea just behind PP (in March at least).
The walk southward along Golden Pearl-Andaman Beach is a pretty nice way to spend an hour or so. All the bungalow places looked pretty pleasant with the two most southern ones, Joy and New Bungalows probably the busiest. New has some great looking tree houses, way up there. Right at the end of the beach is a small funky looking beach bar “Open 10am - Midnight ” which is far enough from the nearest bungalows that noise would not likely be a problem.
Joy seemed to be the only place with hire bicycles, so I grabbed one and after the usual rebuild, did a tour of the rest of the island. The main road is mostly dirt and runs from one end of the island to the other, mainly some distance in from the beaches. It is fairly flat, which is just as well, because the gears were shot on my bike and I had to jam it into highest gear. I only had to get off and walk one hill.
The road begins in the south at Ko Jum village which is on the mangrovey East coast and has a couple of piers for fishing boats and transport boats from the mainland. There are several small stores and restaurants, including Ko Jum Seafood (alongside the piers) which has had raves from previous posters.
Ting Rai village is a pretty featureless ribbon development about half way up the island and Ban Ko Pu , down a short side road near the northern end of the island is very similar to Ko Jum village, perhaps a bit bigger.
The main road at the north end curves westward around the top of the island with several nice little bays visible as you pass, and terminates at over on the west coast at its most northern beach, Lubo. This beach is pretty nice, immediately backed by rainforested hills and there are several bungalow places, mostly a bit more rustic looking than Andaman-Golden Pearl - in general, even more of a ‘getting away from it all’ location. I had a beer at one of the restaurants and the owner showed me some immediate post tsunami photos - fortunately most of his bungalows are up on the lower hillside slopes, but his restaurant and the two beachside bungalows were pretty messed up. Fortunately no-one was hurt.
Heading back down the island I checked out the area known as Ting Rai beach which is actually a series of smaller beaches in the lee of Mount Pu. Some of the hills on this road were a fair bit steeper and with my bike’s moonshot gearing I had to get off and push several times. Pretty hot work, so I had a great swim and some sun at gorgeous deserted Magic Beach which you can check on that website.
Unfortunately I can’t tell you anything about the 3 resorts along here, because heading down the super steep rutted and rocky access road to the first, I locked up the brakes, slid into a transverse rut and did a two and a half forward somersault with tuck (the bike was tucked between my legs - instant falsetto baby). Subsequently I got the sulks, and 23 Band-Aids later, headed directly back to Season for a Chang of five in one of the beachfront hammocks.
Nevertheless, if those resorts have a beach similar to Magic, they wouldn’t be positioned too bad at all, and they sure look nice on the website.
From the personalities viewpoint, I noticed a group of several hundred locals gathered at what seemed to be a community meeting spot beachside about halfway along Andaman. There were checking a group of 30 or so early teen ladies arranged line-dance style, dressed in short skirts and tops kind of a cross between Thai traditional, South Sea Wahini and the Olsen Twins Go Clubbing. Then the music cranked in, Thai disco style, and these sweethearts launched into a booty shakin’ bop which would do trailer-trash Britzer proud. Say it isn’t so! Teeny-raunch culture hits Ko Jum!! Now normally I don’t give a stuff when LPs and TOAs culture-nazis and behaviour-police start raving about the western corruption of Thai standards. But somehow I thought what I was seeing was a bit sad. Not to mention incongruous, when you think of all that stuff the afore-mentioned moaners and the guidebooks tell us about how conservative southern Muslims are.
However a farang girl checking the scene told me these people were Sea Gypsies from all over Jum and surrounding islands, come together for a kind full-moon party (annual, not monthly) where the aim is to dance, eat and booze all day until you drop. And sure enough, when I passed again that afternoon., a general party was going on big time and everyone was into the disco bop. Quite a few seemed pretty wasted. I think Sea Gypsies are more animists than Muslims.
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