Pak Meng Beach, Trang Province – Thailand

Written by SIAMPEDIA on February 14th, 2010

© Frank P. Schneidewind

 

 

Another Andaman Sea Beach Review: Pak Meng, Trang

South of the touristic destination of Krabi and North of Satun Province, Trang faces an existence in the attention shadow of the almighty TAT (Tourist Authority of Thailand). Once given a 3 1/2 star review by questionable biased judges there; Trang never qualified for much limelight or exposure. Good for us, because we give a damn about their judgements and do or own assessment and judging. Fact finding, we call that and we enjoy doing that over and over again. Arrival with public transport was a real problem here. Whilst Trang City is connected well by train and buses and they even have an airport (domestic), their beach jewels remain difficult to locate and reach.

We arrived by scheduled minivan from Satun late in the day, having to change transport in the community in Sikao, a small township closer to Pak Meng. A long travel day ended for us at dawn time in Pak Meng, and we were rewarded by a nice sunset, that kept us from checking for accommodation until it was completely dark. A dimly lit beach road had a few restaurants, some beach gadget stores and a few guesthouses. Restaurants all extended their tables and plastic chairs across the road onto the part where the beach meets the road level. A minor embankment lined this and trees were fighting for their sheer survival in this small stretch of urban beach.

What we witnessed, was one of those spectacular sunsets on the Andaman coastline. Just like the ones in untraveled Burma or in Malaysia or on Sumatra. The Thai Andman coast is equaling Koh Chang in the Gulf or Sihanoukville on Cambodia’s coast in photogenic quality. Just the number of tourists per 100 square meters differs a lot. Nothing tops the much promoted Cape Promthep in Phuket Province, where the hordes of tourists bused in must have exceeded all capabilities of the over-touristed place by now. The nicest 15 sunsets in Thailand, we think are to be seen:

1.) Koh Phayam (entire West coast) (our SIAMPEDIA-Avatar!)

2.) Koh Chang (Trat), White Sand Beach (our SiampediaVISION-Avatar!)

3.) Pak Meng Beach, Trang

4.) Ao Nang Beach, Krabi

5.) – 15.) Koh Lipe, Tarutao, Lanta, Kradan, Racha Yai, Chang (Ranong) , Tao,
Phangan, Samui,  Phuket (all West facing Beaches or segments thereof!)

The Beach quality was tested by TAT years ago at 3 1/2 stars, lower than some of the dirtied-up resort area beaches we’d encounter over the years – but it doesn’t appear justified. The “trash” found here was significantly less than e.g. Khao Lak, Baan Krud or elsewhere. A lot of driftwood, shells and a few plastic items on a 4 km stretch of bathing beach, all public! No private maintenance as with some of the “exclusive” resort stretches of coastal sand.

The beach road was filled up with the catch  of the day, nowhere on the Andaman coastline can seafood-lovers indulge freshest product at such low prices! Thanks to the low foreigner-density here, most beachside restaurants have regular Thai prices, do not expect a lot of “Western food” here!

An impressive TAT-run “Information Center” was a long walk away from the community. Almost in the boonies, like we have seen them often before. It was open to our surprise, and large. TAT-style incompetent staff was extremely friendly and replied to each and every question with a nice smile, but no verbal answer. Communication skills are not asked for at TAT’s human resource hiring department, the friendly girl with the model smile was absolutely useless for any information foreign tourists may seek! We were given some brochures free of charge,  local maps were a total void here

Maybe one day, TAT wakes up and jobs or positions have to be qualified for. As per yet, the poorly educated staff has to buy their jobs for large sums – as they are “high-image”, so substantial rumors say ! I know that they hate me for telling the truth on destinations, rip-off’s and overpricing schemes – but there will be more and more truth uncovered, not only by SIAMPEDIA!

Amazing Thailand once again!

The great backdrop here was provided by the likes of Koh Kradan, Koh Hai, Koh Muk and Koh Libong – we were thinking about exploring at least two of them. A further hike to Pak Meng pier was necessary to find out about possible transport options. The so-called high season was already in the past this time of the year.

All “dirt” seen seemed natural or organic and wasn’t an issue of concern by me or Melona, we were ready for some island here, the snorkeling gear in our backpacks needed to get wet!

The few kids enjoying themselves here, were the only ones bathing on this day. We had to hike to the pier first, in order to find out about schedules of ferries or boats to hire. We could not walk bare footed on the beach here, there were too many shells and broken, sharp edged shells on the beach. We needed to retain uncut skin for the projected snorkeling pleasures.

The hike to the pier was 3 to 4 km one way!

The driftwood and debris brought in by the waves showed the flood lines, but overall we did not encounter any trash heaps or larger accumulations here, someone tidies this up here at least!

Impressive shells here in large variety! Some had a crab inside, that “borrowed” a shell for housing.

Any size, shape and color was there, and endless resupply from the waves.

After an exhausting hike in midday heat, we reached the pier at last. Here we faced a sign, charging a foreigner “admission fees”, pier fees etc., but no vessel was scheduled or waiting for a fare to haul.

What disturbed us, was the fact that again foreigners had to pay a tenfold charge to visit these islands?

10 times the normal price is not a little mark up, it is a full blown rip-off!

A family with young children really gets nailed here, as the “admission” for foreign offspring was still 5 times the adult Thai fare! We are people, not cows – waiting to be milked or ATM’s on 2 legs for the Thai nation or any of their posessions – no other nation does this to their visitors!  We have traveled other nations around and their marine nationalparks, never did we face this unjustified greed!

Our action was predictable! 2 days getting ripped off here, we decided – and then we just switch to the southern neighbor Malaysia, where we knew what paradise to expect in the Perhentians or on Langkawi Another week or so of snorkeling would do us nice! We get a nice cottage by the Coral Beach there for less than the daily rip-off fee for both of us! And we feel sorry for less flexible tourists, that get victimized here!

 

So we booked a passage and a first night in a resort with a local travel office, located 50m away from the pier, the friendly woman there borrowed us her moped for the 3 to 4 km way back to pick up our backpacks and gear at the guesthouse. It was check-out time there anyhow, the boat was leaving in a short while.

And then the unforeseen happened! We just reached the guesthouse  and slowed down to enter the driveway in front of the GH. A pick-up truck, piloted by his drunken driver at a parking bay backed out of the opposite lane. He hit a Toyota car, driven by a local lady into the side and catapulted her into us. Melona flew on the pavement, barely missing a concrete electric pole! My knee got hit by the headlight and my right foot got entangled in the airfoil, kicking out a fog light and separated the fiberglass part from the metal body as I flew. The drunkard checked the damage on his pick-up, saw my bloody foot and me lying on the road, the totaled moped and the damage he had caused. In typical Thai style, he escaped with screetching tires from the scene of accident and took off, swerving across both lanes.

The flesh of my foot’s back side was torn with visible bones, the scar left after 3 month of repeated surgery, measures 20 cm around the heel from side to side .   Melona had skin abrasions, a badly twisted ankle and a lot of painful bruises

The foot needed medical attention extremely bad. The cause had fled the scene and we arranged to meet the ladies after my first surgery in Sikhao at the police station. Our ambulance was another pick-up truck bed, the scene was crowded and full of helpful people. One of them (eyewitness) had memorized the plate of the black pick-up, that caused the accident. Noon in Pak Meng, here we were in a horrible shape, hurting badly. The empty bottle of Mekhong on the stone table by the sea side will remain pictured in my memory for long. That was where the hit-and-run dude had his party.

We sure had to rearrange once again, Melona looked like she took a bath in iodine and I meet my new friends (2 wooden crutches) for the first time. The Police fined me 2.000 Baht for driving an uninsured moped, but arrested the drunkard that same night. He was told to pay all vehicle damage plus medical bills. His insurance (covered all!) still owes me about a few thousand for transport to and from surgeries and wound treatments.

We now had no options left, but to stay in Pak Meng until our scheduled departure from Hat Yai airport back to Bangkok. The room was nice, with A/C for 400 Baht per night, refrigerator and TV. Our beach fun was limited to a small radius and we had to commute daily to the health station in Sikhao for treatments. Melona was back on bikes within days! The local food tasted good.

Not every trip goes as planned, but we were rewarded with dreamlike sunsets daily here. Pak Meng will sure see us again one day!


 

1 Comments so far ↓

  1. Rob says:

    Nice story, I really like Trang.

    I don't agree with everything you have said as these fees are in some western countries too, but it was a good report overall.

    I'm glad you all made speedy recovery.

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