Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Ultimate Rayong Escapade

Hiking back to the highway after a trek and camp out at Khao
Chamao National Park in Rayong-Chantaburi boder in Eastern
Rayong province in the eastern part of Thailand does not just boast its name being an industrial haven in Thailand. Ultimately, it’s Thailand’s “travel-without-border” hub which offers an array of picturesque destinations that range from white sandy beaches to amazing varieties of flora and fauna nestled in its natural habitat. Despite the booming number of industrial plants around the province, Rayong has still protected its rich ecological parks – something that the province can be proud about.

Aside from the infamous Samed Island National Park which I was able to explore with my friends last December 2007, there are still undiscovered jewels in the province which are perfect for budget-conscious adventure lovers. For as low as 3,000 Baht (about $ 90), one can enjoy the sandy shore and whopping waves at Maeramphueng Beach while staying overnight in a collapsible tent and then lay in the bosom of Mt. Chamao National Park where a variety of flora and fauna can be found within the breathtaking views of the rainforest.

Sandy and wavy Maeramphueng Beach
attracts local and foreign tourists alike.

A friend of mine in Bohol, Philippines once advised me that if I would like to go for mountaineering, one of the preparations that I need to undertake is hiking in the plain while carrying heavy bag. Yes, I took his advice and planned for a city hike around the busy capital of Thailand. For me, exploring Bangkok would be great for I guess there is so much to explore in the capital despite of my almost one year of stay here.

Afraid to be eaten by my boredom if alone, I invited a friend, Donna, who is also into mountaineering (she has climbed the fourth highest peak in the Philippines so far). However, my original plan was changed when she suggested to direct our city hike in Rayong which is almost three hours bus ride from Bangkok. Considering a very meager budget for such hike, we contacted our classmate in the graduate program who is teaching in Rayong and eventually found a shelter to stay (and even food to eat). Thank you very much to Charlou for offering her place for a night and for guiding us around Rayong. Actually, we were able to explore more than what we thought we could because of Charlou’s kindness.

After more than three hours of travel from Bangkok, I and Donna arrived in Rayong about eight o’clock already. It felt so good to know that a very hospitable Charlou prepared sumptuous Filipino dish for us – something that would remind us to keep on going back to Rayong for soup-ala-Charlou was truly Rayong-flavored.

After having our dinner, we headed to PMY beach which is just within Rayong City. It’s very nice to go swimming but the current of the water is too dangerous for swimming – it might be good for surfing. After enjoying the cool breeze along the seaside, we headed back to Charlou’s place which is about 2 kilometers from PMY Beach. And the hiking experience really started that very night. The aftermath, obviously, was a long undisturbed sleep that even my mobile phone’s alarm was not able to wake me up.

Fueling the bonfire to warmth the cold
atmosphere brought by the cold breeze in
Maeramphueng Beach. 
Who would have thought that we will be brought by our feet into the sandy shore of Maeramphueng Beach? It was already late afternoon when we hurried up to catch the last trip of the songtaew (it looks like a cab) which would bring us there. Luckily, we were able to catch the last trip and we eventually spent the whole night at the shore as we enjoyed the cold breeze. We made a bonfire beside our tent and chatted the night away until we fell into sleep. Ironically, I was inside the tent while the two women slept near the bonfire which gave them warmth over the night.

As I woke up in the morning, I saw plenty of beach patrons strolling and swimming. Some were obviously having a great time with their love ones while some were idling their moments with the hush of the sea. The view became even clearer and more picturesque as the sun started to rise and finally found its place behind the blue sky. It’s so sad to leave that lovely beach but I had to accept that I had to leave and bring nothing but memories.

I thought we will be back to Charlou’s place that morning but what happened was the exact opposite for after having our breakfast we immediately headed to Rayong bus station to catch a bus going to Chantaburi province. Before reaching Chantaburi, we stopped at Ban Khaon Din intersection where we rode a motorcycle going to Mt. Chamao National Park. There was no other way to reach Mt. Chamao except through motorcycle which costs 120 Baht. It really hurts my pocket that I first wanted to trek the twenty-kilometer road going to the national park. However, I didn’t have choice but to pay because the residents (especially the motorcycle drivers who were there for business) told us that it’s dangerous to hike going to the place. I thought, “So pathetic, don’t you think riding motorcycle isn’t dangerous at all? Almost everything is dangerous!” Anyhow, I still rode the motorcycle and reached Mt. Chamao exactly when the food is about to call our appetite for lunch.

Walking through the shrubs finding shortcut in a time-limited
trek at Khao Chamao National Park.
After having lunch, we looked at the map and decided to trek first the Mt. Chamao Waterfalls which is composed of eight magnificent levels. The span of the trail is more than two kilometers but we were not able to finish because we were fascinated by the cool rapids where we drowned ourselves for refreshment. I felt the bliss of being with nature again as I freely swam with huge schools of fish which seem to be very friendly with humans. I felt I was cradled by the mother earth once more as I glimpsed into the sky-rocketing trees and other floras in their natural habitat.

Darkness was about to cover the place and it reminded us that we had to trek down the stream and be back to our camp. We spent our night once more near the headquarters of the park. The following day, we spent the whole morning milling around the nearby places bringing our cameras to look for beautiful subjects. We were supposed to trek the eco trail but time did not allow us anymore for we had to come back to Bangkok as the two of my adventure buddies had to attend their weekend class with their graduate studies while I also had to finish the grades of my students which I left undone because of my enthusiasm to explore Rayong.

THANK YOU to my adventure buddies and I hope that more will join in our next trek. After all, the more; the merrier.

For those who are interested to travel Rayong, this is the rough estimation of the amount that you are going to spend for a three days and two nights adventure. Much can be saved if you would bring your own tent (comfort is relative... hehehe).

Bangkok-Rayong-Bangkok - 292 Baht
Rides within Rayong - 500 Baht
(songtaew, bus, etc.)
Entrance fees - 150 Baht
Food (budget restaurants) - 500 Baht
(for 3 days and 2 nights)
Contingency fund - 1, 000 Baht

TOTAL - 2, 442 Baht


Anonymous said...

Life is what we make it. Without borders.

Phil said...

I could say nothing but to agree. Life is what we make it! We enjoy the life that we have right now not because others created it for us but we have created it for ourselves.

LIFE IS LIFE! It's wonderful! Thnx God for giving us life!

God bless you PAL!