|Cha Am on the map of Thailand|
On arrival we found our hotel was still under construction, bringing to mind not Brighton but 1970s Spain. The pleasant swimming pool and two storey accommodation blocks around it were finished, but some areas were still being paved and reception resembled a furniture store.
|Still working on the paving, Cha Am|
Three teenage girls appeared to be in charge and they offered us a choice of rooms. We selected one on the first floor (or second floor for American readers) with a balcony over the pavers rather than a door opening onto their workplace. Two of them quickly volunteered to carry our suitcases upstairs in return for a few baht.
Once settled in we strolled up to the small, appropriately decorated, seaside square.
|Seaside square, Cha Am|
|Cha Am beach|
|The main beach side road, Cha Am|
For dinner we picked a clean, bright looking establishment mainly on the basis that it offered a preliminary gin and tonic. The clientele turned out to be almost entirely (respectable) Europeans and the chef/patron was a Swede who had been running this restaurant for a dozen or more years in partnership with his Thai wife and latterly with the help of their adult son. As a cook he maintained his Scandinavian bias - Lynne's dinner being the Nordic staple of pork and potatoes - though his menu included many Thai-style dishes, including my fried pork. He was certainly not afraid to throw chillies around, but I felt he had not quite mastered the subtlety of Thai spicing.
After dinner we walked back to the square, starting on the beach but discovering that after dark small biting creatures made this a bad plan. There was a music event so we stopped to listen for a while.
In the morning we asked at reception where breakfast was and they put us on the back of a motorcycle rickshaw and drove us down the road to another hotel.
We did little for the next hour or two, idly exploring the main streets and buying some more plasters for my scraped toes. Thais being small people like the Lao, the plasters were smaller than I wanted, but being considerably wealthier they sold them by the packet rather than individually.
After coffee we ventured on to the beach, which was quieter on the Sunday, and selected some vacant seats. Very soon the woman in charge came over and charged us 50 baht (£1) each for the use of chairs and shade, which seemed reasonable. A few minutes later we realised she was waving at us with a bottle of Chang in her hand. That seemed a good idea and for a small fee she brought over two chilled bottles and a plastic ice-bucket to put them in. Two beers are universally available throughout Thailand. Sangha (lion), a well-made flavoursome brew is slightly more expensive than Chang (elephant) and comes in smaller bottles. Chang is cold and fizzy, lightweight and with little flavour although a fairly hefty 5% abv. It is just the sort of beer I would avoid at home, but in Thailand in the midday heat, a cold Chang does a very particular job and does it better than I would have thought possible.
|A bottle of Chang, Cha Am beach|
|Lunch on the beach, Cha Am|
|Looking out for those jet skis, Cha Am|
The following day passed in a similarly restful and relaxing way.
|Passing the day in a relaxed and restful manner, Cha Am|
In the early evening a man came to drive us to Bangkok airport. Part of me was hoping he would not turn up, it might have been inconvenient, but we could happily have spent longer in Thailand - which was also how we had felt about Laos.
The journey from Cha Am to Staffordshire was uneventful, which is how such journeys should be, though one minor event was worthy of remark. At midnight, as we rolled down the runway in Bangkok the outside temperature was 30 degrees. Over a dozen hours later we were about to leave Frankfurt for the final leg to Birmingham. Boarded and awaiting departure we were told there would be twenty minutes delay while they called in the de-icing crew. Why do I continue to live in the wrong climate?
Thailand and Laos
Part 1: Bangkok and the Train North
Part 3: Across Isan to the Lao Border