Saturday, December 09, 2006

Prachuap Khiri Khan

This place deserves a post all to itself: it is another of the places I had noted as being where I should stop, and it has been the best so far. If only I didn't have a problem with idleness, I might well stay here. It has certainly made the pretty much horrible train trip from Hat Yai worthwhile. I have enjoyed being on the trains so far - they've all been pretty low key affairs, full of kids playing, people shouting into their cellphones, striking up random conversations with each other, windows fully open to let the warm air blast through the cariage, and the vendors coimg in at almost every station to sell a bewildering array of things. But the Thai rail system has been buying Dawoo Diesel railcars, also know as Sprinters. They certainly have a high level of service: within three hours of getting on, the charming attendants had been around three times, twice with cakes and drinks, the other time with a full meal (no beer, but). But the main feature of these trains is that they try to pretend the world doesn't exist - they're airconditioned, their windows have advertising painted on them and from the inside seem to have that black mesh that some microwave door wndows have. This particular train was late and had the kid from hell sitting directly in front of me: I first noticed him when his grandmother was taking some pills - his reaction was to slap her face; later, his finger went straight in her eye. He kept yelling, turning around in his seat so he was facing me (still yelling) and was just fractious the whole time he was on the train.

All in all, I was looking forward to getting off. My first impressions of Prachuap Khiri Khan were a bit daunting - it is a fairly small town, all locked up tight (it was 2:45 a.m. - all the trains on this line seem to run at night), and I worried about (a) finding my hotel and (b) gaining admittence. I had to wake up the poor lady running the place, but she was cheerful about it, and rented me a stupidly cheap room, one I upgraded from this morning.

The thing about this place is that it is where the train line hits the Gulf Of Thailand, when going north. It is a town of around 26,000 people, largely focussed on fishing. So when I walked along the waterfront promenade (they have built a sea wall so don't have much beach) this moring, various folk had laid out their fish, either to dry, to cut up, to sort or whatever. It is a perfect crescent, maybe 2 km long, with a few islands dotted about. The oddest thing is, it was almost completely deserted when I went back tonight for dinner - just a few people sitting on the seawall, the lights of a few boats in the distance, a refreshing breeze nd the newly risen moon. There are quite a few restaurants, but hardly had any custom at all. Just across the road from the waterfront, there are a couple of hotels with balconies - in all, it would be an amazing place to just laze about.


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