Over Christmas and New Year 2002-2003 I took a holiday visiting the South of Thailand. Organised by Intrepid, it aims to allow small groups the chance to experience more unusual parts of Thailand. The trip is called "Treasures of the South" and this report covers the first part of that trip.


Sunday 22nd December

Having met the group the evening before, Sunday was the first day of the holiday, and the morning was spent visiting the Grand Palace, something I have done before. In the afternoon I took a few of the others to Wat Arun, and then the main weekend market at Chatuchak, and we all met back at the hotel at 6pm, for taxis to the station, and an overnight sleeper train to the South.

Monday 23rd / Tuesday 24th December

Arrived in Surat Thani around 8:30 this morning, in time for breakfast, and then the ride to the Khao Sok National Park. From the pier, a one-hour journey across the lake took us to the Tore Tuei Rafthouses where we stayed for two nights.

The rafthouses are very basic, just a mattress on the floor, and a toilet block up the hill… but waking up in the morning you just jump in the water and have a lovely swim in the lake!

We had a walk through the forest to a waterfall, saw a few monkeys in the trees, took out canoes on the lake and spent the evenings chatting and getting to know each other.

Wednesday 25th / Thursday 26th December

Christmas morning in the rafthouses! No sign of snow, no sign of Santa, no real feel of Christmas, more like a summer holiday with the clear blue skies and sunshine!! After an early breakfast, the boat and songthaw took us back across the lake and around the Park to our next destination, Arts Jungle Guesthouse! An afternoon walk in the National Park to another waterfall for a swim, and then back for a lovely Christmas meal (Chicken and Ginger with Cashew Nuts) overlooking the water and plenty of drinks to round off the day.

Once again, accommodation was basic, but this time we had beds and an en-suite squat toilet and cold-water shower! The guesthouse feed the wild monkeys, so they are often out playing, just across the water – great fun to watch! Thursday morning some of the group went for an elephant ride… I had another walk in the National Park and a lazy afternoon reading my book. In the evening we walked out as a group to a local bar for a few cocktails!

Friday 27th December

Another transfer, this time to a family farm, for an overnight stay amid the rubber trees and pineapples! Fantastic thai meal… the best of the trip… we sat in a circle with many Thai dishes in the centre and just stuffed our faces!!! In the evening we went into a local seaside resort (Ao Nang) for a bit of shopping and more cocktails!

Saturday 28th December

Woken early by Cockerels – given the chance to "harvest" some rubber and then off in the Songthaw, leaving the jungle, for part two of the trip on the beaches. But for that, you’ll have to wait for the next report !!! Keep writing !!!