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I spent 20 years punching a time clock... then decided there had to be another way. Right now I'm sitting in a comfortable chair on a beautiful beach. There's a sweet, soft breeze in the air. In front of me, on the clear blue water, a boat drifts by. Maybe I'll go snorkeling this afternoon, or work on my tan. This is my kind of tropical paradise... cheap and unspoiled!
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KHAO LAK, THAILAND -GOING DOWN, DOWN, DOWN    

By Ken Silver About Asia
3249 Views | 0 Comments | 3/15/2011 12:43:17 AM
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There are great beaches in southern Thailand. Well, maybe very good beaches which become great after a beer or two. Good beer, great beaches. Good beaches, great beer. You be the judge.

Khao Lak is a long sweeping very beachy coastline on the Andaman Sea. It was a shelter from the European winter for thousands of foreign tourists. There were lots of reasonable hotels and not all that much of a town. Then a Tsunami wiped everything and everyone out.

Well, that’s reincarnation for you. The area has sprung back with more upscale resorts, more reasonable hotels, and a town which is moderately tourist obnoxious. Good air conditioned MacDonald’s though.

The beach just keeps going on and on. You can hike all day on it and catch a “taxi” back at night if you end up in a civilized locale. It’s wide, it’s sandy, it’s tree lined, there are nice green jungle hills in the distance on the landward side. Beach cafes offer free lounge chairs and reasonable prices. They are inevitably staffed by giggling Burmese teenage girls who are innocent and proper, and whom the European granddads make fools of themselves over. (Yes, there is cheap foreign migrant labor all over Thailand).

There are endless seashells to be browsed through at waters edge. The water itself is warm and clean, though not especially clear. Yes, it’s a bit spooky swimming where so many died. One time a washed out to sea tree vine wrapped itself around my ankle in a hand like grip and I had a very bad moment till I saw what it was. There are lots of good ghost stories here, though the business community has kept the monuments to an understandable bare minimum.

By the way, there are lots of other Darn Good Enough beaches and beach communities in this part of southern Thailand, on both coasts. Find an up and coming one and start a little business there with your up and coming newfound Thai wife.

So, European snow birds and year round beach bums make up part of the Khao Lak foreign constituency. The other money factor is scuba diving. There are World Famous You Must Visit dive sites out in the Andaman here; and the town holds lots of dive shops to accommodate “going down” visitors. Prices are high, just about American, justified by the high cost of running speedboats out to the distant island sites. And, by the quality of the diving experience. Expensive multi-day “live aboard” scuba boats are also available.

You stand a good chance of seeing manta rays off of Koh Bon, an experience which, like sex, cannot be translated into dollars, though fortunately enough it is.

One down, but not going down, down, note. Giggling Burmese ladies aside, the attitude of the Thai “hospitality” industry workers here seems pretty unfriendly. It must be bad enough to watch foreign idiots pay undreamed of amounts of hard cash to look at fish underwater. Then they have to cope with self-absorbed, middle-aged European families who hold the patent on “bourgeoisie”. (Not like you, poetic, good looking, sensitive, dear reader!).

At least other islands and coastlines get young drunken self absorbed foreign idiots who goof it up with the locals. Its cutting edge youth culture to goof it up with the locals, you know.

That being said…you can lose yourself on the beaches of Khao Lak for a week or so, easy. Then move on to some other excellent beach destination in this great part of southern Thailand.

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