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Info.in.th : Travel : Pang Nga : Pratong (Golden Buddha) Island

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Pratong Island Home-stay
Story by Dr. K, translate and edit by Gio.

I'd a chance to work in Pang Nga in 1997, by that time, I travelled to many beautiful islands on various occations and thought I'd seen it all, but nevertheless, Pratong island is very close to the land and very easy to go, comparing to its further neighbour islands, it was so near, but I left this hugh opportunity. Until now, I'm back working in the capital. I was told about it by friends and read about it in magazines, it's now feel so inresisable. Suddenly, I feel the urge to discover it.

Travelling to Pratong island is very easy, there are 3 ways. The first and the most expensive way is to fly to Ranong and take the cab or the limo to the Kuraburi port or Greenview port in Pang Nga province, then hire the speedboat there, you can get there within 4 hours from Bangkok, but it also cost you much.
Travelling by car is somewhat far, but can do, almost 700 kms from Bangkok. Take the highway #4 (Petchkasem Rd.) then turn right around Km. 500th just before Langsuan district towards Pato district on highway #4006 the road will ended at Rachakrood interection, turn left for another sixty something kms, you will find Kuriburi port entrance on the right, which located before the Kuraburi town.
The most convenience and economical way by VIP bus to the port entrance, then take motorcycle or pickup bus to the port.
Kuraburi ports are mainly use for fishery purpose, there are Greenview port, which belong to Greenview Resort, Kurabui for speedboat to Krathom Moken or Surin Island. And the small port for transportation for islanders and people who lives around there, for the time being, there is no routine boat to the island, if you wannna go there, you must hire a boat.

As soon as we can gathering up, four of us were headed to Kuraburi port. Our first intension was to stay at the national park bungalow or lodge, but from the information we gathered, there is no national park bungalow on the island, but only national park office on Ra island. Afterwards, we found out that even the island was announced to be national park area, but there are still some problems to setttle with the locals, that's why there's still no national park bungalow there.
During lunch and chitchat with the locals, we accidently sat next to the head of the village. We got the suggestion that we can do the Home-stay type with the locals. We are all ears, because we want to have the taste of local foods. Luckily, Mrs. Poo the house owner came on the land for shopping, so we tagged along on her boat to her home, so we ended up in 4th village of Pakjok village of Pratong island.

Pratong island is really a sub-district which consisted of Pratong island, Ra island, Ko koa island, Surin island and Similan island. It contains 4 villages, 3 are on Pratong island and the other is on Ra island.
The island has flat contour, surrounding by mangrove and seaside forest. The inner island is sawanna field, to contrary with the next door neighbor, Ra island which has high mountain and dense tropical forest.
The island is still intact and fresh, and with the size that is 5th largest island in Thailand. The distance from end to end is around 16 kilometers, and there's still no road connect each village.
There are 3 ways to comute on the island. Firstly, the 4WD cars, on the present day, we can find only 3 on the island. Secondly, the tractor or tractor with cart. The last but not least, which you can always depending on, your feet.

We arrived on the island at noon, the car was schedule to pick us up around 2pm, so we have spare time to have some seaside walk. Along the way, wee found a tractor trapped in the sand, the wave is rushing in made quart of the wheel sink into the sand, even many people tried to get it out, they couldn't. Then come the hero in white horse, but cut the white horse and add the tractor, but anyway, the hero use the power of his "larger tractor" to pull the petrified tractor out in notime.
In the afternoon, we rode on antique Land Rover to the sawanna plain. Passing on the only cement road in the village, which many bikes parked on the road because there are much more bikes than just 3 cars here. The driver "Ko" (uncle) had to step down many times to take care of them.
We passed skirt of the village to light forst and when we went further, the forest change its type. Finally, we found the sawanna plain, the Paper-gum trees, the fly eater plants and the white power sand. Although, the power sand look nice, but we hate it to our guts, because it's on the top list of our photographic equipments' worst enemies. Especially, when the wind blows, you can saw it coming to get your gears. But the shades of the ray are so irrisible, we got all of our gear out and capture the moments, with many rolls of film and files. The trees here had also been adjust, developed or in Darwin word "Evoled", for the example, the Paper-gum tree has the tick, white bark to cover the brownish core which carry the water (the bark can use to make paper or make it help fire-starting process). Or the flies eating plant, which are rare of the plant to be on the upper food chain.
We got pass those and clean our equipment on the bumpy ride to the beach. At the moment, there are only 2 resorts and 2 tents in the area. One is "Kathom Moken" (Moken Cottage), the same owner of Greenview port and Greenview resort,, Kuraburi. At first we think that the name was derived from Morgan, the sea gypsy who live around this part, and become Moken.
But there come the information to correct our assumption, the Morgan devided into 3 groups one of which are the Moken and further devided to Moken Pula who reside around Burmese islands too Ranong, Thailand.
Moken Tamub who reside around Pratong Island and Takua Pa seaside. Another 2 groups are Moglen who reside around Takua Pa to Phuket and U-rak-la-voy who wander around Siray island, Rawaii beach, Phuket, Thailand.
So, Mogen Tamub should be the origin of the name of the resort, not the twisted of the language as we first think.
Another resort belong to a foreigner was called "The Lost Horizon", which in my understanding came from the name of the book by Sir Auther Conan Doyle, but as I vaguely remember, the book was about the mountain. Anyway, here, there are some little hills.
Here at thess capes are one of the perfect place to watch the sunset with tranquility and peacefully. After sent the sun home, we took some more bumpy ride home.
We arrived home and Mrs. Poo greeted us with heavenly ice and soft drink, and told us the dinner would be ready as soon as we finished our bath. Some of my friend bath, me and another get the pass, not only because the cooking food smell tempting, but we like to bath right before we sleep. The dinner was great as expected, or somewhat greater, we got the fresh fish, squid and some little more local cooked seafood. I told Mrs. Poo that I'm allergic to shellfish, and to my surprise, she said she did too. It must be pity to be allergic to shellfish and live on the island. Even she was allergic to shellfish, she can cook it tastefully as my friend told me. After a nice meal and some drinks, we went for some night shots, we little aftter the village electricity went out at 11pm, we went to bed, when Mrs. Poo turned the electrical generator on for all of the night for us to keep the fan run and our batteries charged.

Morning at Crab bridge, the name that the local call their small pier, is anyhow interesting and worth the early morning wake. We came greet the same sun we sent home last evening, as if the Sun we'll angry if we didn't go greeting and shy the burning sunlight all day. The morning was cool and quite local fishermen are taking their small boats to set out the traps, some were back frrom recovered the traps which was planted yestreday. Around the pier on the low tide time, shows the muddy shore where if you look carefully, you will find many Fiddler crabs waving their arms around, as the name derived, the Crab bridge.
Even we did go and greet the Sun, in the daytime sunlight is killing us, sunblock with SPF 50+ isn't help much, now we looked like roasted BBQ pork, juicy and red, ready to eat, Yummy!. Our original plan was to get the boat to pick us up around 9am. But while we were waiting, we sat and talk with Mr. Pisut, whom own the trapped tractor, to found out that we had miss many more astonish places on the island.
The Dwarf Paper-gum tree forest, The various colours lotus pond, swamp which many wild animals such as pelican and deer will come out to drink and feed. Mr. Pisut notice our eagerly and sparkling eyes and the deep disappointment inside, so he tell "Ko Dang" (uncle Dang) who know the places well and drove us there.
We ride on the tractor, the same one we saw trapped, but today it runs no problem on higher and more dense sandy beach and little bumpy on sandy sawanna plain, towards the south almost 10 kms from the village there lies the Drawf Paper-gum tree forest, the Drawf Paper-gum tree look just like the Paper-gum tree on the sawanna, but its height is around 2 meters, inspite of the age of a hundred year or more. Little further south we found the lotus pond, but it became a swamp with some white lotus left, "Ko Dang" told us that last month when we took someone here, it's still full of both water and colourful lotus, but maybe the heat and the drought dried up the pond. Furthur down south we was told that there used be many wild orchids, but also the heat and the drought to blame it on, the orchids are gone, so are our fuel. So we have to ride back, if we don't wanna push this tractor (again?). On the way back, we notice landmark poles, we were informed later that the local authoority marked the bounderies to keep the forest from de-foresting by the people.

We never regret that we choose Home-stay with the locals over some luxury resort, because, not just we discover many hidden beauties in the island, dine on the tasteful local fresh dishes and their way of life, and the most impressive is their kindness. We have gave the big thanks to Mr. Pisut, Ko Dang, Mrs. Poo, Mr. Thanit, the head of 4th village for their kindness and courtesy to us.
Ra island is our next destination, if we the time, money, and weather allows, we'll have some more to tell.


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