Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Trip Report, Pt. 20: What's So Special About Laeng Sing?

Shellfish farming and fishing huts on the wide Welu River as it approaches the Gulf of Thailand

[This is part 20 of a series that may or may not ever find its way to a proper conclusion. It has to do with my latest trip to Thailand, and the people, places and things I encountered along the way. You can find the rest of the series by clicking here on Trip Reports.]

The beach-side village area of Laem Sing is really no different than hundreds of other Thai towns along the coastlines of the Gulf of Thailand or the Andaman Sea; indeed, no different than tens of thousands of towns throughout the kingdom.  As you'd expect, fishing is the industry that keeps much of the area alive, but there's also shrimp farming. We'll look at that another day this week.

A child charges gleefully into the water on Laem Sing beach

It's one of 65 small villages that make up the Laem Sing District; most of them between 3,000 and 5,000 people, and the district is over one third of the coastline to the Chantaburi province.

There's a local open-air market, a temple, some restaurants (both established and mobile), a few shops and stores, and places to buy a variety of things and quite a number of hotels and mini-resorts, primarily there for the Thai.  Farang are in the distinct minority; I saw very few Westerners on my long weekend there.  No bars or clubs, per se, although there were locals gathered in restaurants to drink, watch sports on TV and enjoy the mild evenings, so if you're in that small segment of folks who need an excess of nightlife this might not be for you.  If you enjoy peaceful time among the Thai, though, it definitely is.

Families build stands in front of their homes along the roadways to sell rambutan, pumello, sweet potatoes, squash - anything that happens to be in season in their garden. The stand below also had recycled bottles of liquor that had been filled with wild honey.

No, that's not gasoline, it's wild local honey

Every so often you'll come across a stand with three or four rows of liquor bottles that have been re-filled with a different type of fuel - gasoline and diesel. Somewhat odd to see, say, 100 Pipers bottles full of gold and reddish liquid, as if there'd been some quality assurance problem at the bottling plant and a few cases of reject booze had shipped by mistake.

Diesel fuel in liquor bottles; behind the engine oil, but in front of the sodas and beer.

Diesel fuel in this case is used in the smaller vehicle engines, and comes in the reddish-colored bottles you see above.

As a child, my friend remembers wondering why people didn't drink it, since it looked good and was for sale in the same places other beverages were.  Not knowing at the time what it was he'd said to himself "When I am grown up, I will drink this!"  He laughed at the memory as we cruised through town, and I told him "Well, you could now, but probably only once!"

We stopped at one of two local 7-eleven type stores in town, although neither was part of a chain.  I stocked up on water and things for my bungalow and my friend bought us some baked goods as a snack while we explored the rest of the town, which turned out to be about another half-mile of road before it became relatively untamed vegetation again.

Seashell Village resort was less than five miles away but not a part of Laem Sing.  If we wanted to go "into town," though, that's where we'd go.  We had most of our sit-down meals there, walked the beach several late afternoon/early evenings, visited with locals and even attended a fundraiser festival for the local temple which was looking to expand.  More on that another day soon, too - there are several stories coming.

Would I be content to live in such a small community full-time myself?  I honestly don't know.  I've asked myself that same question many times when I've found myself visiting places so small they don't always show on a map, and I don't have a firm answer.

They are, however, blissful breaks from the congestion, noise and commercialism of a larger city or suburb.  I'll still have to give that some thought.


Was Once said...
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khunbaobao said...

Regular reader Was Once made the suggestion that I change a few words on this post to avoid the perception that many/most travel to Thailand first and foremost for what I call "Rented Admirers", and I'm happy to comply. Done.

Thanks for pointing out my generalization. I'd just been in a somewhat lengthy discussion with someone that morning who was asking (for what I think may have been the thousandth time) if I was "getting a lot" on my visits there, and I get so tired of that.

I don't condemn anyone who does, but it's never been my driving force for my trips to Thailand.