As a freelance writer, I always have a luxury of ‘between project’ breaks that allow the two of us to pack our bags and make a quick and easy road trip. This time, again, as I was waiting for yet another project proposal to be approved, we took a week off, heading south, to where we always love for having the most gorgeous beaches, yet without the crowds to spoil our holiday solitude.
Chumporn, about 500 kilometres south of Bangkok, is literally smacked between hot places – Bangkok as the capital city where most tourists coming to Thailand must land and base their trip and the more popular spots like Phuket, Samui or Krabi. Lacking whatever makes it a luxurious destination for most visitors preserves the town in a good way, too. This place remains so charming that we can go there time and again for years and still get a full dosage of the real local spirits. This is the place where mom-and-pop stores still reign. For example, instead of the now very norm and very very very boring chain stores like Tesco or Big C that appear in most provinces, their ‘downtown’s store is still a family run 3-storey corner building that carries everything the locals who work would want, from t-shirts to lingerie and from sportswear to cosmetics, making shopping here so personal and warm. And there are so much more shops and stores that line their main streets, too. A lovely town to walk around.
For this post, I want to show you the beaches and the rivers of Chumporn and some of the foods we enjoyed during our last trip. In fact, these are our staples (quite predictable people we are), and you are welcome to follow our trails if these pictures seduce you enough. 😀
We stayed at Chumporn Cabana – one of the first and longest running resorts and diving centers in the province. The place is a bit run down, but it is adequate. We stayed at their newly renovated room that has coffee makers, electric kettle, fridge and TV. The most luxurious ‘amenity,’ if you like, of the resort is their super gorgeous and pristine beach. One of the longest and widest beaches I have experience off the coasts in Thailand. Despite being a popular beach for tourists, the community of Tung Wua Lan agreed that they are not going to have commercial beach chairs on the beach, allowing the whole stretch of the beach to be freely accessible to the locals and visitors. This is so clever and considerate, for if not for this beach, this province will have nothing left to lure nature-loving fans (like us) who drive all the way just for this particular scene.
As a strong Buddhist community, Chumporn is riddled with temples. Being quiet and green, the province has many retreat places and temples that are as quiet and serene as good and sacred temples should be. The shot above was taken from the southern area of Ta Ta Ko river – still so lush and pristine – that runs throughout the city. Chumporn is a place that you either like it or you don’t. There’s nothing much to do here, and for heaven’s sake, just forget your eyeliner and those stupid fancy and expensive watches. Just bring a good swimming suit, lots and lots of organic coconut oil (for the good, long-lasting, naturally shimmering and chemical-free tan), lots of good and riveting books if you are quick readers, sunglasses, lots and lots of mosquito repellent sprays, rubber sandals, shorts and cotton shirts and, of course, as big an appetite as you could manage!
Our delicious staples in Chumporn vary from seafood noodle to rice and curry to Pad Thai and then this Chinese restaurant called Nampeung in Chansom Hotel in the city. For early lunch, we have to go to this seafood noodle place at Saplee Beach which is just a short drive from the resort. The place sells just one thing – noodle – and you can choose from wide, fine or thin rice noodles or egg noodle with or without or just only seafood. Tomyum if you like it hot and sour, or plain if you just want the pure broth taste. Every time we go there, I always order two bowls of their seafood tomyum noodle with everything which includes the so fresh and sweet crabmeat, the equally sumptuous prawns, the lovely crispy fried dough and wonton, some slices of BBQ pork, and some pork balls – boiled and deep-fried. No sugar added for me, though, for their original taste is just too sweet for me. The place is always packed and they DO take their time making each bowl (One time we waited for an hour and twenty minutes. Looking around to see if that bothered anyone at all, I sadly found that I was the only one apparently being mad about the long wait while others were just giddy and peaceful.) So my advice is to go there as early as you can and bring work to do while waiting (opens from 10am until around 3pm, daily except Wednesdays).
And then, there is this place so classic you would never want to miss when you are in Chumporn. Where on earth can you still find a place in this wooden shophouse, selling original style rice and curries and lots of delicious homemade Thai desserts? At Kwong Heng, you get to choose from their delicious offerings off their lines of steaming hot pots and pans. Of course, being a real glutton, I always have troubles choosing, for I always want to eat EVERYTHING. Here, above, are a meal for two of us. And their super duper delicious Thai desserts are to die for too. See below 😀
Kwong Heng is open daily (except Sundays) from 11am-5pm.
Not really last, and certainly not least is the Chinese-style meal at Nampeung Restaurant at Chansom Hotel in the city. Open only for dinner from 4pm onward until wee hours, the place is packed with delicious dishes. I love all their deep-fried. Last time we order a whole deep-water Pomfret, half for soup and half deep-fried. Loved them both very very much. This time around, though, we tried something else as you can see from the pictures. These are normal dishes you can find in a Chinese-Thai home where they must have the luxury of a good live-in Chinese chef, of course. I particular love the beansprout with tofu and morning glory with crispy pork. Can eat these forever, and ever!
Nampeung is open daily from 4pm – 2am.
If you like the sea and its unique tastes, you might want to bring home these wonderful stuff at Yai Hong shop at Saplee fishing pier. They are open everyday, but sometimes, especially during long holidays when tourists might actually come to visit, they might run low on their precious and so aromatic shrimp paste. I bought back this staple ingredient every time, for it makes very wonderful and awesome homemade namprik kapi. Not that I am bragging how good I am also in the kitchen 😀