Travelling around the place doesn’t always mean staying in a hostel or hotel. After our nightmare introduction to the island of Samui, staying in Chaweng Beach, I was so happy to arrive at our current destination – a home-stay based at a rubber and durian plantation, in Chaiya, Thailand.
The transition to get here was smooth. April arranged a taxi from our hotel in Samui to take us the 40mins to Nathon Pier where we had to catch our Seatran ferry to Don Sak, on the mainland. From there, as part of the ferry ticket, we got a coach to the large town of Surat Thani. This took about 1.5 hours. Once there, we didn’t really officially ‘arrive’ as such- its more that most of the people got off the bus and so I figured I’d better ask where we were. It’s really tricky when you can’t read road signs in Thai! Turns out, it was our stop and our bags were already unloaded onto the pavement! Oh gawd!! Get off the bus kids – we’re here! (To the driver: “Sorry, sorry, thank you, thank you!”).
Total time now from hotel in Koh Samui to Surat Thani, 4hrs. Next part of the journey, was that we had to meet up with Sarah, our home-stay host. This planned accommodation was a family home-stay arranged via AirBnB and we had booked a small bungalow located on Sarah’s plantation. They live on an ares of land that is used for the growing of Durian fruit and rubber trees. Sarah is from the UK, her husband is Thai and they have 2 amazing kids, similar ages to Ruben and Rosie.
To meet up with Sarah we needed to get to the school where she works as a teacher. From the bus drop-off point, we hopped in a tuktuk taxi and expected to be set-down just outside the school main entrance. However, our enthusiastic tuk-tuk driver decided to drive us into the school and dropped us off, right in the middle of the school playground! Errrrr, not awkward at all…..
So there we were: a white, western family with backpacks and blonde haired kids, just sat in the centre of the playground!! Of course, this caused MUCH excitement and soon a group of kids came over to try to ask why we were there. Next, a teacher came over and tried to ask why we were there. Were we there to enrol at the school? If so, this wasn’t the right way to go about it and we needed to go to a different area. No! We just couldn’t seem to explain! April then used the phone to produce Sarahs photo from her Airbnb profile and then they all understood and knew where to take us! Suddenly, a load of very excited kids started grabbing our luggage to helpfully move us across the playground.
By this point more and more classrooms full of kids were peering out their windows and over the balconies to see what all the fuss was about. Ruben was literally dying on the inside with embarrassment. We were shown an area to wait. April and I thought it was lovely to see how a Thai school goes about its day!
In no time at all, Ka – Sarahs husband, arrived and we loaded our stuff into the truck and we headed off to their house, once Sarah had finished teaching her class. The drive took about an hour so we chilled in the back of the truck and enjoyed the countryside.
I’ll just quickly mention now that I don’t really love snakes. I’m not sure why, but they just freak me out. So, imagine my delight, when the moment we arrive, we see the Burmese worker family on the farm walking towards us with a 2 meter snake skin!! My first thought probably should have been, “Wow, that is incredible!”. However, what I actually thought (before I jumped down from the pickup) was, “Well… the snake is not dead, so where is it now?”. Great.
I spent the next day constantly scanning the grass and trees for anything that moved. I chilled out a bit later, but it just goes to show- you never know what’s around the next corner here in Thailand!
Sarah and Ka were brilliant hosts and made us feel at home straight away. Ruben and Rosie went off to collect their kids from school and they didn’t stop playing together. I think the common love of Minecraft sealed the deal!
The 7 cats, 2 chickens, 1 cockerel and Lyla the dog were also a lovely addition to being here. It just feels like a home away from home. It’s made me think that I’d love a plot of land just like this to enjoy and watch the kids grow up with. I’m just not sure whether in the UK thats possible- I’ll have to make more enquiries when we get back!
Ka took us on a tour of Chaiya and some of its hidden, non-touristy spots. Chaiya is believed to be one of Thailands oldest towns and dates back around 1500 years. Our first stop was some temple ruins that sit next to the newer replacement. The ruins date back approx 800-1000 years. Inside were 3 large stone Buddha statues where people still bring offerings.
We were also lucky enough to be taken to a very sacred temple that houses some of Buddha’s ashes. The beautiful pagoda there is surrounded by golden buddha statues of different sizes and postures; all looking inwards. It was extremely peaceful. Later we went on to a monastery that is famous for its teachings. Many western people travel here to spend weeks alongside the monks and nuns to spend weeks in silence, meditating and learning, Walking through the grounds we entered a special room/gallery of paintings which was beautiful to see.
Right now as I type, Ruben is running around shirtless with a stick he’s just lit in a bonfire full of palm branches. Our hosts’ 6yr old son is chasing him around, looking for more stuff to burn. Somebody grab the cats!! I think they’re about to go off exploring the plantation, looking for a dog that may have just had puppies. We can hear tiny dog yelps in the distance. Anyway, I hope its that and not just a dog getting eaten by that snake!!
Anyway, its dinner time. Ka is cooking some more of his awesome Thai food. I need to round the kids up.
We’ve completely chilled this week and waking up in the countryside and walking around the rubber tree & durian fruit plantation with a hot tea is bliss. We’ve also played some great board games and caught up with writing some blogs too. I hope you’re still enjoying reading our traveller tales!