To The Riverside and beyond, from one end of Bang Niang to the other.
11/22/2016 - 11/25/2016 32 °C
After all the clouds and rain, moving day dawned quite pleasantly and we were excited to be leaving the big resort and moving north to the pretty little Riverside Hotel. We got all packed up and were collected promptly at 10.30 by the taxi driver in his 10 seater mini van. Only a mile or so along the main road, then you turn off again to drive through the village back to the coast. As we neared the hotel we entered a building site. Huge concrete construction, road blocked with trucks, machinery, and motorbikes. Our driver had to stand his ground and force the construction traffic to back up so we could get through. The entrance to the Riverside was partially blocked and the driver had to shuffle back and forth, inch by inch, to get into the drive.
A huge new hotel complex is being built, Chinese money apparently, right up to the side wall of the Riverside, extending all the way to the beach at the front and right back to the road at the rear. Well over 200 rooms plus an underground car park. It towers over our poor little Riverside and construction is well underway with over 100 workers. The other side of our hotel drive, and opposite, all available land has had ugly temporary tin huts put up all over it and there's construction traffic parked all along the access.
On arrival, we are given the choice of three rooms but chose our usual favourite. It turns out we are the only people in the hotel. We looked out of the window at the lovely view down the garden to the sea, with the river to the right and trying to ignore the concrete monstrosity next door, with its tower cranes and diggers. But, all has changed! The trees, or most of them, are still standing but the little beach bars and restaurants have all gone. We walked down, trying to find the path, now covered with tons of building sand, on to the beach. The beautiful beach is littered and untidy, the seas are rough with breakers tall enough to surf. Clearly the big waves have eroded the beach as many tree roots are exposed. Most of the big hotels along this stretch have had to build retaining walls on the edge of their property to prevent further erosion, often with big piles of rocks on the sea side. These rocks extend out into the sea at all but low tide. We walked up the beach to the first such impassible construction then climbed up on to the street and made our way along the beach road. We stopped for lunch then walked back the way we had come. We tried to swim but the waves were so rough we kept getting knocked over, and by this time it was clouding over again.
Back at out ghost ship of a hotel we showered and watched the storm. First the sky turned dark purple, then came the sheet lightning and thunder and end of the world type rain. It rained and rained, it went dark, night came. We were stranded. We couldn't walk to the village along the beach, it was pitch black and the path had vanished. We couldn't walk along the road as the building site and rain had created deep puddles of mud. Our hotel offers no evening meals..... so we stayed in with the trusty gin bottle and a bag of crisps.
The next day, after our lonely breakfast we packed a bag and got the owner to drive us to her sister's restaurant at the other end of the village. This has a tiny sliver of beach access, festooned with a few sunbeds, between two of the ugly concrete retaining walls I mentioned earlier. First we went for a walk up the street. At the very far end of the village we discovered that a little bar and some massage ladies had set up camp just above the high water mark and had spread sunbeds and parasols along the rather nice stretch of beach. So that's where they went!
We returned to the restaurant and sat on some sunbeds waiting for the sun to appear, which it did, for about half an hour. Down came the rain, we retreated into the restaurant, we had a drink, we had a meal, we had a massage apiece and still it rained. Around 4.15 it eased off so we set off into the main part of the village to visit the big local market. Big mistake, the rain came down as never before, the kind of rain that hurts as it lands on your shoulders and bounces as it falls on the floor. We were soon absolutely drenched and eventually ducked into another restaurant for shelter where we spent two hours waiting for the rain to stop, which it didn't. We had another meal then paddled our way to the taxi rank where we got ripped off to the tune of 150 Baht for a ride home through the rivers of mud at the construction site. At one point, the tuktuk made such heavy weather of ploughing through a raging torrent that I thought we were going to be told to get out and walk, or wade, the rest of the way back.
So we moved hotels. We felt awful and the owner of The Riverside did everything she could to persuade us to stay, but with the weather forecast for more rain throughout the week we needed to be somewhere where we can walk to a decent beach and to a choice of restaurants, even if it is raining! We are now at the end of the beach with the restaurant and massages huts, at another small hotel where we have a big Wendy house with an upstairs bedroom. The view isn't quite as pretty as before - but we are on the beach (albeit with the retaining wall) and we've been enjoying glorious sunshine since we arrived.
Right now, at 9.30 am I am on the beach, laying in hot sunshine under a parasol belonging to the inestimable Nong Prew Restaurant. The sky is blue, the sand is golden, the sea is calm and there is a ready supply of ice cold G&T..... what more could we want?