THAILAND FOR TWO
LUXURY RESORTS, WORLD-CLASS CUISINE, FIRST-CLASS SPA TREATMENTS – WELCOME TO KOH KOOD, WHERE ROMANCE IS REVERED
The young lovers are seated under lamplight at a table for two, away from the large, noisy diners gathering inside the beach-front restaurant.
With soft, golden sand underfoot and the rhythmic crashing of waves on the shore only metres away, they peruse the extensive leather-bound menu filled with local seafood delicacies and Thai food favourites before turning to the drinks selection.
Although happily enjoying the banter of the tour party on our last night together, I secretly envy the well-groomed pair as they sit quietly, lost in their thoughts, soaking up the ambience of the palm-fringed setting.
They only have eyes for each other but their smiles and body language convey their obvious delight at their romantic surroundings. I wish I could be like them, sharing this “pinch-myself ” moment with my loved one.
His only experience of Thailand was an 18-hour airport layover on a trip from Rome to Brisbane. I wanted to introduce him to the Bangkok I have come to love for its food, culture, friendliness and exotic quirkiness.
But the hour-long taxi ride meandering our way through the chaos of Bangkok traffic from our Suvarnabhumi Airport hotel to the Chao Phraya riverside, a brief walk through Chinatown (with all its Asian aromas from glorious sizzling satays on street vendors’ skillets to putrid, overflowing rubbish) for a late-night snack at a Western coffee shop franchise before the return journey to catch a midnight plane, was not the best way to convey that.
Here in Koh Kood (also known as Ko Kut) – an island in the Gulf of Thailand, 330km from Bangkok in the far southeast near the Cambodian border – he could have witnessed all that I adore about this happy kingdom.
With a population under 2000, Koh Kood has barely been discovered by the rest of the world. The mountainous sandstone island, covered mostly in virgin rainforest, is a 90-minute Boonsiri Ferry ride from Trat to the southeast of Bangkok.
It offers a feeling of being in the jungle wilds of Thailand while also embracing the laid-back beachy lifestyle in luxury resorts and comfortable bungalows, indulging in world-class cuisine and first-class spa treatments.
At Cham’s House Koh Kood Resort behind the aquamarine waters of horseshoe-shaped Klong Hin Beach, hubby could have sat with me on the third-floor veranda of my spacious hotel room with a view of the private beach through the coconut palms and tropical gardens to Hat Bang Bao.
We could have retreated to Weave Spa for a 60-minute aromatic Thai massage in the couples room, before a dip in the infinity pool by the lobby reception and gazebo on stilts. We could have strolled along the unspoiled beach and possibly had a wild macaque monkey encounter, before taking up the offer of selected free drinks at happy hour in Bombyx Bar and Restaurant.
Our love affair with life might have resulted in us hiring a songthaew (or, as I like to call it, the world’s smallest troop carrier) that is the common tourist transport on the island for up to 10 guests and their luggage.
Up hill and over dale on the island’s good bitumen roads, past rubber tree plantations and roadside fresh fruit and vegetable stands, we could have ventured to the coastal golden Buddha – a popular landmark for visiting sea vessels – and the Monastic House temple overlooking the water at Ao Salad in the northeast of the island.
There, we could have chosen the crab, fish or bugs from holding tanks to indulge in the freshest-of-fresh seafood meals at the nearby Fisherman’s Village. We could have seen first-hand the “fleet” of fishing boats in a rainbow of colours tied up beside the rickety timber or concrete board walks that connect the simple homes on stilts where these humble Buddhists live. This busy fishing village is also an important port, connecting the island and the mainland, and the meeting
place for transfers for ferry and speedboat passengers to their hotels and resorts.
Feeling energetic after lunch, we could have headed to one of three waterfalls – maybe the three-tiered Klong Chao Waterfall, where I would have needed a loving hand to help me scramble over slightly slippery rocks and pull me up the rope for the breathtaking sight of fast-flowing water in this monsoon season.
The falls, plunging 10m into an inviting pool in a picturesque jungle setting deep in the heart of Koh Kood, would have necessitated a memorable cool dip together.
Koh Kood’s west coast beaches are known for their brilliant blue waters and sandy beaches with coral just offshore. The best dive spots can be found here in fairly shallow depths, with excursions conducted by BB Divers, Paradise Divers and Koh Kood Divers.
So hiring kayaks and exploring the coastline or an afternoon spent snorkelling right off the beach could have led to a body surf at Tinkerbell Privacy Resort at Baan Klong Chao, where we could have worked up a thirst for champagne at the famed sunset spot.
We could have arrived back to our hotel room for a welcome rainfall shower and fallen asleep in each other’s arms in the massive king-size bed while watching a Fox Movies Channel rom-com on the flat-screen TV.
Koh Kood – Thailand’s fourth-largest island – isn’t Koh Phuket, Koh Samui or even neighbouring Koh Chang. It’s not party central. It’s serenity now.
Maybe one day hubby and I can sit down at that table in the moonlight, sharing a lobster bisque and prawn satay skewers for entree, followed by baked whole fish and croissant pudding, washed down with margaritas in salted-rim glasses.
A girl can dream, can’t she?