Jan 29 – 31
Out of all the Trang islands, I chose Ko Sukorn because it seemed to be a quiet place far off the backpacker circuit. This description of Ko Sukorn pretty much sums the place up. And yup – it was exactly as I expected. A quiet and peaceful Muslim fishing village with way more rubber trees and buffalo than anything else. Very nice!
It’s funny that there’s a sign pointing to the “scenic area”, because I thought all of it was pretty scenic.
And if you’ve had enough of the popular tourist spots (like Ko Tao, Ko Sukorn, Ko Phi Phi, Ko Phangan), or if you were never interested in them in the first place…this is the perfect spot to get away from it all. As you can see, the beaches are absolutely desolate. No full moon parties here! No drunk dudes drinking buckets! No obnoxious salesmen pushing tourists to buy their trinkets! Just quiet stretches of sandy beach…for miles and miles and miles.
Miguel and I stayed in a cute guesthouse. I can’t remember the name of the place (my fault for writing about Ko Sukorn many months after being there), but the place looked like this.
The owner of this place is super helpful and basically runs the entire island. He picked us up from the boat dock and gave us a mini island tour while driving us to our hotel of choice. But when it was closed, he let us stay at his place for a fraction of the price that he normally charges guests (I guess he could tell we couldn’t afford it and took pity on us). He was also the one who arranged our motorbike rental, helped us with our travel planning, drove us to/from the boat dock, accompanied us on the boat, and drove us in a van back to Trang. This guy is all over the place.
We stayed two nights on Ko Sukorn and would definitely have stayed longer had we planned ahead and brought more money with us. There are no ATMs on the island and it’s a long trek back into town to get money. So…since we showed up terribly unorganized (as is our style), we had to leave a bit earlier than we would have liked.
But our 2 days on the island were lovely.
The food at our guest house was delicious!
There were cute cats to cuddle (ones that even had their tails intact).
And the beach in front of our bungalow was calm and quiet.
We rented a motorbike and spent lots of time riding around the island. Ko Sukorn is the perfect place to rent a motorbike. There’s hardly any traffic and you can ride around the entire island in about an hour (maybe even half an hour).
Even though there was nothing to hit but rubber trees, I was still scared of being the driver. I tried a little bit…but Miguel ended up doing most of the driving.
A large portion of Ko Sukorn is used for raising rubber trees. And each tree has a little cup attached for collecting the sap. Here is a description of the rubber making process. It looks very tedious. Rubber is the main cash crop in the South of Thailand. Here is a summary of the rubber industry in Thailand.
Aside from swimming, eating, riding around, and watching the sap drip from rubber plants…there isn’t a whole lot to do on Ko Sukorn. You definitely won’t find a lively bar scene. But you will find crabs.
And lots and lots of buffalo.
This guy was herding them by motorbike (which I thought was quite cool).
As I said, Ko Sukorn is primarily a Muslim fishing village.
The villagers live in little huts made of palm leaves and were some of the smiliest people I’ve ever met. My favorite thing to do was to ride around and wave at everyone. They’d all wave back and smile so widely that it looked like their faces might fall off.
A few of them had small restaurants in the front of their houses. We tried to support them one day, but it was Friday (a Muslim holiday) and nobody wanted to work. They just kept sending us away and directing us to their neighbors’ shops (while smiling the entire time – of course). But after we had tried shop after shop with no luck, we just bought some sticky rice and left.
Our last night in Ko Sukorn, Miguel and I were driving by on our motorbike when we came across some locals playing Takraw. Takraw is a really popular game in Thailand. It requires a small rattan ball and is kinda like a cross between volleyball and soccer.
Most people who play takraw play it regularly and have some really fancy moves. These guys were truly amazing! We pulled over to watch them for a long time.
Then they invited us to give it a try. Miguel and I played with them for a little while, but we were pretty terrible. I was never much into hacky sack and I can’t remember the last time I did a cartwheel – especially while flying through the air and kicking a ball over a net. Miguel managed to get in a few nice moves, but we obviously needed a lot of practice. These guys were nice to let us try. They were very much amused by us, but I think they were also happy when we stopped and let them continue their game.
It was quite an event and a lot of the neighbors came out to watch. They invited us to come back the next day, but we weren’t able to (as we had to leave the island). But if we ever return to Ko Sukorn someday, I have a feeling these same people will still be there playing the same game. They have a very nice life. I just hope lots of tourists and property developers don’t arrive and ruin it all. I’d like to think that Ko Sukorn will always be a quiet and peaceful place.
The next afternoon, we headed back to dreaded Trang. And the owner of our beach bungalows arranged everything for us. It was much much easier to get back to Trang than it was for us to get out of it. It really is best to find a dude like this (or a travel agent) who can take care of everything for you. Who would have thought it could be so simple? Travel in Thailand is really very easy. But if you want to get to Ko Sukorn the cheap way and not book a transfer with a travel agent in Trang, it’s best to read this page: Getting There and Away. This will help you avoid all the trouble we did.
- If these sandals fit me, I would have bought them. Why do the little kids get all the cool shoes?
- One morning when I was in Austin, I was sitting outside a Thai restaurant talking on the phone with my dad. When I told him I was wondering why the restaurant wasn’t open yet, he said “Who wants to eat curry for breakfast?” and I said “Me!!!! I do!!!” Well I guess he was right – curry for breakfast is an odd thing in many Western countries. But lucky for me, it is perfectly normal in Thailand! That is my favorite thing about this place. You can order a giant bowl of spicy curry at 8am if you want to. And nobody will think it’s weird!
- The trash cans in Thailand are made from recycled rubber. I think that’s pretty cool.
- This is what a Thai stop sign looks like. On an island like Ko Sukorn, where there is absolutely no traffic, it’s kinda funny they even have traffic signs.
- If you’re into skate boarding…and if there wasn’t sand all around…this might make a good skate spot (says Miguel).
- I don’t know what this is, but I think it’s pretty. I found it on the beach.
- It’s really hard not to overeat when you’re in Thailand. The portions are huge and spicy. Eventually we learned our lesson… but a few times, we made ourselves sick from too much food. We were truly ill – couldn’t walk, couldn’t speak. Could only lay in our room and grunt.