By Kitchana Lersakvanitchakul
Chumphon in Prachuab Khiri Khan, known as the gateway to Southern Thailand and the kick off point for travellers heading to islands like Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan, was the last destination on NCC Exhibition Organiser’s bike trip “Pun Thay … Rally Songlor Thong 5 Phak”.
A sight not to miss is the stunning view from Khao Matsee in Chumphon.
Unfortunately, due to a blip in scheduling, this recent event clashed with “Chumphon Run Bike Swim”, with the result that the turn out was far smaller than expected.
Part of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s “Go Local” campaign to promote tourism in secondary destinations, the bike rally might have been small in size but it more than made up for it in terms of enthusiasm.
Some cyclists carry their bikes up the hill.
Chumphon has a plethora of attractions to offer anyone looking for a relaxing break in a natural and unspoilt atmosphere. The beaches are clean and uncrowded and there are mountains, waterfalls, mangrove forests and national parks to visit. It is also the hub for boat transport to Koh Tao, one of the best diving spots in the country.
The starting point for the rally was Aranya Resort on Sai Ree Beach. Kritchasorn Saikaew, deputy director of Tourism Authority of Thailand, ChumphonRanong Office, gave participants a brief pep talk and then signalled the start of the 30-kilometre jaunt. Ahead of us were four designated stops with their own interesting attractions and planned activities.
The first eight kilometres saw us pedalling along with the sea on our left and the mountains on our right to the first stop at Wat Tham Pong Pang, which is well known for its caves. We didn’t have much time to admire though, instead taking to the seafront to take part in the first activity, “Jit Asa Pa Thay” and picking up waste from the beach. We tried Chumphon’s signature fruit too, the leb mue nang banana.
The replica of HTMS Chakri Narubet is right next to Krom Luang Chumphon Khet Udomsak Shrine.
A further 13km on, we came to a steep hill leading to Khao Matsee Viewpoint, with some cyclists dismounting and walking up with their bikes. This mountain is one of Chumphon’s tourist attractions and offers a stunning panoramic view of Pak Nam Chumphon and its fishing village below. It is also home to a Guanyin shrine overlooking the whole city as well as a lot of spots for taking photos. The second activity, “Chom View Pa Thay”, had us snapping picture at several designated spots, adding a hashtag and posting them on Facebook.
Cyclists play one of the fun games.
Our journey continued with another eight-kilometre ride to Krom Luang Chumphon Khet Udomsak Shrine where we played a fun game, “Sieng Thaai Sieng Thay”, passing a coconut to one another to music. When the music was stopped and the coconut was in a cyclist’s hands, the cyclist had to be punished! Some strayed off to pay their respects as the shrine, which is dedicated to the father of the Royal Thai Navy, while others took pictures of the HTMS Chakri Narubet Battleship and the sea view.
The final kilometre took us back to the resort, where a jigsaw puzzle and lunch awaited.