Ranong was one of the places we were to avoid, we were told it was boring and there was nothing to do but a visa run. We had to do a visa run anyway, but more importantly our friend Pam is an english teacher there, so it really could have been a prison town, we still would have gone to visit. We found a neat looking resort that right on the website claimed to be an expert visa run guide. It was also near the hot springs, cool. When we arrived at the bus stop Jens, our host, was there to pick us up. We quickly realized this would be an experience. Before we had made it back to the hotel we heard all about his crazy girl troubles, ex wife, ex girlfriend, girlfriend, ex this kids here custody there, citizenship ect... It was interesting. The Guest house (Apres Ski) was actually quite nice, you were very much a guest in his home. Meals were prepapared sans menu, and we all ate together. It was sometimes a little odd but mostly nice, it was certainly a change. When time came to do the Visa Run we discovered that in fact Jens was an expert, he had done 51 Ranong visa runs, Despite owning a resort and living in Thailand year round he has no visa! Man. The best part of the guesthouse was definitely Jens' two and a half year old daughter Monika, half German and half Thai, so cute, she was always doing something hilarious. We also took full advantage of the hot springs, and learned that the guidebooks are not so full of it after all, the Thai do bathe fully clothed!
The lovely Monika, wearing Gingers hat.
After a few nights at Apres Ski we decided to find something in downtown Ranong. Pam chose what she thought were the three best options, and we all went together to check them out. It felt like House Hunters! One of the options had a scorpion crawling along the sidewalk beside the room we were looking at, we decided not to take that one.
The hostel we stayed in after Apres Ski was wonderful, it's called "Luang Poj" and it touted its self as "the best boutique hostel in Ranong", a description we would agree with. It was the first hotel in Ranong, built in the early 1900's, but had sat vacant for years. The new owner completely re-did the building into a great hostel, vintage style decor, very simple, spacious rooms, overall it was spotless and very welcoming. The owner was a young man named Boy, he was a very good host. He took us out to his favorite bar, booked our bus tickets, taxi'd us around a few times. The photo above is the front of the hostel, and us playing Jenga with him. We were treated more like friends than customers. (I think he had a crush on Pam, probably helped.)
Ranong is actually a pretty spread out town, so before we rented our own scooter, Pam tripled us on hers. We drove like this on the highway, went out to the local Tesco which is a trek out of town, and were even chased by two dogs. We did pick up some helmets, so it wasn't quite as dangerous as this photo suggests.
It's a tree.
Pam invited us to school with her, to have a nice lunch and help with some English pronunciation. The kids are amazingly sweet and we had a great time helping them with their drama scripts and watching them do a run-through of Cinderella. This is what Pam has for lunch almost everyday.
After a few days at Luang Poj we were feeling pretty at home. ..
But we decided to take Pam on an Island vacation for her long weekend, so we took off to Koh Phayam.