Wednesday 14 September 2011

Koh Yao Yai Village Resort - a taste of Africa in Thailand.

I was born in Africa. Spent a lot of time living in Africa. And have travelled there a bit. It has its own vibe, its own look and feel, and rhythm and sounds and smells.

So all the more reason I find myself questioning my judgment when I arrive at Koh Yao Yai Village and somehow felt I'd been tele-ported to some remote part of southern Africa. Lush bush dominates this 32-acre resort site, and around 50 villas are dotted around somewhere in there. The villas are topped by straw-thatched roofs, like Vietnamese cone hats. In Africa, they call structures like these rondawels (literally, round houses). The open sided, airy buildings have knotty branches for eaves, big wooden latches for locks, and an outdoor shower and bathroom.

Calico curtains, and a mossie-netted day bed add to the African portrait. And the biggest mini bar fridge I've ever seen in my life sits on the covered veranda. Should it be called a maxi bar instead???

Rustic comfort is the word. Well, that's two words but you get my drift. Maybe that's the thing that triggered the Africa analogy. But it's more than that ...

There's a total serenity here (surprising given that this is in Phang Nga Bay, southern Thailand, and party-hard Phuket is not that far away as the seagull flies).

'I came here because I heard there's no one here,' explains Christian, a solo traveller from Switzerland. He's right about that. And I hope he enjoys his own company, because just about everybody else is a deux (er, that means two in French).

An infinity pool looking out to the famous bay,  with rolling waves sweeping across the foreground, and the giant hump-back upthrusts yonder.

The hotel is just 2 years old, a sister property to the fantastic Phi Phi Village Resort I blogged about a little while back. The staff possess a totally endearing naivete ... with seemingly no idea about happy hour or what food they were serving or attractions on the island.

I finally ascertain that the island's fledgling positioning is all about authentic natural and local experiences. You can go and see local traditional village life, rice fields and rubber plantations. Some mountain biking. And that's about it, jing jing. But what more do you really want or need? Oh, maybe a wonderful airy library stocked to the rafters with great beach reads

Happy hour aside, we manage to get a wonderfully poured cocktail just in time for sunset and enjoy a most calming, soothing evening -- almost meditative -- with the white noise of waves washing below, and the evening sky gradually creeping in from the east across the water. Until dinner is served. And mighty fine it is too, served around the pool by candlelight.

Only I'm surprised to not see African staples like boerewors on the menu, and I hear no howling hyenas. So I am in Amazing Thailand after all.