Spices and tin mines
Friday 12 August 2011, 04:55AM
Takua Pa is a small peaceful coastal town, located amid the freshness of a valley in Phang Nga province.
Historically, Indian, Chinese and Arabic traders knew Takua Pa as Takola, the Indian word for the sweet-smelling cardamom spice. Its port was well known as a trading centre for spices on the early commercial shipping route from the Andaman Sea to the Gulf of Siam 200 years ago.
Takua Pa (tin in Thai) then became also an important centre for tin-mining and was eventually included as an administrative district in the new Phang Nga province.
It was morning of a long-weekend. Thinking about where to go next, this traveller remembered Takua Pa that she once visited with many friends and met other travellers who are now close friends.
The bus ride of 120 kms from Phuket to the town on the northern coast of Phang Nga was a two-hour drive through thick forests, dense national parks and dark-green mountains, the road following a winding coastline all the way.
The route passes through the popular Khao Lak holiday area with its strings of luxury resorts on both sides of the highway north and south of the town.
Travellers can take their time, slowing down and stopping to walk and take in the sights such as at the busy Khao Lak tourist township.
More cars and motorbikes were on the road as the sun rose. People were out early, opening their restaurants, spreading out their groceries or just relaxing in front of their houses.
The old Sino-Portuguese-style buildings on Udom Tara and Sri Takua Pa roads silently testify to the golden age of old Takola when tin mines made the money that built the picturesque, grey, two-storey shophouses.
Early next morning, this travelller woke in an old hotel that was decorated simply and neatly. With not many visitors were around, it was an ideal place to rest.
A Thai movie, Wonderful Town, seen the previous night, was shot around old Takua Pa. The film director was right: this charming old town is wonderful.
– Sukunya Phoonpong