Story and photos by CHOW YANG CHUNG
If I were to pass out at this spot, I would probably never be found as nobody knows I am here.
This scary thought passed through my mind as I stood halfway up a steep brush-covered slope looking out towards the Andaman Sea. At the bottom of the slope was a very rocky beach. On top of the slope I could see the roof of a resort hotel.
I was drenched in my own sweat; feeling very tired and slightly nauseous.
Should I continue up to the resort and then use the main road to get back to where I was staying? Or should I go down to the rocky beach and attempt to go round a headland, which as far as I could see, was strewn with rocks?
Two hours before that, I had left my wife asleep in bed at The Surin resort in Phuket. It was a cloudy morning as I ran past the restaurant where the staff were laying out the tables for breakfast.
Jogging past the main lobby, then past the guardhouse, I turned left on to the main road. Daylight was just breaking as I ran along a small country lane. I saw the names of other beach resorts that I had read of when searching on the web for the perfect place to stay.
I ran past the entrance of the Amanpuri Beach Resort with its impressive timber architecture and wondered what it would be like to stay there. I didn’t expect that I would later be coming out from its main gate.
I continued past the Bliss Beach Club. Perhaps we could have dinner here later. I ran past some seafood restaurants. Then more beach resorts, many with buses parked outside.
Then came some boutiques and…men’s tailors. Why were these found near beach resorts? I went past some buildings under construction. Other buildings seem to have been abandoned. I couldn’t help wondering, there was so much for tourists!
A runner came by in the opposite direction. We smiled and nodded to each other, each probably wondering what the other guy was doing here.
Soon, I could see the beach that I wanted to go to as I turned into a side road on my left. A little further up three Caucasian girls, with wet hair and happy smiles, were returning from their morning swim.
I emerged among casuarina trees at white sands that seemed to stretch for miles. I was at Bang Tao Beach.
The sea at low tide was calm. It had taken me about 35 minutes of running from The Surin to reach here. The road I came along was almost parallel to the beach. It would probably take me another 30 mintues to get back if I ran along the beach. So I thought.
The run along the beach was pleasant. A light breeze was blowing in from the sea. Near the water edge, the sand was firm and easy to run on. This was worth getting up early for.
On my left side, I passed some seafood restaurants and resorts. Some tourists were taking photos along the beach.
Looking back I could see the sun just coming up above the trees. It was going to be a hot and sunny day. Further up, I came across some boats laid up on the beach. Some fishermen were working on the nets. Some freshly caught fish for lunch would be nice.
As I came to the end of that stretch of beach, the sand petered out and there were more rocks and boulders. It proved to be slow going. I remembered when I was younger, I could skip quickly on the tops of rocks. But now, after the long run, my legs were tired.
I made for a path among the trees close to the shoreline. It was steep in parts, and dangling vines kept getting in the way. I could not believe how tiring it was to walk on the rocks and climb up and down the slopes among the bushes.
Never mind, I told myself I should not be too far away now; once I got to the headland I should be able to see Surin Beach.
After another 20 minutes, I got round the headland. But I didn’t see the sandy beach that I had expected! Instead, there were more rocks and boulders, and probably another 40 minutes of slogging!
Looking up, I could just about see the roof of a beach resort. Perhaps I could climb up the slope and take a short cut through the resort to the main road.
It was a tougher climb than I expected. Fallen branches blocked the way. Some plants were prickly. And the slope was steeper than I had thought.
It was tiring. I stopped underneath a tall coconut tree, panting. I had to squat down. I did not remember being this tired in my life. And I had ran half marathons before. I realised I was probably dehydrated and low on energy. Was I going to pass out here?
There I was, half way up that slippery slope. Should I go up or down?
Down it was. There was more clambering among the boulders, as I took care not to slip and fall.
As I carried on, I could see that the vegetation along the shore was beginning to thin and I could see one stretch that was quite open. It looked like part of the Aman Puri Resort that I has seen earlier. I had had enough of the rocks, private property be dammed. I would be glad to be arrested.
As I made my way into the resort, I saw a gardener watering the plants. He didn’t seem alarmed to see me, and carried on with his work. I borrowed his hose to douse myself with cool water. I do not speak Thai, but was able to request a glass of water from the kitchen with sign language.
Employees of the resort were starting their day – trimming the plants, sweeping leaves from the lawns of the beautiful bungalows. Perhaps one day I could stay here. But now I had to find my way out.
It was another 10 minutes or so when I arrived back at The Surin. My wife had got up and was wondering whether she ought to try and call me. Or even to lodge a “missing person” report.
My running apps showed that it had been 2hrs 20mins 07secs since I started. Total distance covered: 8.87km.
I will never do it this way again. But I will continue to run.
This article was sent in conjunction with the adventurous and active spirit of National Sports Day.