Departing form Jakarta in Indonesia, I flew to Thailand. I was a bit of a short notice decision, but a good one. I didn’t know much about Thailand, except it having a slightly fragile political situation, a buddhist majority and an abundance of german expats (among others). OK, maybe I knew a little bit more then that, but at I had no idea about where was what. Phuket, the isle of all tourism, was my first destination and I made sure to leave as soon as I knew where to.
I met some friends from back home in Krabi and went for rock climbing and kayaking in Railay and Tonsai. Specially Tonsai Beach is a good place to hang out, with lots of backpackers and climbers and a very laidback vibe. After some days on the beach, I travelled up to the pristine lakes of Khao Sok National Park.
Khao Sok was a great treat, as usual because you meet the right people. I got a real bargain for an overnight trip to the Cheow Lan Lake and shared a hut on the lake. We hiked to several caves and overnight through the jungle, together with a pleasantly small group and with our guide Nib, a former elephant hunter, now working for tourists and the national park. I did my best in not killing myself while cliff diving from some sharp rocks and generally felt at home in the thick jungle of Khao Sok. Search for Nib if you ever make it there, he’s got some good stories to tell and is just a great guy.
A new website for the Khanom Hill Resort
An unexpected connection brought me to Khanom, south of Surat Thani. A friend who runs a small ad agency in Berlin visited a resort there last year and found out that they urgently needed a new website. I had been in touch, they agreed on trading and I planned my arrival for the start of the low season. After a month in Indonesia and my first 2 weeks in Thailand, a lot of good experiences and and a plentitude of different cheap hostel rooms and bungalows, it felt like a good plan to visit the Khanom Hill Resort for a few weeks, help them, settle down and take it easy.
Khanom is located in an area of Thailand not yet influenced by mass tourism although the busy islands of Ko Samui and Ko Phangan are just 20 minutes by car and a 2 hour ferry ride away. The resort and restaurant is run by a Thai family, and a german couple lives on the same property. It’s located directly on a long beach in Khanom, very quiet and is slightly more expensive that I would be able to afford. We agreed on a new website and some computer lessons for a room, food in the restaurant during my stay and Thai language lessons. Needless to say, this wasn’t for a charity or community project but more of a healthy break for myself, to stay somewhere nice and settle down to figure out what comes next. The trade was on.
A peculiar fact about the outdated 10 year old website of the resort, is that it was built many years ago, by the clinically blind daughter of the german couple living near the Khanom Hill Resort. A truly remarkable accomplishment and up to this day I wonder how exactly you develop a website based on a voice assistant. Keeping that in mind when you look at the screenshot that follows, it was a pretty good website, doing exactly what it should. Hats off!
As usual what you start with is the logo. There was something remotely similar to a logo, that fell victim to a little visual makeover.
The website was bilingual, had an admin area for reservations, a guestbook that needed to be migrated to a new backend and plenty of content about surroundings and region. The target group of the resort is no young and hip crowd so I opted for a single column magazine style layout with no visual distractions and a full screen landing page. Clean and responsive with lots of images, no sidebar.
Like in some of the other projects I worked on during my journey, there was no time for a proper design phase and I had to make design decisions during development (I think I’m getting the hang of it). Worth mentioning is that a perfectionist (that I unfortunately am), suffers the consequences of his condition. It was a LOT of work and I even added some pink dolphins in the background for Thum (Why? In case you didn’t know, they really exist in Khanom ).
I proudly present: http://khanom.de.
Swimming with Thum’s Dad
It wasn’t just work in Khanom – We visited different buddhist ceremonies, including Vesak, witnessed the release of baby sea turtles and mini rocket festival on a beach close by. We also visited a small island inhabited only by local fishermen, easy to spot in the photos below.
And I found a new friend, Thum’s dad. Lung Samrong is 79 years old. He saw me swimming every day and at some point asked me if I could teach him. Many Thai’s don’t know how to swim. I happily agreed and we managed to meet almost every afternoon and moved from the pool to the open ocean. He always used a life saving ring, but got the hang of it. He want’s me to return next year to continue the lessons and our good bye was a little bit sad. Let’s all hope that we still have the fearlessness and energy for a challenge like that when we’re 79. I kept in touch with my new friends in Khanom and heard that he is still going swimming every day since I left…
Big thanks go to Thum, Tha and their family, the amazing Khanom Hill staff for the smiles, the friendliness and for welcoming me to their beautiful resort. Big thanks to Dagmar and Achim for their support and translations. I felt at home.
More photos from my journey through the south of Thailand below. My current trade is for the volunteer organisation Open Mind Projects (openmindprojects.org) in Nong Khai, close to the border to Laos. And by the way, the military coup and the curfew are hardly felt, even if you’re travelling around Thailand, so if you’re planning a trip go ahead, there’s nothing to worry about. See you all soon!