A small fishing village
The smell is the first thing you notice in Samaesan, which is a small picturesque and typical Thai fishing village just south of the Sattahip Naval Base.
The pungent smell - common in other coastal town - is produced by the cooking, drying and processing of the small "silver fish". The local population likes to eat this fish dried or fried in oil with sugar and salt together with soup. Most of the catch is packed in plastic bags or carton boxed and shipped to Bangkok for further processing. But seeing these fish alive is a lot nicer. During a boat trip you will see thousands of them making big jumps out of the water when they try to escape predators.
The visitors of the beautiful temple on the hill will be spared the fishy smell thanks to the constant wind. The wind clears to air and makes the platform with its terrific views a real joy. The many islands off the coast with the white beaches, crystal-clear water, and the boats coming and going, resemble the beautiful coastal scenes of southern Thailand. From the temple you can also see the jetty from which various companies organize trips to beautiful scuba-diving locations and great fishing areas. It is a dream for many sea fishermen because the sea-life around the colorful coral reefs is overwhelming. Needless to say the fishermen look at the sharks, groupers, barracuda, mackerel and many other species with different eyes than the scuba divers.
The divers have another beautiful diving target here off the coast of Samaesan. It is the 45 meter long wreck of the Dutch (or Indonesian) Hardeep, which sank in the Second World War and rests at the bottom of the sea at 26 meter and is a popular destination for scuba diving schools. The wreck has also become home to morays, which is an attraction in itself. Sea turtles can also appear suddenly. But the sea around Samaesan has treacherous currents, and the visibility is about ten meters. Moreover, diving to wrecks is dangerous too. All this make the area really only suitable for the more experienced divers.
A walk along the long jetties in the harbor with its many fish processing companies and handcraft businesses, shops and eateries is full of surprises. Both the houses and the jetties look as if they were all built of old boards and demolition materials, hardly giving the impression of being solid. But the local population is hospitable and friendly. While not everyone likes to be photographed, shooting pictures of the scenes and the surroundings doesn't create any problems. Here, too, asking with a friendly smile and lots of gestures does wonders. In the lower area of the village is another temple worth a visit. It has lots of Buddha statues, a small coffee shop, several eateries and clean bathrooms. The village does not lack karaoke bars, which are best approach with some caution, and probably best avoided all together.
At the edge of the village they are planting new mangrove. You'll find it past the Percula Farm where happy clown fish are being raised and released in the wild and where a seemingly arbitrary entrance fee of 50 to 250 baht is charged. Planting mangrove is good for the image, good for the flora and fauna, and it offers a great view of the bay during a walk on the newly built jetty. The new version does not look as picturesque as the old one in the village… but it looks a lot safer.
We received the kind permission of Scuba diver, one of the scuba diving schools around Samaesan, for the use of the underwater pictures.