The dimly lit bar above is the almost-famous Blue Rock Bar, Sangkhlaburi’s booze and food hotspot. There are friendly lizards scuttling around the walls, an array of cheap beers and spirits and Lee- the British owner of the venue- puts on roast dinners every Sunday for homesick backpackers to indulge in. You will need to book in advance for those, but if you’re getting tired of having nothing but rice and noodles all day every day it’s definitely worth it! I found myself at the Blue Rock most nights that I was in Sangkhlaburi, revelling in the warm hospitality and chilled-out vibes.
For the next stop, a leisurely walk in the sunshine down to Khwai Noi lake. You can hop on a motorbike-taxi for next to nothing, or if there’s a few of you then the hostels and guesthouses in town will happily call a car for you and you can splash out around 50baht (£1-ish) per person for a ride down. We went for the walking option – do be wary of the stray dogs that, like anywhere in Thailand, rule the roost – the majority are harmless and will leave you well alone, but if they do start barking and running towards you, don’t start running as well! Keep a steady pace and don’t make eye contact, and they’ll go back to harassing each other instead of you.
There’s no entry fee to get down to the lake, and you can walk out onto a wooden jetty and jump in if you’d rather not wade in through the muddy edges of the water. There are also canoes and kayaks that you can hire at various prices depending on how strong your haggling skills are! With these, you can get to the nearby underwater temple easily- although if you visit in the dry season like I did, this is a not-so-underwater-temple and can be explored by foot, unsubmerged!
This is the first of many locations where I’d recommend either having a waterproof case for your camera phone, or a waterproof digital camera. The last thing you want when your canoe capsizes is your ability to capture all the beautiful scenery going with it!