KHAO SOK SILVER CLIFF RESORT – PLACE WITH SOUL
It was our first volunteering in Asia. We didn’t know exactly what to expect, but we decided long time ago that we want to be closer to local people, get to know their culture, tradition, customs and of course cuisine, because Thai cuisine is one of the best in the world. Movement from point A to point B is not enough for us. It’s the people whom we met on the way create our memories. So we sent a few requests with the offer of help in exchange for accommodation and meals. Silver Cliff Resort was from the beginning a place where we both wanted to be, without a doubt. We were even happier when Karen, the owner of the resort, wrote back to us on the same day. After two weeks in Bangkok we wanted to relax away from the smog and exhaust (don’t get me wrong we like Bangkok and we feel good in it!). March is just not the best time to explore the city.
From Hua Lamphong Railway Station in Bangkok we got a night train to Surat Thani (15£) and from there we took a minivan (8£) directly to Khao Sok and Silver Cliff Resort. Although it was already low season, the resort was fully booked for another two weeks. People usually stay in this area for 1-2 days. It’s a great starting point for trekking to the nearby National Park. The first 4 km you can walk by yourself, then you have to hire a guide. But even without a guide this distance is worth to do. You can admire beautiful nature here. However, the place is known primarily because of the nearby Cheow Lan Lake and all attraction around this Lake (about the lake and trekking we will have a separate post).
The Silver Cliff Resort is located in the jungle, 4 km from the main entrance to the Khao Sok National Park, where is located one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world. The resort consists of seven bungalows with beautifully sounding names Rafflesia, Liana, Heliconia, Bamboo, Banana and Coconut – family one, divided into a sleeping area for parents and a bunk bed for children. The wooden houses in the middle of the jungle are equipped with a private bathroom and a balcony with a view of the small river. The resort is located under a silver cliff, which is covered with dense fog every morning. The owner, Karen comes from Scotland. Her wonderful accent and Scottish sense of humor makes us laugh every evening. The place has existed since 2015, but Karen lives in Thailand more than 10 years. The residents of the center are also two dogs – Din and Deng, taken from the street. In Thailand, people don’t care about dogs, even if Buddhism requires it. You can see them everywhere, dirty and neglected looking for a food. In a society where many people are poor and lives in bad conditions, there is nothing to blame them but this view still arouses compassion. However, in Thailand you can find some organizations that helps stray dogs and people running non-profit activities, collecting funds for sterilization and medicines for stray animals. Karen created volunteering for people who want to take care of her dogs and in the future she also wants to help raise funds for medicines for animals. I forgot to mention that she also has six ginger cats.
For two weeks we helped to running the resort. Check-in and check-out and helping with breakfast and dinner. I was lucky, I could saw how traditional Thai cuisine is prepared by Jen, Gai and Fan, staff who works here but is treated like family. Karen showed us the best European – Asian lunch, french fries with papaya salad. I think that this combination will appeal to everyone from Great Britain, where chips (fries) are dressed with vinegar. Karem dipped them in a hot and sour papaya juice. A perfect combination of taste. We also could choose food from the menu, the same as guests. It allowed us to recommend the dishes to guests and on the other side we were happy because the food there tastes delicious!
We had the afternoon for ourselves. Our guests rode on all kinds of tours – trekking, lake, hot springs, cooking course, elephants etc. They left around 9 am and usually returned around 6 pm. We had time to relax and explore the area. We saw the temple with crazy monkeys which try to snatch the food from our hands. We also watched an elephant who every day, after 5 pm came to eat a dinner close to our resort. Silver Cliff is an environmental center that reduces plastic consumption using many biodegradable products, such as straws and garbage bags. Resort supports the local community by selling local products like passion fruit juice. They also produce homemade jam – mango, orange and our favorite from tamarind. Recently they started to bake a bread.
What distinguishes this place is hospitality. A large rotation of people sometimes gives the impression that the owner is tired. Hospitality in the hotel industry is based on being with guests, helping and looking after them. After two years of working at the hotels, we know how hard is this job. Karen has time for everybody and she’s never tired. In the evenings, after dinner we usually talked with our guests about Thailand, which Karem after 10 years knows a lot! Many of our guests called her resort place with a soul because she puts her heart and soul into her work. If you are close to we heartily recommend this place and if you want to stay with the locals and get to know Thailand better I recommend this volunteering: