Metal detecting has always appealed to me, although I never did it as a child or teenager. The idea of finding treasure is alluring, but that for me isn’t the sole motivation. I am a fan of history, particularly anthropology, and in general what humans have been doing these past years. Finding bits of history, whether coin or relic, is interesting because it provokes the imagination; who sat there, who lived here, what were they doing and why were they here? There’s also something fascinating about the fact that day in day out people walk over a particular spot, possibly for decades, and then with just one dig, a few inches down, a piece of history is unearthed.
And so, a year ago, I decided to buy myself a metal detector. I tested it out in my garden and a local field in the UK, but the beeps led to dead ends. I needed to find some potentially more lucrative sites, and increase my knowledge and experience. My main intention for buying the machine was to do some metal detecting in Thailand on the beaches. Sadly I forgot to bring it when I went to Phuket last December, and most of my travel has been urban-orientated since.
Then, two weeks ago, a friend suggested a trip to Hua Hin. Luckily, it was only because my wife asked me whether I was taking my beeper that I remembered to pack it the night before we left. I was excited, but being inexperienced I pretty much expected to come up short.
However, the first day really surprised me. My friend suggested scoping out an area of the beach just in front of some big, old properties that line the beach; his theory being that in the past wealthy people may have relaxed there when the tide was high. Immediately we detected a few old one Baht coins, and over the following couple of hours we found some interesting bits.
The most valuable find of the day was a silver pendent (925 stamped) with a pearl inside and a couple of other stones I am yet to identify. My friend is credited with that find, though, as he was holding the detector at the time. I also found a junk chain with a shell encased in rope, some ten Baht coins, a few five Baht coins and someone’s asthma medic bracelet – it’s from the UK so I’ll try and return it by calling the number when I get home.
Excited by what the first day had dug up, I went home and did some online research. Videos on YouTube and comments on blogs suggested looking in harder, more compact sand, there was also advice about reading the tide lines and gulleys which I didn’t quite understand. Some suggested looking among shell deposits, and the obvious advice of looking around areas frequented by tourists, like sunbeds and beach restaurants. Armed with this knowledge I thought I’d do better, but I didn’t…
I choose to detect in the section in front of the Hilton Hotel, and about 150 metres either side. But the compact sand nearer the shoreline frustrated me; I was getting beeps at 8-10 inches that always led to nothing, and became convinced the sand or rocks below the surface contained some metal compound that I couldn’t discriminate through sensitivity. I looked around rocks, shell-laden areas and deckchairs, and found nothing. I then moved to the back of the beach again, along the wall, and found a few coins, totalling eight Baht.
A guy on the beach said that occasionally a local metal detector club comes down and works the same area, so perhaps that was a factor in the finds being few and far between; apparently one of them had recently found a gold watch. But then perhaps my inexperience led me to become frustrated and too sporadic with my search. I just can’t “read the beach”, which apparently is a real skill that takes a long time.
Still, my total time metal detecting in Thailand has been around 4-5 hours, and I have at least made a handful of finds, one pretty good at that. What would be cool is if next time I could go out with someone with experience who could show me some basic skills. I think I got to grips with my detector pretty well. I am using a Bounty Hunter Quick Draw 2, which is not a high-end machine but a solid entry machine for newbies and occasional hobby hunters. It gets good reviews and has good auto-detecting functionality, a plus for those who want to get straight into the treasure hunt. It is also reasonably priced.
I will take this experience and hopefully get out treasure hunting again soon. I am interested in other potential detecting sites in Thailand, and any clubs there might be. I doubt there’s anywhere in Bangkok to detect, so I guess beaches are the main attraction for expats and travellers metal detecting in Thailand. Any tips and advice is more than welcome.