..for it has been a while since my last entry. Apologises all.
Electricity on the islands is scarce and the internet cafes charge about twice as much as in Bangkok so internet action has been pretty slow for the last week.
I last left you when we arrived on Ko Lanta. We had a great 3 days of sunbathing, eating and drinking and generally chilling out after our marathon trek around Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The Lantawadee resort is stunning and is definately recommended if you find your self in Lanta.
After 3 days of chilling we got the ferry further south to Ko Lipe. The islands this far south are part of the Tarutao national park and almost in Malaysia. Its not touristy at all as not many people venture that far down, perhaps unless they are getting the boat to Malaysia. Or doing a Visa run. I should probably not mention the FCO advise to be careful of violence against tourists in the area as there are separatist groups fighting for the islands to be part of Malaysia or something like that. Anyway....
The taxi dropped us at Ko Lanta pier at Ban Saladan at 9am and we caught the ferry to Lipe. It took 6 hours and a change of boat 3/4 of the way there, and we arrived at 17.30. The bay on Lipe is so shallow that the ferries cant get all the way to the shore so a local fisherman came out in his longtail boat to collect us. Even the longtail boats cant get onto to completely dry land on Pattaya Beach and it caused many laughs among the locals when i hoisted my backpack onto my back in preparation to jump from the boat into the shallow water and wade in. Luckily the small helpless girl look worked and one local man took my bag from me can carried it to shore, all the time making funny signs that if i had jumped i would have lost balance and rolled into the water, bag and all. mmm thank god that didnt happen..
Ko Lipe can only be decribed as TOTAL paradise. I thought Lanta was stunning but that has nothing on Lipe. Pure white sand and pale blue sea; a few small wooden hut style restaurants and a few bars and thats it along the shore. And there were only about 15 people on the entire beach. Rosie had read about a nice place to stay on the west side of the bay so we headed that way, packs on our backs, and found a room. 500 Baht for 3 people per night, not bad. Thats about 1.75 GBP each per night.
The next day we went exploring on the other side of the island to Sunrise beach. To get there you have to walk through the centre of the island and there is only one main track. When you get to the middle you find yourself in the village of the local people- who are sea gypsies. It has almost a shanty town feel to it, though of course they all have a TV set. And lots and lots of dogs. When we got to Sunrise beach we were actually the only people on it, as far as the eye could see. As we walked round we found a few fishermen mending their boats, then at the very end one resort called Mountain resort. Naturally its up in the mountains and had stunning views of the whole beach.
Friday we had a day out snorkelling. There was a group of 7 of us and we got a longtail boat, lunch and gear for our day out. Our first stop was way off shore near Koh Jabang. They chucked us out of the boat and into the sea and it was really choppy. Having never snorkelled before and trying to figure out how to breathe, how to stay afloat and not swallow half the sea took a lot of getting used to. I almost got back on the boat at one point. But i got there. The next stop was Hin Ngam which was much closer to shore with calmer seas. Lunch was on the island of Ko Rawi, another of the main national park islands, and we got to chill in the sun for an hour or so. Onto Koh Adang next which was beautiful and loads of nemo like fishes and coral. Rosie saw a sword fish too- thank god i didnt.... On the way back to shore we had one stop in literally the middle of the sea but it started to piss it down almost instantly. The skipper tried to get everyone back on the boat as quickly as possible. The look of fear on his face was enough to get everyone back on board in double time. And the trip back to shore was the bumpiest ever.
And that was our Lipe adventure. Next stop Koh Tarutao...
Tarutao is the main National Park island and is pretty much in Malaysian waters. Well, i got a welcome to Malaysia text message when i turned on my phone...
We arrived off a 2 hour ferry from Lipe at 12.00 noon. The only place to stay on the island is the national park accommodation so we checked ourselves in and had the rest of the day on the most amazing beach i have seen. The islands just keep getting better!
The sand was so white it was squeeking under foot, and the water was so blue and so shallow. Plus, yes you guessed it, we were the only people on the beach. And i mean for miles. The beach was 3km long and not one person in sight. Bliss. That evening we headed up the mountain where there is a view point to watch the sunset. It was a bit of a rough jungle trek to get there but we managed it. Needless to say as soon as the sun was behind the clouds we legged it back down as fast as possible. There was no way we were going to try and negotiate cliff edge pathways in the dark jungle no matter how many torches we had....
Our last day on Tarutao was spend on a longtail boat trying to circumnavigate the island. We were approached by an American couple at dinner the night before who were rounding up a group of 8 to charter a boat for the day. Much cheaper between 8, and way more fun. So we had a chilled day with Alex and Julie, Jay and On, Lee, Mark Vic and me. We sailed around the island about half way but then the wind changed and it was too choppy to do the other half, so we came back the way we came. We explored a few deserted beaches, a site of the old prison and went into Crocodile cave (though there are no more crofcs, thank god).
And that pretty much brings you up to date to today... where i am sat in an internet cafe in the D&D Inn on Thanon Koh San in Bangkok having flown in from Hat Yai last night. I have one hour here then its a taxi back to the airport for our flight to Sydney! Bring on Oz.
We need a few days to chill. In the last 17 days we have been on 5 flights, one overnight train, a songataw, a few minibuses, a lot of tuk tuks, even more taxis, and even more ferries and speed boats. Oh and an elephant. I tell you we have all modes of transport covered. And then some. I am really really looking forward to going to sleep without feeling like I am still on a boat....
Love to you all. Kat x