This is the first time i set foot again on any Asian beaches after the unforgettably painful Bali incident, some 4 years ago… Not really a planned trip, but heck, let’s just do it. Just needed a little more preparation this time.
The Phang Nga Bay Tour we selected was 3.5 times the price of the Phi Phi Island Tour, but it was well worth every penny paid. What is the deal exactly? Well as popular as Phuket islands are, everywhere is full of people. This is to be expected when you join an island hopping tour. You see, every other 1000B tour will take you to places where there are 1000 people. This particular tour has half the number of people (or less) in a same-sized boat, full facilities with personalized services and actually brought us to places where there are significantly lesser crowds, yet not sacrificing the pristine beauty of the beaches and activities hence enhancing the quality of the overall island experience.
Here, i got many first times – snorkelling, swimming alongside at least 50 types of colourful fishes, feeding fishes with my hands and mouth, being viciously attacked by throngs of piranha-lookalikes who think that my hand is a big giant banana… And first time jumping into deep sea from a speed boat, without life vest, 3 times, just to get a perfect shot. Never mind the amount of sea water i drank! Hahaha!
Trekking into the jungle to see and climb a giant 1000-year-old tree, and play a little Tarzan here. Then trek barefooted into a human face-shaped cave which opens up into a beautiful hidden lagoon inside.
Koh Panyee island – Sea Gypsy village. Not really gypsies, just a muslim community who came and settled here many years ago and live in houses built on stilts over water; their livelihood mainly fishing and tourism. The locals here sell crafts, foodstuff and souvenirs all along the maze-like wooden elevated platforms which acted as the main walkways through their village where tourists explored in the daytime during their island hopping lunchbreak, as this is the only island with decent restaurants in the vicinity.
There is also a decent school and a floating football field here. Now this is rather funny, as the football field is more like the size of a basketball court, without fences, and the goals are made of miniature poles, and everyone asks the same question when we see this: “What happens when the ball fell into the sea?” The answer: Just jump into the sea and retrieve it!
James Bond Island – don’t even wanna get near this place, where another 1000 people were seen from a distance like ants, and hundreds of boats were waiting their turns to dock at the shore, just to get a distant glimpse at one rock jutting out in the middle of the sea. Hmm….. just because “Mr. 007 wuz here!” Ok, got a good photo here, now let’s move on to more interesting activities.
Canoeing around the Hong Islands … crawling in and out of big and small, high and low caves, exploring quiet and beautiful hidden lagoons, some of which are impossible to enter through when the tide is high; while taking in all the serenity and peaceful calm of the crystal clear turquoise green waters surrounded by towering limestone outcrops rising magnificently from the sea all around you… awesome…
Phi Phi Island Tour – well, can’t compare to the previous day luxurious tour. Much poorer quality, the boat hardly have enough places to sit properly. The most beautiful place we visited today was Maya Bay in Phi Phi Ley, the smaller Phi Phi Island, which is famously known from the movie “The Beach”. A stretch of softest and whitest sandy beach with clear turquoise green waters in a picturesque backdrop, it was indeed a beautiful bay…. preferably minus the 1000 people and the cacophony, of course. Haha.
Impossible to take a picture here without people. Those awesome scenes only exist in movies and advertising brochures.
Monkey Island – where there is a grand total of …. 4 monkeys, who looked like they’ve been doped, from the unnatural slow motion reactions they displayed. I’ve never seen a monkey who couldn’t even catch a peanut properly and took about a full minute to slowly peel off the shell of a peanut and eat it. Probably they were too full from the endless feeding from throngs of eager tourists from every boat that arrives all day long. Anyway, both monkeys and tourists get bored quickly here. Fortunately, it’s only a 10 minutes stop here.
Khai Island – the beautiful island where all the colourful fishes are. And of course, another 1000 people lounging on beach chairs, in the bars or in the sea. Inescapable… I think there are more people than fishes in the sea. It’s a wonder the fishes are still hanging out here. You need to pay 150B just to sit on a beach chair, or just to put your bag on the sand next to it, even if you are not sitting. Or else…., the boatman threatened that your stuff “will go missing” when you play in the water. Yes, it is as ridiculous as it sounds.
This was where i got “fed on” by various species and sizes of colourful fishes who seem to have been starving as they interpreted my hand as part of a bread or banana, hence helping themselves by taking generous bites of it. Ouch! Needless to say, i left this island full of scratches and scars on my feeding hand, souvenirs of the unforgettable trip. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful experience for me, as it was the first time i get up close and personal with fishes, and so many too….
Karon beach – the evening waves here seem to be bigger than Gold Coast’s. Lost my goggle in a giant vicious rip wave that swept me like a tsunami and almost ripped me off into the dark hostile ocean. Scary… didn’t even realise the goggle i was wearing on my head was gone, was too busy struggling for air as water rushed into my ears, nose and mouth. No more wave-riding this evening.
Some city sights :
Chalong Wat – it seems like we’ve gone to Russia, there are only Russian tourists to be seen here, throngs of them. Not one Asian tourist seems to be visible… hmm… curious…
Promthep Cape and Karon View Point.
Some typical Thai food – Phad Thai, Tom Yum, grill seafood…. mmmmmmm……. fresh, spicy and absolutely yummy!!
Some cast and crew of Siam Niramit seen on Bangla Street, Patong Beach, where there are also tonnes of agogo clubs with various shows including lady boy dances, ass-spanking, pole-dancing and ping-pong shows (which has nothing to do with table tennis, but women performing a variety of stunts, and not with their hands). Enough said.