02/22/2012 - 02/28/2012 80 °F
Hey Guys! Sorry its been so long since we've posted but Thailand is a fast paced place - gotta keep your focus or you can get lost in the hustle and bustle. So far we've spent nights in 4 areas and are now based in ban saladan, in the northern part of koh lanta at the MP Place Hotel. We just returned from a fantastic day trip out to the island of Koh Haa, a beautiful atoll 25 km or so due west. Definitely the best day of snorkeling I've ever had. The visibility was easily 50 feet and we were surrounded by coral of all types, colorful reef fish, lobsters, and many other friendly sea creatures. It was unique for me in that the depth was 30 feet or so but because of the great visibility it was entirely comfortable and rewarding just to snorkel (rather than having to scuba dive) We piggybacked on a scuba diving trip run by a great local dive shop called Blue Planet Divers. They really know how to treat the guests - chocolate croissants for breakfast, hot noodles for a between dive snack and an assortment of tasty curries and rice for a large lunch on the way back (it was a leisurely 2 hours boat ride in either direction).
Our first stop after arriving from Bali was Patong, a Las Vegas-y playground for partylovers of all ages. Sort of a necessary evil as we arrived late in the day and missed the ferry out to Koh Phi Phi. Still, the insanity of tourist Thailand was clearly expressed in Patong, so it's probably good to experience it once. We ended up having cocktails at a really beautiful rooftop bar overlooking the madness, and boarded our ferry with approximately 200 other souls for Phi Phi the next morning.
On the islands in Thailand, longtail boats seem to be the norm. They appear to be designed to deal with the strange feature of the Thai islands near Phuket that the water for hundreds of meters offshore is only a few feet deep. Hence the long "tail" that allows the driver to control the depth of the propeller - it also has the nice benefit of keeping the motor entirely out of the water. Needless to say, late afternoon trips to the beaches at low tide are not much fun if you're looking to get wet, there is tons of exposed rock and a 5 minute walk to the water!
We hired a private boat one day during our stay on Phi Phi Don to take us around its smaller more beautiful southern sister, Phi Phi Lei. Here are some shots of beautiful Maya Bay, where the movie The Beach was filmed.
After our night at Patong and at one of the hotels in the very touristy area of Ko Phi Phi we were ready to get away from the crowds and nestle into a more mellow beach scene. Phi Phi can be a loud and obnoxious place if you're not 20 years old and love to drink Fortunately, the western side of the island has a bunch of beautiful beaches that are more difficult to get to and for a (mostly) reasonable sum its not too hard to live out the dream of living in an earthy bungalow 15 feet from the water. Relax resort was really a wonderful place to stay. The bungalows were modest but very comnfortable (no a/c and electricity only when the sun was down) and the food was great. They even rented us a 2 person kayak so we could do more hand-line fishing!
After our stint at Phi Phi, we boated over to Koh Lanta for some more backpacker-style island exploration. Lanta is a place where people looking for a little bit of "unspoilt" Thailand come (though that seems to be a bit of a running-in-place type of race that travelers like to talk about.) Regardless, we found the prices and pace of life here more agreeable. We disembarked the boat to find a sleepy town with lots of wooden houses built on poles right out over the water.
A 40k road runs straight down each side of the island, and as you go deeper south life gets more and more remote. We passed by a Muslim temple in the jungle calling its members to prayer, an elephant by the side of the road, and a few stray monkeys. We also managed to catch an amazing sunset overlooking Koh Haa where we went on our fabulous snorkeling trip today. We stopped off for a swim at Kantiang Bay, supposedly one of the top 10 beaches in the world.
At the very end of the island, we caught sight of this local man who climbed up a Palm tree, knocked down some coconuts and climbed back down. No Big Deal!
And finally, a beautiful Koh Lanta sunset. We've spent a lot of time in Thailand (and also Bali, if you recall) riding around on a motorbike and checking out beaches, villages, and various viewpoints, so here are some favorite shots from a sunset viewpoint.