Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Southern Thailand Island Hopping - Part 1

We're into our last ten days of our time away now so we're going to hop around the islands off the coast of south west Thailand in the Andaman Sea. Time for some beach R&R !

We got a bit of a shock here. This famous Thai seaside resort town, isn't actually by the sea. It sits on a river several miles inland. Arse - must read the guidebook better. This was easily remedied with a forty minute songthaew ride ( back of a pickup truck ), but certainly gave us a trembly lower lip for a moment when we first found out, especially coming on the back of a nine hour minibus epic from Georgetown.

Ao Nang.
This is a small beach town just up the road from Krabi. It sits alongside 1.5km of golden sand in a bay surrounded by karst mountains. It was quite developed, but was nicely done with virtually all buildings below the palm tree line. It was nice to be back in Thailand with consistently the best food in South East Asia - chicken in tamarind sauce - fantastic. We took a walk upto the end of the beach in the photo and found a troop of small monkeys doing exactly the same as their human neighbours, namely lounging around in the sand and cooling off in the warm sea. Very entertaining. There were also evening Ladyboy shows with Cobras ( the mind boggles ) if you like that kind of thing.

Ko Phi Phi
A couple of hours across the sea by fast ferry are the Phi Phi islands. We arrived late in the afternoon, but had found accommodation and had got ourselves out in time to find a beachfront restaurant whose ploy to entice customers was to play Shakin' Stevens tunes. Athena admitted that Green Door had been her first ever record purchase, so we had to go in.. Food was good mind. We did hit a small snag later on though ... We hadn't noticed the roof top 'stealth' bar ( ie quiet during the day and very loud during the night ) when finding a hotel. Not a good night, but we managed to move rooms in the morning.
Ko Phi Phi is one hell of a bit of geography. Its classic karst limestone scenery gives it twin white sand beaches with a small town in between and shear cliffs either side. The water is crystal clear, stuffed with fish and was running at about 30°C according to the diving shops. Have a look at this aerial shot.

We had an amazing snorkelling trip to the smaller of the two islands in the group( Phi Phi Lei ). It was like swimming in a tropical aquarium. A stunning number and variety of brightly coloured fish. On the way home we stopped off in Maya beach which was the main location for the film "The Beach". It was pretty obvious why with it's stunning lagoon, tropical waters and icing sugar sand. We finished off with a gorgeous sunset out to sea. Nice day !

Here's a view from the boat as we headed into a Ko Phi Phi Lei lagoon.