Day 7, 15 November
Halfway into our trip and I feel the need to spend some time alone, and to be honest, reflecting on and talking to God. Mostly about how amazing it is to be here. So I drag myself out of bed and down to the beach, which fortunately isn’t far at all. I’m in time to watch the sunrise. I walk in the opposite direction to yesterday, passing resort after resort, empty deck chairs spilling out onto the sand, warming up for another day of tourist life.
It’s serene and fresh with that typical cool morning air. With the sun up I go for a shallow swim, but the water is disappointingly murky and the bottom is covered in natural debris. One of those moments when your ‘perfect’ island holiday picture gets tainted …
On the walk back I see the wire remains of a burnt lantern and I feel guilty for having released one on the shore of KoTao. The romanticism of it overshadows the polluting consequences now staring me in the face. How many thousands there must be, littering this land and its oceans.
Bruce and Han also went for a walk and along with Debbie are now having breakfast at the resort. We’re all feeling rather lazy and spend most of our remaining time by the pool. I get roped into a conversation with an interesting elderly character – George, I think? One of those strangers you meet on your travels. The others make fun of me but they are just jealous of my spontaneous friendship … Definitely not because I am talking to an old man in a Speedo…
What follows is the world’s shortest and most expensive taxi ride to an airport.
I can only be grateful that it is divided by four.
Ko Samui airport is arguably the highlight on this island. Seriously. It’s like a botanical garden for planes. The lounges are open villas with snack bars – free food for everyone! The bathrooms have built-in fish tanks. There are comfortable chairs to wait in. Amazing.
We check in and treat ourselves to some ice-cream, which feels like spending a fortune. One must remember to convert the other way!
And then we’re off. Into the sky on a smallish Bangkok Airways plane, the mass of green below us becoming smaller until you can see Ko Samui as a whole. You realise that you only saw a fraction of what it has to offer.
The in-flight meal is an interesting combination of Thai dishes, notably the coconut dessert with the two purple beans as decoration. It’s a short 55 minute flight before we touch town in Krabi – marking our arrival on the Andaman Coast: The western islands. The midsection of mainland we just passed over can take around 10 hours to cross by road, so flying really was the best decision! It’s incredible to see the acres of plantations pass by underneath.
Krabi – or rather Ao Nang – is hot and sticky and we have no idea where we are staying. We spend the next hour or so peeking into potential hotel rooms, turning up our noses at every leaky air conditioner, considering different prices, and getting tired lugging our backpacks around. The beach – or at least a resort pool – is calling my name. We end up practically hiking along a tar road to Phu Pha resort, a lush fancy-looking resort off the main drag and nestled under these breathtakingly dramatic limestone cliffs. Bruce negotiates a decent rate for two nights. He says the front desk service is excellent.
It is one of our ‘splashier’ stays, evident by the safe and hairdryer in the room! It really is gorgeous with its wooden bungalows and mosaic-tiled details in the bathroom. Apart from the construction noises nearby, it is paradise.
Cocktails by the pool make for welcome refreshments as we peruse the brochures and decide what to do in our (limited) time here. We all agree that elephant rides are a no-go as we have sadly heard too many bad stories about ill-treatment.
We’re soon keen to go exploring and we’re grateful to hear that Phu Pha offers a shuttle service that runs hourly, dropping and fetching guests at the beachfront. It’s like an enclosed bakkie, but the back is open, allowing me to photograph the locals trailing behind us on their scooters, toddler in lap. Safety third!
Ao Nang beach doesn’t disappoint. It’s a beautiful sunset filled with many pictures of silhouetted longboats, married couples holding hands, and me looking pensively into the distance. Debbie and Han thought it great fun to photo-bomb the latter …
Like a relaxing bath, the Thai sea never gets cold – even after the sun dips out of sight – and it’s the most natural thing to go from beach to restaurant to massage parlour to market to shower to bed. Which is pretty much how the rest of our night pans out. Mango shakes and curry (3 x ‘no spicy’ plus 1 x ‘very spicy’) at a lovely restaurant under colourful strings of light, followed by unfortunately my least favourite massage experience. These ladies basically harass us until we cave and get taken to an indoor area with interval blasts of noisy air-con. I am sandy, I’m cold, the masseuses are all constantly nattering away and I’m just not enjoying this massage. Nor are the others. If I remember correctly Bruce had a guy masseuse, and Debbie commented how this lady spent about 20 minutes massaging her left knee. Weird.
We end it off with a little walk around the lively parts of town – shops and markets etc – and notice a really good cover band performing. Luckily they’re on tomorrow too, so we hurry to the pick-up point for the last resort run, just about making our free ride back to bed.
As always, thanks to Bruce for the additional pictures.