An hour and forty-five minutes is what separated Krabi from Phuket via ferry. The early morning ride was quiet and smooth. The beach town of Ao Nang (in Krabi Province), was our next stop and we planned on four days of more fun in the sun. Two of those days were spent relaxing on the beach or at the hotel pool. The other two were more adventurous as we had signed up for island day trips.
The Thai longtail boat is a highly ubiquitous and beautiful sea vessel and we were just itching to get on one (especially after seeing/admiring and photographing them obsessively). So we were very happy to learn that the 4-island day trip we signed up for would be serviced by a longtail. We grabbed seats in the front row which paid off in terms of scenic views and taking pictures. The intriguing limestone islands protruding from the sea passed us by as the boat glided over flawless turquoise and deep blue waters. Our first stop was the little Tup Island where white sand tickled our feet while the water seduced us – so we gave in. An army of needle fish curiously circled around and we observed their graceful strokes as well as the scenery – lush green tropical islands poking out of the beautiful sea. Sometimes it’s hard finding words to adequately describe the surroundings which was very much the case here. And our day was just starting. From Tup Island we made our way past Chicken Island (from afar it does resemble a chicken), and on to Poda Island. We enjoyed a swim there followed by a cold drink at one of the beach bars pondering just how many islands like this exist, and how many are nothing but wildlife sanctuaries. Hopefully more than man will ever set foot on.
Next up was a snorkeling session which we grew to enjoy immensely. Just being in the presence of some many artfully decorated fish and coral was an amazing privilege (we saw angel, butterfly and parrot fish alongside tangs, sergeants majors, groupers and snappers). And spotting new types of fish was exhilarating. Later that night we looked up some of the ones we remembered seeing and are now considering investing in an underwater camera. Any recommendations ..?
The island hopping escapade just wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to Railay Beach (Ao Nang’s top beach), and its phallic cave. The beautiful white sand beach led to some limestone formations which housed the Phra Nang cave. As we approached it we spotted tons of colorful relics characteristic of many other Buddhist cave temples. But it quickly became clear that the decorative objects inside were all nothing but indiscriminate penises (many carved from wood and others from plastic – even a couple of dildos were strewn about as part of the vast collection). The first question that popped into our minds was “what is this crazy sex cave”? But as it turned out Phra Nang was dedicated to fertility and all the penises were symbolic of that. But what goes on in there is perhaps a totally different question.
Our tour ended after Railay Beach – just another fun filled day in Thailand’s vast and inexplicably beautiful islands playground.
The next day wasn’t much different from the previous although this time we signed up for the Phi Phi islands. This cluster of islands is well known for its beauty and high-end resorts on Phi Phi Don Island. But most other Phi Phis are uninhabited by man. One big difference though from the previous day was the boat, a triple engine speed boat. Fast and furious – yes, but not very suitable for admiring and photographing the scenery as it zipped right by. So when we made our stops at Bamboo Island and Maya Bay we rotated between swimming, snorkeling and taking pictures. Bamboo Island was our favorite because of its long white powdery beach and beautiful water. It was also completely empty on one side so we naturally gravitated towards it. From there it was on to Maya Bay which prizes the beach seen in the movie “The Beach”. My understanding is that prior to filming there the island was not serviced by tour operators and only kayakers and rock climbers ventured out. Nowadays there are mobs of tourists everywhere and way too many boats making the beach less swimmable. But we managed to snap a few pictures that offer similar views to the ones from the movie – no trick photography just some good old patience and a keen eye (Brigitte’s of course). And a little later our favorite activity of the day ensued right off Maya Island – snorkeling.
Phi Phi Don was the last island on our itinerary and we were excited to check it out. We had a group lunch there and afterwards we walked along the main drag which was littered with shops and tour operators. So we quickly ditched that crowd and went for a walk along the beach. Due to our proximity to the port, we stumbled upon a treasure trove of longtail boats lining the shore (an awesome sight). But sadly so did debris and trash.
After Phi Phi Don we learned that we had more time for another snorkeling session, so it was on! The boat took us out to a spot in pretty shallow water (about 1 – 2 meters deep), and there was plenty to see. There were also tons of spiky sea urchins lining the bottom. Among the abundant sea life Brigitte made a Moray Eel spotting which at first freaked her out – they’re pretty creepy looking. Unfortunately I never spotted it but I did see a puffer fish earlier in the day which was my highlight.
Amazing tropical fish, dreamy islands in the middle of the open sea and perfect weather all catered to our two days of islands exploration. It would be hard to leave all this behind..
Our last day in Ao Nang was uneventful, we lounged at the pool and played with Vim, the hotel’s irresistibly cute monkey. The little bugger actually got a hold of my sunglasses and chewed off one of the plastic parts, rendering them un-usable. I’m now 0 – 2 with sunglasses on this trip. But we couldn’t be mad with Vim because after all she’s just a little playful monkey.