After 5 months in Malaysia we eventually arrived in Thailand – the first port of call being a small island called Koh Lipe. We arrived with Tereva early in the afternoon and so we headed straight to shore. Koh Lipe is such a beautiful little island – with a hippy feel. Lots of colour and backpackers everywhere – we were probably the oldest people there! This place was completely different from Langkawi – catering much more for the tourist and by that I mean things like lots of good eating places, bars, music, hippy clothes, wifi everywhere, beach bungalows etc. It was certainly much cleaner and really colourful. I loved it – we all felt completely relaxed. We all got new sims for our phones, and headed straight to a restaurant to have our first Thai meal – green curry of course.
We spent a couple of days here chilling out – the water was not as crystal clear as we thought but it was still lovely to jump in off the back of the boat. The next stop was a small island called Koh Bulon – nothing of note but no large tourist resorts so we knew it would be fun. We headed into shore and found the cutest little beach bar ever. It was literally just a table but it had such a vibe! There was a few small tables and we sat in the sand and the only drinks they sold were mojitos and beer – we loved it. We met some other french people which was nice for Phillippe as he sometimes struggles to keep up with our English – now it was our turn to struggle but we did manage to converse somehow.
We only spent one night here as we have only 7 days to clear into Thailand and we had a long way yet to go, so the next morning we set off for Koh Lanta. Koh Lanta is larger than the others and is another Thai island that is now catering for tourists en masse. It still has retained it charm with beachfront restaurants selling good cheap Thai food and lots of motor bikes with bikini clad girls on the back driving around. We hired motor bikes (not bikini-clad) and we set off to explore the island. There are two Koh Lantas, Koh Lanta Yai (South)and Koh Lanta Noi (North). Once out of the main beachy areas, it is a delightful place with very few inhabitants. Even the roads were quiet so we headed up to the top of the island and crossed over into Koh Noi via the new well-built sturdy bridge and discovered a completely different place. Koh Noi has not even begun to cater for tourists – few restaurants, no access to the beaches but obviously the money had filtered through because the roads were in great condition. It was nice to see some part of Thailand islands were still untouched.
We headed for a Rasta bar (why are there so many Rasta/Marley places in South East Asia?) had a drink and rested our sore bums then we headed back to the beach where we met up with some other friends from the Rally, had another drink and had dinner on the beach. When it came time to leave, we had to go down this floating jetty which was bucking like a bronco due to the waves crashing under it – great fun trying to climb into the dinghys… really thought we would end up in the drink.
We only spent a couple of nights here and then headed to for Koh muk which is famous for the Emerald Cave, a Thai hong which is an open cave only accessible by kayak or small dinghy. We blew up our kayak and waited until the tourist boats had gone and then kayaked our way over to the cave. One of the benefits of cruising on your own boat is that you can get to see things like this by yourselves without the hoards of tourists that appear between 9am and 5pm. It was quite impressive, but unfortunately the tide was out so it was just sand, it gets its name from when the tide is high, the water floods in and appears bright green, reflecting off the high sides of jungle around it. We got our exercise by kayaking back against the current and settled in for the night. Peaceful and stunningly beautiful – just what the doctor ordered.
The next island was called Koh Phi Phi – the famous island which was so decimated by the tsumani. We knew it was popular but wow – it was pandemonium! We circled round the bay and decided it was not for us – too many tourist boats, longtails and orange-clad pdf wearing snorkelers, so we left immediately and found a much nicer smaller bay around the corner which was just emptying its day-trippers. Around the corner we saw a little hut high up on a cliff which is lived in by a guy who protects the birds nest. What a home!!
We had a drink on Tereva that night and decided to head straight to Phuket the next morning.
We arrived in Phuket on 17th March and headed straight to the customs and immigration office. Having been a haven for yachties for years, Phuket have it sorted. All the offices you have to go to are all in the same building and they all speak English! We were done and dusted in less than an hour – a record for us.
That night we headed for the Phuket Cruising Yacht Club, a rather grand name for a small, run down but lovely little bar/restaurant right on the beach front. It is run by an Australian called Brent who is a font of knowledge. That night was his daughter Indie’s 2nd birthday and we were all invited to a bbq there. We had passed our friends Doris & Rudi on Muck when we sailed in so they joined us for a welcome drink. It was lovely to catch up with them as they had been home to Switzerland since we last saw them.
We spent a lot of time in the Phuket Cruising Yacht Club and Brent was a real treat for us. He was so helpful – and had so many contacts. We needed our outboard fixed – Brent sent us to a little workshop which we would never have found – We needed some specialised hose for the watermaker – Brent sent us to the another hidden gem. As a result of our successful shopping we ended up spending far more time in Chalong that we had intended – 3 weeks in all. One thing we had always promised ourselves was that sometime on this journey through Thailand we would see if we could get new clears and sun shades for the boat – Brent put us in touch with a local guy who has done a fabulous job, great quality and really good value. I now feel like I have my own special little cubby house as our cockpit is completely enclosed giving us an extra room in the rain!
Cannot wait to explore the rest of Thailand…