SWIMMING WITH SHARKS…THAT’S WHAT WE DO!
We flew from Chiang Rai to Bangkok to Phuket and after finally finding a cabbie willing to drive us to Patong Beach we made our way south.
We stayed at a cute little place near the beach with a pretty nice room with a great view. I was really disappointed because there was this incredible haze/fog obscuring the ocean view and I had been so excited about seeing all the amazing scenery in this part of the country. We laid low that night still nursing the left over food poisoning and after a late check-out we were off to the Yacht Haven Marina to figure out what this catamaran adventure was all about. Did I mention it poured the entire drive there???
We arrived at the Living Room, a local eatery at the marina, and were greeted by our fellow travelers. Eric, a mid-twenties chef from Sweden who is traveling for a year.
He left everything behind once he figured out he was working too hard and not really enjoying life-seems like a quite guy until he does start talking and just a really funny goofball kinda guy. Martin, a late-twenties Swiss guy who works for a local grocery story in the business side of things. Josh, a mid-twenties English gent from London who works with documentaries-a fairly introverted guy that was very interesting to talk to and very into photography and filming. Alex, an 18 year old from Colorado/Mexico traveling and volunteering at an animal sanctuary for two months in Thailand. Lindsay and Stephen-30-ish year old family medicine docs from Canada-really enjoyed getting to know these two and spent a lot of time with them during this leg of our journey. Maryn and Almar-late twenties fellas that made up the Dutch constituent of our boat. Maryn works at his families business with road construction and repairing roads/safety equipment shortly after accidents and Almar manages a T-mobile store. These two were both on holiday, as well, and are just great friends and very funny people! Monique and Jeff, in their fifties, are a married couple traveling for a year as well…they are about 3/4 of the way through their journey. And then their was Willy, our fearless leader…that fella is a character!
After safety briefings we found our way to our 82 foot catamaran and got settled on board and out to sea! The rooms were quite, um, quaint. They were so tiny! Deeter and I chose a room with a set of bunk beds that neither one of us could fully extend in-and we chose this one because it was more spacious! And every morning was made that much more incredibly by unspoiled, solitary views of the most beautiful places I have ever seen-plus Deeter would keep me laughing with some great tales every morning as I woke up! But despite the tight quarters, we were off through a very misty/hazy filled Andaman Sea sailing adventure! The haze gave an eery quality to the limestone krags that protrude from the sea and it allowed them to really sneak up on you.
We laid anchor at Koh Pannak for the first night and quickly figured out that sleeping on deck was a better option for us except for when it rained. Oddly enough, it only rained that first night during sleeping hours. We awoke near some amazing limestone rock formations and were off to James Bond Island where the island is featured in the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun. Truly beautiful and made even better that we were there before it became overrun with tourists.
Then we visited a floating gypsy village that was interesting. Weird to see a soccer field afloat in the middle of the ocean. Then we were back to our little ship and sailed to Kho Hong Krabi where it just started raining when we took a dip in the water. Such an incredible place to swim and adding the rain made it even a little more spectacular! Then we sailed to West Railay beach and went ashore for dinner.
We ate at this place called Mom’s Kitchen and it was phenomenal. Seriously the best curry we have every had. It was great to sit and chat with everyone-we honestly had such a great group of people that were easy going and had similar interests so it truly enhanced the entire experience. The best part of dinner was when Deeter looked at me and whispered in my ear, “What’s that Canadian girl doctor’s name?” I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not, but he was serious and I was laughing out loud when I said, “Her name is Lyndsay…” It’s a tough one to remember:) Then we were out to the boat again and enjoyed some wine and beers on board while chatting and watching the stars.
The next morning brought with it some snorkeling at Kho Chicken Island and then sailing to Ko Phi Phi Don Shark Point to do a little more snorkeling. Unfortunately, this point didn’t deliver any sharks. We then took off for Maya Bay, also the beach made famous by the movie The Beach with Leo DiCaprio in it. It is tucked away in this little cover and we watched the sunset and all the day tourists disappear and we had the place to ourselves. We started the morning with a quick snorkel where the Dutch Contingent reported shark sightings so everyone was in the water after a quick breakfast to go shark hunting. We swam with easily 20-25 black tip sharks that morning. A little freaky, especially when you’re already a little scared of fish, but super glad we did it. Such a great experience and awesome to see!
Then we took of for Ton Sai Bay in Ko Phi Phi Don and had to say goodbye to our new friends. We were really grateful to have the opportunity to meet and learn from everyone on board. An amazing group-it was such a treat to be able to sit and talk with people from such different walks of life…and also for us to get to just talk to other people:) We then took a ferry and long tail boat ride to West Railay (Sunset) Beach. This is my favorite beach we have been to yet. It isn’t overrun by tourists, is small and has an incredibly laid back vibe to it. It’s not an island, it’s part of the mainland, but the only way to get there is via water transportation. There are no cars, tuk tuks or motorcycles here. The west side has some nice resorts and a couple of little bars/restaurants and minimal shops. A short walk across Railay takes you to East Railay (Sunrise) Beach. There are a lot of mangroves on this side with more restaurants, bars, shops, resorts and tattoo places. We settled into our villa and quickly headed over to Mom’s kitchen for some more of that delicious dish she makes. We were told upon checking in to make sure we closed all villa doors when we left so the monkeys would stay out of the mini-bar-how could you not love this place?
The first night we called it an early night as we hadn’t slept much on the boat and man was that air conditioning something we had missed!!!! We started out with breakfast with an amazing view of the long tail boats in the water and then took off kayaking around all the limestone rock formations and caves. Truly beautiful! Then some swimming in the crystal clear water before a quick lunch and massages. We watched sunset from the beach and it was the best sunset in Thailand yet! That night we were then off to East Railay and The Last Bar for some pretty awesome (staged) Muay Thai Boxing, a Didgeridoo jam session and a fire show. All in all a pretty entertaining night even if the winning boxer won by TKO after his “kick” of his opponent sailed six inches above his head!
We got up this morning and went kayaking again before starting the trek to the Krabi airport via boat, golf cart, taxi and finally our plane to Koh Samui for the last leg of our trip!
We have been so lucky with the weather here during this rainy season. It has been beyond beautiful the vast majority of the time with a well appreciated shower here and there along the way. Truly feel so grateful for the opportunity we had to sail through these amazing islands and spend a little time posted up in West Railay. It allowed us to see so much of this amazing place with scenery like I have seen nowhere else. This is a place we will definitely be back to visit!