Saturday, December 22, 2012

Day 10 Digest from Koh Pha ngan and Anthong Marine National Park, Thailand

For the earlier daily travel digests from my South East Asia Backpacking trip, look here.

The day began early for us as we had to be at the travel office by 8 AM where a taxi would pick us up and take to the Thongsala pier and then off to the Mu Ko Angthong Marine National Park. Hence, we left our Lazy House hostel early and walked to the travel office where at 8 AM sharp, a taxi picked us up and some more folks and took us to the speed boat’s office. At the office, we were given tickets and told to have their light breakfast that consisted of tea, coffee, fruits and cookies. We had breakfast and after a brief break, the speed boat company folks accosted us to the pier and into their boat.

Once we were in the boat, we were given a high level plan and off we went into the ocean and towards the marine national park. The first 45 minutes of the trip was uneventful as it was just blue seas that we passed, but post that we started seeing small islands jutting out of the water and soon started seeing a cluster of islands all close to each other and lush green in appearance. Some of them even had their own beaches. Then, the guide started showing us some islands that resembled a monkey, a lion or more. Shortly, after this stretch we reached our first pit stop on the waters. Here we were given our life jacket, masks and snorkels and told to jump into the water. All of us jumped in and found the marine life to be beautiful. A lot of fishes came up to my face and the experience was very good. But, what I did not realize is that there was a current in the water and while I was looking at the fishes I had gone quite far away from the boat and the rest of the group. Now, to tell about me, I don’t swim, but since I had a life jacket, I was comfortable floating or bobbing around. When I did look up, I saw the boat to be quite far and had to wave for help. My friend saw and swam up to me, but he could not pull me towards the boat as the current was quite strong. Soon, one of the crew members dove in, swam up to me and started pulling me, but the progress was slow as I am a big guy and the current was heavy. We swam a little bit more before a rope was thrown into the water. Finally, I reached the boat safely. An interesting experience it was.

The next stop was lunch where we were taken to a beautiful island with a white sandy beach. By this time we were all very hungry as the breakfast was light. Thankfully for me, there was 1 vegetable dish and fruits for me to eat and hence I ended up having a good  lunch. After lunch, there was a 30 minute break for everyone. During this time, the other tourists preferred to get into water and take a swim, while me and my friend stayed in the shade and decided to let our food digest. After this island, we were taken to another island in Angthong marine national park where we were supposed to climb up to the view point and also get to see the salty emerald lake inside the island.

When we reached this island, the weather was nice and sunny, which was good as that meant great photographs. But, it was only when I started climbing the steep stairs that it was bloody humid too. It took me about 5-6 minutes to reach to the viewpoint but by then I was drenched to the bone in sweat. The view was fabulous though. Here, we stayed for about 10 minutes taking photographs of the Angthong island that was one side and the Emerald lake that was on the other side. Then, we walked down the other side to the base of the Emerald lake. The lake was beautiful, but it was too hot and hence the view was murky. No one was allowed to swim in the lake as it was national park rules. Again, we started climbing to the top and then to the bottom. This time we were totally bushed and hence immediately jumped into the ocean to cool off. The dip was refreshing, but we were all called to the boat as we were headed to the other island.

This final island was large and in pristine condition. The plan here was to explore around the island or take a break and then do some kayaking. Since we were in no mood to take a break, we decided to play some beach volleyball. (the net and ball were already provided for). Soon, we were all sandy, but enjoying the game. It was during the game that my friend realized that he had lost his ring. He thought that he lost it while playing volleyball and hence we started looking in the sand for his ring. But searching for a ring in the sand is like looking for a needle in a haystack. We tried hard, but had to give up. By then, we had lost all interest in our kayaking trip and hence decided to give it a skip. We tried looking for the ring again but gave up quickly. We took a dip in the sea to get rid of the sand sticking to our bodies and then did 30 minutes of photography around the island before hopping onto the boat and back to Koh Pha ngan. At the Thongsala pier, a taxi picked us up and dropped us back near our hostel.

It was a good day trip to the Angthong Marine National Park, but it was a bit tiring and I felt like I was still in the boat as the ride was a bit bumpy on the return. Evening was relaxed with a long dinner and a movie back at the hostel.

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