Notice: Dear reader, please note that most of the photos in my blog are currently not available. They are currently held hostage by Photobucket (which requires me to pay $399USD/year). I am in the process of re-uploading the images on a different host and this will take some time. If you have any burning questions about my post, feel free to leave a comment. Sorry for the inconveniences caused!
Upon reaching Ao Nang Beach, we started staring out to sea, hoping to find a boatman whom would be keen on bringing us for a private sunset tour. To my disappointment, (probably due to low season) there were no random boatman docked at shore waiting to pick up potential customers. We walked rightwards, with the sea on our left, down the entire stretch and we stopped by 1-2 tour agencies. One agency attempted to call a boatman for a good 10 mins before giving up. Then, we continued walking towards the longtail boat counter which was at the other end of the beach, only to realise that it was already closed for the day (4pm+). We didn’t give up and continued asking random tour agencies until we found one with a lady who can speak rather decent English.
She quoted us 2,500B for a private longtail boat sunset tour to the 4-islands. I was pretty shocked at the price as I had gotten a 7,000B+ quotation online for the same tour, but with BBQ dinner. We tried to haggle the price to no avail as it was already 70% cheaper than the published rate in the brochure. Although she reassured that our boatman could speak English, we got an extremely quiet boatman whom urm, only spoke to us to tell us the island names >_< He was a man of few/no words.
The lady told us to go get some food and drinks from the convenience shop as there would be nothing for sale on the islands. In about less than 30 minutes after payment, our boatman came and we were ready to depart. Before boarding, we had to pass this receipt to the boatman.
As it was late afternoon, the sun was pretty kind to us. The boat (as promised) was a big 20-seater and there were only 3 of us! Data plan was so awesome as we could post updates/check-ins/photos while traveling from island to island =p
The First Destination we went to was Phra Nang Beach & Cave. It is not exactly an island as it is still connected to the main island but due to the high cliffs, this place is only accessible by boat. The boatman docked his boat and we had to walk through a small stretch of beach, which had a part belonging to the super luxurious rayavadee resort.
As we were on private tour, the boatman did not have to give us any instructions or time limit we had. It was totally own time own target and we just took our own sweet time~~~
As we were walking, we discovered jelly-like thing which turned out to be dead Jellyfishes washed up ashore.
Phra Nang Cave, also known as Princess Cave, is home to a shrine of Phallic sculptures. Local fishermen and boatmen often come here to pray for safety at sea. This legend is somewhat similar to the Haesingdae Penis Park I visited in South Korea last year. I really wonder how many of such places like this exist around the world..
There was also this random stalagmite which had a stool for people to stand and take photo with it. Not sure if there’s any significance to this though..
The setting sun is really beautiful.
For our second stop (possibly Si Island – Koh Si), it was a snorkeling spot. We were given life jackets and snorkeling masks and off into the water you go!
Snorkeling is quite a safe activity and even if you don’t know how to swim, you don’t have to worry because you will not sink if you wear the life jacket. Well, the boatman kind of assumed we know what to do and didn’t really give us much instructions on how to use the snorkeling mask.
Here are some tips that I have learnt:
(1) Always ensure that the mask is tight enough and that there was no gap for water to seep in. If it is not tight enough, use your hand to press your masks into your face when looking down. There should be enough suction from the masks to keep the water from entering.
(2) Put the entire mouthpiece into your mouth and use your teeth to bite it tightly and practice breathing before sinking your head in. If you do not put it in fully, you will end up swallowing a lot of seawater :/
(Really thankful to my friends who don’t mind being featured in my blog.)
The water is very cooling but the variety of fishes we saw that day were very limited and the visibility was average. It was just the usual yellow white black striped sergeant-major. We didn’t stay inside for long.
The third stop was the legendary Chicken Island. It’s a little funny because my friends initially thought that chicken island was an island with a lot of chicken. It was slightly disappointing to know that Chicken Island got its name only because it looks like a chicken head. Perhaps we were running a little late, this was the furthest the boatman drove.
These are things you can do only if you’re on a private boat ^_^
Photo of the setting sun – if you focus on the sun.
The fourth stop was the most beautiful island we have ever been to – Tup Island (Koh Tup).
The highlight of this island was the sand walk which connects 2, sometimes 3, islands together during low-tide. The water is crystal clear and the waves are calm. I could totally just sit here all day (if the island is not crowded).
Apart from our boat, there was only one other boat which was most probably a sunset tour. They were having their dinner (as part of the package) on the island.
Here’s a picture of our boat.
Only two boats in the entire island =p
FYI, the photo below was taken with my iPhone5 camera without any photoshop or filter apps.
As it was getting late, we didn’t spend much time on the island. The sunset was indeed a spectacular beauty. The colours of the sky are so beautifully mixed as if they were multiple scoops of different flavoured ice cream, melting as the sun sets.
The fifth stop was Poda Island (Koh Poda). It is supposed to be very beautiful but urm when we reached the place, the sky was darkening at a very fast rate..
There was a fire show on the island! I guess this was a reason the boatman was rushing us to leave tup island.
If we were not wrong, the performers were the boatmen/tour guide of the tour groups. It felt like a pretty impromptu performance with no proper choreography. There were some injuries here and there but gosh those guys were really professional in finishing up their act. Initially, I thought that we were expected to pay tips and this was some sort of busking but no. They ended their act abruptly when the sky darkened. We almost couldn’t recognize the way back to the correct boat. There was totally no light on the island.
The next activity was supposed to be the highlight of the trip but I guess lady luck was not on our side. The boatman drove us back to the same snorkel spot we had in the afternoon and gave us the snorkeling gear. We peered down into the water and there was 0 sightings of any light. As our clothes were already dry since the afternoon snorkel, we were unwilling to get wet again if these luminous plankton couldn’t be sighted tonight.
We wanted to see the luminous plankton in the night snorkel which was supposed to look like this:
And so we googled and googled and showed the photos to the boatman and we made him jump into the water to check if these luminous plankton were present that night. Well, he went in and came out really quickly. We tried to check the commotion on other boats and it appeared to be calm. There were people entering the water but there were no sounds of surprises and amazement.
Maybe it was not dark enough (the moonlight was really bright that night) or maybe it wasn’t late enough (barely 8pm). After a 30 minutes wait, we decided to leave and return back to shore.
I’m gonna add the sighting of luminous plankton into my bucket’s list 😀 It looks so cool..
The 20 to 30 minutes boat ride back to shore was one of the most amazing part of the journey. We were lying with our heads up into the starry sky. There were a lot of stars that night. The weather was perfect, the wind was perfect. The feel was perfect.
I was trying to recall the times I stared at the night sky.
I remember the night we slept in our sleeping bags, out in the open in a village between Chiangmai and Chiangrai during my OCIP. I think I saw a shooting star that night.
I guess I don’t really have much memories with star-filled night skies and this one would definitely be etched in my head.