Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Our Thailand Adventure: Chapter 5- Phang Nga Bay.

 Day 5: Thursday 25th April 2013 (Anzac Day)

Phang Nga Bay Day trip!  WOW!
Just thinking about this day  makes my heart race with excitement! It was surreal.

James Bond island, Kho Panyi - the Muslim village on stilts, kayaking through caves, Krabi!

This was one of the days I was really looking forward to before we left. We booked this tour with Phuket Sail Tours a few month before hand. You have to get in quick with this company, as they come highly recommended on trip advisor.

Phang Nga what?  you may be wondering...
Here is a map of the area. It's not very clear but it gives you an idea of the area we explored. We were staying at Karon which is down the left hand side of Phuket, and the tour took us up around Phang Nga Bay all the way round to a beach in Krabi.

They picked us up from our hotel at 6:45am and drove us to the pier. We had a juice, met Sean and Sompong our tour guides, boarded the speedboat and off we zoomed. Whoooosh, hold onto those hats, and hair!

My word the scenery was glorious! Limestone cliffs jutting up from the sea all around us. I love how you look out into the distance and see them rising up through the smog, as far as the eye can see, it 
was like they never ended. The fishermen going about their daily business, just added to the beauty.

Here is Sompong, he was the funniest guide, an asset to the company.  Here he is showing us where we are on the map.

Our first stop was a beach in the Krabi Provence. It was absolutely beautiful, white sandy beaches, clear, green water and tropical fish. It was postcard material. We got there before the crowds and had a swim and snorkel. First I had to get my bathers on in the tiny, toilet room on the speedboat, that was an adventure on it's own :)  Here is a extract from my travel journal about snorkeling:

"It was my first ever snorkeling experience. At first i hated it, I was hating having my face in the water and feeling suffocated. I have always had issues with putting my head under water! BUT i focused and took some deep breaths and I got the hang of it. Breathe, breathe, relax, stay calm... I started to slow down, stop panicking and look around... I saw a few fish! Wow, It was very relaxing, in a strange way. We fed bananas to fish, they loved it. Big fish came and ate banana (well not huge but bigger that I expected)" 

 This place was AMAZING!!!

I love the look of the long boats, so postcard-ish and holiday-ish ;) Seeing them, even just in photos fills me with joy and warmth. I didnt actually go on one while we were there though :( Next time!

We snorkeled in front of this rock formation. In the lush, green, warm water.

Sean feeding banana to the fishies

I could sit there all day

Drinking a can of coke in paradise :)

This beach was hit during the Tsunami that devastated parts of Phuket on Boxing Day, 2004. At the time these boats below where on the beach like the ones above, they were smashed and washed 100 meters into the jungle. The boats have been left exactly where they landed to show the damage that the Tsunami made. Many people lost their lives in Krabi. It was sad seeing them, brought the tsunami to life that little bit more.  

I love krabi. If I ever go back I would love to do a day tour exploring the  Krabi Provence. So many adventures to be had :)

Next we went into a hong or secret room as they liked to call it.

You enter through this little gap and there is a large, room with limestone walls and green water, it is just beautiful. We did a loop of the Hong and stopped for photos. It was quite heavenly. I just stood for a moment and let myself take in the beauty.

and then back through the gap we went :)

Next stop was the 1,000 year old bodhi tree, a sacred tree in Thailand where lots of spirits are said to live. I wasnt that excited about seeing it, it's just a tree after all, yeah i'm not a tree lover :)  But it was actually pretty huge! And there were awesome vines hanging all around it, I was expecting Tarzan to swing through the air at any minute.

This photo is blury but seriously, look how wide the base of the tree is

Sompong was a bit of a monkey, he walked up a part of the tree holding vines. I think I was holding my breathe, Don't fall little man!! He was great, he liked to show us where to pose and then take pictures for everyone, absolute legend! He took the one of me holding the vines below.

Back to the boat and time for refreshments. There were plenty of drinks and exotic fruits for us to eat onboard. I must say, i didnt really like any of the fruit. Sompong was trying to get everybody to eat some and went around literally putting them in people's mouths. He seriously reminded me of a monkey!!

And then we pull up alongside James Bond Island, famed for the movie 'Man With The Golden Gun'. Whooo yeah, a famous place!! This place is crazy with tourists so we didn't go ashore, but just looked from the boat. Amazing how a rock formation can be so famous! SO ladies and gentelman here it is... wait for it... JAMES BOND ISLAND!

Sompong thought it would be cool if I posed like this :) 

 and here it is again in real life :)

Ok, must be time for lunch. Lunch was at Kho Panyi, a fishing/gypsy village of over 1,700 people built entirely over the water. Just WOW! What a setting to build a village. I was so excited about coming here cos i'd seen it on a travel show about a month before we left. It was a rickety, cluttered,  place, pieces of wood and other scrap materials just lying around everywhere, but  I really loved all the coloured roofs.

Our tour getting off the boat. It was a a case of walk the plank.

Lunch with a view

 Lunch was nice. We sat at a table with a lovely family from Sydney. Everyone on the tour, apart from one guy from England, were Australian. After lunch we were taken for a walk around the Village. Here are my thoughts from my travel journal:

"What a different life the village people live, there are 360 families living there. 60% of their income  comes from tourism - they have stalls set up in front of their houses. Their doors are wide open and as you walk by you can see right into their homes- the kids playing on the floor and VERY basic furniture. It really was a snapshot into their lives. Such a run down looking place. But they do have a school for the kids and their own floating soccer field. While walking around I was so hot, I felt ill. We had no air conditioning ALL day!! I appreciate the peaceful, clean place that I live so much more now!! SO MUCH!!

I would have enjoyed walking around the village so much more if I wasn't almost dying from the heat.

It was very eye-opening. I dont think privacy exists in the village. I liked seeing the chickens and kids just wondering about the place. I cannot imagine growing up this way.

Here are a few happy snaps or should I say, 'hot Bec snaps' of Village life in the floating gypsy village.

No floating village is complete without it's own soccer field hey?   Very clever!

These people live such a simple life, the gypsy life. I wonder if they are happy? We can learn some lessons from these people i'm sure. We take what we have for granted, we are blessed, our nation is blessed.

"I went to the toilet at the restraunt, it was my first experience using a non flush, non toilet paper toilet. You have to scoop water into the toilet yourself to flush it.  I knew this could happen while in Thailand so I made sure I always had a packet of tissues in my bag. But for some reason I forgot to take my bag into the toilet with me, so ummm, I had a moment of panic and then did the whole squat and shake ;) haha.  Trust it to happen the only time I dont have my bag with me!" 

Moving on, moving on.. so much to do, so much to see...ohhhh what's next!!!! Ohh yes, kayaking!!

We met some local paddlemen who took us on a 45 minute kayak trip around Hong Island, through the caves and under the hanging rocks. The caves opened up to hongs, which is another word for rooms.  These hongs have walls of towering limestone that open up to the sky.

Todd and I were given a kayak and a rower and told to sit back and enjoy the ride.

"It was very beautiful. Our Kayak rower kept stopping and taking pictures of us. He couldn't speak English, but he took some good photos. I didnt see any of the other rowers taking photos, we got a good one!"

You'll have to excuse my appearance. Id been swimming and was so HOT, and well, you know how it is :)  We went in and out of Hongs/caves. You enter through low openings, go through a dark  tunnel and arrive at a light filled, glorious, HUGE room. Very beautiful and peaceful. Here are a few snaps  going through a cave.  In we go... duck your head... oh yes and dont forget the sound effects: LOUD cicadas... and the water lapping on the side of the kayak...

Here's a short video to get more of an idea what the hongs were like. And see what I mean about the cicadas! It is slow moving, the kayaks go rather slowly :)


 And here is another clip, just  so you can hear our rower talk and Todd trying to understand what he means ;) I don't think he was trying to say monkey ;)

After we stopped (in the video above) he let us have a go on our own while he took photos of us.

And time for some more hongs. I must tell you these Hongs were HOT... I started feeling so dizzy and light headed and nauseous in the last one... too much heat and stuffiness inside the cave and not much room to stretch my legs. But you cant deny it is beautiful ;)

Oh the serenity!

This is Toddy tipping our lovely paddle man. We were blessed to get one who offered to take photos for us. God must have planned it cos he knows how important photos are to me :) Bless you little Thai man!

We are next whisked away to Phanak Island, where we are all given a torch and led into a dark cave. We had to walk through shallow water in the dark, after being told that bats live inside the cave. Eeekkk, what an adventure! I felt like an adventurer. I felt brave. I felt unstoppable :)

In we go! It was quite low in some points. I was a bit concerned how I would go with my claustrophobia, you know, dark, hot, low, water, bats, not great odds for a claustrophobic person, BUT i was fine!!!! I didn't panic. I just kept walking, trying not to slip over!  

The light at the end of the tunnel!

We emerged into a lagoon, which is the Mangrove Hong. It wasn't that exciting. I didnt take any photos, that speaks volumes of my impressions.  For me, braving the cave was definitely the highlight of this stop. Bec the explorer.

We have almost come to the end of the day. The last activity was called 'The Jump'. People jumped off the front of the boat and had a swim. Sompong was in his element taking photos of people posing as they jumped. There was no way I was going to jump... yes ok, i am a scaredy cat when it comes to jumping from a height. I watched Toddy jump in and then I gracefully lowered myself into the water at the back of the boat. WOW, the water was so salty. I choked on it and had a 'I cant breathe' fit... but it was green and warm so how on earth could I be complaining? ;) Climbing back onto the boat in a ladylike manner was interesting. I'm sure if you can picture me trying to haul all my weight back onto the boat, while trying to stop my wet tank top from sticking to my fat rolls haha. SO ME!
Here is Toddy jumping, it's blurry but hey it tells a story and sets the scene.

Well what a day, action packed and exciting, hot and tiring...  JUST BRILLIANT!
Seeing all these great places has definitely ignited my desire to travel.  So many more adventures to be had. It's just the beginning.

We returend to our hotel, had a swim in the pool, had tea at the resort, walked around Kata and then had an early night so we were ready for the next day... Our 10th Wedding Anniversary and A trip to the Phi Phi Islands!!!  The Phi Phi blog will be coming soon, DONT MISS IT!!!!!!

Thanks for reading.
Love Bec the explorer xx

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