We left Koh Samui early this morning to get the first ferry back to the mainland port of Surat Thani and slept all the way. From there we got a small bus that took us several hours to the next big town where we swapped buses again and travelled to the main town nearest to our destination of Ao Nang, a small town in the Krabi region.
When we finally arrived at that destination we had to get a taxi to our hotel but there was one small problem. When we booked the whole journey no one who wasn't local quite knew the location of our hotel and it turns out it wasn't in town. They wanted us to spend more money or walk!
After some negotiations and gentle arguing we finally persuaded our taxi driver that it wasn't our fault, we had no idea that the hotel wasn't in town, and he agreed to take us there although he wasn't happy about it.
As it turns out it wasn't really that far from the town after all, although it was too far to walk. The hotel offers a free shuttle as and when you need it to and from the main areas but we didn't know that otherwise we could have been dropped off by the main shops and gotten picked up but never mind. We arrived in the end.
Kim the owner greeted us with a glass of juice when we arrived and she was very fussy and attentive in a nice way. She showed us to our room which we knew would be a bungalow but we just expected it to be a small hut like the ones we stayed in on Koh Tao with a little bedroom and an en-suite.
Imagine our surprise when she showed us to a full on bungalow with a huge lounge, hallway, bedroom and bathroom almost as big as ours back home! Once again another bargain from Agoda. Such a shame we only plan to stay 2 nights!
After a quick shower we jumped in the free shuttle bus to town and had a look around. It's an extremely touristy area though so we grabbed some food and I had a nice pint of Guinness in an Irish Pub before we called Kim and got her to send the shuttle for us.
Once back at the reception the ever friendly Kim helped us to plan a tour to James Bond Island tomorrow morning and managed to negotiate a pretty nice discount on our behalf.
The next morning at 9.30am we were picked up in a minibus which was brand new and very swanky, not what we've been used to at all. Our guide explained that we were the only ones going on the tour today so we would have him and the bus all to ourselves. This was a little disappointing as we wanted the opportunity to meet some new people but never mind.
We later found out that James Bond Island is so far north that most people actually visit on a day tour from Phuket not Krabi but as we are no longer going to Phuket this is the only opportunity we'll get.
We were looking forward to the drive though as the Andaman coast is famous for its limestone rock structures that are very striking and beautiful and topped with jungle. It's a popular area for rock climbing.
After several hours enjoying the scenery we arrived at a fruit and vegetable place while we were waiting for another group to join us. Our guide, who has clearly been here many times before, took us around showing us all the local fruits, etc and arranging for us to try any we didn't know. There were also some locals making traditional dishes for us to try using these fresh products. Some of the curries were very spicy! I enjoyed the coconut sweets although Sarah won't eat coconut and we both enjoyed the massaman curry which was tastier than what we've had at restaurants.
Back in the minibus we headed down to the dock where we had to don a very attractive life jacket and climb aboard a longtail boat. The other group that joined us consisted of a bunch of Asian tourists (either Chinese or Korean we weren't sure) and they clearly all knew each other, didn't speak any English and proceeded to ignore us which was fine. There were plenty more limestone rock formations here to admire and take pictures of.
We arrived at our first stop after about 30 minutes. James bond Island. For any of you who don't know, or can't remember, this little island was used as a film location in The Man with the Golden Gun and features a particularly striking rock formation that is extremely recognisable.
Wow, it was a stunning little island with amazing views in every direction. As was to be expected, it was very touristy and busy with lots of crafts stalls selling cheap products but our guide explained that it is actually quieter than normal which was a bonus.
We took plenty of pictures and wondered around to all the viewpoints, it was a very worthwhile trip.
Back on the boat and we headed to a nearby floating village which is literally built on the water. The village these days mainly consists of a series of restaurants owned by different families and each tour company goes to their own restaurant.
We were treated to a buffet lunch but there wasn't lots of fish as you might expect, instead most of the dishes consisted of mainly chicken. It was good.
Back on the boat we headed to a floating pontoon in a particularly picturesque area for a spot of kayaking. Sarah and I had opted out of this activity though as we were trying to save some money. The guide was pretty persistent trying to get us to pay and have a go anyway but we've done kayaking before and this is nothing new, plus we can see the views from here. So the rest of the group went off and we stayed behind for some downtime.
We got talking to the guide whilst we were waiting and he was telling us to come and work in Thailand because we speak English which is apparently a much sought after language in this area. He told us that we would be well paid if we got a job here.
We caught the longtail boat back to the dock and jumped back onto the minibus for a sleep all the way back to Ao Nang and our hotel. All in all it had been a pretty good day and we were very tired.
In the evening we took the shuttle into town for dinner and enjoyed a fabulous Thai pancake before heading back for an early night ready for our ferry to Koh Phi Phi tomorrow!