After Koh Tao we headed down to the biggest of the three islands here - Koh Samui. MMMMMM smells nice......! Other than a base for a few good nights out on the Chang beer, Samui is in itself not going to take up much of my journal - it reminded me of my Kavos holiday many moons ago! The beaches are, as they are now expected to be, very beautiful - its just that they are absolutley rammed with sunbathing tourists, watersports enthusiasts and thai men selling lighters! But don't worry, if you don't have a need for a lighter the same man can set you up with some ecstasy, or thow a monkey/hawk/lizard/snake/albino squirrel onto you and try and take a photo!
Koh Samui was however, the base for our trip to Ang Thong, the national marine park upon which Alex Garland based his book "The Beach". And quite rightly so, this place was paradise! We bombed over in 45 minutes from Samui on a speedboat, before jumping off the boat and doing some scuba diving in a secluded bay at the north end of the park - time for us to spot some more parrot fish and the like - very exciting in a childlike way! However, to our huge disapointment we did not find Nemo.........
From here we moved to the inland lake, the part of the park on which "The beach" was based. This involved yet another nausiating climb for Gary, who is yet to be beaten by increasingly challenging rickety bridges/stairs and terrifying heights! The treck was well worth it tho, as the pictures will show once i get them loaded up!
Back on the boat we headed off for lunch, before a kayaking adventure around a bay of islands - this was quite an experience also, topped off by Jammo and I defeating Keith and the most boring man in the world Bill, a guy who we met on the trip, in a race back to the mainland! By the skin of our teeth.......! To celebrate our victory we decided to laze on the beach whilst trying to get to the core of Bill, to see what made him tick...... Well that didnt take long, so we spent a long time lazing in the sea, which came back to hurt us later on as we were a little bit sunburnt!
From Samui we moved back to the mainland, and after a very long day of travelling by sea and by land, we settled in to a very nice little hotel on Aoh Nang beach. Unfortunatley things turned sour next day when we were involved in a dispute with a longtail boat driver. We were quoted 50baht, he wanted 60, Jammo wouldnt budge, I hid under my hat and Keith went to the toilet. Fortunatley for all of us, Jammo gave in and coffed up the extra balance - we may have been argueing about pennys, but it was the principle!!! We realised that we had been in Thailand a very long time - when you loose perspective of what things are really worth in terms of what you are used to!
We spent the rest of the day playing frisbly with the locals on the beach in the picture at the top of this blog, before returning home - for 60baht! Next day, our last in Thailand, Keith and I decided to steal ourselves for one last tourist based adventure! Except when we got picked up by our guide, we were the only 2 people going!
50 minutes on a longtail later we found ourselves on the deserted Hong Island, a beautiful lagoon was inside, its tall walls of limestone playing home to swallows and eagles. I never realised how big an eagle was until it flew past a swallow! We also stopped here on the beach - Keith found a huge spider, which was, thankfully dead! The sand sank at least 5 inches every step we took on the beach, and was beautifully soft.
From here we moved on again to the next island - for some snorkelling. Our hopes were raised by the longtail driver - i didnt like him up untill this point, he wore a battered Arsenal shirt - who told us that there was a clownfish out on this reef - NEMO!!
The hunt began, we swam and sank and swam some more, we saw angel fish, parrot fish, goat fish, rabbit fish, carrot fish - ok not a carrot fish, but pretty much every type of ruddy fish other than smug faced clown boy nemo! After a good hour we had to give up and have some lunch, before moving on again. The longtail driver took us onward, and we came to a pair of islands seperated by a shallow strip of sea. Our guide asked us if we wanted to go left or right, I chose right as it was small and deserted we landed on the beach and hoped out - to our suprise, our guide told us he would come back with the boat in a while after he had gone for some lunch!! So Keith and I found ourselves abandoned on a desert island! Keith was upset when I told him I would rather he was Kiera Knightley, or at the very least Ray Meers - but I think he understood why!
Fortunatley - as I'm sure you have guessed, the driver and our guide did come back to pick me and Kiera up, and we moved onwards to our final stop for the day - a spot of canoeing and monkey spotting! This could not have provided more of a contrast! The tide had been slowley heading out all day, and from the limestone cliffs all around you could see that the tide moved at least a couple of meters each way. So when we arrived at the "Pier" for kayaking we had a long walk up the beach after landing. Well, i say "beach", it was actually pretty much a mud swamp - a very hot mud swamp - we were now in mangrove territory and there was no sign of the beaches we had left behind!
The worse thing about it was that I knew we had to walk back over it to head off on the kayak! And with the water getting lower and lower, we couldnt actually follow the whole route without getting out, walking and dragging the kayak through more mud, and then refloating when we found water of any substance/depth! However, when we got to our intended destination - the end had really justified the means!
We had grabbed a load of fruit with us, and after a few taps on the hull of our kayak at least 30 long tail monkeys came out to feast. They hoped all over our kayak, eager to grab at the juicy fruit we had to feed them - however they liked it most if you reached out and they took it from your hands! This was nice, until big daddy fat monkey came along - you could tell he was the daddy because he had the biggest......... well, you get the picture! He sat directly infront of me at the front of the kayak - and liked to select from my hands the bits he would like, and did not want anybody else to have any choice, or any at all! We managed to sneak a few bits out to the others, but they were few and far between! They particularly enjoyed the bananas, unwrapping their little portion and washing the mud from it in the water before eating it!
After this we Kayaked up a canyon and continued out wildlife spotting! Lots of crabs with wierd claws and colours, the fish from the latest guiness advert, more monkeys and then a huge iguana! The tide had come in by the time we kayaked back, so the monkeys had moved on by the time we came past again, boo! I shouldnt complain, we had our fair share of monkey magic, and plenty of wildlife to see! My only sadness is that I didnt ever find nemo.....However having arrived in Sydney this week, I was delighted to see that I could simply visit the Sydney Aquarium and see 2 of them!! HA! Take that clown boy!