Sun 29th June - Wed 9th July (Week 41-42)
Sun 29th - Got a taxi transfer to Kuah ferry for the 10:30am boat to Satun on the mainland. Pretty good crossing, and only 30mins late leaving, so we arrived at 12pm / 11am Thai time. Got stamped out of Malaysia, and into Thailand for the 4th time this trip, then got our transfer to Pakbara. Not quite the personal transfer we were expecting - got driven to a local bus stop and dumped there for 20mins, then loaded into a minivan with all the locals, and made our way to Pakbara, arriving at 1:15pm. Normally in high season, you can just take a quick 60min boat directly from Langkawi to Koh Lipe, but now its low season, they close that route, and the only way is to take the ferry to Satun, bus to Pakbara, stay overnight as you don't arrive in time to take the one ferry a day, and then take that ferry the next day to Koh Lipe. What a phaff !! Checked into a hotel just as the skies opened and it chucked it down ! Really hoping we haven't made a big mistake coming to Koh Lipe in low season and we're just going to get rain for the next 2 weeks ! We'll come back whiter than everyone in the UK who've been having a heatwave ! Pakbara is a pretty small little place, just one main street with very few places to stay or eat. And made all the worse as today is the start of Ramadan - the fasting month, as well as low season so most shops were closed all day until the evening !
Mon 30th - After much negotiating and trying to find out the actual situation with regards getting to Koh Lipe, we discovered the ferry broke yesterday so the only way was on the speed boat at 11:30am. We'd read scare stories about the speed boat - or more affectionately called the "vomit comet" but had little other choice. It was a reasonable sized boat - 28 passengers but with a strong wind and black clouds, we were in for a bumpy ride ! We quickly realised we'd picked poor seats on the boat when we were constantly battered by the hard spray off the huge waves and were soon drenched ! I managed to move to a drier seat, but Brandon wasn't so lucky and continued to get pounded by the spray and was dripping the whole journey ! The waves were gigantic and we had a few airborne moments with hard thuds back into the water which induced a few screams from the Chinese ! Finally arrived in Koh Lipe at 1:30pm (1.5hrs later), just as a huge curtain of rain travelled towards us and hammered us on the pontoon which quickly flooded ! Not a good start. Once we finally got onto the island, we checked into our lovely room, then went exploring. We knew it was low season, but were shocked at how little was actually open. We only found one dive shop open, a couple of small mini-marts, and a handful of restaurants. Everything else either had its shutters down or was being renovated or completely knocked down. More rain and grey clouds all afternoon, really hope it improves or we're in for a boring few days !
Tues 1st July - Ahhh - we're into our final month now. Thought it would never come, and now its upon us all too quickly. Quite a grey start, so had a lazy morning in the room, then ran out to the beach as soon as we saw the sun shining ! The temp. is actually really nice, but just so humid that sweat pours off you and you have a permanent sheen on your skin. It clouded over again around 2pm, so had lunch and then went exploring around the island. Its crazy how little is open in low season. It must be about 5-10% of the island is open, so everything else looks desolate or is a building site. The island already seems like it would be too busy and full of tourists during high season, but with all this new building work going on, it will be mad in a few years. Went to a really busy restaurant for dinner - think all the tourists on the whole island must have been there ! All 20 or so ! But did have a nice meal of Massaman and Penang curries ! Mmmm.
Wed 2nd - Perfect day today - everything we wanted for our final few weeks of sunbathing and chilling out time. Woke to a beautiful blue sky so bolted down a quick bowl of Cornflakes and headed to the beach at 9:30am. It was already baking hot and we were soaked in sweat within minutes. The stunning white sandy beach was deserted - all ours - with the perfect view of calm turquoise waters with picturesque longtail boats and boulder islands out to sea. Snorkelled out to the nearest little island and swam around it looking at the clown fish, parrot fish etc. Found a tiny little white beach, perfect for the 2 of us, so sunbathed there for a little while on our very own Robinson Crusoe island. After another pad thai lunch (3 in a row now !), headed to Pattaya beach on the other side of the island. Much larger sweeping bay this side, but just felt a bit more overlooked and a few more tourists and locals around, plus there was a big boat being loaded with the islands rubbish to be taken away. Watched a lovely sunset over the island with a Chang beer and headed out for another massaman curry dinner (also 3rd in a row !)
Thurs 3rd - Well, ummm, yeap - pretty much the same as yesterday ! Sun bathing, snorkelling, pad thai lunch, more sunbathing, and massaman dinner. Creatures of habit ! Or rather, we know what we like now !
Fri 4th - We changed things up today and snorkelled to the other small island nearby and actually found slightly better coral and still loads of clown fish. We still had pad thai for lunch, but also had fruit, muesli, yoghurt, and French toast ! Got quite overcast from 4pm, so we sat on some cushions on a bamboo deck, reading and looking out at all the longtails, and the turquoise sea. We really are getting into this beach bum thing quite well !
Sat 5th - Bit more lazy today and just sunbathed until 12:30, pad thai lunch, then sunbathed on the other beach until 4:30 - couldn't even be bothered to go snorkelling ! Got quite cloudy and cool in the afternoon and both dozed off in the nice temperatures rather than the baking hot sun !
Sun 6th - Another morning sunbathing, but the predicted cloudy weather came at 11:30 and we sat and watched as the wall of rain came over the sea towards us, then ran for cover indoors ! Lazy afternoon in the room having a nap, using the wifi, listening to the almost continuous thunder, and somehow spent over an hour with a very friendly ginger puss on my lap on our balcony ! Always a lovely way to while away an afternoon ! Had a real tropical storm at 10pm, high winds and torrential rain - makes it more cozy when you can hide away in your room !
Mon 7th - Got up at 8am to blue skies, but after breakfast it turned cloudy, so we went back to bed until 10:30 ! The rest of the day was lovely so we sat by the beach until 5, then watched sunset with beer and nuts, followed by the usual massaman and penang curries :)
Tues 8th - A very decadent day today. Sunbathing in the morning with a view that still takes our breathe away, great lunch of fruit, muesli, yoghurt, French Toast, and Mango sticky rice. Then I had a wonderful Thai Coconut oil massage in the afternoon, listening to the waves just a few feet away. Rounded all off with beer, nuts, and a massaman and penang curry.
Wed 9th - A more cloudy day today, but still thin enough to sunbathe this morning until 1pm. Final pad thai lunch, followed by an amazing mango sticky rice. Heavy cloud in the afternoon so chilled out in the room using wifi and Brandon had his final haircut of the trip - for £4. Another final Penang, and yellow curry for dinner to hopefully starve off our thai food cravings for a little while.
Considering we were so worried about coming at the wrong time of year in the beginning, we were actually really pleased we came in low season as we normally had the whole beach to ourselves, and restaurants were always quiet. I can imagine high season being mad, almost similar to Ko Phi Phi, with loud bars and busy beaches. We were really lucky with the weather and have been able to be by the beach pretty much every day. The views from our resort are just incredible, and took our breathe away each and every time. The turquoise waters that suddenly dropped to deep blue, with the longtail boats and their colourful ribbons. Very sad to leave Thailand for the last time this trip - it has again reconfirmed that Thai food really is our favourite and we could happily live on it forever !