There are thousands of islands and countless travel options in the south. Every traveler’s dream is to find an island where you’ll be alone, but this is close to impossible in Thailand. Almost every person we met recommended us “the one island you should absolutely go to”, so it didn’t help much. In the end, we settled for the Andaman Sea, meaning the Western coast. We thus flew to Krabi and got to Koh Lanta the next morning.
We also loved our little hotel on top of the hill, a bit away from the beach but quiet and easy to reach on foot.
As Koh Lanta is the base for one of Thailand’s two best scubadiving spots, Hin Daeng & Hin Mueang, I (Quentin) went on a full day trip while Rebekka relaxed on the beach and enjoyed a little massage (this time not by a bodybuilder). The two dives were around reefs in the open sea, over 3 hours away from the island, and were worth every single penny! Well-alive and colorful corals carpeted the seabed and millions of fish swam in tight squadrons. The area is notably famous for its red and purple coral trees, and for sightings of Manta rays… Guess what? On the second dive, we jumped in the water, sank a bit deeper and there it was: a huge, majestic Manta ray! Even the instructor diving with me was as excited as a little child that meets batman for real (and he dives here 300 times a year – the instructor, not batman). I could spend an hour describing how fascinating those animals are. This manta was about 4m wide (some said bigger, but it’s most likely due to excitement), and a very curious one! She circled around us for half an hour, playing with our bubbles and sometimes passing just 1m above our heads! In a way, it was very touching to share this moment with this incredible animal that seems to levitate in slow motion, with the grace of a ballet dancer.
Although the Manta was clearly the highlight of my dives, I still got to see some other interesting things, such as a giant puff-fish, a peacock mantis shrimp (look them up on YouTube, they are the most badass creatures on earth!), a massive moray, etc., etc..
KOH ROK and KOH HA
Finally, we made it to our island! The boat dropped us 10m from the beach though, so we had to jump in the water until our knees with our big backpacks. Koh Muk is a tiny island, and we spent 3 nights there before flying to Bangkok. We got ourselves a tiny bungalow with all of the available luxury: mosquito net for the looks, bucket of water for the shower and toads for the company!
We first took a boat to Koh Kradan, famous for its long beautiful beach (sometimes making it to some newspaper’s rankings about the world’s most beautiful beaches), snorkeled around and enjoyed the beautiful views.
When we got lost a second time, climbing up a rough path zigzagging between wild rubber trees and where bushes were so dense we couldn’t see our legs, we almost gave up. But we ended up finding the right way and made it in one piece to a beautiful tiny beach surrounded by mountains and jungle.
After enjoying the beach for a bit, we met two nice German couples that had come here by kayak. Hating the idea of having to go back the same way, we decided with the Germans that we would try “adding a third passenger” to each kayak. It worked for the first 100m, but one kayak started filling up with water and eventually flipped, throwing its passengers as well as all bags & backpacks in the water. Nothing got lost, but the couple hadn’t brought a dry-bag with them so it killed a cellphone and didn’t improve the design of their passports… As the kayak obviously wouldn’t support this mistreatment a second time, Rebekka ended up swimming behind the second kayak (or pushing it, considering that this poor piece of plastic had to drag 4 people now) for about 1km until we found a long-tail boat that accepted to bring us back to the island’s nearest beach (hitch-hiking on the sea: check!). A crazy adventure that we will certainly remember!
Foodwise, our ten days in southern Thailand let us experiment quite a few dishes, from curries to grilled or fried fish through fancy pad Thai. One night, we allowed ourselves a bit of a fancier dinner, and went to a restaurant that even had bread and salty butter! We also had wine for the first time since that traumatising tasting in Myanmar (we didn’t dare try the local Thai wine though…).