Having been on the road for over 200 days and starting to get a bit weary, our plan for Thailand was to simply find a nice beach and relax for the two weeks we had left.
After waking up on the train and arriving in Surat Thani, we spent a few hours on a bus and got on the “express” boat to Ko Phangan (aka. Koh Pha Ngan). With the sun shining, turquoise water and green islands the vacation mood begun to kick in.
Having looked around on the net and thumbed through an old Lonely Planet, we picked a beach called Mae Had and decided to spend our first two nights in a cabana at the Royal Orchid – the cheapest place on the beach that had a home page!
The only disadvantage was that it was located on the eastern part of Mae Had, which has nice sand for sunbathing but it was muddy, rocky and a bit dirty in the water. It was also full of fishermen’s boats that would get stranded daily at low tide. Luckily the west beach was no more than a 3-minute-walk away.
Now this is what we came for! The island has a narrow sand bank connecting it to the mainland and dividing Mae Had into the east and west parts. During high tide it would submerge (the connection, not the entire island!) but you could still wade over if you wanted to. One morning we walked over and explored the deserted resort, but it wasn’t that exciting.
A beach dog who looked like a pitbull taking a rest in the shadow. There were quite a few stray dogs every where. They walked around a lot, but it seemed like they had their favourite areas to stay in. Some were a bit shy while they still wanted to be near humans, so they would often come and lie 1-2 meters away from you. Others seemed more affectionate and came closer so you could pet them.
Mae Had is supposed to be one of the best snorkelling places in the area, yet I was a little bit disappointed. I guess it’s not the optimal time of the year, visibility was decent only one day and ranged from quite bad to very bad all the other days.
Pretty much all the coral are dead, possibly from an overabundance of snorkellers and divers – many not knowing or just not caring that you damage the corals by wearing shoes and walking on them – or perhaps killed by global warming. But there was a fair amount of fishes to look at.
These fish weren’t shy at all and followed me around, while others (not pictured) fled the second I pointed the camera at them.
A pair of giant clams.
Some of the few colourful things I saw.
One of the bottom-dwelling fishes used its fins like limbs to move around on the ground. I think it looks like it has the potential to evolve into crawling up on dry land! Well, it would probably get eaten by a dog if it tried to, now that we already have land animals.
These photos aren’t representative of the snorkelling at Ko Phangan (at this time of the year), and I think all of them were taken on 2 or 3 days out of the 11 we spent at this beach. In 90% of the time you would just swim around looking at sand or rocks.
The happy snorkellers! This day there were big waves and visibility less than 2 meters, but at least the weather was nice above the surface!
Some coral that has been washed up on the shore.
We had lots of great Thai food at the local restaurant. The cabana was cheaper, staff friendlier and food tastier compared to the similar resort on the west beach, so we ended up staying at Royal Orchid all the time.
The local beach dog, named Binky by some Dutch kids, or maybe that was her real name but I don’t think she had an owner. She was very cute but a little spoiled with all the affection everybody was giving her. One night she woke us up by scratching our door, but we didn’t let her in.
While in China we watched a documentary about squid fishing in Thailand. They use lots of extremely bright lamps on boats, and gradually turn them off to lure squids into their nets. Some nights we saw these boats, shining like miniature suns out on the ocean.
We got a few lovely sunsets from the restaurant – when the sky wasn’t covered with a thick blanket of clouds.
And the rest of this post is dedicated to a stray kitten we found.
When I first saw it, it was lying on a shelf in a never-used store, mewling weakly. I went there to pet it and it was very happy to get a little attention. It looked so feeble that I thought it had been abandoned and got lost.
Gradually we learned that this scrawny little cat was quite fierce for its size, and could definitely fend for itself. When it saw a dog it curved its back, hissed and tried to make a long threatening mewl. Though being a kitten, the latter sounded so pathetic that we couldn’t help laughing a little. The dogs just ignored it.
Another day it caught a tiny mouse, but it squeaked so heart-breaking every time the cat pounced it that we felt a bit sad.
Sleeping on the reception desk. We didn’t find out if they got red paw prints everywhere later.
Just in a few days we’ll see our own cat again. Looking forward to it.