My budget travel experience for Phuket, Samui, Krabi, and nearby coastal islands.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Kayak in Phang Nga Bay
There are all kind of activities and adventures to explore in Phuket, but one of my favorite is the sea kayaking trip to nearby island and caves. It is pretty much a whole day excursion. We board a sizable ferry around 10ish, then head out to phang nga bay, which took around 1.5hr. Lunch box (chicken fried rice) is provided in the ferry. After a quick break, we head out to the water in our rubber kayak. Each kayak holds 3 person, including a guide provided by the company. We immediately venture in the caves in the island nearby. Part of the cave's opening is so low that we have to lie down in order get through. I remember on our way out of one of these caves, the water have rised, so we can't squeeze through. The guides from each kayak start communicating in Thai, and finally they leak air out of our kayak in order to squeeze through. In the open water, it get pretty tiring to paddle the kayak, especially against current. But it's a good workout, and the best way to ensure a good appetite for more tasty Thai food!
Upon each visit to Phuket, I am grow more fond of the local street food. There is a rather large night market near Robinson in Phuket downtown that offer all type of street food. The eateries open until 1am or so. The price is beyond cheap. With the price a Mc Donald happy meal, my friends and I feasted on anything that looks interesting until our stomach are packed. And the food are really tasty. I dare to say better than the thai food they serve in the nearby hotels. Some of my favorite is the thai style fishball noodles, hoi-nan fried-chicken rice, thai style mini donuts, pad thai wrap in lotus leaves, flavored thai ice tea, and mango with black sticky rice. The list seem extend after each visit. And the locals understand enough English to communicate. Actually, we just point and pay for what we want.
Having been to Phuket and Krabi so many times, we decided to try something completely different. We spotted this little fishermen village call Bang Bao in the island of Koh Chang. This is also our first time to Koh Chang, much less develop compare with Phuket. Bang Bao is on the south side of the island, about a 45 minutes truck ride due to the multiple hair-pins pathway. The place is tiny, just a long stretch of wooden deck with dive shops, seafood restaurants, and local housings on either side. It takes probably 5 minutes to walk from road end to sea end. There are limited and cheap accomodation for visitors. Since the place is mostly unknown, they don't take reservation from travel agency. We stay in this place call Bang Bao Sea Hut, which is rather charming. It composed of 12 individual hut that erect from the nearby coast. Each hut is a octagon room, with a semi-opened shower. You can hear the waves coming in as you take shower. We spend 2 nights at this place, and get to know almost everyone in the area. We went diving with one of the local dive schools at a nearby site. It is very convinient since the boarding deck is just one minute from our sea hut. And the dive sites are within a 30 minutes boat ride. We tried out a couple seafood restaurant at night, nothing outstanding, just your basic thai-style dishes. However, there are so local street food at the road side of Bang Bao. We bought a whole bunch of them (less than 100baht), and bring them back to our hut for a brunch by the ocean.
This is my 7th visit to the lovely island of Phuket. Instead of spounging the luxury villas (e.g. Evason, Banyan Tree, Trisara), I opted to try something off the beaten track. The main island of Phuket is getting more commercialized upon each visit. So we immediately start hopping to one of the surrounding islands, and landed on Phi Phi. Of the islands in Phuket, Phi Phi absorbed the most impact during last year tsunami. But as a side effect of the tsunami, the water along the coast is refreshed. Even from the busy harbor, the water looks as pristine as ever!
We randomly pick one of those travel agency/internet cafe store, and began our inquiry on accomodation. So the gal who works there recommended Phi Phi Village, and suggested it's the best on the island. She explained it is on the other side of the island, and require a 20 minutes boat ride. The thing that caught my attention is they have miles of private beach reserved for their guests. Plus the cost is quite reasonable (3,200 baht ~ $100USD). As we embarked on their white sand beach, we are greeted with long drinks, and a bucket of flower-pedals water to wash sands off our feet. Each villa in the resort is detached, and well decorated. Inside the villa, green and yellow patone constantly remind me that I am vacationing in an exotic resort. It required 30 steps or less to reach its own private beach. The waves are very clam, and the water are extremely shallow. I can walk the length of a football field, and the water is still waist deep. It's like a giant infinity pool! As we stroll back to our villa at night, we notice some decks on other villas are decorated with flowers and light fixture. Later we learned that a romantic dinner can be arranged to serve off the private deck on each villa. Just fantastic!