Cruising Phuket – Part Three
In part two of Cruising Phuket we explored the hongs of Phang Nga Bay. Now in part three we head south in search of crystal clear water, and snorkelling opportunities, before hitting Patong for some nightlife!
Koh Rang Yai
We anchored at Koh Rang Yai and went to shore for lunch. This island has a pearl farm and after lunch we went to visit the pearl shop which has lots of gorgeous pieces, not cheap though. On our explorations we saw a path leading to the other side off the island. As we walked along this coconut-palm-lined path, we could hear the coconuts falling ahead. As we got closer, it became quite disconcerting as we heard coconuts hitting the ground all around us. Finally we saw what was going on. Off to the side of the path we saw people using monkeys to get the coconuts from the trees. The monkeys, on leads, scampered up the trees grabbed the coconuts and dropped them to the ground. I wouldn’t want to be the monkey handlers the day the monkeys decide they want to be free and use their captors as targets!
Koh Hi is a busy spot. Many day trippers, as well as resort guests, visit the island. While we were anchored in the bay a plethora of tourist boats came and went continually. For a couple of hours we were joggled around by the wake of these boats as they came whizzing by. Astonishingly, Dwayne still managed to keep the rum and coke from spilling while lazing about in the hammock!
Sometime, around 6pm, after all the tourist boats had left, and the chaotic atmosphere had passed, we went to shore for dinner. Dinner was disappointing as it took nearly two hours to get the pizza we ordered, but I shan’t dwell on that…. only to say that we sent it back and nicely asked if it could be cooked through as it was still cold. After waiting, what seemed a ridiculously long time to warm a pizza, Martin went to see what was going on with it… Cook sitting on his phone, pizza sitting on the bench!
Snorkelling the next morning was quite nice. There was a good array of fish life and even a clownfish or two. We then dropped the mooring, before the hordes of tourist arrived, and motored further south to Koh Racha Yai.
Koh Racha Yai
Beautiful crystal clear water! I must say my child-like exuberance once again came to the foreground. I love clean, beautiful looking water. It wasn’t long before we all jumped in for a swim.
We had lunch on shore. The resort restaurant has a delightful setting on the beach but when we arrived there were no tables left in the shade. That was quickly fixed, as the staff considerately moved our table under a big shady tree.
After lunch, motivated by a recommendation we had received on where to snorkel, we motored around to a bay on the east coast of the island. Well, it was absolute chaos! Hundreds of boats screaming in and out… ok, not hundreds, but a lot! We were very nearly run over! I couldn’t really see the attraction to the place… you can’t snorkel or you’ll probably get killed, and the beach area was full of gravel, busy, dirty and really just unpleasant so we left and went back to our first anchorage.
That night we walked through the resort to another beach were we found a pleasant little restaurant over the water.
Koh Racha Noi
The next day we motored further south to Koh Racha Noi. Once again it was a place that was recommended to us. The water here was even more pristine than the last stop. Sparkling blue, crystal clear, amazingly inviting water! Needless to say we all jumped in for a snorkel. The only disappointment was the amount of rubbish on the beach!
We were enjoying ourselves so much we decided to stay the night and have a BBQ on the beach. We went ashore and, between swimming and reading our books, we lit a fire and burnt our rubbish. Before I could head back to the boat to get provisions for dinner the weather changed and we had to revise our plans. It was decided we’d move back to Koh Racha Yai. As it was the last night of Kate and Martins stay, on the boat, we decided to BBQ on board. Tucking into BBQ chicken and a fresh warm potato salad, we began to lament the nearing end to our adventures with Kate and Martin. But it wasn’t over yet… we still had Patong’s nightlife to explore!!
We booked rooms at the Patong Resort Hotel which backs on to Bangla Rd. Bangla Road is the main party street in Patong. It is a busy, noisy, and seedy street. The characters you meet along this road are often colourful and flamboyant. The tourists are loud and drunk. The boys are girls and the girls are boys… It was time to party.
You can understand our astonishment when we found that there was a ban of alcohol sales from midnight that night until midnight two days later. What?! That’s right no alcohol sales due to Buddha’s birthday holiday. So we hit Bangla Rd that night for a drink or two before it all shut down. Martin and Dwayne had a little fun posting with the lady boys before they went to a Go Go bar for a bit of ping pong! Obviously it was all over at midnight and we had a reasonably early night.
The following night, when the alcohol ban was still enforced, we went to watch the ladyboy cabaret at Simon Cabaret. It was good, the costumes were great, the sets and props were grand and the boys were beautiful. It was a lot of fun, but I think it could have been better. The dancers were a little wooden. The show lacked the energy and animation I expected to see in the dance performance, which was a pity.
The following night, after our elephant trekking, we had a drink on Bangla Rd again. It was interesting to see the place gradually come to life as the midnight hour neared and the alcohol ban was lifted.
Elephant trekking and rafting tour.
We did a day trip with Back To Basics – Khao Sok Discovery Tours. Khao Sok National Park is on the mainland so there was a bit of driving involved but it was a great day. We were picked up from our resort in a comfortable air-conditioned minivan. Our first stop was a coffee break at Khao Lak, before going to the Tsunami “museum”. It wasn’t much of a museum. Just a verandah with some maps, photos and information, as well a police patrol boat that has remained where it came to a stop when it was caught in the tsunami. Even though we were expecting more – the brochure said museum – we were not too disappointed. The guide explained what had happened in the area when the tsunami hit in 2004, and his telling of the story still produced goosebumps on my arms.
We then had an hour long ride on an elephant. The elephant ride was wonderful but it was the interaction with them afterwards that was really special.
After the ride we were able to feed and pat the elephants.
To be able to interact with them up close is really very special.
They are such beautiful animals. Our elephant was a male called Pry. He is a gentle giant, so beautiful… I wish I didn’t ride him. Since riding the elephant I have read a bit about the elephant tourism in Thailand and I would now elect not to ride the elephants. I would still want to experience the interaction with them because that was the really wonderful part of the experience. Lucky there are places such as elephant sanctuaries that rescue and rehabilitate elephants. At these types of places you can feed or bath an elephant and still get the sublime experience of an up close encounter without riding these majestic animals. For more information about the elephants have a read at To Ride or Not To Ride.
After stopping at a lookout, that overlooked part of the Khao Sok National Park, we stopped and to see the monkeys. They are irresistible creatures, a few of whom felt right at home sitting on our shoulders!
Lunch was at the Khao Sok Discovery Camp. It was a delicious Thai meal including, tom yum soup, green chicken curry, grilled chicken, sweet and sour, veg and fruit.
After lunch we went bamboo rafting down the Khao Sok River. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me. We did see some sort of snake in a tree. A large green snake. Half way through our trip we stopped for a hot coffee. The water was boiled in a length of bamboo over the fire and the coffee served in bamboo cups. The rafting trip down the river was very peaceful and a nice end to the day. Now we had a two and half hour trip back to the resort!
The next day it was time for Kate and Martin to go home. There was time for one last beer and goodbyes before they were whizzed away in the taxi.
It is amazing what you can do in 13 days! We had a wonderful time with Kate and Martin and we look forward to our next adventure with them. Adios!
Travel Notes (July 2015)
THB – Thai Baht written here as ฿
Simon Cabaret – Patong Beach. Colourful and fun. Three shows a night at 6pm, 7:45pm and 9:30pm.
Tickets from ฿700 per adult and ฿500 per child (approximately AUD $28.00 and AUD $20.00)
Back To Basics – Khao Sok Discovery Tours offer one day trips plus over night trip. Great tour guide. Visit their site to find out more www.khaosokdiscovery.com
To ride or not to ride?… Elephant Tourism Thailand – make an informed decision whether to ride or not to ride an elephant – read more here.
We stayed at Patong Resort Hotel which we booked with Booking.com
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