Cruising Phuket – Part Two
At the end of ‘Cruising Phuket – Part One’ we were nicely sated with banana pancakes and ready to leave Railay Bay. I’d like to say we pulled up the anchor and set sail, but alas, there was little wind and therefore we motored to Phang Nga Bay. What a place! Phang Nga Bay is one of those places we have alway wanted to visit. To be able to share its mystical beauty with good friends Kate and Martin, well… what could be better?
One of the most stunning features of the Phang Nga Bay area is, undoubtedly, the limestone karsts which jut dramatically from the emerald green sea. The karsts give the area its complicated and mystical beauty. These karsts are often covered or partially covered with lush vegetation, and the bases of these karsts are honeycombed with astonishing caves and aquatic grottos known as hongs in Thai. Many hongs can be explored via kayak or canoe, and some, at low tide, can be traversed on foot. To my mind they are a must see. They are mystical, beautiful and wondrous…
This was Kate and Martin’s first ‘hong’, and they have told me it is one of their favourites. This hong has a large opening that enabled us to take the dinghy inside the hong where we had a refreshing, or more correctly, a semi-refreshing dip, in the water. Kate and Martin then stayed on in the hong enjoying the water, and the hong’s uniqueness, until tourists began to bombard the area. By this time I had lunch ready and they returned to the boat to join us for lunch, after which we moved on to Koh Phak Bia.
Koh Phak Bia
Away from the hordes of tourists, now at Koh Phak Bia we only had to contend with a couple of long-tail boats. They soon left, leaving the entire peaceful beach to us.
It was very peaceful and we were ready to stop for the day. We went snorkelling but, apart from the oysters that Dwayne fed on, there was little to see in the water. Koh Phak Bia has a beautiful beach and we once again decided to have dinner on shore. This time I cooked up a green chicken curry, which we enjoyed with great gusto, and a glass of Chateau D’ Cardboard.
We were sailing past Koh Roi on the way to Koh Phanak when Dwayne thought he could spy a hong. We went ashore in the dinghy to discover a cave entrance. This small cave led to a beautiful inner hong garden, complete with creek, mangrove forest, noisy crabs and melodious birds. It was wonderful. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera!
Koh Phanak has an abundance of hongs; it would take days to explore them all. We took Kate and Martin into a couple we could walk through at low tide. The first one we negotiated, had a long dark cave, and knee deep water. Not surprisingly, not everyone in our little group thrived on the experience – it can be a little off-putting walking through the water in the dark – but none of us quit! At the end of the cave it opened up into an immense hong with mangrove trees and mud skippers.
As we moved Thorfinn further down the island I took the opportunity for a little exercise and got a tow behind the boat on my paddle board. Yahoo! That was fun!
We explored a few more hongs; paddling through some and walking into others. These hongs around Koh Phanak are very popular with the tourists and, as we sat chatting to a lone monkey, the multitudes appeared. Several boat loads of noisy, excited tourist arrived to shatter our serenity. We then discovered that monkeys can swim, as we saw our little friend swimming away from it’s silly tourist tormentors.
Before we left the Phang Nga Bay area we picked up a mooring at Koh Hang. This island has a large cave entrance, which we took the dinghy through and into a hong. Once through the cave we first arrived in a small picturesque hong. The limestone cliffs that surround us were covered in trees and ferns and it was beautiful… magical really, just stunning.
Through another cave opening and we were in a larger hong. This was where we discovered that we could have motored in through a large unbridged opening on the other side of the island. We enjoyed the serenity at 8am, with only a small group of kayakers around. It was a pleasant time of day to experience the hong, as the day before we could see at least 10 large tourist boats anchored in the area. All those tourist… no way!
We dropped the mooring and headed south to crystal clear water, snorkelling and relaxation, before heading to Phuket for elephant trekking and a little nightlife!
Stay tuned for part three of Cruising Phuket…
Getting there – many tours leave from Phuket.
Moorings – A lot of the islands have moorings that you can pick up.
Visiting the hongs – For those of us visiting the hongs, without a tour guide, it can be difficult to ascertain what cave will lead somewhere and which ones won’t. Some of the openings are so small you’d never guess that they go anywhere. However, it is easy to see where the main hongs are around Koh Phanak because of all the tourist boats. We watched where the tourists went and followed them in, or waited for them to leave and then went to explore the hong.
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