After I left Krabi, I headed North to the town of Ao Phang Nga. This small town is mainly a jumping off point to the local national marine park. I strolled around the town a bit, and I have to say, it was kinda crummy. No offense to anyone, but there was only 1 restaurant! After I got off at the bus stop a hostel was recommended to me by the guy, Mr. Kean, who is the one-stop tour operator in the town. Very helpful and nice. And he must be well respected because mentioning his name always seemed to drop a few baht off the price of anything you were negotiating for. Very handy. Anyway, I went to the first hostel and booked a room, in a hurry to drop off my bag which was getting heavier by the second. I left the room and went out to explore the town.
Although there wasn’t much around, I did manage to get a tuk tuk up a few kilometers and found a really pretty park (the first few pictures). I found another cave along the way back, called Elephant Belly Cave. I spoke with the guide and quickly decided I
would not be exploring this cave. The tour of the cave began with a wade through knee high water for about 20 minutes. In the dark. With a flash light. Ok, then you get on a little bamboo raft and go further in. Not so bad. Then, to get back out you need to swim through the water, again in the dark. Ok, I admit it. I’m a girl and after the cave of Ko Lanta, I decided caves aren’t for me. But, I think it’s nice if you’re into that sort of thing.
So, I walked around and came back to my room, which after sitting in for two minutes, I discovered was swarming with mosquitoes. And then I noticed a musty smell which seemed to keep getting stronger. I looked at a few other rooms and moved to one of them, but again after a few minutes, I realized there was no way I could stay in this hostel. It was just really pushing the outer limits of my comfort zone. So I packed my stuff and left. I found a much cleaner and nicer place and figured it was worth the forfeiture of the 150 Baht
for a sound nights sleep. This place had a musty smell as well, although way less obnoxious. Maybe there was a flood or something in the town.
Anyway, enough complaining.
The next day I took a tour of the local national marine park, including a tour of “Jimmy Bond” Island. Is it just me or is he too cool (and deadly) to be called Jimmy? The park is well-renowned and is one of the most frequently visited marine national parks of Thailand.
From the internet: The National Park covers 400 sq km and contains over 40 islands amidst dramatic scenery of sheer limestone cliffs (some as high as 300 meters) tower out of the year round calm green water. Evidence of prehistoric man has been traced back in the park to over 10,000 years ago as evidenced by some of their cave painting, tools and other knick knacks that archeologists have found scattered throughout the area. Millions of years ago the whole region was one of the world's largest barrier reefs extending thousands of kilometers. However natural forces came into play and the earth's movements created the irregular formations, with erosion smoothing the edges, leaving the
geography reminiscent of Yunnan in China but with the water. The common tourist destinations include Ko Kan (James Bond Island), and Ko Panyi (the Sea Gypsy village/tourist trap where no gypsies live).
Regardless of whether gypsies lived in the island, it was really cool. Homes, shops, restaurants, fish pens, all on the water.
As you may already know, James Bond island was the location of the Roger Moore movie The Man With the Golden Gun. In the movie, the island was Scaramanga's hideaway. I’ve never seen this movie, really not a Bond fan (except James “Blond”) but the British kid on the tour seemed really excited about it. The island itself was beautiful. Really mostly caves and rocks, and a small beach area with stunning views. It would be the perfect island to be stranded on. Great swimming and plenty of shelter from the weather. However, since the movie, the island has become kind of a tourist trap and the island is completely covered with make shift shops selling all kinds of junk- cheap jewelry, sea shells with fake eyeballs and faces glued to them, all kinds of crap. And, every single shop sells the same EXACT
thing. I don’t know how they make any money.
After we left James Bond Island, we went to a secluded karst, with a private beach for lunch and a swim. It was beautiful of course. While we were walking on the beach we found a hermit crab living in a perfect shell. I picked up the shell and he popped his head out. After we took a few pictures, he decided the neighborhood had gone to the dogs and abandoned his shell. We felt really bad and tried to get him to go back in but he didn’t want to so we left him alone in his search for a new place. I have to say he was really cute and unlike regular crabs, he had a curved tail, more like a shrimp, which I guess is how he holds onto the shell.
After the beach and another visit to a cave for exploring (a nice one with no bats) I was taken for a sea canoe ride. The guide paddles through fairly rough and choppy seas and shows you all the secret caves which are only accessible by canoe. On the way to come of the cave
entrances, we encountered a guy in a boat selling drinks outside the caves. That’s the thing that cracks me up about Thailand. There is always someone selling something for tourists. It’s convenient, no doubt, but I get the feeling that if I spent days and nights climbing the most remote mountains, Id arrive at the top and there would be a shack with a guy selling coconut juice.
The entrances to some of these caves, or karsts’, was so low I had to lay down in the canoe. My guide was really nice and knew some less popular caves where there weren’t any other canoers. He pointed us towards some mangroves and flicked some water at the roots, at which point a mudskipper hopped off the branch and literally skipped over the water. A mudskipper is actually a fish, but it can live out of the water (it’s true, I swear). It’s really cute and moves so quickly, skipping the surface of the water.
Later, we headed back to the floating village for a little shopping. It was pouring rain so we clumsily ran over the tree branches that formed the walkway over the water. One wrong slip
and SPLASH! Luckily this was not one of the moments of my clumsiness. We ended the tour by eating some banana pancakes- my first in Thailand. Sooo yummy….not like traditional pancakes at home, these are really thin and crisp, similar to a crepe but you don’t need a Michelin star to make one. There were ladies with baby monkeys and you could take a picture with them for 100 baht, which is a total rip, but I wanted to snuggle the monkey. Those pics will be in another posting. I hate the way some of the animas are used here but at the same time when you see such sweet animals you just want to hold and pet them. Well, I do anyway.
After our busy day we headed back to town. What a beautiful day, almost all of it spent in a boat or canoe. My kind of living!!!
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