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Published: February 21st 2020
On Tuesday, after yet another challenging journey, we arrived on the beautiful little island of Koh Muk. The idea of island-hopping was to enjoy the boat journeys as well as the destinations, however, these journeys haven’t all been idyllic (the first few were). The speedboat was overloaded when we started off from the pier in Koh Lanta, because another boat had a problem, so all of the passengers on that speedboat (heading for Koh Lipe) climbed over on to our boat, with their luggage, and with folk sitting on the floor once again, we headed off down the eastern side of Koh Lanta, under the bridge that connects to the mainland on the north east of the island, through mangrove channels then out to the open sea. The sky was heavy and overcast, threatening much-needed rain and the choppy sea turned from turquoise and jade to grey. As we approached the tiny island of Koh Ngai, a long-tailed boat headed out from the shore towards us. Our speedboat tied up to a buoy near a large limestone karst (stack) and five more passengers climbed aboard, then their luggage was thrown on as well. It started
to rain. We were supposed to land on the western shore of Koh Muk, on Hat Sai Yao (“Charlie Beach”) but it was getting too rough for us to disembark on a beach, so we headed instead for the long main pier on the east side of the island; a much better option despite the rain and getting rather wet at the back of the boat (we always choose the good seats!) As the driver made a sharp turn towards the pier, we got hit by buckets of water pouring in and were then really soaked. Fortunately, our small backpacks were protected with their waterproof covers. We don’t mind getting wet, in fact it was pleasantly refreshing to enjoy much-needed rain. However, we hate our gear getting wet. Our rucksacks, unfortunately, did not have their covers on and were unceremoniously chucked out on to the pier in the downpour. We disembarked, gathered our wet gear, jumped in a tuk-tuk (no cover from the rain there either) and headed for the west side of the island, just four kilometres away, to Hat Sai Yao, where we should have landed and where we are staying. The sun came out, we hung stuff
out to dry and went to get lunch and a few Chang beers.
Koh Muk is scruffy in places and sadly, like most inhabited tropical islands, the villages are fringed by litter tips. It is also very beautiful, rich and verdant, mostly covered in rainforest, the people are very friendly, the packs of beach dogs are no bother, the monkeys are cheeky and naughty and Charlie Beach is stunning. The water is the clearest we have seen so far, so the snorkelling is good. Our bungalow is right on the beach and facing due west to enjoy the sunsets. What more does one want?
Until the end of 2018, there was a sizeable, expensive resort on this beach, called Charlie Beach Resort. It was closed down by the government, because, instead of just building along a small strip of land by the beach, the owner got greedy and built back in to the jungle, which is National Park land. So, they sent in the army with bulldozers and razed it to the ground! Good! Remnants are still there, back in the trees, like concrete bases upon which stood buildings, but the jungle is reclaiming the land and workmen
are clearing the remains of it away. From the beach it cannot be seen, so fortunately does not detract from this superb coastal scenery. It will soon all be gone. All that is here now are two small resorts, each end of the bay, ours on the north (just nine bungalows, a restaurant and a beach bar) and another slightly bigger on the southern end. Across the bay, the small island of Koh Kraden, sits fringed by white sand beaches and a glistening sea. It is very peaceful, except now and again when the male monkeys decide to go on the rampage, upsetting rubbish bins, stamping on rooftops, screeching and generally causing havoc! We used to say “Oh Look! Cute Macaques! They are such fascinating creatures!” Now we tend to say “Oh Look! Evil Macaques! They are such mischievous creatures! It is like “Where the Wild Things Are”. Rumpus! Rumpus! Ah well! It is their jungle. They were here first!
Yesterday we had booked a motorbike (or motorbikes, hadn’t decided on one or two) to explore the island, but the guy renting didn’t have any helmets. In fact, we haven’t seen anybody wearing helmets on this particular island. We
apologised but declined the rental, because we think that, in the event of an accident, the insurance wouldn’t cover us without helmets on. As it is, we have left our driving licenses at home in Spain, something we have never done before, but nobody seems bothered about that either! So, we are probably a bit naughty to be renting bikes anyway. Well, we got a tuk-tuk to “town” the small village by the pier where we arrived. Had a great breakfast there for just 80 Baht each, eggs, pancakes, juice and coffee. Koh Muk is probably a bit more expensive for accommodation than the other islands we have been on, but food and drink are much cheaper. Whilst in the village we went to have a look at Coco Lodge, where our son Nick stayed six months ago (same price as where we are now) and we really liked it. So, tomorrow we are moving over there for a few nights, where there is a bit more going on; a different experience. Whilst there, we are going to treat ourselves to another sightseeing and snorkel tour by long-tail. We might also get a bike to rent with helmets. We shall
see. For now, for the rest of today, we are just going to chill here on Charlie, Hat Sai Yao… “Hat Sai Yao…where jade water kisses a perfect beach” Lonely Planet
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