Similan Islands National Park
After visitng the Surin Islands we packed up the circus and headed back to Khao Lak to overnight before continuing on to our next destination… Similan Islands National Park. The Similan Islands are about an hour and a half off the coast of Thailand and comprised of 9 separate islands… of which 3 are off limits to humans because they have breeding turtle populations and only two can accommodate overnight visitors (#4 & 8). We would be staying 3 nights on island #4.
Our hotel arranged our transfer to the islands and we (along with a few others) were picked up bright and early and taken to the company’s offices to pay an extortionate “deposit” for snorkel equipment and listen to the standard speech about not stepping on coral (which some idiots always do anyway) and not feeding fish. After the speech we played the waiting game in the company’s lobby as we sat and listened to the languages spoken around us and identified the usual suspects… some French, some British… Germans… the usual suspects… however for whatever reason there was a new player on the field as it became apparent that there was a strong
contingent of Russians on hand to change the game. When all was said and done I think the Russians were batting about 25%, never in my live-a-long days have I ever seen so many Russians out and about… I guess as a member of the BRIC (Brazil/Russia/India/China) nations their economy has been rising as the rest of the world stagnates and/or goes down and they may be flexing their travel muscles in the near future.
The boat ride to the islands was about 1.5 hours so we had some time on the boat and did some people watching. We observed the Russians acting like skin cancer was a myth and spreading out like Eastern European satellite dishes trying to soak up every drop of sunshine available and reach that perfect shade of red… while many of the Asians tried to avoid the sun like the plague. It happens over and over again but never ceases to amuse me that people from many Asian countries view having a tan or darker skin as being of lower socio economic status (not sure what that means for me) and “working outside” so they come to the tropics, presumably because of the nice
weather and beaches, and then spend the bulk of their days trying to hide from the nice weather and beaches. You will see these people walking around hiding under umbrellas, wearing long sleeve shirts and pants in the 90 degree heat to avoid the sun’s direct contact with their skin and slathering on sunblock like it was going out of style… in extreme cases you will see them swimming/snorkeling while wearing long sleeve shirts and pants… whatever floats your boat I guess, always good for a laugh or two.
Once we reached the islands our boat stopped to snorkel before docking on a packed Island #4 for lunch. While eating lunch on the island we watched a seemingly endless procession of speedboats pull up and dropped off their passengers to enjoy the island and eat lunch for an hour and a half or so before continuing on their way for the rest of their day trip. It was here that the Russians really stepped up to the plate and provided some serious entertainment… the beach on island #4 is nice… really nice… but someone forget to tell the Russians that it wasn’t a sports illustrated swimsuit edition photo shoot
because they were out in force and putting on a show. I guess it can just be cultural differences but I’m just used to people standing in a photo and taking a shot… maybe flashing a smile… a peace sign something to that effect… I guess that’s American style... on this trip I got introduced to Russian style. In Russian style they were snapping action shots while rolling in the sand… splashing themselves with water… taking jumping shots, pouring wet sand over their torso’s, laying in the surf and snapping shots just as the spray hit their bodies… I half expected to see the sports illustrated crew come running up the beach… cultural differences I guess.
After lunch (& the Russian photo show) Venny and I separated from our group and checked into our bungalow while the rest of the group continued on their way. The facilities on the island were basic but nice and after a quick check of our bungalow there were no headboards for rodents to hide in (see Surin) and I had a much better feeling about the place. It turns out that the island had quite a bit to do on them and we
enjoyed our 3 nights there exploring, hiking, swimming, snorkeling and sometimes doing nothing at all. All and all Similan Islands get a HUGE thumbs up, just do yourself a favor and don’t be a day tripper! After separating from the boat that brought us out to the park it became apparent that the main beach on island #4 is only packed with day trippers from about 11:30am – 3pm, after which the magnificent beach was all but deserted and left to the overnighters and staff.
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