Heaven on Earth, Part 2: The Andaman Coast

We only booked two nights in the Phuket area because we wanted to be free to travel the area. Also, there are literally thousands of hotels and it was difficult to sort through them on the internet. This was a good call because we enjoyed traveling to several cities and beaches. All of them were just so different in terms of landscape, atmosphere and people.

Patong Beach. This was the perfect place to start the beach portion of the trip. All you need to do is throw in hundreds of prostitutes and it’s the same thing as any American beach tourist town. After we checked into our hotel, we ventured out to the bar street and were propositioned about every 5 feet for “massages” and “go-go clubs”. In addition there were also girls working the street and dancing on tables in the open air bars. Classy.

We woke up early the next morning with a serious day of nothing but laying on the beach. An internet article warned that if you were traveling to Thailand in April, plan to be submerged in the ocean the entire time. They were right because it had to be close to 100 degrees. After we were both sufficiently sunburned we decided to spend the rest of the day shopping. Within a couple blocks of our hotel we were introduced to Songkran. This is the Thai New Year and we happened to be in the best celebration area. Since April is Thailands hottest month of the year, Songkran festival is all about having fun and cooling off by getting wet. People walk the streets with water guns and shoot the willing and unwilling, which is the most fun. After my gun broke, I just used two cups to throw water. We played for about four hours and then I was hungry and over it. But really, what a good time.

Khao Lak. We paid a measly price to go on an amazing excursion the next day. At 7:30 a.m., a mini-van picked us up and took us to what one website called, the most beautiful beach in Thailand, Khao Lak. This was also the hardest hit area from the 2004 Tsunami. One of the pictures I took was of a Police boat that was sent 2km inland from the massive waves.

Khao Lak is also where we did elephant trekking. Simply amazing. We rode them through streams, up hills, down hills, through the jungle, etc. Ours was so sweet and we rewarded him with pineapples after our ride.

Then in the afternoon, we stopped to feed some wild monkies. Surprisingly, they prefer Hostess cakes over bananas. From there we went on a little canoe ride through the limestone mountains of Khao Lak National Park. At one point, our guides stopped and we had some time to swim in the crystal clear river. A wonderful day.

Ko Phi Phi Don & Ko Phi Phi Leh. This is what people think of when they think of Thailand beaches. In fact, the movie, the Beach was based and filmed in this paradise. The bigger island, Ko Phi Phi Don, is a 2 hour boat ride from Phuket. It’s limestone peaks make for an interesting and beautiful landscape. Not to mention the water is beyond the bluest blue and the sand whiter than white. The pictures really don’t do it justice.

Once we arrived and checked into our bungalow (adorable), we had just enough time to hit the pool and beach to watch the sunset. We ended the day by eating Thai seafood dishes at a beachside restaurant and going to bed early because in the morning we signed up for a tour of the surrounding islands and secluded beaches.

This turned out to be my favorite day. We departed at 10 am and visited 6 spots in the Phi Phi area. Some of them were areas in the water where we could jump off the boat and snorkel and others where beaches. My favorite was the appropriately named, Monkey Beach. The little guys weren’t as friendly as the once who ate Hottess cakes and were seriously trying to defend their island. While we were taking pictures, on of them decided to see what we had in our bag. Then he took a liking to Fabien’s sun glasses and tried to make a run for it. Regardless, the place was secluded (only accessible by long boat) and beautiful. After we visited the famous beach where the movie was filmed, we watched the sunset on the boat. A perfect day.

Ko Lanta. We arrived early in the afternoon which not much planned. A tout talked us into a bungalow near the beach for about 12€. It wasn’t the Ritz Carlton, but it was worth the money. The beach was just a short walk and, again, just beautiful. There was almost no one in site, so we laid on the beach and swam for most of the day. At sunset we both got massages in little huts on the beach. It was such a relaxing day that we were back in the bungalow sleeping by 9 p.m.

The next morning we woke up and rented a motorbike to tour the island. It was definitely a little scruffier than the other places we’d been, but it had grass roots charm and it was near ghostown in the way of tourists.

Nai Yang. We had about 3 hours to kill before we could check into our flight so we decided to hang at a beach close to the airport, Nai Yang. We got in the taxi and told the driver to take us to his favorite restaurant in town. He responded telling us his sister worked at a great place. Usually not a good sign. We pulled up to a “restaurant” that consisted of tables with red and white linen clothes, topped off with tropical flowers and candles, next to strings of white lights in palm trees and tiki torches, on the beach and perfectly positioned to watch the pink, blue, purple and orange sunset that was going down. For the hundredth time on the vacation, Fabien rightfully patted himself on the back for being “so romantic”. It was bitter sweet because we had found the perfect beach and only had 3 hours to spend there. Even worse….in Ko Lanta the camera stopped working so I have no pictures. :( So after a fantastic dinner and, probably the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen, we headed back to the airport to board our flight to Bangkok.


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