(Photo downloading not working for this blog. :( )
Tuesday a.m. meant time to leave Phi Phi and head for the Southern Gulf of Thailand. In pursuit of the Sumai Archipelago stretch (a group of 80+ islands, most famous for Samui, Tao and Phagnan (where you supposedly are able to get more "bang for your baht") we were off! The morning started strong - an 8am start on our long tail to hop aboard the ferry to Krabi. I'm not sure how it happened, as we are what I would consider smart, semi-well traveled folks - but we were conned. We have heard you haven't been to Thailand 'til you've been "had" by one con man or another, but this one kept the day "entertaining", and by that I mean... well, let's just map out our travel day.
In pursuit of Phangnan Island we knew that it would involve a ferry ride (check! success!) a bus ride (to cross Krabi Island) and ANOTHER ferry to get to Phangnan. Lonely Planet said bus shouldn't be more than 2 hours, and ferry about 2 1/2. "Con Man" quoted a 2.5 hour bus ride, followed by a 2p hop aboard the ferry, "arrive like no other transport can provide, and before dark." (I know, sounds fishy now that I repeat it, but in our groggy and trusty state it souned like a great idea. Anyhow...) I guess what he really meant is that the bus ride COULD end up lasting 6 hours (it did) and involved stops for him to drop off various shipments over the entire island (yep), pick up friends (naturallY), and drop us at a random buddy's restaurant so we could help fund a little cash in is pocket with a required bus switch and hour "layover." (we did not purchase a thing). Needless to say, this "incident" reminded me I should never volunteer for the Amazing Race or any other reality show, as my "reaction" was not one I'd want any of you, let alone National Broadcast see. We arrived in Bottle Beach/Phagnan around 10p (including 2 long tail boat trips, 2 ferries, an additional "songthaew" (a vehicle common here which is really a bed of a pick up turned public transport) across the island and another long tail to Hat Kuat (our beach).
We checked in to our bungalow (highly recommended by a fellow traveler). To say we suffered a downgrade from Phi Phi would be generous... but hey for $10/night who would expect their bungalow to have a sink in their bathroom (or a flushing toilet, or hot water) - it had none of those things - or their room to have AC (or electricity between the hours of 8a and 6p?!) :)
Luckily when we awoke and headed to the beach we were reminded it was all worth while. On Phangnan Island two world's exist. First, the southeaster corner houses Hat Rin. Home of the "young backpackers party paradise and famous for Full Moon Parties". As we were reminded it was not a full moon... and we weren't 21 anymore, we headed to the norther coast. to Hat Khuat/Bottle Beach. Our beach was beautiful, had a low key atmosphere and a bay backed by lush green jungle and PERFECT swimming water.
Our days at Bottle Beach were filled with mid morning naps on the beach, lots of delicious food, beach side beers watching the sun go down, a couple of books, bottles sunscreen, hands of cards, and refreshing dips in the water! After a few days of this relaxing it was sadly time to leave our relaxing island to head to Koa Samui.
We arrived today to the third largest island (Coconut Island/Samui) around mid-day. This area has become one of the most popular in SE Asia (even more so since the tsunami has sadly scared some folks from the Adamen Sea.) We settled in Hat Bo Phut (Fisherman's Village) on the north coast of the islands we are enjoying this romantic seaside village - it's quiet with great eats, a view and lots of shopping (which we managed to partake in for most of the afternoon.)
We get one more day in Samui tomorrow then off to Bangkok where we've already got a room booked in the hotel attached to the rumored biggest shopping area of the town (thanks for the recco Tyde's!)
...Trying hard to forget the trip is almost over, hope this finds you all well!!