{thai ed.o2} islands galore.

8:57 AM Sian Mei Yeoh 0 Comments

quite frankly, this is my first time travelling on an island getaway with friends. 

after a relaxing (albeit tiring) day on railay beach the day before, i was very much looking forward to a new day of exploring the clusters of krabi islands. 

the sisterhood of travelling longchamp were setting out again!

we purchased the tickets for phi phi island tour on the speed boat the day before - the lure was the reduction of price by almost half from 1800 thb to 1000 thb per person - crossing our fingers for snorkelling-worthy weather the following day. several tour guide companies offer almost the same itinerary but we were lured by barracudas tour first before the other companies. 

note :: haggle for the island hopping tours if you are interested in going.

hotel pick up was at 8 am (they were half hour late) and we were surprised to see the pick-up truck. even so, i truly enjoyed the short ride of fresh air as they ferried us to the meeting point to get our stickers for the respective tours. 

as we were waiting for the full group to gather, i quickly shopped for a water proof bag - a black 10 litre dry pack by camp inn bag for 400 thb. it is an awesome investment for frequent adventure seekers to beaches and camping at waterfalls. 

note :: water proof bags, water proof camera/phone case (certified please!) are handy equipment to have. most essentially, don't forget your sun screen/sunblocks either!! oh, sea sickness pill is really a good idea, just in case :) 

unfortunately, the weather wasn't the best for both snorkelling nor for a speed boat ride to the islands. not quite raining but it was cloudy and almost gloomy with the rare, occasional peeks of sunshine - the sea wasn't as calm. thank goodness, i popped a sea sickness pill an hour prior and according to our tour guide since it was the last boat out, the number of travellers on the boat was small so there were ample space on the boat. 

tip :: good idea to sit all the way to the back of the speed boat to savor the awesome view in comfort without the boat ride being exceedingly bumpy if you've sat at the front deck.

starting from the lovely view from the boat, the rest of the itinerary included:

bamboo island (ko mai phai) - hin klang* - viking cave - pileh bay - loh samah bay* maya beach - phi phi island (phi phi don)
{*snorkelling spots}

bamboo island - hin klang* - viking cave - pileh bay - loh samah bay* - maya beach - phi phi island 

as we reached the first spot, the view was simply spectacular. despite the sun missing in action, the water was clear as the waves slowly rolls down the soft, sandy white beach. i took a minute to take in the view as i feel the wind running through my hair. we decided to take a quick dip in the water and as our body temperatures eventually equilibrate with the cold water temperature, we decidedly stayed as long as we could because we would be freezing in the light gusts of wind.. 

our stay there was a tad short (4o minutes) and during our short exploration on the island, we could barely find bamboo trees on the island despite its name. 

bamboo island - hin klang* - viking cave - pileh bay - loh samah bay* - maya beach - phi phi island

a half hour stop at this beloved snorkelling spot. snorkelling gear +  life jacket were provided although the gear were haphazardly stored in a basket.

it was my first attempt at snorkelling and it turned out rather.....
....unsuccessful - sad face!

i panicked in the water, which is probably the worst thing one can do for a non-swimmer like myself especially in slightly choppy water. after struggling in the water for 5 minutes and clinging onto my friends, it was best for me to get back on the boat to allow them to enjoy their experience. at the very least, the water was thankfully clear enough for me to watch from atop the rocking boat at the fishes, swimming in the water.

hence, it is my resolution that before my next snorkelling experience, i NEED to learn how to swim (i know you need not know how to swim but i feel safer when i have control in water)! 

bamboo island - hin klang* - viking cave - pileh bay - loh samah bay* - maya beach - phi phi island

snacks of cakes and cloyingly sweet drinks were provided as we moved on to our next spot. this part of the itinerary consisted of a quick tour as we soaked in the beautiful blue shades from the sea before a stop by the loh samah bay for a second half hour snorkelling session. i didn't even attempt to get into the water. the view was simply breathtakingly amazing. 

as feedback to {as}'s query of snorkelling at this spot, it was too dangerous since it was too deep although there were some private tour agents who would stop for a quick dipping spot. 

bamboo island - hin klang* - viking cave - pileh bay - loh samah bay* - maya beach - phi phi island

off we were heading towards the "hidden" beach - the famous spot where leonardo dicaprio filmed the beach.

a very popular spot for the tourists, in fact too popular. there were too many people. the sandy beach was one of the best ones that i've set my foot on - cool, soft sand cushioned my feet but we couldn't even enjoy the water since the line of speed boats dominated the shoreline. there was a path way to walk towards the heart of the island for restrooms and snack bar. however, i would strongly advise to avoid the restrooms because it was unpleasantly dirty..

after about half hour on the beach, we headed back to the boat for a serving of fresh fruits - slices of pineapple and watermelon as we sped off to our fifth destination for lunch.

bamboo island - hin klang* - viking cave - pileh bay - loh samah bay- maya beach - phi phi island

finally, we have some extra time to actually enjoy the beach. 2 hours for lunch and beach bumming. we'll take it! 

we were semi-glad that we were finally heading back to aonang beach from phi phi island, which took about an hour and half of short naps that ended with a series of daring boat turns (he did it just because!) as we reached the aonang beach at about 4:15 pm. we decided to walk back to our hotel on our own instead of waiting for the drop off truck since it was only about a 10 minute walk. 

similar to guided tours in cities, i felt i spent more time on the speed boat and not enough on the beaches. probably perfect for those who wants a mix of snorkelling pleasures and short sightseeing on the different islands. i prefer spending more time on a couple of beaches, relaxing and taking in the sun. in fact, i think i might have enjoyed my escapade to railay beach more. my friends were slightly bummed out by the very short snorkelling stops and the cloudy weather didn't help either.

after showers and our pact to dress up in beach dresses, it was time for the fun stuff! our missions included shopping for souvenirs, searching for local authentic food and getting thai massages! our evening started off with another banana chocolate pancake! oh and meet its new friend, mango chocolate pancake! 

verdict | not a fan of the mango - the tropical sweetness of the mango disagreed with the flavor profile of the chocolate sauce and left an unpleasant trail in the wake of each bite. the banana counterpart is a clear favorite with us but the execution of this pancake didn't beat the one from railay beach. it was slightly greasier and didn't have the the crispy shell we were hoping for.

an island getaway isn't complete without a fresh young coconut, the ideal refreshing drink after a hot day out in the sun.

dinner plans ensued after where we set off in search for the local authentic thai dishes- no fusion. {smd} and {as} mentioned of a hole-in-the-wall place that they came across earlier sometime, which i didn't even notice. as we looked along the streets without much success (yet!) to the point that i began to think that the restaurant may only exist in the magical world of narnia, we stumbled upon it but not before stopping by the street cart for some shrimp tempura as appetizers. it was going to be our back up plan if we didn't find that food shop.

the hole-in-the-wall shack had an outlook that promised local authentic food coming out of its kitchen. this petite sized shop is called jamai restaurant.

we managed to fit ourselves in a small table at the corner. i was excited about finally trying local cuisine but wasn't too hungry after our evening snack, so i ordered a bowl of mild shrimp tom yum soup {tom yum goong | ต้มยำกุ้ง} and another green papaya salad since i couldn't resist. oh, and of course one of those thai iced tea.

the thai iced tea featured the use of palm sugar, which was pleasantly imparting a rich, almost rounded sweetness amid the ceylon tea flavor profile but was borderline too sweet.

it wasn't because i am a wuss that i ordered mild tom yum but i felt a sore throat coming. it was really very mild without any spicy heat. the almost clear soup hid the fresh shrimp (slightly overcooked), straw mushroom, tomatoes, onions and cilantro. the sour-ish broth itself could have used a more distinct lemongrass flavor and the herbaceous fragrant punch of kaffir lime leaves. despite that, their rendition of this local favorite was decent.

green papaya salaaaaadddd!. i can never seem to get enough of it.. probably because it tickles the taste buds with savory from the fish sauce accompanied by the hint of garlic, sweet of the palm sugar and tart-tanginess from the lime juice. what is of utmost importance was the balance it struck between the three flavors. 

this one almost had it right. the green papaya retained its fresh crispness but i could have done without the long beans. perhaps a touch more of sugar and fish sauce could lead it to hit the right note while the peanuts were the perfect pairing to mellow the sourness and add a different kind of crunch.

after having completed one of the three missions, we embarked on the an hour long search for souvenirs along the streets of krabi where price haggling was a skill to be practised.

in between our souvenir hunting, we also searched for our well deserved and coveted massages at one of the many thai massage parlors in krabi. my family warned me to be wary about krabi's massage parlors and of its cleanliness, which got me all nervous but we managed to find a place where the accommodating masseur gave us a mini tour of the parlor before we agreed upon pampering session. the hour long relaxing full body massage was long overdue and the best part was that it only costed us about 350 thb. yum!

i vowed to return the next day perhaps for a double time! :) but more on that in the final part of the series depicting day o3 - probably the shortest of the entries and it will be in the works soon :) wait for it!

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may wary for others.