Sea, sun, sand......
03.02.2015 - 10.02.2015 34 °C
As we checked in at Koh Ngai Resort the smiling girl at reception said, 'Oh, you have very nice room, many guests say this is very nice room 512'. Yes, I thought, I bet you tell all the punters that, unless they've booked the very cheapest scuzzy room behind the kitchens.
Our trusty suitcase bearers were waiting to lead the way, but this time they were able to trundle our wheelie bags along a winding concrete path. On and on we went to a 'hidden' beachfront bungalow, the last in line...the furthest from reception, as if we haven't walked far enough.
Keith tipped the lads generously, they'd earned every Baht, and we went inside. The room was fine, simple but well equipped and clean but in the pictures these bungalows have a big (albeit rather unattractive) concrete sun deck with loungers. Ours had only a small verandah with two wooden chairs. But then we realised, we have the only bungalow that is actually on the beach, with an uninterrupted view of the sea and islands beyond AND direct beach access. It's also the only one with views both to the front and the side. So that's why it's a nice room. From here, looking out at the sea, this could be the only bungalow on the beach.
Beachfront; View from room 512 verandah
It's a pretty beach, rather rough underfoot with stones and broken corals, shaded by trees. The area within the resort is soft white sand and there's a pool and the ubiquitous massage 'hut'. Behind the beachfront bungalows the different categories of accommodation, some two storey, rise up the hill with gardens full of trees and shrubs between. Some of the higher ones may well have great views but even where we are, facing east, we can see islands, Koh Mook, Koh Cheauk, Koh Libong and over to the mainland.
Koh Ngai sunrise from room 512 verandah
Now that we've been here for a while, out days have fallen into a pattern. We get up early to watch the sun rise up over Koh Mook. It's low tide at this time and some mornings you can watch the rippling reflections of the rising sun on the exposed rock pools. It's very quiet and still as we enjoy our morning cuppa on the verandah. Gradually people appear, early risers taking photographs, some of the Thai staff making their way to their work, but often we have the whole beach to ourselves. A little later we go to breakfast, a buffet but quite relaxed. There's a great selection of Thai rice and noodle dishes, lots of fruit and prepared salad vegetables, pancakes, eggs, cold ham and sausages, bread and preserves but still people complain that there are no cornflakes! What's wrong with vegetable fried rice with an egg on top and salad for breakfast?
The sun isn't too fierce in the morning so now it's time to mooch about exploring the surroundings, not that there's far to mooch. You can scour the beach to see what the overnight tides have brought, you can walk around the rocks to the next tiny cove or you can walk up and down the pier watching the comings and goings. All of the inter-island ferries stop at this pier, weather permitting, so people who have stayed at the resorts on the other beach are longtailed around to meet them. One morning we climbed up as high as you can in this resort. Some of the highest rooms are reached by a pretty good climb but staff quarters are even higher. Further up still there's a shrine and steep concrete steps leading up into the jungle and who knows where beyond.
View from uppermost rooms
After this it's getting hotter so it's time for a sunbathe. We rotate our sunbeds throughout the day to take advantage of the sun or shade as we fancy. On our first morning, at around 10.00am, a speedboat backed up our beach and people streamed out, the boat played loud music. This wasn't what we came for, why don't they all bugger off over to the main beach? It wasn't too bad though, the people all dispersed throughout the resort and left in a couple of hours and they've not been back since.
Beach invaders daytripper boat
Since we got here, the sea has been quite choppy albeit quieter in the mornings. We've enjoyed bobbing about on the lilos and have done some snorkelling. This has been disappointing, the current is quite strong so it can be hard work and when the sea is rough the visibility is poor. When the water is clear you can see that there very little live coral left on the small reef, but there are some pretty fish. We've seen shoals of zebra fish, some colourful clams and sea urchins and a few good sized parrot fish. You have to be careful getting in and out of the water when it's rough as it's quite rocky in parts particularly as the tide is going out. Since I got stuck on the rocks when the waves were too strong to allow me to stand, I've been much more careful to get in and out via the sandy bits!
We go for lunch at about 1.00pm mainly for a drink and a break from the sun in the hottest part of the day. The menu here is quite extensive and the portions are large so we've taken to sharing a tempura or sandwich for lunch. We have two problems though, although the gin comes out of a Gordon's bottle it's nothing like any Gordon's I've ever tasted and despite the fact that they have limes, they will persist in putting lemon into it. The other problem is James Blunt. Every mealtime, James Blunt. Keith has tried bribing the bar staff not to play it but I think it's in their contract.
In the afternoons, it's more of the same. Afternoons are also massage time and we thoroughly enjoyed the ones we had, but at 400 baht (about £8.50) they are way overpriced and we haven't had any more.
Diane & Keith enjoying genuine Gordon's G&Ts on room 512 verandah
Around 5.00pm the sun slips down behind the mountain and much of the resort is in shade. This is when we retreat inside for showers, unravelling whatever towelling animal the cleaning staff have created today. Afterwards I like to sit on the verandah letting the warm wind dry my hair as I wait for G&T time (using our own carefully hoarded genuine duty free Gordon's). As the sun goes down behind us, the rocks and islands in front light up in sharp relief, often with a reddish glow. At this time the swimmers and sunbathers have all gone in and once again we have the beach to ourselves. We enjoy our drinks as it goes dark.
Koh Cheuak, afternoon & sunset
Dinner is around 7.30pm and as well as the main menu, there's always fresh fish which you buy by the 100g and which is then cooked on an oil drum barbecue and served with big corncobs dripping in butter. The lights in the resort go out at about 9.30pm and then all you can see are the stars.
Each day we've watched the ferries come and go. If we'd delayed our departure from Sukorn by one day, so we could to go to Dick and Dee's party, which we did consider, we wouldn't have had the stressful arrival that we did. But today it's rough again and more newcomers have had the same rocky trek as us.... 'Tell me there's another way out of here!' panted the girl as she stumbled into reception. Hopefully the sea will be calm tomorrow for our ferry journey on to Ao Nang...