Ferry good going! (...or Koh Ngai to Ao Nang)
09.02.2015 - 13.02.2015 34 °C
Ferry from Koh Nai to Koh Lanta (Old Town)
When the time came to leave Koh Ngai we were still worried that the ferry wouldn't come, but it did, only 10 minutes late which is very good for 'Thai Time'. Even so, when you travel around the islands in Thailand on public transport, nothing is easy. The ferry was pulled in at the jetty, tossing wildly on the waves, only about 3 feet away from the concrete steps on which we stood, easy, just jump, and mind that foot high rail as you go!
Diane on the ferry transfer bus; The ferry transfer bus (after everyone got off)
The first port of call on this epic journey was Koh Lanta Old Town where we took a wild pickup truck ride to a different ferry port, Saladan pier, rammed in with lots of others too big/too tall for Thai sized transport. Our luggage had been manhandled onto the top of the truck and at every swerve and bend I expected to see at least one bag crash to the ground behind us.
Saladan pier on Koh Lanta
Now we had to hang around for two hours. There were no facilities at the pier to store luggage so there was no point dragging bags into the town. Thus the two little restaurants on the waters edge had a captive clientele. To get inside and have lunch we had to negotiate not only tables and chairs but also mountains of parked luggage. We were much amused by a young Russian couple who simply seemed to have stuck wheels onto a pair of single wardrobes....
Passengers disembarking at Saladan pier (note luggage chute)
The next ferry was a much bigger one, as it docked, the waiting hordes and their luggage surged forward allowing no ground space for the hordes disembarking. The luggage on board was hurled down a metal chute on to the dock causing more congestion as people scrambled to retrieve their belongings. I'd like to think it was organised chaos but I think it was just chaos. By the time everyone was loaded and baggage was stowed the boat finally left port a mere 45 minutes late.
Leaving Saladan pier
Inter-island ferries are designed with sufficient air conditioned seating and life jackets for everyone on board, so what do the young and lovelies do? They drape themselves all over every available bit of outside space, getting in the way of the crew and making it impossible for anyone to get from one part of the boat to another. Sprawled across decks, hanging off rails, all intent on turning themselves into lobsters before the trip is done.
It was 4.30pm by the time the (3.30pm) ferry docked and then the surge to collect luggage before disembarking began. The Russian with the two wardrobes was intent on pushing aside both bodies and bags to get his furniture from the bottom of the pile, those closest to the heap only wanted bags that were buried. Both Keith and I tried to maintain order, the crew stood no chance. We couldn't move, I was pushed aside by a rucksack wielding Amazon and fell back into the arms of a small Chinese, we all went over like dominos, but the girl had her bag! By the time I got to my bag, the crowd was thinning and the crew were able to help, my luggage was carried up the gangplank for me.
Approaching Ao Nang pier
Patiently waiting for us was the driver from Aonang Cliff Beach Resort so finally our equilibrium was restored as we spent the final part of our journey in sublime comfort. We'd travelled only 80km in 7 hours!
Our room at the Aonang Cliff Beach Resort
Our three days in AoNang were quite full on. Our first task was, naturally enough, to replenish our gin, tonic and lime stocks. This was easy as there several small supermarkets nearby and once this mission was accomplished, we were free to enjoy ourselves in the busy seaside metropolis that is AoNang. It used to be a quiet little place blessed with a long sandy beach, but over the years, in the way that things do, it has grown and grown. Now it's a tangle of streets and lanes leading back from the beach all full of bars, restaurants, massage parlours and shops all selling the same flip flops, T shirts and sarongs. Everything is brightly coloured and everything is loud. Vendors call as you pass and a cheery 'Sawadee kah' is the best response. It seems that they don't expect visitors to these parts to attempt to speak any Thai and are surprised when they do. When I told a massage lady, in Thai, that I would see her tomorrow she was so surprised that I had to repeat it for her friend and then she hugged me, right there in the street!
Ao Nang beach & tourist shops
We had a few treats as part of out hotel package so one morning we boarded the hotel shuttle bus and were taken a few miles along the coast to their 'Beach club'. As it turned out, it's still at the stage of being built but the bar was up and running and there were some nice big squashy beanbags and hammocks on a private stretch of sandy beach shaded by trees. On our return to the hotel we had our spa treatments.... Tamarind full body scrub followed by a Thai massage with hot herbal compresses. After all the sunshine and seawater we'd been exposed to, this was just what our dry skin needed.
Diane at the Andamana Beach Club (yet to be completed)
Another treat was a trip by very bouncy speedboat to Hong Island. Hong means. 'room' and this is one of those 'hollow' islands with a beach or lagoon inside. We spent the day touring by boat around the beaches and islands stopping to sunbathe swim and snorkel and also for our picnic lunch. We last came to these islands with Kathryn four years ago and had practically the whole place to ourselves, this time the beach was so busy that it was hard to find a patch of sand to lay our beachmat on. There are a lot of Chinese tourists here and for the first time, we are beginning to hear lots of American voices too. Despite the crowds we had a nice day out and were able to do some snorkelling. Lots of pretty fish, but like pretty much everywhere around here now, very little live coral.
Keith & Diane on the speedboat to Koh Hong; Koh Hong is very popular!
So that's it, our brief stay in 'civilisation' is over and it's time to move on, about 100km north and about 20 years back in time.