A Travellerspoint blog

August 2015

Koh Sok canoeing

sunny 29 °C

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It was time to move on to Koh Sok, a touristy national park in the south. Our ride there via minibus took about four hours from Krabi and cost 250 baht each. For an air conditioned ride, that was pretty good. They stopped to pick up and drop off people all along the way. Sometimes it got pretty squishy.

Once we reached the bus stop in Koh Sok, there was a man with a sign displaying different hotel names. After inspecting it closer, I found ours and he confirmed that guests staying there got a free ride in. Things were going our way again. The Valley Lodge was away from the main road and surrounded by trees. They had rustic bamboo bungalows on stilts along the forested path. They had roofed balconies and a bed surrounded by a large mosquito net. It was very cozy.

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We headed to town to see if we could rent canoes. The answer was no, but we explored the town and found the national park. The tour companies offered two hour canoe trips and the man we talked to offered us enough of a discount that we took it. It came out to 500 baht for both of us.

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They picked us, the guide, and the kayak up in a songtao, and drove further up the river. We passed through a Buddhist cave and a monk to get to the river. Our guide didn't speak much English, but we enjoyed the views. We didn't get the option to paddle though, it was all done for us.
On the river, fish swam, and birds flew around. There were even some nuts and fruits on the trees that they enjoyed eating.

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The vibrant blue kingfisher was a favourite in flight as it revealed its colour. From the front, they had a plain white/gray body.

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Beautiful karst hills and mountains came up on the horizon. Next we sailed by the drunk tourists tubing down the river with their beers in hand. They were friendly enough.

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By the end of the tour, we got to see rubber trees as well, with little bowls underneath to collect the liquid. We made a pit stop to drop off the kayaks at someone's home and our guide hopped out to chat. The family was buying homemade ice cream from a local vendor so we hoped out too to buy some. It was coconut and really tasty. The guide was laughing at us as we left.

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We wanted to visit the park tomorrow, but unbeknown to us when we planned this destination, it wasn't possible to walk more than a few kilometers into the park without a guide. The park rangers confirmed the tour companies claims. They also offered their own guide service and we told them we'd come back after thinking about it. Even after doing more research online at the guesthouse, we got the same answers. It seemed to be a recent change.

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When we went back to find the ranger, he was gone. Our guesthouse owner and the staff there had vanished as well after our meal, so we couldn't book with them either. We went next door and booked with the guesthouse next door.

Posted by Sarah.M 20:22 Archived in Thailand Tagged park national canoe ice_cream kingfisher koh_sok Comments (0)

Four Islands Tour

semi-overcast 30 °C

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In the morning, a colourful Mercedes bus that belonged in the 60s soared by our street playing party music out of its open windows. It pulled a U-turn and stopped in front of our guesthouse. We were pretty stoked about the sweet ride to the four islands tour today. The tour was a steal, maybe $15 (450 baht) each included transport, lunch and snorkeling. They gave us stickers on the bus to help organize everyone. When we arrived at the coast, we found out why.

Hundreds of people were standing around awaiting instructions from the guides. They organized us by tour then by hotel name. Finally, we were ready, or so we thought. Our boat still had to stop and pick up more people in Railay.

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Our first tour stop was Tup and Chicken islands, Koh Tup and Koh Gai, which were attached by a sandbar if the tide wasn't too high. We walked Chicken island's shores. Blue seas and skies extended as far as we could see. A few islands were dotted on the horizon. The sun was strong today too.

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Crowds thinned out and we headed back to the boat with our time limit expiring. We did have time for a quick swim and to see a fish or two in the sparse coral. I got a few more photos then rushed back to the boat.

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Our next stop wasn't far and we jumped off to snorkel. Fish darted around in all sizes and colours, but we had to stay off the bottom to avoid the dangerous sea urchins. Ryan got the hang of the snorkel pretty quick too. Afterward, we hopped back on for a photo stop that illustrated how chicken island got its name. The rocks formed a long neck and a beak.

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We jetted off to Koh Mawr for our lunch stop on the beach. There was a fried veggie dish to share and a spicy chicken dish as well. We had time to swim in the refreshing waters and even see fish between the anchored boats. Their colours were light, blending in quite well with the sand. Sii Island stood tall in the background, mostly to look at due to its limestone rock composition and lack of surrounding beach.

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Our final stop was Railay beach so we explored the far side we'd missed before and did some more snorkeling. There weren't quite as many fish, but it was still beautiful. Kayaks darted out of nooks between the rocks and I wished we had taken the time to rent them earlier. Back on our charter boat, we got pineapple and watermelon as a snack before heading back to mainland.

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We had to move guesthouses once more to get closer to Krabi. We took a songtao to the bus station to buy tickets to Koh Sok for tomorrow, then rather unsuccessfully tried to find a songtao that would take us to our next destination. After walking and asking a number of them, we jumped in a taxi songtao that a few girls were taking to the city, rode four blocks, then hopped out to walk another twenty minutes.

It got a bit tiring with the big bags. Rain started coming down and we hoped it wasn't that much further. I pulled out my tablet to use Google Maps, checking my e-mail in the process. An e-mail from the guesthouse owners informed us of a free shuttle service from Krabi town, since they were out in the sticks. Alanis Morisette would be singing. If only we'd just rode the other songtao into town. A tour minibus pulled over and asked us where we were going. He confirmed the place was only a few minutes walk down the road. Nearly there!

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We arrived and the staff showed us around the rooms. The first had a broken sink that they were in the process of fixing, so they moved us to a twin room where everything was supposed to work. Ryan had to fix the toilet tank and ants crawled across the floor.
The only resort-like quality, given that their name was Diamond Home Resort, was the nice pool. We ran over there, discovering in the process that our sunburns were a touch worse than we'd thought. At least the water cooled them off and we wouldn't be snorkeling too soon, so they'd have a chance to recover.

After getting supper at the only place with food nearby, we sat outside our room to enjoy some cookies. There were too many bugs in the room to do otherwise. Since they only had one chair and a desk that was weathered enough it had to stay outside, I jokingly sat on the desk. It collapsed and we spent the rest of the evening trying to get the silly thing to stand upright again. In the end, Ryan managed to get it looking normal.

Posted by Sarah.M 22:00 Archived in Thailand Tagged krabi railay snorkel 4_islands_tour long_boat Comments (0)

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