We locked our passports in the lockers at reception and a taxi picked us up for the tour. And their taxis are nothing like European taxis (expensive ones are though). We climbed into the back of a large pick-up truck, squeezed our tiny bums next to another ten people, murmured a shy hello and received the same hello from the rest of the Germans. While we thought we couldn’t be sandwiched any more in the car, the driver was picking up more and more Germans along the way. Yep, there were a lot of them on Koh Phangan – we hoped that the tour would be in English though.
In the back of a stuffed pick-up truck with half our bodies hanging outside we were driving through bumpy village roads and shortly arrived at the pier. It was a construction site-type yard with a very hand-made scaffold-type looking bridge linking the shore and the boat. On-board we had fruit, biscuits and horrible instant Thai coffee. The boat departed and Auste was the last one finishing her plate – typical!
Having had an unpleasant experience with P&O ferries from England to France in the past, I was very fretful of what may happen on this boat, especially after the tour-guide advised that the top deck WILL be in a lot of motion. *gulp*
Half an hour into the boat ride most people laid down, so did I, and didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. Funnily enough, the people that went downstairs (inside) got pretty pale, I guess that was mainly due to the loud and stinky engine being close to the seats. On the top deck we had lots of fresh air, comfortable mats and occasional splashes of cool sea water.
The boat ride didn’t take long to reach the first stop and we were rushed downstairs to get our snorkelling masks. Not having done this before, I was so excited and quickly jumped in without putting on my mask properly. I had lots of water getting into my eyes, the snorkel tube was uncomfortable and in total I think I had a nice healthy cupful of sea water. And I’m not talking Baltic Sea or North Sea salty, I’m talking literally-salt-in-your-mouth salty. That half an hour went quickly and we got on the boat again to do a few water-slides. Yep, that’s how cool the boat was – it had a water-slide on the top deck. Unfortunately we didn’t do many as the salty water getting deep into your nose was worse than the joy of sliding down.
After (hopefully) everyone got back on, the boat took us to Ao Ka Beach at Talay Nai. Thankfully the English guy had advised us not to kayak as it wasn’t worth 200 baht per person for a mere 30 minutes. And the staff on the boat had a brilliant sales pitch for those who hadn’t chosen kayaks: “you either go kayaking and enjoy it, or stay on the boat and do nothing”. We took loads of cool photos on the boat and then we were transferred onto a smaller boat going to Koh Mae Koh. We were given a strict 30 minutes to go up and down the steep hill. Rules are rules, so we literally ran up the hill, took like ten shots of the Emerald Lagoon, ran to a second viewing platform, took another ten shots and then ran all the way back down. I had never done a hike this quick in the heat of 30+, I may have lost a kilogram or two I believe. All this was to receive a “you have another half an hour” upon coming back the drop-off point. Great. So we just chilled on the beach.
On Koh Wua Talap, where the headquarters of Angthong Marine Park are located, we followed the guide running up a steep hill. Due to the heavy rainfall earlier that day we were not allowed to reach the highest viewpoint, but I think we were ¾ up the way, and it was definitely worth the sweat. We could enjoy the view of most, if not all, of the Angthong islands. Back down at the beach we went for a swim, relaxed, enjoyed the view and were transferred back on the boat.
On various forums I read that people complain about these trips being rushed. In our case, the trip was definitely rushed. It is a shame that we had loads of time to chill out while on the boat, when the 2 most beautiful viewpoints were given no time or attention. To travel such distance in the sea and do so many things in such a short time takes a lot of organisation, of course, but the reason why most people go to the Marine Park is to see the beautiful islands, right? Anyway, it was a good day and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
More photos on our Flickr page here.