Old Phuket Town was an ideal place to kick start our Asian adventure. We spent most of our time here eating delicious Thai food and drinking singa beer and cocktails. The streets were not overly populated with tourists, creating an authentic Thai vibe. We visited a cat cafe in town which was the cutest thing, although they showed very little interest in our presence.
Wicked Diving trip to the Surin and Similan Islands, Amdaman Sea.
Andy and I were in our element diving every day. It was early November and we were more than comfortable in 3mm wetsuits. Six days on board with amazing like-minded people although it was crazy to see the difference in people between trips, same same but different. Life on board MV Mariner was a fantastic experience for my first tropical livaboard trip. We spent 3 full days in the Surin Islands and a further three days in the Similin Islands. Both are located on the west coast of Thailand, in the Andaman Sea. The views on deck were magical and the underwater life was flourishing.. To some extent. We did not see any sharks during the whole trip! Apart from one incredible guitar shark I was lucky enough to see before it disappeared into the depths.
The Surin Islands, a group of five islands separated from the Thai mainland by 60 km. It is home to a small group of indigenous people known as the Moken. They famously survived the 2004 Tsunami which devastated many areas around Thailand. The knew from their ancestors that when the tide went out as far as the eye can see that they had to get to high ground to escape the Laboona (wave). I was impressed by the amount of life found at the archipelago. My favourite dive site has to be Richelieu Rock, a horse shoe shaped pinnacle smothered in soft corals. Sadly no whale sharks but still a beautiful experience.
The diving in the Surin Islands was incredible. So much life but not much coral.
On the first trip we landed on a beautiful beach to watch sunset and drink beer with monkeys calling in the background.
The Similan Islands, a group of 11 islands which was declared a national park in 1982. The dive sites in the Similans mirrored the land above with gigantic towering boulders and swim throughs. MY favourite dive was at Koh Bon (Island 10), an isolated pinnacle north of the Simians just still part of the national park. We were on this trip when Trump was elected president of the United States of America. How on earth did that even happen?
On the second trip we stopped off at Donald Duck Bay and climbed the famous Sail Rock which boasts a boulder the size of a house balancing on the edge of some smaller rocks.
The underwater world was incredible – mountains under the sea
Khaolak is a beautiful coastal town that was deemed our base between livaboard trips. We stayed in a sea inspired boutique called Nautical Home Bed and Breakfast for 1000 THB. This was the perfect place to merge back onto land and the owner was beyond friendly.
We spent a little more than we would normally on accommodation at Railay Beach but the stunning views were worth every penny. Phutawan Resort is a 5 minute walk (uphill) from the pier and overlooks the east coast of Railway, with an infinity pool and a rock climbing wall to entertain during breakfast.
Andy’s Birthday involved a treacherous rock climb to Railway Lagoon with the best German couple, a quick wash at Panang beach and fabulous dinner at Rayavadee Resort.
Phi Phi Don lived up to its expectations as being completely tourist ridden but we did not mind this at all. We booked into a low cost room at Natacha Hotel for 700 TBH. During the day we skipped the trips to famous beaches involving herds of tourists being cattled on to longtails and shipped to crowded beaches only popular because they have been involved in famous films such as ‘The Beach.’ Instead we rented a kayak for two hours and explored monkey beach and the amazing rock structures surrounding these beautiful islands. The nightlife was incredible indeed. We started off eating thai food and headed for the Reggie Bar which was in no way Reggie, but rather an americanised diner which hosted a Moui Thai boxing ring. Although this scene had a twist: They gave a free bucket to whoever was brave enough to enter the ring and face three, one minute rounds. After a cat fight or two we headed down the bustling street where we could not avoid a small pub with an asian acoustic band singing classic songs such as Brown Eyed Girl. After a cocktail bucket or two we hit the beach! Walking along the sand there was a selection of music from trance to tango. Such an epic night.
Thailand swallowed us up and spat us out at Na Yang Beach, Phuket.. But the view along the way was beautiful. We arrived on the 14th of November, the day of the Loi Krathong Festival of lights, where hundreds of ornately-decorated krathong (traditional banana leaf floats) made purely of organic material were lit by candle light and send out to sea, setting the horizon on fire. This offering is to ask for forgiveness from Pra Mae Khongkha (Goddess of the River Mae Khong) because we use and drink her water.
- Do NOT stick your finger in your ear at 20m depth. It hurts!
- Do NOT drink fake Thai alcohol before a flight home. It was never going to end well!
- Haggle for your room price to be 1000 THB or under. Breakfast is a bonus!
- Research where you want to go but be flexible. Booking online costs extra!
- Make the most of every day. You can sleep when you’re home!