This was an exiting trip in many different ways; not only was it a long trip (about 11 hour flight) but it was also the first time I and Stéphanie was abroad just the two of us. The planning started really early with the tickets booked about half a year in advance and the result was some truly amazing memories together.
Now we have done a lot in a short time and it is soon time to leave Thailand and be heading for Sweden but the time we have left we use to be at Kata Noi beach, relax and bath.
Starting with taking a look at the Buddha cave we then continued to Tum Pungchang cave to explore its depth by both canoe, bamboo rafting and walking. Unfortunatly it was forbidden to take pictures inside of the cave so the only picture I have of that is a picture of the travel agency picture board with the sign stating it is forbidden. We also visited James Bond island where the movie "The man with the Golden Gun" was recorded as well as we made stop at the muslim fishing village at Panyee island.
As it so nice being here the first time we decided to back a second time, this time with another driver that for some reason refused to go through the yacht club's garage. It wasn't long to walk from there so we stepped out and continued by foot instead and at least got some other photos along the way since the road provide quite a good view over the beach.
Patong is a neighbor city to Karon and has a much more active nightlife compared to Kata and Karon. When we was heading for Patong we didn't bring any credit card and after being out that night we was in an interesting situation, it was time to get back to our hotel without any money at all. No real problem as we of course just tell the driver where to go and then pay when we arrive but if he knew we couldn't pay directly it might been a little harder.
The second stop was done at Kho Kai Nok while the third stop wasn't on an island but about 200m outside of a really small island. At that place we jumped into the water from the boat and turned around at a spot where we saw jellyfish probably close to 1m in diameter. Our guide told us it was one of the usual ones that isn't dangerous but better to not be to close when you are in the water and don't know for sure.
Time to find new places to do some snorkeling, we got on a boat that would stop at three small islands during the day. The first stop was done at island Kho Kai Nui.
In Kata you pay 500 baht to go to Ao Sane Beach, which takes you on steep roads and through a garage to a yacht club before you arrive at a remote beach were you don't see so much people. This was by far the place with the best snorkeling waters compared to all of the other beaches within a close range from our hotel. Despite being remote we could still eat at a restaurant but we had to tell our driver when to get back since it would have been hard to get a new driver at that place and walking would not been an option.
Time to give Stéphanie her christmas gift, a SPA treatment for the both of us. Several relaxing hours later we got back to our hotel and when it started to get closer to dinner time we got the christmas gift from my father, dinner at the dinosaur inspired restaurant in Karon followed by fun mini golf at the adventure mini golf track. While playing the ball has to dodge dinosaures and go through a several meeters high vulcano that occasionally spit out a cloud of smoke and fire. This is something you should not be missing if you visit Karon during night, it was both good food as well as fun while playing.
Cross the street from our hotel there was a cozy restaurant where we decided to eat lunch before getting a ride to the start of the elephant trekking that we booked earlier. It was a good looking restaurant and the food was delicious but it took quite some time to get it, probably due to the kitchen not being prepared when we got there. This made us a little worried about being late to our ride but in the end it was never a problem and after a short time in the car we got to say hello to the elephants. We started by sitting next to each other on a small bench on the elephant's back while a little boy was sitting on the elephant's head to give it directions. After a while the boy however walked down to the ground smoothly by using the trunk and Stéphanie could sit on its neck instead of on the bench. It was a fun experience with quite a good view when we reached the top of the hill along the track, it also felt like the elephant would always walk in the same slow speed no matter the obstacles in its way. It walked down into small river at one point and I could not feel it slow down at all, but it also is a big animal with a lot of power and weight behind each step.
From my last trip to Karon beach at Phuket I knew the breakfast buffet at Karona resort and spa was really good and as it anyway is just about 5 min to get there with a car from Kata we decided to eat breakfast there today. It was as delicious as expected and while still being there we went by the guest section to take a picture while pointing at the wall greeting I was a part of during the last trip. After the breakfast we continued to the beach to have fun in the water, relax while reading a book and eventually eat at one of the beach restaurants. Later we headed for the market at the other side of the beach were we bought a pair of slippers and some cloathes for Stéphanie but mostly just to look around.
Eventually we were back in Kata, after three amazing days at Similan islands, but now it felt good to shower and eat at a usual restaurant during the evening.
Today we woke up in the same way as yesterday but with the difference we could see through the tent a lizzard sitting on the tent, not a big one and it was stubborn enough to not move when we were shaking the tent so we got out anyway. This day we were completly alone on our bout for several ours since all the others left Similan isalnds after breakfast. So we were snorkeling alone from the boat at the east side of island 8 and rested in the sun on deck when we wanted to. It was at that place we also had a close encounter with a snake our guide later told us was the "zebra snake", which officially has the name Banded Sea Krait and its venom ranks among the most toxic in the world. They are however so docile and non-aggressive that humans are rarely bitten, even in situations where the animal feels threatened. After eating lunch we decided to take a look at the view point as it was a sign stating 350 m and that is not far. It was probably stating 350m high because it took a long time getting there as well as it involved climbing in ropes and walking over horizontal ledges to get from one cliff to another through a cave. Maybe nothing you should do with children since it would be devastating to fall but physically many can still get up there and have a nice view from the highest point in Similan national park.
It was a really load noise that woke us up in the morning and we could not be sure what it was before getting out from the tent. But when opening the tent the protection from things on the outside is gone so to not let anything in we were first shaking the tent from the inside. Now we could get out to see that the load noise was coming from hundreds of bats fighting for a spot to getting to sleep in the tree above us, they didn't simply chose a spot but instead attacking each other to get the best spot. After a while it was however apperently decided where to sit, which we knew from the sudden silence. Then we saw a spider, sitting on the tent, so I took a picture of it while Stéphanie was just looking for a while before she said that sha can point in the air against it on a picture. When she started pointing I was just about to tell her that spiders can jump when it actually did jump against her finger, all going well but scary for sure. We also noted that it was much less people on the island now due to the rules about how many can stay over night and new visitors would arrive after a few hours. We continued the boat trip around the islands and ate dinner while watching the sunset in the sea.
4 hours with bus and 2 hours in a boat at about 60 knots was how we got to Similan islands national park with arrival at island number 8. There are 9 islands of which number 8 is the only one on which you are allowed to stay over night. There are also rules regarding how many people per square metres are allowed to be there which in one of the small islands plays out to be 1.5 persons (how does a half person look like?). We started by climbing up to the rock called Sail rock, it gave us a nice view over the north part of island 8 but we had to hurry back to the boat since it was only stopping for 30 min at that place. For us it didn't matter as it anyway was quite crowded with people at that beach since all boats make a quick stop there before getting to the next destination. Our boat continued to the tent camp where we got a tent and left some of our cloathes before getting on a slow cruising boat that was about to take us around today. Its first stop was quite close to a small beach with very sharp cliffs and lots of small crabs. If you look close at one of the pictures there are three crabs on the side of a big rock. Most of the others on the boat either stayed on the boat or was just snorkeling where it was deep but we had neoprene boots and made our way up on the sharp rocks to see more of it. One of the interesting things was a rock with pockets looking like if it had been made out of a mold from a gaints hand, big enough for me to sit in. The boat then continued and made another stop, this time further out from the islands but here the focus was sea turtles. It was obvious they knew we were coming with food since it came 3 turtles almost instantly after we stopped. One of them swimmed around us when we jumped into the water and let us touch it. You might think that a turtle is slow and that it shouldn't be a problem touching it but I can tell you that keeping up with this turtle was impossible even though I had large fins on my feet. I was moving slowly to not scare it and then it was swimming close to me, and let me both have my gopro camera close to it as well as touching its shell. Before heading back to the camp the boat waited for the sunset, a good choice since it was a beutiful view from the boat. At the evening it was some lamps lit in the tent camp but besides those the only light we could see was from the moon and the stars. That was when our guide came by and asked who wanted to take a night walk with flashlight, of course we came along. He showed us the way to where the chicken crabs usually are during night, then he catched one with his hand to show it to us and the others who had joined along the way. It looked like it could easily snap a finger if it was in the wrong place and the guide just put it down on the ground after a while, making everybody to jump to the side a little while it ran sideways behind the trees. It was not comfortable to lay down in the tent but it was exciting and we were just waiting for the next day.
Getting to this beach can easily be done by walking from Kata beach but in the warm weather we almost regret not taking the cab or Tuk-tuk instead. As the Kata Noi beach is smaller and a little less accessible it was also less people there and in one corner of the beach there was a small restaurant which I recommend when it's time to eat lunch. The view under water is also better at the same side of the beach as the restaurant so don't miss that side of the beach.
The first beach we visited during this trip was the one closest to our hotel, Kata beach. It was not so much people even though it is quick access from most hotels in the area so it felt really relaxing getting there. I will however never forget that Stéphanies first reaction when getting into the water was that it was cold. It wasn't cold for real but the air temperature was much higher so it felt a little cold anyway.
This first evening we stayed in Kata and enjoyed a good meal at one of the local restaurants.
While waiting for the plane at Arlanda airport in Stockholm we celebrated christmas. Stéphanie gave me a word game in the shape of a cube that we could play while waiting. My gift to her was something she needed to wait a little bit longer before she could enjoy it, a SPA treatment together with me in Thailand. During the flight we watched movies, played games and about 11 hours it was time to land. Almost chocking to feel the heat when getting of the plane since we travelled from a cold winter weather in Sweden to a tropical climate at Phuket.