Island hopping the Andaman coast

Trip Start Oct 12, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hi all, hope you enjoyed our last set of photos of Cambodia.  After only a week traveling through Phnom Penh and Siem Reap the beaches were calling us, begging us to return, so after much persuasion (erm...) we decided to head to the Andaman coast of Thailand to island hop all the way down to the Malaysian border.
We'd heard horror stories about the terrible state of the exit road from Cambodia, so decided to take a share taxi instead.  Definitely one of the better bits of advice we received - uncompleted mud roads and the downpour of the previous night turned things into a motorised mud-bath, watching local moped riders skid and slide along was very entertaining from our safe position (special mention to the optimistic chap still attempting to transport 6 double mattresses tied to his back whilst one-handedly riding a 50 cc scooter).
With the aid of our driver's impressive off-road skills we still made it to the border crossing in great time.  From the Thai side it was plain sailing.  We had even timed our first stop in Bangkok with precision, arriving just in time for the Chatuchak weekend market for some much needed clothes shopping (for me anyway, I don't think Dave would agree!).
Next stop Krabi and the gorgeous Railay beach, our last stop on the Thai mainland before the island hops south.   At Railay we spent one day on a snorkel trip (my first!) and headed out to four islands including the poultry shaped 'Chicken Island'.  I found the snorkeling scary at first, was practically shoved off the boat and into the water by the captain and then had to put my fins on whilst trying not to drown (luckily I had Dave as my human buoyancy aid to keep me afloat!).  Early nerves soon passed and I had an amazing experience.  Seeing hundreds of all kinds of beautiful fish and stunning coral for the first time was breathtaking.
After Railay we took a boat to Koh Phi Phi Don (larger, more popular, lots of lovely restaurants).  From here we took another snorkeling trip on long tail, which included a visit to the gorgeous Phi Phi Leh (where 'The Beach' was filmed).  It seemed quite a few others had the same idea and by lunchtime there was hardly space to park the boat (not quite the Hollywood experience but stunning all the same).
Another boat to Koh Lanta (more relaxed version of Phi Phi).  More island hopping (this time by a fabulous bright red speedboat), along with more sun, more sand, more get the picture :0).  Apart from the one day when touring the island by moped, the heavens opened like we've never seen, and like drowned rats we had to abandon the bike and head for cover.
After Lanta we stopped over for a couple of days each in Koh Ngai and Koh Bulon, both much quieter but even more beautiful.  At Koh Ngai we were joined by two giant iguanas for breakfast at the Ngai resort, seems they had a liking for hard boiled eggs!
Then it was on to Koh Lipe (our penultimate island stop in Thailand) for yet more fun in the sun (except for our arrival day - another impressive downpour - it absolutely chucked it down and somehow only my bag got drenched.  Not happy!  It will sound boring by now but the further south we headed the more beautiful the beaches, the more pristine the coral.  Our last Thai snorkeling trips were amazing, even coming a tad too close to a black and white sea snake.  Throughout Thailand I tried fostering countless animals, but Lipe topped them all with the cutest puppies and kittens everywhere.  Even Dave couldn't resist.
Last stop was the national marine park, Koh Tarutao.  Dave, the 'qualified' accountant, had again underestimated our budget (doh!), so we re-jigged our plans and set up camp on the beach instead.  We practically had the entire beach to ourselves, apart from the occasional over-friendly sand crab - no internet, no phone, in fact no electricity - sheer bliss.
We had an amazing time in Thailand and were sad to say goodbye.  Our next stop was back to shore to travel overland through peninsular Malaysia.
Sending our love to you all back home, hope you enjoy the pictures.
Bex and Dave xx
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