My long-awaited family reunion
Trip Start Mar 18, 2009
134Trip End Jan 12, 2010
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Where I stayed
Long Beach Bungalows, Hat Noppharat
After a delightful few days on Ko Yao Yai, happy to discover that there are still some untouched, untainted beaches in Thailand, the 2nd November finally arrived. I've been looking forward to this date for months, ever since my Mum and Dad arranged to meet us on a beach near Ao Nang and spend a few days with us during their own South-East Asian Adventure.
We had an early start, a pick-up drove us to a tiny pier on the Northern coast of Ko Yao Yai and we hopped in the 7.30 am ferry, crammed full of commuters and scooters and two excitable little boys (who thankfully didn't fall off the end of the boat where they were perched next to me). We put-putted our way across the Ao Phang Nga national marine park, past some huge karsts and to the mangrove pier of Thalin. Here we were picked up in an air-con minivan and driven along a maze of roads to Hat Noppharat Thara pier where Mrs Ae from the Long Beach Bungalows was waiting with the jeep. Thank goodness we would never have found the bungalows otherwise.
Tucked on an isolated stretch of beach with amazing views of the surrounding karst landscape, but I was too busy to notice all that ... running into massive hugs from Mum and Dad, who I haven't seen since March. Paul couldn't get the camera out fast enough, so luckily there's no evidence of me and Mum streaming with tears!
We sat down at the little family resaurant and speed-talked for a couple of hours. They had arrived at 8am on the night bus from Bangkok, quite a journey. In fact in the past two weeks they may have done more miles than Paul and I have done in the last 8 months !! They arrived in Kuala Lumpur ready for the Moto GP, then flew up to Siem Reap in Cambodia to explore the temples of Angkor, then travelled by bus to Bangkok. They're taking a little tour back through Malaysia over the two weeks after they leave us and then home to the chickens. It's their gap month, they're doing a gap year too, but split into monthly sections !
Mum and Dad have obviously been keeping up with the blog but we still had tons to catch up on, in particular my baby brother's wedding plans (eeek!) and my Gran's move to a new home. So we talked all day long, whilst swimming, eating, drinking... The tide went out about a kilometre in the afternoon and we were able to walk out to the nearest island and scout about for sea creatures - some huge sea slugs and hundreds of starfish buried in star shaped muddy puddles in the sand. Sadly our underwater camera has finally died, must have been the sight of us in our snorkel masks on Ko Yao Yai !
We had the most amazing evening, completely by chance we had met on the evening of the Loi Krathong Festival, a full moon party with lanterns. Our hosts touchingly included us in their celebrations. Paul, Mum and Dad released beautiful hand-made candle and flower lanterns into the sea (whilst I took blurry photos - night photography is hard!). All evening we had been watching tiny glinting orange lights float across sky above the bay and at the end of the evening we sent up our own floating paper lanterns, making a wish as they rose into the indigo sky. Just magical. What a day !
Tuesday 3rd November
On the second day we swam, read books (Mum lent me an extremely rude book called 'Don't You Want Me' by India Knight) and played card games and scrabble. In the evening we headed into the local town of Ao Nang, which is tourist-crazy, and had a lovely dinner finished with yummy mango and sticky rice.
Wednesday 4th November
Wednesday was full of adventures. We rented two kayaks with the idea that we would paddle out to an island we'd spotted in the distance with a sandy beach. We hadn't got far when the kayaks started to sink, they were full of water ! Luckily the sea was only waste deep and we made it back to the shore, tipped the water out of the boats and gave up on that plan.
Adventure number 2, we swam around an island. It was shallow enough on one side for us to stand, but as we swam around and into the shipping channel it got deeper and more challenging. Once we'd made it back to the beach it felt like a real achievement, circumnavigating an island. It didn't feel like such an accomplishment when the tide went out after lunch and we all walked around the same island, pointing out the rocks we'd grazed ourselves on only a few hours earlier !
Thursday 5th November
Our last day together and we spent it talking, playing cards, talking, swimming, talking and walking along the beach. Mum also cut my hair which is now 5 different colours and worryingly ginger where the brunette hair dye is fading ! Paul and I also set a new bat and ball record of 130 hits in a row which we think is pretty impressive. In the evening we enjoyed pot noodles together from our respective travel kettles and shared a beer over a game of cards.
Friday 6th November
Paul and I got picked up at 8.20am, destination Ko Phi Phi - Mum and Dad were off at 9.30am to Hat Yai in the south of Thailand. Before that we'd swapped goodies, medical supplies for me and Paul. Mum and Dad have kindly taken 6 diaries full of our adventures back with them - which makes my bag about 3 kilos lighter !
A tearful goodbye, but I managed to hold in the proper blubbing til I made it to the hotel room on Ko Phi Phi - but Paul will tell you all about that soon !
A wonderful few days, full of memories and adventure. I wish Dan and Jo could have joined us ... but I'm looking forward to plenty more adventures in 2010 :)