We took a local bus to Trang where we bargained with some motorcyle taxi drivers to take us to the pier for Ko Muk. We were delighted at the price we got, but our elation turned to realisation when we were driven 5 minutes down the road to the local mini bus station
. At this time 2 American girls arrived in a tuk tuk having suffered the same 'misunderstanding'. We found out they were headed to the same Island as us and we firmly became friends for the next few days. The 2 girls - Erin & Allison - had been doing Tsunami relief work in Khao Lak & were taking a break. We spent the days reading and chatting with them, swimming and wandering around the village which was 30 mins from the resort we were staying in. They were really fun to hang out with and both lovely. Our distance from town was unfortunate as the prices at our resort (the only one open on the Island) were quite high. Ko Muk had been hit by the Tsunami too and there were tin shacks set up all along the waters edge and I thought these people were the poorest we'd seen yet. The Island looked trashed, but you can never tell if that's the way it looked before as there's trash wherever you go in Thailand. There were only a few farang (white tourists) on Ko Muk so we were stared at and yelled "Hello" to a lot. This was often followed by embarrassed giggles by the fascinated children. We noticed rubber trees in the jungle. The white liquid rubber was collected in coconut shells tied to the trees and then once it coagulated, it was put through a hand operated rolling machine and flattened. I'd never seen this before.
We met a man who made pancakes (with egg inside and condensed milk on top - delicious) and his English was amazing. Like many Thais on the Islands he'd taught himself English by listening to the tourists
. We saw him often and learnt a little about the Tsunami. He would always ask, "How's it hanging?" and then answer, "Straight up and down". He was very funny. One morning we went to his house for breakfast at his invitation. His house was a tin shack back in from the water and he explained that 2 Tsunami waves had hit his side of the Island and the second one had destroyed his nice, big house. He had such a great spirit and only asked that we prayed to whoever our God was for him.
At night we drank the Thai whiskey (either Sang Som or Mekong) and played cards with the girls who'd spent the day collecting shells and rocks to use as betting money. On our final day we took a longtail to the famous Emerald Cave with another Dutch couple we met. The waves were really big and our journey entailed us jumping into the swollen ocean once anchored and swimming about 80 mtrs to the cave entrance. Then we had to swim 80 mtrs through the cave without hitting the sharp sides or getting lost. Once you get inside, the cave is pitch black and very scary and we could hear the waves crashing violently somewhere else inside. I almost turned back because as I looked back at the entrance we'd just come through it seemed to get smaller and smaller as the waves rose. Our boat driver came with us to guide the way and seemed to wait till the last minute to turn on the tiny torch he'd brough with him. Finally we came to the other side which was like an oasis inside a volcano. It was really pretty and very well hidden.
Once we left the cave we negotiated with the same driver to take us the 2 hour drive to Ko Lanta later that day (which seemed suicidal in the waves). He dropped us 50 mtrs from the shore near our resort so we could swim back and pack up our stuff to meet him an hour later over the other side of the Island. Our ride to Ko Lanta was really rough, but fun and we could see the storm clouds looming on the horizon...
The morning we left we had to wade out to our longtail and climb a ladder into the boat. When I gripped the ladder, one side of it came off and I fell in the ocean fully clothed and with my pack on. The only good thing about this was that I had already handed my camera to Ben. We got back to Pakbara and were harrassed by a crazy, mouth-foamy guy who had no front teeth and whose lower legs and feet were swollen and covered in sores. He waved a taxi down for us and then to our horror and amusement jumped on the back (as they're open and many people ride this way). He yelled our destination, yelled at us and kept hitting on me. Just as we could take no more he leaned in and tried to kiss me on the cheek! Yuck!! He was the village idiot and locals would hit him jovially as they rode by us on their bikes.