I figured since I was technically in violation of the new Thai immigration laws by being in Thailand for 93 days out of the last 180 days, I should pick a port of call that would have the most relaxed (high) immigration officer. I definitely picked the right place as the guy didn't even look at my passport much less count the number of entries or days I've been in Thailand. I was first in line and managed to confuse and maybe embarrass him a bit by counting the 30 days from Feb 5th to March 6th in Thai to him. He didn't realize that Feb only had 28 days and was trying to stamp me out of Thailand on March 3rd. Nothing like a little subterfuge and embarrassment to sneak into a country illegally. I know I'll probably get at least a few emails from you smart*sses out there that are saying that's only 29 days if I didn't say this, but they count funny in Thailand and count your arrival date as your first day.
I had first heard about the peaceful paradise of Koh Lipe almost a year ago. Unfortunately, I found out that I'm about 3 years too late getting to this tropical island with turquoise waters. You always know you're too late getting to an island when the menus have yogurt muesli on them. Rumors have been floating around the backpacker underground that this was Alex Garland's Beach for the last 5 years. That said, the island is still beautiful and still has some really quite peaceful bungalows on the other side of the island from Pattaya Beach. The Fishery Department has built 8 or 9 bungalows on a rocky part of the island on the windward side. The winds are so strong that not only does it keep the mosquitoes at bay, but ripped most of the roof off my bungalow one night. The people that run the place are very friendly and very laid back. In fact, they are so laid back that sometimes it's even difficult to find anyone that is working there to buy something to drink or eat. Most of the rooms there go unsold because they can't really be bothered to even try to sell the non bungalow rooms. I could have easily checked in and never seen anyone there again until I checked out. It took me 2 days to get a bungalow there so I stayed at Porn Bungalows my first 2 nights. It's also a nice place on the same side of the island with a better beach, but protected from the winds and thus had many more mosquitoes. You may think that I am overly concerned with mosquitoes, but when you have the sweet blood like me, you have to be or you'll be eaten alive with or without a mosquito net.
The only problem with this island is that it's too close to Jellyfish/Mosquito Island. I didn't see any jellyfish, but the sea lice or whatever it is that stings you all over when you get into the water was just ridiculous. Sometimes you get so many stings in a row that you can't stay in the water for more than a couple minutes at a time. Normally these little stingers don't leave a mark and are just annoying, but near Lipe, they did. I was covered in little "bite" marks. It's almost like a form of torture when you see beautiful clear water on an island paradise, but can't get in for a swim.
This sandbar was the best beach on the island between Andaman Beach Resort and Mountain Resort. The Mountain Resort had the best breakfasts including the granola people's yogurt muesli. I think we pretty much had breakfast and or lunch there everyday. I can't even imagine what a restaurant would charge for a view like that in the Caribbean. From the restaurant, I could see my favorite bungalow sitting on the edge of the best beach on the island. This time it was my turn to have bungalow envy. It's not quite fair because the girls that got my bungalow arrived after I did. I even asked the lady specifically about that bungalow, but the girls had the right connections and the ever elusive reservation
. This part of the beach even had the best bar on the island. Karma Bar is run by an American and Canadian couple that opened 1 day before the Tsunami in 2004. Fortunately, the waves weren't too strong and water only washed around the bar, but didn't cause too much damage. Hopefully next time I go back, the sea lice will have left the area and I can do some pain free snorkeling around Tarutao National Marine Park.
I could have easily stayed on this island for a couple weeks, but unfortunately I only had 5 days before I promised to meet a friend in Krabi and head to Ko Jum.
Koh Lipe is only about a hour northwest of Langkawi, Malaysia by direct speedboat. The speedboat can be a rocky ride if you're not completely wiped out from not sleeping much the night before. I slept most of the way there, but with whitecaps on the ocean and ~2 foot waves bouncing the boat about, it can be a pretty bumpy ride. If you sit in the wrong seat, you will get absolutely soaked! Fortunately for me, I chose 1 of the 2 dry seats on the boat. I heard Jessica scream a few minutes after we left port and turned around 2 see her get hit by a huge wall of water splashing up from the bow (I thought to myself it sure would suck to be in her seat). Then Marcus taps me on the other shoulder and tells me to look at the back of the boat where people and bags alike are dripping with water from their own personal tsunamis.