Trip Start Jan 12, 2010
51Trip End Dec 02, 2010
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Where I stayed
Tarutao has a sordid and bloody history. It was once used as a prison for both criminals and political prisoners. A remote island surrounded by deep and shark infested waters, it was a natural prison. Almost Thailand's version of Alcatraz. It was even the centre of activity for pirates. Using a mountain bike i rode to Ao Taloh Waw where a historical trail begins, leading you through the remnants of Tautao's past. It explains the origin of Tarutao as a prison, how the prisoners were transported here and their appalling living conditions and punishments. It also details the rise and fall of the Tarutao pirates. Throughout the trail are the remains of ports, structures, work tools and equipment used during this moment in history. Once i'd finished the historical trail, i continued on my mountain bike to Ao Taloh Udang. This area is on the southern tip of the island and was a trek and a half to get to. The trail is a rocky and over grown terrain with some really steep climbs. It seemed to go on forever and at times the track is hard to distinguish. The bike was put through it's paces and had to be walked through some areas. It was tough going. However, it was worth the effort. The beach at Taloh Udang was amazing. It was a beautiful spot and you knew you were the only person around. After spending some time here in awe of the natural surroundings, i began the long ride back. Half way between Ao Taloh Udang and Ao Taloh Waw, i got a puncture.
Another site i went to was Toe Boo Cliff view point. This is a short 10-15minute climb from the visitor centre. The views were spectacular and you really get to appreciate to rugged, unspoiled and undeveloped surroundings of Tarutao island. It really is like something from the land before time.
On my final day i went on a guided tour of Crocodile cave (Tham Jarakhe) which was once home to deadly salt water crocodiles. The tour involved a longtail boat ride to the cave entrance which is only accessable via boat. Once inside we used Kayaks to explore the cave and it's water ways. It was a fantastic experience and the cave was stunning. The kayak hire and tour was relatively cheap. However, the longtail boat ride was quite expensive. The evening before i met an American traveller at the food lodge. We talked about crocodile cave and decided we both wanted to see it but didn't want to pay full price. She did an amazing job finding the few foreigners staying on the island and persuaded them to join us on the tour in the morning.
I absolutely loved Tarutao and will definatly come here again - if only to see those 2 waterfalls i never got around to visiting. This isn't the place for you if you need mod-cons and luxery. With permission from the national park headquarters you can walk around the island and camp with a tent (either hired or your own) but you have to be self sufficiant and bring enough food and water as there are no facilities once you venture away from the visitor centre. I stayed here 4 days. During that time i've had my tent blow down. Been kept awake all night because of monkeys banging on my tent and scared to death from wild bores charging out infront of me in the jungle. It's been tough physically trekking and exploring such a harsh landscape as well as sleeping in a tent on rough and uneven ground. But you know what? it was all worth it. Words or even pictures can't explain how incredible this island is and the experience it's given me.