Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Year End Trip - Koh Tarutao (The Final Leg)

Next and final destination - Koh Tarutao. One of the national Parks in Thailand.

It is between Pak Bara (the pier) and Koh Lipe. So I took the ferry from Lipe which was about 50mins to reach Tarutao. As usual, I was asked to check in before 9am (since departure time is 9am) but the ferry only left at 940am. Great. Funny thing? Everyone knows the ferry leaves after 9am!! Cos the person at Tarutao tells everyone that the ferry reaches there at 1030am. Do your math and you know it means the ferry leaves Lipe after 930am. Totally don't understand why they tell people 9am ferry leaves...

Anyway, it was a bumpy ride! I sat at the front of the ferry and woo! Butts were flying literally off the seats!
Bunch of Argentinians were standing and riding with the bumps.......

Soon enough, we arrived at Tarutao - Ao Pante malaka beach where the visitor center is and everything else kinda starts from here.

Booked my accomodation on Ao Molae (heard about the nice beach there) for 600B per night. You can camp at the 3 beaches - Ao Pante Malaka, Ao Molae and Ao Son for 250B per night. Only Ao Pante and Ao Molae have bungalows, but all 3 beaches have restaurants. Yes, the "FANCY" restaurant that serves everyone almost all the same kinda food...

It is 4km from Ao Pante to Ao Molae. Taxi ride is 50b return (payment upon check out) or you can rent a bicycle for 200B a day to explore the island!

The bungalow is pretty nice! Much nicer in terms of design as compared to Koh Adang. It has a mossie net too! Electricity runs from 6-11pm, so you have to get all your electronics ready to charge between that tight 5hour timeline.

My neighbour was a lovely couple - Italian lady + Taiwaness-American guy who have been living in Bangkok for 1.5 and 5 years respectively. They had been staying on Tarutao for the past 6 days when I arrived. Lovely Italian lady, big bambi eyes and she's a professor at the Bangkok University.

My day will start after I settle my hunger. Man, I think I ate more on a daily basis during my 2 weeks trip than how much I eat on a daily basis back home in Singapore, yet I still lost almost 4kg upon return. Must be all that trekking, hiking, bashing and swimming...Ordered a phad thai that looked like phad thai but somehow not the tastiest phad thai.. Still eat up, fuel up and go!

1st stop, walk the 4km back to Ao Pante for the view point trek!

Took me about 40mins to walk back, some slopes on the way but not too killer.
Up the view point (Toe Boo Cliff) which is 500m high. The walk is interesting itself. Passing through jungles and rock formations which were quite cool!Before long, I was up there! Well, I was in Adang, so the view as compared was not as amazing...

I see I see I see

Then next stop was to kayak out to Crocodile Cave, a 2km kayak through the mangrove swamp. At least the kayak is in good order..No leaking holes. Armed with verbal instructions from the person in charge - "You go straight, turn right, turn right. Always keep right. You see pier, tie your canoe and walk 50m" Very easy.. Right. You know never really trust when they say very easy..

Kayak was 100B per hour. I started uneventfully. The ride down the swamp was pretty nice...And soon enough i realized 'Oh Shoot' There were small branches to the right every now and then. But realizing those seemed abit too small for entry, I continued and continued, always keeping right, unless there's no way to keep right. After 1hour of canoeing.. I kinda found a torn down pier but it was on my left and not right. I disembarked but seemed like there was no trail to walk the 50m onwards...And the entire place was muddy. Looking forward and pondering, I decided to turn back. Either I actually did hit jackpot or it was a wrong place, I would never know!

When I returned, the person asked if I found the cave. Apparently, most people cannot find it on their own. Thanks for telling me that AFTER i tried. Should have gone with a longtail boat instead...

Back at Ao Molae, went for a swim in the damn salty seawater. Couldn't take the saltiness after 30mins and headed back to land.

Then of cos it was time for sunset viewing, yet again! Ao Molae IS the place for sunset!

The only piece of cloud in the otherwise very clear blue sky

Dinner at the fancy restaurant yet again, and had a good night chatting with my lovely neighbours and 2 other travellers from Holland and Ireland. Lights out at 10pm and we all headed back to room before total darkness hit upon us!

2nd day started my excursion and exploration of the 3 beaches... Before I headed out to rent my bike, took the opportunity when there was nobody on the beach at Ao Molae and took some wicked shots!

Handstand! Only for all of 2 seconds!

Then it was off to Ao Pante (4km walk) to rent the bike. Yes bike is only available at the visitor center.
1st beach - Ao Pante. It's more family oriented over here. Guess families can't be bothered to walk or travel 4km to Ao Molae. And there are more types of accomodation for families available here!

The beaches are squeaky clean. Yes it really squeaks when you walk on them. But apparently, jellyfish are a common sight in the waters here!

Yes, those are my footprints

After I got my bike, back to Ao Molae again... Where coconut trees greet you upon arrival to the bungalows.

From Ao Molae, it's another 4km to Ao Son, the 3rd beach. Over there, it is really quiet as there are no bungalows. However, you can camp there! There's a restaurant! But beware of sandflies!! Those vicious insects are there aplenty. Luckily I wasn't one of their victim!

The ride to Ao Son is real bumpy. Concrete road gave way to soil and rocks and you just go up and down up and down. Not the best thing for your butt...

The beach at Ao Son is amazingly white! Long stretch of untouched/unwalked sand! Literally as if no one had been there!

How squeaky clean is that! No footprints!!!

There was only 1 tent when I went, and it belonged to the same 3 Argentinian boys who arrived together with me. How awesome to have the entire beach to yourself! Instead of going another 500m up and crossing a floating platform, I opted the indiana jones way of crossing the river with ropes!

After a stop at Ao Son, and filling my stomach with papaya salad (which didn't taste good at all), it was onwards trek to Lu Du Falls (3km). The trek was pretty well marked though some of the arrows were turned around (from to direction to from direction) but you get the idea. Anyway, just follow the river upstream! And you have to cross the river several times and walk along the bank and rocks.

You pass by alot of such situations on the trek

Probably about 50m you'll reach the waterfalls. Yes, it's not like AMAZING waterfalls, but it is better than that Pirates waterfall in Adang. The water was refreshing and flowing and you can actually have a dip and swim in the water! Or slide down the waterfall into the water! Which was what I did a couple of times! And if you sit still for long enough, the fish will help to chew off your dead skin!

After the Lu Du falls, it was onwards and more cycling to Thalo Wow, an ex-prison site 12km on the east side of Tarutao.

The guy at the visitor center told me 2hrs to cycle there and I was like 'What'? It's only 12km, how can it possibly be 2hrs! It's an easy enough ride, except for 1 part where there was a killer slope! After 2hrs of cycling, 2hrs of hiking during the day, I was not in the best possible condition to tackle the slope. So I pushed my bike up up and up! And zoomed down with the bike.

The thing about the ride is, there was absolutely no sign whatsoever along the way to tell you how far you've gone, and how far left to go. 1hr into the ride, seeing that it was past 4pm, I still did not see the other side. Not wanting to ride back in the dark (starts to darken before 6pm), I gave myself another 15mins to spot the coast, and 15mins was all it took!
Once I saw the coast, I knew I was there! The view there was amazing! Looking out into the vast sea with little islands dotting around. So refreshing!The prison site has a 3km historical trail which I didn't do seeing that I did not have enough time to walk around and back and get back before sunsets..

The next best thing I did - Stayed and admire the view! For about all of 15mins. Wished I had more time though...

I can so fall in love with this view. Oh wait, I think i did! Photo doesn't really do it the best justice

There is another prison site further down another 12km which totally did not have the time to do... I'm thinking the view there would be as great or even better...

Did I mention that when you're sleeping at night, there are all sorts of weird noises outside the bungalow by god knows what kinda animals! Like squeaks and squeals and high pitched screams all mixed together...... Eerie...

The next morning it was rise and shine and pack up and leave Thailand! The ferry was packed from front till end but otherwise uneventful.

All ready for my ride to hat yai upon arrival at Pak Bara pier but damn travel agent somehow screwed things up! I waited for almost 1hr, no van no nothing. They threw me on a songtheaw and drove me to a local bus station without telling me anything. Bus station would not accept my ticket as it was with the travel agent. After a few calls, the songtheaw came back, passed me some money to pass to the bus station and somehow I got on a local bus. Shit!

Not knowing where I'm going to be let off, and driver totally cannot speak english, I just sat and sat and somehow let myself off at Hat Yai. Looking around, hat yai is really boring! I ended up at Tesco Lotus, sitting in the air-conditioned foodcourt, woffling down phad thai (by then I was beyong hunger) and waited for the time to head to the airport. Took the motorbike for fucking 150B (those thais just gota reap tourists off) and waited still somemore at the airport for my uneventful flight back home... Coincidentally, Desiree was on the same flight as me!

So that ends my 2wks of fun and adventure in Thailand. how pretty cool was that! Let's do it again!!!

1 comment:

travelbug said...

Thanks for posting this blog, it is very helpful. I will be heading there in early Jan 2015