Wednesday May 15th to 19th
We arrived on the island of Phuket in the afternoon and got picked up by our hotel. It was almost a two hour drive south of the airport. The island is 48 km long. The weather in Phuket was overcast every day with sunny and rainy breaks which meant we did not get as sunburnt. In most restaurants and bars we found we were the only customers. This is the beginning of the low or rainy season here.
We were situated at Kata Noi beach. It was a lovely little place with great AC and a small swimming pool. Fran stopped at a pharmacy and got some meds for her cold. We walked the beach and when we saw that the sunset did not look promising, we left to find dinner.
Thursday Fran was not feeling well so we continued to take it easy. We rented a scooter for the afternoon intending to go to a local beach to snorkel but it began to rain, although it was still hot and humid. We decided to give it a go anyway but were told the water was too rough this time of year so changed our mind. There was a good amount of surf and a strong undertow.
We went back to Kata Noi Beach and played in the surf. Doug unfortunately lost his prescription sunglasses when a huge wave hit him; we never found them. We drove around trying to find a place on the beach for sunset, but rain loomed so we quickly found a place for dinner.
Friday we took a day tour to the Phi Phi Islands and Ko Khai Nok. It was on a speed boat and the first stop after an hour was Maya Beach, made famous in the movie, The Beach. It was an idyllic setting as featured in the movie but way too crowded for our liking. We could not imagine what it would have been like in high season.
The next quick stop was at Viking Cave which is where bird’s nests are collected every three months for sale at astronomical prices. Then we made another quick stop at Monkey Beach where the crew fed monkeys who came down the tree branches expecting to be fed.
We were then able to snorkel and although most of the coral was dead, (guide said tsunami in 2004 damaged a lot of it) there were lots and lots of colourful fish. This is where our underwater camera decided to die. Sad.
After a lunch stop we went to Ko Kai Nok (aka Egg Island) which had been drastically reduced in size by the tsunami. It was overcrowded and had very poor snorkeling and the only reason there were fish, was because people were feeding them bread.
As Doug was still having issues with his snorkel mask, he bit the bullet and shaved off his mustache for the next day’s excursion to Racha Island. This worked great. This day there were only two stops on the same island and due to very windy weather and choppy water, we could not land on the “good” side of the island. We anchored off one end and snorkeled for about an hour. There were plenty of beautiful fish, but again not great coral. At the beach where we stopped for lunch, it was not pristine but after we ate we went out along the rocks and snorkeled away the afternoon. We saw lots of colourful fish, snake fish, starfish and needle fish.
That evening we rented another scooter to use the following day to explore more of the island.
Sunday we had fun driving around the island, stopping to see architecture, the Big Buddha, Promthep Cape, the tourist market, elephants, monkeys, many beaches and viewpoints.