Saturday, June 29, 2013

[KRABI] That Beach in The Beach

My one-day Krabi island hopping tour was not something I really enjoyed. You see, when it comes to this activity, the less people the better. Of course you'll need more people to drive down the cost of the boat and other miscellaneous expenses but when it reaches the point when you could no longer snap a photo of something natural without a camwhore blocking the view, you'll know that the attraction has fallen prey to too much tourism. If they could pin themselves on a cliff, they probably would. You cannot blame them, though. Being a stopover where you spend barely half an hour, all you could really do is seize every opportunity for a photograph and pretend that everybody else is just part of the attraction.

Nonetheless, people still come in droves, if only to get the chance to announce on their Facebook wall that they have been to that beach in The Beach. I haven't seen that movie. Did it resemble a beach version of Baclaran in terms of crowd attendance? That cove is pretty alright but if you want a moment of solitude, which is probably what you imagine would happen, then that's certainly not the place. Unless you charter your own boat and go there.

There are plenty of tour operators in Phuket offering these day tours to Ko Phi Phi. While near Phuket, these islands are actually under the jurisdiction of Krabi. I went during low season and got lucky that the rain stopped the day before I decided to go. What welcomed us there, aside from the jam packed congregation of sweating bodies, was the sun itself, which was in full blast ready to set your skin ablaze. Hey, no complaints here! A bright sun means gorgeous landscape photos despite the sunburn waiting to hound you for weeks to come.

I paid around 1,500 baht for a tour that usually costs more than double the price. I even called the attention of the hostel manager. He probably thought I was a kid and charged me as such. The hell, do I look THAT young? Apparently not, and everything was thanks to the low season. I find this funny though. So we came during low season? All those people? Low season? I wonder what those islands look like come high season. Probably as evacuation-center-ish as the Ruins of St Paul on weekends? Fine, perhaps I should stop ranting now and focus on the itinerary, which covers the whole day.

A van will pick you up at your ho(s)tel. Remember the faces of the other passengers on it. That will be your group whether you like it or not. Once at Chalong Pier, you'll be welcomed by the tour boat operator and his sidekick will be placing a sticker on your shirt, or your skin if you do not have a shirt. This helps in finding other group members when the boat is about to leave you behind for your own version of Survivor Ko Phi Phi. We waited for quite some time and even when we finally got on the speed boat it took another half an hour for us to get moving because of the low tide. The stores there are well-stocked with sun block, waterproof cases for your phone and camera, as well as some drinks and light breakfast options.

Maya Bay was the first stop, or as I would like to call it: That Beach in The Beach. Leonardo di Caprio was nowhere in sight. All I know is that we approached a picturesque lagoon that got me reminiscing my Coron trip, except that in Coron you're bound to encounter more fish and corals than people. You stop here for 30 minutes because there are a lot of tourists and because you'll only get a migraine if you stay longer. Did that make sense? What? You think you can have a could-you-apply-sun-block-on-my-back moment with your boyfriend here without getting trampled by representatives of various nations around the world? Dream on.

What comes next is Loh Sama Bay. If I am not mistaken, this was also that part of the island opposite Maya Bay which is accessible from there, but most of the speed boats usually drive by for a closer look. This would be the equivalent of that oft photographed area of Coron made similar by that lone cliff island jutting out from the water and surrounded by different shades of green and blue. Everything was some sort of a drive-by after that.

Wait, I think I remember it wrong. There was a mini beach where we stopped and they allowed us to snorkel. I think that WAS Loh Sama Bay. In that case, what's the name of the area referred to in the previous paragraph? Oh well, let's not be too technical about it. Just stare at the photos and you're good to go. Back to snorkeling, I was tempted to dive in because the sun was really bitching on us that morning but given that we'd be snorkeling again at our last stop, I just reserved it for last and took photos while everyone on the boat jumped out.

After everyone got back on again, this I think was the time when the boat passed by three of the attractions, namely: Pilleh Cove, Viking Cave, and Monkey Bay. The cove is a nesting area for some bird species whose eggs, I think, are used for a popular soup dish that is quite expensive. The cave is called as such because some Scandinavian sailors used it as shelter some eons ago while gallivanting on this side of the globe. Monkey Bay is supposed to be full of monkeys and the main activity involves feeding them with bananas. Well for that day either the monkeys were shopping in Bangkok or they were plain uninterested because not a single monkey showed up despite the abundant supply of bananas onboard.

We had lunch at Ton Sai Bay. Buffet style. I think we all had our fair share of fried rice and seafood. There's a bakery nearby where I bought this yummy slice of blueberry cheesecake. This is also where you should take your souvenir photo because everyone is relaxed after lunch and would be more than willing to do so for you if you're alone. We weren't rushed but the next thing we knew we were back on the boat headed for our final destination: Khai Nai.

The primary activity there is snorkeling and sun bathing. There are fish everywhere but the water isn't that clear to merit a good underwater photo. Still, you'll be able to snap an okay picture of a colorful fish, mostly yellow and black in color, even in that shallow area just a few meters away from the shore. But what is it that I must warn you about this beach? The rocks. Those sharp rocks.

This is a delayed publication and it has been more than two weeks but the cuts I got from those sharp rocks on the seabed still itch at times. Because you are busy wading in the water, you won't realize at once that you've been cut until you feel a tinge of pain somewhere and see blood fading into the water once you check that particular area of your body. I was paranoid because I think blood attracts sharks. Fortunately, not one came. Hey, I already had my fair share of sharks in a big tank in the heart of Bangkok. I prefer them snobbish rather than interested. I might have issues with myself, but I love my limbs.

At 5:30 PM, I was already back in my hostel in Phuket waiting for the minivan to bring me to the airport. Overall, the islands of Krabi are beautiful, no doubt. I just wish that it could be enjoyed in peace, which is probably impossible for now. The tour is in demand and isn't showing signs of slowing down. For someone who has been to similar islands in the Philippines with less tourist infestation, such a trip would surely prove to be disappointing.

[KRABI] That Beach in The Beach

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