On the tiny island of Koh Lipe for awhile..
So I left Cambodia behind an ended up in Phuket, Thailand for a day and a half. Quite a contrast it was. At the Phuket airport, a French Canadian asked if I wanted to share a cab to Patong Beach, which was a surprisingly expensive ride otherwise (1,000 baht). We rode together for about 40 minutes. He said he was from Vancouver B.C. and could no longer take the rain there. He's told his wife he was leaving for Thailand, his favorite place in the world, for a month to clear his head. His excitement was evident as all through the car ride, as he kept rolling the window down, to the displeasure of the driver, to "listen to the sound of the birds". He'd never been to Cambodia, but immediately had judgements about it...all resulting in Thailand was better, etc. etc.. If you ask me, he seemed a little manic. But maybe it was just the long plane ride.
Anyway, I stayed at the Lub.D backpacker hotel. It was very "millineal" oriented to kids and young adults either in gap years from school or working somehow to live there and work from there while island hopping, partying, practicing Muay Thai moves in the lobby's fight ring or swimming in the pool next to the backpacker bar. It was ok. But I did not wish to linger long in Phuket. Too many Russians and Chinese. Too impersonal of a city. At least on Patong Beach.
I felt like i had researched the whole Thai island thing so much, I was at a complete loss as to where to go next. I tried asking a few "travel agencies" and tour operators on the streets, but they just kept trying to sell me on Koh Phi Phi, etc..
FInally, I asked one woman about getting a one way ferry ticket to somewhere very unlike Phi Phi and she smiled and said Koh Lipe.
I hesitated as it was to be a long journey...seven hours by speedboat! But I bought the ticket and the next day, shoved off at 7am sharp.
The journey was on a small speed boat through some rather large stretches of ocean. I had read that injuries on these things were not uncommon and indeed as we got further out into open water, we started launching off the tops of the waves and getting airborn. But it was quite fun. I was one of about seven people on board...some Koreans, a French backpacking couple and a jaded looking German guy who liked this was old hat to him. The scenery was magnificent and as I jammed away to my music (this drones out the loud motors, btw) , this atstonishing arrangment of limestone cliffs and islands rose out of the sea.
We stopped at island after island as we went...letting some off, gathering others. I was the only one going all the way to Koh Lipe. Finally some Irish girls got on who were going there too. They'd done all the other islands and heard about this one through rumors that it was one of the last "good ones" left, not overrunn with crass tourism, etc.. And when we pulled up, I could tell the whole high speed thrill ride had been worth it. Aqua clear water, white sand beaches and a large National Park full of coral reefs surrounding it. My hotel was there to pick me up and I got put onto a tuktuk with a Croatian couple and off we went for a harrowing ride through the tiny village (home to an ancient tribe of sea gypsies, not making that up) that looked very third world. We all started to get a little worried as we went deeper into this village and the flooded roads and the chickens and livestock and such. Finally we pulled up at to same very ramshackle huts and he motioned for us to get out. The three of us looked at each other in complete disbelief...like, what the fuck? And then we turned a corner and there was this beautiful hotel and the gorgeous beach.
But yeah, with the sea gypsy village right behind it. I actually walked through the village today. They don't even look Thai. Almost African meets Thai? It is the Andaman coast so it matches other tribes located here. Fascinating place. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moken_people)
Well, I'm here now and my original plan was to stay a few nights and island hop back to Krabi. But here I will remain. I found what I was looking for and feel peaceful. I'm also enjoying the snorkeling. Tomorrow I will switch from the hotel to a nice beach shack with a hammock on the front deck and even a TV (probably won't work) so I can theoretically watch the elections. So I will stay until Thurs.. Unless Trump is elected. Perhaps I can look into remote work if that occurs.
But it is a truly beautiful and special place. Will add photos as I do more exploring. For now you can behold the tiny craft that brought me here.