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locations postcards

koh kradan and emerald cave

one of the main attractions of the islands is the ‘tham morakot’, the emerald cave. i was looking for people to share the boat fare with, after the only place with canoes refused to lend me one because of too much wind and big waves. this is how i met frank and laurent from paris. they invited me to take the tour with them to the cave and go snorkling afterwards near koh kradan. we were already skeptical when we started the next morning as the tide had already turned. when we arrived at the cave we couldn’t even make out where the entrace was. and the explanation “big waves” sounded too rehearsed coming from someone supposed to know the waters around the island. we agreed to give it another try later and go snorkling first.

the waters around koh kradan are incredible. our snorkling spot:

but as soon as we were under water, we faced another trouble. frank got in contact with a jellyfish and we decided there were too many of them to continue and so we hopped back on the boat to go to one of the beaches. at least this worked out well.

if some pirate is missing cargo…

we thought we return to the cave in the afternoon but our captain didn’t seem to be interested in that promise anymore. after we made our point to stay here until the tide is low again, he called his wife in england and after some nice way of trying to explain the situation, she was more or less just telling us that if the captain says ‘no’, there’s just nothing we can do about it.

back at the resort, where frank and laurent stayed and who organized the tour, they weren’t very helpful either. no more tours to the cave until they get more money. after the description of the situation at the cave and pointing out that it wasn’t just bad luck but bad timing, they at least agreed to take us there the next morning for half the price.

we started quite early at 7 o’clock. from another pier with another captain. which seemed like a good omen until we reached the other side of the island with the cave. big waves were shaking the boat and when we arrived, i just waited for the final whistle: ‘big waves’. but wow, captain said it’s fine. now it was our turn to doubt the mission. laurent was the first to throw the towl. frank and me boldly put on our life jacket and followed our captain who was swimming with one arm, holding the flashlight with the other above the water.

after we left the boat and were coming closer to the entrance i got more confident as the proportions had changed, feeling all that small once inside the water. the waves were big but we were taken up and down rather then towards the rocks. i just rounded the first cliff at the entrance when frank decided to return to the boat. i wish i could have told him that soon after the entrance the water was getting calmer, but that’s just after you pass the foaming gorge.

once inside, the flashlight turned out to be as helpful as a candle. but after my eyes adjusted and i had seen that no rocks were sticking out from the ceiling, i got more relaxed and without the waves it was a light and constant stream that took us towards the end of the tunnel and the small hidden beach.

the first thing i noticed while getting out of the water was the smell. it smelled intensly like in the hot house of a botanical garden. birds were sinnging and together with that ‘coming out of a tunnel’ feeling, it was amazing. five minutes later we had to swim back before the tide was getting in again.

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locations

koh muk

soon after leaving pakmeng i passed the turnoff to the pier for koh muk. as there are almost no regular ferries going during the rainy season, i thought the only option would be to charter a long tail boat which would be expensive. but as the sign stated the pier was just 2km away, i steered this way. after asking around the situation soon sounded much better. there is still one boat per day and after an hour of waiting we were off to koh muk.

i thought about switching to camping again since accomodation is a budget burner, especially on the islands. but the places advertising camping were all closed for the rainy season and i didn’t want to just put up my tent on their property. as i went to the other side of the island i came by the ‘hilltop restaurant’ and stopped for lunch. after a delicious meal and an invitation from the family to pitch my tent in their garden, this became my home for the following week.

it was a family of seven. song, the mother, could speak a little english, is quite a character and kept the place busy. surrounded by rubbertrees, it was a cool spot during the day and during the night it was allright to switch back to sleeping in the tent without bathing in sweat. 

i enjoyed the daily walk or ride to the beach through the rubbertree forest and then beneath palm trees

towards the shore.

when i arrived on the first day i was the only person and the questions why this beautiful place is so neglected during the rainy season presented itself. if you don’t find and answer just ‘drop the thought’. so did i, ran into the water and soon did not contemplate anymore.

the following day i started out to go up. there was supposed to be a path and a viewpoint. i couln’t find both but i just kept going until up would have been climbing up a tree or starting to fly. the view of ‘farang beach’.

i got some bruised during the climb and was hunted by mosquitos but the view was worth it. as i came back, song didn’t care about my smile and raving stories about the view and was complaining about absent tourists… but there were some newly arrivals these days. after 3 days outside the egg on their first excursion through the garden.

on the last day (extra day not included) we set out to the emerald cave and koh kradan. and on our extra day just hang out at the beach until sunset.

koh muk has been amazing. affordable through camping and the cheap yet delicios food. recommendation for the rainy season, but probably good all around the year!

Categories
equipment

extended vision

a lot of cyclist have their rear mirror on their list of things they don’t want to miss. i never felt like buying one at the beginning of my travel. but then philippe, a fellow cyclist from canada, gave one to me in igoumenitsa as his trip was coming to an end. i carried it along for almost a year and just recently got around  to install it.

i think i’ll soon add this to my ‘things i don’t want to miss’ list.

Categories
locations travel

pakmeng beach

i shared the first kilometers out of town with ben and margo. after a last stop at a bicycle store and exchange of good wishes we continued in opposite directions. best of luck to you!

the first half of the day i was ‘flying’. maintained equipment, delicious food and enough sleep are always good preparation. so i left the first stretch of busy highway soon behind me and started on smaller roads along the coastline.

a reminder of the tsunami in 2004 in this area are these signs which point to an escape route or advice you what to do in case of an earthquake:

it was an easy ride along the coast with occasional stops at the beaches before i arrived in pakmeng.

pakmeng is not the most inviting beach i have seen but the atmosphere is interesting as it is only visited by domestic tourists. i met a motorcycle group and played a concert before getting myself a bungalow. after a shower i went out for dinner, had a quiet evening, was reading a book and after a nightly walk home on the beach, went to bed early. amazing, huh?

Categories
locations people

smile guesthouse

a recommendation from caro and tobi, the smile guesthouse in krabi is the perfect guesthouse. clean, friendly and cheap. the simple but ultra comfortable rooms felt like home soon after i moved in and spread some of my stuff around. it reminded me so much on flatsharing rooms i remember from berlin. plain and yet stylish.

the roof terrace is the perfect place to start the day.

if you turn around you can see ben and margo from scottland. cycling since ten months from new zealand back home.

we are taking a similar route just in opposite directions. i got loads of tips from them and hope i could provide them with some tips in return. ben is a bicycle mechanic and he was so kind to check my wheels and gave me green lights until australia. wonderful people, i really enjoyed meeting them…

i stayed a couple of days to do some repairs and some shopping. my bicycle bags showed some wear after a year. i could fix some of the minor damages myself…

but that didn’t work elsewhere. luckily i found a leather shop which also does repairs. a competent lady took a look at the bag, said ‘100 baht’ and ‘tomorrow afternoon’ and i had the feeling of leaving the bag in good hands. some new clothes are in my possession now as well… and a new hat.

after the almost mandatory ‘extra day’ and a last evening at the night market we left the next morning.