Travelling Thailand’s Andaman Coast

DSC_0174DSC_0309DSC_0209This Easter we left the chill behind, heading east to join my parents on their yacht for two weeks  of sailing, exploring and relaxing on the Andaman Coast in Thailand. Leaving the world of work behind, my parents set off six years ago to sail the world so we took this unique opportunity to visit them in Thailand (read their adventures here).

After a day to recover from the travel, acclimatise to the heat and see a little of Phuket, we set off on our travels. We quickly settled into a routine: sail somewhere new, drop anchor and celebrate with a beer, explore and enjoy the local highlights. Repeat. I love this kind of travel. My childhood holidays were never stationary; instead they were marked by touring new places by boat or car, and I have never learned to stay still for long.DSC_0597This variety was a hallmark of our trip. Some places we stayed just one night, like the river at Bang Thap Lamu, where we ate the best Thai food of the trip at a local fishing village. Others required more time, such as Rai Lei beach where we spent a day climbing limestone cliffs amongst stunning views.

Never ones to enjoy lying on a beach, we experienced the coastal area in different ways. As well as climbing and sailing, we spent time swimming in and peering under the clear-blue waters with our snorkels. We explored caves by canoe, our guides making sure that we ducked at the right moment to avoid the stalactites, and spotted the hoards of bats seeking daytime rest. In Ko Phi Phi we hired a ‘long tail’ (traditional fishing boats repurposed for transporting tourists) to explore the bays and cliffs, stopping at various points to snorkel on the reefs and visit the inhabitants of the aptly named ‘Monkey Beach’ (remaining a safe distance from their quick, hungry hands!).DSC_0660DSC_0261DSC_0699Sometimes we had the same experiences as many other travellers, particularly in Ko Phi Phi which was made famous as the location for the film ‘The Beach’. We shared the sunset viewpoint over the island with hundreds of selfie sticks. Snorkelling there, I could be deceived into thinking I had escaped from the world, lost in a foreign land of corals and reef fish. Resurfacing, the crowded sights and sounds of thousands of visitors and their boats showed human presence was entirely immediate. This isn’t without cost; sadly some of the coral at Ko Phi Phi and the Similan Islands Nature Reserve was dead, a combined legacy of the 2004 tsunami and the frequent presence of anchoring tour boats.DSC_0604DSC_0624For me, the best moments of our trip were those unique to travelling on the boat. A day spent sailing along the coast in the unending sunshine. A bay shared by hundreds of kayaks during the day was just ours come the evening. Beating the morning hoards to explore caves by dinghy, enjoying the quiet, the birdsong, the sight of an undisturbed sea eagle diving for breakfast. These rare moments, unscripted by tour guides or travel books, are the ones I value most. I’m aware that not everyone gets to experience them. Having done so, I must recognise it for the privilege it is.DSC_0156You can read my parents’ version of our visit on their blog here.

Full disclosure on our unsustainable decision to travel by plane here.

Photos taken by T Kendal and myself (mostly him).

Today’s soundtrack: Pink Martini // Hey Eugene!

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