Back to Chiang Mai, but it’s hot and smokey this time of year. (Way too smokey, but that’s another story). Let’s go to the beach.
When we visited the “emerald cave” at Koh Muk, I was a bit put off by the noisy crowds of tourists coming in and out of what I felt could be a sacred passage. My fantasy was to come before all the tour boats and have quiet time there. Would it be possible to spend the night on Koh Muk and get an early start?
It would. So I set our course for Trang, where we quickly get to the southwest coast, and take a water taxi to the island. There’s no bridge to Koh Muk, and no cars on the island, a big attraction in my view. The water taxi ride is scenic and invigorating:
Our hotel is on a beach—well, sort of a beach. More like a big tidal flat. When we arrive, the tide is out, and though locals typically moor in the shallows and walk gently across the mud to shore, that’s not practical with our luggage. So our boatman surrenders and takes us to the island’s single pier, where we get a motor taxi to get to the hotel. But—no cars, remember? So this motorbike/sidecar contraption is the taxi. There are scores of these on the island, carrying passengers, cargo—even long metal beams for framing new buildings. And the roads are just wide enough to accommodate them.
Ironically, we still have to walk across some of the tidal flat to get to the hotel, because the road ends there. But it is charming. It’s a top-quality hotel, and the setting is very relaxing. But we are the only guests! (until a couple of Thai families come for the weekend). We are treated like royalty, of course.
There is a good swimming beach nearby, 5 minutes by motorbike across the island. Haad Farang is famous for great sunsets. We do not see a sunset, since at this season the afternoons get cloudy. But it is beautiful, and great for swimming, anytime.
Here is where we are approached by a freelance agent to book a boat for a tour. We give him our location, and the next morning he meets at the hotel and leads us across the mud flatto where our little tour boat is moored.
The approach to Morakot cave, coming around the island, is dramatic.
This time, there are only the three of us alone in the dark passage. But a bit of ebb current made it just as much of a struggle, or worse. So I still don’t get my perfect ritual meditation. Just a marvelous place to be, and contemplate the wonders of nature.
After the cave visit, our boat takes us over to Koh Kradan, an nearby islet esteemed for lovely beaches and snorkeling. The snorkeling here is the among best I’ve seen anywhere: a small reef area, but a great variety of coral, and brilliantly colored fish of many varieties, swimming right up to our masks. It’s such a moving experience that we resolve to get waterproof cameras for our next visit. The beach is a nice place to relax, too.
After returning to our hotel, we want to see the rest of this little island. There’s not much habitation–most of the area is mountainous wildlands. Tourism is fairly new here, so there are few hotels, but lots of little “bungalows” for rent scattered around the village. Many young Western travelers occupy these. We take up lodging for a few days on the opposite side from our first hotel, again just past the end of the road in a quiet cove. While the room is not as good, the food is amazing. Every day, neighbors come to the beach with fresh catch from the sea. A single squid, weighing in at over 1200 grams (over 2.5 pounds). Baskets full of crabs. Here’s Esso combining her two favorite activities: eating crab and photography:
We’ve done everything there is to do on Koh Muk (except get drunk). Too hot to spend much time on the beach, but we’re not ready to go back to Chiang Mai. Let’s see what else this province has to offer.
This time, the tide is high, and the water taxi can come directly to our beach.