Our first holiday together was in Vietnam. We were climbing hill on an island off Sarawak on Christmas Day some years ago. Our honeymoon was in Cambodia and 2 years ago, I spent my birthday climbing yet another hill in Wales.
Comparatively, my birthday this year was rather mild really. We went island hopping.
Island hopping is a great actitvity to do and it can occupy you for just a day or more.. depending on what you want to do. And the views on these island are just breathtaking. We took up the Phang Nga Bay tour, which is at the northern part of Phuket.
You have to walk out to board the boat... and no.. this is not the boat... (Thank goodness). It's a medium size boat and fairly comfortable. All meals and drinks are provided for on the boat. Hubby's only regret- No beer lah.
Phang Nga Bay is well known for the limestone fomation...just like the Halong Bay in Vietnam and Guilin in China.
As always, when I see the vastness of nature...I realised just how small we humans are....really...
Our first stop was Lawa Island. It's supposed to be a sandy white beach for us to relax and swim. Unfortunately it was rather crowded. You can do some canoeing though which was quite fun...especially when you don't have to do the rowing. hahaha!
And then we visited the James Bond Island. Why is it called the James Bond Island? Because the movie 'The Man with the Golden Gun' was filmed there. We arrive on the island on a sea canoe and was immedtiately struck with the commercialism of it. There were rows and rows of stalls selling touristy stuff. But I guess that's normal. By the way, most of the sellers were Muslims, wearing their tudong. I read later that a good 35% of the residents in this region are Muslims.
Arriving on the island on a sea canoe.......
and inside a cave on the island..... (Below)
Frankly speaking, I think it would have been a better experience if we had a little more time to explore but I guess that's one of the drawback of joining a tour. Still the view was good and it was quite fun.
This was followed by lunch on board. Yummy...and believe me... sea air does make you hungry so the the food was simply delicious.
After lunch, we visited the highlight of the trip...visiting the 'hong islands' or 'room island'.
You have to depend on the tide to visit these 'hongs'. It has to be high enough to float a sea canoe to go in but low enough for us to go through the 'doors'. At times, we have to lie flat on the sea canoe.
Entering the 'hongs'........
It does get rather crowded at times and this was considered as low season. Can you imagine what it will be like in high season? Nevertheless, it is well worth the trip because you are rewarded with these sights upon entering the 'hongs'.
During low tide, it is completely dry inside the 'hongs' but during high tide..this is what you get.
Our tour guide told us that during the tsunami 2 years ago, he was trapped inside one of these 'hong' for over an hour. He didn't know what happened and couldn't understand why the water kept rising and rising. I supposed in a way, it was lucky for him as he escaped the calamity.
It was really, really, really beautiful inside these 'hongs' and makes you marvel at the wonders of nature.
The tour guide (Alan) and his colleagues were all great and very considerate. I think they're called the James Bond tour or it might be the Sea Cave Canoe, I'm not too sure. He kept telling us to please spread the word to our friends if we find their service good.
Actually, the Thais are very easy-going and proud people. Unlike some of our trips in other countries, we have not encountered pestering, asking for tips or hassling etc (except for the tailors). They are quite happy to work to earn their keeps. So if you really want to help Phuket and its residents who were affected by the tsunami, then go visit the island. Contributing to the economy as a tourist is a much more sensible and sustainble way of helping them back on their feet.
At the end of the trip, we still had a little time left, so the tour guide said we could swim around for awhile... which a few did. Hubby of course, was one of them. How could he miss such an opportunity? If I could swim, I would too because the water was really clear.