me Life and Times of the Fireflies: Travel Diary - Cave Canoeing and Snorkeling in Phang Nga Bay, Phuket Thailand

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Travel Diary - Cave Canoeing and Snorkeling in Phang Nga Bay, Phuket Thailand


Sometimes you look at travel brochures, and your destination lands up being pretty...but nothing like those brochure pictures depicted it to be. I must admit that that was my very first impression of Thailand - seen through the exhausted eyes of a traveller who had just gotten off a long flight and surviving on very little sleep. But Thailand landed up being every bit as beautiful as the brochures - if not a little more so!

One of the best way to experience Thailand's natural splendour is through one of the various island hopping excursions on offer. There are many ways to got out and explore these islands and whether you decide to take one of the infamous Thai long tail boats, or do the tour via speedboat; one thing is undeniable - and that is that Thailand is unmistakeably beautiful! I cannot emphasise enough that if you are headed to Phuket, at least one Island hopping excursions is a MUST (There's two popular excursions on offer - this one, and Phi Phi Islands. We did both).



Perhaps the worst part of  this day trip was having to get up early; especially since everyone was still pretty much jetlagged and struggling to adjust to the new time zone!  Our shuttle was due to fetch us at 8am (and for some reason I thought it was 8:30), so I set my alarm for about 6am to give us enough time to get done and grab breakfast - which, I must also add, was about 1am South African time...so the struggle to open our eyes and get the day started was very real!!!

We made our way to the reception desk by 8:15, thinking we were early; but quite typical of us, we were late! To add to the mornings drama, I had forgotten to change the backdoor of my GoPro to the waterproof one, so husband and son headed back to the hotel room to fetch it. All in all, a very eventful start to the morning, but I must commend the Thai people for their patience. They were very understanding and accommodating through it all.

We then got dropped off at the pier, which was about a 20 minute drive from our hotel, where we were put into different groups depending on the tour we were taking, given a quick synopsis of what to expect from the tour, and offered some complimentary drinks and snacks as we waited for departure time. And then we were off in of these cool speed boats with about 12 other people!


 
 Once you make your way out of the pier and deeper into the Andaman sea; it's impossible not be mesmerised by the natural beauty of Thailand! And if you're inclined towards photography like I am, then it's also impossible to not have the desire to photograph everything in sight. With the green tinged ocean all around us, and lime stone boulders of all shapes and sizes jutting out of the ocean, and lush, green mangrove forests peeking out everywhere - everything is a photo opportunity and there's no arguing that Phang Nga Bay had made it's mark on our hearts.

For the life of me, I can't remember the name of the first island we stopped at. All I can recall is that all of a sudden the water changed from green to blue, and being completely captivated by the crystal clear shores!  It certainly made waking up at the crack of dawn worthwhile. Here we were given time to swim and snorkel, and there were also little shops selling kaftans and trinkets which we didn't really spend any time perusing at all. There were also jet ski's available at an extra cost.  Life jackets and snorkels were provided free of charge as part of the tour.

I was on a high...the kids were on a high...the water was perfectly warm and the destination was beyond beautiful! Swimming side by side with exotic fish was equally exhilarating...Only sad part was when we were told it was time to move on to the next stop.

 
 

Most of the pictures featuring me was in the form of a selfie!





 
Our next stop was Khao Ping Kan also known as James Bond Island, made famous by the 1974 James Bond movie, " Man with the Golden Gun". This really seemed to be the pride and joy of the Thai people. James Bond Island is sold to us as the highlight of this particular tour, and everyone is encouraged to go and take photos at the rock made famous by Roger Moore. This is quite a smallish island plus it was high tide and also full of tourists. We pottered around the island, soaked in the incredible landscape and snapped a few pics; but wouldn't consider this stop to be the highlight of the day.

Also, by this time I was starting to feel more like the hired family photographer than an active member of the family - even though it was largely self inflicted! I was a bit frustrated because I had all these beautiful pictures of my husband with the kids but hardly any (actually none) with me and them. The only remembrance that I was even in Thailand was a couple of selfies and a few shots I half forced the kids to take of me. Then too, it looks like I took a trip to Thailand all by myself while their loving father, my dear husband, went on a family vacation with the kids! At this point I realised that my camera lens was coming between me and family having a good time together and I  needed to put it down and live in the moment with them instead of trying to capture every single moment.





 
 


 





 

See my face in this picture? I was so peeved after having to beg my kids to take a picture of me an their dad. Of the very few pics of the two of us on this holiday, my face landed up looking like this!! Happy memories 😂😂😂. Anyway...look, I was there on the family vacation!
 
Next up, was the floating village of  Koh Panyee where we stopped to have lunch. Koh Panyee is a Muslim fishing village in Phang Nga Bay, established over 200 years ago by three Indonesian families who left their homeland looking for a new place to live. The houses are built on stilts and the colourful rooftops provide a break in the limestone laden landscape.

The whole place is like a maze of alleyways and houses and we were warned not to venture out too far or we may get lost. While this is mainly a fishing community; the women set up shop outside their homes selling interesting jewels, trinkets and souvenirs...and lots of  and lots of pearls! This quaint little village wasn't lavish, but it was interesting to see and the people were extremely warm and welcoming.






Our next stop was the cave canoeing site, something all of us were really looking forward to! By this part of the day I started to ease up with the photo taking and really got into enjoying all these once in a lifetime experiences with my family, and we were all a lot happier for it. I snapped a few pics still, but I did not let it dictate the day.

I was on a canoe, somewhere in the middle of Phang Nga Bay, wrapped up in the arms of the person I love....My hair was a mess and I was sweaty and stinky; but high on adrenalin and excitement while exploring hidden caves and concealed lagoons and sharing all this splendour with my children!  It was both tranquil and exhilarating at the same time, and an undeniably magical experience that I will never ever forget!






 
 
 
The last island we visited was Rang Yai Island which, from a distance, looked exactly like the island in the movie Moana. This stop is not promised as part of the tour package and was more of a bonus stop, after making it through all the other stops in our tour before we needed to head back to the pier. Of all the stops, this was the most tranquil and least populated with tourists.
 
The beach was lined with coconut trees and mangrove forest with tree swings hanging from the branches and beach recliners seeking refuge in it's shade. I was very tempted to capture a few pictures on those swings, but opted instead to put down all technology and just enjoy the moment without having to capture it all. It was a liberating moment for me on this holiday and even though I don't have the pictures to show for it, I will forever carry the memories of these final moments on this beautiful island in my heart  <3










ABOUT   THIS  VIDEO :   This holiday was my first attempt at trying to put together an actual video. Admittedly, it's a time consuming process; but it's really such a beautiful memory to have of our trip. And the thing about compiling them so many months later means that we get to relive all the special moments. It's been rewarding see the kids light up when watching it after all this time...and I can only imagine what it would be like to scratch it out after many years! Hopefully they won't cringe...hopefully they will receive it much as they did now - with a smile on their face and a whole lot of good memories!


 






Thanks for reading (and watching the video)


Peace,


NAMU :)




LOOKING FOR MORE POSTS ON OUR TRIP TO THAILAND? READ HERE:


Destination Thailand : Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa

Our visit to Chalong Temple

Tiger Kingdom, Phuket