Ko Samui : Family Reunited

Koh Samui Travel Blog

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Dawn at Ang Thong

A marginally uncomfortable night, but take a look at the photo of my bed.  Whaddya expect?  I’m up before sunrise.  When the sun’s light starts to come, spreading along the horizon line visible from little Ao Kah beach, the dawn silhouettes of the many coconut palm trees here are fabulous.  Their sharp black stencils starkly outlined upon the tangerines, purples, peaches and blue hues of the sunrise.  I remain alone.  A private dawn.  The only guest on the entire of Ko Wua Talap.

After a ‘fulfilling and nutritious’ breakfast of half a packet of Oreos and two oranges (same as dinner last night) my stomach is beginning to make its dissatisfaction known, but no time to grumble.  A few more hours of island paradise to myself before today’s gaggle of speed-tourists arrive on the boat that I will join for the onwards leg of my Angthong National Park odyssey.

Sun rise :)))
I get kitted and head out along the little beach to the base of the relatively short ascent to Bua Boke Cave.  Guidebooks might have you believe that this is the more strenuous of the two ‘climbs’ available on the island but trust me this is far from true.

Bua Boke Cave is an interesting enough way to kill 90 minutes or so but nothing more.  Again ropes are in place where necessary to aid your ascent.  What really makes this little trip for me is the unexpected presence of several, close to hand Dusky Spectacled Langur monkeys.  Their name derives from the cute little furry white ‘spectacle’ rings that encircle their inquisitive little eyes.  One sits in the trees not too far from me, it’s long tail hanging dead vertical towards the ground.

My ingenious 'bed' for the night at Ang Thong :)
  Eventually having defecated and urinated to the forest floor to its hearts content Mr Monkey heads off through the branches and vines.

The cave itself is a rather unremarkable affair.  An opening of the usual ghoulish looking Limestone shards, stalaktites and stalakmites.  Having been in a large cave in northern Thailand not so long ago where the Thai guide insisted on all sorts of rocky formations having totally spurious resemblances to other objects ( “Thiss wa loo like elephan!” ) I have to say I don’t know why this is not named ‘Tiger Cave’ after the rock I copped a snap off… which clearly “loo like tiger head”!  No?  Ya don’t think so?  Check the snap.  You clearly never stared at a Salvador Dali painting if you can’t see the Limestone feline!  You can probably descend into and walk around the cave a little further but all alone with no prospect of any swift rescue from disaster I will not be attempting that!

The rest of my time on Ko Wua Talap is spent just taking in the cool sea breeze, reading, swimming and sun bathing.

Closer encounter with Dusky Spectacled Langur!
  A hard morning all told.  The boat arrives and disgorges its daily quota of kayakers and snorkellers.  We all return to the boat together on a Long Tail where a rather generous and scrummy buffet lunch awaits to appease my warring stomach.  “Yum yum!  Oreos for dessert anyone!”.

Whilst we eat and thereafter, the boat wends its way scenically around some many more of the 42 Angthong islands, some of which have tiny lips of paradise perfect beaches.  Some populated by wealthy people who’ve hired (or own) their own private speedboats to come out here, far from the madding crowds.  Our boat docks now at Ko Mae Ko where we will be for about 90 minutes.  Probably the most famous spot within the Park, Ko Mae Ko contains Talay Nai ( the ’Inner Sea’ or ’lagoon within the mountain’ ) a bright turquoise lagoon of ’trapped’ sea water within the limestone, tree-fringed bounds of the island.

C'mon!!! It soooo looks like a tigers head!!!
  A contrasting lighter colour to the seas about it.  Approximately 250 metres wide, 200 metres long and no more than 7 metres deep this natural water basin is supposed to have been created by an underground collapse.  It is also this deeply isolated lagoon that inspired the writing and setting of Alex Garland’s cult novel ‘The Beach’ although it is poor, since overrun and suffocatingly overdeveloped Ko Phi Phi that has become more famous as the site where Danny Boyle’s disappointing but beautiful movie adaptation was shot.

It’s once again extremely hot today so it is a sweaty, sweaty ascent for one and all from the beach up over the rim of the island to ascend to the viewing platform over Talay Nai.  The site taken in and everyone’s cameras stuffed to the gills with uninspired but obligatory photographs, it’s back down to sea level to cool off with snorkel and mask.

  The visibility again though is poor for the marine life watchers amongst us.  Back to the boat and a very, very relaxing 2 hour cruise back to Ko Samui.  Fishermen’s boats cast their ring-nets wide and splashing around the periphery of one, anticipating an easy meal, dolphins splash and jump.  The far off fins of others, and the occasional Flying Fish are the only things that break the dead calm milky waters all the way back to port.

I’m getting super excited now.  I’m only a matter of miles and hours away from a long anticipated reunion with my sister Kate.  It’s been nearly 6 months since I saw any member of my tiny, precious family.

It was this tr4apped lagoon in Ang Thong that apparently inspired Alex Garland's 'The Beach'.
  My longest separation by a long, long chalk.  Back on Samui I hop on a Saungthaew to ‘Bid Budda Beach’ (100 Baht) where the principle ferry jetty for Haad Rin on the south east of Ko Phangan is found and where my sister and her partner Dave are booked in for the night. 

Our parents visited Ko Samui some many a long year ago now, and I would imagine it was a fairly well developed-for-tourism island back then, although retaining some charm and calm.  It is one of Thailand’s largest.  About a decade on, although I will see veeery little of this island it’s clear to see that for anyone interested in real travel this place long since died a death of its own success.  It feels tired, dirty, unloved and uncaring in return.

Cow on Ko Samui
  Chatting to Neil, the London-born manager of Full Moon Bungalows where I sleep on a floor (literally THE floor) in a single room for 300 Baht (the cheapest I was ever going to get in this hole!) he bemoans the way the island has lost itself possibly beyond recovery.  “They’ve realised and are trying to re-gear the economy to a more family-orientated holiday destination but there’s just nothing for the children to do here!”.  Endless ex-pat owned businesses and bars appealing to (in my mind) the worst aspects of lazy Brits-abroad holiday mentality (signs with Bulldogs on and pubs called ’The John Bull’) choke the roads amidst the mushrooming 7-Elevens, ‘massage’ parlours and restaurants selling Farang Food.  I can’t wait to blow this place… for Koh Phangan? “Yelp!”.
Kate (my sis) and partner Dave sat happy at the start of their holidays as we boat it to Ko Phangan.

I get freshened up and walk the 30 minutes or so back down the road to where I luckily spotted the road side sign for my sister’s hotel for the night.  I decide to give them a surprise by pitching up (no firm plans had yet been made as to what island or time we were to meet at).  Strolling around to a beautifully quiet and secluded beach front of their hotel, the strains of familiar voices happily chattering are blown to my ears on the evening breeze.  Turning the corner, there she is.  M’family.  M’friend.  M’darlin’ sis.  After all these months of a journey that would not have happened without her vital inspiration and encouragement.  She’s facing me as I approach, looking right at me.  It seems.

Dave and Kate on their first Long Tail boat of the trip.
  But no recognition yet.  Chattering away to Dave, her boyfriend.  Looking at me.  As I get closer and closer to hugging range.  Staring.  Somehow for some why the penny of recognition’s not dropping yet.  The brain fooled by the unexpectedness of it all.  And then there it is!  A smile explodes.  Realisation.  A leap into the air.  We hug each other upon the sands, happy, reunited, on holiday and without a care!

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Dawn at Ang Thong
Dawn at Ang Thong
Sun rise :)))
Sun rise :)))
My ingenious bed for the night a…
My ingenious 'bed' for the night …
Closer encounter with Dusky Specta…
Closer encounter with Dusky Spect…
Cmon!!! It soooo looks like a tig…
C'mon!!! It soooo looks like a ti…
It was this tr4apped lagoon in Ang…
It was this tr4apped lagoon in An…
Cow on Ko Samui
Cow on Ko Samui
Kate (my sis) and partner Dave sat…
Kate (my sis) and partner Dave sa…
Dave and Kate on their first Long …
Dave and Kate on their first Long…
Dawn at Ang Thong National Park HQ
Dawn at Ang Thong National Park HQ
The cheeky little monkey face of a…
The cheeky little monkey face of …
Bua Boke cave
Bua Boke cave
Bua Boke cave
Bua Boke cave
More Ang Thong islands
More Ang Thong islands
Monkey!!!!
Monkey!!!!
Talay Nai - the lagoon inside th…
'Talay Nai' - the lagoon inside t…
Bridge to Talay Nai lagoon
Bridge to Talay Nai lagoon
Our tour boat moored up.
Our tour boat moored up.
Kods on Ko Samui
Kods on Ko Samui
The ferry from Haad Rin (Ko Phanga…
The ferry from Haad Rin (Ko Phang…
Long Tail woods (abstract)
Long Tail woods (abstract)
Koh Samui
photo by: realrv6