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Thailand 23/02/02 - 09/03/02

Ko Similan Islands Snorkelling trip - Khao Lak Bay Front Day Two

We make reception at 8 for a brief journey south to the jetty at Thap Lamu, accompanied by a large group of Finns, including a family with small children. A jolly group we became friendly with a young couple straight away as we remove our shoes and plaster ourselves in sunblock. The jetty is in a fairly major fishing harbour and also seemed to serve as a naval base, although very little was going on. The three small naval vessels hadn't been out of the water for a long time. We clambered down into our speedboat whose three outboard motors swiftly thrust us out the 60 kilometres in about an hour, the swell favourable at this time of day.

Ko Similan beachKo Similan is rated as one of the top ten global dive sites by those in the know, and means 'nine island chain'. They are located due west from Khao Lak off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. Our first stop is island nine (Ko Bon), and we are instantly plunged into incredibly clear waters at a depth of about five metres, and are greeted by the local fish, who must see us as some sort of tourist attraction. Mrs A remarks on the dives' similarity to being dropped into a huge tropical fish tank, and the water is so clear it does have that feel, bar the lack of plastic treasure chests. Considering our hour-long journey out felt like such a long time the hour in the water here felt like ten minutes as we hovered aroundKo Similan longtail boat exclaiming in jibberish up our snorkels whenever a new fish swam into view, or some spectacular new coral appeared.

When hailed by whistle back to the boat we were whisked across to the main island, Ko Similan, where we were told we had an hour on the beach before lunch. And what a beach. The texture of the white coral sand was like flour, and moist dough when wet. Despite the other few tourists (some of whom were lucky enough to be camping on the island) it was very easy to imagine yourself stranded in paradise. The aquamarine/azure water crashed into the beach like a liquid crystal clear jem, and it was nigh on impossible to stop taking photographs with every new step. The stunning wind eroded granite rock formations typical of this chain perched precariously over the bay, and plunged into the depths.

Ko Similan bayKo Similan viewAfter a delicious lunch in the shack like restaurant in the
shade of the casuriana trees we move onto island number four (Ko Miang), where we are let loose on a spectacular bay, with unbelievable visibility at depth, and more stunning colourful coral and some really spectacular fish. We even see an octopus. Our group are treated to water melon and cake on the return journey, and the day is only marred by some annoying, and eccentric Germans who insist of wearing full body diving outfits for snorkelling, and are determined to sit in the same position for the whole trip, Mrs A battling hard for a seat. Much to our amusement we catch the Finns taking the mick out of them too.

The return journey is more hard going due to a higher sea, and there is little chance of sleep thanks to the pounding bow wave, but even as a well worn sea sickness sufferer I found the whole journey well worth while. No sign of any dolphins or whales, but the odd flying fish was enough to amuse. We retrieved our shoes and returned to Khao Lak Bay Front Hotel in time to have a G 'n' T at the best seats in the house on the lawn in front of the pool. The sun sets into the haze. Tonight we try the next door Palm Beach Hotel, and are treated in some splendour to Tom Yang Kum (spicy chicken soup), crispily battered prawns, red snapper and a chicken curry served in a coconut. A lovely restaurant, if a little over priced, but then Khao Lak is cheap!
Summary | Bangkok | Bangkok Day Two | Khao Lak Bay Front Resort | Khao Lak Day Two | Ko Similan Islands
Turtle Conservation Festival | Leaving Khao Lak for Pimalai Resort, Ko Lanta | Ko Rok Snorkelling
Pimalai Resort and Ko Lanta Driving Tour | Leaving Thailand
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