Thailand Fling Part 3...Ferry Tales
Ko Yao Noi, Thailand, November 2022
A disappearing island…well, that’s what it seemed to be when sitting looking out to sea from our balcony. Some days it was there, but when the clouds moved in and the heavens opened, it faded into the greyness. We were intrigued, and after a quick check on Google maps, soon found out that the name of the land mass right opposite our coastline was called Ko Yao Noi (translated as long, little island!) and its big sister, Ko Yao Yai (yes, you guessed: long, large island).
The locals apparently wanted to preserve its mystery, as finding a way to get there was challenging to say the least. Our friendly Aussie said we could get there by ferry, and could even take our scooter over to get around, so we set off on a recce to find the pier. After a longer than expected road trip to Ao Thalane pier, where the longtail boats set out for the islands, we were then told by yet another antipodean called Pete, that the car ferry pier was actually only 20 minutes from our place! We had to abandon our plans to find the elusive pier that day as we got thoroughly soaked in yet another deluge on the ride home.
After more research (the name of the pier only appeared in Thai script on the map (in fact Google maps had an annoying habit of changing into Thai script at a whim!), we did eventually locate the ferry port. Using a series of mimes and hand gestures with the local fishermen, we hoped we had confirmed the times and prices of the crossings. Either that or we had arranged to sell our scooter for 500 Baht at 2pm the following afternoon!
Thankful that the weather had improved, the next day we found ourselves riding the scooter up the ramp onto a rather rusty old ferry (although fully equipped with a mini convenience store and a prayer room -which we hoped we wouldn’t be needing!). The ferrymen managed to squeeze an amazing number of lorries onto the deck fitting them together like a jigsaw puzzle and we departed only 20 minutes later than schedule – quite good by Thai standards! Luckily it was a smooth crossing and offered spectacular views of the limestone karsts rising out of the waters of Phang Nga bay.
We found our lodgings for the next few days, the charming but “rustic” Sabai Corner Bungalows which had the feel of tree houses in the middle of the jungle (along with the wildlife!). The bamboo bungalows were built up the hillside on stilts, and the climb provided some much-needed exercise, after which Ian immediately made himself at home in the hammock on the balcony overlooking the beach. We did struggle a bit with the “outside” bathroom, which was not only outside, but also down two flights of stairs – not terribly easy to negotiate in the middle of the night! The shower and toilet (for reasons we couldn’t work out) were set up on a platform and it took quite some manoeuvring to position yourself on the loo with your legs dangling over the edge, but once you were there, the view was wonderful!
The island lived up to its name and we had circumnavigated it in under 40 minutes but found a lovely little restaurant called The Rice Paddy, run by a very chatty German where I finally satisfied my houmous craving. Hat Pasai, our local beach, was one of the best on the island, but our plans for a lazy afternoon were ruined by an incoming rain storm and a very low tide. We hadn’t realised how tidal these islands were, making swimming nigh on impossible unless you were up very early or fancied a moonlit dip. We consoled ourselves with cocktails in the waterside bar back at the hotel, where the lovely new barmaid had decided it was happy hour! My kinda gal!
After a very rainy night, we awoke to leaden skies, so spent a relaxing few hours reading in the comfy hammocks overlooking the sea, before Ian sloped off to the local sports bar to watch the cricket.
Conflicting rumours about the departure time of our ferry back found us sitting on the dock of the bay at silly o’clock the following morning, with only a few noisy chickens and the relentless rain as company. We were relieved when the ferry and a few other passengers finally made an appearance and the weather thankfully dried up as we returned to the mainland.
With only a few days left in the condo, we made the most of the pool and facilities there while we could. We made a couple of trips out to Krabi Town to extend our visa for another month (surprisingly easy) and for a much-needed hair trim and manicure. Considering that most of the countless nail salons in the UK were run by Thais and Vietnamese, I had imagined that this would be an easy task…but no. After many fruitless attempts to find somewhere offering the same service as back home, I gave up and came to the conclusion that all the decent nail technicians had either brought their skills to Europe, or they were missing a trick here. First world problems, eh?!
Next stop: Going Down South…at…Lanta…