Friday, July 25, 2008

Koh Yao - Day Three

Once again, I was up before the birds. David had made it a habit to wake up with me as the best light for photography is at dawn. We patrolled the beach together, went swimming for a bit, ate breakfast, and headed off to the dock to take a longtail boat island hopping. It was a snorkeling trip to the different islands around the area so we packed up our sunscreen and iPods for a long day of relaxing.

Just roaming around on a longtail boat is my absolute favorite activity in Phang Nga bay so I was happy on the boat as well as off, oohing and ahhing over the amazing scenery and life on the water. The opportunities for pictures were abundant: fishermen on their longtails, trying to feed their family; a roving pack of fishermen that set up home on the beach while they roam like gypsies; sea birds perched on single rocks jutting out of the ocean; flying fish leaping out of the water as they rode next to our boat.

We started with Koh Hong (Room Island). As tide hadn’t fully come in, we couldn’t take a motorized longtail into the rooms…kayak depths only. Instead, we went to the other side of the island to relax on Pelay beach. I placed our blanket in the sand, our beach mats in the shade, slathered on the sunscreen and headed into the bay with my snorkel gear. The island is framed by limestone formations so it gives it an enclosed feel, like in that Leo movie The Beach. It was incredible.

More incredible than the surrounding view was the view underwater. The surface was boiling with tropical fish: puffer fish, butterfly fish, mackerel, crabs, lobsters, cuttlefish, parrotfish. I showed David the keys to snorkeling, leg movement and location. Always snorkel or dive near a shelf, wall, or reef! That’s where the life is! Keep your legs straight, power yourself along by using your hips to move your legs. Soon, we were being passed by jellyfish and diving down to play with giant clams and sea anemone.

When we were done snorkeling, we headed back to the beach to sunbathe. With very few people in this area, we had wide portions of beach to ourselves. While I dozed, David took photos. What I didn’t know about the island before I left was that they harvest cave swift nest’s for the making of bird’s nest soup. If I would have known that, I would have spent my time watching men climb bamboo poles to ridiculous heights in order to gather them. I could have slept another time. Like on the next island.

From Koh Hong, we stopped at a formation of three rocks between two islands. Putting our snorkel gear back on, we jumped in and swam around these rocks probably fifteen times. I’ve both dove and snorkeled in some amazing places but I have never seen colors like I did around these rocks. The coral was unbelievable and came in a phosphorescent green, electric blue, fiery orange, and Barbie pink. Sea fans in all shades of purple swayed in the current. Diving down, I found conch and sea snails hanging out in the crevices and would bring them to the surface to show David. It made me very excited about the prospect of having a child so that I can share nature’s wondrous things with her. After snorkeling in this spot, David determined that he wants to get dive certified.

As I had spent a good majority of the past few days in the water, I decided that it would be a good idea to inquire about sharks. “No, no sharks here. Only tiger sharks. No dangerous,” was the response I received. I replied that tiger sharks attack humans frequently and kill more of their attack victims than great whites. He laughed and laughed as if to say, “Ha ha. I couldn’t pull one over on you! You may die by tiger shark! Won’t that be amusing.”

We progressed on to another nearby island complete with its own set of fishing gypsies. We ate lunch under the palm trees, snorkeled a bit, and felt like a zoo animal as the fishermen watched us. I opted to take a nap. David opted to take photographs.

After five hours of snorkeling and sunbathing, I was feeling pretty sun-drenched and was slightly dismayed when I heard that there was one more island stop. At this point, a fish was just another fish and a beautiful island was just another island. I hung out in the shallows, sitting in the sand as the tide washed over me and a school of small fish tried to determine if I was food. Like a giant mirror, the ocean reflected that sun right back at me and I found myself not regretting a more liberal use of sunscreen throughout the day.

By the time that we got back to the Paradise, it took all of my strength to stay awake until dinner. We sat ourselves in one of two romantic pavilions, mainly because we were so exhausted that we wanted to be left alone. I had a delicious rack of lamb, David had an amazing seafood pasta dish. That’s pretty much all I can say about the evening considering we were asleep by 8:30!

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