Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

I recently found myself in Phuket for work. As soon as I got the chance I contacted a local paddling outfit Paddle Asia and a guide was hastily arranged. I was to catch a ferry from Bang Rang Pier out to Yao Yai and then onto the smaller island of Yao Noi. The ferry turned out to be a local longboat which, after a week in a resort, was a welcome change.

I met my guide Jumrat at the Pier and we went by motor scooter to pick up the kayaks. We paddled off into a flat sea dotted with limestone islands. This was kayaking Mecca!

It wasn't long before we reached our first island


We met some fishermen along the way

Showing off his catch

We paddled on to the next island

These limestone islands are speckled with caves - complete with stalictites and other formations I'd only ever seen underground.

Run could only feel the water, he couldn't drink it
We stopped for lunch which was part of the tour deal and Run laid out quite a feast of fried rice, chicken and fruit. "Where's yours?" I asked. "It's Ramadan" he replied, "I cannot eat". I gave him back the food and said if he wasn't going to eat nor was I. I don't eat much anyway so the thought of missing out on lunch didn't worry me in the slightest. It was when I learned that Ramadan also meant one couldn't drink I started to worry.

The day was hot and humid and the sun was strong. I knew I'd be in trouble without water so unlike my devout friend I slurped from the many waterseaps cascading down the cliffs that we paddled under.
We paddled into a small gap in the rocks and found ourselves in a magnificent lagoon. Apparantly the lagoon was good fishing and was a favoured spot for the local fisho's.

We paddled back into a solid headwind in stifling hot conditions. My guide struggled but made it back not far behind me, even though by that time I'd consumed at least 3 bottles worth of water and he hadn't drank a drop.

I caught another longboat back

Some of the many islands of Phang Na Bay
My family arrived the next day and we spent another week exploring Phuket, Yao Noi and Yao Yai. It turned out that Jumrat has his own longboat so along with his own children he showed us many beautiful spots around his home, both by boat and motorbike.

If anyone is heading to Thailand and wants a really special tour email Run Jumrat as he is born and bred on Yao Noi, has his own longboat and can arrange rental of propper sea kayaks through Paddle Asia. run_jumrat[at]hotmail.com