Monday, February 6, 2006

Thailand - Koh Lipe

Overlooking sunset beach, Koh Lipe
After our dive trip in the Similans we headed to the very south of Thailand (just north of Langkawi and Penang in Malaysia). After nearly 8 hours on the bus from Khao Lak to Trang we were greeted by a parade of decorated lorries… in celebration of the Lunar New Year. There seem to be surprisingly many Thais with Chinese decent here in the south of Thailand, and we thought that this area is predominately Muslim.

Trang was just a stopover on our way to Koh Lipe, although we enjoyed the Parade and the food stalls that came along with it, we didn't care much for the noise and pollution. 
No, I am no working at this drink stall
Chinese new year, Thai style
Julane wanted to go back to the sleepy little island "Koh Lipe": “I visited here back in 1989 on my first backpacking trip around the world. It has changed completely.
Perfect beach, Koh Lipe
Some people claim that it put the area on the map when one of the first Survivor Series was filmed at one of the nearby islands in the Tarutao National Marine Park. I actually camped out there on one of the nearby beaches.
It was true a true Survivor scene since I didn't have any camping gear. I think, I used a sarong. If only I could have "seen into" the future, I could be a millionaire now. Koh Lipe is home to a village of Chao Leh - the traditional sea gypsies of the Andaman Sea.
Dinner on Sunset beach
When I was there, it required patience to get to the island. I waited some days on Koh Tarutao - the main island - until I could hitch hike a boat ride over to Koh Lipe, 45 km away. Now it's a simple few hour speed boat away. Thailand has changed dramatically in the past 15 years. It's very tourist friendly. Back then I was the only woman wearing shorts, while the locals wore the traditional sarong (wrap skirt). This time around, I was one of the few women wearing a sarong... the locals just wore shorts!

David vs Goliath...
A serious candidate to run
for "Thailand's next Garfield"
We planned to go diving too, but unfortunately the conditions weren’t as good since it was full moon and the currents were strong. In one dive we spent 20minutes fighting the currents to get around a corner to our supposedly dive site. Too bad that we were almost our of air and leg muscle by the time we got there. Anyway, the 5m visibility did the rest… we skipped the diving for the rest of the trip and put on the snorkeling gear. The beaches and waters in Koh Lipe are as close to perfect as it gets.

A couple days into our stay in Koh Lipe we met a group of three guys that had been on our boat the Similans. They are world travelers too and love to dive…
we could continue exchanging tips right where we left of on the M/V Andaman. What a small world and nice surprise!