Sunny days, occasional heavy rain, storms that only last 10 minutes, magical sunsets, cooling sea breezes in the afternoon. The weather in Thailand has been outstanding, and my hair has almost got used the humidity, almost.
The only day it rained quite heavily for an extended period was when I’d booked my one and only “let’s be a tourist and book a boat tour to some islands” trip.
I was picked up from my Airbnb in Koh Lanta and transported in a songthaew to Long Beach on the west coast, where about 200 people converged to jump onto speed boats that would take them to different parts of the Andaman Sea.
There are countless islands close enough for a day trip from Koh Lanta including the famous Koh Phi Phi, Koh Muk, Koh Jum and James Bond Island which was made famous from the Bond film, The Man With The Golden Gun. Many of them sport white sandy beaches backing onto dense monkey filled jungles and hidden coves to be discovered by tourists in bright orange life vests.
The trip would consist of snorkelling, exploring, swimming and relaxing on the beaches under the palm trees.
We all wandered from the beach in the rain onto the boat, being pounded by waves that had been churned up from the storm, soaked before we even got on board.
As we took off at speed with three 225hp motors on the back roaring, the rain started coming in the side windows of the boat, soaking everyone further, which given we were all in our swimsuit/swimmers/togs/bikinis/board shorts was fine. Except for one group of Chinese tourists who put up their umbrellas, while one lady tried to redraw her eyebrows and apply mascara…..for a day of snorkelling. Snorkelling. Makeup. Snorkelling.
The snorkel is the great equaliser. Everyone, no matter how fit or fabulous, chubby or chic you look in a swimsuit, everyone looks like a squashed, red, scarred face cooked turkey after wearing a snorkel.
We went to two snorkelling spots, the first surrounded by limestone karsts jutting out of the ocean. Coral and bright coloured anemones swayed with the tide and thousands of tropical fish swam around in schools, going about their seemingly busy day. The rain wasn’t an issue, and was gently rippling the surface of the rich turquoise water. The fish certainly didn’t seem bothered. The second stop was about 200 metres out from a beach, with more fish, including rainbow coloured parrot fish who you can hear under the water scratching away at the coral with their pointy teeth.
Our third stop was the white sand beach you dream about visiting in Thailand, on Koh Kraden. The rain cleared and we sat and ate lunch on the beach while, and I’m not making this up, “My Heart Will Go On”, the song from Titanic (!) blared from the speakers on the boat.
When the boats stopped at the snorkelling spots it was like a scene out of Titanic, with people everywhere in the water, some in life jackets, some without. Leo DiCaprio did film The Beach not far from here, so I tried to call out a few, “Jack, come back, Jack”, very much willing to share my floating piece of wood which could have easily fitted two people, but he never showed.
I have a small camera which is waterproof though I’d never tested the theory. I figured it’s now or never. Turns out it is (phew), so I spent some time taking photos of fish and the scenery, the mountains and pure white sand, clear water and fun coloured longboats. Most of them are terrible.
Because I was feeling like a mermaid swimming with the fish I thought I’d try my hand at taking an underwater selfie, gotta try these things once right? Selfies aren’t my strong point, and I’m not a real fan, so the underwater option was going to be a challenge. I tried to get my body in the right position to look ‘mermaid like’ and took the picture. The problem with my camera is that you can’t see the picture until you upload it. That night, as I uploaded the photo, I realised that in my attempt to look ‘mermaid like’, I’d had a rather unfortunate nip slip…
It may have something to do with why two young, early 20’s, Swedish men spent the rest of the day following me around.
Later on, I also took a picture standing up in the water, with the Thai islands behind me. Perhaps my fancy waterproof camera had learnt from experience, because while I didn’t have another “incident” it made sure there was a water mark on the lens and pixelated the same area. No starfish photoshopped onto this one.
The last stop was the island of Koh Muk to visit the Emerald Cave where you swim through a pitch-black cave, not able to touch the bottom, to reach an open cave inside the island. The secret oasis used to be frequented by pirates who would hide their treasures inside. Given my luck on this day trip so far, as you can imagine I found lots of gold treasure and I’m now a gazillionaire.
We went in a line of people, following a guide. It was terrifying, like something out of a claustrophobia nightmare, but spectacular at the same time with emerald water shining off the limestone cliffs and glowing underneath your feet.
I happened to be following two G-string clad Brazilian women in the line, who I would have assumed would have had the attention of the two Swedish guys.
But it turns out a nip slip brings all the boys to the emerald cave, who knew.
Nugget of Wisdom
When taking mermaid selfies check all of your body parts are contained within your swimsuit.