March 12-19, 2016: Island Hopping in the Andaman Sea

I can’t even begin to describe how excited we were for this particular portion of our trip as our adopted son/little brother, Ryan, was coming to meet us!!!!! We hadn’t seen this beautiful soul for almost an entire year and we were anxiously counting down the minutes until our reunion at Bangkok‘s DMK airport. After much hugging and bawling (almost entirely on my part), we took off for Phuket and spent the next week exploring some of Andaman Sea‘s finest before meeting up with Kate in Ko Phangan! As usual, read on to see more 😉

Miles walked:                36
Miles transported:    ~1,000

Phuket

We landed in DMK and practically ran across the airport in anticipation of seeing Ryan! After embarrassingly crying in front of a slew of strangers at the gate, I finally managed to calm down enough to take this picture and hop on our flight down to Phuket:

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Made it to Old Phuket Town, a historical town in Phuket City, known for its Sino-Portuguese buildings, whatever that means. Said buildings:

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Found and checked in to the adorable Thalang Guesthouse, where Ryan presented us with these fantastic first-world gifts:

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And then we settled in for a nice cuddle:

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Took off early the next morning to catch our boat to Railay Beach, disturbingly under-caffeinated:

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But we persevered and carried on:

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Layover in Ko Phi Phi

Though we hadn’t planned on visiting Ko Phi Phi (as one of the most popular islands to visit, it is extremely heavily toured and a well-known shit-show), we had a four hour layover there. Fine by us! But first things first – boarded our boat according to normal Thai boarding procedures, as in, climb through three other boats ’till you reach yours:

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Southern Thailand is so touristy, it was sometimes hard to remember we were even in Asia…

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That’s probably why they keep the Thai flag blowing:

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This guy doesn’t need any help remembering though:

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And these gorgeous views are a great reminder as well:

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Not sure what’s happening in here, but it looks cool:

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The famous Maya Beach, where “The Beach“, featuring a 24 year-old Leonardo DiCaprio, was filmed:

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The excitement:

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Approaching Ko Phi Phi:

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We made it!!

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Some cool shots (thanks to Ryan’s iPhone):

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Wandered around the streets of Ko Phi Phi in search of a yummy place to eat:

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Finally asked a dive instructor, who recommended an AMAZING restaurant called Papaya. Some of the best Thai food we’ve eaten yet! A must if you happen to visit Ko Phi Phi!

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Suffered some severe food coma after that delicious meal, much like these cats:

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So we walked down to the beach to recover:

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And enjoyed some delicious rambutans (yay!!!) for dessert:

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Railay Beach

Railay is a small peninsula in the Krabi Province, just south of Ao Nang, which boasts one of the most beautiful beaches, as well as some of the best rock climbing, in all of Thailand. Due to the crazy lime-stone cliffs that flank the beaches of this peninsula, Railay Beach is only accessible by boat and thus maintains its more relaxed, hippy-like atmosphere. Suffice it to say, I was excited to get there:

Andaman Sea, Railay Beach - 1

Transferred from our ferry to the longboat for the final approach:

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We finally made it ashore!!

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After a little chat with Bob Marley‘s long-lost twin (no, that is not a euphemism), we commenced our hunt for a place to stay. Decided to spoil ourselves a little bit as this was the end of our Asian voyage, where we were living on less than $30/person/day, and we were celebrating our reunion with Ryan. At $50 a room in a RESORT with a POOL (WHAT?!?), split between the three of us cus we’re cool like that, we definitely exceeded our typical backpacker’s accommodation budget. But I mean, compared to most of our accommodations over the past six-months, Anyavee Railay Resort was high-class living and we were clearly elated. Also, air-conditioning. ‘Nuff said.

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We settled in, showered up, and went out for a walk around town:

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After a delightful dinner, the three of us romantically strolled up and down the eastern beach, settling down at the last bar along the beach, cleverly named “The Last Bar.” We enjoyed some awesome live music by a super talented American-Thai dude, who ALSO happened to be an exceptional fire-dancer. But the highlight was this FOUR YEAR OLD who blew the entire crowd away!

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Note: This video is 4 minutes long, but worth every second! The kid throws in some awesome moves, and then the adults come in and do some INSANE shit. Do yourselves a favor and watch the entire thing! Apologies for all the screaming.

After an exhilarating night of music and fire, we woke up to this amazing view from our hotel balcony:

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We were told of this lagoon that you have to climb up and down into and that was supposed to be incredibly beautiful. We were up for the adventure!

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Well, most of us were…

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Made a quick stop at the viewpoint:

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And began the descent into the lagoon. side note – see that blue backpack down there? Make note, as it will come up later!

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The lagoon is just through that crack…

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… through which we had to scale down a steep, wet and slippery cliff!

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I even had to go barefoot for better traction:

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And there’s that blue backpack again! That blue backpack belongs to Abbi and James, an awesome couple from Bournemouth, UK whom we befriended and ended up spending the rest of the day with:

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Though this may look like a dead end, there’s a secret little hole that you have to slide through (that’s what she said) to make your way down:

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SUCCESS!!

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Only way back out is up:

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Decided to pay a visit to the “secluded” Phra Nang Beach, known as a rock-climbing haven, but we had done enough of that and just wanted to lay in the sand and enjoy the ridiculously beautiful scenery:

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And a coconut or two:

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No beautiful day in Asia is complete without monkeys wreaking havoc:

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Made our way back to the hotel:

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The tide changes so drastically, that the roots of these trees go from being fully submerged to fully exposed and always looking especially eerie:

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After a fantastic day with new friends, we sadly had to part ways with Abbi and James 😦 Fret not, however, as we got to see them IN Bournemouth two months later! We bid our adieus, went to play in our hotel pool for a bit, then made our way down to Railay Beach to enjoy this ridiculous sunset:

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And Francy even joined a game of frisbee:

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Not sure exactly what he’s doing here, but I find this photo hilarious:

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More sunset:

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We could have spent weeks here, but there was so much more we wanted to see. Hopped on to our little longboat and said goodbye to Railay Beach:

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And boarded our ferry to Ko Lanta!

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Ko Lanta

Disembarked our ferry, took a tuk-tuk down to Klong Khong, and found a room at the Lanta New Beach Bungalows Hotel. We quickly settled in and then rented a scooter and took off to explore the island! Stumbled onto the beautiful Bakantiang Beach:

Andaman Sea, Ko Lanta - 1

Where we immediately laid down our towels and claimed our territory:

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And enjoyed the gorgeous sunset while sipping on some delicious fruit smoothies:

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Hopped back on our scooters and made our way back up to Klong Khong, stopping to take in this ridiculous sight:

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Sat down at a nearby local restaurant for dinner, where a group of baby kittens were running around and playing with each other and the customers. They even found themselves a frog to mess with:

Which apparently totally pooped them out:

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Took off early the next morning for an exciting day of diving in Ko Haa, a tiny little island off the coast of Ko Lanta. Boats galore!

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Francy put together a short compilation of this amazing dive:

See if you can spot the Scorpion Fish camouflaging on this rock:

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As Ryan had never been diving before, he signed up for DSD (Discover Scuba Diving) and was excited for his first underwater experience! But true to Asia travel form, Ryan picked up a fun little bug the night before and threw up before we even got on the boat. But this trooper didn’t let that stop him, and he did TWO ENTIRE DIVES while totally nauseous (big diving no-no, BTW), throwing up before, after, and in-between, but still handled it like a champ. Sorry, Ryan – had to share! Anyway, here’s some footage of Ryan NOT throwing up underwater:

Spent the rest of the day recovering and relaxing from the dive (and the food poisoning) and got ready to head out for Ao Nang the following day. But not before another quick visit to the beautiful Klong Khong beach to say goodbye to Ko Lanta:

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Ao Nang

First things first – found a nice spot on Ao Nang Beach to relax and watch the sunset:

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Spent the next day hanging out at Nopparat Thara Beach:

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And said goodbye to Krabi and the Andaman Sea with this beautiful sunset:

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