Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Kho Phi Phi Long Boat Trip

After much deliberation, we decided to extend our beach time by a couple of days and spend New Years on Phuket, so we bought a boat ticket from Ko Lanta back to Phuket with a pit stop in Kho Phi Phi.

This time we passed through Kho Phi Phi, however, Nick was feeling much better, so we were able to take a long-boat tour around the island.

The first thing Nick noticed when we got on the long boat was the super old-school motor that all of the boats were using - completely open and exposed to the elements.

We joked that they looked like they were relics left over from WWII, but weren't joking too much later in the trip when our motor died in the middle of the ocean and we had to preform an "emergency rescue" and transfer to another boat!

All things considered, it was a minor hiccup in the day - no harm done!

Our first stop on our long-boat trip was a little snorkeling spot off the coast of Kho Phi Phi Don. The water was incredibly clear and we entered a beautiful world of colorful fish and fascinating coral.

After our snorkel outing, we went to Bamboo Island, which is basically an undeveloped, absolutely gorgeous, looooooooooong white sand beach on a small island that pops up out of picture-perfect water.

I think I'd have to say that at this point in my life, Bamboo Island's beach is the most beautiful beach I have ever been too. We spent about an hour walking along the shore, eating our lunch, and catching some rays before getting back on our long boat and heading off to our next destination: Monkey Beach.

On the ride in-between Bamboo Island and Monkey Beach, I had the best seat on the boat:

Sitting up in the front of the boat all by myself was one of the highlights of the trip. Looking in any direction I could see islands littering the horizon, at one point I counted 8 within eye-sight - each one more beautiful than the last.

And the water was even more beautiful than the beaches! It was all different shades of turquoise and deep blue - clear and warm - I had to hold on to the edges of the boat to keep myself from jumping in while we were still moving!

After about 20-30 minutes of serene cruising on the Andaman Sea, we arrived at Monkey Beach. Just as the name implies, this beautiful white-sand beach has a colony of monkeys living on it. (They sure picked a nice place to live - the white sand is the texture of powdered sugar... the softest beach I've ever been on!)

The monkeys were lounging on the beach, hanging in the trees, and mostly looking for handouts of fruit from the tourists. Some people were even trying to coax them into the ocean by offering a banana, but they wouldn't bite.

They preferred their bananas sandy, not salty.

It seemed to me that these monkeys were not taking advantage of living on the beaches of Thailand. If they're not going to swim, they might as well trade places with me back in Denver or Pittsburgh, and I'll gladly take up residence on Monkey Beach!

After some time monkeying around on the beach, we jumped back in the long boat and took off. The boat tour took us past islands of limestone, their cliffs shooting straight up out of the water.

Some of the cliffs were so sheer that they looked as if someone took a huge cake knife and cut them in half and one side just slid off the mountain and fell into the ocean.

Some of the cliffs had stalactites hanging on them - like the inside of a cave, but on the outside.

After riding past Viking Cave

we made two stops on the water: one for snorkeling - we were looking for reef sharks, but didn't find any - and one in little cove, surrounded by more mountains jutting out of the sea, just for a little swim:

And then we set off for our final beach destination - another beautiful white sand beach with turquoise waters perfect for swimming in. AND I was lucky enough to find myself a special seat:

with a fabulous view

and just relaxed there for the entirity of our 45 minute stay on the beach.... sublime!

Exploring the islands around Kho Phi Phi was definitely one of the highlights of our trip so far; breathtaking beauty - the amazing water, fantastic snorkeling, and pristine beaches... it's paradise delivered to you on a long-tail boat!

Later that night, after the sun had set and we had eaten dinner, we took a stroll along the beach just in time to catch a great fire show:

The perfect end to a perfect day.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Leaving our Beach Paradise

After almost a full week of relaxing and recovering here on the beautiful island of Ko Lanta, it is time for Nick and I to head out in search of new adventures. Tomorrow we head back to Ko Phi Phi for one day trip around the island and then it's off to Phuket for a New Years celebration - and maybe some SCUBA diving!

Here are some pictures of our little beach paradise!

This is the road leading down to our little resort

Sunset on our beach

The bar and restaurant

Nick staying out of the sun!

mmmmmmmmmmmm just looking at the pictures is relaxing. But now, I have to go catch my last sunset on our little slice of paradise!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! from Ko Lanta


Well, we’re out of Indonesia and into Thailand!

I have to say it is quite a relief to be out of Indonesia. We saw a lot of cool stuff there and had a good time, but it is really hard to relax or enjoy a place when you have to constantly worry about getting ripped off. The never-ending harassment from the local population and the ridiculous inflation of the prices on everything from water to transportation was so exhausting and frustrating that I must say, we weren’t sad to leave the place.

Arriving in Thailand was like a breath of fresh air and with both of us feeling a little ragged, a week or two on the beaches of Thailand is exactly what the doctor ordered!

Nick’s been feeling a bit under the weather, so our first priority here in Thailand was to RELAX. We did a brief stop on Ko Phi Phi island, but weren’t feeling up for any activities and the scene was a bit loud for us, so after one day hanging out on Long Beach, we headed for peaceful and quiet Ko Lanta.

(Long Beach, Ko Phi Phi Island)

We went as far south as possible on the island to escape the crowds and have found ourselves on this little private beach with turquoise waters, no waves, and very few people. It’s the perfect place to recharge before we head out for the rest of our adventure.

The place we're staying at has a funky little vibe, very laid back and relaxed.

Last night, they even had a Christmas party with a little Christmas tree and some Christmas music! So we were able to get in the spirit a bit.

Being away from home for Christmas is of course not ideal, but I guess you can’t complain when you’re spending the holidays in paradise!

Ba Ba Banana... Prambanan...Ba ba da da!

So, after Borobudur, we were on our way to Prambanan, the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. We first stopped at a small temple close to Borobudur, the Mendut Temple, to check out the 3m-high Buddha.

And then we were off to continue our path to enlightenment.

Prambanan was also built in the 9th century, by the same king who build Borobudur, but while Borobudur is a Buddhist temple, Prambanan is primarily a Hindu temple.

It's really impossible for me to capture this or any of these large temples with a standard digital camera!

The main part of the complex has 6 temples, three very large ones housing Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma, and three smaller ones directly across from them. The main temple stands 47 meters high and houses Shiva, the chief diety of the Hindu faith. Unfortunately these temples were severely damaged by a 5.9 earth quake that hit Yogyakarta in 2006. Consequently, all but one of the smaller ones was closed to visitors, and so we weren’t able to get too close or walk inside.

Walking around this site, it’s really hard to imagine that these things were built without any modern-day equipment – no cranes or bull dozers… I can’t imagine the man power that must have been required to make a 47-meter high shrine like this one.

Also part of the Prambanan complex is another area with Buddhist shrines – wouldn’t it be amazing if all religions could peacefully coexist as beautifully has Hinduism and Buddhism do??

This site is also under some serious reconstruction, due to the 2006 earth quake

But even before the earthquake, many of the smaller temples, both Hindu and Buddhist, have been in ruins for hundreds of years, due to serious neglect. Soon after the temples here were completed, they were “mysteriously abandoned” according to my Lonely Planet Guide, and weren’t discovered again until the 19th century.

According to our guide, before reconstruction began in 1937, local people were known to come by and take stones from the ruble to use as materials for building their own houses!

Nonetheless, the site was very impressive!

After a full day of exploring these temples, we made it back to our hotel for a long nap and a relaxing final evening in Yogyakarta. Tomorrow (12/20), we’ll be on a train to Jakarta where we’ll end our 2-week stay in Indonesia and head to Thailand!