I spent Wednesday island hopping around some of the best snorkeling spots surrounding Phuket. The weather was perfect, sunny and calm with crystal blue waters. Our first stop was Phi Phi Ley Island, where we visited four different locales: Maya Bay, where the movie “The Beach” was filmed; Loh Samah Bay, a great snorkeling spotwith its sheer limestone walls and schools of colorful fish; Pileh Cove, an isolated bay with shocking blue water; and Viking Cave, known for its extremely old drawings on the cave walls and which is now used for
the harvesting of swallows’ nests, a Chinese delicacy.
From there we headed to the next island, Phi Phi Don, where our first stop was at Sam Ao, also known as Monkey Beach. As soon as we got to shore, all the monkeys came sprinting to our boat, launching themselves from the trees onto the boat to get the bananas the guides were tossing to them. Before we even landed, the guides vehemently told everyone multiple times to not touch the monkeys, so of course, the minute one comes within arm’s reach the French girl next to me reaches her hand out to pet it. I pushed her hand away just as the monkey snapped at her hand. “Oh, no?? ok.”…I’m sure she would have loved dealing with an infected monkey bite for the rest of her vacation, but I wasn’t particularly eager to have it jump on me next. They were cute, though, especially the ones with little babies clinging to them. They made sure to get every last bit of banana on the boat, the last one waiting until the last possible second to make its running leap off the back of the boat as we left the beach.
Lunch was a Thai buffet of fried vegetables, sweet and sour chicken, beef with cashews, rice, pineapple, and watermelon at a beachside restaurant on Phi Phi Don. From there we departed for our last stop, Khai Nok Island, which was 40 minutes away via speedboat. Between the wind, changing current and tides, the water was extremely choppy for the trip, and it turned into a 40 minute rollercoaster ride. I had a great time, though being tossed around and smashing into the seats and sides did start to hurt after a while. We spent the last hour and half of our day snorkeling and lounging on the white sand beaches of Khai Nok, a tiny little oasis on the sea. There were several other tours going around to the same places, so I hung out on the beach with an Aussie guy I’d met earlier in the day. We had a great time trying guess whether some of the other tourists milling around were guys or girls — it’s REALLY hard to tell here sometimes, and even with (probably not-so-casual) walk-bys we still had a hard time figuring some of them out. You’d think it would be obvious on a beach, but they manage impressively uni-sex outfits.
Unfortunately, that brought us to the end of the day, so we headed back to harbor and then back to Patong Beach for another night at the markets and more people watching. More on that later.