Koh Mook

Posted from Kantang, Trang, Thailand.

My ferry from Koh Lanta to Koh Mook took three hours and cost 500 Baht, which isn’t bad considering it was low season and I was quite certain a storm was going to slam into us during the crossing lengthening my trip considerably. In two weeks the ferries stop operating because the weather in the Andaman Sea becomes too unpredictable and too scary. And it’s low season, and there aren’t enough people to cover the costs. This boat was fairly empty, which made it easy to run and hide when the monkey came onboard.

 

A weary tourists tries to figure out what the monkey intends to do. I know it just wants something to bite.

A weary tourists tries to figure out what the monkey intends to do. I know it just wants something to bite.

Call me a wuss. I don’t care. I hate them. They bite. I know at least five people who’ve been bitten. And sure, well it doesn’t seem that bad, these pests carry rabies. So as the captain pulls the boat alongside some mangrove trees, this monkey charges on board, curious as a cat investigating a box, and I ran under deck. And then the monkey came through the open window. It was like the triggerfish situation all over again.

Upon arrival to Koh Mook we switch into a longtail to get transferred to the resort.

Only half the beach. It's a bit of paradise.

Only half the beach. It’s a bit of paradise.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s imagined discovering some unknown beach paradise in some foreign land. Well, this is what it felt like arriving at Koh Mook. The beach is empty and beautiful and when the tide goes out it becomes twice the size. Apart from pieces of coral and shells that so naturally dot the flaxen sands, I couldn’t be happier with deciding to pay the extraordinary $40/night to stay at Charlie Beach Resort. I’m sure the price is cheaper regularly, but we were staying over Songkran and I booked my bungalow late. Apart from Ha Long Bay, I haven’t ever paid this much for a room. At least not a room with woven bamboo walls.

My bungalow at Charlie Beach. Right next to the swimming pool which is awesome at 6 a.m. when kids wake up and want to go swimming.

My bungalow at Charlie Beach. Right next to the swimming pool which is awesome at 6 a.m. when kids wake up and want to go swimming.

I was meeting my friend Stephanie and her friends Jules and Pete here. They had just spent the past ten days riding motorbikes north from Singapore and then heading to an island, Koh Lipe, deeply nestled in the south of the Andaman Sea. From there they paid crazy high ferry fees to transfer up to Koh Mook, which helped me decide to head to Malaysia next. I’m islanded-out.

This pretty (huge) spider was along the walk to the other side of the island. I wouldn't want to meet him in a dark room.

This pretty (huge) spider was along the walk to the other side of the island. I wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark room.

When I met up with my friends we walked about 3km to the village on the other side of the island to have dinner at Farmville, an oddly placed eatery serving some really good Western and Thai food. We passed a village on the way perched on stilts along the river and what looked like a garbage dump. I still can’t get used to the filth in Thailand, and I don’t mean the sex tourists.

The next day Steph, Pete and I rented a boat for 1000 Baht to take us to the Emerald Cave, also known as Morakot Cave. Remember that wish to discover a hidden beach, well, even though it’s a major tourist attraction, this was it. We go for a little boat ride around the bend, little as in we could have kayaked there, get out of the boat and start swimming through an opening below these towering cliffs that I can only assume are granite and limestone. Once inside it gapes widely and I can tell why the boat driver is guiding us – there’s different tunnels and one could get lost.

There are hoots and hollers echoing throughout, but calmly we follow our flashlight wielding guide through the darkness. We were actually quite lucky as it wasn’t too busy when we got there. We got a good three to five minutes in the cave alone and actually got to experience the black swirl of sensory deprivation. The water is about the same temp as the air. On our way out it was a different experience. Lots of flashlight and snakes of life-jacket-wearing people. We just assumed they couldn’t swim.

(photos coming soon.)

So, about 100 meters of cave and then you see it, the light – an opening in the blackness, the blue water – teal almost, and then the sandy shore. Hidden within a ring of towering cliffs is a pristine beach edged with palm trees, vegetation and birds. And then there’s its history rich with tales of pirates and cultivators spanning more than 1,000 years.

After we oohed and aahed for a good 20 minutes we swum out through the throngs of life-jacket wearing non-swimmers holding onto each other in human centipede fashion before heading to another site to snorkel a bit. Anything would be a let down after the Emerald Cave experience. Yay. Fish. Sigh.

(I don't really have to say something, do I?)

(I don’t really have to say something, do I?)

Charlie Beach Resort has lots of services and amenities, like a massage area on the beach, umbrellas, mini mart, conference room, swimming pool, and most importantly two bars, one of which is in the pool. I liked this. After some down time I met Pete and Stef at the pool bar for some drinks until happy hour ended. It was our last night on the island, them leaving to Krabi in the afternoon to catch a flight back to Bangkok and me leaving in the morning to try and make it to Penang, Malaysia.

We met for some drinks in the evening after dinner and discussed future travel plans and how wonderful the Emerald Cave was and what the next day would be like. I was sad to leave friends, this being the first time in three months that I have met friends along the travel road. Except for all those people I kept running into in Vietnam. Or in Laos. Or last week. Except all those other times.

The Thai people were having celebrations and dances on the beach during the evening to ring in their new year. It was nice to watch, but I had to realize this was the third new year celebration I’ve seen in four months. It’s funny how we all have our own calendars and yet live so much the same. Deep thoughts. They happen from time to time.

My next adventure is trying to get to Penang with no bookings on Songkran.

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