Searching for Leonardo DiCaprio

Trip Start Jan 25, 2007
Trip End Feb 08, 2007

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Sunday, February 4, 2007

I was up early enough to grab the sunrise and some coffee before being picked up at 7:45 to go on my excursion to Ang Thong National Marine Park.  We were taken to the dock in Na Thon where our boat was waiting.  There were about 25 or so of us, but only half had signed up for the kayaking.  I immediately got to chatting with a 63-year old woman named Janet from Toronto who was currently living in Shang Hai teaching, you guessed it campers, ENGLISH!  We agreed to buddy up as we were both solo and needed a kayaking partner.  She was a spry, friendly lady and I really enjoyed talking with her and was lucky to have her in my kayak as she'd actually taken a few lessons back in Canada.  There were a couple of other girls we talked with from the Netherlands as well but I don't remember their names.

The ride out to the park was quite choppy and I was thankful that, when offered a sea sickness pill at the start of the trip, I'd swallowed one.  A number of people looked decidedly nauseous during our journey.  We arrived at the islands at about 10:20 and put on life preservers.  Both of my cameras went into dry bags.  The trickiest part was getting into the kayak next to the boat and then launching ourselves, but we managed it without a dunking.  We then kayaked as a group along one of the islands and through a cave.  I masterfully steered us through the narrow rocks and was thankful that I didn't embarrass myself doing it.  After about a half hour, we landed on the beach of Ko Mae Ko, where we walked up some steps to see a land-locked saltwater lake named "the Golden Bowl", made famous in the book the Beach which was made into a feature film starring Leonardo Dicaprio.  No swimming is allowed in the lake due to the presence of sharks we were told.  From there we went back to our kayaks on the beach and paddled back to our boat.  One pair of kayakers capsized while trying to get back on the boat and I couldn't resist teasing the couple once we'd safely reboarded without repeating their same clumsy move.  We then had lunch while they took us to our second stop in the park, Ko Wua Talab (the Sleeping Cow Island - don't ask for I saw no slumbering bovines).

This island was paradise personified.  White silky sand, palm trees all swaying in the ocean breeze, and lush green mountains cradling the beach all around.  We kayakers were given a choice to either do another round of kayaking or to go on the island in order to trek 500 meters up to a viewpoint that would offer us a spectacular view of the surrounding islands.  I opted for the latter as I'm unable to resist a good climb.  And boy was it!!  A climb I mean.  There were ropes positioned along the path the entire way and I availed myself of them without fail.  I was wearing only sandals, albeit sturdy ones, which made it a bit more rough going, but I got all the way up, only pausing for about 5 minutes just below the top.  The view was indeed fabulous in spite of the slight haze, and I enthusiastically snapped away.  I then took off downwards, much more carefully due to my blasted knee.  At times I was almost rapelling using the rope to launch my way down, but I only truly slipped once bruising my right ankle.  It took me an hour to go up and down and I had just enough time to grab a beer before we had to get back on the boat.  The boat ride back to Na Thon was a little less rough and we arrived back at the port at about 4:45.  I was spent physically due to the kayaking and climb but emotionally and spiritually satisfied 110%.  What a day!  What a place!!

The evening was low-key.  I showered up, had dinner at a nearby restaurant along the beach, and made an appointment to go to a spa the following afternoon.  Oh, and I tangoed with the largest cockroach I'd ever seen in my bathroom.  I flushed him down the shower drain with triumphant flourish.

Ko Samui Fact:  Until recently the most common cause of fatality was falling coconuts.  But the deadly nuts have now been surpassed by a more modern hazard - motorbike accidents.
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