Softened Westerners Pummelled by Long Boat

Trip Start Feb 06, 2010
Trip End Mar 01, 2010

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Flag of Thailand  , Krabi,
Thursday, February 25, 2010

We booked an ocean kayaking tour for the day and were picked up in the early am, delivered to the pier in the back of a pickup sitting on benches that are about 1" below the top of the truck's box. One quick turn and if you weren't hanging on you would be laying on the road. Safety first!!

Once at Saladan Pier we were directed down the most rickety dock that I have ever seen to catch our long boat. The wharf was constructed on crooked logs with perhaps 8" being the largest of the lot. The planks covering the dock were roughly milled, 1/2" thick, and weathered with plenty of age. They were spaced widely apart so that I was all worried that I would trip and pitch over the railless sides into the water far below. Gets you wondering about their building codes...haha.

The longboat itself looked like it was far past the prime of its life and the motor would chug and sputter then start to roar loudly along until you would sigh with relief at the brief respites when we would lose power again. We were the only people who had booked the tour and the two life jackets on board appeared to be brand spanking new. We wondered if perhaps we were their first customers and they had to rush out and get the life jackets for us. I was determined to be a good client and not a babied Westerner.

The forty minute ride to where we would begin kayaking was true to Thai word and lasted for well over an hour or more. As each minute passed the hard, backless plank seats became instruments of torture for our lower backs and our agonized butts! I worked hard to concentrate on the scenery to help me to ignore the discomfort that was fast approaching extreme measures. The life jackets were a huge temptation. I longed to pull one down from where it hung and use it as a seat cushion but its shining clean newness stopped me. I couldn't possibly get their brand new equipment dirty!

We finally arrived at an Koh La Pu Don, an island that appeared to have burst up from the sea. Tall towering rock cliffs went virtually straight up from the water. Our guide tied off to an overhanging rock and we hopped into the kayaks. They were sit upon kayaks built for two paddlers - the first time we had used this particular type but the sea was calm and we found them easy to manouver. Although the scenery made for an awesome paddle we found the calm sea to be very similar to the lake paddling which we often find somewhat boring.

We paddled all round the first island, dipping into a few small caves and weaving in and around the rocks dotting the island's edges. The limestone and I believe (hard to learn info with such a language barrier) sandstone cliffs made for some interesting and beautiful rock formations. I got a great surprise when a small fish leaped out of the water and narrowly missed landing right alongside me in the kayak!

Next we paddled approx. 2km over open water to Koh La Pu Lay where we followed the coastline for awhile, saw a local fish farm set up, and saw many impressive caves high up on the cliffs. Leaving the island's coastline we headed down a wide mangrove canal. This was a little disappointing as we had been expecting to be paddling through narrow mangrove "tunnels". Rob saw a small alligator which I missed since I was busy being all excited about seeing a small fish called a Mud Skipper. This fish was literally running across the muddy bank and then popped into a hole in the mud which I assume was its' nest. Pretty cool.

Lunch was a Thai style picnic on Koh Klang, a deserted island with a massive expanse of quiet empty beach. It was good walking here with lots of shells and lots of hermit crabs of every size. I would have loved to have more time to spend here. As we left the wind picked up and our already slow and chugging long boat struggled against the wind and the waves so much that sometimes it felt as if we were not moving at all. Finally, after another long bout of tortuous seating we arrived at another mangrove swamp. Monkeys were on the shore and would come right up to the boat to grab pieces of fruit from your hand. It wasn't a bad day and our two young guides were very accomodating but I can't say I would reccomend this tour to anyone. Just a bit too much money for what we got out of it.

Evening: What else? Off to our favorite beach bar, the Klapa Klum for drinks with Uli and Woodstock. Not a best day ever day but who can complain? It's all good.

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