Ko Mook, Thailand: Searching for Emerald Cave

Trip Start Jul 28, 2013
Trip End Feb 06, 2014

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Where I stayed
Charlie Beach Resort

Flag of Thailand  , Ko Bulon Le,
Saturday, December 7, 2013

I have come to discover certain benefits of backpacking when older, two of which include a swim up pool bar and an omelette station at breakfast. Our joy at these was further amplified by not knowing about them until we had checked into the resort. Gold star for me on accommodation choice.

The island of Ko Mook is a lovely haven of tranquil green located a short 30 min speed boat ride from Ko Ngai and 15 min from Ko Kraden.

When the boat docked in Ngai the swell had it bumping and jumping all over the place. Our bags were thrown on board by staff and as they tried to tame the boat we were told to climb up a stump and swivlle round a coconut trunk onto the boat. A seemingly simple task which saw me shred my bicep and Sam his leg. Price I pay for having such tonned big guns. At least we made it onto the boat and didn't slip between it and the pier. It was then a matter of clinging on as it lurched it's way through waves towards our island destination on the horizon.

Pulling into Ko Mook's Charlie Beach was a much calmer affair. The swell had dropped to create a clear green lagoon wedged in a bay of white sand and lush tropical jungle. Slowly cruising through the shallows the boat stopped just off the shore. Disembarking first Sam asked "how deep do you think it is?". My response "not deep". So with that decision made and his backpack firmly strapped to his shoulders off he went down the back of the boat and into the water catching his foot on a rope and nearly falling face first bag and all into the sea. Not that that mattered as we had slightly misjudged the depth so he ended up in waist deep water anyway. Oops. Guess I'll be getting someone to carry my bag.

Once on soft sand (and preying not too much of his bag had been soaked through) we ventured up to our new abode "Charlie Beach Resort". Nice place which commanded most of the bay and offered a variety of room types from beach bungalow to aircon family villas. There was one smaller bungalow operator at the end of the beach but that was all.

Our fan beach bungalow was in prime spot and offered a beautiful view of garden greens and ocean blues. With temperatures rising we dumped out bags and dashed for the pool. Wow, not only did it have beach views but also a swim up bar! I'm in heaven. Sam didn't seem to believe me when I told him I hadn't known about the bar. He assumed I had only chosen the hotel based on that sole fact, which I probably would have had I known! So that was us. In a pool, overlooking the ocean, surrounded by palm trees, blue skies, sunshine and cold beer. If I could sum up the perfect holiday I think that would be it.

Being on a relatively quiet island away from beach bars bought with it another kind of noise.... children. Little blond haired, blue eyes, tanned skinned Swedish children. We later found out that these parts are a well known hideaway for Swedes. There is even a Swedish school in nearby Ko Lanta. Why? Because they are entitled to accumulate their paternity leave for up to eight years thus enabling them to take an extended holiday whilst their children can still attend school, albeit on a Thai island. We learnt that from a Norwegian travel journalist who we met one night whilst sat at the viewpoint watching the sun go down. She approached us to enquire about taking my photo for an article she was writing on Thailand for a Norwegian woman's magazine. Wanting to make the most of having washed my hair for the first time in a couple of weeks I obliged whilst Sam sat there disgruntled that she didn't want his golden stubbled mug in the shot. We then spent the rest of the evening chatting together over drinks at the hotel beach bar.

During one of the days, and after our pig out at the omelette station, we rented a kayak to paddle around the whole island. Finding a secluded bay a quarter of the way around we called it quits there. Why paddle the whole island when we find a perfectly good beach with crystal clear water and no one else on it so close to home? That and the fact we both kept knocking paddles so there was a chance of one of us ending up overboard if we continued. With jellyfish as big as some of the bad boys we had passed along the way, the size of watermelons, neither one of us wanted that.

On our way there we stopped off at Emerald Cave, Ko Mook's biggest draw card. Arriving before 10:00am we were pleased to beat most of the tour boats which come jammed packed from islands all around. Nearing the cave at the base of a sheer rock wall I asked Sam for the torch "It's at the base of the bag, we won't need it" "hmmm I think we might". My thoughts were supported by a local man on one of the moared up boats "You have torch? You have torch?". Fossicking through the bag it was eventually found and we made our way into the cave before a small boat load of people arrived. Inside was pitch black. Even with the torch you couldn't see a damn thing but being the expert kayakers we are that didn't stop us. "Hold up the damn paddle Howie so I don't hit my head" "Bridge stop paddling" "I'm not paddling, you're the one whose meant to be steering" "I am bloody steering but I can't see where I'm going. F**king torch". And then we saw a light at the end of the tunnel and we emerged on emerald water into an oasis of lush tropical plants climbing high into the sky.

Despite our best efforts I don't think we were able to capture the true beauty of the place on camera. It was a definite plus to not be there when overrun by tourists. Hearing voices in the cave we let a group come through before making a paddle for it. As good as we were on kayak, bumping into swimmers half way through the cave would not have been ideal. On reaching the other side we were greeted by a line of Asians in lifejackets clinging onto a rope awaiting an order to make their way through the cave in conga formation. It never fails to amaze me how much they love the water despite not being able to swim. Give them a life jacket and off they go happy as Larry.

On our way back to Charlie Beach we hit a rock and nearly capsized. It was a classic example of where "she'll be right mate" didn't quite cut it. Might be an indication that we need work on our depth perception.

To take a break from laying by the pool, we caught a motorbike taxi to the other side of the island. It was bigged up as being the nicer part with the fancy hotel but hmmm not so impressed. Yes the resort had beautiful beach bungalow's of dark wood and floor to ceiling windows but other than that - crap beach and crap pool. With prices starting at GBP 100 per night I would not have been happy. Especially if I'd seen our pool on Charlie's Beach which was sublime.

Unlike Ko Ngai, Ko Mook has a small local village which we passed through on the motorbike. A school, dozens of houses on stilts, local restaurants, a few shops selling clothes etc. Most of the island is covered in rubber trees which they drip for latex to form sheets of rubber to export so I guess if they're not in the tourism trade then that's where they make their livelihood.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time on the island. With it's long stretch of soft white sand and clear waters it would be hard not to.


Hotel: Charlie Beach Resort. Fan, cold water, beach bungalow (GBP 27) per night incl. Breakfast. Definitely best resort on island that we saw.
Speedboat: Ko Ngai to Ko Mook dep 1130 arr 1200 THB 350 (GBP 6.60)

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