Cats and Dogs and Fishy Tales

Trip Start Jul 16, 2012
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Saturday, March 9, 2013

So after a delightful break in Ao Nang in an awesome hotel and with plenty of great tours it was back to Koh Lanta. This time we intended to see more than the inside of the clinic and hoped that our little hotel on the beach was not going to be a disappointment after such luxury.

To get to Koh Lanta we had to get a boat from Ao Nang and it was all a very civilised and comfortable affair, no mid ocean transfers and perfect sunshine streaming through the window sent Tim and Judi to sleep in no time, I on the other hand used my time effectively and made an attempt to update the blog.

Within no time we were in Koh Lanta, and encountered the usual mayhem of trying to get off the boat.  If everyone just got off and waited for their luggage it would be a very civilised affair but unfortunately tourists on these boats cannot possibly step foot on dry land without their luggage even if it does mean throwing everyone elses luggage in the aisle and ensuring that no one else can leave the boat, genius.  We have quickly identified that one of the main things that annoys us about travelling is other travellers!

Eventually we make it off the boat and lo and behold after standing patiently on the pier whilst all the other Farangs cause chaos our bags are delivered to our feet in an orderly fashion, watch and learn suckers!  It is always a good sign when the hotel transfer that you book turns up and we were therefore delighted to be greated by a sign and ushered to a pick up truck to make our way to our hotel.  20 minutes later and we are checked in and whilst it is a step down from a moon deck suite in Ao Nang our little huts by the sea were just perfect, Coco Lanta is a brand new hotel with little concrete bungalows, they are small but they are also perfectly formed they even have a hammock on the balcony.  Most importantly we are on the beach and we have our own little pool.

We very quickly relaxed into beach life, with a daily routine of our all-inclusive breakfast which was exhausting in itself with 9 choices on the menu, then sun bed on the beach, dip in the sea, a few laps of the pool, maybe an afternoon massage followed by dinner and an early night.  This was pretty much the repeat routine for the holiday.  Definitely a more relaxing trip than the last one.

Following in our footsteps having been made redundant a few months after us, we managed to meet up with Sharon, she was also using her time and money wisely and boosting the Thai economy.

So what better way to spend our time and money than on a speedboat tour.  We had identified a couple on our recce here so first up we decided to do the 4 islands tour which took us to Koh Chuek for some Snorkelling, then Koh Ma for snorkelling, Koh Kraden for lunch and some more snorkelling and finally to the Emerald Cave on Koh Mook.  As this tour featured quite a significant amount of snorkelling we decided that the best way to get Judi under the sea and enjoying the tours all the more was to get her a snorkel and mask of her very own so she could practice in the pool or sea and as it was mothers day whilst she was with us what better present could we get.  After breakfast we were in the sea giving Judi a snorkel lesson.  1 put on mask.  2 do not breath through nose.  3 put snorkel in mouth.  4 breath through mouth.  5 put head in water and swim.  Within 10 minutes Scuba Jude had been created, there was no stopping her, she was off like a rocket chasing any fish that she could find.  Our work was done, now back to our books and sunbeds!

So off we set on our tour ready to see some fish.  The tour was certainly not a disappointment, the first snorkel stop was filled with amazing huge fish everywhere, I was most excited that I found Nemo, but Tim trumped me and found the most stunning Honeycomb Morey Eel which was swimming along the bottom.  Scuba Jude was in her element, there was just no stopping her she even saw a lobster hiding in a rock!  The next snorkel stop was not the best, it was a bit choppy and murky and there were a lot of sea lice stinging us but still we were off to Koh Kraden and the Emerald cave next.  Koh Kraden was stunning having scuba dived off the reef off of Koh Kraden I knew that the sealife and water was amazing and it didn't disappoint, it was such a lovely island to stop on for lunch and gave us some great opportunities for some posey shots on a log in the sea.  Finally it was time for the main attraction, The Emerald Cave.  Having done this a few weeks earlier in less than ideal conditions we were a little worried but thankfully this time the conditions were perfect, we formed an orderly queue and holding onto each other’s life jackets slowly made it through the cave.  Sharon and Judi’s faces were a picture I am not sure that they believed us when we told them it really was pitch black inside for the swim.  With the odd shriek of a leaf or foot touching someone and the general wonder as to whether we were ever going to see sunlight we turned the corner to see the cave, and probably about 3 hundred tourists all paddling around in life jackets, you had to laugh.  Regardless of the tourists the cave is just an amazing place to see. It was actually created when the underwater cave collapsed and the land above sank into the sea so now you look up and you can just see sheer mountains all around, I suspect the view from the sky is awesome.  Rumour has it that pirates used to hide treasure here in the Emerald cave and I can well believe it!  We had a great time taking pictures and taking in the view, our tour guide even treated us to a special ladies only nature photo shoot!  Sadly it was all over and after just one last swim in the dark we were back to the boat and headed home!

I had read quite a lot about Lanta Animal Welfare which is an animal shelter on Koh Lanta which takes in sick, injured and abused animals and treats, sterilizes and rehomes them.  It is a non-profit organisation which runs entirely on donations and funding from a local cookery school which supports the centre.  I managed to convince cat lover extraordinaire Sharon to come with me to visit. As much as Tim loves animals if they are sick or hurt he can’t cope and therefore there was no chance I was going to get him to come with me.  As with everyday it was red hot, but despite the call of our sunbed and books we set off for some kitty cuddles and dog walking.  When we arrived we were directed to the Happy Cat House and got to know the residents, there were cats of every shape and size, from an adorable little kitten to a 3 legged big furry grumpy cat and a big black and white cat which had been hunting and arrived home with a lovely lizard to play with.  This cat had the best time ever with this lizard until it left it unattended for all of 60 seconds and a little ginger cat swooped in and ate it whole.  The sound of a lizard being devoured will stay with me for a while!  Next up was the tour, from the cats segregated with cat flu, the animal’s fresh out of surgery and out back to the dog pounds.  I learnt something new here, the reason that the centre has so many dogs is because the majority of the people that live on Koh Lanta are Muslim and they don’t keep pet dogs as they consider them unclean; I did not know that!  The dogs were gorgeous and it was so sad to see them all cooped up, albeit in very nice enclosures, Sharon and I were both coping very well with not being too sad until we saw the 2 legged dog, he had lost both his back legs but was quite happy walking around his enclosure on just his front legs, let the tears commence!  Amazingly the animals which are rehomed are heading off on some fairly huge journeys as they are being adopted by the tourists who visit and fall in love with the animals, they are off to Europe, Canada, Australia and pretty much everywhere else around the globe.  As one small way to help the centre we took one of the dogs for a walk, as I am not the most confident person with dogs, Sharon and I shared 'Mai Thai’ a gorgeous white dog.  We were not sure where we were going but that was not a problem as Mai Thai basically took us on the walk we were just there to hold her lead really.  We got to the beach and there was no stopping her she was straight in the sea for a dip.  We set off along the beach and some of the other dogs were dragging their walkers all over the beach chasing the crabs, luckily Mai Thai was not interested in the crabs at all.  As we got to the end of the beach there was a river running into the sea and Mai Thai could not keep out, she was straight in swimming on the spot dragging Sharon as deep as she dare go. Thankfully Mai Thai was back on dry land before we knew it and we started our walk home.  After some purchases in the shop as donations and some more kitty cuddles with tears in our eyes we bid all the furries a fond farewell and set off back to the beach.

With our time fast coming to an end we had one more speed boat trip to make, this time to Koh Rok.  Koh Rok is said to be the best place to snorkel in the area with an entire square kilometre of coral gardens with beautiful visibility and colourful reef life.  Scuba Jude was ready to get her snorkel.  When we arrived at Koh Rok we initially dropped the lunch equiptment and the chef on the beach ready to prepare lunch before we set off to the snorkel sights, much to our amazement half of the boat emptied and stayed on the beach for the day.  If only they knew what they had missed.  Koh Rok was without a doubt the most amazing snorkelling in the area, the water was crystal clear with visibility that extended forever.  There were huge fish of ever colour in every direction and much to my delight a lack of sea lice for the first time in ages.  There was no stopping scuba Jude she was off, chasing the fish and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it.  We had one more snorkel stop before lunch and again the visibility was amazing, there were puffa fish, trigger fish and starfish galore, a real treat.  Time for lunch on the beach.  The beach was stunning with pure white sand and trees for shade and stunning blue sea lapping the shore, we were happily eating our lunch when I saw something out of the corner of my eye,,,, a huge monitor lizard.   I had heard that there were a few of them on the island but they were massive and as each new one appeared they got bigger and bigger and bigger and were more than happy to munch on any spare chicken bones that the tour guide had to offer.  We kept our distance and got some photos but some of the dumb tourists decided to get up-close and personal for a photo which lead to a leap, a yelp and a whip mark down their arms and back from the lizards tail.  I really do wonder why tourists are so dumb sometimes, I wish I had a tail to whip them with!  So after lunch it was back on the boat and time for one last snorkel before we set off home, I was a little concerned as the first fish I saw was a huge blue jellyfish, so I pretty much snorkelled in circles keeping one eye on the big stinger lurking below us.  Again we were treated to clear water and more fish than you can shake a snorkel at, the perfect way for scuba Jude to finish her snorkelling for this holiday.

The rest of our holiday was whiled away reading, relaxing and eating and drinking ourselves silly.  It was so sad for it to have come to an end and it was time for scuba Jude to hang up her snorkel and pack for Bangkok.

We had to catch the ferry to Krabi to fly back to Bangkok, which was a lovely journey and it was fun to watch the people doing the mid-ocean transfer to Koh Jum whilst we sat back comfortably and watched them clambering across the longtails and looking longingly to see if their luggage was following them.  We didn’t plan too well when we booked our flights to Bangkok so we had a good few hours to burn in Krabi airport, so we decided to head to Big C which is basically a hypermarket like Carrefour in France.  We had no trouble at all wasting our time and Judi and I also managed to stock our luggage with some new purchases.  Before we knew it, it was time to catch our flight to Bangkok and have some fun in the big city….
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