It might have been a long day of travel to make it all the way from Bangkok all the way to Koh Lipe, and my first evening here was more to decompress from the travel rather than soaking up the island life, but after a good night’s sleep, and a change of perspective, I really found the groove of this place really quick.
And that is to move slow. There is no reason to rush anything because everything I really need is right within my reach, and even more than I really do need.
I have landed on the far corner of the beach that stretches along one side of this tiny island at a spot they call the Sunrise side. It is supposed to be the perfect place to rise up early and get some amazing photos of the sun rising over the horizon. I am not at the place in vacation yet where I want to set my alarm so I can see the sunrise, but it will be one of the things that I will do while I am out here. It is also nice because it makes this the quieter part of the beach. Many of the people who choose to stay here do so because they know that people will be going to bed earlier because of the allure of that sunrise option in the morning.
But if there is a sunrise side of the beach there needs to be a sunset side as well. When the tide rushes out, the beach becomes wide enough where you can make the walk easily to the other side of the beach and watch the sunset from over there. When I first heard of this feature, I though that meant that I would have to curve around the island to get to the other side, but it shaped more like a horseshoe or a bay with each side looking out over the other side of the island. Once again, I have been only here for a day and have not made it to that other side yet, but it is in the plans to make sure I get in one good sunset while I am here. This one should be easier to do because it won’t require me to set an alarm to make it happen.
In between the sunset and the sunrise, there are all the things one would expect to see on an island. There are great snorkeling opportunities, and I have been out a couple of times already. The fish that hide among the coral reefs right off the shore are amazing and I need to figure out a way to take pictures underwater so I can share some of these treasures. There is a Market Street to explore that has a lot of great restaurants and a night life scene that I will have to participate in a couple of times while I am out here. And there is always the surprise around the corner. I have heard wild boar rooting around underneath my cabin at night, and I have run into a couple of monitor lizards enjoying the beach as much as the tourists.
All in all, now that I have slowed down a bit and am able take in things at a more reasonable pace, the vacation mindset has taken over. It is nice to be a part of the slow life every once in awhile, and it looks like Koh Lipe is the perfect place to take in this slower pace.
There are many places in Thailand that bring visitors in, and most of them have guarantee a wonderful, and relaxing time. But they do tend to blend into each other especially if you drive up and down the coast. It is one beach resort after another competing for your money, and they will pull out all the stops with great restaurants, fun night time atmosphere, exotic beaches, and a sprinkle of culture so you can feel like you gained something by traveling half way across the world and visiting this place. It works well for those who might be here for a couple of weeks, but when you cannot leave Thailand, you start to look for something a little different. I would even say that after a couple of weeks, you would probably want the same thing. This is where Khao Sok comes into play.
Khao Sok is a national park located in the southern part of Thailand, right above the island of Phuket. It is a big reservoir that they made sure to limit the amount of impact that humans could have on it. There are a few resorts floating on the lake that was created, but they are far enough away from each other that it feels like the group of people that you came in with are the only ones on this big, huge nature reserve.
And nature is allowed to thrive in this location. I personally did not see a wide range of animals, probably because they kept themselves hidden in the deep foliage that can be found on all of the mountains, but I was lucky enough to see a couple of hornbill birds fly in front of our resort, and one morning I got to experience a family of elephants foraging for their breakfast before taking a morning dip in the cool water. Despite this, Khao Sok is home to a variety of other animals including water buffalo, bears, panthers, and deer. They are not always witnessed because they like to hide in the forests that cling to the mountains, but it is always a good idea to keep a watchful eye out because you never know what you are going to see.
There are many places to say in this National Park, and they vary in luxury and the programs that they offer for people who stay there. We decided to stay at the Panvaree Resort even though this is a destination that more Thais go to rather than foreigners. In fact, we were the only English speaking people at this resort, and if it wasn’t for a couple of Japanese ladies, we would have been the only foreigners. It did not matter much because the staff there was still incredibly friendly with a couple of them speaking English fluently. And when things got tight, I still know enough Thai to get by.
The main reason that we picked this resort over the other was because it offer a two day, two night package where most of the other place get you in and out within one day. This allowed us enough time to go and see what it was we wanted to see while still having a little downtime so we did not feel exhausted.
The food that they served was all traditional Thai food, and it came out in huge portions with the option for being able to get a refill at any time that we wanted. It was authentic home made Thai food as well. With us being farangs (foreigners), they believed that we could not handle the spice that they gave to all over the other people staying there, and though I would tend to agree that I cannot handle the spice that many Thai people can, being raised on Mexican food, I can hold my own when it comes to spice. I kind of wished they added a little bit more of a kick to our food, but that did not detract from the overall pleasure of the meals.
They also created our itinerary for us, and made sure that we had plenty of activities. There were a couple of boats rides to take us to the various sites in the park, and give us the perfect picture opportunities. We got caught in a rain storm in one of them, and they had to bring us back early, but they made sure to reschedule it for the morning so we could make sure we could take in all of the beauty of the park. The sunrise probably made for a better picture opportunity rather than the sunset, so I am glad that it worked out this way, and all I had to do was endure a little bit of rain in the process.
There was also a little hike through the forest. Many times this would be the place where you would see the wildlife, but we were not that lucky this time around. It wasn’t too strenuous either. Most of the time when I go hiking out in Thailand, I come back a sweaty mess, but that was not the case with this hike. There was a little uphill and a little downhill, but it led us to a little alcove and a couple of boats that would take us to our next destination.
The boat could have been one of the most interesting things I witnessed on this trip. Most of the time when I hear the term boat, I think that they have at least a couple of sides to them to help them keep them afloat, but this boat was nothing more that a few bamboo logs lashed together with a walkway on them and a motor to take people to their destination. It did not look like the safest thing in the world, but we were not going far, and everybody seemed okay with it, so I went along for the ride.
It was worth the trip too because it took us to another of the natural wonders in this national park, a cave that can only be reached from crossing this small inlet. It was not the most amazing cave I have ever seen, but the people in the park have a healthy respect for nature and made sure that nobody disturbed anything in the cave in order maintain all of the natural features that can be found in it, and there are quite a few.
Khao Sok has easily become one of my favorite spots in Thailand, and it is must see for anybody coming out here. I know that it does not have the name recognition as some of the island resorts or bigger cities, but it is that hidden gem that is really worth finding. It only takes a couple of days to truly enjoy the experience and everything will be taken care of if you find the right place, so please make sure you try to pencil it in.
Otherwise, thanks for reading and I hope that you can get back out there soon to see what the world has to offer.