Eight of us, including myself went on a trip to Krabi for the first time. Our flight landed at Krabi airport around 11am. I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by an aerobridge when disembarking the plane since it is a small airport.
The hotel that we stayed was in Koh Lanta. Koh in Thai means island. Little did we know that the road transfer to Twin Lotus Hotel requires us to do two water crossings as our resort is the 3rd island from the airport. The great thing is that we did not need to get off the van as the van rode the boats carrying us. It was quite an experience for us city-folks. At the longer crossing, there were shops along the sides of the jetty where we got tidbits and Magnum ice-cream which only cost us USD1.20 per stick! The journey to the hotel was slightly less than three hours.
Twin Lotus Resort
We arrived on a Wednesday and at the start of low season, so it felt as though we had the hotel to ourselves, almost. We had villas by the beach front which was fantastic!
The beach is a cove lined with hotels and I must say the Twin Lotus Resort stands out as the best amongst all. The sunset at this beach is gorgeous.
One of the late afternoons, I took a walk alone along the beach and was accompanied by two dogs who were playing. They probably sniffed the dog-lover part of me and played with me along the beach. When the tides lowered, countless kermit crabs can be seen along the stretch of this beach, alongside with sea shells. The sea also brought in a variety of coloured fine sand on the beach forming pretty patterns. The waves at this beach is mild and the gentle slope allows us to go really far out into the sea with our heads still above water without the need to swim.
The Four Island Long-Tail Boat Snorkelling Day Tour
Seeing so many photos of the pretty blue skies and crystal clear waters of Krabi, snorkelling is possibly the best way to enjoy this beauty. So we signed up for the Four Island Long-Tail Boat Snorkelling Day Tour for only 800 baht via our hotel concierge for departure the following day. You might be able to get it cheaper from the tour operators outside but 800 baht (slightly less than USD 25) is good enough for us for a full day tour. I suspect this will cost a lot more in high season though. We were just in time to do this as we were told that the tours do not run often during low season due to the waters. We prayed for good weather the following day.
So we started out at 8.10am for transport pick up at our resort drive through. It was a 45min drive to the Koh Lanta Old Town jetty. Along the way there were others from other hotels that filled up the vehicle. It was quite an international ride with 2 Germans, 3 Chinese from China, 3 Thais from Bangkok and us from Singapore. Everyone was filled with excitement and the German couple told us they were supposed to do their tour the day before but weather was bad and so they did a day after. After about 45min we arrived at the Old Town jetty. This jetty is long, super long! One of the ladies when we got back to the ferry point had to be ferried in a motorbike to rush her to the restroom as it would take too long to get to the nearest restroom by foot in such urgency!
Our 4 islands included Koh Roi, Koh Mook, Koh Ngai and Koh Chuek. From the Old Town jetty, it was another 50min ride out. I took the time to breathe in the beauty of the vast blue skies and clear blue Andaman Sea, together with the breeze!
Our first stop was Koh Mook. Tun our guide pre-warned us that visiting Koh Mook was dependent on the weather. If the waters were too rough, we would not be able to visit it due to safety. Thank God the waters was good. Once the boat stopped, Tun made sure all of us had our life vest on. This was not a snorkel jump but it was a visit to the Emerald Cave, which is also known as the Morakot Cave. Before we jumped into the waters, Tun repeatedly remind us to stay in one line and to hold on tightly to the life jacket of the person in front. He took out a big dry bag and asked us to put our cameras/phone cameras into it. He doubled this into another dry bag and fastened it well. Off we went into the sea. It was then we realised the 3 girls from China did not know how to swim. They took a while to get into the waters and get accustomed but they went ahead. The group in the boat had additional 4 French-speaking young adults to those in the bus with us. Our group was about sixteen in size.
Once we formed a line, Tun led us into the cave. It was pitch dark and the only light was Tun’s torch light, and at times another light from the guide of another group. There were other groups coming out in a line on our right while we slowly waddled through this approximately 70m cave tunnel. The tunnel at one point makes an almost 90 degrees turn to the left and suddenly there was natural light shining through. This was one of the moments I wished I had GoPro with me!
The pitch dark tunnel opened up into a secret bay, and it felt like it was a set taken out of Pirates of the Caribbean! The water was clear emerald-green and the powdery beach with limestone cliffs and green interesting fauna coverage. True enough, this cave was used as a secret treasury by the pirates long time ago, completely hidden from view and inaccessible when the tides come in. Also, birds’ nest, an Asian delicacy which is the spit of swallows, was harvested from these cliffs too. Emerald Cave felt like a hidden paradise on earth. All faces were shining with excitement and the atmosphere was filled with awe by the beauty of the this little enclosure. We had to leave after about 15min stay as the tides were coming in. Otherwise we might end up getting trap in there until the tide lowers again! I was very limited by my iPhone5 for the photos and please imagine it to be at least 20-30times more picturesque than what you see here!
Top Left: One of the islands we saw on the boat. Top Right: Sign on the beach of Emerald Cave telling us a little bit of its history. Bottom Left: Larger tour groups all lined up like children ready to swim out the tunnel cave back to their boats. Bottom right: The green follage on the limestone cliffs in Emerald Cave.
The day tour included lunch, water and fruits! Tun brought us to the beach of Koh Roi, which looked exactly like the postcards we see of Krabi. He off-loaded some boxes from the boat and used a wooden table that was available on the beach. There he laid out our lunch while all of us were getting our photo moments against this postcard backdrop. He had white rice that was still warm with 2 dishes, 1 chicken and the other vegetable. There was Coke on top of the ice-chilled bottled water! I was most impressed by how the local guides took such good care of the environment. Tun prepared a plastic bag for all the unfinished food and trash. The lunch area was completely combed for trash and there was not a trace that we had lunch there! Another group came with similar setup when we were almost done. Also, throughout the tour while the boat was bringing us to another snorkel site, Tun will cut watermelon and pineapple for us to be refreshed and rehydrated! The watermelon and pineapple were super sweet!!
Snorkelling was great here! There are loads of fishes and many corals! The 3 China girls did their homework. They brought 2 big loaves of bread for the fishes and proved to be fantastic for photos! They were afraid to snorkel and for the first site, only two went into the water. Tun was so patient with them. He took a life buoy and got the girls to wear their life vests. He had them hold on to the buoy and slowly led the girls to the coral spots. Usually the guides would only need to bring the group to the area and let the people snorkel on their own but Tun went all the way to help them fully enjoy this tour. On the last stop, I joined them since Tun knows where the best coral spots are. Tun even dived in to point out the various corals for us! The whole group was very pleased that we came on this tour.
During the low-season, 80-90% of the shops were closed. Literally, a dead town! Besides eating in the resort’s restaurant, which was more ready to serve breakfast than lunch or dinner, we had only a few options. Just a 5min walk from the Twin Lotus Resort entrance is L.Maladee restaurant. I loved the deco and they serve a good selection of Thai food in their menu, coupled with western food. A very very pleasant meal but I would say it is a little on the pricier side for local Thai seafood though.
We had lunch at Laanta Seafood in Seladan Town which was only about 10min drive away from our resort. It was built over the waters on stilts. The only problem was the heat as the zinc roof trapped heat and many of us ended having two servings of coconuts! The seafood, cooked in Thai style, was reasonably priced and we enjoyed it.
Mango Sticky Rice was not as easily available here as in Bangkok. We finally found one road-side stall in Seladan Town, near to Laanta Seafood restaurant. The fragrance of the rice was just right. I was out snorkelling while they bought it back the first time and kept it in the fridge. I ate the chilled Mango Sticky Rice and was amazed that the rice was still soft! The mango was so sweet! It is a must try! The next day we bought another round.
Our finale dinner was at Fresh Seafood Restuarant in the Old Town. Our total travelling time to and fro for this dinner was 90min! It was all worth it! My favourite dish was the fish and prawn cake which we forgot to take a photo of. So good that we ordered a second plate even though we were all stuffed. The cost of this dinner was almost similar to that our lunch at Laanta Seafood in Seladan but the taste and quality was a lot better.
This was a very enjoyable trip and wished it was longer!