So where I left off I was on Koh Tao, I was pretty immobile with a sprained ankle. After a few more days of riding my motorbike 600 feet to the beach road and hobbling to the sand, it was about time to go. At this point I felt I could carry all my crap and walk well enough to get on an off the longtail boats and ferries without falling in the water. I had decided the next island would be Koh Mook. Four years ago in Thailand I did all the really touristy stuff on Phuket, Railay, and Koh Phi Phi, so I figured I would give those a pass this time. The scenery around there is absolutely spectacular, but I felt like I had already met enough of the 18 year old-european-gap year-party crowd on Koh Tao. Koh Mook is a small, sleepy island further south on the Andaman coast known mostly known for its very cool natural formation called the Emerald Cave.
So from Koh Tao it was a 6 hour night ferry, a 3 hour bus ride, and another 30 minute boat trip and I was there. This island is small enough that it only has one road that connects the two main beaches. The one I ended up on was called farang (foreigner) beach, which was a bad sign, but I was too lazy to try and make it to the other side of the island. There was one resort that dominates the beach and then you basically have to walk through it to get to the bungalows that line the road boing back inland. I met a French Canadian couple and ended up at the same bungalows they were staying at, which were just simple bed+fan type places. And then it was time to hit the beach!
The beachfront is very nice, with some karst formations off in the distance. But besides the beach, there isn't really anything to do at all on the island. So after beaching it the first afternoon I took the motorcycle taxi over to the other side the next day. The beach didn't have the nice white sand like on falang beach, but it had a nice mix of local houses and fishermen mixed with bungalows, which is more my style. I ended up meeting two very entertaining Dutch guys who had opened a bar on this beach with intent of skipping out on Holland for 5 months of the year and doing nothing but drinking every day. When they found out I was a poker player they decided to organize a tournament consisting of Thai chicken crackers and peanuts as the poker chips. We started with something silly like 15 big blinds, which is basically nothing, and of course I lost the first three times and had to buy the next rounds of beers before winning the fourth, so I didn't look like a total chump! I thought it was pretty cool that they were able to open their own bar in Thailand, but man there's no way I could just lay around and drink all day for months on end, but to each their own. You meet lots of interesting characters traveling!
The next morning it was time to hit the Emerald Cave. On my end of the island its was basically all couples and families with kids, so I would be going this one alone. Apparently all the tour boats get there in the afternoon, so the best time to go is the morning low tide. Most people take the longboats there, but you can also kayak, so that was the obvious choice. I woke up at 6:30 and was on my way. It was only half an hour in when I saw the wooden sign perched on the rocks that said Emerald Cave. Time to put on the headlamp! To get to the cave you kayak through a pitch black tunnel, which is only possible at low tide. It was pretty freaking awesome. And creepy. Kayaking all by yourself through the dark passageway. After a while you see a light in the distance. You paddle towards it, and once you get to the end you pull your kayak out on a totally untouched beach. And its not any beach! It's completely surrounded on all sides by cheer limestone cliffs. Ok so its not a real cave, but an open air cave if you will, only accessible during low tide. I was actually the second kayak to arrive, so I didn't have it all to myself, but whatever. It was great. The couple left soon after I got there, then I had it all to myself. For a few minutes!
Soon some German girls arrived, and I ended up following them and their guide to a nice snorkel location outside the cave before heading back. Definitely the best morning I've had on the trip so far. And with that it was time to pack and head to the next island, the latest beautiful Thai island experiencing blatant overdevelopment, Koh Lipe!