I had decided that I would travel all the way down to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia before flying to Indonesia, so Koh Lipe was an obvious choice on my map, as it is the southernmost Thai Island, and it's extremely easy to take a boat to the Malaysian island of Langkawi. I bought tickets for the 11:00 'speedboat', expecting to arrive in Koh Lipe at 2:30pm. HA! The boat arrived one hour late, then about an hour and half in, one of the engines blew out or something. Not too surprising for SE Asia, but I expected better from Thailand! So what was going to be 2 hours, turned into something like 7?! We huffed and puffed out our way there and got in at 8:30pm. Really fun travel day!
Of course I couldn't find a guesthouse that wasn't booked up and finally ran into an Italian girl who asked me if I needed a room. Yep! She showed me to the Shanti guesthouse, which consisted of a 10 person dorm room and one bathroom. No AC, no common area, no towels, no blankets. No frills! The only person in there at the time looked like he was dead, possibly decomposing on the bed. Perfect!
Now Koh Lipe is also a very small island. It has 3 main beaches, all walkable within 20 minutes. Of course almost all the walkways are completely lined with shops, hotels, and restaurants. There's a lot going on Koh Lipe! It seems to be a favorite of the Asian tourists, who along with the Russians, are slowly taking over Thailand from the Europeans! And the prices are accordingly high, I think its the most expensive island on Thailand I've experienced. But one of the really nice things about Lipe is it has very good snorkeling right off its beaches. As long as you can dodge the longtail boats plying back and forth you can find vibrant reefs with good visibility at any of the 3 beaches. So that's what I did the first afternoon.
Later on I would meet some of the people in the dorm room. There were 2 Finnish girls, a dutch girl, and Chilean guy, all of whom I'd end up spending the rest of my time on the island with (minus one Finnish girl who had to get home). So originally I was going to find a new place to stay, but I liked our crew, so I figured i'd stick around. We didn't do much besides go the beach and snorkeling, although I did get around to one day of diving, despite the fact it was 50% more than Koh Tao, and I'm trying to save up for diving in Indonesia! Sadly it wasn't very good. According to our scuba diving boat captain, the dive site we did our first 2 dives at had some of the worst visibility in the last 12 years he'd been gong there. So I guess that was unlucky. The third dive site was really nice though, so we ended on a good note. But other than that it was just eating lots of Thai food and going to chilled out beach bars or movie nights. We watched Armaggedon. America saves the world again!! I was little drunk and may or may not have shed a tear during the scene when Bruce Willis talks with his daughter after locking Ben Affleck out of the tunnel to detonate the bomb. But anyway! On to Langkawi (Malaysia) for me. The rest of the group would be coming the next day, but I was getting restless on Koh Lipe.
So overall it was a pretty good time in Thailand! Although I will say that I didn't have nearly have as much fun as I did when I was 25, when I still fit in with the younger party crowd. It's seriously difficult to meet any independent travelers over 25. Or maybe I was looking in the wrong places. I dunno, but I kinda felt like I was too old for Thailand.
Sadly, I didn't feel like I took too many good travel shots in Thailand. Part of it had to do with me having a bum ankle and part of it was just being uninspired. Of course there is nice scenery, and I got some nice shots of the sunsets and the longtail boats and stuff, but good travel photography involves people! And every Thai on these islands are just there to serve the tourists, so you never see any locals doing anything other than running shops and guesthouses or whatever. On the beach its just all tourists. So while in certain countries I'm compelled to wake every other morning at 5am because the local culture is just so damn interesting (Myanmar!), In Thailand I was just wasn't really motivated to go out shooting that much. Boo Hoo. Indonesia will be better!
Malaysia is next!