Saturday, we were awake at 6am, ready for our Phuket Adventure pickup at 7:45am. On the speedboat by 9, we joined some German families, a dutch family, an Australian couple and some Spaniards, as we jetted across the calm waters towards the small Coral island, for sandy beaches and a spot of snorkelling (after a bit of time getting the seal working). Carefully avoiding the coral and potential cuts, we spotted beautifully coloured fish, hundreds of them, it wasn’t hard – they swam right past our noses.
After dusting off the wet sand, back on the boat we made the one hour journey north to Phang Nga and its astounding limestone formations and caves. Darting around the towering islands there were eagles and iguanas, canoeists and copious stalactites. The whole time we sat back, necks arced, head looking up in wonder.
For lunch we stopped at the floating muslim town (Koh Panyi island), which survives on tourism. “Like Venice”, they said, but not really. The heat was frazzling and we kept to the shade as we wandered the streets. Women carried monkeys in babies clothing, dried seafood was for sale by the bucket-load and children pushed postcards at us. Buy, buy, buy. We ate fish, curry, salad, chicken and soup before hopping off again to “James Bond island” (from “The Man with the Golden Gun”), otherwise known as Kho Tapu.
The picturesque and now famous formations were accompanied by the usual tourist kitsch; key chains et al. And as an Englishman, that bears no resemblance to James Bond, many Thais wanted their picture taken with me, which was odd. Crossing sandy shores and wading through the sea a bit, we found a trail that took us round to another part of the island, quiet, secluded and beautiful.
The final stop on the boat was another beach island, for swimming etc, although thick clouds moved in and the day’s storm wasn’t far off. We sped through heavy rain and no one felt like bathing by the sea. Instead we took a quick walk around the island, kicking about some old coconut shells, before being whisked back to the Phuket mainland.
Back at the hotel by 6, enough time to get changed and be out on the road in the sun light - when the roads are clear enough to navigate correctly to Bang Tao and the Lotus Restaurant.
The entrance takes you past tanks of fish, lobsters, crabs, shrimps, mantis shrimps, blue crabs, through to the restaurant. We took a quick stroll along the gorgeous beach in the cool night air before being seated, close to the water feature and a good distance from the live entertainment.
Mango and watermelon shakes were followed with chicken in pandanus leaves and shrimp cakes. For mains we HAD to have something fresh; I pointed at the Red snapper tank and fished out my main course, Sam chose to have a blue crab, grabbed by our waiter (it almost got away when it was weighed). The fish came in a tamarind sauce and the crab with a salad, on the side we shared pad thai and prawns. Yum yum yum.
We closed the night with another stroll along the beach, dipping our toes in the sea, and watching the spectacular fireworks, “please step back, I make big firework”.