5-13 Jan '14
Sun 5 Jan 14 - Mon 13 Jan 14 33 °C
So just after New Year, I headed to the Andaman Coast for a spot of island hopping - thi is where all those pictures of turquoise seas and limestone karst islands with white sandy beaches come from.
At the advice of a friend, I headed to Krabi, and from there to Ao Nang and on to Railay, which is, frankly, pretty stunning. It's actually known for rock climbing, thanks to the dramatic limestone cliffs, but the beaches are pretty good too. I even took the 20 minute scramble over some rockes to Hat Ton Sai, which was definitely quieter, and actually almost prettier than the more popular Hat Railay West.
Next stop from Railay was Ko Phi Phi, famous both for its looks and its nightlife. I ended up there at peak season, so it was packed, including with all those who had just left Koh Phangan after New Year Full Moon Party. So there were no dorms - I got the final bed in a not great one. But it was fun and sociable enough - although two nights partying on Phi Phi is enough when you're already tired and combining it with half a day travelling to Phi Phi Leh for snorkelling, swimming and some spectacular beaches. The most famous of those, Ao Maya, used in The Beach, is beautiful, although totally packed with tourists.
So on I headed to Ko Lanta - one of the bigger islands, and actually surprisingly flat (in comparison). I originally intended to spend 1 night in Lanta, but my guesthouse was lovely, and because they'd overbooked the dorm, I was upgraded for free to a double room. Having bumped into a girl in the street, we ended up hanging for a while at a chilled beach bar - sipping a beer while listening to the sea and Bob Dylan is always a good end to an evening. The next day - four more islands and a lot more snorkelling and swimming. A very choppy journey by longtail, but pretty worth it. Ko Lanta is known for diving, so it was almost guaranteed to find some fish, although the drivers dropping nbread in to attract them was not my idea of how it should work. Chilling at another bar to the early morning was maybe not the best start when you have a 5-hr ferry the next day, especially when it ends up taking over 7 hours. But Ko Lipe is worth is - because although its become popular, its not yet totally commercialised and you can still sit on one of the main beaches without it being too busy.
Unfortunately my time on little Lipe was short, and after one day I headed to Pulau Langkawi, my first stop in Malaysia. Langkawi is actually a pretty big island, and its duty free, so the cheapest place to drink in Malaysia. I actually stayed in a little village in shore - a big mistake as it meant I was suddenly reliant on lifts to get anywhere. Some people in my hostel shared a hire car, so we headed to Langkawi's big attraction - the Skycar - essentially 2 cable cars to the top of a hill so you can see amazing views of the island chain. Impressive. We then did a brief climb up many many steps to Seven Wells, a load of pools, and the waterfalls below. It was pretty, but nothing to compare to waterfalls in Laos. But overall I was actually glad I wasn't spending much time in Langkawi.