Thursday, May 07, 2015

Leaping to Koh Lipe

Probably my only vacation for year 2015. Our plans finally materialised - changing from Boracay to Lombok to Lake Toba and finally to Koh Lipe! It was more of a slap decision where everyone had to send their passports and by hook or by crook a booking was made.

Minimal planning and most of us had forgotten our flight date till two days before. We set out on Tuesday night, two days before the long weekend. After a weird flight and sarcasm from Captain Poovan ("some of you are slow to understand me..." through the intercom to everyone but the offenders on the tarmac), we picked up our rental car and was led to our apartment in Kuah. We had half a tank of petrol to burn and drove around finding water and supper, losing our way for a while in the process.

We took the morning ferry from Telaga Harbour, where two other couples joined us. It was an hour's journey to Koh Lipe from Langkawi.

blue sky hut
Customs hut on Pattaya Beach, Koh Lipe, Thailand

We were lucky to arrive before the massive crowd came. We managed to book our island hopping package without trouble and at a discount - THB550 per pax for a boat of 9 of us (original price: THB650). Those booking the day after had difficulty securing a boat as many of the boat men were on leave celebrating the long weekend themselves.

island hopping
Off to island hopping
Our boat man spoke Malay, so communication wasn't a problem. He took us to about five islands, landing on three of them and lunch/mineral water was provided. One of our friends was attacked and scratched by a monkey on Koh Dong. So be careful.

funny clouds sky
Leaving Pattaya Beach
emerald sea blue sky boat
Blue sea and bluer sky
island hopping Koh Lipe funny rocks
Koh Hin Sorn
Koh Lipe island hopping smooth stones
Koh Hin Nam
rainy day longest cloud
Where the sea meets the sky... Heaven and earth doesn't seem that far apart after all?

Snorkeling was fun, although most of our drop off spots looked similar. The corals in Redang Island, particularly near Chagar Hutang (protected beach), were much nicer and alive with colours than here though. We had to cut short our island hopping due to some rain and also for our friend's sake.

I was thankful we stayed where we stayed - Mali Resort - although it was one of the more expensive options available. Mali Resort is right on Pattaya Beach, with two types of chalets - garden and beachfront. Just a little background, Koh Lipe has three beaches - Pattaya Beach (the nicest and cleanest IMHO), Sunset Beach and Sunrise Beach.

chalet Pattaya Beach 4 stars
Mali Resort on Pattaya Beach
chalet zinc roofs garden
Garden villas in Mali Resort
beach umbrellas blue sky
Beach Umbrellas at Mali Resort
hot dog cool sea water
Many beach dogs taking dips in the cool sea water
sand sea blue sky
Another beach view at Pattaya Beach
full moon hammock
Full moon while lying in a hammock at Mali Resort
On one of the days we took a walk to Sunset Beach. Directions pointed us to walk through the back of Mali Resort, passing by their local village quarters and a dirt road where I saw for the first time a four-wheeled motor vehicle (4WD) on Koh Lipe! There were quite a lot of mosquitoes on that route though. We found out where one of the couples were staying at on our way back (Mali Resort was fully booked when they tried booking).

I found Sunset Beach was smaller with less people around (at that time of our visit) and with some visible rubbish around at certain areas. But the sunset was awesome there.

evening sunset
Sunset Beach - more boats docked
evening sunset rocks and sea
Sunset Beach with a sunset
We visited Sunrise Beach too, but only at night. We were told by the boat man that there was a beach party (and that we were lucky to come at this time) which would last for three days. All psyched up, we asked for directions and followed the crowd through the night to Sunrise Beach. I had a sneaking feeling that the party would be for the boat men and locals.

Alas, I was right! It was a village fiesta like I've never seen before. Food and miscellaneous stalls set up around a square with a small platform stage for dancing to Thai songs. For the first time again, I saw some policemen (or so I think, they had handcuffs). We didn't stay long and decided to take a 'tuk tuk' back to Walking Street for dinner.

That 'tuk tuk' ride, I will remember forever. Maybe it's because I'm a driver myself or maybe it's because I was sitting at the position to fly off the first if anything should happen or maybe it's because the roads were so narrow for pedestrians and the 'tuk tuk' was speeding all the way going on and off pavements. Our fare was THB50 each person.

'Tuk tuk' ride back from Sunrise Beach to Walking Street
The Walking Street is the only place for entertainment, where restaurants, massage parlours, souvenir shops, tour agencies and convenience stores are located. You can never lose a person here as it is only one somewhat long street. We lost each other a few times here but just walk up and down and we will bump into each other eventually.

Food was decent everywhere we went, even the 'hotel food' in Mali Resort was good and reasonably priced. There are halal restaurants too although many of the restaurants serve pork. I think from our group feedback, the most "not worth it" restaurant was Roti Minna, which we had our first meal in Koh Lipe at. But that was also the place where we were initiated to the Thai pancakes, which is actually 'roti canai' with fillings/toppings like banana, mango, nutella, condensed milk etc.

I particularly liked the coconut ice cream. After buying our coconut pot of ice cream, we found another stall selling it at THB10 less! Oh well!

entertainment food dogs souvenir massage
Walking Street
coconut shell
Coconut ice cream with choice of three toppings at THB70
To sum it up, I felt that Koh Lipe was a simple island with not too much to do but relax and enjoy the view. The island is suitable for honeymooners and young families who enjoy playing on the beach. We couldn't do much during the afternoon sun, so a good room is vital to while away the time. Would I return? Maybe not, as I'm not really a beach person.

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