Today our short trip to the Thailand’s southernmost Andaman islands has started. We are planning to travel from Ko Lipe in Tarutao National Park to Ko Lanta, with possible stops at Ko Muk and Ko Ngai. “We”, that’s my girlfriend, Noom, and myself.

The day began very early, at 4 am, since we had to check out from our hotel and arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport by 5:50 am in order to check in on time for our Air Asia flight to Hat Yai, departing at 6:50 am. The night before our departure, we had called 1681 and ordered a taxi to pick us up at our hotel at 5:15 am. This worked perfectly: as promised, we received our confirmation call at 4:40 am, the driver arrived well before 5:15 and took us to the airport in less than 30 minutes.

Checking in was also no problem. While there were long queues at the counters for Air Asia’s international flights, the domestic counters were deserted. So without any delays we could move on to our gate. Unusually (at least according to my experience with Thai Air Asia flights) boarding started on time and we even took off from Suvarnabhumi right on time. After a boring flight we arrived at Hat Yai International Airport at 8:20 am, as scheduled.

From that moment on things were getting more interesting because it’s not too easy to get to the islands of Tarutao National Park, but we were soon relieved: the minivan, provided by our tour operator (SmileSunNature), which had to take us from the airport to Pakbara Pier in neighboring Satun province, some 100 or 150 km from our location, was already waiting for us. At first we were surprised to see the two of us were the only passengers in the minivan, so we started making ourselves comfortable, when the van pulled into Hat Yai’s minivan terminal and the driver told us we had to wait for more passengers. Fortunately after not more than 15 minutes all seats were taken and our trip could continue, however, not quite as comfortable as right after leaving from the airport.

Despite that delay we didn’t have to worry about missing our express boat that would take us to Ko Lipe, via Ko Tarutao and Ko Kai (เกาะไข่ – Egg Island), because the tour operator called us every half hour or so to check on our progress. We finally arrived at Pakbara Pier well before 11 am, the departure time of our boat. The “boat” was actually a pretty large speed boat with seats for around 40 passengers, provided by Bundhaya Speed Boats. And as it turned out, they had managed to sell every single seat, or so it seemed. The passengers were predominantly foreigners, mostly a tour group from Russia, a few Western Europeans, a British-looking guy (pink skin, lots of tattoos) with his Thai wife and their three children plus quite a few Thais.

I didn’t like the speed boat trip too much. It was a bit too crowded for my taste (safety was ok, life jackets for everyone) and the landscape was all but zooming past. Hardly any chance for nice photos. But ok, at least we reached our destinations quickly.

The first stop at Ko Tarutao National Park Headquarters is hardly worth mentioning. It seems they only stop here to allow people to take pictures of themselves with the “Ko Tarutao National Park” sign. Been there, done that. Click. Noom and I actually used the 15 minutes to have a quick early lunch (Khao Pad Bpoo – Fried Rice with Crab Meat) which was provided by Man, our (private!) tour guide – a very nice guy as it turned out.

After Ko Tarutao we had another quick stop at Ko Kai, a really small island with beautiful whites beaches and a marvellous limestone arch. Nice photo stop, but that was it, because finally we had to get to Ko Lipe.

We arrived there at 2 pm. Before we could actually reach the beach, we had to change from our speed boat to a longtail boat, which was a bit uncomfortable with our bags, but we arrived without any incidents anyway. Our hotel is Bundhaya Resort. It has a large beachfront restaurant terrace (really nice), as well as a beachfront massage terrace. The bungalows look like typical Thai budget bungalows from outside.

Noom and I were not staying in a bungalow, our room was wall-to-wall with other rooms, which means you share every single word with your neighbour. The room is equipped with Air Conditioning and a wall-mounted fan, which gives us enough air to breathe. We’ve also got a small terrace with two deckchairs.

Considering we had to wake up very early that morning, we didn’t feel like exploring the island or going to the beach, but had a nap in our room first. The late afternoon we spent on the beach before enjoying our rich and tasty dinner (included in our tour package) and a conversation with Man. Tomorrow he’ll take us to see the sunrise at one of the other beaches, which means we’ll have to get up early again, so I better finish this entry NOW. 😉