When I first got here, a friend of mine said his favourite part of Thailand was the Similan Islands and it was somewhere I simply had to visit while I was there. So, on Saturday, Izzy, Ella and I set off at 6am on a two hour bus ride to the province above Phuket, Phang Nga to the port where we were assigned fins, goggles and snorkels and we climbed on board our designated speed boat. About 40 minutes into our journey the skipper finally realised that the ghastly noise coming from the back of the boat was not his customer’s bowel movements but it was in fact, one of the motors. After trying, rather unsuccessfully to fix it, we had to turn back and change boats. So when we did arrive at our first snorkelling spot, island 9, it had been highly anticipated. The snorkelling was quiet phenomenal in the crystal clear waters teeming in coral and sea life. We even got to see a little turtle about 60cm or so long. Unfortunately the people with us chose not to listen to the tour guide yelling from the boat “No touch! No touch” and they insisted on following this poor turtle around and touching it. I felt really sorry for it, imagine how annoying that must be for the turtle??!! He was gorgeous and we all felt so lucky to have seen him.
After about 45 minutes of snorkelling, we headed to island 8, the Similan Island and a national park. Absolutely out of this world! Allow me to explain, you approach the sandy white beach that slips into glowing turquoise waters where you can see every rock and shell beneath you for kilometres. The luminescent beach is softened by the lush, almost lime green bush which shelters the camping and lunch area where we enjoyed a delectably juicy seafood soup, aromatic fried chicken and cashew nuts on rice with roasted vegetables and fresh fish (which we didn’t catch!). After lunch, we tried to climb up to the rocks on the right of the beach to overlook the beach but landed up on a nature trail instead which led us to a viewpoint on the opposite side of the island. This was spectacular. We finally did find the right place to begin our rock climbing/rope dancing ascent to the top of the island. It was around a 15 – 20 minute climb to view the top of the Similan Island, which was absolutely breath-taking. The landscape was one of pure, well-kept beauty…a palette of aqua, cerulean and sapphires gleaming as the sunshine dances away to the horizon. If it was a smoothie, it would be made of melon, apple and lemon….and yes, the view was that delicious!
Once we’d squeezed in a swim amongst the fishes, we were supposed to move onto Island Number 7 but our guides said that it was too windswept that day, so we went straight to Island Number 5 where we relaxed on the beach and I did one last snorkelling stint and was fascinated to see, what looked like a parrot fish that was about 50-60cm long – it was huge compared to all his little friends around him! So I felt very lucky to have seen him. Interestingly enough, the Similan islands are only open for a few months a year, as it is too dangerous to have tourists there any other time. I assume this is because they are unsheltered from the Andaman Sea and are subject to large waves and what not. While we were snorkelling at Island number 9, we were told to stay some distance away from the rocks as ‘dumping’ waves can come through without notice. It was fairly expensive as far as tours go (especially on a teacher’s salary) so I was thrilled when I heard that we were visiting it at the best time of year that we could have because it was worth every cent to me.