I made it home from the epic adventures with Megh and Nell on a Tuesday and had just enough time to do some laundry and repack my backpack before heading into Bangkok to pick up my sister Emily on Thursday. We met up with Emily's college roommate Amy and after spending Friday checking out Bangkok we hopped on an overnight bus to Khao Lak, about 100Ks north of Phuket and known for its amazing scuba diving sites. We arrived to Khao Lak at 7am and Emily and Amy immediately took off for scuba diving while I parked myself at the beach for the day.
The next day I opted to join Emily and Amy out in the Similan Islands - about a 2 hour speedboat ride from Khao Lak. There was only one other person snorkeling with me so it kind of felt like I was on my own in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fish, of course. At one point I nearly had a panic attack when my fellow snorkeler grabbed me with a nervous look and started pointing at something right next to me, but I was relieved when I turned just in time to see not a shark, but a large sea turtle swim right past me. It was quite a beautiful sight and I was tempted to grab on and go for a ride but still also recovering from my momentary freak out, so I snapped a pic with my underwater camera and found my way back to the boat. I love snorkeling, but there's no way I'll ever try scuba diving, I tend to get way too scared by the unfamiliar animals swimming with me.
Khao Sok National Park, a gorgeous rainforest full of limestone mountains and one of the world's largest flowers (which was not in bloom, unfortunately!)We rode some elephants, took a canoe ride, tried our skills at a rope swing into the river, and stopped at a viewpoint for some great scenic shots.
camp overnight on Maya Bay, one of Thailand's most famous beaches due to its appearance in the movie "The Beach" with Leonardo DiCaprio. If you head to Maya Bay during the day, and I had been there twice before, you will find the beach teeming with tourists and longtail boats, so as soon as I found out about the chance to have the beach to yourself at night, I was all in. We started off the trip with some snorkeling stops on our way to Maya Bay from Ko Phi Phi and once we arrived we waved good-bye to the tourists and waited until the last longtail boat left before the party got started. Since it is Thailand, there were of course buckets to be served and fire shows to be seen, and as soon as the clock struck midnight Songkran, or Thai New Year, had officially begun so we were immediately involved in a full scale water war. Luckily our fellow campers - there were only 25 of us - were good people, so we had a really fun time. We went to sleep on straw mats in the sand watching for shooting stars (I saw 3!) and trying to remember the names of various constellations. Maya Bay Camping is definitely the way to experience Maya Bay away from all the crowds, and easily one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.
When we made it back to Phi Phi the next day, Songkran revelry was in full effect and we were eager to catch our plane up to Chiang Mai to join in the party...