PHANG-NGA BAY, THAILAND
As we (motor)sailed north into Phang-Nga Bay, we were greeted by large monoliths jutting vertically out of the sea, dripping with limestone stalactites and coated in lush rainforest.
The scenery in this part of Thailand is spectacular, but the real gems are what’s hidden within. Many of these islands are actually hollow, with small sea-caves providing entrance to hongs (Thai for ‘room’) – lagoons open to the sky and completely contained within the island. Some have resident monkeys or various bird species, others have crabs and mudskippers, and some even have ancient cave art. As the Southeast Asia Pilot says “much of the joy of sailing Phang-Nga Bay lies in discovering the uncounted creeks, caves and coves.”
We met up with Fiddler VI and Honeymoon alongside Koh Phanak, and on the rising tide, launched the paddleboards and kayaks to explore our first hong! It was peak hour in the pitch-black tunnel. We paddled and bumped our way through kayaks laden with tourists and guides, and finally emerged into the milky green lagoon within. Another item ticked off the bucket list! The tour guides lured a seemingly tame macaque out of the trees with the promise of bananas, and he jumped on the nearest kayak for a ride.
From there we headed to Koh Hong, so-named for its warren of hongs. We spent the rest of the day exploring its weathered cliffs and hidden caves. Late in the arvo the tourist boats all raced back to Phuket and Krabi and we had the place to ourselves. Absolute bliss!
We had lunch ashore at the Muslim fishing village built on stilts around the limestone feature of Koh Panyi. Although it’s a bit of a tourist trap these days, it was still worth a quick visit, especially to see the pimped up motors in the local boats! And the ancient rock art just down the river a bit.
And then on a little trip up a mangrove creek, our dinghy outboard motor broke. So instead of cruising tropical islands in search of awesome snorkelling as planned, we are now cruising into Royal Phuket Marina in search of outboard motor mechanics…. 😦
But a big shout out to the local fishing boat that towed us back to our boat after the motor died…