After we got our morning beauty sleep and breakfast…we couldn’t resist laying by the infinity pool for a few hours. The views from the pool were so peaceful…leaning on the pool wall looking at the blue water with big boulders peppering the horizon…do we really have to leave this place?
Once it hit the afternoon, we got our things packed up, clothes on and rented a scooter to go explore the island…to see how the locals live etc. The scooter was a pretty funny experience…a bit on the dangerous side but so fun. It took a little getting use to…the guys giving us the bike were kind of laughing as Giff tried to gently push the gas and went flying. I was very nervous to have him driving…he did after all run a snow mobile right off a cliff one time so…I am hoping this ride goes smoothly! We grabbed a map and had an idea of where to go assuming there would be signs on the roads…
We drove by several homes made of bamboo and built on stilts…people were out going about their daily lives and were quite friendly, waiving to us as we drove by. We stopped at a store to see if they had contact solution, being that we were on a small island…English was not exactly well spoken, but through hand gestures we finally found a pharmacy who had two small bottles left…and they were much cheaper than back at home.
We noticed the island was muslim…all the women were covered up and there was no alcohol for sale anywhere (except our resort which is why the prices were so high). We took a few turns and missed a few of the intended turns but had fun getting lost looking at the very non-touristy island. We ended up on the other side of the island at a beach where some local kids were playing…we didn’t hang around too long because it would be getting dark soon and we needed to make sure we didn’t get lost…there are no street lights at night.
We took a side road and were driving through a rubber tree plantation, each tree had a little bowl attached to it collecting the tree’s latex sap and then is refined into a usable rubber. We saw some of the little stores and local vendors along the way..one of the vendors selling fruits/veggies had a monkey on a leash the way a dog would be, except he was jumping around back and forth testing the restraint of the string. We were hoping he wasn’t being sold as food…maybe he’s a pet?
We got a bit lost on the way back, but a local noticed us looking at the map and pointed us into the right direction…he spoke a bit of English which was nice. We made it back to our place but before pulling in…I wanted to try driving the scooter. We pulled over and I got in the driver’s seat, with Giff sitting in the back, it kept tilting over so I had to have Giff stand on the side of the road while I tested it out…it was fun but scary. I only drove down the road and then back to grab Giff before we pulled into our resort.
We had a great last day on the island…we mixed relaxation with exploring and were really glad we found this place. We actually leave for India tomorrow which we are both a little intimidated about…we have heard mixed stories!!
We spent the next couple days lounging around the resort…we slept in, we swam in the infinity pool…we drank fresh squeezed juices and just enjoyed the island life. We walked through the jungle pathways admiring the tall palm trees and bananas growing on their big stalks. We ate leisurely dinners at the main restaurant, we had drinks under the sun…it was very relaxing to say the least! If you are looking for an island escape…this is the place.
Tomorrow is our last day on the island so we are going to leave the property and go check out the area.
Our 2 star hotel breakfast did not exceed any expectations we had for it…there were piles of ants on the actual buffet table helping themselves to the food they needed. Giff found some food not yet taken by the insects and I opted to eat the mangosteen fruit we purchased yesterday. Once we checked out, a taxi drove us about 40 minutes to a dock where a speed boat would soon pick us up. There were a few other people in the taxi with us…all of which were going to the same dock but to different islands.
We were given a sticker each with our island name on it…ours said Yao Yai, others were going to more common islands which will either mean ours will be a non-touristy gem OR we end up on some random island where no one else is…but that actually doesn’t sound bad either way. The boat arrived after a few minutes and several people climbed in. As we all sped away…the wind in our hair, sunshine on our faces and our surroundings were straight out of a coffee-table book of landscapes. The water was that gorgeous sea-foam green and the islands dotted the water in every direction…I think we are officially in paradise.
After a little over an hour the boat slowed down and a couple of people got off at the first island…the next stop was ours. We climbed out of the boat and onto the docks. There was a guy standing there…asking if we were going to Yao Yai Island resort…we said yes and he carried our bags to an old beat up truck. It fits two people in the front and then the back of it has a couple long benches where people can cram in. In the truck was another couple with a little girl and Giff and I. The drive was about 30 minutes through rubber tree plantations, coconut palm trees and green jungle. We saw some of the locals who appeared to live very simply in bamboo huts and drove on motorcycles/scooters.
We finally arrived but were a little nervous…where exactly are we? This is definitely a stranded island-feel but is it going to be a good island? What did we get ourselves into? The truck made a left turn at the sign marked Yao Yai Island Resort…over hills through forests and down towards the water. The truck stopped and a women was waiting with cool wash cloths for each of us since it was hot outside. We gladly wiped our faces while they lifted all our luggage to the “lobby”. The lobby was a big open bamboo type building with the straw roof…there were fans blowing and a fresh juice drink was being handed to welcome each of us. They got us checked in and then had us get on a golf cart to drive us down the pathway to our private bungalow.
When one imagines the perfect tropical island bungalow…one would picture this place. It was on stilts surrounded by lush greenery but had its own pathway right down to the water (we could see the ocean from our patio)…the inside was modern, spacious and clean. The ceilings were super high with fans blowing around the cool air-conditioning. The bathroom had two showers, one inside and one outside…it was so nice to shower outside looking up at the trees and washing off with their fresh jasmine salt scrub. Oh and the main room was a large open space separated by double doors…one side the living room with the flat screen TV, and the other side the huge bedroom…there was also a side room for tea making. Our eyes grew larger as we stepped foot into our new place…we can definitely get use to this place!
We took our time getting comfortable…and thought the little sign they had propped up on the bathroom counter about a gecko was too cute. They named him Jingjok and he was in our room purposely to eat little bugs…convenient! We walked around the property for a bit to get to know the resort. There was a huge infinity pool overlooking the ocean with amazing views. There was a large outdoor restaurant connected to the pool where lunch dinner and snacks were served…and of course there was a swim up bar for drinks. We stopped briefly to drink a fresh coconut and beer while gazing out at the scenery. As we kept walking on the little paths through the forest, we saw a couple additional outdoor buildings with their straw rooftops. One was a little store selling things like flip-flops and island jewelry as well as snacks. There was also the spa and the recreational desk renting outdoor activities like motorcycles/scooters and snorkeling gear. We circled back to our place and settled in for a quick nap before the big New Year’s Eve dinner celebration our resort was hosting.
After our relaxing nap, we showered outside and got on our party suits! We walked down our private path to the beach and walked along the deck to the restaurant. They had a big stage set up with white lights strung in the trees above our tables. There were some cheesy carnival-like games set up, one of which was darts and Giff couldn’t resist flaunting his talent. He won us a couple cheap little necklaces as our prize… We found our assigned table near the stage and immediately started looking at the buffet they had set up which was first rate…they were working each station, grilling fresh lobster tail/shrimp to order, as well as various cuts of meat, and other local Thai foods like fried rice, spicy papaya salad and spring rolls. They had plenty of options to suit every appetite and we had fun going back and forth filling our plates between watching the Thai singing and dancing being performed by locals. Everything was under the stars…food, entertainment and the soft island breeze…it was a pretty good way to spend New Year’s Eve!
After hours of watching the show and stuffing our faces, we walked back to our bungalow lighting our own sparklers along the way and of course kissing as the ball dropped ringing in the new year.
We slept in and got our things packed and ready for our flights. We had some time to spend in the city before needing to get to the airport, so leisurely enjoyed our day walking around and eating food from the street stalls. We had a couple amazing Thai pancakes which are different from American pancakes. These are small bite-sized…thin crepe-like and filled with fresh coconut cream and chewy pieces of young coconut…oh so good, I would love the recipe. We also stopped at a small Muslim stand which were making little falafel balls served in cone like paper and smothered in a sweet and spicy sauce. Right across from that stand was a fruit smoothie place so we ordered a berry smoothie to wash everything down. Oh and we also saw a small bakery with a line of people ordering cookies…why should they have cookies and we don’t? We stood in line too and bought a whole box of them.
After tasting our way through the streets, we went back to the busy street near our place and resisted the temptation to order our freshly grilled fish. This time we chose a different vendor and ordered a few Thai dishes to snack on before getting to the airport. It was good but not as good as that fish!!
With our full bellies, we grabbed our luggage at the hotel and took a taxi first to the post-office. We needed to ship another box home…the post office was surprisingly modern and organized which made it nice and simple. The taxi then took us to the airport where we checked in and then boarded our 1 hour flight down south to Krabi.
The flight was nice and short and once we landed, we took another taxi to a nearby hotel on the water. There is only one set time to arrive on the island where our resort is and we missed the boat for the day so will stay in Krabi for one night. As the taxi drove down the street, he pointed out the festival currently going on due to the New Year’s celebration. There were various vendors with goods and food lined up on the street and many people walking around outside, eating at restaurants and listening to the live music they had playing over the amplifier. We checked into the hotel and after seeing our room…realized this place was at best a 2 star. But it is only for one night and we will be leaving right after breakfast in the morning to go to our resort.
We strolled around outside looking at the vendors but not really buying much besides more mangosteen. We did see one stall who had all kinds of bugs to eat…we opted to skip that cuisine. The area was very touristy and the restaurants were pretty bad…both from a food and service standpoint. After sitting at one place and waiting for over 20 minutes, we walked out and sat at a family owned Italian place. We ordered a pizza and pasta as well as the last tiramisu.
After dinner we walked back to our hotel and got to bed at a decent time since we need to be up early in order to catch the boat to our island in the morning!
It is our last day in Bangkok, we could easily spend more time in this city…we just couldn’t get around to see all the different areas here! After starting our morning peeling and eating a bunch of mangosteen fruit, we decided we needed to see some of the historic and religious buildings in Bangkok. We took a tuk-tuk to the river dock, got a ticket and stood in line for the water taxi. The taxi was fairly big…more of a ferry-boat and there were tons of people onboard. We found seats and watched the sites as we floated down the Chao Phraya River. We got off the boat at the Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn) but first walked past the entrance in search for food…we hadn’t eaten yet. We found a little place and ordered a few dishes to eat while enjoying the air conditioning…it was extremely hot outside. We had a soup as well as a couple of stir-fry dishes to energize us before our temple sight-seeing.
The Wat Arun sat right on the edge of the river and as we got closer to the main tower or pang as they call it, we realized the intricate details used to create this beautiful Hindu temple. The tallest portion represents Mt. Meru (the center of the cosmology world in Buddhism) and the other four Pangs have additional Buddhist symbolism. There were a couple very steep stairways to climb to get closer to the top of the main temple. We slowly climbed as far up as we were allowed to go while appreciating each porcelain piece that had been placed into the design of this temple. There were what looked like porcelain saucers and other pieces of porcelain in all kinds of designs laid into the building. It was very artistic and resourceful…this temple is one of the best known landmarks in Bangkok. We took many pictures and stopped for a few minutes to gaze out at the view of the river before getting back on the water taxi to cross the river to the next temple.
After a short ride across the river, we found ourselves walking by several vendors selling their goods and took a small detour into the local market…which seemed like a rundown market with smells to wake anyone’s senses, and I don’t mean that in a good way! We quickly left the stinky market and walked onto the grounds of the Grand Palace which was built-in 1782. It was home to the Thai King for 150 years, but is now only used for ceremonial purposes and tourists. There were all kinds of buildings within the temple walls and larger than life statues all richly decorated in gold and other bright colors. This temple also used porcelain pieces inlaid in the building for decoration…in shapes such as flowers all over the temple. We also recognized the similar symbolism of a main center pang with four additional, each one in a corner surrounding the main. We also saw many large buddha statues standing in a row all in gold and all as tall or taller than us. We walked through the grounds impressed with the beauty of the temples, took many pictures and are now starting to recognize the Bangkok architectural style.
After spending much of the day looking at the two main temples, we took a tuk-tuk back to the main city. We stopped into the shoe store from yesterday to try on the shoes they had made for us and to pay our balance.
After dinner, we went back to our room to get things packed up…tomorrow we have some of the day to spend in Bangkok but then will get to the airport to fly to southern Thailand…a little island relaxation before going to India!!