It’s a shame that I keep posting about my wedding and honeymoon in installments. I really want to post these already because my backblogs are piling up, but I couldn’t make time to draft my posts. Anyway, this is the part where I share the highlights of our honeymoon trip. Let me start by introducing the beach of Ao Nang.
Ao Nang Beach at 20 kilometers from Krabi Town, is the most developed of Krabi’s beaches, a long stretch of white sandy beach with limestone mountains as a backdrop. It has a wide range of accommodation and services and the main shopping street features restaurants, bars, pubs, souvenir shops, dive centers and tour agencies, massage centers and spas. This is the hub from which to plan your trip at sea and to the nearby islands on a typical longtail boat (Krabi Magazine, December 2013, Issue 93).
Roan and I spent our first two days in Ao Nang Beach for two reasons: (1) it’s been three years since I felt the sand on my toes; and (2) I simply want to get a tan.
Monday, 16 December
We spent all day sunbathing in the beach and hotel pool on Monday and Tuesday. I think it was on Monday afternoon when we decided to check tour agencies out to book some island tours. Roan didn’t book any tour packages prior to going to Thailand because according to reviews, it is still best to book at tour agencies in the area and possibly get bigger discounts. It didn’t take us long enough to find an agency because just a few meters across our hotel, we were drawn to this lady who greeted us as we approach her booth. Her name was Minn. We had a fast transaction; so fast that I didn’t realize I forgot my wallet in our room. Roan and I went back to the hotel to get this, and booked our tours right away.
Wednesday, 18 December
Roan and I usually wake up just in time for buffet breakfast at Wanna’s Place (formerly known as The L Restaurant), the hotel’s official restaurant, but on Wednesday morning, we got up earlier because we had to get ready for our island tour right after breakfast. As standard procedure, someone from the agency will come pick us up at our hotel lobby at 8:00AM. Half an hour later, no one has arrived yet, so Roan and I began to worry. The hotel receptionist was sensitive enough to ask me for the receipt provided, and called the agency to check on whoever is going to come pick us up. Ten minutes later, a man approached us, asking for our receipt to confirm if we’re his guys.
We rode a mini-cab along with other people whom we suspect are touring with us that day. Fifteen to twenty minutes later, we alight the mini-cab, met our tour guide for the day (Alex), and boarded our designated longtail boat.
We were 11 on that tour. Two Finnish ladies, two Romanian couple, two German couple, a family of three Malaysians, and ourselves. Alex was a really funny guy. He speaks decent English, so it’s easier to get along with him and laugh at his nonsense jokes.
It was a fun 45-min boat ride from Ao Nang Beach to our first stop, the Hong Island (or Koh Hong). This island demands to be explored by longtail boat or speedboat. The archipelago, a group of limestone islands with hidden caves and lagoons, is perfect for kayaking or snorkeling (Krabi Magazine, December 2013, Issue 93). Koh Hong is also known as the ‘Room Island’. It is part of a group of islands one hour north of Krabi. Koh Hong has only one beach—Pelay Beach—but it is recognized for being extremely beautiful, boasting fine white sand, coral and lots of varieties of tropical fish.
Pelay Beach is framed by limestone rock formations which give it an enclosed feel. Coupled with the fact that there are seldom many people there, Koh Hong very much offers a ‘desert island’ experience. Its name comes from an eroded group of caves in the middle of the island which harbors a large lake with a small passage to the sea.
When the tide is high long tail boats are able to enter the ‘room’ and visitors can swim in around in crystal clear water with a depth of around one metre. Koh Hong is another collection point for the nests that provide the ingredients for bird’s nest soup.
The other three islands we went to were Koh Pakbia, Koh Rai and Koh Lahding. If memory serves me right, it was in Koh Lahding where the sea rocks upon alighting the boat were very slippery. It had fine, pebbly sand, and had bigger waves when we got there. It was also in that island where Alex encouraged my husband and I for a ‘mini-photoshoot’. The photos were really lovely. In fact, Roan thought we’d have them printed out when we get back from our honeymoon, and put them in a frame…until we realized that all files were gone in an instant. I was browsing through the gallery in our camera when, alas, a dialog box appeared, indicating an ERROR. I swear I wanted to strangle myself upon realizing this, but couldn’t figure out how in the world it happened. The look on my husband’s frustrated face was unbearable, so I buried myself under the sheets sobbing for a while. I even sent an SMS to my Dad to ask if it happened to him before, but instead told me to forget about it, and just enjoy our holiday. At least we had these photos from our iPhones…
The following morning, my husband reassured that what happened with the corrupted memory card was nothing but an accident, so he tried to cheer me up and get over it. We were booked for a half-day trip to Tiger Cave Temple and Elephant Trekking.
We first went to this place for Elephant Trekking. When Roan and I were talking about stuff to do while in Thailand, my husband was adamant in riding an elephant. It’s clearly in his bucketlist, so who am I to resist?
On our way to the hotel from Krabi International Airport, I saw signs leading to the Tiger Cave Temple. Being a certified Thomasian Growling Tiger, I couldn’t let the [photo] opportunity pass. There are a number of temples open to visitors, the most interesting of which is Wat Tham Seua (in Thai: วัดถ้ําเสือ), or Tiger Cave Temple. Set in a beautiful forest, the temple is in fact a famous meditation centre. You can walk around the nature trail in the Khiriwong Valley, with its maze of caves, visit the main Tiger Cave and bell tower (the largest in southern Thailand) and, for those who are fit enough, climb the 1,237 steps to the mountain-top shrine for a view that will really leave you breathless. Organised tours are available from all agents, or you can easily go independently with a rented car or motorbike – the site is only a few kilometres outside of Krabi Town (Krabi Magazine, December 2013, Issue 93).
I was in high spirits right before we went up the steps, but a few steps short of the 300th, I had to stop. I was no longer feeling well, and eventually threw up. That was the first time. We were stalling most of the time because I was really starting to get dizzy and out of breath. Talk about survival of the fittest. My husband had been really patient and encouraging the entire time. Never did he give up on me even when I thought of quitting. Other tourists who were descending from the top even told us how near we are to our destination. I think that helped because I psyched myself up not to quit. An hour later, we reach the top, and it’s a shame that I even doubted myself. The hike was exhausting and exhilarating, but ultimately rewarding once you get there. Roan and I took our time up there, just admiring the scenic view.
When we have caught our breaths, we went further up the temple for some photo-op.
Apparently, there were two branches in Ao Nang. One had a steam bath while the other were exclusive for massage. Our driver, by the way, was Swedish who happened to be the owner of the place. He took us to the nearest branch, a secluded house-turned-into-massage-spa from the busy street of Ao Nang. We were immediately asked us to change into our robes, and went on with their business. My husband and I availed of their Sweetheart Forever package that includes an aroma therapy massage and facial treatment (1300 THB). Two hours later, Roan and I only had these words to say: THE. BEST. MASSAGE. EVER! It was, indeed, an authentic Thai massage! I was so satisfied that I even sent an SMS to my parents to share our experience. And boy was it so relaxing for my sore muscles!
We woke up on Saturday morning from a glorious 10-hour sleep. It’s been our longest sleep since the wedding! Aside from going to the beach for the last time, we declared today a Souvenir Shopping Day. We didn’t have to go far because there’s a full stretch of souvenir shops nearby. We got our family some modest souvenir shirts, compact mirrors, and many more. It was a lot like shopping in Manila where you can haggle for a discounted price.
Sunday, 22 December
Halfway through our vacation, we were already wondering where we’d go to hear Sunday mass. We were lucky that on our way back from our Hong Island tour, we passed by St. Agnes Catholic Church. Our only problem was how to get there without having to avail of the hotel’s shuttle service nor grabbing a taxi (they were expensive!). We searched it in Google Maps, and realized that it’s not too far from our hotel. On Sunday morning, we got ready for church right after breakfast. We rode a TukTuk for the first time! Although it resembled a tricycle in Manila, it’s still a fun experience.
The Eucharistic celebration was in Thai except during the homily when the priest read his sermon in Thai first then read its English translation afterwards. It felt weird that I can understand what he was saying because I’ve gotten used to not knowing what the people around me were saying.
What’s even more impressive was that the driver of the TukTuk we rode to the church that morning was there right after the mass to pick us up and drive us back to our hotel. How convenient!
Monday, 23 December
While I had the best time with my husband on this trip, I was starting to get homesick. I have never been away from my family for this long nor this far, that’s why. Our flight is an hour or so before noon, so Roan and I were up really early to still be able to avail of our complimentary buffet breakfast. We had most of our stuff packed the night before, so all we had to worry about is taking a shower and getting ready for our departure.
While waiting for Regatton to put our luggage into the van, we had a little photo-op at the hotel’s lobby. We thanked everyone for being so nice and accommodating before leaving, and off we went to the airport!
Our flight from Krabi to Bangkok was delayed by almost an hour. Roan and I had nowhere to go, so we got ourselves some treats from Black Canyon Coffee. He got himself a Cookies ‘n Cream Frappe while I had Strawberry Yogurt. The TV wasn’t ON, so we were left watching people come and go. Sometimes, it’s relaxing just watching random people do their thing.
When we arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport, the place was packed. It must be the holiday vibe where most people go on family vacation for Christmas/New Year’s Eve, I told my husband. As we approach the Philippine Airlines counters, there was already a long queue. We had our luggage directly from Krabi to Bangkok, so we didn’t have to get them from the carousel to save time. Until we reached the counter, and were told that we had to pay for baggage transfer service. Upstairs. Geez. I was becoming irate because we’ve been on queue for an hour or so, completely unaware of this additional task. Guess what, fifteen minutes later, we found ourselves running our way to the boarding gate! Imagine how stressful that had been?
While you’re at it, the plane was packed, and it was difficult to catch some sleep. During lunch, Roan ordered a cup of wine for each of us, and that made me throw up thrice while on-board. I remember going to the lavatory five minutes to touchdown. What a way to conclude our honeymoon trip!