Tuesday, May 6, 2014

YOLO in Thai hongs Apr 2014

I wanted to see some of the spectacular formations of the little islands in the Phang Nga Bay of Phuket before we left Thailand.  So we cleared out with our new sail on board and headed out to the nearest one, Koh Phi Phi Le.  It's sister island, Phi Phi Don is bigger and has bazillions of tourists on its beaches.  We could hear the thump of the loud music from an island away and were glad we went to the smaller of the two. Land tourists flock to these islands and they were the settings for several blockbuster movies back in the late 1990's, e.g. The Beach.

The islands of Thailand are limestone and have lots of sharp nooks and crannies and caves in them.  The rock walls and sheer cliffs are extremely rough and rugged and don't see much in the way of climbing.  The water undercuts them at the bottom, creating some mushroom shaped ones.  Here, the waters in Pilch Hong are clear and the white sand is in contrast to the dark weeds growing.  'Hong' just means 'room' in Thai.

I'll apologize in advance for the massive number of pictures of the hongs.  I loaded them when I had an internet connection and just couldn't bring myself to delete them!  Hope you enjoy the view, but as always, the best view is with your own eyes in person!
 Talk about a private beach.  This one is just big enough for an intimate setting.
 YOLO on a mooring ball at Koh Phi Phi Le.  'Koh' means 'island'.  Phi Phi Don is the big tourist draw just across the channel and the tourist longtail boats fill this beach on this island all day.
 The bay at Phi Phi Le.
 Beaches form in the V where the rock faces meet.
 YOLO on her mooring.  We felt too close to the sheer rock cliff and moved to a mooring more in the middle of the bay for the night.
 Longtail boats on the beach at Phi Phi Le.  The colorful banners/flags on the front are to ward off evil spirits.
 The longtails line up at one end of the beach, but eventually, the entire beach is full of tourist boats.
 Karen holding up the mountain by a stalactite.
 Gorgeous rocks and overhangs at Phi Phi Le.
 Karen on Phi Phi Le.  The gumdrop island is on the other side of the island.  We walked the 5 minutes to cross the island.
 Jason sitting on our dinghy.  The longtails were getting ready to leave and our dinghy had drifted over the line into the swimming area as had the longtail, so he was tending it til they left.
 Jason back on YOLO for sunset.  Ah, this is the life!!
 We went around to the other side of Phi Phi Le to the Pilch Hong the next morning.  The rocks look like they were frozen in mid drip.
 Pretty orange reflections from the sunrise and the colors in the rocks.
 Pilch Hong waters at the entrance.  Clear and very shallow so we couldn't take YOLO in.
 The entrance to Pilch Hong.
 It's melting!  Oh no, it's just the rocks as they had formed eons ago.  Pretty cool.
 The 'dripping rock' as seen from the other side on our way around.
 Tiny beaches form even in the shallow hong.
 The rock wall on the left looks like it twisted and is ready to fall over.
 You can see how the rock gets undercut along the edges.
 That twisted wall again.
 The water here is pretty as we enter the hong in the dinghy.
 Coral in the shallow waters of the entrance.
 We had to put the engine up as we glided over the coral in the shallow entrance.
 We didn't want to scrape this coral going through.
 At least the water was calm enough we could see the bottom as we dodged our way through.  We keep a bamboo pole in the dinghy for such instances where we may need to pole our way through shallows.
 The waters of Pilch Hong.  That is a huge tree trunk across the bottom.
 Looking back at YOLO outside the entrance to Pilch Hong.
 Jason reaching for a hanging stalactite on Phi Phi Le.
 It's easy to see how the caves get formed here.
 The hong is long and shallow.

 Caves form at all levels in the rock.
 The Pilch Hong seemed to go forever.
 Gliding over a smooth sandy spot.

 The water changes color farther in and this circular cave opening caught my eye.
 The round cave entrance
 We didn't go in as we couldn't land the dinghy and the rocks looked pretty sharp.
 A valley next to the cave.
 You can see the different tide markings near the cave entrance.  Obviously, people do go in it.
 Pretty blue here.
 Near the far end of the Pilch Hong.
 You can see the collection of debris that makes its way all the way into the hong, here.
 Looking up at the sheer walls of the hong.
 A rather phallic-looking rock outcrop in Pilch Hong.
 Back in Pilch Hong.
 Tiny beaches where the tide allows.
 More drippy rocks.
 Pilch Hong with the round cave entrance in the distance.
 Pilch Hong innards.
 It was a calm morning as you can tell by the reflections on the still waters.
 More caves in the limestone.
 YOLO was still waiting for us when we got back.
 Jason steering the dingy through the Pilch Hong shallow parts.  A better perspective from higher up.
 As we left Pilch Hong.
 Back over the shallow coral reef that protects the entrance.
 more coral we just skated over.

 It's actually too shallow to even snorkel on this
 Some colorful small fishes here.
 Stripes in the rocks over the blue waters.
 view of Pilch Hong entrance with YOLO's flag in the foreground.
 Pilch Hong water.
 The craggy walls of the limestone cliffs of these islands.
 Leaving Phi Phi Le.
 Koh Muk

 The rugged walls of the cliff sides of Koh Muk.
 Pretty deep right up to the wall faces here.
 You can see where the rock fell from...
 As we sailed to Koh Muk
 We're supposed to anchor here??  I think not.
 Approaching Koh Muk.
 The entrance to the tunnel to the hong at Koh Muk.  Who would ever have found this?
 Just under the inverted 'V' in the rock is the entrance.  The string of buoys is for the tour boats and dinghies to tie up to as you can't take them inside the cave.  At high tides, you can barely swim under the rocks at the entrance.
 Once you get through, this is looking back at the other end of the tunnel through the rock.
 Inside the hong, looking up at the sheer rock walls.
 Looking up to the opening to the sky above the hong.
 Jason at the park sign on the beach in Koh Muk.
 Karen in Koh Muk.  I wore the shortie wetsuit as it was a long snorkel and I wanted all the help floating I could get!  It was a bit anxiety-producing to swim into a dark tunnel where you couldn't see the other end!
 This is where we came out tof the tunnel into the hong.  You can see how small a beach it is; those are our flippers on the sand.  It's a tiny place really, with more space vertically than horizontally.
 The jungle-covered walls of the hong.
  The rugged walls of the cathedral-like hong, Koh Muk.
 The view from one end of the hong to the other,
 If you look closely you can see I'm standing at the other end with my arms outstretched .
 Karen getting ready to head back out to sea.
 Jason filling the diesel tanks while we're sailing.  It was a pretty smooth sail.  I believe that's Langkawi, Malaysia in the background, our first stop in Malaysia again.

 a Thai fishing boat.  They always look like they are leaning forward to me.  From a distance they look like snails sliding across the water.
Well, Koh Muk and Phi Phi Le were my two 'Must See' islands/hongs before we left Thailand.  We'll have to see more of what the bay has to offer on our next trip through here.  We headed back to Malaysia from here to join the Sail Malaysia, Passage To The East Rally.

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