We spent our entire last day in Thailand on the Andaman Sea.
We toured with John Gray’s Sea Canoe which came highly recommended and was the highlight of our stay in Phuket. There were about 30 passengers on the main boat and we had a great time getting to know people from England, China and the states. We were on the boat from 11am to 9:30pm. The long day flew by and the staff provided delicious lunch and dinner buffets.
We left the main boat several times with a personal guide who paddled us around in a small kayak. We entered the Tidal Nape Sea Caves in Phang Nga Bay. Sometime the clearance between the cave and the water was so low that we had to lay all the way down in the kayak.
Once we emerged from the caves (sometimes lined with thousands of hanging bats a few yards above us), we discovered hongs; hidden cliff-lined lagoons.
We were treated by wonders of nature. The quiet Jurassic Park-like lagoons were surrounded by vertical rock walls and stunning limestone landscapes.
I lost my sunglasses while kayaking over some waves in Krabi so I picked up some cheap statement beauties at a souvenir shop. Troy teased me about how embarrassed I’d be looking back at the photos of this day years from now. Oh well, they got the job done.
It was fascinating to watch the sliver of light appear at the end of the dark cave.
We had some free time to paddle around by ourselves, swim and explore nearby beaches. Troy took a little siesta while I watched tiny crabs climb around the shore rocks.
Before dinner, our guides helped us make beautiful floral arrangements to celebrate the native festival known as Loi Kratong.
Every year on the last full moon of the lunar calendar, tiny rafts are built from banana tree trunks and decorated with folded banana leaves, flowers, candles and incense. They are released into the water as a sign of gratitude and to wave goodbye to misfortune, wash away sins of the past year and make wishes for the coming year.
Our guide taught us how to fold the banana leaves and how to decorate with orchids. He had most of the arrangement completed in advance and we helped to put on the finishing touches. We learned that each guide spends anywhere from 2-4 hours creating the intricate arrangements for his guests.
Our friends’ kratong was beautiful and intricate too.
All of the kratongs were lined up for us to admire while the staff set up the dinner buffet.
We ate dinner while the sun was setting and I can honestly say I don’t think any view will be able top the landscape we were surrounded in that night.
After dark, we got back into the kayaks with our kratongs. Our guide took us into a cave and lit the candles. We made wishes and sent them into the sea. They burned for about five minutes while we shed all of our bad luck and brought happiness and prosperity to our families.
Then we swirled our hands in the water and saw bioluminescent plankton. Under the water surface were streams of glowing greenish-blue sparks. We could only see it inside dark caves. It was magical.
The hour long boat ride back to the dock might have been the most magical of all. We laid down on the bow of the ship, completely surrounded with millions of stars against the black sky. Troy turned on relaxing music and none of us said a word, we just took it all in. The warm summer air, the slow movement of the boat, the sea below, the stars above. I thought about everything we had seen and done over the last week and was filled with gratitude. It was truly the trip of a lifetime.