I Left My Heart in Maya Bay
Red and I had an early night prior to the tour because we want to bottle up our energy for the following day. Like a kid on Christmas Eve, I couldn’t sleep because I was too excited! I still remember watching The Beach and telling myself, I will go to that amazing beach one day! Everyone knows I’m a sucker for stunning beaches; I’m more than happy to be stranded in a remote island with strong wifi connection and unlimited supply of food! Lol.
The arranged pick-up time was 7:45AM so we got up early to prepare for a fully packed day ahead of us. As usual, our breakfast consisted of pot noodles and sandwich from 7/11 across the road. The ever-punctual eager beavers that we are, we were already waiting at reception by 7:30AM. Come to 7:45AM, we started panicking thinking we might’ve been scammed because the driver hasn’t collected us yet! I pulled out the agency’s contact number as well as the driver’s and notified the receptionist of our dilemma. He called the driver and he said he’s on the way as we were his last pickup. I told myself, fine, a few minutes wouldn’t hurt. The ‘few minutes’ turned into much much much longer! I wasn’t born with a patience genome in my system so come 8:20AM, I angrily stormed to the receptionist and demanded him to call the driver for the third time and tell me what’s going on. Blah blah blah. In the end he told me the driver was already downstairs so I rushed out and Red was on his way up to get me. The driver picked up a couple more passengers in Phuket Town area.
We reached Rassada Pier at around 9AM and upon arrival, Mandala Travel provided refreshments. Tip: Make sure you stick to your group and guide as there were several travel companies next to each other in the pier. They also provided wristbands for everyone to make it easier to distinguish the tourists.
We didn’t actually leave until 10AM because of all the safety procedures and promotional talk from our tour guide, Shakira. He offered us flippers for 100 Baht (2.50USD) because of the ‘great dangers of the sea’ whilst showing us very graphic images of injuries, he was also selling loaves of bread (I don’t remember how much for) for the monkeys in Monkey Bay. Shakira also provided motion sickness pills just in case anyone in our group was seasick; he gave a precaution to just take 1 because it makes you drowsy.
Ahoy! We finally got on the speedboat, I would say the capacity was more or less 30. Red and I sat at the front, which meant no roof and direct exposure to sunlight. I always think my skin is immune from burning so I braved it and didn’t put suncream on; rookie mistake! HELLO SUNBURN! As soon as the boat started speeding away from the pier, all the negativity I felt in the morning was washed away by the warm splashes of water as it touched my skin.
Our first stop was the famously immaculate and tourist-filled Maya Bay where Leonardo di Caprio’s The Beach was filmed. The scenery on the way to Maya Bay was captivating! I lived in England for 8 years so this whole nature business was a completely new concept for me. Maya Bay was beyond beautiful that I wanted to stay there the whole day and abandon the rest of the tour destinations! God bless the director of The Beach for sharing this gem to the rest of the world. Picture yourself in paradise – pure fine sand, clear blue water, unspoiled nature, trees providing shade when the sun gets too hot, ah this is the life! Sadly, the allocated time was only 30mins. Tip: Keep a mental image (or take a picture) of the tour boat and your fellow passengers because this island is packed with similar-looking boats that make it very hard to differentiate from one another.
We then headed off Pileh Lagoon but we didn’t get off the boat. Shakira was telling us the history but I was too dazzled by the view to pay attention to whatever he was saying. The boat was moving slowly and we could see how tempting the clear turquoise water to jump into and do snorkeling. Unfortunately, we couldn’t believe they didn’t let people do it even if it was part of the stop. After 1 whole turn in the lagoon, we proceeded to our next destination.
We passed by and had a quick stop at the Viking Cave that looked like a perfect setting for Pirates of the Caribbean; the only thing missing was Captain Jack Sparrow and the hidden treasure!
We just stopped but didn’t get off at Monkey Bay for 15 minutes to look and take pictures. Unfortunately there weren’t a lot of monkeys on sight and you have to get really close to the shore to be able to take decent pictures of them. One of the passengers from the other boat gave one of the monkeys some crisps and eventually more of them kept coming. Tip: Make sure you hold on to your valuables because these monkeys are vicious; if it looks interesting to them they will grab it no matter what.
This is my favourite part of the tour, snorkeling at Sam Had! The boat was put on halt as passengers jumped off into the beautifully unspoiled sea. I’m a scaredy cat when it comes to open water so I slowly got off the boat through the steps. The water was perfect, not too hot and not too cold. Man, the view underwater and overwater were immense; I don’t even know where to begin to describe it it! Not even the petrifying sea urchins can stop me from being one with the water. At one point the waves got pretty strong which made me panic a little bit because it was pushing me away from my made-up safe vicinity around the boat. Without an inch of doubt, this was better than my first and only snorkelling experience in Cyprus.
After snorkeling, we headed of to Phi Phi Don Island where we had lunch buffet. Shakira asked at the beginning of the tour if anyone has specific food allergy or who was vegetarian, vegan etc so the restaurant can prepare something. Shakira gathered everyone when we got off the boat and gave a quick briefing about lunch. He instructed us to follow him closely because the restaurant is a bit tricky to get to and we have to make our own way back to the boat after an hour.
Red and I were famished so we were willing to do anything he says! A massive queue welcomed us. When we got at the front of the queue, I mounted up my plate like I haven’t eaten in days! They serve at least 5 dishes – mixture of vegetables, meat, fish, chicken, soup and fruits for desserts. Even though it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant, food runs out pretty quickly so you have to be on the ball especially if you’re under tight schedule like us. A German girl sat down on our table and started talking to the Aussie couple from our tour group and asked how much the buffet was; the couple just told her to queue up and get food because they’re not checking anyway. Attagirl!
After lunch and for our last stop, we went to Khai Nai Island, which was full of corals and rocks. As the stuffed piggies that we are, Red and I couldn’t be bothered having a dip in the sea as it was boiling hot so we just chilled and explored the island. Shakira provided refreshments and fruits so it was the perfect setup to end the day.
It was a pretty full-on day which left everyone knackered on the way back to the pier (I almost fell asleep); but you can tell that everyone had a blast because the smiles were still plastered on our faces up until the last minute.
It was silly of me to make a quick judgment saying I was disappointed with Thailand in my previous post because of Patong; I take it back! This tour made me fall in love with Thailand’s beauty. The scattered islands, amazing rock formations, blue-green sea, buzz and glow of excitement from fellow tourists, friendly locals and scrummy (but spicy) food; I wouldn’t trade any of these things. All in all I would recommend the package tour because it was great fun sans the late pickup!