Ko Phangan, Thailand
Today we joined a day trip to Ang Thong National Marine park, a series of islands between Ko Phangan and the mainland. A 45 minute speedboat ride dropped us at our first stop: snorkelling. It took us a while to find the fish and when we did, we were a little disappointed. There wasn't a huge number or variety, but I guess they were colourful. As soon as we jumped back in the boat the rain started bucketing down. It's supposed to be the dry season but it has rained every day since we arrived on the island.
The boat sped past Monkey Island, which actually does look like a monkey eating a banana, then drove us to another small island. We hiked up an almost vertical path to a lookout over Emerald Lake (the name is self-explanatory). So far the walking paths we've encountered in Thailand have been barely walking paths at all. Today's path involved steep, narrow steps and signs on the railings saying, "Do not lean on railing". Fills you with confidence.
Next we visited the main island in the park, where we ate a fantastic buffet lunch and we were free to explore the island as we liked. We opted for another leg-burning walk, and this time we had to use ropes to get ourselves up the path. It finished at a small, unimpressive cave, which really wasn't worth the effort. On the way down it started raining again, which made it slightly difficult when trying to scramble down slippery rocks. Of course when we finally made it to the bottom it stopped raining.
I decided to venture off to another walking track with a sign that read, "500 m to lookout, one hour to top". I thought, "Yeah right, that'll take 10 mins". Well, it took me 10 minutes just to get to the first lookout at 100 m. Everyone I passed on the track warned me how hard the climb was. The path was all mud, rock and ropes, and I was in a skirt and thongs (I wasn't expecting to be trekking in these conditions). The view at this lookout was great, as was sliding all the way down to the bottom. I made it with no broken bones, only my legs caked in mud. A very choppy speedboat took us back to Ko Phangan, where we scrubbed ourselves clean before chilling out on the beach for the rest of the night.