While Langkawi commenced the island phase of our travels, we definitely peaked in Koh Lipe. Just over 50 kilometers from Langkawi, Koh Lipe is a magical Thai island with only 800 permanent residents, a minuscule 2.5km wide by 3.5km long. (We mocked all tourists who felt the need to hail a motor taxi between Sunrise Beach and Sunset Beach–a whopping 17 minute walk.)
After taking the ferry from Langkawi, we walked down a floating platform to Pattaya Beach and waited for the Thai immigration process to begin. Weirdly the ferry company collected our passports during the Malaysian exit immigration, which meant that the same ferry employee literally called out each person by name to claim their passport and head up to the Thai immigration window after we arrived. Lucky for me they bundled the passports by country, and I was the only American and therefore was the first called up. I was extremely relieved when my stamp said I was good to stay in the country for 30 days (Dom had read somewhere that land entries would only give us 15 days), and then I ran along the beach to the nearest ATM to pay the national park entrance fee while waiting for Dom and his fellow British travelers to finally be called through.
We booked our accommodation for Koh Lipe while we were also planning my last-minute soiree to London–I say this to try and justify why we thought it made sense to splurge and stay in what is arguably the best hotel on the island: Ten Moons Lipe Resort. (1. Everything seemed cheap after booking my airfare to London; 2. We wanted to celebrate my new-found employability!) While our ensuing accommodations will have to be rather budget to balance it out, boy am I glad we spent our four nights on the island at Ten Moons. We rarely strayed from the premises, leisurely bouncing between our private balcony with ocean view, the essentially private beach with pristine waters below and the shaded hammocks perfect for reading in between.
We did venture out for our first (of many!) Thai dinners to Walking Street, a short road filled to the brim with restaurants, drug stores, massage parlors and dive shops. While my first pad thai and pad see ew were great, even greater were our two dinners at Bombay Indian. Now that we’ve left Malaysia (which has a proper Indian population), we’re back to Indian food that is more akin to American and British Indian food than “Indian” Indian food, which means my tongue doesn’t burn to crisps when eating it! Dom and I have also grown quite fond of Thai Iced Teas, although I’m scared to know just how much condensed milk there really is in one serving…
While I was rather content to exert very little energy during our stay on Koh Lipe, I did take advantage of the relatively automobile-free roads to complete my first (and potentially only given what I imagine roads to be like in the cities) outdoor run in Thailand. I ran down the artery of the island until the paved road turned to dirt turned to very tiny path turned to bush, at which point I thought it wise to turn back around.
Other than these excursions we really did just lounge around, swim in the warmest waters I’ve ever experienced in ocean/sea form and sit and watch the sunsets while mindlessly sifting the sand through my fingers. I’m normally not one for beach holidays, but when the beach is this beautiful and the surrounding areas this calm, I can get behind it.
We had a (speed boat!) ferry out of Koh Lipe to Phuket this morning, and I think it’s fair to say that this is the accommodation/location we’ve been most sad to leave. We did make the most of our last morning, though, by celebrating pancake day with a seaside view! (Catherine and AJ, I expect equally scenic pancake photos once you’ve woken up and had pancake day yourselves!)
Koh Lipe, I hope to see you again one day. Until then, please don’t let anyone step on your coral or throw plastic into your waters. You’re too fragile for that, and the world needs you.