While waiting, I had a wonder around to check out the area. The little town had a few guesthouses and stores, but mostly local businesses and residents. Uninspiring grey sand made up the shallow shoreline, and even then there wasn’t much of that. The land seemed to just drop into the sea, leaving a long, flat, exposed shore. Many of the town’s buildings overhung the naked beach on stilts. A long, long pier seemed to stretch out half way to the nearby island off shore.
About forty-five minutes later, we were pulling into shore on Koh Ngai. It took a minute to find the right place to land the boat but we were soon wading to the sandy shore in front of CoCo Beach cottages. Just one look up and down the shore made me feel so happy we had chosen to come. It was gorgeous. Coconut trees overhanging white, sandy shores. What could be more ideal? I knew the only real issue would be having to leave.
Out of no-where, from behind the mainland and islands to the south, a huge storm front raced across the sky. From our vantage point, it looked like an ocean of rain was going drop on us. Amused, we watched some of the day-trip boats hurriedly pack up and head back to Lanta or other safe port. The longtail that we arrived on was battling large waves, with the boat rocking dramatically as it made slow progress along the shore and onwards beyond. But alas, the squall slid along Koh Ngai, and not a drop of rain fell on us. The same could not be said to the islands close by. Heading back to the café/bar, we watched the last downpours out to sea with a cool beer in our hand. And this is when one of my biggest regrets of the trip happened…
One of the things we really enjoyed doing when we were in Vanuatu years ago, when the tide had gone so far out from the sandy shore, was to walk around at night with a torch to check out the night life around the dry rocky shore. So we headed out, hoping to see lots of sea life in the shallow pools left behind by the tide. However, there wasn’t too much to see out there except lots of large crabs (and small ones). The large crabs (I call them painted crabs), about the size of an open hand, came in a huge variety of colours; some green, some blue, a few sandy coloured ones, and even into reddish hues. They hung around little rocky outcrops and were everywhere, forcing us to step very carefully. After a bit of a long day, we were in bed pretty early.
On with the hiking gear, well, not quite. On with the longer shorts, and sturdier footwear, with a bag-thingy for carrying water, and we were off. To find the path to the other side of the island, you must first walk down to the end of the beach and then find the path between the Fantasy and Thanya resorts that leads up into the hills and the jungle beyond. There was a bit of a steep climb up past the radio tower and onto a crest through thick scrub, but after that initial push, the track slowly came back to sea level. As the track flattens out, the jungle thins out at a coconut grove. Interestingly, the map showed that there was a resort, “Paradise Resort, on the other side. All I can say is don’t book it – yet. The huts were well under construction, but as we walked through, walls and roofs were being built, with no signs of a reception area, let alone bar and restaurant…
On the way back, not far along the path back, we encountered a number of other people all heading to the beach we’d just vacated. Talk about great timing, they wouldn’t have the place to themselves the way we had.