Trang, travel, trash and Koh Lipe

We’re on Koh Lipe with our good friends Gary and Iffet, whom.we last visited with in Kas, Turkey. All up – we are having a great time!
Our time in Au Nang was nice – great food, a really fun kayak trip, some caves, and of of course, walking through the aptly named walking market!
We left Au Nang in the hopes of making it all of the way to Lipe, but alas. (By the way, Koh means “island”, and Au means “gulf”). We made it as far as Trang, along with some folks that ha e us some good tips about where to go after Lipe.
We were dropped off nowhere near anything that looked familiar, and since Trang is usually a spot that you visit on the way to somewhere else, we had only a hint of a map. Puja navigated us to the train station, and Iffet spotted a travel shop and went to work! She is an Olympic calibre negotiator, and we soon bad all.of the details and best prices to get us both to Lipe and to a place to stay there. Along the way, we made friends with the owner, who soon shared a Trang cake with us – something like sponge came, and delicious.
We headed out to find a room for the night, and had just started to think a out going for a wander when the travel agent and her sister showed up! Turns out that there was a glitch with our reservation, so we decided to wing it when we arrived.
We headed out to the walking market, made a quick walk through to get the lay of the land, and then spent an hour or so exploring some of the non-market and non-tourist parts of town. That’s one of my favorite things – walk towards something interesting, just to see. We found a cool park, and were also just minutes too late for a pedicure! I shit you not – who travels with toenail clippers and such?
Back to the market where Puja found some very tasty rice noodles with delish veggies and sauce, and I ate most of a pineapple, followed by some exquisite fried chicken. Gary and Iffet found smoothies and other snacks, so we headed back to the hotel with a couple of beers and settled in for the night!
We had a quick breakfast the next morning and then went back to the travel shop for our lift to the high speed boat.
At one point I was pretty sure that I was going to have a chubby German sitting on my lap, but I was saved by having the luggage piled up in the tiny aisle instead. Before boarding, we booked our return trip, and had tons of fun teasing the owner a out our bargaining skills!
We’ve discovered that travel days can mean hurrying past lunch options, only to wait somewhere else, so we secured some cookies, water, soda, and Trang cake, just I’m case! The ride to the dock was a couple of hours, and as suspected, we had just enough time to snack on Trang cake before getting on the speed boat with a Chinese tour group that numbered close to fifty!
The speed boat ride was uneventful, we arrived offshore, transferred to a long-tail boat (a long narrow boat with a car or motorcycle engine strapped to a long shaft. The shaft ends in a propeller that can be dipped in the water, and swings about 270 degrees for steering).
We hopped out of the boat wandered until we found a place to stay (see first picture), went for a swim, and a cold beer!
We found the local walking street at dinner time, and it was truly a walking street – none of the ubiquitous scooters that we have seen everywhere in Thailand. Puja ordered a delish dinner for us and Iffet helped me get a good price on a new snorkel – the one I brought with me is floating around in the sea – came off when exiting my second dive in Koh Lanta.
Speaking of floating in the sea. Check out the pictures, because the pristine beach you see isn’t exactly truth I’m advertising. On our first morning we were dismayed to see a LOT of trash on the beach:
Plastic water bottles
Sunglasses
Glass beer and other bottles
Sandals
Asthma inhalers
Soda and beer cans
And a lot more. There were two or three guys from our resort raking and cleaning – probably 6-8 trash bags full of junk, and when they were done, the beach again looked great.
I went for a run later in the day though, and a lot of “resorts” aren’t as committed to the island. As a matter of speculation, it seems as if the very local people may have given up their beach property for the equivalent of a few beads. Not clear, to be sure – but between that and the crap (including my snorkel which I certainly didn’t mean to become trash) the paradise you see is rarely what it seems.
Don’t get me wrong – having a great time, and the Thai people have been stunningly wonderful. But climate change, trash from the first world, Malaysia, Philippines, tourism related developmenent – all come at a price. Our resort is green for Thailand. No hot water in the bungalow, they recycle, and so on. Happy to help them in their endeavors. But a word to the wise: your easy to buy water bottle in Seattle could easily show up here on the shore in Koh Lipe. So do think twice or thrice in your daily living; I know I will.
The rest of our first day was terrific – snorkeling and seeing amazing fish just a few meters from shore, that jog I mentioned, an almost cold beer, and then an exquisitely cooked fish for dinner
And another diving adventure slated for tomorrow!
Pictures include our friends Gary and Iffet figuring out their packs, Iffet and Rung, our best-friend travel agent, the pristine view from our guy, the not so pristine view the next day, Iffet, Puja chilling in the hammock.

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