Hongs by Starlight

Sunday 20 September, 2015 – Khao Lak, Thailand 

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We’ve had a great first two days in Khao Lak! Khao Lak is somewhere to go if  you’ve been to Thailand before and you’re looking for somewhere a little quieter than the popular Phuket areas, such as Patong, Karon, Kata etc. We’re staying at the Pullman Resort, purely because we scored a really good deal on Luxury Escapes that is full board and includes spa treatments and a cooking class – it’s definitely not the Indigo Pearl, where we stayed last time, but then there wouldn’t be many that could top Indigo Pearl for me. But we have a lovely private villa, which has a pool and sun loungers out front, and a beachfront pool nearby which can only be used by villa guests, which is nice as there are no kids in that one.

Friday we pretty much spent the day laying on sun loungers, feet dangling in the pool, only getting up to eat – it was bliss.

Yesterday we went on a tour – because we’re in Khao Lak, which is 1.5 hours’ drive north of Phuket Airport, it was a bit of a mission to do a tour, but we really wanted to do John Gray’s Hongs by Starlight and I’m so glad we did! The driver picked us up at 11am and drove us to the pier (which was near the airport) to meet the tour group – a real mixture of people – an Arabic couple, a Chinese family, an English couple, two German backpackers, two Australian couples, and another couple from somewhere else in Europe.

The boat left the pier at 1pm and we started with a delicious Thai lunch before heading out to our first Hong. A Hong is a cave in a limestone island (those beautiful tall islands you see in pictures of Thailand) which leads to a hollow inside, with an opening at the top. We went into three hongs – a mangrove one, one where the rocks sparkled like diamonds, and one where bat hung on the inside. I’ve got to say I was rather nervous going into the first one – the tide has to be not too high but not too low, but because it needs to be high enough for the canoe to get through, there are times when things are quite narrow or the rocks are quite low and you need to lie down. It is pitch black inside, aside from your guide’s (he paddles for you) head light, until you emerge into the centre and then it’s wow! So beautiful and serene. In the bat cave, because the tide was getting quite low, monkeys had come down to get food and one jumped on my canoe! I got such a fright that I didn’t get a picture 😦

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After the bat Hong, we got back onboard and everyone had a chance to swim . A massive storm came in at this point, so I didn’t get in the water but Craig did and had a good time. Next we had dinner and then made some Loy Krathongs – these are Thai Buddhist offerings to the God of the sea, which you decorate with flowers and incense and candles and then float them into the sea on fire. Once it was dark we got back on our canoes and headed into the opening of a Hong where, before floating our Loy Krathongs, we were shown the bioluminescent plankton – you literally splash the water with your hand or foot and the plankton light up just like on the movie Life of Pi. It was amazing!

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After getting back to the pier and our 1.5 hour ride back to the resort, it was about 11pm, so we were straight to bed. What an amazing day – I can’t even do it justice with my description 🙂

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