Escape to Koh Yao Noi

A 2 hour flight to Phuket from CM and off to the port for a boat to Koh Yao Noi. It takes 45 minutes in a newish looking boat. On the list it said 300 baht (£7) for speed and 200 baht long tail. Speed it was.

3 big engines on flat calm water. 15 people on board. Almost 60 miles an hour, it flew, smooth and fast past some of Thailands most iconic water landscape. Dense jungly Karste mounds pushing haphazardly out of the sea, bathed in a ghostly haze. Only needs James Bond popping up with his jet pack….

The island is really small. Only one seven 11, a market and a few Thai village shops. A handful of hotels, guesthouses and restaurants. It’s predominantly a Muslim island, there are several mosques and we happen to be right next door to one in our bungalow.

We are just beyond the mosque

The owner of the bungalow is a charming young woman called Cha. She comes to chat every morning and brings water, fruit and good cheer. 5 times a day they do a call for prayers, even the one at 5am is not a problem. The Iman has a lovely gravelly voice and I find it quite soporific, and go straight back to sleep.

We have friends just arrived on the island, 25 minutes up the coast on a road which is slippery mud, steep inclines and drops, deeply rutted, boulder strewn and so precarious that even the locals don’t like to travel on it! I just close my eyes and hope for the best. Chris is very good on the bike thank goodness! It’s lovely to see friends, we had been counting down the days until they’re arrival and it’s been well worth the drive.

They are staying on a private hillside leading to a beach and in the gardens they have the smallest of the hornbill birds, called oriental pied hornbills. They are everywhere on the island and numerous. So are monitor lizards, monkeys, and an assortment of wildlife. The resort is remote and almost (we got there) inaccessible! It’s very exclusive and gorgeous. Grateful to share it with them. It’s called Paradise and it is…

The boys went scuba diving near Pi Pi Island for the day.

We girls stayed on the beautiful tropical beach with a bottle of Prosecco, lovely

The bungalow we are in is right next to a rubber plantation and surrounded by lush jungle with banana and coconut palms and all sorts of tropical plants. The cicadas, hornbills, insects, birds, geckos all kick off at sunrise and sunset. It’s a rising crescendo sounding like electrical humming then squeaking and chirruping like an eclectic animal orchestra with random soloists joining in, frogs and tokay lizards (which shout their own name and sound half dog, half frog!) and goodness knows what! Layer upon layer of sounds, it’s mesmerising and really quite loud. It goes on for ages twice a day.

It has rained most days. Tropical rainforest rain, heavy with lots of thunder. First comes the wind…We got caught out on the bike and were absolutely drenched in seconds. Lots of ‘ows’ as we were peppered with rain that felt like bullets. It does cool everything down quickly, it can get really steamy.

The island has lots of rubber trees, pineapples and fishing boats, it is very rural. The people fish and some look very poor. There are lots of Burmese working the rubber plantations and the restaurants. The islanders have suffered with the lockdown like many tourist spots. At least they have many natural resources and they all grow vegetables and have chickens. Strangely not many dogs but hundreds of cats and we seem to have the only dogs on the island, 5 dogs which latterly have been sleeping under our bungalow. When the Iman sings so do the dogs..they are very sweet and good natured. The islanders don’t seem to like dogs so if the dogs think you might like them they get really giddy. This one almost takes off with its helicopter tail.

We are leaving on Friday, taking the boat to Krabi and then a bus to Surat Thani where we stay the night. We then travel 5 hours on a train to Prachuap Khiri Khan a Thai beach resort very close to Myanmar to meet up with friends from Chiang Mai. It has been fun.

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