Thailand: Khao Sok & Similan Islands

Michael and I traveled to Thailand as part of our 2007 career break. The following is an excerpt from our travel blog.

[singlepic=607,200,,,right]Of course our stop wasn’t just about the tsunami – we also managed to squeeze in some trips.  On one of these trips we visited Khao Sok National Park.  Known for its great jungle treks, we decided to let the elephants do all the work on this particular trek.  Lumbering along from atop our ride, we were taken along a beautiful hike to a waterfall, where we would stop for a “rest” and the elephants would get a bath.

After meandering back, we got to reward our ride with a “tip” – bananas.  We followed suit and had lunch at one of the parks lodges, which consisted of tree top bungalows.  Then a canoe trip down the jungle river, passing large limestone karsts that are believed to have been part of a reef system spanning from China to Borneo – five times the size of the Great Barrier Reef.

We then spent three days on a live aboard boat with Sea Dragon Dive Center diving the Similan Islands.  Rated as one of the top ten dive sites in the world, Michael was excited to once again slink into a wetsuit and strap on the oxygen tanks.  I was to be the lone snorkeler on this trip, so like Squirt from “Finding Nemo” I was riding solo in the water.

[singlepic=686,250,,,right]The group was made up of Germans, Brits, Canadians and us plus the British and South African instructors and our lovely Thai crew.  Everyone else was doing some sort of diving, either instructional (open water and advanced) or recreational.

All totaled they had nine dives, including a night one, and all saw some incredible sea life.  The ultimate for Michael and his group came on the last dive.  As they literally come to their descent at 24 meters, they were joined by a manta ray, spanning nearly 12 feet, who swam with them for over 20 minutes.  Despite other sea life around them, no one could take their eyes off of this incredible site.  Those on board the boat knew they saw something special as they ascended to whoops and cheers.

On the waters surface we were also greeted by a turtle and a dozen small dolphins frolicking at the bow.  And we also frolicked on the top deck for an evening bbq over beers and laughs.  It was a great trip and the party continued back on steady land in Khao Lak.

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