We left Langkawi and headed off via ferry even further into the Andaman Sea to the tiny Thai island of Koh Lipe. One of the things that will hopefully not change about this completely magical place is the fact that it has no dock and must be accessed via longboat or a craft equally able to navigate the shallow waters that envelope the island. Our small ferry stopped a ways offshore where we climbed off and into a very traditional canoe type vessel (the longboat) that shuttled us to shore. From the moment we stepped onto the beach we knew we did not have to look any further to find one of the most beautiful places in the world. The sand was as soft as sand could ever be and the colours of everything around us would be really difficult to describe. We had no trouble hanging out and waiting for our passports to be processed at the beach hut that served as the immigration office.
Once we had properly entered Thailand, we were greeted by the “driver” from our “resort”. We knew there are no cars on Lipe and barely any roads so we were not quite sure what the process would be to get us all to the other side of the island. We assumed we would make a few trips and perhaps walk as it is not that far. We soon discovered that the five of us plus the driver would pile onto a single scooter rigged up with a side car, the island minivan!
|We didn't get any pictures of all of us on the minivan but this is when Paul left, not nearly a crowded without Rob and all of our bags|
|On our way to our beach huts|
While we made our way through the local villages that were as third world as we have seen on the trip, I was pretty sure that Uncle Paul was having some doubts about where the heck I had dragged him. It didn’t, however, take long for doubts to disappear. Our “resort” was certainly not a “resort” but we were not expecting it to be and how could we complain at all with clean and comfortable bungalows a step away from the water’s edge….. and what a waters edge! We were also pleasantly surprised to discover that Canadian friends we had met in Malaysia had chosen Lipe for their "visa run". It was great to see their familiar faces and realize they were also staying at the resort. We had a lot of fun with them and it was wonderful to share time and connect again. Our boys enjoyed keeping their two gorgeous kids amused and that translated into some very good adult time.
For the first few days we could simply not stop talking about how gorgeous everything was. The kaleidoscope of blues, greens and turquoises have to be seen to be appreciated as the pictures don’t really compare. We felt like we were in a picture book that had been photo shopped. The colors extended beneath and above the water and literally all around us. The snorkeling was amazing and we spent a good deal of time with our heads in the water marveling at the life swimming around us. We certainly found Nemo and a lot of his friends…they were living just in front of our beach hut! Too bad we forgot the connector to download our underwater pictures.
The laid back vibe of Lipe was amazing and the manner in which the tourism infrastructure, be it as it is, is embedded within the local life is unlike anyplace we have been. Our hut was next door to the main island fishing village and while some may not appreciate being so close to the day to day life of the Chao Leh (Sea Gypsies), we really enjoyed it. We got to watch them as they constructed their nets, loaded and cared for their boats, brought in their catch and filled their days. It was wonderful to see such simple and sustainable life apparently still thriving. Every morning as we were having our coffee the Island Monks would stroll down the beach and go into the fishing village to give their blessings. It was a beautiful just seeing this life happening.
|We sure had fresh coconut!|
With no dock or easy access we thought services on Lipe would be pretty limited and that it would be even less developed than it is. However, stretching from one side of the island to the other is a “Walking Street” that is just alive enough with tourists and locals to suite our tastes perfectly. We strolled this street on a daily basis enjoying the sites, sounds and smells of the heaven we had found. We were staying on the breezy and quieter side of the island and while we enjoyed some excellent dinners on the main beach we were always glad to get back to our breezy bungalow.
|Directional signs on Koh Lipe|
|We met up with some Canadian friends we had gotten to know in Penang. It was cool to connect and share our time with them!|
There was a really good variety of eating establishments and the food was awesome both on the beach and on the walking street. We had almost forgotten how incredibly flavorful just about every bite of Thai cuisine actually is. We also got used to savoring a number of fresh fruit smoothies on a daily basis. We loved Koh Lipe and could go on and on about it. We also loved having Paul with us, what a treat! It made the whole experience even more special. It was really sad to say good by to Paul and also to say goodbye to Koh Lipe. The kids will be happy to re establish internet connectivity but we have to admit that the lack of easy connections made our time even more relaxing.
|We managed to find a Birthday Cake for Fearon and have a little late celebration. Having Paul with us sure made it more celebratory.|