Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Readers' Trip Reports - KO LIPE

Julie's Ko Lipe Report -visited Dec 09.

“So here’s the plan”, says Beach Blogger. “We’ll walk over to Andaman Beach, up to the sand spit near Mountain Resort, get a long-tail over to Ko Adang, climb up to the viewpoint - maybe have time to go to the waterfall”.

The trouble with holidaying with a travel blogger is you’re on the go all the time, checking everything out, no time for taking it easy. You get to do not-relaxing in spectacular amounts.
Yesterday we spent 5 hours circumnavigating Ko Lipe - BB wants to do a page on rubbish so we stopped for about 5000 shots of fishing junk, building debris, broken bottles, washed up boat fuel containers. If I see one more pair of abandoned kid’s sandals I’m going to scream

You tramp to all sorts of less-visited places with Beach Blogger - this is the start of the headland walkway between Pattaya Beach and the small and very nice Sanom Beach to the west.

Not too many people make it to this low tide beach to the west of Mountain resort in the island's north. Highest building on far headland is holiday place built for the Thai Princess. Those lower bungalows look to be shacks for her entourage. Over the other side of that headland is Sunset Beach of Porn Bungalows fame.

Some places are worth the walk, in this case Bila Beach, further west again from Sunset Beach and about 20 minutes from the western end of Pattaya Beach. Nice little beachfront bar/restaurant with a few new bamboo bungalows built on the slopes behind. Small attractive beach with great views of Ko Adang and Ko Rawi.

“How long and steep is the climb to the viewpoint?” I enquire.
"Only 15 minutes, about as easy as the haul out of Kendall’s Beach, but longer”.
There’s nothing easy about the haul out of Kendall’s Beach at home. I tell him he can count me out.
“Stone the crows, you’re a bundle of adventure”, sulks BB. “Okay, this won’t take as long - we’ll go over to Viewpoint’s southern beach like yesterday, but this time rock-hop around the peninsula back here to Pattaya”.
“Didn’t you tell me the peninsula is close to impossible, that you nearly killed yourself last time?”
“Sure, but that was before I did the climbing course on Laoliang”.
The climbing course on Ko Laoliang was one 40 minute beginner’s session. Which I haven’t done. I don’t say anything, just give him that look.
He shrugs, puts on his Hawaiian shirt (must look cool) and wanders off in the direction of Viewpoint.

The next 3 hours are bliss. I get a beach lounge from the nice old guy outside Varin Resort, set it up in the shade of the trees, and watch the passing parade. BB paints the picture on some travel-site:

Is there anything better than lounging on the beach mat under a palm on Lipe's Ao Pattaya half-blitzed on duty-free rum, while checking the passing parade of gap-yearers, neo-hippies, pirate wannabes, Miss Swedens, grey nomads, Kelly Slater clones, rasta-baby beach boys, swaggering divers in rolled down wetsuits, circumferentially-enhanced youth-challenged farangs with sleek young friends from Isan, beer and footy bovver boys, Russian oligarchs with their hot blond mistresses, giggling Thai daytrippers in the orange life-vests and Chavs/Chavettes straight from central casting?

Well yes, there are better things, but it sure is entertaining.

Problem is I can’t remember any time he stopped still for the 10 minutes required to notice all this. Not even the 3 minutes he needs to get half-blitzed on Captain Morgan.

Plenty of shade on Varin beachfront. Lounges free for guests.

Happy-snap time for Thai tour group. Must have lost their orange vests.

Every 20 minutes or so I wander down to the crystal clear water and cool off. At one point I don the mask+snorkel and have a good look at the fish and coral a short distance from the beach. I then stroll 200m west to Nongbank restaurant and sip a nice cool Chang at the beach tables under the casuarinas.

----a nice cool Chang (or two) under the trees at Nongbank. This is about 150m west of Varin near Lipae Resort. It does good inexpensive meals and has some newish fan bungalows.

I glance towards the peninsula and see a Hawaiian-shirted figure clutching onto the rock-face about 2m above the water. He seems to be stuck, going neither forward nor back. There is a good ocean swell running and a wave breaks against the rocks exactly where he’s hanging on. He isn’t when the spray disperses.
I’m not worried. Beach Blogger is a long-time point-break surfer who’s enthusiasm has always exceeded his ability. He’s spent more time swimming between the rocks than carving them on his board. It’s 400m to the beach but this bloke won’t drown. He’s had plenty of practice not drowning.
20 minutes later a bedraggled dude in a wet Hawaiian shirt is back at the beach lounges.
“I thought you said you were going to climb around the point? Not swim it”.
“Yeah, but things got a bit sweaty. So I dropped in”.
I suppose that’s the truth.

...enthusiasm has always exceeded ability

Varin reminds me of an efficient summer camp for adults. The resort gets a lot of Thai package groups and is set up very effectively to cater for the morning breakfast rush before they leave on their snorkelling and sight-seeing daytrips etc. Food is always hot in this busy period with a constant flow of steaming trays from the kitchen. Very good range of western and Thai dishes with smiling Thai guest keen to point out the correct combination of condiments for local dishes - and giggling politely when you get it wrong. Nice atmosphere.

Varin knows how to pack them in. Hundreds of rooms - spacing is a bit more spread than this but still fairly tight. Non-refundable charge on safety deposit box, +5% on credit cards and internal bathrooms behind 2m high partitions in cheaper rooms are, to use BB's expression, less than whelming.

Gee. thanks Julie. Um - I’m thinking about “enthusiasm exceeding ability” - I guess extreme enthusiasm coupled with very high ability fits okay.

If you want to do a Trip Report on Lipe or any other beach or island pleased send text and/or any photos and captions to lajolla22@hotmail.com - with enough contributions we can keep people more up to date than my visits every year/second year or so manage.

Lots more info and pix on the main Lipe blog page.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you nice article.
    your next trip…Phuket is the best choice for you!!
    I love here Surin Beach Hotel This hotel is very nice clean and the people are friendly. VERY nice hotel with helpful staff.
    And I really love white sand, crystal clear waters at Surin Beach too.
    Thank again.