Good times on Koh Mook
Its already been two weeks since we were on Koh Mook or ‘Koh Muk’. I haven’t had much time to get the writing done and with our excellent internet connection, photo’s are uploaded in no less than a week anyway. We have been lucky in Thailand though, as over the last three weeks there have been 2 long weekends, due to various reasons. The first being the King’s birthday, which was celebrated on December 5th. The king, ‘Bhumibol Adulyadej’ turned 84 years old on the 5th and is loved very much by his people. There is a law however stating that if you insult, criticize or defame the king, you could find yourself in jail for a number of years. The second holiday was on the 10th for constitution day and this is when we made our big escape. Being an hour away from Trang and the Andaman sea, we locked our sights in on Koh Mook, and never looked back.
Ko Muk is an island in the Southern Andaman Coast of Southern Thailand. Muk is the Thai word for pearl, so Ko Muk means Pearl Island. The diving is meant to be excellent on the West Coast so we thought we would test it out. It’s a little more expensive than the Gulf of Thailand, but with less people the diving itself becomes more of a personal journey to the depths of the unknown. They also say the Andaman Sea hosts a bigger variety of sea life, which is the main reason we all go under in the first place.
Our journey there was short and sweet (one mini bus to Trang, then a different mini bus to the pier and finally the ferry to Koh Muk, taking no longer than 3 hours and costing a total of 330baht) with no hiccups, except maybe the ferry engine exploding in our faces and maybe even a few blown eardrums (the engine was louder than a formula one racing car, no word of a lie), meaning not much of a relaxed getaway on the beach. Luckily none of those things happened and we made it there all in one piece.
some friends we made on the boat
look at the camera Wayne
On a hunch we had booked our rooms in Trang, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as rooms fill up quickly on the Island and with our diving trip planned, there was not much of a budget for accommodation. Hadfarang bungalows was our accommodation of choice (when I say choice, I actually mean budget), and proved to be rather pleasant. We got the last room for the night (a simple room with a shared bathroom for 400baht) and would move to a free standing bungalow (costing 100baht more at 500 baht, still a bargain) the next evening. We were greeted at the pier and taken to the bungalows on one of those motorcycles with a side car but it’s not really a side car, more like an extended area for carrying people or luggage or tanks or trees. The possibilities are endless.
hadfarang bungalows on koh muk
Accommodation, check. Now time to get the diving organized. A 5 min walk to the beach and paradise reveals itself. The sun was glistening over the water, the sand was soft and warm and the beach was deserted. The perfect time for an ice cold beer. We knew where we had to go. We headed over to Chill Out Divers to meet the guys and get that beer we had been longing for. Some enquires into the diving location (Hin Nok, ‘bird rock’ in English, would be the dive spot) were made, papers were signed (basically saying that if you die, it’s not their responsibility), and that was that. A few more questions about equipment were needed (wetsuit, fins, BCD and regulator) and everything was sorted. Nothing left to do, but go for a dip and relax on the beach for the rest of the day.
chill out divers on koh muk
the view from the chill out bar, koh kradan in the distance
Living in Thailand for over a year now, I’m always happy to be on the Islands because the sunsets are incredible. We were lucky enough to experience one of those sunsets, drinking beers with our friend Maarten from Holland who we met on the bus.
And then to top that off, we were told by our Dutch friend Maarten that at 7pm there would be a lunar eclipse. He was told by his motorbike taxi driver to expect the moon to disappear, and being my first time, I was very excited. 7pm came and no eclipse, so we were a little disappointed and thought the driver must have been confused, but after eating our dinner at the hill top restaurant we were amazed at what we saw. The moon was actually vanishing before our eyes.
what a full moon
something is changing
just about gone
Well an eventful first day on the Island, lead to some tired bodies, and me nearly falling asleep on one of those comfortable cushi0ns outside the Chill out bar.
Day 2 started early with the alarm ringing in my ear at 6:30am. We needed to get some food in our stomachs before the the boat left as breakfast was not part of the package. A big pot of local coffee and a decent serving of eggs and toast filled me up quite nicely. The day started out beautifully but seemed to change on the trip out. It would take about 40min to get to the dive sight, and as each minute passed the sea would become a whole lot choppier. This would not be in our favor as it can affect visibility in the water and it did.
the smooth sea as we left
The dive site selected for our dive was called Hin Nok. This is translated to ‘Bird Rock’ and gets its name from (if you hadn’t figured it out) many birds sitting on the rock. Now let me tell you, this rock is in the middle of the ocean and difficult to spot when the seas are a little rough, so big up to the boat crew for not capsizing the boat before we even got suited up. They do say on low tides and good weather it is clearly visible. When we arrived at the dive site there was just a small bit of the top protruding through the breaking waves, and no birds at all.
We had signed up for a fun dive, our first fun dive after being certified, so the nerves were definitely there. Our crew (Alex from the Uk, dive instructor, Andreas from Sweden, dive master in training and the two Californians, Chas and Mark, vacationing around Thailand) were a nice crowd and everybody seemed to get on just fine. After a quick talk from Alex we were all ready to go. We would do two dives, both lasting nearly an hour, which was a little longer than we had been under before. The waters where a little murky at times, but cleared up every so often and the abundance of sea life was certainly evident. We saw some cool new fish(scorpion, puffer, shrimp and lion), moray eels and even a giant lobster.
Andreas getting everything ready
everyone getting involved in the after dive beers
We had originally wanted to come to Koh Muk not for the diving, but for the ‘Emerald cave’. Now tales have been told that this cave was home to many pirates and holds many treasures. No just joking! Well about the treasure at least. The cave does exist and is quite something. The only way to enter the cave is either by taking a boat tour and swimming in or hiring a kayak and paddling in. There is a short section were total darkness encompasses you, so taking a flashlight is advisible. Once you make it through the 80m cave, you are greeted by a pool of crystal clear water, a white sandy beach and high walls of overgrown jungle. We choose to kayak in and even after diving in the morning we found some energy to make it there and back. On top of that we made a crucial error by paddling past the cave, because the name written on a rock was ‘Morakot cave’ and not ‘Emerald’ as we had been told. We thought surely someone would have told us about this, but in the end no one did. So we paddled for at least an extra half an hour before realizing that we had gone too far.
Maarten the Dutchman
the way in
darkness just around the corner
we made it
panorama of the cave
something about pirates and treasures
To end off a perfect day, dinner, drinks and a little music with friends.