Ang Thong

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42 islands that rise directly up out of the sea are what make up the beautiful archipelago that is Ang Thong. Standing tall and beautiful, the limestone islands surrounded by gorgeous blue waters are what inspired Alex Garland to write the novel, ‘The Beach’. But whilst the ‘The Beach’ was inspired by Ang Thong it was filmed in Phi Phi, and due to the incredible popularity of the film a huge influx of tourism was created, causing the once isolated beaches of Phi Phi to become almost unrecognisable. Fortunately, whilst many boat tours operate throughout the day, Ang Thong is (fairly) protected, with just one of the islands housing bungalows, ensuring that what happened in Phi Phi won’t happen here, and as a result the islands remain as beautiful and untouched as ever.
 
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After extensive Googling we decided upon a day trip with Blue Stars, a company in Koh Samui that has won many Trip Advisor awards. The trip cost 1,800b per person, which included transfers, activities during the day, and lunch. We were picked up from our hotel early morning and bought to the pier where we immediately boarded the boat. The boat had two main decks (upper and lower) and a sundeck for those looking to catch some rays. Wanting to get a good view of the islands as we approached we chose the sun deck.
 
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Our first stop was split into two groups; one went snorkelling whilst the others kayaked, with each group swapping activities afterwards to try the other. The snorkelling wasn’t great. With just one fish seen by the entire group. A very sad ordeal considering it is supposed to be a marine park. However not so surprising when you had seen many fishing boats (that shouldn’t of been there) dotted around the islands. The kayaking was much more exciting, albeit challenging. Choppy waves combined with people *ahem* who hadn’t kayaking before, and a boyfriend that had more interest in taking photos than helping row, meant that there may have been a few shrieks as I almost plunged to my rock filled death. However I survived and after twenty minutes of kayaking I was hungry, so we hopped aboard the boat for lunch.
 
Lunch was was a choice between three Thai dishes: Massaman Curry, Sweet and Sour Chicken or Vegetables in Oyster Sauce. The only downside was that lunch was served whilst the boat moved onto the next destination. Whilst I understand that this was to make time more efficient, it would have been much more enjoyable if the boat had stayed stationary for lunch, ensuring people could enjoy their meal without hair flying in their face. We also lost some towels, a top and some bikini bottoms as we sorta kinda forgot about our belongings on the sundeck.
 
Oops.
 
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At the next stop Group 2 kayaked to shore whilst Group 1 waited for a longtail boat to transfer them from the boat to the nearby beach. The plan was then for Group 2 to enjoy kayaking along the beach and/or back to the boat. However Group 2 did not seem to relinquish their vessels and so Group 1 were left a little disappointed. But once we arrived and saw this…
 
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All was forgiven.
The island was quiet, with sunbathers from boat trips lounging on the sand, and a small wooden shack selling ice-cream and drinks. Whilst were climbing off the boat, we noticed a few hundred (read thousand) steps that looked harmless enough, but as we began to climb them, we realised looks were deceiving because they felt more like climbing a ladder, than a set of stairs. But at the top of the stairs was this:
 
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Views overlooking the shore in one direction…
And a green lagoon in the other.
 
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A natural made pool hidden inside a ten minute climb.
Wanting to get a little closer to the lagoon, we walked down a few (hundred) more steps and noticed that the more we climbed up/down, the less people we saw! Which, although nice, didn’t help the leg ache we had forming.
 
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The workout was worth it however, as when we walked along the jetty built over the lagoon we could see schools of fish, jellyfish and a few corals, including sea urchins. Swimming is completely prohibited and as a result the area remains tidy and the fish plentiful.
 
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It was a fun day, but not one I would repeat, and whilst I recommend Blue Stars Kayaking, I wouldn’t recommend Ang Thong if you like seeing things when you snorkel!