I will start by saying: I knew going into this I would fall asleep somewhere and wake up a lobster. The pain of my sunburn however – was something I was completely unprepared for! “Is this what a werewolf feels like?” my lobster self mused. “Every month at the new moon, when their skin doesn’t feel like their own?”
“Probably,” pre-boat-ride-to-Koh-Lipe Sam muttered. “But what would I know, I haven’t even left mainland Thailand yet!”
Oh that boat ride.
There are very few moments in my life that I have legitimately considered vomiting in public – actually this is the only one, but I feel like it was legitimized. I was in a race against time, during the middle of a thunderstorm, in a speed boat. The hull was jumping through the air, lurching, swaying uncomfortably from one side to the next and the smell! There were four motors attached to the stern, each generating an incredible smog that filled the passenger’s cabin, that mixed perfectly with the vomit of those with weak stomachs. I was definitely proud of myself: two hours in this condition and I arrived at the island – breakfast still digested.
When I finally reached the resort, I felt like I had found Heaven. What it felt like to me, walking onto the grounds, could only be comparable to a religious experience. In most religions, you must suffer through some sort of tribulation in order to gain enlightenment or Paradise. I had just gotten off the ride-or-die crew’s time chaser (ie. boat), was shaky and weak, drenched in sweat and sea water and had stumbled upon exotic gardens and a calm, idyllic view of the sea. I had made it, I had survived something I honestly didn’t know if I would be able to. The feeling of just being there was complete euphoria.
The resort I stayed at was called Mali Resort, which housed great gardens, friendly staff and a fantastic view of the sea. The rooms are amazing as well: wooden bungalows with great sliding doors that look out onto either the great gardens on the property or the ocean. Also special mention about the food: the food at Mali’s is amazing! Even if you are not staying at the resort, you can dine here which is great!
Personal note: I am not sure about other North American traveler’s, but sometimes I am nostalgic for a good old eggs and bacon. What I find in Asia is that, even at American chain hotels, it never tastes right. The ‘American Breakfast’ at Mali Resort had me impressed and definitely satisfied the Torontonian brunchbot in me.
After settling in, walking the white sand beach a few times and eating some pasta, I found my way to Elephant! Every night this venue hosts live music, which is a huge draw for me as I am a sucker for local talent. The vibe of the place is fantastic as well: books in a plethora of languages line the walls, there are board games to play, an awesome – and short – list of local beers. Special mention about their peach cider which tastes like fizzy peach juice without being overtly sweet: I am now addicted. On top of all the amazing things above; the staff are phenomenal and definitely enhanced my stay on the island.
The first night I played a set with the lads and the next day I walked in and we had a board game competition. It was a lot of fun! Also one of the gentleman are part of a program called Trash Hero, which invites locals and travelers to help keep beaches clean every Monday. Such a great movement that I definitely think everyone should check out if they’re in the area! Need more incentive? For a few hours of volunteering there is a free meal and drinks.
The first day ended hazy and wonderful. I was not prepared for what would happen on day two…
That morning began like any other morning which begins on a beach front resort: eating something, walking around, taking a dip, enjoying the sounds of the waves and checking my Whatsapp. After a bit of consideration, I decided to spend my day snorkeling as it is one of the two most popular activities to do on the island. The other being scuba diving, but it took a bit more time and training, neither of which I had.
Traveler’s note: renting a boat on the island is relatively inexpensive (1500 BAHT or $57 CAD), particularly split between another person, so off I went to the surrounding islands to view a variety of fish and coral.
Unfortunately my seasickness had not worn off from the day before and the trip was cut short for me. I ended up recuperating on a private beach, using my life vest as a pillow as I tried to calm my active stomach. That beach was amazing, it reminded me of the television show LOST actually, with it’s lush and mountainous backdrop. I was very thankful for it being there.
I am unsure of how long I lay there, but I awoke rejuvenated and red. Like a Japanese guardian of the gate red. There it was: the birth of a lobster! Thank goodness I didn’t feel it until later in the evening!** When we finally returned to Mali, I lounged, talked to a few bar patrons and explored more of the small island.
Three days didn’t feel like any time at all, but the next morning I was back on the speed boat, heading for Hat Yai. I am not sure if it was the weather or my location on the boat, but I had a marvelous trip back. Actually, it was quite reminiscent of my childhood cottaging escapades, where my mother’s friend would take us on his sparkling blue boat all over the Canadian Shield. Best of all: no gasoline smell, no sea sickness and a wonderful breeze on my face.
Koh Lipe has been my favourite place to visit and I cannot wait to visit again. I am completely captivated by it’s quintessential charm and by the people. Such a vibrant and welcoming community in one of the most beautiful places I have ever explored. I am truly thankful for this week of vacation and I suppose it is back to reality for me!
**So my burn ended up quite a bit worse than I anticipated. I have a second degree burn on my cheeks and nose, therefore I am currently unable to be in sunlight for the next two weeks. I must stress: SUNSCREEN. HATS. Protect yourself because even if you’re 22 years old and think you know your skin, sometimes it is not enough. For more information about sunburns and sunburn prevention click here.