Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Go Lipe

When I heard about this relatively unknown island
that was beautiful,
 undisturbed by development,
and is just across the border from Malaysia,
 I had to see this for myself.

"Koh Lipe (เกาะหลีเป๊ะ) is a tiny island in the Andaman Sea located 70 km off the southwest coast of Thailand near the Malaysian border. Koh Lipe is not a part of the Tarutao National Marine Park and is directly south of the larger islands Ko Adang and Ko Rawi and about 50 km from the island of Tarutao. It was settled by a band of sea gypsies originally from Malaysia, known as the 'Chao Lei' people or also known as Urak Lawoi"

It took me a 12 hour bus ride to the Malaysia-Thai border,
a on hour van ride to Hat yai,
and another 2 hours to Pak Bara pier
 and last but not least the 2 hour "speedboat" ride to the island
but I finally made it...!
As I stepped off the boat into the clean looking waters
I was eager to see if the island could live up to its reputation
But first, find my accomodation.
Since it was low season, I was not expecting it to be difficult to find a place
 especially with the wide range of lodging available.

  and new ones were coming up all the time.
and I'm told it would not take more than an hour to walk the island
(I found it should take less at my pace.. but guess to each their own)
Worse case scenario, I could just rough it out in a tent...
wouldn't be the first time

finding my way around the island was initially a challenge,
but one thing I must say is there is no shortage of signboards anywhere

some were quite confusing..
notice that if I went left or right I'd end up at Serendipity?
(Which ironically I had no such luck finding in the end....)

 and I don't know what porn means in Thai...
but it must have a good meaning
as there are endless Thai places with Porn in the name
So don't be disappointed when the lodging is not as exciting as it sounds.. :p
But this sign took the cake for me...
It just says Home...
I figure it must be a resort or a cafe...
But you'd never know just by looking

and some of the signs are a little more 18SX 
OMG indeed...

The main attraction for the island,
has to be the beaches
 and the blue blue ocean
(not sure why one hotel I came across had its own swimming pool...)
which isn't that hard to find,
as there are three beaches here...
 most aptly named
Sunrise beach, Sunset beach
and the customary Pattaya beach

Sadly while I was there,
I was unfortunate to have two sunrises rained out
but was blessed to capture a little sunsets

and for some reason I noticed that there were no shortage of dogs
(heck one farang couple even brought their own dog!)
and if you don't come for the beaches

you'd still come to enjoy all the sights, touch, tastes and sounds...
 being found mainly centred here
though like the rest of the island,
80% of the place were unopened
during low season
like Pooh place

and even the recommended BBQ
 Even so, the life of the island is centred here...
If you're looking for a recommendation for a massage
I do concur with most recommendations
to check out Ton Sai Massage..

While I was there, there were only a few masseuse
but again it is low season.
 But I managed to find out more about the island
thanks to the friendly ladies there
Some spoke Malay, a little Chinese and even less English
Though the prices are slightly high, it is still affordable

Now to get my rant on...
As beautiful as the place is,
I felt it had already become corrupted with greed and development
I just had the feeling of being choked with the stench of greed
notice the top right under Pooh Lipe
It says Save Koh Lipe...
I'm not sure what that's about
and I wonder if it is already too late...

As I was leaving I had a pleasent exchange with another solo traveller
and he commented that if I had come for that 
serene getaway, I'm five years too late...
and I wonder how true that must be
as that sentiments seems to be creeping in 
from various travelling sites that mention the changes
they've noticed in the past few years.

I was greatly disappointed when I came across this rubbish
left strewn all across the beaches :(
testament to the inconsiderate visitors before
who came, saw, and littered
and what irks me more is how the past is being quickly forgotten
monument and signs left to a history unknown
even the locals, who are fisherman by trait
are pushed into the background
either as sideshows
or remembered as tail boat drivers....

Unless you are coming for a romantic getaway,
I would suggest skipping the island,
the prices are high,
and nothing outstanding remains of the island
I'm sure there are probably better islands out there
So as a parting note,
1. If you have a lot of money, and still wish to go, 
go during high season when the waves are calmer.
2. bring a tripod to capture the beauty of the sun movements
(or find practical alternatives)
3. Of course use a good camera if you want pretty photos
(though all posted here is from my phone which is a last resort digital camera)
4. Go with someone special... The island makes one feel lonelier
and of course 
5. enjoy the experience

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