Island Hopping And Then Hong Island… Here I Witnessed God!
This was a day of island hopping. White sandy beaches, crystal clear water, stark green islands echoing with deep humming of crickets, chirping of birds and fish nibbling at my feet, shades of emerald green turning into shades of sapphire blue as one looks into the horizon, spectacular limestone cliffs and rock formations – it was a vision of a dream. Long tail boats garlanded at the helms, the brazen stare from the innocent Thai kids, a sense of solitude pervaded my soul and gratitude engulfed my heart. I felt utterly thankful for having been able to see what I have seen. To be able to feel what I have felt. To be able to hear what I have heard. This is a photo essay of the day – probably one of the most beautiful and memorable journeys of my life. This was also the day when I felt the presence of the Almighty, specially when I landed in Hong Island as it reverberated with life. And it sounded thus:
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We were based in the resort town of Ao Nang in Krabi coastal province. Ao Nang, known for having the world’s second finest beach, provided us with a different experience than Koh Klang, the small fishing island where we had been staying in for the past few days.
Tha-le Whaek and Phra Nang Beach
This is where the ‘miracle’ happens. As the tide recedes, the sea is gradually separated by white sand from the limestone beach in the Krabi coast and it appears to be connected to the Poda Island and its satellite islands at low tide. To experience this miracle of the ‘divided sea’, the visit has to be timed so that it coincides with the high tide which occurs twice in a month – from the 12th day of the waning moon to the 5th day of the new moon when the ebb and the flow are at their peaks. Our first stop was Hat Phra Nang in the Railey peninsular and is considered to be one of the finest beaches in Thailand. The view from Tham Pra Nang or the Phra Nang cave is also considered to be one of the finest sunset views in Thailand (one of the 12 Moon, 7 Star and 9 Sun attractions). According to folklore, the spirit of Phra Nang, the Princess Goddess, resides in the cave of Phranang beach. Phra Nang was the wife of a fisherman who was lost at sea. She lived out the rest of her days in the cave, awaiting her husband’s return. Fishermen, before going out to the seas, would pray to Phranang for good luck and for ensuring safety in the sea. Once wishes are fulfilled, the worshipers shower offerings to Phra Nang in the form of flowers, incense sticks and the unusual offering of lingams. The cave is filled with many lingams or phallic-shaped statues meant to represent the Hindu god Shiva and the shrine is dedicated to the belief that the lingams and the holy womb would create fertility and prosperity to the earth and all of mankind. (More on lingams)
Ko Thap and Ko Kai or the Chicken Island
Before the tide recedes, we reach the Divided Sea at Ko Thap and then stop at Ko Mo. The islands are thronging with tourists. Jostling for some personal parking space is like asking for the moon here. But the beauty of the surroundings compensate all the touristic chaos. The sunset here is marked with flight of flying foxes, tens and thousands in number. Before heading to the Poda Island, en route is the Ko Kai or the Ko Dam Hok Dam Khwan, where the rock sculpture has taken the form of a rooster’s head – naturally. The Chicken island…
The shell laden white beach, boats converted into small make shift floating restaurants, small rock islands jutting out of the water in the horizon – Ko Poda is absolutely charming. I simply fell in love with this island. I was fascinated with the busy lives revolving inside the boats – families resided here and members helped each other to prepare food for the tourists. What were these small restaurants not offering? Pancakes to Pad Thai, Barbeque chicken to chilled beer – everything was available here. And the huge banners swaying in the breeze reconfirmed that. By the time we landed in Ko Poda, the sun was overhead and it has started to become very very hot. I really felt touched when a chilled fresh watermelon juice (below) waited for me as I took a breather from my camera – courtesy Debbie, my blogger friend who had accompanied me on this trip.
Daeng means red and Hin means rock in Thai language. In Hin Daeng or the Daeng Island, suddenly the rocks here turns brazen red. The water is the colour of the emerald and it was evident that it was deep. The island itself is formed out of a rock coming out of the sea and revealed underneath the green water are some spectacular coral formations. According to John Williams, of the award-winning Lonely Planet Diving & Snorkeling series – This is one of the four principle places for diving in the area south of Phi Phi islands and offers everything a diver could want, from dramatic walls and big fish action, to lush tropical underwater.
And finally Ko Hong
Hong Island – this is where I felt the presence of the Almighty. Surrounded by limestone mountains, mini lagoons with crystal clear green waters, fine white sand and lush green forests, Ko Hong seems like a cocooned paradise on earth. In spite of the large number of tourists visiting this island, one can still have a ‘deserted island’ experience. There is a profound feeling as the island resonates with the chirping of birds (hope you’ve heard the recording by now). Though it sounds strange, but there is a strange silence looming in the island. The chirping of the birds and the crickets sound almost like a prayer or a chanting. Hong means room in Thai language. There are eroded group of caves in the middle of the island which harbours a large lake with a small passage to the sea. When the tide is high, long tail boats are able to enter the ‘room’ and tourists can swim in the crystal clear water with a depth of around one metre. Interestingly, Koh Hong is also a collection point for the nests that provide the ingredients for bird’s nest soup. Young men risking their lives, climb up bamboo poles to great heights to collect these nests, which can fetch up to 100,000-120,000 baht for a kilo of unprocessed nests!
As I was rewinding the day in the resort that we were staying in, I was asking myself whether it was the statistics (one of the top 10 destinations in the world) that made Hong Island so special? Or was it the archaeological formation (a copybook archipelago nurturing an amazing underwater life)? I definitely had witnessed the presence of the Almighty that day in the Island. A feeling beyond my power of expression. I felt that the Creator can only dwell in an island like Hong, where the evidence of life throbbed in the breeze blowing through the leaves, waters washed in colours that lured the fish and the birds chirping through the howling wind. And the sanctity of the island should be maintained by leaving the island to its rightful owner, at the end of the day!
Unblogging it all… Ishita
Disclaimer: The Thailand Academy trip was an invite from the Tourism Authorities of Thailand Middle East and Aviareps Group. However, the opinions stated here are my own and are independent. This was definitely one of my dream destinations. I do hope you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals. Please do not use any material from this post. You can see more pictures of my travel and food journey here.
My other posts on Thailand:
• Ruen Mai Restaurant In Krabi | A Tantalising First Experience Of Thai Food In Thailand!
• Koh Klang in Krabi, Thailand | A Photo Essay of An Island Life
• Baan Ma-Yhing Restaurant In The Fishermen’s Village | Recipe of Thai Red Curry As We Cook ‘fresh catch’ Baramundi!
• Kotung Restaurant in Krabi Town | A Taste of Thai Chinese• Kayaking, Caves, Krabi Sightseeing… And Finally A Thai Spa!
My other Oriental journeys:
• Singapore At Night
• Eating Out Is A National Pastime | Singapore
• Bikol Express & The Romanticism Of The Mayon Volcano
• Pancit – Palabok, Bihon, Canton | On A Filipino Food Trail
Posts from other members who were in the trip:
• Amazing Thailand – Dubai to Koh Klang – a Krabi experience «coffeecakesandrunning.me»
• Koh Klang Local Village Life «coffeecakesandrunning.me»
• Kayaking & Spa Day in Krabi «coffeecakesandrunning.me»
• 44 Konsonanten, 16 Vokale und ein Lächeln für alle «Escribo»
• Ein Dorf am Meer: Islanda Eco Village Resort, Krabi, Thailand «Escribo»
• Pressereise 2.0: Arbeiten ist immer «Escribo»
• Abseits vom Massentourismus in Thailand, Impressionen aus Krabi von «Reisewerk»
oh my… it’s like a dream. I sort of want to sell everything and buy a backpack and head out.
Beautiful images you have shared. So appreciate seeing what is happening out in this wide world. So much diversity. I’m sitting on wood stool at my shop, staring out my open, sliding garage door at the moment, thankful the drizzle has taken a short rest. Happy travels.
PS – You have to come check out the islands in the Pacific Northwest some day:) Very different but very beautiful.
And I thought that you just got sorted out, unpacked your cartons. Please don’t think of selling anything right away! Always love it when you leave a comment – a few blogger friends who have been there from the very beginning. Pacific Northwest – different in what sense, Wendy?
You can, of course, understand my fascination for green/blue water. I have never come across this. We all saw this in movies and wondered why we have only black/hazy watered rivers in India. Thank you so much for the pictures 🙂
Couple of things other than that.
About the God bit: I know you might have been too overwhelmed to write about it in detail. And maybe, powers of expression do deceive us some times. But what you empirically did was make us all curious. Personally, I am not so much into religion and my current contributions to the Hindu here, are about why we don’t need a God at all. That said, I am equally intrigued by experiences such as yours. Now, am going to have to experience it myself 🙂
And even there you have burgers? Really? Haha 🙂
Hey thanks so much! About God, I’m not ritualistic about religion – for me I celebrate all festivals from all religion simply because I like the beauty of it all, the story, the tradition behind each festival and love to be immersed in the faith or belief. But when I landed in Hong Island, I felt that even an atheist cannot deny the presence of ‘some power’ – whatever you call it, in the creation of such a natural beauty.
Beautiful photos, Ishita! I feel like I have taken a mini vacation through this post. Thank you!
Thank you Stacy! With the heat soaring outside, what better way to travel? Comforts of AC and integrity of your wallet intact! Love to see you always:)
Stunning, stunning shots Ishita! Thanks for taking us along 🙂
Madhu, you are most welcome! And thanks a lot for the compliment… means a lot to me, coming from such a brilliant photographer like you:)
Wow! That is such a beautiful, gorgeous place to unwind. Your photographs and descriptions of the place transports us to these islands. Ishita, thank you for taking me there with you.
Thank you Nadia for leaving such a warm comment… I’m glad that you were transported to the places that I’ve described.
Grace @ Sandier Pastures
Fascinating photos of the islands! I want to go there but preferably not when it’s too hot! I can almost feel BettyBooDubai’s sunburn! OUCH!
Thank you Grace! Wasn’t it hot when you had travelled?
Fascinating! Paradise on earth! This place deserves a place on my wish-list.
Oh yes, it should Mary:)
Exquisite shots Ishita.You really are talented
Thank you Mel:)
One of the best Daily Prompts ever- you really take us on a wonderful journey!
Thank you so much:)
The Stove and I
Thanks for directing me to this post Ishita, loved reading it and listening to the chirping of the crickets. And your lovely phrase – ‘a cocooned paradise’ truly captures the essence of a Hong. You must, must visit one of these caves at night – it’s a surreal experience and one that will leave you in awe of the power and beauty of nature! x
Thank you for dropping in (sorry for the subtle force!) Curious, no one is allowed to stay back in Hong Island after 4pm. How is one supposed to stay back then?
The Stove and I
Oh please don’t apologise! Happy to have found a kindred spirit and a hong enthusiast! 😉 Not sure about the rules in Krabi but in Phuket you can visit the caves at night. The John Gray’s ‘Hong by Starlight’ tour is quite popular (the same one we took).