Category Archives: Snorkel Tour

Krabi Snorkel Tour Thailand

Krabi Snorkeling Tour – A Very Bad Idea

The time to meet up with someone had finally arrived, it was time to leave Karon and head to Krabi.

Before going into that, I’ll say I didn’t do much in Karon, a day of unspectacular diving and the rest of the time was spent hanging out at the beach or sitting in the lobby of my hotel, working on some aerospace software.   That was fairly productive, but until I get some confirmation that the prospective client has more than a casual interest I will probably give that a rest for a while.  Coding has become a chore rather than a passion.

Getting to Krabi, the hard way: I was told to wait out in front of the hotel for “the big blue bus”.  Many big blue busses passed by but finally the hotel clerk went out in front and flagged down an oversized  a covered truck that I was to have known qualified as a bus.  I was shortly and unceremoniously dropped off in the middle of Phuket Town.   I was fortunate  to find a fellow who wanted to know where I was going without trying to get me to take a tuk tuk ride.   Just wait here, the bus to the bus terminal will be along in a bit.  When it showed up, he pointed it out to me.  Another truck, but this one fully occupied, with people standing on the rear bumper and just holding on.  I placed my gear on the bumper, grabbed onto carrier rails on the roof and off we went. There we so many people standing on the back bumper the gear couldn’t fall off. Half an hour later the bus stopped at the Phuket Town bus terminal.   A hike across a busy road and up a hill and I was there.  I asked at one window where I buy a ticket to Krabi, the woman at the next booth called me over.

I plunked down my 120 baht, about four bucks and headed out to the appropriate bus lane and waited a short bit.  This was a big air-conditioned double decker affair, the lower portion was used for luggage and presumably for transporting other goods.   The backpack was stowed and I headed up the stairs and took a seat a proceeded to read on my kindle.  A comfortable 2 1/2 or 3 hour bus ride later I was at the Krabi bus terminal.  Hmmm.   Of course I was solicited by a couple of taxi drivers, but I found one with several people and inquired if it was going to the beach.  I didn’t even know how many there were much less which one to go to.

Twenty minutes later after a ride in the back of a small pickup with benches beneath a covered top,  I was in the town of Au Anong and got on the internet, booked a room, made my way to the place, dumped the bags, showered and headed out.  A couple of hours later I stumbled into Kivia at a street food vendor. We had something to eat, many a laugh about our recent travel experiences and went to the beach to meet a friend of hers, unbeknownst to me, we had left twenty minutes after the agreed upon meeting time and the other person never showed or had given up.  More stories, more laughs and we headed to the room.  The next day was a whole lot of nothing, Kivia planned travel for weeks in advance and I tried to charge her flights, but was declined on my bank card.  One flight went through, but the others failed.  I called the bank, the fraud unit had been alerted due to the fact that these were foreign transactions.  Really?  I have been  out of the US for four years.  You are just now noticing?  I tried to put them through again without success and close to two we just gave up,  we’ll deal with it tomorrow.

The prices were pretty amazing, from Bangkok to Myanmar, including baggage surcharges and credit card fees it came to $67.  More flights, to Malaysia and then Indonesia and the total was still under $250.  We had planned to go snorkeling so she ran out and bought a couple off tickets on a tour.  The nominal price was 1,800 baht per person, but I had advised her that I had shopped around in Phuket town and found them as low as 1,000  baht.  She paid 1,000 baht each.

The Snorkel Trip

We were picked up at 8:30 and rode a bus for but a few minutes and boarded a “fast boat”  around 40 feet, with a 10 foot beam and twin Honda 250 four strokes on the stern.  Thirty eight of us boarded.  Kivia headed through the boat and assumed a seat in the foremost portion of the bow.  This would certainly afford both the best view and the most uncomfortable ride.  We jammed ass to ass when the operator indicated that we had room for two more.  Really? In half an hour we were at Bamboo Beach.   Boats were everywhere, side to side, stern to shore, each carrying close to fifty passengers.  The water was crystal clear, enormous rocks rose straight up from the sea, the sand was white and fine and the beach was packed with people.  It was standing room only.

We were expecting a quiet, lovely beach.  Instead, there were throngs of people. It was standing room only.  We were given twenty minutes to enjoy our surroundings.  Asians were waiting  to take pictures like the one on the left. Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, and of course Swedes.  This town is a Swede outpost. After taking pictures of people taking pictures we headed to the restrooms.  There was a long queue at the women’s room.  Seems like we have been here over twenty minutes.  Yeah, we were two tardy travelers.  We returned to the boat to receive a twenty minute tirade from the tour operator, telling us next time we should hire a private boat.  We attempted to apologize but it was difficult to interrupt his stream of vehemence.

We took off and boated past a tiny cave that had bamboo improbably positioned throughout.  There were tens of thousands of tons of rock overhead.   As we started to head out one of the tourists asked if that was the viking cave.  The tour operator stated indignantly that he had tried to tell us but that nobody had bothered to listen.  Click, click, click.

We wound our way between some large rocks in near still waters and were asked to temporarily relinquish our seats so that people could take photos.  What about us?  We hadn’t had a chance and we were the ones getting the shit beaten out of our backs.

Next stop, monkey bay. After explaining that feeding the monkeys was bad, without a proper explanation of the imbalanced diet of tourist provided bananas and the lack of exercise obtained by foraging if food was just handed to them.  He popped open a couple of coke bottles and flipped the tops into the water.   He was getting on my nerves.  Then he proceeded to get out of the boat and offer the coke bottle to the monkey who drank it and carried it off to be littered somewhere.   Our three minute photo session came to a close and we headed to Phi Phi island.

Upon arrival we were informed that we had one hour for lunch.  After eating we could go shopping at the mall.  Really?  I came to beautiful island to go frigging shopping? The food was pretty bad,bland, cold, not nearly as good as one could obtain from any street vendor.  There was no time to explore the beaches or the island.  We punctually arrived at the boat having seen none of Phi Phi but concrete and headed out to snorkel, the tour operators arrived far later than our previous delay but issued no apology.

A Swedish couple next to us grimaced as we crashed on the waves.  The sea wasn’t rough, but the boat took them very badly.   Robert asked our benevolent guide to ask the driver to slow down as the ride was painful.  The guide replied that this wasn’t bad and that if Robert didn’t like it, he could get off the boat and next time he could take a slow boat.   I admonished him by stating that while we were forced to sit in the front due to lack of room to stand, he was standing in the rear of the boat all very comfortable.  Now he was pissed.  He told me that he would leave Kivia and me at Bamboo Island to be killed by the “real Thais”, that we were not allowed on his boat.  He then said he was calling the tourist police and faked a call. Who is to believe he would speak with them in English?  Kivia turned on her go pro and told him that she was a journalist, which in fact, she is and asked him his name and what he was uspset about.  He backed down, noticing the filming and went into the main cabin, pulled out a large knife for no apparent reason and continued his tirade. He returned to the front and Kivia told him we would gladly get out but that he had to refund all of our money first.  He refused to do so and said that we should talk with the company from whom we bought the tickets.  I requested the email address of the Swedish and Spanish couple in the event that things got ugly with the tourist police l  The Swede’s readily provided theirs and were looking forward to this perspective, it would back up their crazy story when they got home.  The Spanish couple thought about it for a minute and decided they didn’t have email.

Next, it was time to snorkel, this was, after all, a snorkeling trip. Sargent Majors were in abundance, a few parrot fish. I saw a sea snake and an eel.  Kivia saw and photographed a human skull. We joked that it might have been that of a tourist from this very boat. I looked around and there was nobody in the water. What? We went on a snorkel trip and we had been in the water for less than half an hour. Kivia commented that Bocas del Toro, Panama, was far superior in every respect.  I had spent a few days with Kivia in Bocas when I lived there.  I still have a house on the Caribbean there, out in the jungle, with no roads and only the occasional boat, many paddled by the Ngobe who are my neighbors.

The Spaniards reported that their iPhone and camera had been stolen from their bags when there was no one aboard the boat but the crew.  Karma’s a bitch guys.

We got off at Bamboo Island with the others and stood there for ten minutes before returning to the boat with the others.  He didn’t challenge us.  Had he, there were plenty of other boats we could have hired. When we returned to the pier, he passed a hat around and asked everybody to tip them.  The hat came back completely empty.  One passenger from the front gave him a few baht.  He said that that passenger could have a ride back to her hotel, the rest of us would have to walk.  We jammed 23 of us into the back of a long bed truck and then got out and boarded something that more nearly approximated a bus.   There was apparent unanimity across all nationalities the guy was an asshole and the day sucked.  When stepped out of the bus, the guide thanked each of us for coming.

This was boat #15 in case anybody cares to go on this tour anyway, certainly avoid this boat.

Kivia packed her backpack, paid me for her flights and headed out to bus it to Bangkok to see another friend from god only knows where and then fly to Myanmar the next day.   Goodbye, see you in Bali!!!
No, I won’t be going to any of the elephant parks.