Jan 31 – Feb 2
Miguel and I returned to Trang only so we could get more money out of the ATM. As a security measure, I have been leaving all my money in a savings account, transfering only a small amount at a time to my checking account so I can get it out with my ATM card as I need it. We had about 30 minutes in Trang before we would be taking a minivan/boat to Ko Kradan. But I had forgotten to transfer money to my checking account and was unable to do it right away (as it was about 2 in the morning in the US and my bank was closed), so we weren’t able to get out any money. This is what happens when you don’t plan ahead and leave things like this to the last minute.
We REALLY didn’t want to have to stay in Trang! So we counted our bills and decided we had enough money to get on/off the island – just not a lot left over. We’d have to be really cheap, but we’d make it work.
We boarded a minivan full of Japanese tourists. The ride to the pier was a little over an hour. After that, we all piled into a longtail boat. The other passengers got off at Ko Muk or Ko Ngai. We got off at Ko Kradan (I chose that one because it was supposed to have clear water, good snorkeling, but still be pretty low key and quiet). There was no boat dock, so the boats just pulled up near the shore and we hopped out into the water.
Our first order of operations was to find a cheap place to stay. We couldn’t afford to stay in any of the bungalows (some of which would be quite expensive even if we weren’t on such a tight buget). So we opted to camp at the park campground. I think it was around 100 Baht a night, but I seem to remember that we struck some sort of deal since we were using our own tent. After we set up our tent, we wandered around the island and strategized how we’d live as cheapos for the next few days.
Traveling in Thailand actually is really cheap – it’s just the accumulation of all the unnecessary cheap things (beer, fresh squeezed juice, cold soft drinks, large curries for every meal) that end up tricking you into buying too many them (afterall, “they’re so cheap!”) and making your bill not so cheap in the end. So we figured it would be good for us to rid ourselves of these excess comforts for a few days. It was kinda fun – every time we’d make a purchase, we’d have to first check our budget and analyze if the cost was worth it. Instead of eating 3 meals a day and each ordering separately, we’d end up sharing 2 meals a day. For breakfast, we managed to make friends with the park ranger who shared coffee and bananas with us. I thought we’d be able to save money by purifying the tap water, but all the tap water was salt water (as Miguel found out when he took a huge gulp of it). Cold mineral water was obviously something we couldn’t be stingy on and turned out to be our main expense. Before making any other purchase, we’d have to evaluate whether or not that left us with enough money for water.
Ko Kradan is a beautiful place. White sand, clear water, peaceful atmosphere.
But even though it was beautiful, we felt that it was lacking in character. Ko Sukorn has a few resorts but is primarily an inhabited island where local people live and work. These people are definitely what gives the island it’s charm. Ko Kradan, however, exists only for the sake of tourism. It’s a beautiful place to vacation for a few days, but that’s the point – it’s only a place for vacationing. There are no opportunities to interact with local people (except the ones involved with the tourist business), so if that’s what you’re looking for…you may find yourself getting kinda bored. But the water is calm and pretty and if you’re just wanting to spend a weekend on the beach with your family, this is the perfect place.
Most of the island is inaccessible (as there aren’t any paths to walk around it and explore), so you’re limited to one long strip of sand lined with resorts and bungalows. The accomodation options are small and tasteful, but basically that’s all the island consists of – over priced places to sleep and eat. Travelfish only lists these two options for accomodation, but I assure you, there are now quite a few more.
Sharing my tiny one person tent proved to be quite miserable (as it was hot and sweaty and we got lots of mosquito bites since we were both pressed up against the mesh of my tent). One night we decided to just sleep on blankets near the water. It was much less stuffy and the breeze kept the mosquitoes off of us. But I woke up in the middle of the night to Miguel shaking me awake and saying “Hurry. The tide is coming in.” I noticed that my feet were already wet and we had to retreat back to the tent.
The tide did fluctuate really rapidly.
Anyway, this is the type of stuff that tests relationships: Two smelly, sweaty, grumpy people sharing a tiny tent in uncomfortable conditions. You both may be irritable when you go to sleep. But if you wake up and still want to be with each other, you passed the test. We passed!
One day we tried to escape the development and explore the other, forested side of the island. But circling the entire island isn’t possible unless you swim (or hitch a ride in a fishing boat). We walked as far as we could…but encountered lots and lots of rocks and had to turn around.
We decided to found our own island. And as you can see, there are no resorts on our island. It’s not the most comfortable piece of land…but we do have a small tree.
And since we didn’t have a fancy resort to go back to, Miguel made me my own lounge chair out of wood and cinder blocks. It was just as good as the plastic lawn chairs in front of the resorts (even better actually, because it was homemade).
You know…just another tough day at work.
Let’s see…So what else did we do on Ko Kradan? Lots of fun things that happen to start with an “S”.
Miguel got chased by some aggressive fish.
I got attacked by tiny jellyfish (they stung, but only a little bit).
We spent a lovely few days on Ko Kradan, but a few days was enough. After that, we were ready to go someplace else.