Today I took the bus from Phuket town to Bangrong Pier, which is about 1 hour north of Phuket town in the north-east part of Phuket island. The day started with half an hour sitting on the curb waiting for the bus, which I was told would come “somewhere around here, sometime”, which it did. Bus drivers who were waiting by their buses were helpfully helping passengers find their buses as well as helping to load luggage onto the roofs of the buses. I was the only non-Thai on the bus, which was quite fun for me. Bangrong pier was also quite a surprise, as it was little more than a concrete pier at the end of a jungle road. There were a couple small buildings with an information booth, taxi stand and toilets (which cost 5 baht to use!). After a simple but delicious lunch, I caught the speed boat ferry to Koh Yao Noi, a small island located 45 minutes by speedboat off the coast of Phuket.
Before I go on, let me explain how I came to be going to such a remote place, and also to illustrate the type of island I was about to arrive on. Let me further explain a little about where I grew up. My parents live on a small island of about 250 households in the Georgia strait, between Vancouver and Vancouver island. No paved roads, few cars, no shops or schools. I moved to Japan and suffered severe culture shock at moving from a tiny, rural community to a huge, urban district. Jump ahead 7 years and I am still here, but for these few days I am enjoying the peace and quiet of Thailand. But even Karon, a small town by most people’s standards, is big and loud by mine. So I asked at the guesthouse for the quietest island around, and they suggested Koh Yao Noi. The guesthouse owner assured me that this was NOT a tourist place, and furthermore there was no alcohol on the island, as it has a mostly Muslim population (of less than one thousand people total!).
So the ferry pulled in to a small concrete pier and we unloaded, along with mail bags, cases of daily goods and big bags of rice and other basic food supplies. Several trucks awaited our arrival and we were placed into the correct vehicles depending on where we were going. Five minutes later I was standing in front of my bungalow, a quarter of the way around the island. Check-in took less than a minute and I was in my own private beach bungalow, after 4 nights sharing a dorm room with 9 other people! I walked down to the beach, which was right across the road, and the road was only about 3 meters across, waded in the beautiful sea then walked the beach end-to-end without meeting another soul. Looking south I could see a dozen other even smaller islands. There was a restaurant on the beach where I ate dinner while watching the sunset. I confirmed that the beach was east facing and that I would have a great sunrise view from the hammocks someone had kindly placed amongst the trees, and I was in bed by 8 o’clock, with my alarm set for 5am. I wanted to see the Thai sunrise during my trip, and I felt this was my best chance. Read about it in tomorrow’s blog!