We checked into a bungalow on the seaside north of Ao Nang in a place called Ao Thalane. “Sleepy” might be a good word to describe this area. Perfect for anyone who wants to completely vegetate and still have the option to get a longtail to the islands or go kayaking. And so we did both. The island tour took us to Koh Hong a postcard of a little circular turquoise bay and a little nature trail beyond. In the center of the island is another beautiful white sand bay which is only reachable by boat at high tide–which this wasn’t. Nice timing. A sign remembers the victims of the tsunami here and deep in the small collection of forest here is a shelf up in the rocky cliffside where 50 injured fishermen were rescued by rangers. Whole boats remain where they were tossed several hundred feet inland. I just keep thinking about it here and along the beaches back at Ao Nang: it was a perfectly sunny day just like this. No warning. No time to react. And if you were fortunate enough to be just a few hundred feet inland or a bit higher up on land, initially there would be nothing to indicate that massive death and destruction had just happened in an instant just a few blocks away. Stunning.
We passed an island famous for its bird’s nests. Bird’s nest soup? Yep, really comes from a nest. A special kind of swift makes them out of its saliva and it is said to have all sorts of health benefits (including a claim to be natural viagra–there is no end to these it seems). They are some of the most highly priced animal products in the world. Who knew? They nest in caves where someone has to climb bamboo scaffoldings to gather them. We saw one cave opening high up the cliff wall and inside was a man living there–bed and all–as a guard. He had a gun. He was guarding a bird’s nest. People want to eat the bird’s nest. He will shoot them if they try. We humans sure are a funny bunch of monkeys.