Ang Thong National Marine Park
During our 11 day stay in Koh Samui, we opted for a day trip to the Ang Thong National Marine Park because the views that we had seen in photographs from that place were simply not something we wanted to miss. During our beach day on Coconut Beach on the west coast of Koh Samui we drove around the market and booked our trip from the second shop we got into. It cost us about 1100 Baht per person. We were picked up from our Airbnb apartment in Bangrak around 7:15am in a mini shuttle bus after which we picked up a few more people on the way to reach the pier by around 8:00am. The boat ride was around an hour long where we were dropped off to see the emerald lake and a view point which was all just okay – no big deal.
It gets REALLY hot and sweaty and you are in the sun A LOT. so wear cottons or natural breathable fabrics, carry a scarf to cover your head if you wish, sunglasses, sports shoes and ATLEAST a 1 litre bottle of water on you. The emerald lake bit of the trip is quite underwhelming frankly – you can’t even take a dip in the lake. After this we got back on the boat and headed to the real deal – the Ang Thong National Marine Park view point. It’s a separate island with a really pretty beach. You have the choice of just chilling on the beach or snorkeling etc. They have a cute shack on the beach and you get to drink your beers/cocktails/etc. Food is served on the boat so you don’t need to carry any on you. But if you wish to get to the view point you have another thing coming.
This is for those who wish to make it to the view point:
Make sure you exit the boat as soon as you can. Do not dwindle around aimlessly – you are on a timeline. You have about 1.5 hours to reach the top and be back on the boat. If you don’t reach the top within a certain time they don’t let you complete the entire climb because then the boat will have to wait for you and that screws up everybody else’s schedule.
So leave the boat, do not look around and admire the beach – just head straight to begin your climb
The initial part of the climb is the easiest for obvious reasons. There are rocks that have been cut into slightly at the beginning with a rope to which you can cling on to for support. The climb is just about 500 mt in height but it is not as easy as it sounds. After a short while the cut up rocks disappear and you only have rocks to put your feet on. The rope stays constant. About 70% of the climb is under shade so that really helps. By now, even if you are not much of a sweating person like me, you are drenched in your own sweat. Towards the last leg when you are about to give up the shade disappears and the rocks are jutting out vertically with literally no place for you to keep your feet. So you try and climb on all your fours but the rocks are hot because of the sun so you wonder how you will do this while actually managing to do it somehow. I still cannot believe I managed to make it to the top. The viewpoint is absolutely magnificent and for about 5 minutes it all feels absolutely worth it – you take your photographs, get yours clicked by whoever is around and then you realize that you now have to make your way back down – which is about twice as hard as coming up if not more. I personally could not do it with the rope and my feet alone – I used by butt and hands too. It’s like sitting on all your fours along with regular support of you butt and making your way down. It’s a good thing I was wear cotton pants so I could touch my butt to the scorching hot rocks. There was a girl in her bikini and flip-flops (she did make it back down with broken flipflops ofcourse but I’d like to imagine she must have taken longer to recover from her experience than me).
Once the sunny hot vertical rocks part is over, you are back in shade and able to climb back down on your feet. The rope actually plays a more important role on the way back. By now my legs are ready to give up and if it weren’t for the rope, I wouldn’t be able to stop anywhere and just roll back down like an eraser. So the rope helps you in actually stopping after each step. I will say it again ‘I still don’t know how I was able to do this’. I will probably never do it again. But I am still glad that I did because the views were worth it after-all.
On my way back after having about 80% of the climb still left (at this point I had no idea where Aman was and really didn’t care), I came across this couple who were climbing up. Unfortunately they were stopped there and told to turn back because there was no more time left. Cannot imagine how frustrating and disappointing that must have been for them.
When I reached the bottom flatland, I was out of water, not being able to stop my legs from moving so I kept walking towards the beach, managed to remove my clothes and shoes somehow and walk straight into the water. Because if I hadn’t, I’m pretty sure I would have literally evaporated away. At that one moment I would have not cared who lived or died or how I looked or how much I weighed or if I was rich or poor – I just wanted to get into that water. Got about 15 blissful minutes of just being in the water. Someone from somewhere handed me a beer and it was time to get back on the boa and head home. I was a brilliant day. Followed by 3 very painful days.