November, 2011

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The 15 island pleasure cruise on the Kontiki

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

© Frank P. Schneidewind

We used Halloween day for a family trip on a boat in the Koh Chang archipelago. There are plenty of boat operators, with most belonging to dive-shops or trip companies. We opted for the Kontiki, because their tour seemed to be most suitable to our needs. 15 islands were to be visited with numerous snorkel opportunities and a great catering throughout the fun trip.

Traveling on a boat with an active 19 month-old is a task in itself, but Teddy loves fish and water and to explore things with mom and dad. :)

The permanent crew of eight on this boat did everything imaginable, to make this trip perfect. Here are the boat-boys that serve drinks and later ferry the passengers to the shore landing zones with a small boat.


The breakfast was served right after departure and that cut the traveling time to the first snorkel site very practically. The lower deck doubled as a buffet and there was ham, eggs and fresh bread along with a larger number of pickled goodies. Coffee and tea was on free flow and this all-you-can-eat breakfast was just the beginning of a true catering frenzy. ;)

Fruit juices complimented the array and the ham was a true favorite with most passengers on board.

Everybody had plenty of room and a seat with a stunning view. The temperature was getting close to 30° C on this sunny day, but in the great breezes on the boat, nobody felt the urge to hop into the air-conditioned room on the middle deck.

Mrs. Cat was the catering angel, always refilling trays with food and glasses with drinks. You can also spot the plenitude of life-vests on board, virtually every seat was providing an individual one.

We relaxed after a neat breakfast for a short while, then our first snorkel stop came into view – Koh Wai

The trip began with a trouble free pick up of the passengers by Songtheauw, the typical island style transport, which is complimentary for passengers as well as a island-wide drop-off in the evening. The short walk along the Bang Bao pier, gave everyone the opportunity to gear up on bags of fish-food for later use (just 20 Baht per bag!).

The only negative thing on this cruise was the unusual high tide, which made the wide beaches look like a sorry excuse for a dream beach. It was the week of the highest water level all year and this lead to the big Bangkok flooding. The high tide had no significant effects on the archipelago, just a minor inconvenience for the beach lovers on our cruise.

The selected boat was a triple deck vessel with an enormous space provided. With the top deck reserved for sun worshippers to deepen their tans on cozy mattresses, most of the vessel provided for plenty of shady spots as well. The middle deck hosted the air-conditioned cabin, the bridge and a forward sun deck with the lower deck geared for extra comfort. Two toilets were outfitted with western style toilets and a fresh water shower waited for all swimmers and snorklers to rinse off the salt water.

We even had a documented case of fall-foliage, right on the water's edge on the beach. Beautiful autumn colors looked great with a perfectly blue sky as a backdrop! The island on the horizon is Koh Chang.

The powdery, bright sand was here to please the eye and caress the feet. The Kontiki had to anchor far from the shore, but the small boat took every one close to the beach. During a normal high tide, this beach really spreads out, but now a large part of it was submerged, offering us a great color play in combination with the turquoise colored, ultra clean water.

The crew was grilling and cooking meanwhile, out at anchorage. Occasionally, the wind blew a whiff of BBQ or cooking smells over to us. Still full from breakfast, we didn't pay too much attention at first. Although the mouthwatering aromas from the Kontiki did gradually attract more attention by the snorkel crowd, as time progressed.

Melona took several trips with the little dinghi back and forth, in order to get some nice photographs. We knew the schedule and water fun for us could wait until further stops on the cruise.

The shallow waters provided a good training ground for first time snorkelers to get acquainted to their gear. Everybody had a great time, but there were only few fish to watch on this flooded beach.

The next stops on the cruise provided a different aquatic environment, with two reefs around rocky islets, not far from the first stop.

Here, there was aquatic life in abundance and the clear waters did hide only little of their beauty. During the trips from one snorkel site to the next, we almost forgot about having lunch. But the smells of BBQ and a neat selection of tasty delicacies from the good sized buffet were lingering in our nostrils.

The following lunch equaled or topped good restaurant quality and every person on board loaded up their plates. Home cooked Thai dishes complimented the salads and grilled meats, for a time everybody was having his chow. Snorkeling does make one hungry, but in combination with the perfect weather and free soft drinks and juices – nobody run out of power prior to his or her dose of water fun.

The next reef waited to be explored, every part of this journey was smoothly timed and no one was in a rush

A quickly tossed piece of the bread bait was transforming the ocean waters into a spectacular arena of activity.

It didn't take Melona long to be convinced and hop in, doing the fish feeding by hand!

Under the watchful eye of Teddy, our wonderful son, his mom enjoyed playing with the coral fish here. Teddy could hardly control his excitement and kept pointing at each creature, yelling out "Fish!" "Fish!"

The third stop was again in a very protected bay with little or no waves. With waters like in a huge swimming pool, it was now the perfect time for our youngster to join the fun in the water.

It didn't take much convincing to have Teddy have a life-vest attached. It was much too big for him, but did the job well enough. Water temperatures at a pleasant 28° C added pleasure value to all.

It didn't take long until the fish came close enough, everything was so easy to spot in these clear waters.

After the 4th and final snorkeling episode of the day, we were greeted back on board with a marble cake, grandmother style, baked fresh from scratch. Hard to resist, even with a tummy in the overload position already, after all that great food on board. Truly said, this catering did set a standard that will be hardest to beat!

Hint: It tasted as good as it looks! ;)

 

We were done with the snorkeling part of the journey, as the sun was getting closer to the horizon.

A rocky coast-line near Bang Bao was our final adventure. Upon closer inspection, the rock was literally covered with monkeys and they were alerted by the boat captain's tooting with the horn of our arrival there.

The boat boys threw fruits and leftover food items onto the steep rock, some even bounced back into the water – only to be quickly retrieved by a brave monkey.

After a while everybody was munching down the donated delicacies and the monkey tribe here had a little feast by courtesy of the Kontiki crew.

We were close to our pier already and had only a short distance to cover. The famous lighthouse on Bang Bao's pier was, where the team with the gangway was already waiting for us to be back once again on Koh Chang.

This fantastic trip was well worth the fee, the 1.500 Baht (approx. $ 30) included the transport from and to the hotel or residence, rental snorkel gear, all soft drinks, juices and coffees plus a wide selection of first class food throughout the day and the great trip with a decked out pleasure boat with all described activities.

We sure weren't seen the last time on the Kontiki, as we have so many friends to come and visit us here.

 

Addendum:

Kontiki Pleasure Cruises cost 1.500 Baht per Person (approx. 48 $), which includes all transport on land and sea, your personal snorkeling equipment (free rental) and all foods as described or similar. It is a full day out at sea and suitable for people and families or groups. Bookings can be done through all travel agents within the archipelago. Pick-ups and drop-offs can be arranged from all tourist resorts on Koh Chang. A discount for children is offered as well.