Thailand! Thailand! Thailand! – I really don’t think there are too many blogs or travel websites that don’t have at least one article dedicated to the amazing Thailand. This was actually the main reason for which we wanted to be more original when we decided to discover Asia for the first time – we wanted to start with something other than Thailand. We clearly wanted to backpack our way through an exotic country and to be honest, after reading so much about Thailand, it really started to fade from my mind. The whole internetdom talks about it, everybody praises it, it is hard to imagine a pristine and quiet Thailand.
Actually, our whole trip to Asia was basically an on-the-spot decision. We really wanted to go to the Philippines, as we were under the impression that is has more areas not fully exploited by tourism. We were dreaming of islands surrounded by turquoise water, surreal views and kind people. Unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones dreaming of the Philippines – a grumpy and pretty severe hurricane hit the islands right when we were about to buy our plane tickets. We got ourselves fooled by the apocalyptic images shown in the media and decided that the archipelago would have to wait.
Ok, so then we asked ourselves: now what?! We were supposed to leave in about a month, so we needed something fast, a place where we could go to without too much trouble. We eventually smiled and said – ok, fine, let’s go to Thailand! It almost felt as if we were sacrificing our holiday. This is also why we weren’t that enthusiastic in the beginning – but that would soon change.
We definitely wanted to go to a quieter place, as it was our first time on Asian soil and we really wanted to get to the point where we would wish to return, we wanted it to leave us with a sweet taste. And so the planning began – how do you plan a peaceful, quiet holiday in Thailand without losing the beauties that easily earned her a high rank in the perfect destinations charts? That is supposed to be easy, right!?
Don’t ask your friends where you should go!
We started asking all of our friends who happened to have visited it (and gosh, were they plenty) for suggestions. Wrong! After a couple of these “interviews” there was complete and utter chaos in our heads. Every holiday is personal and so each one of them came up with different suggestions, sometimes completely different. Each time there was a new destination, a new activity and so on – “go to Phuket, that is a must for your first time! You should definitely try Pattaya! Do not miss Bangkok! Definitely Koh Samui is the place! Try to reach Phi Phi! You guys should clearly not miss Koh Phangan.
I actually started doing research for each of these places. None seemed to be what we were searching for, there were too many conflicting reviews, and some places seemed too chaotic for us just from the texts. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. And I actually thought “Oh, f**k it! Let’s just go there without any plans!”. However, we were going during high season and we were afraid of not finding accommodations. But then came the light at the end of the tunnel – in the shape of Brad from Tedoo, who gave us some recommendations that sounded pretty interesting. He told us about Koh Yao Noi Island and Khanom, the place where he and his beloved live.
Eureka! We found Koh Yao Yai Island
And so I started looking up Koh Yao Noi. We had come across it before in various articles, but for some reason I hadn’t given it much attention. However, staring at Google Maps, this island became more and more attractive. It is squeezed in the Phang Nga Gulf, between Phuket and Krabi. The map of the region also helped me discover Koh Yao Yai, a larger island, the big sister of Koh Yao Noi, just south of the latter. Hmm – this one was even more appealing. Why? Because when I checked the accommodation map on Tripadvisor, there were around five options to choose from, whereas Koh Yao Yai had a bunch. Few accommodation options usually means that there are less tourists, there is quiet and solitude, but that also means higher prices.
In the end, Koh Yao Yai Island won! And it proved to be our dream island during our stay in Thailand. I almost teared up when we hopped in the little boat and said farewell to this amazing island. From the moment we reached our accommodations, some very nice and intimate bungalows, we felt the urge to explore it. We immediately rented a scooter and, with a wannabe map, started wandering around and let the island win our hearts. It was pretty difficult not to fall off the scooter when our eyes were constantly trying to capture as much of the amazing views as possible. The air was so fresh, there was so much green around us, it was as if we were in a dream.
Were there any tourists?
Well, we surely made a good choice – we barely saw any tourists. However, we hardly stood in one place for more than a couple of hours – we are not that big a fans of sunbathing, for us the beaches are for wandering, as well as for discovering all sorts of creatures living on and around them.
What about the food?
A bit too delicious! Sometimes we happened to get something too spicy for us, but we surely didn’t experience any culinary disappointments. Each evening we ate somewhere else (it was pretty easy given the small number of resorts), tried something new. There were actually a lot of bungalows under construction (we are talking about 2014) here so there might be more options now. When we visited it, you could easily go to dinner in every resort in less than a week. Now, Tripadvisor shows 13 more accommodation options – which is still a low number considering the island’s size.
Speaking of food, there was one dinner that I am sure I will not be able to forget easily – actually, I don’t want to forget it, EVER. We saw on the map a resort on the southern tip of the island. So one evening we hopped on our scooter and after half an hour through the villages we reached our destination. There were actually no tourists when we got there (only after an hour a couple joined us). The beach was in a pristine state of being, the water was so calm that I could swear we were next to a lake. There was a certain calmness floating around. Everything was just so … ROMANTIC, so perfect. I actually started laughing because I couldn’t handle all that romanticism :)) – it was really that sort of Hollywood cliche atmosphere when the characters declare each other eternal love. We however decided to declare our eternal love to the amazing Thailand – because it truly is amazing. Our dinner was perfect, the light was perfect, the sunset was perfect, the sky was perfect – heck, everything was perfect!
What to do on an island?
Well, there aren’t that many things that you can do on such an island. Our favorite one was easily wandering around on our scooter, exploring every hidden, mesmerizing corner. We actually got lost (more than once!), because it was difficult to follow the maps and not let ourselves get drawn to little heavenly pieces of nature.
And yes, there are day trips, some resorts offer them and you can easily try them. The island’s location makes it a nice spot for beach-hopping. We also went on a couple of them, but I will let you know more about it in future posts. You can also hop on a boat and visit Koh Yao Noi, which is easily reachable in fifteen minutes.
Oh, and it is full of nature on Koh Yao Yai. It was there that I first saw a rubber plantation; we saw so many palm trees that we stopped counting, I was attacked by so many mosquitoes that it’s hard to explain (you have to know that I have a special relationship with mosquitoes, they seem to be huge fans of mine and I attract them no matter what I do), lizards, geckos everywhere, multicolored birds that wake you up with their beautiful morning humming.
The people on Koh Yao Yai Island
Warm, kind, smiling and curious. I used to smile at them from the scooter just because I knew that I would get a warmer smile in return. They helped us when we got lost, although there was a clear language barrier and sometimes we didn’t understand a thing and in the end got lost even more, they laughed at us in a very shy manner when they saw how clumsy we were on the scooter or when they saw me dancing around to flee the mosquitoes, they lured us in with all sort of fruit each evening when we passed the market, they did anything they could to help us.
Koh Yao Yai – our true Thai oasis.