Dropped in the most southern parts of the sparkling Andaman sea, could this be the island of the year? Glazed over by the guidebooks, and unheard of by most expats and backpackers, this one definitely feels like uncovering a treasure chest. But will it stay that way? Fifteen years unchanged, except from one more resort right at the end of a beautiful, golden beach. I should be shouting ‘finders, keepers’, but the pictures cry out for a round of applause…
Welcome to Koh Libong.
Let me boast one of the many beaches you can discover on Libong. This is probably the ‘busy’ beach, as you can see. All joking aside, we were astounded by how quiet it was for peak season. Most of the time we had a long stretch of the honeycomb-coloured sand all to ourselves, providing ample space for us to play beach games like catch, shell collectors and crab rescue.
Unfortunately one of these games ended in tears as the awfully good-fun Waboba ball came hurling towards me like the golden snitch, smacking me right in the eye socket. I crumpled in the sea like a floppy strand of seaweed and wailed in pain as my husband swam towards me shouting “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry”, gathering me up like a baby. But it was too late, and the plans to get my own back were coming in thick and fast. Having the beach to ourselves meant that nobody was watching this act of violence, thankfully. Except from the young Tottenham family who later asked “so, who won the game? The last we heard it was 8-5…” Oh.
As a side note, because I know you might be wondering, shell collectors is a great game. You basically collect beautiful shells. We do not collect coral. I usually bring a few shells home and line them up in the bathroom as reminders of Thailand’s natural beauty. Crab rescue is a brand new game, but it can only be played after a storm when there are hundreds of small black crabs clinging to pieces of debris. One morning there were so many crabs in the water that we became targets, mistaken for gigantic logs standing up in the sea. Frightened that their pincers were going to latch onto our freckled skin, we rushed to the safety of the shore. Did you know that crabs can swim at speed? Well, they can, and they did… right towards us. After the initial shock of crab city, we decided to get back in the sea and help our new friends find safety on the logs bobbing around. This is how crab rescue came about. I am pleased to say that we helped lots of crabs find refuge that day.
The thing is, when you are on a real Thai island there isn’t much to do. You find yourself eating a lot, sleeping even more (I’m talking 12 hours a day), and embracing your inner child by making up silly games with natural resources. You choose Phi Phi to party, Samui to sight-see, Tao for turtles, but Libong is for lounging. I just wish I could have escaped from the world wide web, but I find that very hard these days.
On our last night we sat outside our sea-view hut listening to the storm. No phones, no laptops or ipads. It was just us, the huge drops of rain and the thunder. Venturing down to the beach, we saw the lightening bursting the sky with purple. A storm on the beach is not to be missed. It is one of my favourite things to listen to, and Thailand really does throw a good storm party. Here are some photos of the calm before the storm:
There is, of course, one activity high up on this island’s ‘to do’ list… Dugong watching! Now, if you read up on these amazing sea cows, they are described a ‘timid mammals’ who are scared of loud sounds. We politely declined the boat trip to go and find them for this very reason. Instead, we attempted to wave to them from great heights at Point Dugong. You can see Point Dugong from the local fishing village on the West side of the island.
Life is very slow here and there is a real sense of community. All the families seem to know each other and help each other out when they can. We spotted one lady ’round her friend’s getting a perm, while another collecting the eggs from the chickens under their house, ready for delivery. Children waved to us as we walked past and grinned as we said ‘hello’ and ‘how are you’ in Thai. A little Thai goes a long way over here. We ought to learn a thing or two from them.
Be prepared for Point Dugong. We were not. Stupidly, we thought the Point would just be a little stroll up the hill, but then we found the treacherous caves… With no water in tow, we went up as fast as we could and came back with a spring in our step and sweat dripping from our knee caps. We laughed at Will climbing the beast in his Fred Perry shirt, and my sweaty, saggy shorts that looked, um, interesting…
But did you see any Dugongs, and capture them on your little Go Pro, you may ask? No, and I came back feeling sad not to have witnessed these giants feeding on the sea grass. Maybe next time?
Libong is a lushous island, thick with mangroves. Our resort was accessed through part of this scenery. However, this came with a warning… “Be careful of monkeys, they don’t like women. They climb on your shoulder and bite.” The walk along this path was possibly scarier than the hike up to Point Dugong. Any tiny rustle made for a dramatic gasp and a sense of purpose in my long strides. We made it, and celebrated by splashing in the crystal clear waters once again (and a friendly game of Waboba…)
You may have noticed a little island in lots of these photographs. On one afternoon we hired a kayak and paddled our way over there. At low tide you can walk across, as the sea goes out very far. There’s nothing there but it feels like you have found a slice of paradise.
To say we have seen the Thai islands is an understatement. We will be forever thankful to have had the opportunity to see so many with friends, family and with each other. Koh Libong is special though. It holds on to it’s rustic charm and we hope that it keeps that very close to its heart.
That’s it for the Thai islands. Please have a look at my other blog, ‘Island Style’ for some more island inspiration. Next blog: Chinese New Year in George Town, Malaysia.