Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cruise through the Andaman Sea

A trip which I sadly cannot repeat in the same way was a cruise tour through the Thai Andaman Sea on the Andaman Princess. It was not just a cruise, but also a diving tour, as at several stops the passengers were disembarked to do snorkeling, or have beach fun. The tour we did started at Phuket, after a night on board the first stop was at some island near Krabi, including Ko Poda (เกาะปอดะ).

The second day was the highlight, as it took into the area of Ko Tarutao (เกาะตะรุเตา), a marine national park off the coast of Satun near the boundary to Malaysia. Used as a camp for political prisoners during World War II - see for example the fictionalization in The pirates of Tarutao by Thai politician and author Paul Adirex - still thanks to its remoteness it is still one of the few really quiet and natural places, though some tourism is found there of course. First stop was Ko Hin Ngam (เกาะหินงาม), the island of beautiful stone, named by the rounded stones which form the beach there - stones which look like pebbles displaced from a river in the alps. According to my notes, the other island we visited were Ko Butang (เกาะดง) and Ko Yang (เกาะยาง), if I did not mix them up completely the latter one is the one in the photo.

The final day was a visit at Ko Phi Phi Leh, the beach from the movie The Beach. As it was early morning, we were the first to be at the beach, which was thus still comfortably non-busy. When the boats with the normal visitors started to arrive we were already set to leave and return to Phuket.

The reason why this trip cannot be repeated is the fact that the Andaman Princess no longer operates, shortly after the 2004 tsunami Siam Cruises stopped it without prior notice, and all I know about her fate is that the ship was later sold and now runs as MS Prince. When I was on board I already noticed that the ship originally came from Finland, as I found several signs still in the original language - I recognized because as a child I traveled on ferries on the Baltic Sea several times. I might even had seen it in operation back then, at that time it was known as Apollo III of the Viking line, which run from Stockholm to Helsinki. But sadly I did not do any photo of the ship, neither from its time as Andaman Princess nor even more unlikely from its Viking Line times.


Samui Villa said...

It's pretty cool to go to a location of a film set such as 'The Beach'. Sounds like it was a good time!

JoJoy said...

Interesting. I myself just went to Phuket and Phi Phi last week. Just wondering if Ko Samui has the most beautiful beaches in Thailand?