We left Ao Nang around 9am and headed towards Phatthalung. The ride should have taken around 3 hours however we had found 2 waterfalls along the way that we wanted to stop at. Both of which were closed due to the current 3rd wave of covid. After being denied twice we decided we had better stop off at the main attraction in the province that we had planned to see and make sure it was open. The little town is known for it’s Lotus Lake, Thale Noi, that during this time of year has red lotus flowers on giant green lily pads that bloom every morning for 2-3 hours. The lake is also home to large water buffalo and over a hundred different species of waterfowl. We and arrived around 4pm at the lake and found out that several boats were still running so we arranged a boat for the morning and pressed on to our hotel. The 3 hour ride turned into over 6 hours and by the time we arrived we were exhausted. We got a good nights rest and headed out by 5 am so we could get to the lake in time for sunrise. The private 2 hour boat tour was only 450 baht($14.35) and very relaxing. There were no other tourists on the lake and our guide didn’t talk much, just occasionally pointing things out. With no other tourists around we didn’t have to share the boat with anyone. Overall we enjoyed the lotus plants and had a very peaceful tour of the lake. Unfortunetley, there were no water buffalo to be found but we did see tons of birds and local fisherman fishing in some unique ways. After returning to the shore we tried some deep fried fish cakes from a street vendor then headed to a mountain near our hotel where we did a hike to a temple on top. By the time we came down we were drenched in sweat and ready for some rest and AC. The town didn’t have much else to offer so the next morning we headed out for the next stop on our scooter tour, the town of Trang. This town had a small mall and was less touristy. Again not much was open to do so we enjoyed a couple of local meals and a night market before deciding to head to the island of Koh Mook. We had heard that a ferry was running at noon and would be able to take us and our scooters to the island but when we arrived we told the island was closed for 2 weeks while the 3rd wave was contained. We got the same news when we tried to go to plan B and head to Koh Lanta. Instead we headed north to a small local beach town called Pak Meng beach (awesome name) where we found a room on the ocean and held up for three nights just enjoying the beach. We decided we were going to head back to Krabi and return our scooters while we came up with a new plan. Its bitter sweet traveling around a locked down country. Its great to have world class pristine beaches all to ourselves and no crowds but at the same time it sucks that all the national parks and tourist attractions are closed. We are getting to know the locals more then usual but find the night life to be pretty lonely without other tourists to hang out with. The lack of tourism has devastated the economy. Around 80% of business’ in tourist locations are closed, most for good. In the towns away from the tourist attractions and beaches the economy not only slowed down but they now have all the people who were working in the tourist towns moving home and needing to work or be supported. I don’t believe Thailand or south east Asia will ever be the same as before the pandemic.
The scooter tour was fun and a great practice run for Alyssa before we head north for the big ride through the mountains. She handled the bike really well and only dropped it once. Luckily she just had the weight all on one side so it fell over as she walked away. Few scratches on the bike but nothing they would notice. We spent the next 4 nights in Ao Nang doing laundry, editing, getting massages and visiting the local restaurants where we came to know the families that ran each one. As relaxing and enjoyable as our time in the south has been we really aren’t able to do much of the things we wanted to do like island hop and hike the national parks so we had to rethink our plan. The government has loosened a lot of the restrictions up north and downgraded the threat level from red to orange so we got ourselves two plane tickets from Krabi to Chiang Mae. We have been there before and it should be interesting to compare how it was 3 years ago to now. Our main plan for our time there is do the famous scooter tour, the Mae Hong Son Loop. We did it last time we were here on one bike and loved it. This time we want to take two bikes and leave more time to explore. As things open more we hope to explore Chiang Rai and the border towns along the Mekong River. Maybe revisit the Long Neck Karen Tribe in the mountains. The wet season has just begun as well here. That means we can expect a strong downpour for around an hour each day. Usually the rest of the day is great weather so it shouldn’t slow us up much. Fingers crossed the travel day goes smooth.