Andaman Discoveries Blog
Friday, March 6, 2009
Mu Koh Surin National Park – Paradise Found
Experiences in Thailand
By Leslie Welshimer
As a child I showed my love of the ocean by covering the ceiling of my room with glow-in-the-dark dolphins. Giant posters of beaches and sea life covered nearly every inch of my room. Each year I had an island calendar full of photos of clear turquoise water, white sand and palm trees.
On the last day of February, six friends and I boarded a speed boat from Kuraburi Pier to spend the weekend at Mu Koh Surin National Park – the home of the Surin Islands. The speed boat ride is about an hour.
As the islands came into view, it felt like we were moving into the calendar I’d had on my wall as a child. Paradise means something different to everyone, but Surin is the picture I’d been seeking.
Our group shared two beach-front tents at Mai Ngam Bay. The tents in the camping area are close together but amazingly there was still a serene, peaceful atmosphere.
The beach is just a few strides from the tents. We splashed, played and swam and then rested in hammocks strung from trees along the shore.
Near the campsite was a park restaurant which serves traditional Thai food. The park had reminders to care for the precious environment, like educational signage and separate bins for compost, recycling and trash.
We boarded a boat on the first afternoon to go far out in the sea to snorkel. The water was so clear. I could see deep into the water at stunning coral reefs. Schools of glimmering, tropical fish swam all around me.
Even a non-experienced swimmer would enjoy snorkeling because the salt water keeps one buoyant. I come from swimming in Lake Washington in Seattle where I begin to sink if I stop moving for a moment. At Surin, I could stay on the surface of the water without a single swimming stroke.
Four of the girls I traveled with are Thai, which I especially appreciated when taking a trip to the Moken Village at Bon Bay of Koh Surin Tai. The owner of Cucina Andaburi, Tu, is friends with people in the village. She went into one of the homes to buy mats and coasters for her restaurant in Kuraburi. We sat in a home as she chatted about what she wanted to buy. Farangs (foreigners) would rarely have this unique viewpoint from inside a Moken home.
Several of us purchased handicrafts like model kabang boats. This is a great way to support the community, instead of just wandering around their village with a camera. I did my share of wandering around the village as well.
Aside from the chance to observe the Moken culture, there is also a Chok Madah Nature/Culture Trail in the Interpretive Center at the Moken village, Large Bon Bay. Our return boat on Sunday was at 1 p.m., so we ran out of time to explore the trail.
I’ll be back to Surin soon. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen and surely deserves another visit. I’m planning to wake up there on my 26th birthday to spend the day snorkeling with my fiancé. Hopefully, on this second trip we’ll explore the nature trails. We’ll be there just in time for a last-hoorah at Surin, as the national park closes for rainy season from May 16 to Nov. 15.
Want to see for yourself? You can learn more about Mu Koh Surin National Park, or book a trip through Andaman Discoveries by visiting:
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