I have been on the island of Koh Mook (Southern Thailand) since Saturday. I’m slowly adapting to Island life: heat, humidity, spending half the day in a bathing suit, watching the sunset with beer in hand. The only hardships are a non-flushing toilet, a cold shower, mosquitoes at sunset, and the lack of espresso.

My digs

I’m staying in a beach bungalow for 550 Bahts ($18) a night. It has a fan (no A/C) and a bathroom but no hot water. The western toilet (as opposed to squat toilet) doesn’t flush so you have to pour buckets of water into it to produce a weak flushing effect. But fortunately the windows have good screens and the bed also comes with a mosquito net, so I am not bothered by mosquitoes at night. The bungalow also has a small porch with two plastic chairs, where I am sitting right now.

My bungalow (Koh Mook)

The beach

It has only rained once, for 15 minutes, since I arrived. I hope that means the dry season has officially arrived. My bungalow is a few minutes walk from Had Farang (Foreigner’s beach). The best time to have a swim is in the morning, when the water is still cool and has almost no surf. The water is a deep jade green, whether you’re in it, or looking at it from above. It has pretty much all the characteristics of the perfect beach for me. The sand is pale, and extends all the way into the water. There are almost no rocks, no riptides, and no strong surf. The beach is neither too wide nor too narrow and is backed up by some trees for shade. There is a beautiful landscape to look at, and pretty boats bobbing nearby. Several restaurants and bars are just steps away.

View from lunch spot (Koh Mook)

View from my favourite lunch spot

I had originally booked my accommodation for five nights, but decided to extend to seven. The truth is, I hate moving with my three bags. They’re small but I’m finding them cumbersome. Because hotels charge a daily fee to store luggage in Thailand, I’m still carrying everything with me. On Saturday I will be moving to the island of Koh Lanta, about an hour and a half by ferry from Koh Mook.

Eating and drinking on Koh Mook

I’ve been trying out different restaurants. The quality of the food and prices vary quite a bit, which is surprising for such a small island. On Tuesday, after eating Thai food for 10 days straight, I broke down and ordered a pizza. Of course Western food is pricier than Thai. The one-person vegetarian pizza cost me $6, while you can get a main course of curry or noodles for $3 or less.

All this for $5: green curry, rice, fruit shake (Koh Mook)

All this for $5: green curry, rice, fruit shake

I don’t tend to go to bars much because drinking alone is no fun. My favourite is the Chill Out Divers bar, located at one end of the beach. I discovered it on Sunday, when they were first re-opening for the season, and it’s become my favourite sunset spot. It’s owned by a couple of Dutch divers. They offer a variety of cocktails and beer, including homemade sangria!

The village

Koh Mook is not a large island and has only two beaches. It is also the only inhabited island in this island group. I walked to the fishing village this morning. It was interesting but also very dirty, with garbage strewn about everywhere. Some houses looked pretty good, but some were just dilapidated wooden shacks. Many houses were built on stilts.

The better village houses (Koh Mook)

The better village houses on Koh Mook

Beside fishing, they also produce rubber in this village. They collect the rubber from the trees, mix it with formic acid which acts as a coagulant, and press it into oval sheets that are then exported. I think they should run a tour of this rubber process, but they don’t seem to have caught on to the potential yet. This island is much less developed than others to the north like Phi Phi, Ao Nang, or even Lanta. That’s why I picked it, to find some of that old Thai beach charm that had so appealed to me in the mid-90’s.

So what do I do all day? Swim, write, eat, drink, and watch the sunset. I’ve also had a massage in an open air pavilion near the beach (not a Thai massage, but not the usual Swedish massage either). And I would also like to find other people to go on excursions with. The outings are way too expensive if you get on a boat by yourself.

Watching the sunset (Koh Mook)

Watching the sunset

The Emerald Cave

One exception is renting a kayak to visit the Emerald Cave. This is what I did on Wednesday, with Iris, a Swiss girl I met yesterday at the Chill Out bar. We rented a double-kayak for 2 hours ($5 each) and paddled for 20-30 minutes to the opening of the cave. From there we had to enter a totally dark tunnel to access the cave. My head flashlight didn’t help much as it barely illuminated the front of the kayak. Fortunately the tunnel was short.

The “cave” itself is not really a cave but a hidden beach surrounded by tall vertical rock walls and vegetation. You can only enter the tunnel at low tide when it is not submerged, so you have to time your outing carefully. We stayed just long enough to take pictures as there wasn’t much to do there and not enough water to really swim.

My shoulders got a good work out from the kayaking and I soothed them with a swim in the warmish green waters of the Andaman Sea.

Here I am in Emerald Cave! (Koh Mook)

Here I am in Emerald Cave!

The search for decent coffee

I haven’t yet found a decent cappuccino on Koh Mook. My hopes were dashed a couple of times. I tried to follow a sign announcing “cappuccino” through the run-down village yesterday, but had to turn back due to a bunch of stray dogs. There were too many of them and not enough ways to avoid them for my comfort. I’m afraid of stray dogs ever since the incident in Argentina. So the search for an island cappuccino continues!

Had Farang landscape (Koh Mook)

Had Farang landscape – life is tough!

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