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I spent 20 years punching a time clock... then decided there had to be another way. Right now I'm sitting in a comfortable chair on a beautiful beach. There's a sweet, soft breeze in the air. In front of me, on the clear blue water, a boat drifts by. Maybe I'll go snorkeling this afternoon, or work on my tan. This is my kind of tropical paradise... cheap and unspoiled!
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Ko Lipe, Last of the Thai Islands    

By Ken Silver About Asia
3153 Views | 3 Comments | 5/23/2014 2:16:25 PM

Being a private eye in Bangkok doesn’t even pay all the bribes on my work visa, so I was really happy when the U. S. Embassy offered to pay me big money to find the mysterious Hero Cat. 



Hero Cat? Seems some adopted stray cat went SEAL Team ballistic on a big bad dog which attacked the cats’ new owner (meal ticket). The video goes YouTube viral, and suddenly the White House is saying “Americans share the spirit of the Hero Cat”.



But the Hero Cat disappears, and suddenly a top secret intercepted Friskies Cat Food cable is saying the puss has taken a powder to Thailand. For the fish, and some sun time on the Thai islands…



Fish? There aren’t any more fish in the waters of Thailand. They’ve all been shipped out in little tin can coffins for their brief moment of edible resurrection.



Islands? Use to be even an alley cat could rent a long term stay in tropical beach paradise. Now the real low budget is gone from the Thai islands, and good old plain “budget” is going goner fast. Anyhow, you can hardly hear a high tide roaring in for all the techno rock blaring out of the loudspeakers of the bars that line the beaches on those islands.



Still…on a hunch I text my travel agent, who also works as my masseuse.



“Lotus Flower, C’mon over, I really need a ride.  And, bring over the cheapest ticket you can find to Ko Lipe Island.”



“Right away, Mr. Seabiscuit”, she texts back.



Ko Lipe is the main island of the Thai Tarutao National Marine Park. Well, not exactly part of the Park, but there isn’t much practical difference because “National Park Status” mostly means bribes must be submitted in triplicate if you want to build a hotel there. The Marine Park is down at the very southern Thai border. There is Ko Lipe, the “developed island”, Ko Adang, the over developed “primitive” island, and a host of other small islands which make for great scenery as you boat by.



These are the southernmost islands in Thailand’s sparkling Andaman Sea. As a matter of fact you can ferry from Ko Lipe to the Malaysian island of Pulau Langkawi, which makes for a heck of a nice visa border run.  As a matter of further fact, in the calm ocean weather season you can connect, via daily ferries, a visit to all the Andaman Sea islands; including Ko Phi Phi, the Krabi coast, Ko Lanta, and end up in the Thai version of Cancun, Puket.



But I wasn’t buying those winning ferry tickets unless I found the Hero Cat. I flew down to Hat Yai and then boarded a ferry at Pak Bara pier. It’s hard to move around the harbor there, what with all the big buses unloading the groups of Chinese tourists and then picking up the ones who disembarked a few days before. A good place to meet beautiful Chinese women, a sort of floating Chinese date site?   I scanned the souvenir dinner plates which were waiting for the returning tourists but none showed the smiling puss of the Hero Cat.



The sea voyage was quite scenic, there are a lot of green forest islands along the way.  We did a brief stop at Ko Adang to unload the tourists who wanted to be camping alone in neat little rows; then I landed at Ko Lipes’ busy, sole port of “Pattaya Beach”.



It’s a funky scene on Ko Lipe, but it’s clean and quiet and not rowdy. The town has nicely crooked little streets lined with the usual worthless souvenir stands and overpriced eateries. There is a large selection of Asian foods as long as you only want Thai.  You can walk the whole island and see the 3 beaches in a couple of hot dusty hours. The island is always busy with Asian tourists and young Europeans living off of their unemployment insurance payments. The best beach to stay on is Sunrise beach.  Some of the vistas here are honestly breath taking. Hard to believe, but you can lie on the warm clean sand of Sunrise for hours and hear nothing but the waves and the occasional passing long tail taxi boat. It’s lined with hotels and overpriced beach cafes like everywhere else, yet nobody plays as much as a radio. Even better, the water is clean, warm and inviting.



Sunset beach is nice for a look see, but a bit too quiet and out of the way…



As Ko Lipe is always busy when the weather is good, I’d suggest booking a hotel/guest house in advance. This saves you from finding that last available room as the sun goes down on your late afternoon arrival; and saves you from the scammers who meet you when your boat docks. Pleasant-and often available - hotels are at least $30usa, and a beach café curry is $5. Not bad, when the prices of Ko Phi Phi are described as “cheap Europe”.



There are plenty of snorkeling and scuba tours, though the “schools of fish and rich corals” are mostly a lie. But the scenery above the water is quite worth the price. Be vigilant! The snorkel boat I took, from a dive shop no less, initially lacked life preservers. Plus, our first stop had us jumping into water whose current-unannounced by our skipper- would have challenged Godzilla. Still, having only 5 of us paying customers in the entire boat beat the tourist shop excursions, with their hordes of chatting passengers.



  Contrary to popular mythology, there is at least one ATM in town, and it is outside of the 7/11. Even so, bring Thai currency with you.



Ko Lipe can really sensually feel like Paradise, and if you tire yourself out comfortably each day swimming, you may never actually feel like leaving. I’d give it 5 days at least.



Unfortunately, my plan to stay forever -grabbing any stray cat and painting the American flag on its fur –fell apart when the TV screen in my bar showed the White House issuing a tearful communique that the Hero Cat had died in Los Angeles when the garbage can it had been investigating for conspiracies was run over by an Al Qaeda garbage truck.



It took me five beers and a Kentucky Derby level massage to overcome my (financial) pain.



 




Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
Comments
(Showing 1 to 3 of 3) 1
#2014-05-23 22:34:29 by Ninaya @Ninaya

哎呀,我正打算写写LIPE呢,可是几天了我还是不知道怎么开通自己的博客,看了我真的好笨哦。

我怎么就没有遇到你呢?呵呵。

LIPE 很美很安静,谢谢你的文章带给我对LIPE美好的回忆。想跟一张LIPE的照片,可惜我还是不会啊。]:)

#2014-05-24 08:51:42 by Barry1 @Barry1

@twilightsmith

Another very enjoyable read, thank you, Ken.

I'm heading over to China tomorrow night on a preplanned trip, but your articles have really whetted my appetite to see some of the gorgeous Thai region. It's a pity about the proliferation of Western tourists visiting there over recent times but then again, I'm sure there are still plenty of undiscovered pockets of Heaven over there.

Let's hope also the current political instability sorts itself out there soon as well.

Cheers mate! :)

#2014-05-27 21:37:10 by sandy339 @sandy339

@twilightsmith
Hi Ken
I have read some of your blogs, I feel we live in a quite different world:
I am living in a real world mixed with my passion and all the worldly needs;
You seem free from that, (at least planned so) mostly you live by your interest and intuition now. Hmmm, I think it is really cool, a lot of not so "good" girls portrayed in your blogs, but they are really attractive, haha...
I chatted with a guy whose current situation is similar as yours, now I can understand your situation better. Yes, I think maybe such kind of life is much better than you spend your time dully in your country especially after retirement, thanks for sharing your life with us:)

@Barry1
Wow, Barry finally you will come to China to meet your ladies, Congratulations!
Behave nicely? and Good Luck! haha...

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