Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could have been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:
Farewell Koh Lipe! I left my bamboo bungalow on Sunrise Beach this morning, reluctantly. If I found the dives a little disappointing, this island in southern Thailand is still really pretty and deserves a stop for a relaxing stay of a few days.
Koh Lipe: an island, three beaches
Koh Lipe is roughly the shape of an elongated triangle. The sides are formed by the three main beaches.
Pattaya Beach, the most animated, to the southwest; Sunrise Beachthe most beautiful (in my eyes) stretches all along the east coast; Sunset Beach, the most "isolated", forms the north-west side. We walk from one to the other in a few minutes.
White sand and turquoise water
It's very small and very cute, Koh Lipe. The first impression is a wonder.
The sand is white from white, turquoise and translucent water.
I see myself, the day of my arrival, on the ferry from Tiger Line Travel., widening eyes before the incredible spectacle of this island as the exit of a dream. Those who, unlike me, are lucky enough to have a camera in working order strafe everything from the sea.
While the ferry moored in the bay of Pattaya, waiting for the long-tail taxis that must tranship us with our luggage on the sand, I eye with an envious eye my neighbor, a mother of German family, armed with a sparkling SLR that she uses in automatic mode. What frustration!
On the beaches of Koh Lipe, we go crazy hallucinating at the moment, so it is moist and hot, so the sun bangs.
But we survive. Just a splash in the water at 29-30 ° C and / or a mango-shake break as soon as the insolation threatens.
The best thing is to walk the sand at the end of the day, or better, at nightfall, under the billions of stars and the silver light of the moon that was all round a few days ago. Or very early in the morning, from 6am, in the cool, at sunrise.
At that moment, there are no long-distance boats. There is only the soft lapping of the surf and the murmur of the wind.
When there is no wind, it is really very hot ... Mid-March, we are already in the rainy season. Sometimes storms erupt in the evening. But still far away, in the clouds massed on the horizon, never on Koh Lipe itself.
At most we get some refreshing gusts of wind at dusk and a short shower in the evening.
The next day, the same moist and heavy heat is reinstated. Fortunately I'm in the water almost every day with the dives and courses of Rescue.
It is very nice for a short stay, but more very authentic. All those that I met here in February 2009 and who know Koh Lipe for several years told me the same thing: the island has been changing at full speed for two-three years.
Rows of bungalows have mushroomed along the beaches. A solid road now connects Sunrise, Pattaya and the village of Chao-Ley, the "gypsies of the sea" established here.
The local mafia of real estate entrepreneurs and hoteliers has swept away all the land. The Thais and Malays are, it seems, more numerous than the Chao-Ley, now ...
This little road on the picture above is very recent, it did not exist a few months ago.
Along the way, there is everything you need for the comfort of the tourist: clothes shops, mini markets, internet centers, travel agencies, massage and tattoo parlors, pancake and ice cream vendors, restaurants, bars ...
I had been warned: Koh Lipe is in full "Koh-Phi-Phi-sation".
Heaps of ferries and speed boats arrive every day. There are now antennas for mobile phones, high-speed internet and wifi, as well as some chic resorts.
No ATM yet (ATM) but I guess it will not be long.
On the mini-road in hard, circulate for the moment, like vehicles, only the motorcycles of Chao-Ley.
Their village is located in the east, roughly in the middle of Sunrise Beach. A handful of shabby stoves, made of corrugated iron, flanked by henhouses and a few TV parables.
Behind the scenes
After the first wonder in front of the turquoise waters, we discover behind the scene, at the bend of a path, a rock, a tree: small piles of garbage, badly burned waste, plastic bottles abandoned.
Of course, there are places "cleaner" than others, cleaned regularly, with provision of garbage cans, in front of the beach portions of some resorts and bungalows, and along the hard road. But the garbage scattered in every corner breaks a little the charm of the island.
When one randomly follows the few dirt trails that still cross Koh Lipe, one falls on one of the big dumps, between two noisy generators stashed in the jungle. Dogs forage in garbage bags, birds fly away. It stinks.
Two large barges laden with building materials docked a few days ago in the middle of Pattaya Beach. A backhoe back and forth between blue water and sand-flour so soft under the feet.
Short. How to say ?
I was not looking for a desert island, and I really enjoy having mango shakes and wifi, but I do not really like what the Koh Lipe tourist business is doing.
Though. The arrival of a more upscale and more demanding clientele may help to improve the cleanliness of the island and respect for the environment in a few years. To be continued…
For my part, I was painarde, housed in a huge bamboo bungalow at Forra Diving, in Sunrise Beach, far from the noise, the agitation, without opposite. While being close to everything.
The comfort is rustic: fan, bed with mosquito net, shower in an open bathroom where a branch of bougainvillea is swinging, electricity from 7:30 to 1am. But frankly, for a relaxing and dive, I do not need much else ... To be ready in the morning, I only have to wear a shirt and a sarong!
I often spent quiet evenings, far from the bars and parties of Pattaya, daydreaming on my terrace, rocked by the sound of the waves and the sizzling bugs in the surrounding vegetation. I tried to strum on the computer in the hammock, and quickly dropped the case, it is not practical at all!
I had a good time at Koh Lipe. Met lovely people at Forra Diving.
But frankly, I would not recommend the island as a diving destination (I did not find the exceptional funds). Neither this dive center - which I have yet appreciated - to novice divers (during my stay there was more or less disorganization, to put it mildly).
So yes, except for one or two outings, where I met new beasts, the dives I made were rather disappointing.
Rotten visit, very often. As for the reputation of a site like 8 Mile, it is completely overrated, in my opinion, if one does not have the chance to cross there a whale shark. Question "big", we see the shadow of three unfortunate barracudas in mashed peas and that's it. Bad.
My main regret is not having the time, with this very addictive Rescue course, do a little tour on the neighboring islands, Koh Adang and Koh Rawi, which are great views of the open sea, neither on Tarutao, nor on Bulone, further ... It will be for another time!
That's it, Koh Lipe is far away now. I bumped two and a half hours by boat and nearly five hours drive back to Phuket. 😱
The clash of cultures is a bit violent. And the usual melancholy, which precedes the return flight, is settling down ..