Moray. Koh Lipe, Thailand. March 2009.

Koh Lipe on land and underwater

  Thailand: Islands - February 2009

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

I've been in Koh Lipe, a tiny island in the south of Thailand, on the edge of the Malaysian border, for three days. My camera is dead, but I still have pictures. That's right! Solidarity and the D-system were at work.

First of all, a big thank you to Julien and Régis, who work at Forra Diving. They both lent me their respective devices.

I owe to the first the terrestrial images, to the second the underwater images...

An island in transformation

Sunrise Beach, "my" beach in Koh Lipe. (Thailand, March 2009.)
Sunrise Beach, "my" beach in Koh Lipe. (Thailand, March 2009.)

Koh Lipe, as pretty as it is, gives me mixed feelings.

The island is superb, really, the beaches are top. But the current development of bungalows, restaurants, bars and stores is worrying. The tourist business will cause a lot of damage. And it has already started.

But I'll come back to that in a future post

Shops everywhere, along the hard road that connects Sunrise and Pattaya Beach. (Koh Lipe, Thailand, March 2009.)
Shops everywhere, along the hard road that connects Sunrise and Pattaya Beach. (Koh Lipe, Thailand, March 2009.)
The children of Koh Lipe. (Thailand, March 2009.)
The children of Koh Lipe. (Thailand, March 2009.)

Underwater photos

Getting back to my broken camera stories, guess which model Regis owns? A model whose tired screen was suddenly covered with a black spot of dead pixels? A spot that spread more and more, until it covered the whole central focus area, after two dives? And which stopped displaying any image when it came back to shore?

Yes Yes. The same. A Canon Powershot A95about the same age as mine.


But... I can't tell you how proud I am of myself: I managed to take good pictures underwater, despite this huge black spot in the middle of the screen that prevented me from seeing if my focus was good or not.

Moray. Koh Lipe, Thailand. March 2009.

I shot the best I could. And got some presentable images.

A little bit by trial and error, a little bit by experience, a little bit by luck.

Antennae (frog-fish or toad-fish). Koh Lipe, Thailand. March 2009.

The few dives I have already made here are not as spectacular as in Similan.

The water is very green, very busy, the visibility is even downright rotten at times. And yet, it seems that it has improved, compared to December-January. To dive in Lipe, it is better to prefer March-April, or October-November, I was told.

Beginners are bound to be a bit disappointed here if they expect to swim in an aquarium. The translucent water at the edge of the beach is deceptive. At the bottom, the light is glaucous, even grayish.

But if you have a passion for strange little creatures, as I do, you will be enchanted by the surface...

First, there is nudi. Some beautiful and sometimes unseen.

And, above all, I had the pleasure of observing and photographing two bugs that I had never met before.

Some "pegasus", a kind of chimera that is part seahorse and part bird, that trots on the sand with small wings. And a "sea hare", a kind of enormous slug, the size of two hands, of a reddish brown almost black.

Pegasus. Koh Lipe, Thailand. March 2009.

Sea hare. Koh Lipe, Thailand. March 2009.

The usual fauna is there, in number, but it is necessary to have the patience of a naturalist to find the rarest: shy seahorses, their cousins the pipe-fishes, pretty moray eels, antennas...

Solidarity of photographers sub

In Forra DivingI have the great pleasure to find Yves and Erikawho used to run Coral Sky Divers, in Perhentian (Malaysia), and with whom I had dived in 2006.

Those are photo enthusiasts both. They were sensitive to my troubles.

Yves found me a tiny screwdriver. And Régis and I managed a miracle: to make a camera that works with our two defective cameras!

We got my screen back in good condition and put it on the other one. Victory! I am so happy.

[ADD the 07/04/09: see my underwater photos of Koh Lipe]

Diving training

That said, I don't know if I'll have so much time to take pictures in the next few days.

I decided to take the certification Rescue Diver, which is, for me who is Advanced Open Water (AOW), the next level in Padi diving courseThis is the one where you learn the rescue maneuvers in case of a problem. A rather difficult training, obviously, but very interesting.

My ear is a bit sore today... Ah, the divers' sores! I hope it will go away (I have some drops to heal it) and that I'll be able to work on the Rescue as planned... We'll see tomorrow!


See all articles on this trip:

→ Thailand: southern islands - February 2009

  Thailand: Islands - February 2009

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. I'm still worried about your ankles. Not too swollen with all the compliments? Congratulations for the trouble!
    I vote for the yellow bug, which was almost horrible with its blisters, and which makes up for it with its color and its look, which seems to me to be full of sweetness. How big is this thing? Does it bite?

  2. Hello
    vive le sytème D 😀 so here you are with a camera and we have the pleasure of looking at your photos8) , sympa ton pégasus, je n'ai pas encore vu!
    your sea hare looks a little like those of us, a distant cousin maybe ❓

  3. @ Marie-Julie: Merciiiiiii !!! This is a compliment that comforts me from all my photographic woes ...
    For Rescue, it's going to be intense over the next few days, apparently. But hey. All the people who have done it are very happy with the experience, which is really formative. We'll have to wait and see.

    @Nono: Ankles are fine thanks, just a little mosquito bite picked up last night... 😆
    The aforementioned bug is a nudibranch, a sea slug. No more dangerous than our land slugs, they don't bite. They're just more or less poisonous to predators who might dare to peck at them, which they signal with pustules and/or colorful patterns. This one was about the size of a thumb.
    But that's the first time someone's told me about the "look" of a nudi... Gotta stop smoking shady stuff at the protests, Nono!!!!

    @Laurence: As I'm about to embark on Rescue, I'm not likely to take many photos these days. But I should be able to borrow the cobbled-together camera (which isn't mine) afterwards. For me too, the "pegasus" were a first. In fact, there were two of them. I've just put up the photo of the little one, the only one where you can just about make out the bug on the sand. These creatures are not at all cooperative when it comes to taking photos. They keep trotting across the sand with their backs to you as soon as you try to flash them from the front... As for the sea hare, I've never seen one in our country. But they're probably related. I'll have to study the dive-shop books to find out more about these unusual creatures.

  4. An inch, that's all? I still say there's something in that bug's eyes. And if you want to smoke something fishy or not, the rendez-vous is Thursday the 19th. Will you be back? If not, you can go on strike in solidarity, bubble up for a while, for a change.
    Your camera mishaps remind me of my own. My luggage had not followed me to Chennai. I had my camera and batteries with me, but I had stupidly slipped the charger into a suitcase. After a few days, I couldn't photograph anymore. I went to all the photo shops and wandered around Pondy looking for a charger. All to no avail. Then, in desperation, I started looking to see if a tourist had the same camera. I wasn't looking at people's faces, I was scanning their Kodaks. And after a few days, I found one! By the way, the guy had noticed that I was squinting seriously at his camera, and he held it tightly against him. Once I'd explained my problem, he entrusted the charger to the guesthouse manager, to whom I entrusted my batteries. I blessed this tourist and was able to continue taking photos, on the cheap, until the suitcases finally reappeared some eight days later. These are the memories of travel, without them it wouldn't be as much fun, even if we pester at the time. 😆

  5. Nono, aren't you talking about the second photo, under the moray eel, the yellow fish? If so, it's a superb frogfish with a tender gaze...
    Corinne talks about the next picture, the nudibranch with yellow / orange pustules on a black background ... whose look is actually less descriptive ...

    Corinne, I am your adventures with delight.
    The moray eel and the frog fish are superb!
    I'm so glad you're discovering new critters too!
    😉 Good Rescue!

  6. I think there's a curse on the Canon A95 in Koh Lipe 🙂
    but I see that we are in the presence of the reincarnation of the female Mc Gywer 😆

    In any case, the "rescue" level got off to a good start when you read the article, already one A95 saved 😉
    By the way, rescue, that corresponds to what level in the language ffessm ❓

    Otherwise, hats off to you for the photos, both terrestrial and aquatic, it does indeed make you dream (even 😥 ) for those who stay.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

    PS thank you for the little feedback by mail, it was very nice 😉

  7. In Manta. Here's one that follows! Thank you. Yes, I was talking about the soft looking yellow fish. Whew! 🙂

  8. @Nono: Oh dear, a thousand pardons, it's a good thing Manta's here to explain the text... It was the "yellow pustules" part that misled me.
    In fact, it's a fish, about the size of a fist, known as an antennario or frog-fish. Its trick is to look as much as possible like something that doesn't look like anything, like a sponge, so that you can't see it, and to wait for a small, innocent prey to come within range of its mouth before swallowing it whole. I really like frog-fishes... There's something in the look of this one.

    @Manta: Pff... Thank you for your intervention. Without you, we'd have been stuck with the yellow pustule bug confusion!!!! I have a few more little sub photos in stock, for future posts.

    @ N @ me: Yes, when I saw the other camera starting to screw up too, I thought I was cursed... But I think it's Canon who should be blamed. His cameras don't hold up in tropical climates.
    As for Rescue (Padi), I imagine it must correspond more or less to Level 3 (FFESSM). I'd have to check the texts to see what "bridges" exist between the two types of training.
    In any case, today I'm just into the book and the videos (we finally pushed back the start of the practical exercises by a day) and I must say I'm having a good laugh: the adaptation of the English text into French is, as usual, rather clumsy and quite funny, and the "Yank" side of the videos is from time to time highly comic. But I won't be laughing so hard when I have to put theory into practice...

  9. 🙄 You're welcome Corinne... seeing the messages, I thought there must be a logical explanation to the nudibranch look... explanation easier to find with the hindsight of a reader than with chewing gum full of head!
    💡 So we've unintentionally found a resemblance in the description of the nudibranch and the frogfish... funny!
    Good rescue!

  10. It's a strange world. I was away at the end of the day (exciting Iranian film festival with some very strong films) and I learn of Bashung's death from a comment by Paskle on Petites Bulles...

  11. I hope your little ear problems are behind you and that you've been able to get to work on the Rescue... I'd appreciate it: if one day I decide to go diving with you... I'd feel more reassured... As careless as I am with only a mask and flippers... it would be wiser to have a "rescue" person by my side; especially as I now have a piece of meniscus less flexibility and reflex in the knee... 😛
    Well, for the moment, I'm still a long way from flippers and snorkel, my crutches are bulky enough as it is!
    I'm kissing you strongly!!

  12. @Manta: You'll see, one day you and I will meet underwater, leaning lovingly over the same colorful pustules of a "chewing-gum" or a frog-fish!

    @Nono: Yes, really strange. I live in a bamboo bungalow on the other side of the world, spend my days in the water, and learn of Bashung's death at almost the same time as you, thanks to Paskle's post on my blog... The "global village" isn't just an expression.

    @ Helen: You know that swimming is one of the "gentle" sports often recommended for rehabilitation. I don't know if it's right for you (your doctor will tell you), but if it is, as soon as you stop using crutches, off you go! As far as I'm concerned, my ears are much better today. I'm going to continue rinsing and treating them properly, and tomorrow everything should be back to normal. Good luck with the recovery!

  13. Hello,
    I'm really enjoying your very interesting site. For the moment, I'm reading about Thailand, as I'm leaving in about ten days. On the agenda, the climb back up to Chiang Mai via the temple sites. Maybe a trek, and in the second week, I'll be lazing around in the south, on the islands, especially Koh Samui. Diving should be one of our discoveries... only I'm not so happy about the water when I stick my head in it, so if I come across these huge things (which I admire in your photos), I think I'll stay there...
    Thank you for sharing.
    I saw in a previous post that you'd been to a hotel in Bangkok called New Siam, it's the hotel I'd spotted (with Routard) and given what you've said, I think I'd go but apparently there are several, so which one to choose?
    In the meantime, a good Sunday and pleasure.

  14. @PalaisdesLys: I haven't tested the different New Siams, so I can't compare them. The New Siam I is the basic guesthouse, not too expensive and functional in the heart of the tourist district, but without charm.
    The other New Siam models are moving upmarket. I think the Riverside is pretty good for the river view, but it's not the same price... I've heard that the New Siam II is still a bit expensive for what it offers. They have a website, where you can book online and where they detail the services. Otherwise, there are plenty of hotels and guesthouses to choose from in the area...