Samui Wining & Dining
AVAST ME HEARTIES!

Get lost in paradise and experience luxury aboard The Naga.


Page-86

If Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in the film Pirates of the Caribbean has made you semi-seriously consider adopting a carefree pirate-like existence at sea – it has done for me – then a day aboard The Naga, may be just what you’re after. You get to experience being ‘all at sea’ and you don’t even have to quit your job.

But is a trip out on The Naga really that different to the other boat trips on offer on Samui? We, at Samui Holiday Magazine office, just had to find out. And as I am such a discerning writer with only the best interests of you, dear reader, at heart, I volunteered myself to jump aboard The Naga for a day to find out what all the fuss is about – purely for your benefit, of course.

        The Naga itself is a luxurious 30-metre yacht, with two spacious sun decks, an open-air covered deck and internal saloon. And on top of that it also contains eight cabins, each with its own en-suite bathroom. It must be said that a day out on The Naga is a tad pricier than what you can get from some of the lower-end tour operators, but as I found out, it’s worth spending that bit more if you value a relaxed experience, nice facilities and good food – not to mention an awesome boat.

          You can rent The Naga for private charters or just hop on a tour with a mixed group. I jumped on one of the tours, which took us to Angthong National Marine Park in search of the famed Emerald Lake. So with great weather and coordinates in place, we went to sea in style – aboard The Naga. The day began with an 8:00 am meet at Bophut Pier, so while all we all rubbed the sleep out of our eyes our tour guide extraordinaire, Markus, served up coffees and breakfast. The reason for Markus being dubbed a ‘tour guide extraordinaire’ is because he’s less of a flag-waving tour operator, and more of a jack-of-all-trades – a one-man entertainment unit and go-to guy.

          The first stop on this expedition to find our very own treasure chest – well, the Emerald Lake – was a lonely little island in Marine Park, called Sin Dhup. A few others and I opted to snorkel there from the boat, which was about a ten-minute swim, while the rest jumped on the beach-bound speedboat. Those of us that swam noticed the sandy-coloured deeper section of the sea where we were moored, slowly give way to the shallower reef, until suddenly there were hundreds of fish teeming all around us.

          After about an hour of snorkelling and exploring the secluded beach, the clock ticked over to 1:00 pm, which was time for lunch – and good job too, because we were starving! We were offered a generous buffet spread of Thai dishes: fried pork with chilli and basil, green curry with chicken, vegetable massaman, seafood glass noodle salad, fried rice and chicken satays with peanut sauce. Everyone piled up their plates and sat at the table to chat, chow down and gather their energy for the afternoon’s activities – the hike that would take us to the Emerald Lake. But just before we took off again, a few of the braver lot walked the plank – yes, The Naga has its very own, genuine plank protruding from her bow.

          Food in our bellies and voluntary mutineers back aboard, the crew fired up the engine and we headed off to uncover our hidden treasure. Much like a buried chest, this gem cannot be seen from the shore – you need to know it’s there to find it. And arriving at Koh Mae Koh all we could see was a small beach complete with a makeshift pier and some kayaks parked up on the sand. We hopped off The Naga onto a small speedboat and chugged over to the pier.

          When we hit the shore we began the 30-minute round-trip hike that takes you up over ragged rock faces until you arrive at the Emerald Lake, situated in the centre of this magical island. But this isn’t your standard hill hike. It involves climbing up what must be one of the steepest staircases known to man – in places it’s essentially just a ladder – over limestone crags. Shrieks and hoots could be heard from various directions as people scaled the veritable scaffolding. But once the hikers caught their first glimpse of the shimmering, emerald-green water, the arduous climb became worthwhile.

          It’s like that moment in the movie, The Beach, when Leonardo DiCaprio first stumbles onto that famous sandy shore to the whale-like noises of Moby’s song, Porcelain – and, in fact, it was this very site that inspired Alex Garland’s novel from which the movie was based. When you arrive at the lake’s edge a small platform juts out over the water so you can stand right over the lagoon. All around you are high cliff faces covered in lush greenery, and below, the famous deep green water. The whole scene looks like a digital picture that has been subjected to a copious dose of Adobe Photoshop’s saturation booster. Our group decided to swim back to the boat, and I couldn’t help but smile when I overheard one of the girls say, “This is the best experience I’ve ever had in my life!” And while a part of me thought, “What have you been doing your whole life?” Her comment spoke volumes about the fantastic day we’d had.

          Back on the boat Markus brought around a tray of fruit, biscuits and pastries for us to enjoy while we sipped away at hot coffee and tea. Satisfied, everyone took a pew on the open-air deck to enjoy the scenic ride back to Samui. The route took us past the north shore, allowing us to snatch a view of the exclusive Four Seasons Resort, before coming in to dock at Bophut.

          As we climbed off boat for the last time, I reflected on my day – I’d come away with good friends, great memories and a fantastic tan. I couldn’t help but think, “What more could I ask for?” It seems it is a pirate’s life for me, after all. So as Rich English says, “Now…pour the rum and show me that horizon.”

 

 Christina Wylie


 


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